The Library building is temporarily closed Read more

Home > View & Discuss > Audio: Recovering the Australian war dead at Fromelles

Audio: Recovering the Australian war dead at Fromelles

  • Date recorded: 12 Nov 2009

  • Duration: 01:30:22

'I would love to leave a sprig of Gippsland wattle on the grave of my great-uncle, if only he had one.'

About this recording

Hear insights from an ex-soldier and an academic as they look into the reburials of Australian soldiers killed on foreign soil during WWI.

Mike O'Brien arranged the reburial of five World War I Australian soldiers found in Belgium in 2007, and more recently oversaw the exhumation, identification and reburial of the remains of several hundred Australian soldiers at Fromelles, France. Bruce Scates served on the committee that confirmed the existence of mass graves at Fromelles.

In this seminar, Mike outlines the process and outcomes of the Fromelles exhumation, and Bruce reflects on the event's significance for Australian history.

Making Public Histories

This Making Public Histories seminar was held at State Library Victoria on 12 November 2009. The Making Public Histories series explores public history, contemporary society and heritage with discussions framed around topical issues. It is a joint initiative between State Library Victoria, the History Council of Victoria and Monash University Institute for Public History.


Mike O'Brien was a major-general in the Australian infantry. He left full-time service in 2001 and has written a history of his battalion in Vietnam.

Bruce Scates is professor of history and Australian studies, and director of the National Centre for Australian Studies at Monash University.