Port Fairy couple torn about trip to France

PORT Fairy’s Max and Maria Cameron are torn about whether to travel to France next month.

May 11 marks 100 years since Mr Cameron’s great uncle Simon Fraser died, aged 40, at the second battle of Bullecourt.

He was immortalised in the Cobbers Sculpture, which stands at the Australian Memorial Park near Fromelles.

TOUGH CALL: Maria and Max Cameron are torn about whether to go to France on May 11 due to tensions. Picture: Morgan Hancock

TOUGH CALL: Maria and Max Cameron are torn about whether to go to France on May 11 due to tensions. Picture: Morgan Hancock

Mr and Mrs Cameron had planned to travel to both Bullecourt, where he died, and Fromelles, where the statue stands.

Mrs Cameron said Mr Fraser became known as ‘Cobber’ after he went against orders to retrieve the wounded after the battle of Fromelles.

“One chap yelled out ‘don’t forget me cobber’.”

Over three days Sergeant Fraser, a member of the 57th Battalion AIF, retrieved the wounded.

He later wrote home about the ordeal.

“We found a fine haul of wounded and brought them in, but it was not where I heard this fellow calling so I had another shot for it and became across a splendid specimen of humanity trying to wiggle into a trench with a big wound in his thigh: he was about 14 stone weight (90 kilograms)  and I could not fit him on my back, but I managed to get him into an old trench and told him to lie quiet while I got a stretcher,” he wrote.

“Then another man about 30 yards (27 metres) out sang out ‘Don’t forget me cobber’. I then went in and got foru volunteers with stretchers and we got both men in safely.”

Mrs Cameron said it would be a bittersweet day for the couple, who were proud of their relative’s bravery, but sad he left behind his sisters in Byaduk to fend for themselves. “He had been supporting his sisters on the farm at Byaduk after losing both parents,” she said.

It’s believed he enlisted after receiving a white feather.

“I think he got the white feather,” Mrs Cameron said.

“It was mainly given by women and put in mailboxes - it was a sign of cowardice.”

Mrs Cameron said the couple may have to make the heartbreaking decision to put off their travel plans until later this year.

“I’m really disappointed but when you look at the situation at Korea and the Middle East, it’s pretty scary,” she said.

Mrs Cameron said the advice for people travelling to France was to do so with caution. “I haven’t totally ruled it out,” she said.

“At the last minute I’ll probably book it. We might just bite the bullet and run the gauntlet.”

Mrs Cameron said there was a replica statue of the one at France at the Melbourne Shrine of Remembrance.