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I visited Berlin South Western Cemetery in September 2012. It’s easy to get to, but requires catching the Sbahn (S7) from Berlin to Potsdam, and then catching the X1 bus from outside the station to Stahnsdorf – ask the driver to let you know the stop. It’ then a 20 minute walk to the cemetery entrance, and a further  45 minutes to the  Commonwealth plot.

Two Fromelles POWs

More than 500 Australians were taken prisoner at Fromelles. About 40 of died of wounds as prisoners or from disease, mostly the  deadly Spanish influenza epidemic that spread through western Europe as the war ended.

Private George Munn 54th Battalion of Murwillimbah NSW was wounded and taken prisoner at Fromelles. He was sent  Schneidemuhl camp in Germany, and was on a working party on 14 October 1918 when he collapsed with the Spanish flu. Taken to hospital, he died next day. He was initially buried near the camp, but was re-interred at Berlin South Western Cemetery in 1925.

Private John Joseph O’Neill, 55th Battalion, carpenter of Wollongong was also captured at Fromelles and sent to Scheidemuhl. He also died of the flu, on 30 November 1918. He was 24and is also among the 20 Australians at Berlin South Western Cemetery.

‘This terrible Spanish grippe which is slowly but surely carrying off our boys It will be an awful and sad time for the firiends and loved ones of prisoners for them to receive word that the men they are expecting home have died.’ – Sergeant H J Camden 11th Battalion,  3 December 1918 – to Miss Chomley of the Australian Red Cross.

Berlin South Western Cemetery

There are now 1,176 First World War servicemen buried or commemorated in the Commonwealth plot at Berlin South-Western Cemetery.  There are 20 Australians and three New Zealanders here including five Australians re-interred from the Schneidemuhl Prisoners of War Cemetery, in Posen, West Prussia, on the border of Poland.

Italian Military Cemetery

Adjacent to the Commonwealth cemetery, the Italian Military Cemetery contains 1,658 Italian soldiers of the First World War.