Anzac Day at Villers-Bretonneux and Bullecourt

Document Sample
Anzac Day at Villers-Bretonneux and Bullecourt Powered By Docstoc
					Anzac Day at Villers-Bretonneux and Bullecourt
In 2010 an Anzac Day Dawn Service will be held at the Australian National Memorial at
Villers-Bretonneux, France. As in past years, the service will complement the annual
commemorative activities conducted by the local communities at Villers-Bretonneux and
Bullecourt on Anzac Day.

The first battle at Villers-Bretonneux was fought on 4 April 1918 when the Australian
Imperial Force (AIF) held the front line astride the Somme River. Villers-Bretonneux again
entered Australian history when the 13th and 15th Australian Brigades counter-attacked a
German advance on 24-25 April 1918 to liberate the town. These actions helped stop the
German spring offensive aimed at Amiens.

Australian National Memorial
The Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux is dedicated to the memory of
those Australians who gave their lives in France during the First World War. The memorial
stands on the ground over which Australian soldiers attacked, on the night of 24-25 April
1918, to retake the town from the Germans.

The memorial was dedicated on 22 July 1938 by King George VI, in the presence of the
President of France, Monsieur Albert Le Brun, Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister, Sir Earl
Page, and Field Marshal Lord Birdwood, who commanded the AIF at Gallipoli and on the
Western Front.

The walls of the memorial are inscribed with the names of 10,771 Australian casualties of
the battlefields of France who have no known grave.

Adjacent to the memorial is the Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery, where 2144
Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War are buried or commemorated. The
cemetery includes the graves of 780 Australian, 1089 British, 267 Canadian, four South
African and four New Zealand service personnel.

Community services on Anzac Day
Australia has formed a close association with Villers-Bretonneux and Bullecourt since the
First World War. A school was built at Villers-Bretonneux with funds raised by the children
of Victoria and the France-Australian Museum is located within its attic. At Bullecourt,
there are two memorials dedicated to Australians who served there during the First World
War. Each year, the people of Villers-Bretonneux and Bullecourt remember the service
and sacrifice of Australians at commemorative activities on Anzac Day.

The wreath laying in Villers-Bretonneux takes place at the Monument aux Morts in the
town square. The memorial is small and poetic—a cloaked Mother France mourning her
fallen—and the bilingual service is quintessentially French. This service is followed by the
presentation of the Sadlier –Stokes scholarship, which is at 9:30 am, and a concert
involving regional French and Australian choirs. After lunch, a wreath laying takes place in
the Bullecourt village square in front of the small ‘Slouch Hat’ memorial in the grounds of
the church of St Vlaast.

                                                                                02 6289 6203
After this bilingual service, the crowd walks a kilometre out of town along Rue des
Australians to the Australian Memorial Park located in what is now farm land but was, in
1917, one of the bloodiest Australian battle sites. The Bullecourt Anzac Day service is
held in the shadow of the Bullecourt Digger, an emotive statue created by Melbourne
sculpture Peter Corlett and inspired by his father who fought at Bullecourt.

Program for official activities in Villers-Bretonneux and Bullecourt

 25 April 2010
 5:30 – 6:30am     Anzac Day Dawn Service, Australian National Memorial,

 9.00 – 9.15am     Wreath-laying ceremony at the French War Memorial
                   Monument, main square of Villers-Bretonneux.

 9:30 – 11:00am    Anzac Day presentation of the Sadlier-Stokes
                   Scholarship* and concert by Amiens Brass Orchestra with
                   the Unley City band at the Marché Couvert, opposite the
                   main square, Villers-Bretonneux.

 2:00 – 2:45pm     Anzac Day wreath laying ceremony,
                   Square du Souvenir Française, Bullecourt.

 3:00 – 3:30pm     Anzac Day Ceremony, Australian Digger Memorial,
                   Bullecourt village outskirts.

                   Followed by refreshments for all visitors, hosted by the
                   Mayor of Bullecourt.

All times are local.

*Sadlier-Stokes Scholarship
The Sadlier-Stokes Scholarship is awarded annually to a French student demonstrating a
sound knowledge of Australia, assisting them to undertake studies at a tertiary level.

The €3,000 scholarship commemorates the great courage of two West Australian soldiers,
Lieutenant Clifford Sadlier VC and Sergeant Charlie Stokes DCM, during the battle to
liberate Villers-Bretonneux.

The Franco-Australian Association in Villers-Bretonneux has supported the education of
students through the Sadlier-Stokes Scholarship since 1989.

                                                                                02 6289 6203