25 April 2008

Historic Anzac Day dawn service at Villers Bretonneux

90 years ago on 24 April 1918 Australian troops recaptured the village of Villers Bretonneux from the Germans ending the German advance on Amiens.
Today a special Anzac Day dawn service was held at Australian War Memorial (above) at Villers Bretonneux. This is the first time an Anzac day Dawn service has been held on this site.

Since 1919, the memory of the Australian contribution to Villers–Bretonneux has indeed been ‘kept alive’. The town was adopted by the City of Melbourne and funds collected to help with its reconstruction. Victorian schoolchildren raised money towards the rebuilding of the local school which has ever since been known as the ‘L’Ecole Victoria’ (Victoria School). In the school building is the ‘Franco–Australian Museum’ which houses a range of materials dealing with the Australian connection with the town both during the war and into more recent times. And, since 1919, the men and women of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, on behalf of Australia and all the other countries of the old British Empire and Commonwealth who lost soldiers and airmen in the battles around Villers–Bretonneux, have carefully tended and looked after the war cemeteries and memorials which dot the region.

Husband Bob and I visited both these places at the end of 2006 when we visited the Somme for about a week, so watching the television footage of the ceremony this morning has raised some memories for us. In addition Bob's father was at the 2nd landing at Gallipoli in 1915, and later on the Somme in 1916, at Bullecourt and Moquet Farm where he was awarded the Military medal.

We are never very far from memories of what happened here, whether it is through Bob's father's medals given an annual airing when every Anzac day, the Enfield brass band participates in a dawn service or marches in the Anzac Day parade in Adelaide, or simply through the name Dernancourt given to a neighbouring suburb.


Marg said...

They say you learn something new every day. I went to Dernancourt Primary School for a while and I never knew that that was where the name came from!

southozsue said...

Let's not forget the Adelaide Hills town of Verdun...named after the Battle of Verdun, France, 1916....then of course we have our SA German history where towns like Birdwood (named after General Birdwood) had it's name changed from Blumberg due to the anti-German sentiment.

southozsue said...

PS the pic is me at ANZAC Cove 2005 :-)

Marg said...

Klemzig had its name changed to something else at one stage and then changed back again for the same reason I believe.

Kerrie said...

Klemzig changed to Gaza, and then back again. Enfield Brass band has its home at Klemzig and is also known as the Klemzig Oompah band. Bob's father changed his name from Schmidt to Smith..

Kerrie said...

And Balhannah became Ambleside which I always thought was a really strange name for a railway station when the train passed through it when I was a kid.


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