Australian War Memorial Tour of the Western Front 2007
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Villers-Bretonneux, Vignacourt, Bertangles, Daours, Heily Station, Corbie, Le Hamel, Chipily, Sailley-la-Sec 3rd Division Monument
The Australian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux
The Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux contains the names of over 10,000 Australians who died in France and who have no known grave. Although the Memorial commemorates those Australians who died during the First World War, it was not actually completed until 1938 due to the Great Depression. During the Second World War the Memorial was extensively damaged and repairs were carried out subsequent to that conflict.
The Australian Corps Memorial, Le Hamel
Le Hamel is a small village south of the Somme River some 6 kilometres from Villers-Bretonneux and was the site of one of the Australian Imperial Force's most successful battles. Entirely under Australian planning and command, the victory established the pattern for allied operations for the remainder of the war on the Western Front. The Australian Corps Memorial Park acts as a focal point for visitors to the 1918 battlefields. The Park contains a walking track past a series of interpretative panels as well as a central commemorative area. The remains of the trench located at the Park , were the final objective for the attack on 4 July 1918 and the starting point for the major Allied offensive on 8 August 1918, leading to the Armistice on 11 November 1918.
In the First World War, on April 25, 1918, the village of Villers-Bretonneux was liberated by the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC). Taken at a cost of over twelve hundred Australian lives, the people of Villers-Bretonneux remain indebted to Australia for this feat. The town's mayor spoke of the Australian troops in 14 July 1919 when unveiling a memorial in their honour:
"The first inhabitants of Villers-Bretonneux to re-establish themselves in the ruins of what was once a flourishing little town have, by means of donations, shown a desire to thank the valorous Australian Armies, who with the spontaneous enthusiasm and characteristic dash of their race, in a few hours chased an enemy ten times their number...They offer a memorial tablet, a gift which is but the least expression of their gratitude, compared with the brilliant feat which was accomplished by the sons of Australia...Soldiers of Australia, whose brothers lie here in French soil, be assured that your memory will always be kept alive, and that the burial places of your dead will always be respected and cared for..."
The Australian War Memorial in France is located in Villers-Bretonneux and within it lies the graves of over 770 Australian soldiers, as well as those of other Commonwealth soldiers involved in the campaign. The school in Villers-Bretonneux was built using donations from schoolchildren of Victoria, Australia, (many of whom had relatives perish in the town's liberation) and above every blackboard is the inscription 'N'oublions jamais l'Australie' (Never forget Australia).