Pennie, one of our South Australian quilters is currently on tour in France with her husband Grant. They have been kind enough to send some photos and a little commentary back for me to share with you. Hope you enjoy it. Bet it makes some of you (me included) green with envy!
Villers-Bretonneux is a couple of hours drive north of Paris, and is the site if the Adelaide cemetary. The 43 Battalion from South Australia had their head quarters in a quarry just to the west of the town, and this is near where the Adelaide cemetery is now located. The cemetery itself is situated in rural farmland and is a beautiful and serene setting.
On the 25th April 1918, the Australian Imperial Force, along with British and Canadian troops, halted the German advance before the city of Amien could be captured
In 1914, under the terms of the Defence Act the regular Australian Army couldn’t be deployed outside of Australia. On August 8 1914 an expiditionary force was created to enable Australian soldiers to serve during the first world war, and it was called the “Australian Imperial Force”. The emblem of the AIF can be seen on the headstones of the Aussie soldiers.
Many of the soldiers resting in the Adelaide were interred after the war, and their lives were lost between February 1918 and August 1918. There area number of headstones marking the graves of unknown soldiers, and in 1993 one of these men was exhumed and re interred at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.
Note the little information hut, which is made from bluestone,and has the rising sun emblem incorporated into the back wall inside.
During the battles around Villers-Bretonneux the town was almost completely destroyed. Children from Victoria Aust raised money to assist in re building the school here, and it is known as the Victoria school.
Built in 1923-1927, the school is the gift from the children of the state of Victoria, Australia, to the children of Villers-Bretonneux as proof of their love and good-will towards France. Twelve hundred Australian soldiers, fathers and brothers of these children, gave their lives for the heroic recapture of the town on April 24th and 25th, 1918.
The wood carvings were done by Australian artist John Grant and his students from the Daylesford Technical College in Victoria The wood of the carvins is Pacific Maple, as are the floors of the school hall. Apparently it is unusual for a French school to have a hall at all.
On the front of the building there are twoplaques (one in French and one in English) referring to this.
In the School Yard, as well as an Aboriginal style moral created by the students of the school and inaugurated on ANZAC Day 2009, is an inscription over the porch on a green background in yellow writing saying :
DO NOT FORGET AUSTRALIA
Due to the strong bond of friendship between the Australian population and the inhabitants of Villers-Bretonneux. This message expresses the need to remember and show gratitude.
This inscription is found in French in each school room.
Villers-Bretonneux morning tea
One morning they had brunch with a variety of miltary personell. Grant had a long chat with Air Marshall Mark Binskin, and Pennie chatted with the Australian Military Attache who is based in Paris.
Pennie and Grant also had a lovely talk with two soldiers who were here on ceremonial duties. One is in the Federation guard, and the other is the bugle player for the ceremonies here.
Next stop was the Australian National Memorial just outside Villers-Bretonneux. Once again, very serene and beautiful. It was built in 1938 on land donated by the people of France, and some of the stone work still bears the markings of bullets from the Second World War.
The memorial was designed by architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, and inaugruated 22 July 1938. The walls bear the names of the 11,000 soldiers who died in France .
If you look closely at the tower, you can see bullet holes made during the Second World War when the French again had to defend the area.
When the unknown soldier was disinterred from the Adelaide cemetary, he was brought to the Australian memorial, then on to Ypres where he lay in state before returning to the memorial to be formally passed over to the care of the AUstralians.
Their final stop for the day was the tiny town of Le Hamel to view the memorial there.
General Monash introduced new tactics to the battle in 1918, and managed to achieve more in 93 minutes than had been done in the previous years! It was the catalyst for pushing the Germans back to the Armstice line.
Views of Le Hamel from the memorial, including old German trenches.
There are remenants of the German trenches at the memorial site
Looking out from the tower back across to the entrance of the memorial.
Looking from the entrance towards the main monument
Thanks so much for sharing with us Pennie and Grant. Hope you enjoy the rest of your trip!
Of course it is Thursday night so here is the list of those who have sent off quilts and laundry bags for this week. If you think I have missed you off the list please let me know.
Anne HCarolynEvelynJo RJoanLeanneLisaLiz JLynnMaryMegNoeleneRita MSteph NSuSue FSue N
Don’t forget I have been on the road today, travelling from Sydney to Wagga so that I can go to Kapooka tomorrow. If I have been a little slow answering emails please bear with me and I will do my best to catch up tonight.
As I will be attending the March Out Parade for my young friend on Friday any photos received after 10pm tonight will not make it into the post for this week as I will not have time to add them. They will be included in the post next week.
Till next time……………keep spreading the word and happy stitching! JMxx