- April 24th, 2012
- Posted by EUEditor
Crowds going to the ANZAC Day services at Villers-Bretonneux and Bullecourt in France have been advised to look out for hazards on the country roads and be prepared for a fair walk to the memorial sites.
Younger generations of Australians have been taking a keen interest as the centenary of the start of World War I looms closer, flocking to the Anzac Cove service each year, at Gallipoli in Turkey; and in Europe, commemorating the tragedy of the Western front.
Australian Embassy bulletins have been advising visitors to get up very early to make it to the dawn service at the Australian war memorial, at Villers-Bretonneux‘,(pictures), with local road closures because of congesting traffic, all of the provided shuttle buses booked in advance, and the accessible car parks up to 3.7-kilometres away â€“ a nice walk spoiled slightly by the presence of coaches nudging their way along a narrow carriageway.
It will not stop the people going to pay their respects there, and later at Bullecourt in France; or outside of Ypres, scene of the battle for Passchendaele in Belgian Flanders — both places where the Australians won military victories, though for small gains at extreme cost.
After the ceremonies in Bullecourt, those taking part have been invited to the reopening of the war museum there, named for the couple who established it, Jean Letaille OAM and his wife Denise. Closed last year for major alterations, the museum forms part of the projected Australian Remembrance Trail along the Western Front, to be set up before the centenary of the War in 2014.
Background from Australian government media: Australian Forces fought costly battles at Bullecourt on 11 April and again between 3-17 May 1917. Some gains were made – but at the cost of 10000 Australian casualties.
Â Information published by the Australian Embassy to the European Union, at Brussels, recounts the story of the â€œBattle of Broodseindeâ€, as it was known to the Australians, outside of the Ypres salient â€“ all five of the Australian Army divisions being deployed in the area during the months of the conflict:
â€œIn September 1917, Australian infantry divisions joined the Third Battle of Ypres/Ieper, part of the Passchendaele offensive in Belgium against the German army.
â€œThe fighting was intense. Australian soldiers captured Broodseinde Ridge on 4 October 1917. Then it rained. In wretched conditions further attacks were carried out. Ground was taken, but not held.
â€œCasualties mounted at an appalling rate. The exhausted soldiers were finally relieved by Canadian forces in mid-November. In 113 days the five Australian divisions were fighting on the front, they suffered 49,390 casualties. More than 12,500 were killed or missing in action, of whom half have ‘no known grave’.â€
WHAT IS ANZAC?
A dominant event in the national calendar in Australia, ANZAC Day commemorates the countryâ€™s fallen in all wars. It specifically marks the landing of Australian and New Zealand forces – the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps – at Gallipoli on 25.4.15. The ANZACs were determined to capture the peninsular from its Ottoman Turkish defenders, but eight months through their campaign, and after heavy fighting, they were evacuated. There were 26111 Australian casualties, including over 8000 dead. The 25th of April was officially named ANZAC Day and saw the first commemorative services in 1916.
Australian Embassy and Mission to the EU, Belgium Luxembourg, (home), ANZAC DAY 2012 in Belgium, Updated Program; ANZAC Day in France and the United Kingdom. http://www.belgium.embassy.gov.au/bsls/home.html, (24.4.12).
Commemoration at the Menin Gate, Ypres / Ieper; war graves at Tyne Cot cemetery, Passchendaele; Anzac child – DFAT