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The Somme/Flanders Fields battlefields

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The Somme region suffered severely in the battles of the WW1. The battlefields are remembered by a Circuit of Remembrance with impressive memorials, traces of battles and cemeteries, many of which are dedicated to Commonwealth countries including Australia. The Australian national memorial (on the RD 23 road to Fouilloy) contains many rows of plain white headstones leading up to a tall stone white tower on which the names of almost 11,000 missing in action soldiers are etched (in total 40,000 Australian soldiers of the 300,00 that fought, lost their lives on the Western Front). On the tower, which was dedicated in 1938, are bullet marks as a result of the fighting which took place on the site between the French and Germans in WW2.

The memorials are spread amongst the surrounding farms and villages. One of these villages just south of the Australian Cemetery is Villers-Bretonneux which still flies the Australian flag at the town hall. On 24 April 1918 Australian troops finally halted the German offensive of March 1918. Since then, locals have vowed never to forget the Australians who saved them. As the victorious battalion had been raised in Victoria, the main street of Villers-Bretonneux is named Rue de Melbourne. The town is twinned with Robinvale in Victoria, has a restaurant called Le Kangourou  and a school, Victoria College, was built with funds raised by Australian schoolchildren in that state. Above every blackboard is the phrase 'N'oublions jamais l'Australie': We will never forget Australia. The school playground has these words in English: 'Do not forget Australia'. There is a dedicated Franco-Australian museum in town on rue du Victoria which is part of the school.

Further information at www.anzac-france.com and at our facts about Aussies at war.

Read an article we wrote after visiting the Somme for Anzac Day celebrations

See photo album of Western Front ANZAC Day 2011

Further north is also Fromelles in Flanders Fields near Belguim where the most recent war graves have been found (town also dedicated to Australia including school and new museum built in 2014 http://www.musee-bataille-fromelles.fr) - read an article including our trip there the day after Anzac Day.

Return to places to see north.

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