VILLERS BRETONNEUX TO YRPES

Wednesday, July 24.

Off today to visit the Victoria school, the Australian memorial, and then a two hour drive to Yrpes to catch the 8.00pm Last Post at the Menin Gate.

First the Victoria school. why the Victoria school? Following the war, the school along with the majority of the town was flattened. Given that the Australian soldiers played a major role in the recapture of the town, it was decided that every Victorian school age child could donate two pence, two cents to rebuild the school. So began a lifelong friendship between Australia and the people of Villers Bretonneux. The town of Robinvale in Victoria is a sister city.

The Victoria school and the Franco Australian memorial. There has been some work to the front since my last visit. Today makes three.

This plaque sums it up.

Another Aussie has left their mark.

The story of the battle of Villers Bretonneux.

Some of the songs the diggers sang while in the trenches.

An early recruitment poster. Interesting that there was a law at the time in Australia that no permanent soldier could serve in a foreign country. Where did all the soldiers come from who fought here. They were all volunteers.

Examples of trench art.

This was their baptism, flying mainly recon missions.

You learn something every day.

Ingenuity is the mother of invention. Not enough tanks, then build some mock ups to confuse the enemy.

Reflecting on Australia’s unknown soldier.

Images of war from the Villers Bretonneux area, some showing the Aussie sense of humour.

This is an impression from a carving in the village square, done by an Australian in 1917.

The Victoria hall was built using mainly Australian timbers. This is highlighted in the carvings around the wall showing each state ‘s and territory’s flora and fauna emblem.

The walls are also decorated with photographs from around Australia.

Outside in the schoolyard the gratefulness continues. Interesting that every morning the school sings Advance Australia Fair. Pity it does not happen in our own country anymore.

Even some of the streets have familiar sounding names.

Inspirational, now off to the Australian memorial on Hill 104.

Have to tell you that standing on all this sandstone and marble in 37 degree heat is fairly debilitating, but nothing compared to what those behind us encountered.

This will look familiar to those who watch the Anzac service.

What the Anzac service does not show are the bullet marks from WWII.

A new addition, opened on Anzac Day last year is the Sir John Monash Centre, located behind the monument.

These are some of the trench signs on the walkway down to the centre.

The Australian timbers wall inside the centre.

Wooden tapestry showing images of war.

The Sacred Emu statues.

Some more of the trench art.

Uniforms eorn in WWI.

Stained glass window facing west. At sunrise, on Anzac Day the sun sits in the hole in the centre.

So true.

Farmland today, battlefields yesterday.

A little bit of Shepparton on the other side of the world.

Couple of shots looking from the cemetery across to Villers Bretonneux.

Time for a short two hour drive to Yrpes, for the Last Post at the Menin Gate.

Arrived at the gate at 7.58pm, made it. This is the river which flows under the gate which links one side of Yrpes with the other.

Bit of a Greek influence on the side of the gate. Note the names on the wall behind the columns. The whole gate is covered with name of all nationalities.

The gate as most people would know them.

Looking back into the old town.

Great architecture in the town square. There is those Flemish facades again. We are in Belgium.

Found a lovely restaurant in the square for dinner and were entertained by this chap.

A great day, tiresome but great. The whole day can be summed up by the poem written by Lieutenant John McRae in 1915. Read, ponder and enjoy.

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