Sydney Anzac Day Parade 2009
One of the current government’s better decisions has been to support The Anzac Trail.
Australians will soon be able to trace the footsteps of World War I diggers who fought on the Western Front using a new tourist trail meandering through northern France and Belgium.
The Australian government will spend $10 million over the next four years developing the Anzac Trail, which will take visitors to seven sites where Australian diggers fought in key battles and suffered heavy losses.
While detailed plans for the trail are yet to be finalised, part of the money will be spent on improving museums dedicated to the diggers who fought at Villers-Bretonneux, Fromelles and Bullecourt in the Somme as well as linking various battlefield trails through other parts of France and Belgium.
A new interpretive centre to help visitors understand the Australian troops’ part in the conflict will also be built at the small rural village of Pozieres. In mid-1916 Australian forces suffered a massive 23,000 casualties in six weeks on the Pozieres battlefields as they fought to push the Germans out.
The town, where tanks were used for the first time in battle, already features a handful of memorials to the diggers including the remains of a German concrete bunker the Australians captured and which was later nicknamed Gibraltar.
The trail replaces a $30 million plan by the Howard government to build an interpretative centre at the Australian National Memorial near the French town of Villers-Bretonneux, where the second annual Anzac Day dawn service honouring diggers who fought on the Western Front will be held on Saturday…
There was a documentary on ABC on Thursday on the Polygon Wood and the identification and subsequent military burial of some Australian soldiers who died there in 1917: Lost in Flanders.
I remember Uncle Ken in Shellharbour as a remarkably calm and steady old man with white hair, even if I now realise for some of that time he was rather younger than I am now! He talked little about World War I (or World War II in which he also served.)
It turns out he was in the 3rd Battalion, 25th Reinforcement embarking on board HMAT A14 Euripides in Sydney on 31 October 1917. He would have arrived, then, in time for the events following the battles described in the documentary I saw on Thursday.