I just cannot leave the Western Front without one more post. I’ve been going through my journal that covers this particular trip and have just come across pages of epitaphs I had documented. Once again those feelings return. I remember walking along the gravestones, many unknown, I can hear the bees, feel the warmth of the sun and the cold of the stone block where I sat teary and emotionally exhausted after I had finished transcribing the messages that had caught my eye.
11 April 2009 – A place that will never forget the Australians
Just west of the town of Villers-Bretonneux in the Somme, we make a quick stop at the Adelaide Cemetery.
“We found the place from where the unknown soldier was taken and is now in Canberra – very emotional moment.”
From here we visited the L’Ecole Victoria. A school dedicated to remembering our diggers from the Great War. I peered in through the windows as the school was closed that day, to find beautifully coloured drawings of Australian animals. The artwork continues on the external walls and a great big sign oversees the playground “DO NOT FORGET AUSTRALIA”. Every classroom looks out onto this sign. ❤️ Never. Ever. Forget.
We then visit Viller’s Memorial to pay our respects.
The epitaphs …
“Time passes but memory clings until we meet again”
“Your memory like the ivy clings”
“A nation’s gain. A parent’s loss. A sad bride. ‘Neath the Southern Cross”
“He has fought the good fight”
“Think what a man should be. He was all that”
“He died that we may live”
“Peace, perfect peace”
Lest we forget 🌺
Thanks for reading 🙂
Our visit to Villers-Bretonneux in 2015 was a highlight that will stay with me forever. I have never felt so emotional and proud to read the sign above the school “Do not forget Australia”. I have no doubt everyone from the town knows about Australia and yet when we enquired at the train station at Paris, the staff at customers service did not even know where we could find Villers-Bretonneux.
Re your day 4 blog, my son was fortunate to be part of the Spirit of Anzac Prize group who toured the battlefields back in 2011. One of the highlights of his trip was being a guest buglest to play The Last Post at the ceremony at Menin Gate. That whole tour experience is one he will treasure forever.
Oh wow, what an experience for both you and your son, Louise! My fellow travellers and I fondly remember our favourite Menin Gate bugler, who played at every Last Post we have attended over the years! Thanks for sharing, I love to hear about others’ experiences!
Louise, the Menin Gate has that ability to stay with you in so many different ways. The Spirit of Anzac trip is such an amazing experience for students. While not involved in that trip, I have taken students there many times. Watching their emotional engagement – each unique – is one of my proudest moments as a teacher as I know they have connected with the moment and our soldiers in an authentic mannner.