RE­MEM­BRANCE DAY LIV­ING ON

The Advertiser - - WEEKENDEND EXTRA -

and more, the videos place you right at the heart of the Aussie ex­pe­ri­ence on the Western Front.

All you need is your mo­bile or tablet, the ANZAC360 app and away you go to France and Bel­gium. Whichever way you turn, you will be im­mersed in the sights and sounds of north­west Europe.

It was while film­ing that we found Arthur’s sig­na­ture, on a hunch and af­ter hours of search­ing with bat­tery-drain­ing iPhone torches.

While thou­sands of sol­diers on leave scrawled their names at Naours – a net­work of tun­nels used for cen­turies as a refuge, by smug­glers and by 1900 as a tourist at­trac­tion – in typ­i­cal un­der­stated style, Arthur chose to place his al­most out of sight.

By us­ing only his and Kala’s (real name Herbert Baker) nick­names, he had foxed pre­vi­ous re­searchers try­ing to doc­u­ment all the sig- na­tures, un­til we spot­ted it. That same day, we found the over­grown chateau where he was bil­leted.

We were wel­comed in by the for­mi­da­ble Madame de Franc­queville, who showed us a por­trait of the fam­ily pa­tri­arch who 100 years ear­lier had hosted Arthur.

He even sketched with our man in Arthur’s last days be­fore head­ing back to Pozieres ... and a shell with his name on it.

IT WAS Madame de Franc­queville who told us Ger­mans had been her fam­ily’s un­in­vited guests two decades later. From there, we dis­cov­ered the tragic foot­note that one of Arthur’s friends from his Wargnies days, and her hus­band, had be­come dead he­roes of the re­sis­tance.

All of this we cap­tured on cam­era.

Film­ing at Pozieres, we stood where Archie had watched men “driven stark star­ing mad – cry­ing and sob­bing like chil­dren” in one of the great­est Ger­man bar­rages of the war.

At Fromelles, we take view­ers to the killing ground where Alice lost her beloved, brave, Harry Mof­fitt.

And nearby we stum­bled across Hitler’s bunker – the act of stand­ing where he had stood was to be as chilling as stand­ing in Arthur’s space was thrilling.

And so it went. Con­nec­tions to Aussies, known and un­known, ev­ery­where.

Ran­dom dis­cov­er­ies and chance meet­ings, like Bel­gian Jo­han Regheere, who be­came our un­of­fi­cial guide at Poly- gon Wood, telling us of his grand­mother’s eight years un­der Ger­man oc­cu­pa­tion – four in each war, 10 per cent of her life.

Then there were all the Aus­tralians we met. With 295,000 Aussies serv­ing in France and Bel­gium dur­ing World War I, there are many, many pil­grims to the past and the num­bers are grow­ing.

Dis­cov­er­ing the places where Arthur – who has be­come to us like fam­ily, or even a friend – lived and laughed was even more poignant than when we found his grave, be­cause the Aus­tralian Trail of Re­mem­brance is a place not of ghosts, but where our peo­ple’s sto­ries live on.

As Cap­tain James Sprent, the of­fi­cer to whom the dy­ing Arthur handed his di­ary, wrote later: “Such men never re­ally die.”

Con­nec­tions to Aussies, known and un­known, are ev­ery­where

MATES, EMO­TIONAL KOKODA TREK IN SA WEEK­END

Pic­ture: TRI­CIA WATKIN­SON

DID HER BIT: World War II vet­eran Thelma Zim­mer­man at her Rose Park home.

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