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