On battleground trail in Europe
DRIVING in Europe, it’s not uncommon to come across a war memorial or field of memorials, many mark places where Aussie boys fought and died in World War 1.
They should not and hopefully will never be forgotten.
I follow the battlefield trail down through Belgium, around the celebrated Ypres Salient including, Passchendaele and Brooseinde Ridge where the amazing Tyne Cot Cemetery is located and where two Australians VCS winners are buried.
Polygon Wood is another superb memorial, along with Lijssennthoek Military Cemetery and the historic town of Poperinge, 11km west of Ypres.
Further south, the preserved trenches at Sanctuary Wood and Hill 62 offers a great insight as to how difficult life in the trenches was.
Next on the trail is the beautiful town of Ypres which was bombarded into rubble in 1915 and later rebuilt using the original plans of its historic buildings.
The outstanding Flanders Fields Museum in the rebuilt Cloth Hall provides a real understanding of the struggle to hold that city.
Every night (rain hail or whatever), at precisely 8pm, members of the local fire brigade band march down to the Menin Gate Memorial, and in a short ceremony, play ‘The Last Post’.
Words cannot describe this evening event.
Groups of people from all over the world gather and bow their heads as the strains of the six fire brigade buglers pierce the still cold air which echo’s out into the darkness.
After a visit to the famous Messines Ridge area and Ploegsteert Memorial, continue south into Northern France, visiting Armentieres, the ANZAC Cemetery at Saillysur la-lys, Fleubaix and VC Corner at Fromelles.
Further south lies Arras and Bapaume and across to the Australian Cemetery at Bullecourt, then on to Albert via Possiers, that infamous village name that sent thousands and thousands of troops to an early grave.
You must visit the huge British Thiepval Memorial to the Missing, but above all, do stop off at the Beaumont-hamel Newfoudland Memorial, this is really heart wrenching history.
Then it’s on to Albert via the Lochnagar Crater before getting to the beautiful city of Amiens.
The final and fitting visit will take you east to the Australian National Memorial at Villers Bretonneux and of course the village and celebrated school which was rebuilt with the aid of the Schoolchildren of Victoria, way back then.
The 5th Australian Division Memorial at Polygon Wood in the Ypres Salient. 5741 dead and wounded from 26th - 28th September 1917.
The Ypres Fire Brigade playing the Last Post which they do every night at 8pm at the Menin Gate Memorial.
The 2nd Division Memorial at Mont St. Quentin overlooking Peronne - the digger stands aside his plinth.