Yves Fohlen, FFFAIF member in France continues his report from ANZAC Day with an account on the commemorations at Bullecourt. (50o11’33.47”W, 2o55’38.87”E). Yves’ report on ANZAC Day Dawn Service can be read by clicking here.
ANZAC Day Bullecourt, France
I made my way to Dernancourt British military to remember a Digger: 4296 Corporal A Sattler 53rd Infantry Battalion who died from wounds on 11 March 1917.
After a short private ceremony just for him I went to Bullecourt to help my friend Jean Letaille AM to welcome visitors.
It was also great for to meet my ‘English brother’ Paul Kendall who currently writes a new book about the battles of Bullecourt. Paul’s relative Private George Kendall 22nd Manchester Regiment was listed as Missing in action at Bullecourt on 12 May 1917.
At 3.00 pm with Paul Kendall, Jean Letaille AM, Mr Jules Laude, Mayor of Bullecourt, two French Flag bearers we welcomed the coming of Australian personalities. That coming happened at the little cross memorial erected where the Diggers broke the German lines.
This year our Australian personalities and friends were : Mr Alan Griffin Minister of Veterans‘ Affairs, his Excellency Vice Admiral Kevin Scarce, His Excellency Mr David Ritchie Ambassador of Australia in France, Major General J P Stevens AO, Colonel Félix Skorwronski Australian Attaché de Défense.
Wreaths were layed.
Photo: Mr Alan Griffin Minister of Veterans‘ Affairs laying a wreath at ‘the little cross memorial’.
Photo: The Mayor of Bullecourt laying a wreath at ‘the little cross memorial’.
That unofficial ceremony is a very moving moment…for me ‘a Must’
Then all the personalities went to the centre of the village to start the official Anzac day ceremony. A crowd of about 2000 persons was there. French personalities from Nord Pas de Calais region took part in the ceremonies. Then Anzac Day ceremonies ended at the Digger Memorial.
After the ceremonies a “pot de l’Amitié’ was given in the centre of the village.
Mr Alan Griffin and several others VIPs visited Jean Letaille’s museum. On the museum visitors book Mr Griffin wrote: ‘Magnifique!’. That visit was of importance for all of us who are working on the New Bullecourt Museum. [The previous day, Mr Griffin announced the development of the "ANZAC Trail" on the Western Front that included an Australian Government contribution to upgrading the Bullecourt Musuem.]
Back at home…after such intense Anzac Day…it was hard for me to come back on Earth.
[The photos in this report were taken by Yves Fohlen]
The Families and Friends of the First AIF thanks the Australian, UK and French governments for affording Australian and British soldiers – presently buried in mass graves at Pheasant Wood – dignified individual reburials in a new CWGC cemetery at Fromelles, and applauds Minister Snowdon and his British counterpart, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence and Minister for Veterans, Kevan Jones MP, for their joint decision to DNA test the remains at exhumation and use every reasonable method to attempt identification of each soldier.