ANZAC Day 2011: France

The following report comes from FFFAIF French member Yves Fohlen who attended the Dawn Service at Villers Bretonneux. Yves has been present at each of the official services held at Villers Bretonneux. Although long before these services were conducted, Yves had been commemorating ANZAC Day amongst the graves of the fallen Diggers from the Great War.

Yves describes his experiences on ANZAC Day 2011:
On ANZAC Day I awoke at 1.45am and left home at 2.15am …arriving at V-B at 3.25am.

Photo: Australian National Memorial
[Yves Fohlen]

There were about 5,000 persons attending the service. I counted 28 coaches!! It was the first time also to see so many Australian school children at the service.
I attended the ceremony with Mike and Roz Goodwin. Mike laid a wreath on behalf of FFFAIF association and was seen on Aussie TV!! 

Photo: FFFAIF members Mike and Roz Goodwin (Mackay North) and Bruce Skates (Melbourne)
after Villers Bretonneux service

The Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Kevin Rudd gave a long and great speech.
After the service I met the Bullecourt Delegation and I headed up North to Bullecourt.

Photo: Village church at Bullecourt [Carole Laignel]

I arrived at Bullecourt at 8.30 am. I had a coffee with Roselyn the wife of the Major Jules Laude as Bullecourt Museum owner Jean Letaille was attending VB village ceremonies I decided to go for a walk…..
I decided to walk on the old railway embankment….very peaceful  & calm  moment….weather perfect….”a moment of paradise”. It is hard to imagine the horrors of 1917.

Photo: Railway embankment on Bullecourt battlefield

Walking alone was a way for me to remember…it was my special private ANZAC Day ceremony.

At 1.30 pm at the Little Cross began that short and always moving and private ceremony.

Photo: Yves Fohlen at the Little Cross, Bullecourt [FFFAIF 2010 Tour]

The photo below shows from left to right with his hat is Hon Mr Bruce Scott.  Mr David Ritchie, Australian Ambassador in France; the Hon Minister Mr Kevin Rudd, Jules Laude Mayor of Bullecourt, Colonel Mark Green, attaché de Défense, Jean Letaille AM….you can also see on the far right also Mike & Roz Goodwin.

Photo: Australian Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr Kevin Rudd
laying a wreath at the Little Cross, Bullecourt

Photo: Monsieur Jean Letaille AM

Then after this we walked to the centre of Bullecourt village to attend the official ANZAC Day ceremony. They were about 1,500 persons attending.

Amongst the crowd I met Carole Laignel from Fromelles Association and also a FFFAIF member. Very smart!!!

Photo: FFFAIF members Mike Goodwin and Carole Laignel
 at Bullecourt service

We had several French politicians and VIPs from the county attending. British and Canadian CWGC representatives… the director of US Bony cemetery also laid a wreath. We had French & British & Australian Anthems…always moving for me to sing the 3 anthems in Bullecourt.
Then we marched to the Bullecourt Park memorial for the last part of the ceremonies. Here are the photos I took at the young Digger Memorial

…2 flags which mean a lot for me.

2011 ANZAC Day was indeed another great moving day in my life. Back home at 7.15 pm I went straight to bed…but felt very happy.


If you have a photo or story of an ANZAC Day commemoration you would like to share please email to The FFFAIF would like to hear from you.

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