Ozzie's Digger Tribute

FFFAIF Members Johan Durnez reported on the service for the interment of the first of the 250 Australian and British soldiers in the Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery in RECENT NEWS Item: Fromelles Burials Begin

Johan introduced Ozzie, the kangaroo, that appeared in some of his photos and in the news reports on television. Johan now provides more details of Ozzie. 

Hello dear friends
This time to tell you a little more about this cute kangaroo we had with us yesterday in Fromelles. 


This fellow arrived here the day before Australia Day, but unfortunately we were not at home when the postman rang at the front door and it was Wednesday before we could collect the box. 

The kangaroo is part of the Ozzie Wozzie project and it was an idea that grew from the visit of FFFAIF member Julie and Paul Reece from South Australia who came to our school to talk to the boys at the end of November about the Connecting Spirits program.  Julie got this terrific idea: we exchange a mascot from our schools and this mascot will take part in the daily life of our students (and teachers) and we will make photos of that and send these to each other. This means that this kangaroo will go to the classes (like the class of woodwork, metalwork, electricity, textiles or just a lesson like French or maths etc) and a photo will be made of that so that those who see the photo will get an idea of how our boys work and how their classes, playground, school restaurant, etc look. It is also the plan that the mascot goes to the homes of the boys and that photos are made of the daily life at home so that we can learn how the houses and gardens and bedrooms and kitchens etc look.  The mascot can go to the sports club, youth movement, church, soccer, horse races, cycling etc…  There are thousands of possibilities to make photos that can help and explain to each other how we live here. And we also try to collect souvenirs to fix on Ozzie’s hat and coat as reminders of places and special occasions where she has been. 

We received already the Australian mascot and our mascot will soon be ready to travel to Australia. (Sorry, I can’t tell you at the moment what mascot the boys have chosen to represent Waregem in Australia ! It has to be a surprise. But the name of our mascot is Wozzie – so: Ozzie and Wozzie from the Ozzie Wozzie project!)

And then we hope to receive now and then photos of our mascot in South Australian conditions. 

And when Julie and her Connecting Spirits group will be in Belgium in December of this year, Ozzie and Wozzie will meet each other and of course, the students will see each other for the first time ‘in live’ and hopefully will know already a lot about each other’s country and life via the photos that will have been exchanged in all the months from January to December 2010! 

So, I picked up Ozzie from the post office last Wednesday and Friday evening, we had the official welcome by the BVL-team, the class directors and support staff from the Ozzie Wozzie kids. First of all we had speeches for more than an hour (no, don’t believe this) and then we had a couple of glasses of South Australian wine.  

 And just like every new student in our school, Ozzie received her carabiner for the key of her locker !

I took Ozzie home as she was had to fulfill her first  “acte de presence”  yesterday in Fromelles !
And that gave me the chance to make Ozzies very first acquaintance with SNOW !


But the real highlight of the weekend was Ozzie’s meeting with the men of the Australia’s Federation Guard in Fromelles!!!
At the “verre d’amitié” (glass of friendship) after the ceremony, I got in contact with one of these men and explained him about the Ozzie Wozzie project and our aim to make photos of Ozzies visit to special activities and I asked him if I could make a photo of him and his mates with Ozzie.   You won’t be surprised when I tell you that he immediately took me to the other men to explain again about the project. As you can see… I really had a very attentive (and high ranking) audience! 

 Photo: Johan with Col Peter Singh, Army Adviser, Australian Defence Staff, Australian High Commission and members of the Australian Federation guard.

 And then these men decided that Ozzie deserved a great souvenir from her presence in Fromelles!  Look at the pictures…


She looks great !!!!  What a start of this photo-project !!!


I hope that I can now and then let you know about the adventures of Ozzie in Flanders !!!!


We look forward to hearing more about Ozzie’s adventures – Thanks Johan.


The Families and Friends of the First AIF applauds the joint Australian–UK decision to conduct a full DNA testing program on the remains of Australian and British soldiers found in mass graves at Pheasant Wood (Fromelles), and for their continuing commitment to identify as many of the fallen as is possible. We also thank the Australian, UK and French governments for affording dignified individual reburials for these soldiers, buried by German soldiers following the Battle of Fromelles on 19/20 July 1916, in the new Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery with services commencing on 30th January 2010.

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