In Villers-Bretonneux and the surrounding area, the month of April has special meaning. Each year, the communities of the district prepare to welcome thousands of Australians who come to the region for Anzac Day on 25 April, to commemorate the involvement of Australian and New Zealand troops in France and Belgium during the First World War.
This year, Australian Government-led public overseas Anzac Day commemorative services are not able to proceed due to the pandemic. While the traditional Anzac Day Dawn Service at the Australian National Memorial near Villers-Bretonneux cannot take place, everyone is encouraged to pause and reflect on the service and sacrifice of Australian service personnel and remember the men and women who served in the First World War in a private and appropriate manner.
Several regional initiatives are being put in place to remember Australian men and women who fought in France and to celebrate the Franco-Australian friendship forged during the Great War.
The Val de Somme Tourist Office is encouraging the inhabitants of the district to take part in the operation “Australia at your Windows”. From 1 to 25 April, everyone is invited to decorate their windows, facade, garden, or driveway with the colours of Australia. The operation was a great success for its first edition in 2020 and photos of this initiative were relayed on social media and in the French and Australian press. The Sir John Monash Centre supports this operation and invites you to decorate your doorstep with the Australian colours!
“Dear Australia” is the second initiative of the Val de Somme District. Supported by the Sir John Monash Centre, this action invites the young people of the district to prepare a letter or drawing that will be sent to Australian veterans’ associations. The objective of this action is to create intergenerational correspondence between the French and the Australians in remembrance of the unbreakable bond that unites France and Australia.
For more information on these two initiatives in the Val de Somme, please contact the Val de Somme Tourist Office, [email protected]