Visitors to the Sir John Monash Centre will have the opportunity to experience the co-located Australian National Memorial and the Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery as they make their way into the Centre.
Australian National Memorial
The Australian National Memorial, located behind the Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery honours the Australian soldiers who fought in France and Belgium, and who lie under the battlefields. The Memorial consists of a central tower, with spectacular views of the surrounding countryside, flanked by wing walls commemorating the 10,722 Australian casualties who died in France and who have no known grave.
During the Second World War the Memorial was used as an observation post by the French and was extensively damaged by German aircraft and ground fire. Although repairs were carried out, some scarring was retained and can still be seen on parts of the memorial.
Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery
Villers-Bretonneux became famous on 23 April 1918, when the German advance on Amiens ended in the capture of the village by their tanks and infantry. On the following day, the 4th and 5th Australian Divisions, with units of the 8th and 18th Divisions, recaptured the village, and some say turned the tide on the First World War. On 8 August 1918, the 2nd and 5th Australian Divisions advanced from its eastern outskirts in the Battle of Amiens.
The Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery was established after the Armistice when graves were brought in from other burial grounds in the area and from the battlefields.
There are now 2,142 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War buried or commemorated in this cemetery, 609 of whom remain unidentified.