A class of nine and ten-year-olds in Villers-Bretonneux in Northern France has won the 2018 Sadlier-Stokes Prize, for a documentary commemorating events that took place in their town 100 years ago.
The 25-minute film, titled “Do Not Forget Australia”, follows students from the Victoria School in Villers-Bretonneux as they visited the Australian National Memorial, Adelaide Cemetery and the Franco-Australian Museum.
The prize was presented by Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, at an Anzac Day ceremony in France.
Mr Turnbull said the prize commemorated Australian and French service on the Western Front, and celebrated the ongoing friendship between the two countries.
“Today, children, Villers-Bretonneux is full of Australians. 100 years ago, it was also full of Australians but they were fighting hand-to-hand in the most brutal conflict to free your town and keep France free,” he said.
“These young soldiers, young men in their teens and twenties, were thousands of miles from home. And some, too many, never returned. They were all volunteers, they came willingly, and they fought ferociously, for freedom and for the freedom of the people of France.
“And we honour today among them, Lieutenant Clifford Sadlier and Sergeant Charlie Stokes. Their extraordinary courage and resilience helped their battalion to advance during the battle here in your town on the 25th April 1918, 100 years ago. And that courage and that of their comrades enabled this town to be free.
“Their story, as well as those of so many others, is remembered by the Sadlier Stokes Prize … We are all proud to see younger generations, [in] both France and Australia, exploring the history of their grandfathers, great-grandfathers, great-great-grandfathers who fought so hard here in the fields and towns around us.
“You vowed you would never forget Australia, and it brings such comfort and joy to our nation and to the descendants of the men who fought here to know that you have kept your promise,” Mr Turnbull said.