Anzac Day, The Somme. 2017
Cold and windy this year for the 2km walk to the Australian War Memorial just outside of the small town of Villiers-Bretonneux about 1hr and a half drive from Paris. The war graves association have excelled in keeping the final resting place of too many Aussie Diggers perfectly groomed, not just for this special remembrance day but also for the whole year. Rain, hail or shine. Every grave, tombstone, walkway, flower, blade of grass. Everything. Perfect. If your Australian and any where near this area, it doesn't have to be Anzac day to visit and have a beer, say a prayer or sit and watch the sun go down over the rolling hills around what was once the heavily contested Hindenburg Line. In total around 65000 Australians, under English command, were killed in Nth western France, Belgium and Holland. Put that into perspective, the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane holds 52000 and I'm sure that will be full next month for the State of Origin.
This year the service kicked off with photos projected onto the impressive tower, music and old songs, war stories of never to be forgotten hero's and haunting videos of what it was really like 100 years ago in this exact spot. Wet, cold and muddy, stinking of death with no end in sight.
The service perfectly timed to have the last post playing as the night changes through dim light into vibrant sunrise and the wreaths are laid as families remember lost members just two generations away.
In VB around 9.00 is a service to the French of the area followed by speeches in the town hall. French and Australian dignitaries dressed in full garb telling tales of bravery that I can not even imagine.
For me the real fun starts at Bullecourt, about a 45min drive away. The Aussies proved themselves pretty well everywhere they fought but none more so then in Bullecourt.
There is another graves site here, again perfectly kept, that hosts another service mid afternoon. Its more personal than VB in my opinion and when all is said and done the flowers are down and tears wiped, the crowd wanders back to the only pub in town, Le Canberra, to liven up a little. The beer is cold, the locals are kool and there is always a good bloke to yarn with.
Here is this years Anzac Day shot with a 50mm lens and of coarse on my trusty Hasselblad.