|Commemoration details||Australian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux, France
Villers-Bretonneux is a village about 15 km east of Amiens. The Memorial stands on the
high ground ('Hill 104') behind the Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery, Fouilloy,
which is about 2 km north of Villers-Bretonneux on the east side of the road to Fouilloy.
The Australian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux is approached through the
Military Cemetery, at the end of which is an open grass lawn which leads into
a three-sided court. The two pavilions on the left and right are linked by the
north and south walls to the back (east) wall, from which rises the focal point of the
Memorial, a 105 foot tall tower, of fine ashlar. A staircase leads to an observation
platform, 64 feet above the ground, from which further staircases lead to an
observation room. This room contains a circular stone tablet with bronze pointers
indicating the Somme villages whose names have become synonymous with battles of the
Great War; other battle fields in France and Belgium in which Australians fought;
and far beyond, Gallipoli and Canberra.
On the three walls, which are faced with Portland stone, are the names of 10,885
Australians who were killed in France and who have no known grave. The 'blocking course'
above them bears the names of the Australian Battle Honours.
After the war an appeal in Australia raised £22,700, of which £12,500 came from
Victorian school children, with the request that the majority of the funds be used to
build a new school in Villers-Bretonneux. The boys' school opened in May 1927, and
contains an inscription stating that the school was the gift of Victorian schoolchildren,
twelve hundred of whose fathers are buried in the Villers-Bretonneux cemetery, with
the names of many more recorded on the Memorial. Villers-Bretonneux is now twinned
with Robinvale, Victoria, which has in its main square a memorial to the
links between the two towns.