Saturday, April 25, 2009

Anzac Salute

Australian Sacrifice Sustained A Little French Town

Shrine of Remembrance. Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON




The main street, called Rue de Melbourne isn’t in Melbourne, my hometown. The Victoria School isn’t in the state of Victoria, where I live.

They’re both in a French town called Villers Bretonneux. There in the school, the students still sing the haunting lyrics of Waltzing Matilda, the old Australian national anthem.


Yes, little French children sing the Australian words "billabong", "coolibah tree", "jumbuck" and "swagman". Emblazoned prominently around their school are several signs that say: "Do not forget Australia."

The Australian flag flies over this town. It is a fitting gesture of respect, for the Australian flag once flew over this town after a terribly bloody battle.


The story goes back to the northern hemisphere spring of 1918. German troops captured Villers-Bretonneux on 23 April and two Australian brigades were ordered to retake the town before the Germans pushed towards Amiens.

The attack began late on the night of 24 April and by dawn the next day the Australians controlled the town. But almost 1200 Diggers had fallen during the battle.


Publishing this salute to history and sacrifice is especially significant today, for it is exactly 91 years to the day that the Australians liberated the town. And for about five hours after this auto-posts on my site, hundreds of people, young and old, will be gathering in reverence and in silence here in Melbourne, at the Shrine of Remembrance.

Today is Anzac Day and the traditional dawn service will honour all those who laid down their lives to ensure our freedom.


Visit TNChick's Photo Hunt. Today's theme: "Protection''.

39 comments:

i beati said...

neat story Sandy

TheWritersPorch said...

A very fitting tribute! I thought that flame was a ghost! HA!

Maggie May said...

I learn something new all the time when I come here, though I had heard of Anzac Day.

Russ said...

Wow, that's very touching.

BTW, Love the first photo. Great perspective on it!

Mojo said...

Nicely done David. A fitting remembrance for those who gave it all, not for their own freedom, but for that of those in another land half a world away.

aims said...

I had no idea that Waltzing Matilda was the national anthem. What a shame it isn't anymore.

Bless those who gave their lives for freedom. How often we just forget and go on with our 'lives'. While they have given theirs.

Thanks for this David. Your own lovely tribute has reached across the world and made me think of them today too.

imac said...

Very enjoyable post David, with great shots too.

Fancy A give-away? then pop to
http://imac-photosfromthemindseye.blogspot.com

Jewels said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pat - Arkansas said...

Thanks for sharing this moving story from WW I, David. May those who gave their lives in war rest in peace.

Abe Lincoln said...

Anzac Day. I have heard of this ever since I went overseas in 1953. The photography is very good and I like the assortment of pictures you posted.

It still fascinates me that we have wars like the Korean War, called a "police action," and then other places have their own wars with names so strange to me. I guess that is how the world works.

Not sure you are interested in seeing something but if you go to http://gordonohio.blogspot.com/ you can see my new blog about the hamlet where I was born and grew up.

Jewels said...

As children in Canada, we learn a song about Australia:

Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree
Merry, merry King of the bush is he
Laugh, Kookaburra
Laugh, Kookaburra
Gay your life must be

It's quite catchy, even though none of us had any idea what a Kookaburra was... or a gum tree. We imagined pink trees with bubblegum leaves.

Who knows why we sing that? It was a daily anthem as we put toys away in kindergarten.

Beautiful Story David.

Linda Fleming said...

What an wonderful blog- amazing photography and interesting stories.

Thank you for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment.

ds said...

That's a lovely tribute. Anzac Day as a term triggers a faint memory, but I had no idea what it meant.
Thank you.

Sniffles and Smiles said...

A terrific post, and a beautiful tribute through both photos and words! Thank you!

Cath said...

Extremely poignant and a good reminder of what we need to remember.

Great post. Great respect shown by the French. Great example.

Rinkly Rimes said...

I have a great friend, an elderly man, over in France at the moment. I'm sure he's soaking up the atmosphere.

Travis said...

May their gallant and brave service and sacrifice long be remembered.

Pouty Lips said...

Where did the term Anzac originate? Is it one of the heroes of the day?

Shellie said...

What a great tribute, that town. The photos are great!

Mudhooks said...

Very moving... Lest we forget....

srp said...

This is a lovely post and a wonderful tribute to brave heroes! Great job!

Becky said...

Thanks for sharing the story and the photos. It's a great choice for the theme and a reminder to us all.

Mine is posted here.

Cindy OFarrell said...

Wow! Great history behind your photos:) Learned something new as well.

I've done a PH post as well. Please visit http://upcountrysmiles.com

Aloha,
Cindy O

Mariposa said...

What a nice post...thanks for sharing!

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Listening to Waltzing Matilda at the moment (the first time, thanks to you). Thanks for sharing the story and great (as usual) pics.

Have a great weekend!

JyLnC said...

That was true and valiant protection at a time when it was really needed.

My take is humorous this week.

Stop by and see mine if you have the chance.
JyLnC's Photo Hunt

Liz said...

A wonderful story of real courage and protection.

Marites said...

that's really touching and a good post for our theme this week.

My PH is here

Greyscale Territory said...

We both gave honour to ANZAC Day in an unusual way rather than just celebrating the services and parades. Enjoyed your insight into the French connection!

Madame DeFarge said...

Excellent post David and a timely reminder of the importance of not forgetting the sacrifice made by so many.

SASSY MOM said...

Lovely post! happy weekend!
Mine is here.

deepazartz said...

There are lots to hear from each part of the world. It was good for me to know about this touching story.It reminded me of Amar Jawan Jyothi (the flame of the Immortal Warrior)...which is in India Gate,Delhi...site of Indian army's Tomb of the unknown soldier. Incidentally it is for the British Indian Army who lost their lives during World War 1 & also the Afghan Wars.

Thanks for your comment in my blog. Hope to see more of your comments:)

Tara R. said...

Fabulous photos and a great story. Perfect for this week's PH theme.

PastorMac's Ann said...

Excellent choice for "protect(ion)" Appreciate the history and background. Great photos to go with it.

Carrie and Troy Keiser said...

Wow! Thanks for the history lesson.

healingmagichands said...

Thank you for your informative, moving and thought provoking post. I really like your take on the theme. I particularly like it because my husband and my father are veterans, (of different wars) and it always makes me feel good to see people acknowledging the value of what soldiers do.

http://healingmagichands.wordpress.com/2009/04/25/photohunt-protection/

Willow said...

This is beautiful and very touching. Thanks for sharing it with us.

TAB said...

Awesome! Cool how much respect is shown there for Australia.

rachelizabeth said...

A great story. With great photos to go along with it.

Oh, and now I have "Waltzing Matilda" stuck in my head. Thanks a lot!