On Saturday, the prize winners travelled through France from Ieper to Amiens and Albert. Along the way they paid their respects to fallen service people at VC Corner Australian Cemetery, Fromelles Military Cemetery, Lille Southern Cemetery, Bullecourt, The Windmill, Mouquet Farm and Thiepval Memorial and visited Lochnager Crater.
Sunday's journey encompassed Vignacourt British Cemetery, Querrieu British Cemetery, Heilly Station Cemetery, Heath Cemetery, Dartmoor Cemetery, Guard's Cemetery Lesbouefs, Warlencourt British Cemetery, Courcelette British Cemetery, Ribemont Communal Cemetery Extension, Villers-Bretonneux Australian National Memorial, Australian Corps Memorial - Le Hamel and Adelaide Cemetery.
For the final day of the tour today the students will travel to Paris taking in the iconic sights including Notre Dame Cathedral, the Louvre, Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower.
Video has been added to the DETE YouTube channel (note: clicking this link will take you to an external website).
Photos have been added to the gallery.
Emily Leggett and Emily Jones
Today was a very busy and equally rewarding day of commemorations. We kicked off the morning at Menin Gate - and despite being for members of group B their 3rd visit to the memorial, it was no less emotional than the first time our eyes struggled to comprehend the endless rows and columns bearing fallen soldiers' names, standing to attention one last time.
Many students had soldiers to commemorate and the spirit of mateship was seen alive and well with the taller students helping their vertically challenged comrades place poppies in the wall by the names of their adopted service people. Another particularly memorable cemetery was the Langemark German Cemetery - marked as different from the outset by the distinct lack of towering crosses we had grown accustomed to watching over the fallen soldiers in the Commonwealth cemeteries. Initially it was hard to see past the gloom and 'air of defeat', as it was dubbed in our group discussion, created by the stumpy crosses, dark ground level tombstones and shaded covering of acorn trees. A common misconception many descendants of the Allied Forces have when visiting this cemetery, as our guide explained, is that, particularly as the headstones are shared amongst many men and are very unassuming, the Germans were uncaring for their fallen comrades. However, as he pointed out, this could not be further from the truth, with the surrounding moat and cemetery actually designed to represent Valhalla, the next world unto which heroes pass after having lived, fought and died together. This particular cemetery was the final resting place for a student's and teacher's league of the Freikorps, and the site of the massacre of over 44,000 of Germany's youngest, brightest minds. All fighting for similar ideals as the Anzacs, doing the bidding of those above them, pushed through the meat grinder of life for King and Country, only caught on the wrong side of history.
Yet another amazing site was also visited today, in the form of Hill 60. The effects of the shells used during the battle are still very visible today, as the landscape is riddled with small craters. An original Australian bunker is still at the site today. After a brief overview of the events of the battle there, the group crossed a railway bridge to see a crater made by one of the many large mines utilised on the Western Front to destroy major German bases. This crater is one of the biggest craters caused by these mines, and now hosts a view so picturesque that it is almost impossible to believe that it was created through such a violent explosion. The Tyne Cot Cemetery was another place of respect and remembrance visited today. Many students participated in the commemoration of soldiers adopted by the students - both sharing their own soldier's story and listening to others. In the middle of the cemetery, at the location of the cross of sacrifice stands a viewing platform, allowing 360 degree views around the final resting place of over 12,000 soldiers. Those soldiers to "whom the fortune of war denied the known and honoured burial given to their comrades in death" have their names listed on the wall, with the previous inscription below. The day spent in and around Ieper, especially visiting the final resting places of so many soldiers put the harshness of war into perspective, especially when we learned of those soldiers who lied about their age to join the army and who never saw the shores of their home country again.
Lest We Forget.
Reflections on Western Front battlefields
Jacob Cookson and Lachlan McLean
Today was another great, yet emotional day. Travelling through Belgian and French battlefields was an enriching experience. Everyone on tour was filled with knowledge as our fantastic historians shared their stories. The cemeteries that we visited today were especially emotional; we were certainly confronted by the sheer number of graves from Fromelles and Somme. We made trips to the Windmill, Bullecourt and Mouquet Farm during our busy day. The memorials throughout the Western Front look spectacular, but when the stories of the battle, and even further, the stories of individual soldiers are shared, the reality of the brutality of war kicks in. Unlike Gallipoli, the focus is not on Australia: there are cemeteries with Canadians, British and French soldiers. This has helped all of us give a different perspective to the 'Great War', and truly shows the enormity of the events 100 years ago. Overall, it was quite an emotionally draining day, but at the same time it gave us all a greater understanding and appreciation of the sacrifices made all that time ago.
Reflections on Western Front battlefields
Jonathan Manifold and Adam Cass
The first cemetery we visited today was Vignacourt British Cemetery, where we witnessed some moving commemorations of fallen soldiers.
The group piled back into the bus, and made our way to Querrieu Cemetery. Once again, the group was touched by the commemoration presented to us, and had a humbling experience walking among the tombstones that marked soldiers' final resting places.
The group travelled on Heilly Station, where after some more commemorations, Rodger, our resident historian, helped us to get a feel for the land, and the important battles that took place near 100 years ago.
Back on the bus, Rodger continued to inform us of major factors in each battle place that the Australian Imperial Force played a role in. He especially concentrated upon the decisions that were made by top British and Australian Generals, and the strategy employed by both Allied and Central Powers forces.
When both groups reached the village of Villers-Bretonneux we visited the local school, which played host to a dedicated World War One museum, that only served to highlight the respect that the French people of the village hold for the Australians.
At the Australian National Memorial most of us had tears in our eyes for the multitude of commemorations that were read. We all spent a lot of time here, as besides the commemorations, we hosted our own ceremony - the choir sung and bugler played from the heights of the main tower.
We visited the Australian Corps Memorial at Le Hamel and Adelaide Cemetery. Two people commemorated their respective soldiers, Roger and Mike continued to discuss the details of the Battle of Villers-Bretonneux, and Majella led the group in an emotional final commemoration - to an unknown soldier. We then departed Adelaide Cemetery - our final cemetery visit - and returned to the hotel. We had a short tour briefing, enjoyed a lovely meal and retired to our rooms for an early night's sleep, in preparation for a busy day tomorrow in Paris.
Over the weekend the students remembered:
Lance Corporal Alexander Smith Gilvear 216K
Private Philip Bergin 234K
Private Reuben Woodward Pershouse 132K
Second Lieutenant Nevill Montague Little 385K
Lance Corporal John Charles Dun 295K
Private John Leonard Alcorn 133K
Private Glanville Henry George Rolls 819K
Private Stanley Albert Corbett Booth 134K
Corporal John Edward McDonald 133K
Private Henry William Petersen 1.2M
Lance Corporal Frederick William Goodland 250K
Private Thomas Michael Wixted 433K
Private Albert Victor Taylor 131K
This page was last reviewed on 04 May 2015 at 04:59PM