Today, their tour in the footsteps of the Anzacs begins as they depart Paris for Ypres, just across the Belgium border. Cemeteries visited today included Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Cemetery where 250 soldiers exhumed from the recently discovered mass grave there were laid to rest in 2010.
Upon their arrival in the historic town of Ypres, their historian took them on a walking tour, visiting key sites such as the Cloth Hall, St George's Chapel, St Martin's Cathedral, In Flanders Field Museum and Ramparts (Lille Gate) Cemetery.
This evening they attended the Last Post Ceremony at Menin Gate (where the names of 54,000 missing British and Commonwealth soldiers are recorded) and laid a wreath. The Ypres fire brigade has performed this bugle ceremony every day since 1928, the only interruption being during the four years of German occupation during the Second World War. The ceremony recommenced on the day the town was liberated in 1944.
Photos of the students' tour of Ypres and surrounds have been added to the gallery.
Today our journey in the footsteps of the Anzacs began as we left Paris and headed for Belgium to start our commemorations along the Western Front. Our first stop was the Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Cemetery. Here, 450 soldiers recently exhumed from a mass grave formed after the Battle of Fromelles lay at rest. Matisse delivered her very moving eulogy on her distant relative, George Lucre.
We then proceeded to the Cobbers Memorial statue, where we all explored a few of the German blockhouses, and on to the VC Corner Military Cemetery. Here several hundred unidentified Australian soldiers are buried, while a large wall displaying all the Australian Missing from Fromelles stands at the front of the cemetery. Pete, our tour guide, shared many stories and shared the history of the battlefield on which we stood. He had us stand where the Australian soldiers stood all those years ago, looking out over the battlefields, encouraging us to imagine what it would have been like to face the German gunners during that bloody battle.
It was a moving experience to say the least. Next we headed to the Trois Arbes cemetery in Steenwerck where Matisse delivered her second eulogy commemorating a soldier from her local area of Cairns, Ernest Ainscow. Having been able to locate the site of Ernest's childhood home in Cairns, Matisse laid a few stones taken from this location on his grave as a way to bring home to a young man who could never return himself.
After this we checked into our hotel in Ypres and walked up to the Menin Gate where we participated in the nightly commemoration service. Brooklyn, Matisse, Nicholas and Marissa had the honour of laying a wreath on behalf of Queensland and the other four tour members will do so at the service tomorrow night. The service was wonderful and it was incredible to hear the buglers sound the last post, as they have done every evening bar one, since the Menin Gate was first built. After the service we returned to our hotel for an early night, as we all prepare for a big day of exploring the battlefields tomorrow.
By Brooklyn Lade and Matisse Reed
Each member of the tour group researched three service personnel. This information has been captured in a State Library of Queensland Historypin.
Commemorations were held today for:
Private George Henry Lucre
Born May 1893. Enlisted July 1915 at age 22. George's first and only major battle occurred at Fromelles, on 19 July 1916 where he was shot through the head and died instantly. His body was exhumed from a mass grave in 2009, his final resting place now at Pheasant Wood Cemetery.
Private Ernest Ainscow
Born 1898 in England. Enlisted 1916 aged 18. Within two months of action, an artillery shell hit the dug out where Ernest was located. He died of wounds at age 19.
Private Waterman Alexander Brown
Born 1891 and enlisted 1916 at age 25. Waterman was injured during the Battle of Broodenside Ridge on 4 October, possibly shot in the charge towards the German offence, and died of wounds two days later.
Private Henry Edward Hembrow
Born 1894 in Queensland and enlisted January 1916. Hembrow served near Passchendaele, Belgium and was reported wounded in action on the 29 September 1917 but died of wounds the following day. He was 23 years old.
Private Francis Adrian Ross
Born 1900. Enlisted in 1916 at age 16. Francis experienced poor health during most of his experience in the war. He was killed in action at 17 years of age by a high explosive shell which killed him instantaneously.
Private Harold Thomas Treloar
Enlisted at 18 years at Mackay, Qld. Treloar was recorded for several cases of disobedience. He was reported wounded and missing on the 26th of September 1917 in the Ypres area in Belgium.
Lance Corporal Reginal Charles Hooper
Born 1888 and worked as a carpenter in Woombye Queensland. Enlisted 1915. Survived Gallipoli, was wounded in France and killed in action at Polygon Wood, Ypres 20 September 1917.
Lance Corporal Frank Gilbert Usher
Born 1900 and enlisted in Brisbane in 1916 at 16 years and 2 months old. Frank was involved in the Battle of Menin Road where he met his eventual end. He was struck by a shell and died at the age of 17 years and 8 months.
Private Bert Chapman
Born 1895, England. Enlisted 9 March 1915. Bert and his battalion played a defensive role at several posts in Gallipoli before moving on to the Western Front. He survived some time fighting in France before Bert and his battalion were sent back to Australia. Upon his return, Bert married and had five children.
This page was last reviewed on 19 Apr 2017 at 03:20PM