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Thursday 19 April 2018 - Paris to Ypres

The tour in the footsteps of the Anzacs' commenced today with students embarking for Belgium after breakfast. Several historical sites including the Australian Memorial Park, V.C. Corner Cemetery, and the site of the recently discovered Australian mass grave at Pheasant Wood were visited, giving perspective of the sacrifice given to defend the Western Front.

Photos

Photos of the first of the cemetery visits and commemorations held on the Western Front have been added to the photo gallery.

Student views

Reflections on the cemeteries visited

Today we began our pilgrimage to the Western Front. Departing from Paris early in the morning, we headed northeast towards Belgium. Stopping first at a Canadian Memorial, we ventured through replica trenches, helping the group to gain a greater understanding of the realities of war. The group then proceeded to the Fromelles Memorial, which is the sight of the worst day for Australian military casualties. We also visited the museum before proceeding to the hotel. After dinner, we then attended the Menin Gate service, which is held daily. Here we commemorated the brave men who fought for their country.

From the rocky shores of Gallipoli,
To the poppied fields of Flanders,
The desolate plains of Libya,
Up the mountainous heights of New Guinea,
And all lands in-between,
These men fought for their country,
For Australians are not defined by race, religion nor kin,
But by the belief in freedom, mateship, courage,
And the Anzac Legend within,
Lest We Forget.

By Harry Packwood and Isaac Mabo-Edwards.

Student and chaperone commemorations

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:

Cite Bonjean Military Cemetery

Lance Corporal Wilfred Ernest Wagener
(Commemorated by Isaac Mabo-Edwards)

Wilfred Wagener was born on the 17th April 1892. Prior to the war, Wilfred had served four years as a territorial soldier with the 16th Waikato Infantry Regiment. On the 16th June 1915 he enlisted at the age of 23. On the 3rd July 1916, the Germans began sending shells into Armentieres, which caused fires in several quarters and killed many civilians. During the attack Wilfred was killed. His body was later retrieved and he was buried at Cite Bonjean Military Cemetery on the 8th July 1916.

Corporal William Arthur Leslie Richards
(Commemorated by Isaac Mabo-Edwards)

Enlisted in January 1916 at the age of 16. Lance Corporal William Arthur Leslie Richards was part of the 35th Battalion, which was formed in December 1915 in Newcastle. On the 28th February 1917, William was in the company headquarters dugout at Houplines, France. A shell came through the side of the dugout, badly wounding him in the lower body and legs, he died within minutes. William is buried in the Cite Bonjean Military Cemetery.

Pont de Nieppe Communal Cemetery

Lieutenant 2nd Class Hugh Fulton
(Commemorated by Fenlan Miller)

Born in 1889 in Lanark Scotland. Hugh Fulton enlisted in Brisbane with the 2nd Light Horse Regiment in the Machine Gun Section. During his time on the Gallipoli Peninsula, Hugh was hospitalised due to influenza and a reported injury to his right knee. After spending time back home, Hugh re-enlisted with the 5th Light Horse Regiment. On the 27th July 1919, Hugh Fulton returned home.

Company Quartermaster Sergeant Duncan Baxter
(Commemorated by Tyla Craven-Griffiths)

In January 1916, Duncan Baxter enlisted as a Company Quartermaster Sergeant attached to the 42nd Infantry Battalion. The unit embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on the 5th June 1916, Duncan's last time on Australian soil. On the 17th March 1917, he suffered wounds to both of his feet. Baxter died on the 31st March 1917. He is the recipient of the British War Medal and Victory Medal for his service and sacrifice on the trenches terrain of the Western Front.

Derry House Cemetery

Private Walter James Soutar
(Commemorated by Tyla Craven-Griffiths)

A young and eager Walter applied for enlistment at the age of 15. Attached to the 47th Australian Infantry Battalion, Walter disembarked from Sydney on the 31st March 1916 never to return to Australia. Walter was killed in action on the 12th August 1917 in Belgium. He was 17 years old. His body rests at the Second Derry House Cemetery, Belgium.

Menin Gate Memorial

Private Matthew Frederick Hampson
(Commemorated by Harry Packwood)

Matthew Frederick Hampson, born on the 21st October 1888, in Bundaberg, Queensland. Enlisting on the 26th October 1916, he was 28 years old. Matthew suffered from illnesses, which postponed his journey to the front line. On the 11th August 1917, Fred was transferred to the 31st Battalion, and was moved immediately to the Western Front. On the 11th October 1917, Matthew Frederick Hampson was killed. Confirmed killed in action in Belgium, Fred has no known grave.

Corporal Robert Deckhardt
(Commemorated by Jodi Pallett)

Lance Corporal Robert Deckhardt was born in Poland in 1888. In 1915, Robert enlisted and joined the 42nd Battalion. By November 1916, Robert found himself on the Western Front. From the 10th-21st October 1917, the 42nd Battalion fought in the Battle of Passchendaele. On the 12th October, Robert was killed in action in the muddy fields near Passchendaele. He now lies at rest in the Belgium fields a little closer to his homeland, Poland.

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