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Friday 20 April 2018 - Ypres Salient

The group continued their tour of the Western Front concentrating on the Ypres Salient where over one million men were killed or wounded trying to gain control of this small patch of ground. Polygon Wood and Buttes New British Cemetery were among the cemeteries visited today as well as the German Cemetery at Langemark. At the Langemark cemetery alone, the number of buried soldiers is greater in comparison to the total buried in all of the allied cemeteries, such were their losses also.

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 Paris have been added to the photo gallery.

Student views

Menin Gate and other sites visited

Today was incredible. We started the day by commemorating a soldier at the Derry House No. 2 Cemetery in the countryside surrounding Ypres, Belgium. It was a crisp sunny morning where we stood in a cemetery tucked away behind a farmhouse. We were in awe of the thousands of white headstones that lay scattered across the fields of the Western Front.

We soon moved on to Hill 60 where we explored the battlefields further. We then journeyed to Polygon Wood where we followed our expert WWI guide Peter, through the forest and along a trail to find an old WWI block house. Next we completed a commemorative service for the soldiers lost in the Passchendaele Offensive and others.

After lunch we ventured to one of only a few German cemeteries and to the New Irish Farm where another soldier was commemorated. It was a day full of learnings and moments of deep reflection.

We finished the day with a delicious dinner in the square of Ypres and an emotional service at Menin Gate. We have already had so many incredible experiences on this trip that have changed our perceptions of the world and made us into more knowledgeable and grateful people.

By Tyla Craven-Griffiths and Shana Coyle

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:

Polygon Wood, Buttes New British Cemetery

Private Albert Edward Abbott
(Commemorated by Shana Coyle)

Albert Edward Abbott was born on the 5th June 1894 in Dinmore, Queensland. On the 23rd February, 1916 at the age of 21, Albert enlisted in the army. He was attached to the 26th Battalion, 14th Reinforcements and departed from Brisbane, Queensland on the 8th August 1916. The Battle of Broodseinde Ridge began before dawn on the 4th October 1917. Tragically, Private Albert Edward Abbott died in the battle at the age of 23.

Private Thomas Campion
(Commemorated by Tim McMahon)

Thomas Champion was 31 years old when he decided to enlist. Thomas' unit were essentially reinforcements for the 24th Battalion, part of the 6th Australian Brigade, of the 2nd Division. On the night of the 9th October 1917, German snipers targeted Australian Soldiers. Small gains were made but because of heavy casualties, the Australians were unable to consolidate their positions. Thomas Campion was killed in battle during that night. He was 32 years old. Thomas now rests at Buttes New British Cemetery in Polygon Wood.

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