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Thursday 26 April 2018 - The Somme

After a day of remembrance and reflection, the students returned to the Australian War Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux where they toured the newly opened Sir John Monash Centre. The tour group also took the time to commemorate a number of service people who lay at rest at Villers-Bretonneux. Also visited today was Adelaide Cemetery, resting place of the Unknown Solider for 75 years before his remains were returned to Australia in 1993 to the Australian War memorial in Canberra.

Photos of the dawn service at the Australian War Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux have been added to the photo gallery.

Student views

The Somme

Today we continued with many commemorations all very moving, giving identities and faces to graves is an amazing thing. We went to two smaller cemeteries including Adelaide Cemetery, which is where the Unknown Soldier located in the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, originally came from. As we had some time to spare, we drove to Amiens and ate our lunch near the medieval church, which we were able to explore. We also had a quick walk around the quaint town and bought macaroons.

Next was the visit to the new Sir John Monash Centre. It was an incredible and interactive experience that had a 360-view cinema, which allowed you to better understand what war was like for the soldiers. After the museum, we saw the Australian National Memorial. Here we did many commemorations on the wall and walked up the tower. It was incredible to see the landscape where Australians fought on 100 years ago. It was very difficult to imagine the beautiful, rolling, green hills plagued with war.

As you look out over the countryside you also remember the 10,000 people that are named on the memorial that are missing, knowing that they lie somewhere in the landscape. We then completed a group service before coming back to our hotel. For dinner, we went to a small local pub in Albert where we tried some classic French dishes that included snails and French toast.

Later we saw an incredible light show projected onto the church that depicted the small town's experience in the war. As we reach the end of the trip, we are all starting to feel sad about saying goodbye. We know that this was an experience we will never forget. The friendships and memories will stay with us for the rest of our lives.

By Lillian Ward and Isabelle Jardine

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:

Australian War Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux

Private Stanley John Adams
(Commemorated by Jack Frey)

Stanley John Adams was born in Leichhardt, New South Wales on the 15th July 1900. Stanley claimed to be 18 years old when he enlisted on the 4th January 1916. On the 1st April 1916, Stanley embarked from Sydney and headed for France. Stanley arrived in France and was sent to the brutal battle of Mouquet Farm during the battle of Pozieres. He was killed by a shell on the 16th August 1916. His name is recorded on the Australian Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux and in the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

2nd Lieutenant Nevill Montague Little
(Commemorated by Isabelle Jardine)

Nevill Montague Little was 22 years old when he enlisted on the 5th October 1914. After a 42-day boat journey he arrived in Egypt. Nevill's regiment was then transferred to Gallipoli. On the 31st of March 1916, he was transferred to the 49th Battalion. Nevill was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant on the 8th of April. The battalion arrived in France on the 12th of June and moved into the trenches on the western front on the 21st. The first major battle it faced was at Mouquet Farm. Nevill was killed in action on the 3rd September. His body was never found.

Sergeant George Harry Turner
(Commemorated by Tim McMahon)

George Harry Turner was known for being an abstainer of alcohol and tobacco, yet was very well respected by those who knew him. He was promoted several times, first to Lance Corporal, then Corporal, Lieutenant Sergeant and finally Sergeant. One day in September 1918, he volunteered to take out a German machine gun nest with other members of his battalion that was obstructing an advance by Allied troops. Initial reports stated that Harry and other troops made it within 30 yards of the machine gun before being killed instantly where they stood.

Private Arthur Reuben Arnold
(Commemorated by Harry Packwood)

Born on the 2nd May 1894, Arthur Reuben Arnold enlisted on the 11th October 1915 at 21 years old. On the 21st April 1916, Arthur became part of the 56th Infantry Battalion. On the 29th June 1916, Arthur and the 56th Battalion arrived at Marseilles and quickly moved to the Front on the 12th July 1916. On the 1st November 1916, Arthur Reuben Arnold was killed in action due to accidental friendly fire.

Private Leslie Thomas Prior
(Commemorated by Harry Packwood)

After initially being rejected because of a weak chest, Leslie Thomas Prior was able to join up as the need for more troops led to the loosening of regulations. Enlisting on the 5th February 1916, at the age of 14, he became part of the 23rd Infantry battalion. On the 3rd May 1917, the 2nd AIF division, including the 23rd Infantry Battalion confronted the German forces in Bullecourt. The attack was a success, with the 23rd Battalion taking all of their designated objectives. However, this was to be Leslie's last action as he was confirmed killed in action.

Private Ernest Wilson Pinches
(Commemorated by Lillian Ward)

Private Ernest Wilson Pinches was born in Brisbane in 1900. He first enlisted in January 1916 but was discharged when officials were informed that he was only 15 years old. Ernest then travelled to Sydney where he enlisted under the alias name of Eric Pinches. Within a month of joining the 5th Machine Gun Company he sailed for England. After training here, he left for France. Ernie died on the 5th of May 1917 at the age of 17. Just before Ernie's death he received a distinguished conduct medal for single-handedly capturing an enemy machine gun and crew.

Private Cyril Frank Abraham
(Commemorated by Jack Frey)

Cyril Frank Abraham was born on the 16th August 1890. At the time of his enlistment Cyril was living in Eumundi, Queensland where he worked as a miner. He joined the 21st Reinforcements of the 26th Battalion on the 19th October 1917. He was 27 years old. After training in Camp Suez, Egypt, he was transported via Folkestone, England, to join his unit in Le Havre, France, and from there he moved into active service on the 17th August 1918. Cyril contracted the Spanish Flu. He died on the 20th October 1918 in the second wave of influenza.

Fouilloy Communal Cemetery

Private John William Haddock
(Commemorated by Isabelle Jardine)

John William Haddock was born sometime in 1886. On the 24th July 1915, John enlisted at the age of 29. Initially placed in the 9th Battalion, John was transferred to the 49th Battalion. In March 1916, the Battalion sailed for France and the Western Front. He received a Congratulatory card for carrying a wounded soldier to a dressing station while under heavy shellfire during his first battle. On the 8th August 1918, John was shot the abdomen by a sniper. He died from his wounds the following day.

Adelaide Cemetery

2nd Lieutenant George Joseph Shepperd
(Commemorated by Tim McMahon)

George Joseph Shepperd enlisted early in the war, just a month before the Gallipoli campaign, in May 1915. He joined the 26th Battalion who mounted the first trench raid undertaken by Australian troops on the Western Front on the 6th June. George received the Military Medal whilst participating in the attack on Broodseinde Ridge near Passchendaele the 4th October 1917. In 1918, he was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant. On the 3rd July 1918, George was killed in action.

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