There is a small town in northern France called Villers-Bretonneux. In the local school the following sign stands.
It is place that will never forget the sacrifice 100 years ago today that Australian made to liberate it from German occupation. Less than three years after entering the First World War on the shores of Gallipoli, Australian and New Zealand (ANZACs) forces had taken part in some of the most fierce fighting in history in northern France.
In one site near the town of Poziers, known as the Windmill, almost 6,600 ANZACs died in an area now covered by a single field.
Today we have little concept of the horrors that these individuals went through or the sacrifice they made for their country, but more importantly for their ‘mates’. Although unruly at times the ANZACs were some of the most effective fighting forces of the war, being used time and time again as the tip of the attacking spear.
Many went to their their deaths in the hail of bullets from defenders but they forged a unique place in our history that is only now being full appreciated and recognised. In a world of constant change we can look to the sacrifices of the past and say thanks for the benefits we now enjoy.
The legacy of the ANZACs is carried on today by those who serve in the military, police, ambulance, fire fighters, nurses and more. Rarely are these people acknowledged for their service. Rarely are they rewarded adequately for what they do, yet we all expect them to be there selflessly when called upon.
The 25th of April is a day we as Australians take to recognise the sacrifices of the heroes of yesterday and today. It is day that we say thank you for their service and recognise the contribution it has made to us as a society. Hopefully, it is also a day that we can also absorb some of that selflessness, bravery and dedication and apply it in our everyday lives. At the very least, we owe them that.
Lest we forget.
If you want to learn more about the ANZAC battlefields in northern France, visit my web site – www.anzacsinfrance.com.