The Somme, a must for visiting Australians
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In the footsteps of theAustraliandiggers
©Fabien Milhaud

In the Diggers' footsteps

  • 5remembrance sites
  • 403thousand Australian and New Zealand soldiers
  • 10762names

The Australian war effort

in the Somme 

While fighting in the Somme, the former gold-diggers from Down Under were nicknamed the Diggers.

Like other countries, Australia immediately came to the support of the British Empire at the outbreak of war in August 1914.

25 April, known as ANZAC Day, is the national Remembrance day in Australia and New Zealand. The ceremony pays homage to the men who fought and gave their lives during the war.

The Australian Remembrance Trail along the Western Front serves to help Australians and others visitors learn more about Australia's commitment on the Western Front between 1916 and 1918 in France and in the Somme.

Pozieres memorial australien, Somme@Nicolas Bryant
Drapeau, Somme© Garry
Villers bretonneux memorial australien, Somme@Nicolas Bryant
lehamel-alefevre.jpg

The Diggers

in Pozières

Pozières was the key obstacle which had to be overcome in order to capture first Mouquet Farm and then Thiepval Ridge. On 23 July 1916, they launched an attack on Pozières, where one in three soldiers were killed.

In all, 23,000 were killed, wounded or MIA : these were among the heaviest losses in Australian military history.

Today, the village pays homage to them with several monuments and sites dedicated to Australia's commitment : the Mouquet farm, the Tanks Corps Memorial, the Windmill site, the 1st Australian Division Memorial, the Gibraltar blockhouse...

The nifty Pozières 1916 application guides you to the sites and depicts the life of the Australian troops on the front.

The Digger Cote 160 Association, based in Pozières, aims to promote relations between Australia and the small French village to work for the memory of the soldiers who fought there.

Every second year in July, the Digger Cote 160 Association organises a great historical sound and light display about life in the village of Pozières during the Battle of the Somme in 1916.

The Digger Cote 160 Association

There's also a room in the Museum of the Great War in Péronne focussing on the Australian war effort in the Somme.
Cimetière, Somme©Garry
circuit du souvenir, Somme©Ronan Le Bideau
salle australienne.jpgAurelien Roger
le_hamel.jpg

Tribute to the Diggers

Villers-Bretonneux, Le Hamel

ANZAC forces finally halted the German offensive of March 1918 in Villers-Bretonneux with fighting on 24, 25 and 26 April 1918.

Now, the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux affords a wide panorama of the surrounding countryside. It was one of the last memorials to the Great War to be erected in France.

The Australian Memorial in Le Hamel pays tribute to the famous tactical attack on 4 July 1918, when General Monash notoriously reached all his objectives in a mere 93 minutes ! There are several plaques to commemorate his achievements throughout the town.

Australian troops took part in other battles on the Somme front in 1918.

On 2 September 1918, the Australians liberated Péronne, also capturing the strategic point Mont Saint-Quentin. This was hailed as one of the greatest Australian victories during the war. Their exploits are explained in full during a walk with full commentary.

centre-sir-john-monash-cdepartment-of-veterans_-affairs.jpeg

Keeping the legacy

of the soldiers alive

Set on the grounds of the Australian National Memorial and adjacent to the Villers-Bretonneux military cemetery in Northern France, the Sir John Monash Centre is one of the key sites of the Australian Remembrance Trail along the Western Front.

This cutting-edge multimedia centre reveals the Australian Western Front experience through a series of interactive multimedia installations and immersive experiences. The SJMC App, downloaded onto each visitor's personal mobile device, acts as a 'virtual tour guide' and helps visitors gain a better understanding of the journey of ordinary Diggers.

Entirely renovated in 2016 and located on the first floor of Victoria School in Villers-Bretonneux, the Franco-Australian Museum is themed not only on the story of an international friendship that developed through war and hardship, but also on remembrance and hope for the future.

The museum layout enables visitors to fully comprehend how this friendship between the two countries was formed. The message of thanks displayed in the schoolyard, which reads "Do not forget Australia", has to be highlighted.

Let's talk ToOlivier DIRSON

Independent guide, "Chemins d'Histoire"

"I like to customise my circuits, focussing on a particular unit, soldier, nationality, poet or writer. I come from Montbrehain, the scene of the last battle fought by Australian troops on the Western front. I have been fascinated by WWI history since my early childhood and I decided to make it my livelihood in 2009."

Useful information

in the Diggers' footsteps

  • Val de Somme Tourist Office

28/30 place de la République - 80800 Corbie
Tél +33 (0)3 22 96 95 76
officedetourisme@valdesomme.com
valdesomme-tourisme.com

  • The Sir John Monash Centre

Route de Villers Bretonneux - 80800 Fouilloy
Tél +33 (0)3 60 62 01 40
info@sjmc.gov.au
sjmc.gov.au

  • The Franco-Australian Museum

9, rue Victoria - 80800 Villers-Bretonneux
Tél +33 (0)3 22 96 80 79
museeaustralien@gmail.com
museeaustralien.com

Can't-miss places

in the Diggers' footsteps

  1. Go to the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux and visit the Sir John Monash Centre.
  2. Take part in the moving ANZAC Day Ceremony on April 25 at 5.30am at Villers-Bretonneux.
  3. Immerse yourself in the village of Pozières, where Australia's commitment in the Somme began.
  4. Take a trip back in time at the Australian Corps Memorial at Le Hamel, well-known for the 93 minutes battle.
  5. Follow in the footsteps of the Diggers at Mont Saint-Quentin to see the 2nd Australian Division Memorial.
  6. Discover the brand-new Vignacourt14-18, where a French couple of farmers began taking photographs of Australian soldiers.
  7. Descend 30 metres beneath the ground and visit the Underground City of Naours, where more than 3,000 WW1 graffitis have been discovered.

The Diggers

behind the lines

  • During the Great War, Vignacourt was used for French and Allied logistics. The Underground City of Naours was visited by soldiers during their time behind the lines. Today, this shows the life behind the lines.
  1. Vignacourt14-18 welcomes you to the Thuillier’s renovated farmhouse which is devoted to their photograph collection. This exhibition tells the story of life behind the lines.
  2. During the Great War, the Underground City of Naours was used as an organised tour destination : a means of distraction for soldiers on leave or convalescent behind the front lines.