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Students keep alive Western Front memory.

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Minister for Veterans' Affairs Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence

Friday 21 July 2006 VA066


The service and sacrifice of Australians on the Western Front will continue to be honoured at a nightly Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate in Ieper, Belgium, assisted by an annual donation from the Australian Government to the Last Post Association.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Bruce Billson, today presented a cheque for AUD$7000 to a representative of the Last Post Association and met with two school students from Ieper whose essays on World War I history won them this trip to Australia.

“This week marks the 90th anniversaries of significant Australian battles on the Western Front during World War I - Fromelles on 19 July, and the Battle of Pozières this Sunday 23 July,” Mr Billson said.

“It is an auspicious time to host students Emma Feys and Goele Vandenberghe and also Mr Eric Huyghe of the Last Post Association.

“In tribute to all the soldiers of the British Empire and the Commonwealth, including thousands of Australians who gave their lives on the Western Front, the Last Post Association holds a ceremony at 8 pm every night in front of the Menin Gate at Ieper.

“Australia is very grateful for the work of the Last Post Association in maintaining the memory of those who fell. In addition to the Last Post ceremony, they also organise an essay competition encouraging students to learn about and reflect on the history of the Western Front.

“The tradition of the Last Post Association at Menin Gate has continued since 1928, interrupted only by the occupation during World War II, and it is a tradition to which Australia is happy to contribute, as we have each year since 2003.

“I had the honour of being at the Menin Gate earlier this month and heard the Last Post echoing off the walls of the memorial which are inscribed with the names of 54,000 soldiers, including more than 6000 Australians, who were killed in the area and have no known grave. It was a sobering and emotional experience.

“I thank the people of Ieper, and the towns and villages all along the Western Front in France and Belgium who remember the service and sacrifice of the Australians during World War I,” he said.

Media inquiries: Cameron Hill 0408 239 521