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New tour guide to French battlefields issued.



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Media Release

 

The Hon Bruce Scott MP

Minister for Veterans' Affairs

Federal Member for Maranoa

 

95/98

29 June 1998

NEW TOUR GUIDE TO FRENCH BATTLEFIELDS ISSUED

To coincide with the dedication of two new memorial parks to the men of the First AIF, the O ffice of Australian War Graves has produced an audio battlefield tour guide of the Western Front.

The Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Bruce Scott, today launched the guide at the farewell for the four World War I veterans who are travelling to France to take part in the commemoration of the 80 th anniversary of the Armistice. While in France the Diggers will make a tour of these battlefields.

"Each year an ever increasing number of Australians set out to trace the history of their young nation through what was one of the world’s most momentous and tragic events - World War I," the Minister said.

"This guide - with its audio tape and information book - is ideal for people driving themselves through the Western Front and exploring the history of the area along the way.

"World War I was a defining moment in the making of the Australian character and it is revealing that we have taken a defeat, the bloodbath of the landing at Gallipoli, as our most solemn day of remembrance.

"It is less well-known that in the latter stages of the Great War, Australian victories were significant in hastening its end. This guide traces the Australian action from March to July 1918.

"In March the Australians were among the forces who plugged the gap in the Allied lines against the German advance. Twice they halted the Germans at Villers-Bretonneux and saved Amiens. Then they launched the most successful offensive of the first half of 1918 and captured Hamel on July 4.

"This week, on July 4 and 5 we will commemorate the courage and sacrifice of our Australian troops at the dedication of two new memorial parks - one at Fromelles, a place of terrible carnage, and the other at Le Hamel, the site of a significant victory, " he said.

The audio tour guide begins at Villers-Bretonneux school, visits Adelaide cemetery and the Australian National Memorial and ends at Le Hamel after visiting a number of important battlefield sites. The route is signposted with distinctive green signs.

It contains a booklet giving the history of the battles and the various sites and is backed up by an audio tape which not only tells the story but points out the main places of interest. It also has maps and two postcards to send to friends.

The audio tour guide is available from the Office of Australian War Graves, PO Box 21, Woden Act 2606 ( phone 06 289 6510) and costs $10. It is also on sale in France at the Australian Bookshop at 33 Quai des Grandes Augustins 75006 Paris, at the museum in Villers-Bretonneux, or at L’Historial in Peronne priced at 40 francs.

Media Contact: Melissa McKerihan 02 6277 7820 or 0419 607 783

 

 

 

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