Day 5 – VB, Le Hamel & Bailleul

Day Five and the choristers paid a visit to the Australian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux, to explore the newly built Sir John Monash Centre, which will open officially on Anzac Day.

This centre sits discreetly behind the towering memorial (our choristers will perform in front of the memorial for the Anzac Day Dawn Service).

VOB France Tour 2018
The Sir John Monash Centre, Villers-Bretonneux (pic by Paul)

Choir conductor Paul Holley noted the centre was designed perfectly and respectfully.

“The design is fantastic and while it will add so much to the experience of people at the Australian National Memorial, the way it is hidden, largely underground behind the memorial, doesn’t take anything away from the present site,” he said.

“The information is presented so well with documentary style presentations throughout mixed with writings from soldiers, officers and historians. Visitors use an App which allows them to work through the presentations as they choose. It’s such a fantastic place to visit – we needed to add time to our schedule to take it all in.”

The centre is named after Sir John Monash, a significant figure of the First World War, who led the Australian Corps on the Western Front. This included a victory on 4 July 1918 at Le Hamel, a battle our July choir will help commemorate. Discover more about the centre here.

It was only fitting our choristers would also visit The Australian Corps Memorial Park, Le Hamel, which is an impressive memorial at the top of a hill.

More touring involved a visit to the Somme 1916 Museum in Albert to further delve into WW1 history.

Once the day tour was finished, our choir arrived in Bailleul, greeted by the hospitable townspeople and Mayor. Here they were gifted beautiful commemorative cups.

This was followed by our choristers providing the town a concert at Eglise St Vaast Church, which was attended by about 140 people, including some students from the local trade school.

It was such a wonderful evening! A special thank you to Bailleul Mayor Marc Deneuche and his councillors, Bernard, Sebastian and Catherine and their delightful helpers Lucy, Olivia and Martine, and the community for welcoming our choir so warmly.

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Today (Friday) the choir will visit the Commonwealth War Cemetery in Bailleul where the first Australian to die in Flanders in WW1 is buried. They’ll then head to Vimy Ridge and other battlefield sites, and will enjoy a concert-free night, after four nights of performances.

Saturday will mark the first rehearsals for the Anzac Day Dawn Service. The anticipation is building.

More soon!

#vobanzac2018 #ww1 #lestweforget

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