The Australian War Memorial, London

Prime Minister Tony Abbott says Australians should remember Western Front as much as Gallipoli

Posted on centenarynews.com on 09 June 2014
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Australians should remember the service and sacrifice of their troops on the Western Front just as much as Gallipoli, Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said during a visit to France.

Mr Abbott was speaking at Villers-Bretonneux, site of the Australian National Memorial, where he announced that a new interpretive centre would be named after Australia's First World War commander, General Sir John Monash. 

Forces under Monash's leadership played a key part in stemming the last major German offensive in April 1918, and launching the Allied counter-attack in August which became known as the 'Black Day of the Germany Army.'

"No place on earth has been more densely sown with Australian sacrifice than these fields in France," Tony Abbott declared.

"Australians should be as familiar with the story of the Western Front as we are with Gallipoli."

Mr Abbott travelled to Villers-Bretonneux on 7th June 2014 from Normandy after attending the commemorations for the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings during the Second World War.

The Prime Minister said Australian troops 'helped to shape world history as never before' at Villers-Bretonneux in April 1918. The village was recaptured as the Germans pushed towards Amiens. 

Decisive

Four months later, the Australians advanced from here at the start of what proved to be the decisive Allied offensive of the First World War.

Tony Abbott said: "Their commander, General Sir John Monash, brought organisation and technology to the battlefield to break the stalemate of trench warfare and the futility of men charging against barbed wire and machine guns."

The interpretive centre at Villers-Bretonneux, to be named after Monash, is being funded with $6.9 million from the Australian Government. Almost 11,000 Australian servicemen who fell on the Western Front are commemorated on the country's National Memorial in the Commonwealth military cemetery.

Mr Abbott called on Australians to gather here on April 25 each year, no less than at Anzac Cove in Gallipoli.

Praising Australia's achievements, he said: "In the final six months of World War One, the five divisions of the Australian corps bested no fewer than 39 enemy divisions, took 29,000 prisoners, captured 338 guns and advanced over more than 40 miles of contested ground.

"They comprised less than 10 per cent of total British Empire forces but made almost a quarter of all the gains in the war’s decisive final months."

Source: Australian Prime Minister's Office

Images: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News

Posted by: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News