Posted on Apr 17, 2018
The Villiers-Bretonneux battle in WWI is historic for Australian involvement.   A classic Australian pincer ploy involving  the 15th and 13 th AIF Brigades  around the German occupied French village proved successful.  
It was characterized by some heroic hand to hand (bayonet charged) night fighting and unfortunately  high causalities. 
In the context of WWI it was seen as a significant turning point and source of Australian pride.   It was a striking coincidence that many of the soldiers had seen service at Gallipoli and doubtless been aware of the April 25th date as they charged forward.
Pursuant to that event 100 years ago (April 24-25 1918) an enduring relationship between the people of that French village and Australia has established.   It is the site of classic memorials and picturesque cemetery(s) and according to guest speaker Dr Robert Webster OAM , President RSL Victoria, the foremost location(behind Gallipoli) for present day Anzac Day services in Europe.
Robert gave an extended address to Hawthorn Rotary and its  three cluster clubs at a special evening meeting.  Although the address  focused on the above battle Robert (himself a Vietnam vet and long term RSL advocate) gave a dramatic account of the war as seen by the common Australian combatant.   The audience became regularly hushed and pensive for periods as he told of casualty rates, fighting conditions , and the problems of integrating returned soldiers back home.  We were reminded and astounded  of the disruption to Australian society, to the outcome that about  10% of the population enlisted that being  40% of an eligible age group!
Thank Robert for such an interesting and moving account of another aspect of the Anzac Day occasion.