Military History Tours Battle of Bullecourt Centenary Tour 1 May 2017
Today was a bit cold, but at least the forecast rain held off.
We commenced today’s adventure with a visit to Dernancourt, where on 5 April 1918 the 4th Division held off an attack by the German 23rd Corps, in high spirits after breaking through 25 kilometres of British Lines. We discussed the battle then moved to inspect the cemetery where so many young men lay, including French and Chinese.
Onward we visited the 3rd Division Memorial at Sailly le Sec where on 27 March 1918 they occupied an old French defence line between the river Ancre in the north and the Somme in the south, here they blocked the German advance. Just down the road, we found where Sergeant Cedric Popkin of the 24th Australian Machine Gun Company shot down Rittmeister Manfred Freiherr von Richthofen of Jagdgeschwader 1.
After this we visited the memorial at the site of the Battle of Le Hamel where for the first time all five Australian Divisions (and the 13 Light Horse) fought under an Australian born general, Lieutenant General Monash. This brilliantly planned and executed engagement secured a troublesome enemy salient and showed the world how the mechanisation and electronics of the time could best be used in combat.
Next we visited the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Brettoneux there Catorina and Robert found their ancestors on the wall of remembrance. At the site we discussed the reason why our National Memorial is near Villers-Brettoneux. It was where brigades led by Generals Elliott and Glasgow enveloped the enemy about to force the British 8th back. An heroic battle under brilliant commanders that put pay to any further advance.
In the town of Villers-Brettoneux we visited the recently reconstructed and reopened Victoria School Museum. A great tribute by the townspeople to those who defended it nearly 100 years ago.
After that we visited Adelaide Cemetery and saw where the unknown soldier had been disinterred and sent to Canberra. After this we travelled to Cachy where we discussed the first tank vs tank battle in some detail.
Finally we drove through Gentilles where Catorina’s grandfather spent some time prior to the battles at Villers- Brettoneux.
In the evening we had to venture out to a restaurant for dinner, ‘Aux Gans du Nord’ May day meant the hotel restaurant was closed.