Office of the
Minister for Defence
JOINT MEDIA RELEASE
Friday 3 July 1998
THREE DAYS OF CEREMONIES WILL COMMEMORATE END OF WWI
The ceremonies to mark the French/Australian commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the end of World War I will take place over the next three days.
The Minister for Defence, Ian McLachlan, who will represent the Prime Minister, and the Minister for Veterans' Affairs, Bruce Scott, will attend the ceremonies, along with four Australian World War I veterans. The Prime Minister has a special connection to the commemorative activities as his father and grandfather fought in France during the First World War.
Today, Friday 3 July, Mr Scott and the veterans will travel to Amiens where they will be joined by Mr McLachlan for the rededication of the commemorative tablet in Amiens Cathedral. The tablet records the part played by Australians in the defence of Amiens in 1918.
On the morning of Saturday 4 July, at 10am the joint French/Australian commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the end of World War I will take place at the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux.
Last year the French President, Jacques Chirac, invited all France's World War I allies who had fought in France to take part in a series of commemoration ceremonies - more than 20 nations have accepted the President's offer.
Australia chose July 4, the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Hamel, which was a significant victory for the Australian Corps fighting under Lieutenant-General Sir John Monash.
Mr McLachlan will deliver an address at the ceremony.
Troops from the March du Tchad Regiment and the 10th/27th Battalion, The Royal South Australia Regiment, will provide the guards of honour.
Representatives from the British, United States, Canadian and South African Defence Forces will also be present.
The French Secretary of State for Veterans' Affairs, Jean-Pierre Masseret will present the four Australian World War I veterans, Ted Smout, Eric Abraham, Howard Pope and Charlie Mance, with the Legion of Honour, France's greatest decoration, in recognition of the esteem in which France holds the contribution of Australia and its other allies.
The four Australian veterans will be the first allied veterans in the world to receive the honour.
At 11.30am the dedication of the new $1.3 million Australian Corps Memorial Park at Le Hamel will take place.
The memorial to the Australian Corps is built on a crest overlooking the surrounding countryside and is the only memorial on the Western Front specifically dedicated to the Australian Corps.
Its three curved walls are faced with Australian black granite. Etched into the central wall, which is 12 metres long and 5.2 metres high, is the Rising Sun badge of the Australian Imperial Force (AIF). The other two walls carry images of Australian infantry and other troops who took part in the battle.
Mr McLachlan and Mr Scott will speak at the opening ceremony.
On Sunday 5 July, at 9am the remains of Private Russell Bosisto of the 27th Battalion, who was killed on August 4, 1916, and whose body was discovered in a field near the site of the Battle of Pozieres this year, will be interred at the Commonwealth War Cemetery, Courcelette, alongside other members of his unit.
Private Bosisto's family will be represented and the chief mourner will be the Land Commander - Australia, Major General John Hartley. The guard of honour will be drawn from Private Bosisto's old Battalion, now known as the 10th/27th Battalion, The Royal South Australia Regiment.
Mr McLachlan will read the lesson and Mr Scott will deliver an address to the funeral which will also be attended by the four veterans. Howard Pope, who served in the 27th Battalion with Private Bosisto, will lay the first wreath.
At 12.30pm, a new Memorial Park to the men of the 5th Division First AIF, will be dedicated at Fromelles. The Division suffered very heavy losses at Fromelles on July 19-20, 1916, the first major battle in which the Australians were involved in France during World War I.
The park will be opened by Mr Scott and the guard of honour will be drawn from the French 43rd Infantry Regiment based at Lille and the Australian 10th/27th Battalion.
The memorial is a larger than life-size figure of a Digger carrying a wounded comrade on his shoulder, sculpted by Melbourne artist Peter Corlett and representing the mateship of the Australian soldiers who risked their lives to rescue their wounded mates.
General Media contacts:
Liz Bennett (Mr McLachlan's office) 0419 438 490