This was a very special day amongst the children of the Villers-Bretonneux School, but more of this later as we had much else to do, The day started with a cold wind but clear skies. Both of our groups left the hotel at 0830 for their respective appointments in Villers-Bretonneux. The history Group had their first appointment at the new Monash Centre and were booked in to start their tour there at 0930 while the Pipes and Drums were to march up the cemetery between the row of graves to the Memorial Wall and there conduct a special Service, particularly for those 10,000 named on the wall in front of where the Pipes and Drums halted, who fell in the Somme but who have no known grave.
While the Pipes and Drums were tuning their instruments, the History Group were taken by Ron to collect the audio implements and to commence their tour. The Monash Centre has been built behind the Memorial and displays the history of the AIF on the Western Front but includes prior to leaving Australia and the end of the War and what awaiting the men upon their return. An excellent venue with specialised computer generated affects for many of the displays. Most were very impressed with what they saw.
The Pipes and Drums in the meantime commenced their March and halted in front of the Memorial. Frank, the Pipe major climbed the 150 or so steps to the top of the tower and there after the Ode played the lament from a high. The sound of the Pipes resonating over the site was uplifting to say the least. Following the Service, the Pipes and Drums moved to the Monash Centre for their 1030 appointment. Their time in the Centre was enjoyed by all.
Ron had taken his Group to the Cross of Remembrance and discussed the 15 Brigade attack that in support from 13 Brigade in the South of Villers-Bretonneux cleared the Germans from the town. He then moved into Villers-Bretonneux where both groups married up for lunch before meeting the Mayor at 1300. On cue, Mr Simmonds, the Mayor of Villers-Bretonneux arrived to be met by the Pipes and Drums playing the French National Anthem. He then inspected the Pipes and Drums, speaking to all members as he passed and then reviewed the guard made up from the 7th Field Association and other members of our touring party. Following his inspection, he thanked us for coming the Villers-Bretonneux and wished us well for the rest of our tour.
Both parties, led by the Pipes and Drums them proceeded to March to the School. Upon reaching the School, outside is a memorial and a Wreath Laying Service was con ducted there for all those who had been lost clearing the Germans from Villers-Bretonneux. Then came one of the highlights of the Tour. The Pipes and Drums, followed by the guard proceeded into the school playground and played for the children of the school. Then, star ting again marched around the playground with counter marches and wheels, accompanied by all the children, as those who had gone home for lunch had just returned, with a throng of screaming excited children keeping pace with the Pipes and Drums. This was a special moment for all in attendance. Allan, one of our group, had brought with him over 300 Australia collar badges and most of the children were given a badge.
Following our recital in the playground we adjoined upstairs to the Museum where the 7th Field Regiment Association presented a beautiful bronze plaque to the Museum. It had been a wonderful day but more was to come as Ron took his group to the area where Sadlier had won the VC as part of the 13 Brigade attack and then to Adelaide Cemetery. The pipes and Drums visited Crucifix Corner Cemetery where Bernie and Margaret were able to pay their respects to a family member who had been killed in the Le Hamel battle and buries in the cemetery.
We headed back to our hotel to prepare for our dinner, that was to be had in the Historial Museum which turned out to be a very good night enjoyed by all. Back to the hotel where a Birthday Cake awaited Jack Gwilym as it was his 83rd Birthday. Frank played Happy Birthday on his Pipes and Jack was enthralled and stated that it was the best Birthday that he ever had. A cleansing ale and off to bed, a big day but a great day.