The noise of war was transformed into the sound of construction across the Western Front in post-war years as Allied governments moved in to build monuments commemorating the courage, endurance and commitment of all involved in the war. Concurrently, monuments and a Soldier Settlement community were constructed in the Granite Belt region of Queensland.
Governments have built increasingly larger structures all over the countryside that witnessed the battles of Northern France and Belgium. Comparatively, in Stanthorpe and the Granite Belt in Queensland there is very little to see where the old resettlement farms were, except for a small memorial or sign along a bush road.
People are flocking around monuments and memorials in Europe, including many Australians seeking mention of ancestors lost at war.
Silence surrounds the places of the same names in Queensland.
In Europe the Digger pilgrimage of recent years appears to have captured the Western Front. The phenomenon has traversed the border from France into Belgium. During the centenary years, there were more than 150 000 visitors to the Somme annually.
The Australians favour the Remembrance Trail that highlights sites of significance to the AIF. They go to Pozières, or the fields of Belgian Flanders. Everywhere there are memorials and cemeteries, from Passchendaele in Belgium down to the area of some of the AIF’s last actions in France around Péronne. In 2018, the Sir John Monash Centre was a new centrepiece at the Anzac Day commemoration at the Australian National Memorial.
The Menin Gate memorial in Ypres (Ieper), Belgium, once marked the starting point leading Allied soldiers to the front line. Today, it marks the starting point for tourists marching out to the monuments, memorials and cemeteries. The memorial looms large at the entrance to the town, as testament to endeavours ensuring the shattering events that transpired in this region are never forgotten. It bears the names of more than 54 000 members of the British and Commonwealth forces who died in the Ypres Salient and have no known grave.
I returned to this enticing locale time and again on my journeys. I would sit in cafés within the large town square surrounded by high church steeples and watch the mesmerising interactions between tourists and residents carried out on the cobblestone streets.