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© 2018 by Louise Grayson

French, Australians and Belgians came together to fight on the fields of the Western Front during WWI. Forty six thousand Australians died and more than 150,000 were wounded in the Battles of Pozieres, Bullecourt, Messines and Passchendaele.

At the end of the war the survivors returned to their respective homes to create a new life for themselves.

In recent years, the simple words ‘Lest we forget’ have become a call to action as vast numbers of Commonwealth visitors have arrived in the European villages that bore the brunt of those battles.

Guardian 1: Peter McLady

At the end of the war, the earth in Northern France and Belgium was littered with remnants of the Western Front battles. Millions of bodies were buried in the local farmers’ fields.  Children grew up with warnings about the shrapnel that still remains underground.

Many Australian returned soldiers attempted to carve out a new life in resettlement communities such as the Pikedale Soldier Settlement Scheme on the Granite Belt in southern Queensland. They paid £625 to purchase and run their farming block.

Railway sidings on the Amiens Branch Railway line, that linked the settlement, were named after memorable battlefields where men from the area died and are buried: Fleurbaix, Pozieres, Bullecourt, Passchendaele, Bapaume, and Messines.

Guardian 2: David Evans

Guardian 3: Jean Harslett

Guardian 4: Madame Ginette

Guardians 5 & 6: Bernard Vasquez and Jean Mroz

Guardian 7: Madame Demassiet

Australian service men and women left Europe after the war, but on both sides of the world they shared a desire to built monuments to commemorate what had happened.

Governments have built increasingly larger structures all over the countryside that saw the battles of the Western Front. 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 is all around the places of the same names in Queensland.

Guardian 8: Johan Durnez

Guardian 9: Yves Fohlen

Guardian 10: Fay Helwig

Guardian 11: Paula Boatfield

Guardian 12: Roger Willis

Communities in Australia, France and Belgium continue to commemorate the sacrifice of service men and women through memorial rituals. Initially bugles and marches were a local event. Then, Australian visitors to Western Front battlefields began building the Digger ‘legend’ as they embarked on battlefield tours - another ritual of sorts – and brought with them stories from their families’ histories that are now blending with those from Europe.

Guardian 13: Alain Matton

Guardian 14: Yves Potard

Guardians 15 & 16: Donna Einam and Frank Watson

Guardian 17: Colin Gillard

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