Department of Veterans Affairs - DVA in Paris
*Work on the Sir John Monash Center - Temporary parkings
Work on the Sir John Monash Centre, to be located at the Australian National Memorial near Villers-Bretonneux in the Somme, commenced in January 2016 and will continue through to the official opening of the Centre in April 2018. During this period, there may be short periods of disruption to visitors at the site and the adjacent Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) Villers-Bretonneux Military cemetery.
As part of the works, the visitor carpark at the front of the site is currently closed. A temporary carpark on the north side of the site has been made available to visitors, which includes disabled parking and access to the site. The bus turning area on the south side of the site will remain accessible throughout the works.
*Thiepval 1 July - Passes for Australian descendants
The Battle of the Somme took place between 1 July and 18 November 1916. It was one of the largest battles of the First World War, in which more than a million men were wounded or killed, making it one of the bloodiest battles in human history.
The Australian troops fought their first bloody battle in France at Fromelles (Nord), on July 19th 1916, as diversionary attack for the Franco-British offensive that had been launched on 1 July on the Somme.
Australian troops joined the Battle of the Somme on 23 July at Pozières when the 1st Australian Division made an assault and captured the ruined village in hard and intense fighting. Three Australian divisions (1st, 2nd and 4th) took their turn at Pozières and all suffered heavily. Over a period of 42 days the Australians made 19 attacks, 16 of them at night; as a consequence, the Australian casualties totalled a staggering 23,000 men, of whom 6,800 were killed.
A service marking the centenary of the Battle of the Somme will be held at the Thiepval Memorial in northern France at 12 noon on 1 July 2016. The service is being organised jointly by the United Kingdom and French Governments. An allocation of 25 double passes are available for Australians to attend who are descendants of those who fought in the battle of the Somme.
The attendance passes will be allocated on a first in, first served basis. Tickets are free and available for Australian citizens and permanent residents of Australia, who will be over 18 years on 1 July 2016 (a person under 18 may accompany the pass holder). To request one of the 25 double passes you need to complete the form and send it to email@example.com You will be asked to identify your ancestor by name and cite his military service number or service record (which can be obtained from www.discoveringanzacs.naa.gov.au ).
Applications should be made by Monday 14 March and successful applicants will be contacted shortly after they lodge their application. The Australian Government is managing the identification of people for the 25 double passes, after which the ceremony arrangements and information will be the responsibility of the UK Government.Those who are successful in being awarded a double pass are required to self-fund and organise their travel and accommodation.
Please note: If you are unsuccessful in gaining a Battle of the Somme pass, the Australian Government is holding two special commemorative events for Australians in 2016. On 19 July at Fromelles at 1300 a ceremony will be held to commemorate the Centenary of the Australian role in the Battle of Fromelles and on 23 July a ceremony will be held at Pozieres at 1600 to commemorate the Australian role at Pozières.
*Walk in the Footsteps of Heroes at Fromelles and Pozières 2016
The Australian Government will hold national commemorative ceremonies in France in 2016 as part of the Centenary of the First World War commemorations.
At Fromelles on 19 July at 1pm; and
At Pozières on 23 July at 4pm.
Due to the size restrictions at the commemorative sites, the Australian Government is implementing an Attendance Pass system. All people planning to attend the ceremonies will require an Attendance Pass.
Please visit www.anzaccentenary.gov.au for all the relevant information.
*The Franco-Australian Museum in Villers-Bretonneux, France: partnership and collaboration with the local community
The Franco-Australian Museum in Villers-Bretonneux, France will close its doors on 17 November 2014 in preparation for major renovations to its gallery spaces and displays. This project is the largest single element of the Australian Remembrance Trail along the Western Front.
The Trail is a series of linked projects and sites significant to Australian service that have been conducted in a spirit of partnership and collaboration with local communities and authorities. It recognises and enhances the longstanding efforts of French and Belgian communities in remembering and commemorating Australia’s involvement on the Western Front.
The Franco-Australian Museum redevelopment embodies this collaborative spirit of the Trail. The project is managed locally by the Villers-Bretonneux Town Council, which granted the local Franco-Australian Association access to space in the Victoria School to display its collection.
Originally rebuilt with funds raised by Victorian schoolchildren, the Australian Government has committed $2.1 million to the renovation of the building and museum, involving significant structural works. Australia is joined in funding the project by the town of Villers-Bretonneux, the Conseil General de la Somme and the Region FRAPP.
While the Museum is closed, a temporary exhibition will be on display in the Victoria Hall at the Victoria School from 5 January 2015 until the refurbishment is completed in April 2016.
The Franco-Australian Association’s collection is a symbol and a record of the longstanding relationship between Australia and Villers-Bretonneux. The Australian Government is proud to support this project to ensure that both the collection and this legacy is protected and enhanced.
*Temporary Exhibition at the Franco-Australian Museum, Villers-Bretonneux, France
The Franco-Australian Museum will close for major renovations in October 2014 before reopening in April 2016, as part of the Australian Remembrance Trail along the Western Front. During the closure a temporary exhibition will be established in the Victoria Hall at the Victoria School at Villers-Bretonneux.
The Franco-Australian Museum symbolises the close bond forged between Australia and the town of Villers-Bretonneux during the Battle of Villers-Bretonneux on 24-25 April 1918, and the rebuilding of the Victoria School through donations raised by Victorian schoolchildren after the war.
The Australian Government is contributing approximately $2.1 million to the expansion and modernisation of the Museum’s exhibition space to continue this legacy.
Visitors to Villers-Bretonneux can also see the Australian National Memorial, inscribed with the names of over 10,700 missing Australian soldiers, and the Adelaide Cemetery, from where an unknown Australian soldier was exhumed for reinterment in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra.
* Battle of Fromelles Museum, Fromelles, France
The new Battle of Fromelles Museum, located adjacent to the Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery, was officially opened on 18 July 2014. To assist visitors to understand Australia’s role and the great sacrifice of Allied soldiers during the Battle of Fromelles, the Australian Government has contributed over $1 million to the construction of a new home for the museum, which was formerly housed in the Fromelles town hall. French partners have contributed over €1.8 million to this project.
The museum will take visitors on a journey from ‘shadow to light’, exploring the disaster of the Battle of Fromelles and the recovery, nearly one hundred years later, of the remains of 250 soldiers who died at Fromelles in July 1916. The museum houses a vast array of artefacts, including uniforms and weapons as well as visual projections and recreations of German and Allied trenches incorporating materials recovered from the original battlefield.
* New interpretive facilities at the 1st Australian Division Memorial at Pozières
New interpretive facilities at the 1st Australian Division Memorial at Pozières were opened on 26 April 2014. To assist visitors to interpret and appreciate Australia’s role in the Battles of Pozières, the Australian Government has contributed $A235,000 to the development of walking trails, interpretive displays and visitor facilities in the local area in partnership with local French authorities. These include redevelopment of the memorial park around the Gibraltar Blockhouse including a new raised viewing area featuring an orientation table highlighting significant battlefield points and two walking trails covering sites of significance in and around Pozières.
Commemorations and Office of Australian War Graves
The role of the Commemorations Group of DVA is to acknowledge and commemorate the service and sacrifice of all those who served Australia and its allies in wars, conflicts and peace operations.
The Office of Australian War Graves has three roles:
- to maintain war cemeteries and individual war graves in Australia and the region;
- to commemorate eligible veterans who died post-war and whose deaths were caused by their war service; and
- to build and maintain national memorials overseas
*The Australian Remembrance Trail along the Western Front
*Other Centenary Websites
Anzac Day in France
Australian War Memorial Website
• Services in France
Department of Veterans Affairs Website
The official Anzac Day Commemorations on the Western Front are conducted by the Australian Government and local communities. All the commemorative services are open to the public. The details for the official commemorative services are:
ANZAC DAY 2016
|Event:||Anzac Day Service and wreath-laying Ceremony|
|Date:||Monday, 25 April 2016|
|Venue:||Monument aux Morts, Town Centre, Villers-Bretonneux|
|Event:||Sadlier Stokes Scholarship Presentation & Concert|
|Date:||Monday, 25 April 2016|
|Venue:||Our Lady of Hope Church, Villers-Bretonneux|
|Event:||Anzac Day Service|
|Date:||Monday, 25 April 2016|
|Venue:||The Commonwealth and French Monuments in the Bullecourt village centre – Square du Souvenir Francais|
|Event:||Anzac Day Commemorative Service|
|Date:||Monday, 25 April 2016|
|Time:||Usually held around 2.30pm|
|Venue:||The Australian ‘Digger’ Memorial on the village outskirts|
Musical support for Anzac Day commemorative services in France in 2016 will be provided by the band of the Royal Australian Air Force and the Voices of Birralee choir.
Resonance, one of many vocal ensembles from Brisbane based Voices of Birralee was selected following a competitive expression of interest process conducted by the Department of Veterans' Affairs.
More information may be found at the Voices of Birralee website.
Site information 2016
The Australian National Memorial, Villers-Brettoneux is actually outside the village of Villers-Bretonneux and roughly half-way between the town of Villers-Bretonneux and the towns of Corbie & Fouilloy.
The official Anzac Day Dawn Service will commence at 5.30am on Monday 25 April 2016 and is broadcast live to Australia. The site will open at 2.00am (due to the increased security, this time may change. Please keep checking for updates). A commemorative program to explore the Australian experience of the First World War will commence at 3.15am. All visitors should be seated by 5.00am.
Entrance to the site is via the promenade – attendees should walk 300 metres uphill through the cemetery to the memorial site. The surface is grass and may be slippery if damp. Safety lighting will be installed at the entrance and through the cemetery, but visitors may wish to bring a torch to assist with visibility.
Visitors approaching the Australian National Memorial (the Memorial) site from Corbie and Fouilloy on foot will be directed to the pedestrian/bike path which runs parallel to the road. Those approaching from Villers-Bretonneux will walk along the designated pedestrian/bike path to the Memorial site. At the end of the pathways you will enter the Memorial and move through the turnstiles onto the promenade area. From here you will walk approximately 300 metres on grass, slightly uphill through the centre of the cemetery to the seating area.
An Information Tent will operate from 20 April until 25 April. Staff will be on hand to provide information about Anzac Day services as well as the cemeteries and museums in the towns along the Australian Remembrance Trail (ART). The tent will operate before and during the Dawn Service on 25 April. See also ‘lost property’.
Around 5.000 temporary seats will be installed at the Memorial site. Reserved seating is only available for official delegates and people requiring assisted seating (see information below). There will be standing room at the rear of the seats.
Temporary toilets, including some disabled toilets, and hand-washing facilities will be installed specifically for the service on 25 April at the Memorial site. There are no permanent toilets at the Memorial site.
Please note that access to toilets in the towns of Villers-Bretonneux, Bullecourt, and at ‘Digger’ Memorial is limited.
Rubbish bins will be provided at the Memorial site and visitors will be asked to dispose of rubbish thoughtfully or, where possible, take their rubbish with them.
If you lose or find property during the service at the Memorial site, please notify the ceremony staff at the Visitor Information Tent. After 25 April 2016, inquiries about lost property can be made to firstname.lastname@example.org
There will be media present at all ceremonies. Attendees should be aware that there will be camera operators moving around the sites, and that cables may be laid along the ground. Please take care. The Dawn Service will be broadcast live to Australia by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. You may be filmed during the service. DVD’s of the 2016 Anzac Day Dawn Services are available from the ABC Library Sales by telephoning 1300 650 587, emailing your request to email@example.com or downloading order forms from ABC Library Sales - How to Order.
There is no permanent lighting at the Memorial site. Safety lighting will be installed at the entrance and through the cemetery for the Dawn Service, but visitors may wish to bring a torch. There will be subdued lighting around the memorial itself during the Dawn Service – at levels necessary for a television broadcast.
The weather in the Somme region in April can be extremely cold (close to freezing). The Memorial site is exposed to the elements and is normally very cold before and after dawn. Visitors should ensure they are appropriately equipped for cold, wet, and windy weather, and that they take appropriate clothing with them (including gloves, scarves and hats) when they disembark from their coach on arrival. The ground surface of the Australian National Memorial is grass, so warm, waterproof shoes should be worn.
Visitors planning to attend later town services should note that it can also get quite hot during the day and layers of clothing are encouraged. A small day pack may be useful to carry extra clothing, a hat, sunscreen, and drinking water to avoid dehydration.
First Aid services will be available during each of the official commemorations. Please approach a ceremony staff member or the first aid tent if you require assistance.
There are no food vendors on site. Limited free coffee and croissants will be available before and after the service. Please bring your own drinking water and additional snacks. Please not that opened bottles of water may not be allowed onsite.
New security arranges will be in place for 2016. Entering the site may take longer than in previous years, so please plan to arrive in plenty of time.
Traffic management is the responsibility of, and is managed by, French Authorities.
Please find a French edited brochure on traffic arrangements on 25 April /files/pari/ANZAC DAY BROCHURE.pdf
Local Authorities advise that the road between Villers-Bretonneux and Corbie & Fouilloy will be closed between 2.00 pm on 24 April and 2.00 pm on 25 April 2016.
We strongly advise arrival by 4.30am to avoid possible road closures and congestion.
Only visitors requiring mobility support who have registered with DVA, and authorised vehicles, will have drop-off access at the Australian National Memorial.
Drop-off access or parking at the Australian National Memorial is strictly limited, attendees will require a pass to access the D23 road and Australian National Memorial site. Prior approval is highly recommended (refer assisted seating).
The walk to the Australian National Memorial from Corbie & Fouilloy is approx 2 km and 3.7 km from Villers-Bretonneux taking 30-60 mins. Care should be taken as the road in some places is not well lit, the surface is uneven and coaches will still be using this road.
On 25 April Somme Tourisme will operate a bus service from a number of nearby towns to those closest to the Memorial - Corbie & Fouilly and Villers Bretonneux. Somme Tourisme seats are limited and must be booked and paid for online. Please visit the Somme Tourisme website. Please note that a shuttle ticket is not required to attend the Dawn Service and does not guarantee a seat at the Dawn Service.
Several buses will depart from and return to the following towns in the region:
- Amiens/Australian National Memorial/Amiens
- Longueau/Australian National Memorial/Longueau
- Albert/Australian National Memorial/Albert
- Peronne/Australian National Memorial/Peronne
On arrival visitors will alight their coach and walk approximately 300 metres uphill to the seating area.
The following bus will travel to Villers-Bretonneux between:
- Amiens/Australian National Memorial/Villers-Bretonneux Town Square/Amiens (2.00am - 12.00pm)
On arrival visitors will alight their coach and walk approximately 300 metres uphill to the seating area.
Visitors who make their own way from the Australian National Memorial to the Villers-Bretonneux town centre can return to Amiens by train, however the first train does not depart until 1:30pm. Please refer to the French railway site (available in English).
Coach: Arrivals and Departures
To assist in ensuring a positive experience to all those attending the Anzac Day Dawn Service at the Australian National Memorial a coordinated passenger drop off and pick up system has been developed to aid in the smooth arrival at, and departure from, the memorial site.
All coaches will be provided with an individual number en route to the Memorial site. Visitors on the coach will be given a card with a matching number to assist with departure.
On arrival at the memorial site coaches will pull up at a designated point. Once safely away from the coach visitors will be directed towards the entrance to the site by easily identifiable DVA staff.
We strongly advise coaches and other vehicles to arrive by 4.30am to avoid possible road closures and congestion.
After the service visitors will move to the front of the site. When the coach has been called forward to the pick-up point the number of the coach and the bay in the pick-up point will be will be posted on screens around the site. It is important that the flow of coaches through the roundabout is done as swiftly as possible to ensure all visitors can leave the site in a timely manner.
IMPORTANT NOTE: At the conclusion of the service up to 8,000 visitors, who arrived by coach over a three to four hour period, will be leaving the Australian National Memorial site at the same time. Visitors will make their way from the front of the Memorial to the promenade area and await pickup. The process will be conducted as safely and as quickly as possible but may take up to 90 minutes. It will be sincerely appreciated if visitors exercise patience and understanding during this time. Please keep this time in mind also when making travel and other arrangements.
For visitors travelling in private vehicles, there will be limited parking in Corbie & Fouilloy and Villers-Bretonneux. Designated car parks are available in the towns at the following locations:
- Town Centre, Corbie
- Town Centre, Fouilloy
- Casino Supermarket. Fouilloy
- Railway Station, Villers-Bretonneux
- Company STDN, Villers-Bretonneux
Visitors will be able to park their car and walk to the Australian National Memorial. The walk to the Memorial from Corbie & Fouilloy, and from Villers Bretonneux is approximately 2 km and 3.7 km respectively and takes between 30-60 minutes depending on the direction from which you come. Care should be taken as the road is poorly lit in some areas, the surface is uneven and buses and coaches use this road.
Tour operators will be able to drop visitors off at the Memorial and will be directed by Gendarme to parking until after the service.
Please find some sumarised information to help you plan your trip: /files/pari/ANZAC DAY 2016 - TOUR OPERATORS INFORMATION.pdf
After the Anzac Day Dawn Service at the Australian National Memorial site, visitors are invited to make their way to the French Monument, Town Centre for the Villers-Bretonneux Town Square Wreath Laying Ceremony which is expected to commence at around 8:30 am.
Visitors are reminded it can get quite hot during the day. A small day pack may be useful to carry with extra clothing, a hat, sunscreen, and drinking water to avoid dehydration. There is no shelter or seating available at this service.
After the ceremony in Villers-Bretonneux, the Anzac Day program continues with a French service in Bullecourt and an Australian service at the Digger Memorial, outside the town of Bullecourt.
The Anzac Day Wreath Laying Service at the Commonwealth and French Monuments in the Bullecourt village centre is expected to commence at around 2:00 pm. (French service)
Bullecourt is approximately 45-60 minutes by car from Villers-Bretonneux, and 15 minutes from Bapaume. Due to the large crowds expected, the road through the village of Bullecourt will be closed for local Anzac Day commemorations. Visitors may need to park outside the village and walk into the town for the French service in the town centre, and to the service at the ‘Digger’ Memorial on the village outskirts. Local police and ceremony staff will be present should attendees require assistance. It should be noted that there is no shelter or seating available at this service.
The Australian Service at the ‘Digger’ Memorial on the Bullecourt village outskirts is expected to commence at around 2:30/2:45pm.
Please note that there will be no vehicle access to the ‘Digger’ Memorial. The walk from Bullecourt to the ‘Digger’ Memorial is approximately 800 metres. There is no shelter and limited seating available at this service.
Visitors are again reminded it can get quite hot during the day. A small day pack may be useful to carry extra clothing, a hat, sunscreen, and drinking water to avoid dehydration.
No public transport is available to Bullecourt – visitors should make their own arrangements.
Assistance will be available for visitors at the Dawn Service who have registered a health or mobility issue via a written application, well in advance of the service period. Evidence from your General Practitioner may be required to support your application.
Those requesting assisted seating are able to have one carer with them to provide assistance. Consideration may be given to accompanying guests. Unfortunately due to seating capacity, it is not possible to extend this service to others travelling with their tour groups. Further information about the application and assessment process can be obtained by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone (02) 6289 6372. You may also write to:
Western Front Section
Department of Veterans Affairs
GPO Box 9998
CANBERRA ACT 2601
There is strictly limited accessible parking available at the Australian National Memorial site and visitors will require a pass to access the D23 road and Australian National Memorial site.
Due to the limited number of accessible parking spaces available, priority is given to those visitors who:
- Are unable to walk and/or have difficulty walking
- Require the use of crutches, a walking frame, callipers, a scooter, a wheelchair or other mobility aid
For visitors who are unable to walk or require the use of a mobility aid, and/or require assistance from another person may apply for a D23 road access pass to travel by private vehicle to park or drop-off at the Memorial site.
For other visitors requiring assisted seating, it is recommended booking a seat on one of the Somme Tourisme bus services which run from Amiens, Longueau, Albert and Peronne. This service is co-ordinated by Somme Tourisme and not the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Further information will be available in November 2015 at Somme Tourisme.
Visitors should be able to walk 300 metres unaided uphill through the cemetery to the Memorial site (this is the approximate distance from the entrance to the assisted seating area) and a further 200 metres from the coach drop-off point to the entrance. Those visitors registered for assisted seating will be able to access the assisted mobility van from the coach drop-off point and be dropped at the front of the memorial close to the assisted seating area.
Family members of those who fought and those who died on the Western Front and in all conflicts, may lay a wreath at the end of the Dawn Service. The Master of Ceremonies will invite those who wish to do so to move forward and lay the wreath. Similarly members of the public may also lay a wreath and will be called forward to do so. Please note – DVA has no capacity to receive wreath deliveries at the Australian National Memorial. If you do plan to lay a wreath, you will need to organise the wreath in advance and bring it with you to the Australian National Memorial. Please consider carefully the size of your tribute as the areas in which wreaths may be laid are quite small and there are likely to be many hundreds of tributes presented. A single flower, a photo, a bunch of flowers or small wreath are all acceptable.
To ensure the orderly laying of wreaths or private tributes from members of the public, please register your desire to do so at the information tent. You will be issued with a number and will be announced by the Master of Ceremonies (MC) in numerical order.
At the completion of the Dawn Service, after the public wreath laying component is completed, a large number of visitors move forward to the front of the memorial wall and the steps where the wreaths have been laid to take photos. Extreme care is recommended to all visitors as there may be trip hazards or other obstacles (chairs, podium, wreath stands) in this area.Please do not climb on podiums or other infrastructure to take photographs.
Many visitors to the Anzac Day Dawn Service at Villers-Bretonneux are keen to locate the graves of deceased relatives who fought on the Western Front, or their relative’s name on a memorial to the missing if they have no known grave.
There are around 1,000 Commonwealth war cemeteries on the Western Front in France and Belgium, including the cemetery at the Australian National Memorial in Villers-Bretonneux.
The walls of the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux carry the names of 10,765 Australians who died in France during World War I and have no known grave. The names are engraved on the memorial in order of battalion, then alphabetically under rank.
A further 1,294 Australians who died in battle and have no known grave are commemorated on the walls at the VC Corner Cemetery near Fromelles in northern France. Those who died in Belgium and who have no known grave are commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial to the Missing.
Visitors wishing to locate a particular grave or name on a memorial to the missing should consult the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website to identify the exact location of the grave or name on a memorial to the missing prior to travelling to France or Belgium. Limited assistance may be available on the day.
DVA requests that you register your intention to attend on the DVA registration system. This assists DVA with planning for the commemorations It also allows visitors to receive updates should there be any changes to the arrangements for the traffic or commemorations themselves. It is important for visitors to register the mobile phone number they will use while travelling to ensure they receive updates.
It is DVA’s mission to continually improve the Anzac Day Dawn Service for visitors in France each year. In this regard, it would be sincerely appreciated if you could take the time to complete the online survey about your experience this year. Manual forms can also be found in the centre of the Orders of Service.
DVA is unable to assist with accommodation bookings or advice, however, you may wish to visit the Somme Tourisme website for more information.
For the latest travel advice on France please visit the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s (DFAT) Smartraveller website for information regarding:
It is recommended that you register your travel plans with DFAT in case of an emergency.
A number of other activities will take place in France in April in addition to the official services. For more information please read the attached table:/files/pari/Anzac Day Calendar V2.docx
Australian Remembrance Trail along the Western Front
VC Corner, Fromelles
The Bullecourt Digger, Bullecourt
1st Australian Division Memorial, Pozières
The Windmill, Pozières
Australian National Memorial, Villers‑Bretonneux
Australian Corps Memorial, Le Hamel
2nd Australian Division Memorial, Mont St Quentin
4th Australian Division Memorial, Bellenglise
The Australian government contributed over $1 million to build a new museum beside the Fromelles Military Cemetery, France. The Battle of Fromelles was Australia’s first significant action on the Western Front in France. On 19-20 July 1916 more than 5500 men of the Fifth Australian Division became casualties. 400 of these men died of