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    Rendez-vous at Bullecourt Australian Memorial Park

    On 11th April
    1917 the Allied offensive on the Western Front at Arras and Vimy Ridge had been
    underway for two days when General Gough, chief of the British 5th Army,
    launched an attack on the Hindenburg Line between the villages of Quéant and
    Bullecourt. With no support from heavy artillery, the Australian 4th Division
    and the British 62nd Division relied on 12 tanks to breach the German defence.
    The tanks arrived late and, suffering technical problems, were soon pinned down
    by German fire and rendered useless. With the German defences almost intact,
    and with no possibility of breaching them, the Allied soldiers could only
    retreat.

    A few days
    later, on 3rd May, Allied command ordered a second attack. Once again the British
    62nd Division went to battle but this time alongside the Australian 2nd
    Division who refused tank support. Despite artillery support and reinforcements
    in the shape of the Australian 1st and 5th Divisions, the second Battle of
    Bullecourt developed into a tragic repetition of the first. The Australians
    managed to establish a foothold in the village but at a cost of 7,000
    additional losses.

    In all,
    nearly 10,000 men of the Australian Imperial Force were killed or wounded. In
    1993 the Australian Memorial Park of Bullecourt inaugurated the statue of a
    digger to honour the memory of the Australian soldiers who fell in these two
    battles. 'Digger' was the affectionate name used among the Australian soldiers
    to refer to their comrades and aptly reflects the nature of trench warfare.
    Sculpted by the artist Peter Corlett, who also carved the Cobber of Fromelles,
    the Digger of Bullecourt proudly bears the symbols of the Australian Forces: a
    slouch hat decorated with the Rising Sun badge.

    Every year
    on ANZAC Day (25th April), the Australian Ambassador to France presides over a
    ceremony to commemorate all the Australian soldiers who lost their lives in the
    Great War.

     

 
 

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