On 25 April each year, in commemoration of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) and its engagement in the First World War, services of remembrance are held not only in Australia and New Zealand, but also in France, Belgium, Turkey and other theatres of war throughout the world.
The largest Anzac Day commemoration in France is the Dawn Service at the Australian National Memorial, at Villers-Bretonneux in the Somme. Every year, almost 6000 Australians attend this poignant service of remembrance.
The important role of the AIF in the Somme
The Australian Government has created a new Australian Remembrance Trail, which includes three major sites of remembrance in the Somme:
– The Australian National Memorial, where a new interpretation centre is being built. Named after Sir John Monash, this centre is due to open on Anzac Day 2018;
– The Australian Corps Memorialat Le Hamel, located on the very site of Monash’s highly successful battle;
– The Second Australian Division Memorial at Mont-Saint-Quentin, around which six interpretation markers have been installed at key points of the Battle of Mont-Saint-Quentin, which took place from 29 August to 2 September 1918 and enabled Péronne to be liberated from the Germans.
In view of the Australian Remembrance Trail, the Historial opened a new permanent exhibition themed on the engagement of the Australian Imperial Force on the Somme, especially their role during the Battle of Mont Saint Quentin. Symbolic artefacts, an animated relief-map of the battle, archive photographs and interactive touch-screens help visitors learn more about the Australian battle that took place here.
These projects were conducted by the Historial, Museum of the Great War in partnership with Australian authorities.
The Historial of the Great War at Péronne and Thiepval
Spend more time immersed in the history of the Great War by exploring the Historial’s museums at Péronne and Thiepval:
A key point of the Somme Remembrance Trail, the Historial at Péronne first opened in 1992. This museum is renowned for its First World War collections of over 70,000 artfefacts. It displays British, French and German perceptions of war on a great number of topics, including daily life, the front, military equipment, technological evolution, propoganda and children during the war.
A 20 minute film in four languages presents significant moments, stakes at issue and the people involved, providing visitors with an introduction to their visit of the museum.
New exhibition hal dedicated to ANZAC in Péronne :
Inaugurated on 1 July 2016 by the President of the French Republic, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, the Thiepval Museum is dedicated to the battles of the Somme and remembering the men involved.
Located close to the Thiepval Memorial, these new galleries provide visitors with a unique museum experience and include a film and a vast time-line that studies war in the Somme from 1914 to 1918. A sixty metre long panorama by Joe Sacco and a pit exhibiting artefacts and animated displays highlights the violence and tragedy of the 1 July 1916. On this day alone, the first day of the Battle of the Somme, 20,000 British soldiers lost their lives. The displays interweave German and French perceptions of life at the front, and the memorial room dedicated to the Missing has an intimate, chapel-like quality with its 90 portraits of Missing soldiers and their personal effects and families’ keepsakes. The gallery to the Aces of Aviation features a replica of the Nieuport Ni-17, the aircraft flown by Georges Guynemer in the Somme, in 1916.
Good to know
Combined tickets to explore the two museums
The Historial, Museum of the Great War sells combined tickets to its two museums at Péronne & Thiepval. Adult tickets cost 10 Euros, children’s tickets cost 7 Euros and a family ticket (2 adults + 2 children) costs 25 Euros.