Today after bidding our friends from Royal Victory a fond farewell, the group embarked on the next leg of the journey that would take us into France and the visit to the significant battlefield locations that Australians played a part in WW1 and WW2.
Despite there being minimal or nil snow fall overnight and the sky being a clear blue, the temperature still stayed on the negative side of the thermometer :-(.
Despite the substantial travel time involved during this day, it marks an important opportunity for each person within the group to gain a greater understanding of the history and events behind what makes up the character of an Australian and the ultimate sacrifice made by so many for us to have what we do today.
Amongst the many locations visited today those that resonated most with the group included the following;
* Thiepval Memorial - A memorial listing the names of the some 73,000 British and South African soldiers who died during the conflict, who however have no known resting place.
* Beaumont Hamel - Preserved original WW1 trenches which the group walked through and the memorial to the soldiers from New Foundland who suffered catastrophic losses (753 out of a battalion on 800) in one single day.
* Lochnagar Crater - Which was the site of the biggest crater resulting from WW1 when the Allies tunnelled under the German bunkers and successfully detonated 60,000 pounds of explosive. So big was the explosion that dirt and rock were hurled 1.2 kilometres into the air.
* Villiers Bretonaux Australian War Memorial - This is the location of the Anzac Dawn Service on the Western Front where the efforts of the Australians especially in relation to reclaiming the town are commemorated. The imposing wall and tower that form part of the memorial contain the names of 11,000 Australian soldiers who died during the conflict and who have no known final resting place.
Th final stop of the tour was the town of Villiers Bretonaux itself, to view the numerous references to Australia (eg Kangaroos on the City Council building, streets named after Australian states etc) which act as a poignant reminder to the high regard that Australians are held at due to the sacrifices that they made WW1.
A highlight for many within the group was a visit to the Franko Australian school in the town which was rebuilt after WW1 with the assistance of funds raised by the school children from Victoria. In a sign of their eternal appreciation there is a sign in the courtyard of the school painted green an gold that everyday reminds the students to "Never forget Australia".
From there it was off to our last host club at Saint Germain who would be hosting not only the players but the coaches, managers and supporters.