General Puga, French Grand Chancelier de la Legion d’Honneur, visits Australia [fr]
General Puga was in Sydney and Canberra from the 13th to the 17th of November for a visit reflecting the importance of the link between France and Australia.
General Puga, French Grand Chancelier de la Légion d’Honneur (Chief of the Legion of Honour), arrived a few days after Remembrance Day. During his stay, he met with representatives of the ADF, members of the Legion d’Honneur and of the Ordre National du Mérite as well as politicians as a symbol of the friendship between the French and Australian militaries..
He honoured the 62 000 diggers and the 40 000 soldiers who fell during the First and the Second World War by laying a wreath at the Sydney Anzac Memorial. With The Last Post playing, the Grand Chancelier stood beside the New South Wales Minister for Veteran Affairs, the Hon David Elliott and the New South Wales Shadow Minister for Veteran Affairs, the Hon Lynda Voltz.
In the name of France, he then made Mr Ronald Stanley Rhode, Mr Harry Wadleigh, who fought during the Second World War, as well as Mrs Florence Edmund, benefactor for veteran and war widows’ associations, Knights of the Legion d’Honneur.
As a high-level representative for France, the Grand Chancelier spent time with the Premier of New South Wales. A few weeks after the Invictus Games in Sydney during which French veterans honoured their country, General Puga met with veterans as well as their families and many associations supporting the soldiers such as the War Widow’s Guild of Australia in a lunch organised by Australian association for the Legion d’Honneur and the Ordre National du Mérite. The money collected will be donated to warriors either psychologically or physically injured on the field.
During this lunch, the French Consul General, M. Nicolas Croisez and H.E Christophe Penot, Ambassador of France, reminded those present of the importance of the relationship between France and Australia. General Puga then concluded and thanked the Veterans for their bravery.
In Canberra, the Grand Chancelier went to the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, the walls of which are engraved with more of 100 000 names of those who fell during the wars.
While the eternal flame was burning, General Puga and the Vice-Chief of the ADF, VADM David Johnston, laid a wreath.
Silent and still, they listened to the story of one of the Australian soldiers who died for his country. This Last Post ceremony takes place every night in front of a small public audience to tell the story of one Australian soldier who died in duty.
During the last day of his stay, the Grand Chancelier made VADM Johnston a Knight of the Legion d’Honneur at the Embassy of France. In the presence of his family and French and Australian members of the Legion d’Honneur and of the Ordre du Mérite, this ceremony illustrated past and present joint operations, during which French and Australians soldiers fight “shoulder to shoulder”, as reminded by the Ambassador.
The presence of high-ranking officers, such as General Angus Campbell, Chief of Defence Force, his predecessor General Mark Binskin, General Mel Hupfeld, Chief of Joint Operations underlined the strong friendship and solidarity between the two countries.