Refurbished WWI Museum strengthens Franco-Australian ties
Major refurbishments to a First World War museum on the Western Front are a step closer today following an additional Australian Government contribution of over $700,000 to the Franco Australian Museum, housed within the Victoria School in Villers-Bretonneux, France.
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Warren Snowdon, said the Museum tells of the enduring links between the town and Australia, begun during the Battles of Villers-Bretonneux in April 1918, where Australian troops displayed great courage and determination in the defence of Villers-Bretonneux.
“Australian forces gained wide recognition for their heroic efforts and were welcomed into the hearts and minds of the people of Villers-Bretonneux in Battles that helped stop the German spring offensive.
“The Franco Australian Museum pays tribute to Australian service and the museum expansion will provide greater flexibility in the use of space for both the museum’s collection as well as improve access and amenities for the more than 10,000 people, many of them Australians, that visit each year,” Mr Snowdon said.
Australia’s Ambassador to France, Mr Ric Wells presented the Australian Government’s next contribution to the project of €500,000 (approximately AUD 705,000) to the Mayor of Villers-Bretonneux, Dr Patrick Simon, at the Victoria School today. Further funding will be provided in 2014.
Built in the 1920s, the school housing the museum was a gift from the children of Victoria, Australia following the war. A sign in the playground honours this relationship, saying “Do not forget Australia.”
“This link between Villers-Bretonneux and Australia is a testament to the memory of Australian service that has continued to this day, and reflected on each year when Australians and French gather for the Anzac Day Dawn Service on the anniversary of the re-taking of Villers-Bretonneux by Australian troops in 1918,” Mr Snowdon said.
- The cross of the military cemetery and the tower of the Australian War Memorial in France. ©MarcROUSSEL
Improvements to the museum will be completed in time for centenary commemorations on the Western Front, and form one element of the Australian Remembrance Trail along the Western Front, a $10 million Australian Government initiative to establish, in equal funding partnerships with French and Belgian authorities, a commemorative trail highlighting a number of sites along the Western Front that allow visitors to interpret the Australian experience of war. An overview of the Australian Remembrance Trail sites is available at www.ww1westernfront.gov.au.