Reopening of the 1917 Bullecourt Museum, first stop of the Australian Remembrance Trail. [fr]
BULLECOURT (Pas-de-Calais), April 24, 2012 (AFP)
A museum dedicated to the participation of Australian soldiers to World War I will reopen Wednesday at Bullecourt (Pas-de-Calais) after extensive renovations, becoming the first stop of the Australian Remembrance Trail along the Western Front.
The Jean and Denise Letaille’s museum located in the town of Bullecourt close to Arras, place of the two bloodiest battles on the Western Front, has just completed a full refurbishment thanks to the Australian Government and the Nord-Pas-de-Calais Council who jointly contributed 850.000 Euros for the project.
Australia has also committed 7,5 million Euros towards the development of an Australian Remembrance Trail, expected to be completed by 2014 – the centenary of the start of World War I – and which will cover nine sites in total.
The trail goes through three sites in Belgium, Ypres, Passchendaele and Ploegsteert, Fromelles and Bullecourt in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais, and Pozières, Mont-Saint-Quentin and Villers-Bretonneux in the Somme.
“In all these locations, the communities have long recognised Australia’s contribution in Europe during the war”, said Warren Snowdon, Minister for Veteran’s Affairs, in a press release.
The reopening of the museum on the 25th of April coincides with the commemoration of Anzac Day.
In the refurbished barn of Jean Letaille, former farmer and passionate collector, artefacts collected on the Bullecourt battlefields tell both the horror of the war and the daily life of Australian and British diggers.
The soldiers who fought in those two battles, in April and May 1917, were experienced veterans of Gallipoli and Fromelles, and all volunteers on the Australian side. Approximately 10,000 were either killed or wounded and so were 7,000 British and 10,000 German soldiers.
In total, 46,300 Australian soldiers fell in France during World War I.
At the centre of the main exhibition room, pieces of a British tank sticks out of a heap of bric-a-brac excavated from the surrounding fields.
From the ceiling hang barbwired hooks and weird corkscrew pickets. Here, are engraved artillery shell casings transformed into art; over there, are trench clubs that seem to come straight out of the Middle Ages; all of which is a testimony to aspects of War.
Last update 28/05/2012