Prince Charles attended early morning commemorations in France on Wednesday to mark the 100th anniversary of a battle that changed the course of the First World War. In April 1918 the Battle of Villers-Brettoneux was fought and 100 years later on Anzac Day, The Prince of Wales led the tributes to the bravery of the men who fought and died in the battle.
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Australian soldiers fought alongside the British at the Battle of Villers-Brettoneux. More than 3000 Australians from the 13th and 15th Brigades fought alongside three British Battalions in a simple but equally as dangerous operation.
The Battle of Villers-Brettoneux took place from 24th-25th April 1918 during the German Spring Offensive against the Allied lines to the east of Amiens. Thousands of volunteer soldiers took part in the surprise night-time attack to save the small town near Amiens from capture. It was the second battle in the area in a few weeks and is remembered for being the first major use of tanks by Germany.
The success of the Battle of Villers-Brettoneux led to the culmination of the German’s Spring Offensive.
On behalf of Her Majesty The Queen, Prince Charles led the tributes in France and was joined by Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, and Edouard Philippe at the Australian National Memorial just outside Villers-Brettoneux.
The 8,000 plus crowd at the Dawn Service at the National Memorial were greeted by the Australian Army Band and the Voices of Birralee choir with their traditional wartime music and anthems. The crowds listened silently as a roll of honour for soldiers was read out while their pictures were illuminated one by one against a tower.
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Prince Charles spoke of those who gave their lives, “Today, as we mark a century since they gave their lives, let us resolve to continue to fulfil their trust so that every passing year will only add to the measure of their honour.”
Prince Charles then proceeded to lay a wreath.
From the commemoration service, Prince Charles attended a reception where he met representatives from 17 nations who fought on the Western Front as well as Australian Football League players Edward Morgan and Priscilla Lodge, who play an ANZAC Cup Game every year.
After signing a guest book and posting a tribute, Prince Charles met descendants of those who were embroiled in battle.
Prince Charles was accompanied on the trip by Princess Anne’s husband, Sir Tim Lawrence, who is Vice Chairman of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.