THE HON WARREN SNOWDON MP
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs
26 March 2011
Today in France a plaque dedicated to the Australian soldiers who were killed in Bapaume in the First World War will be unveiled.
On the night of 25 March 1917, the Town Hall of Bapaume was destroyed by a bomb left by the retreating occupying German forces. About 30 men were sleeping in the building at the time. Twenty-five men were killed in the explosion – 19 of them were Australians.
The Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Warren Snowdon, said he was pleased the Australian Government was able to contribute €1000 (A$1420) to the installation of the plaque through the Overseas Privately-Constructed Memorials Restoration Program.
“The unveiling of this plaque in Bapaume is a tribute to the fine Australian soldiers who lost their lives that night in 1917. The plaque will be affixed to the outside of the new Town Hall, where there is also a tribute to two French parliamentarians who were killed in the same explosion.”
Mr Snowdon said he was touched by the ongoing affection the people of France have for Australians, as demonstrated by this tribute.
“The Australians who fought with the Allies along the Western Front in the First World War created a strong impression on the local people and Australia continues to enjoy the support of many communities. An example of this is the school in Fromelles called ‘Ecole des Cobbers’ whose emblem is a kangaroo.
“In the lead-up to Anzac Day – a time of importance to all Australians – it’s important to remember our Allies in the First World War, many of whom also mark Anzac Day. In France, Anzac Day is commemorated with a full day of services including a dawn service at Villers-Bretonneux, which is only 50 kilometres from Bapaume,” Mr Snowdon said.
The Overseas Memorials Restoration Program also recently contributed funds to improve Second World War memorials in Indonesia and Malaysia.
A grant of A$2,400 was made to clean, paint and reseal plaques on the Tarakan War Memorial that commemorates the Tarakan campaign in Indonesia. A further A$7,520 funded a new fence around the commemorative area of the Last Camp Memorial in Malaysia, which is believed to be the last camp site of the survivors of the Sandakan-Ranau Death Marches.
More information about Anzac Day commemorations and Department of Veterans’ Affairs’ grants is available from the website: www.dva.gov.au
Department of Veterans’ Affairs Media: 02 6289 6203