THE HON WARREN SNOWDON MP
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs
18 July 2011
The Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Warren Snowdon, today joined the newly appointed Chair of the Anzac Centenary Advisory Board, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, AC, AFC (Ret’d) in honouring Australian service on the Western Front.
Mr Snowdon said ACM Houston had taken time out from his leave to join him in making a special visit to Ypres, Belgium, to lay a wreath at the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing.
In France for the 95th anniversary of the Battle of Fromelles and the rededication of 14 headstones for newly identified Australians at the Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery, Mr Snowdon said some 80,000 Australians fought in the Ypres area between June and November 1917 beginning with the Battle of Messines.
“Ypres is the site of one of Australia’s most costly campaigns of the First World War. In five major battles following Messines, most of which were fought in appalling weather, Australia suffered some 38,000 casualties with almost 9000 killed,” he said.
The names of more than 6,000 Australians are recorded on the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing. Australian Soldiers marched through the original Menin Gate en route to the Third Battle of Ypres (often known as Passchendaele) in 1917.
Almost every evening since the Memorial was opened in 1927, buglers from the local fire brigade close the road which passes under the Memorial and sound the Last Post.
“It is important to ensure that we appropriately honour Australian service at the sites where our ancestors fought and died, especially in the lead up to the centenary of our involvement in the First World War,” ACM Houston said.
“As part of my new role chairing the Anzac Centenary Advisory Board, I look forward to talking to the Australian people to ensure we remember these significant locations in Australia’s wartime history.”
The Australian Government is establishing the Board to provide high level strategic advice to the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on the Centenary of Anzac, regarding the planning and implementation of Anzac Centenary events and initiatives.
Mr Snowdon will meet with his UK counterpart to discuss Anzac Centenary preparations.
For more information on the Anzac Centenary Advisory Board visit www.dva.gov.au/media.
Please note: Wreath laying will occur at 0500 AEST 19 July, or 2000 on 18 July in Belgium. Photos will be available after the event.
Minister Snowdon: Alice Plate 0400 045 999
Department of Veterans’ Affairs Media: 02 6289 6203