From our mooring on the Somme we biked to the ridge upon which stands Australia’s WWI Monument and the superb Sir John Monash Visitor Center. Given its height and the commanding view if offered, one can see why the German Army picked this spot. Facing away from the Somme it is less imposing and it is from this direction that the Australians came, and yet still struggled mightily. The tower at the center of the complex is about 8 stories high and from here the view over the now tranquil farmland and towns with their church spires is delightful. Corbie, where we are moored, shows us its lovely old church, closed for renovations (we got in by chance), a fine reference point.
The superb audio visual presentation in the Sir John Monash Cernter gives a well defined account of the efforts of these volunteers. At the time the Australian constitution prohibited its standing army from participation abroad. 416,809 men enlisted, there were more than 60,000 were killed with 156,000 other casualties. Some 24,000 died just taking this ridge.
There are 20 audio-visual screens sensed by the device the Center provides. The narrative takes you through the battle and some of the life stories of those who survived intact, handicapped, maimed, suffering from PTSD, or died, and words from loved ones. For more information see https://www.dataton.com/showcases/sir-john-monash-centre-france
Here the Second Battle of Villers-Bretonneux April 24–27, 1918. The losses were losses were heavy, gains small. They later fought the Germans in August, as the former sought to maximize gains in advance of the arrival of significant numbers of American troops and equipment.
Monash created a battle plan that was widely hailed, coordinating the efforts of air, tanks and ground forces, greatly aiding the effort to take the ridge. The Center opened in 2018. It