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  • Day11


    August 6 in France ⋅ ☀️ 20 °C

    Zum Abendbrot ging es dann mit Picknickkorb an den Strand, denn dort gab es eine ganz besondere Überraschung: Robben. Und zu unserer großen Überraschung kamen diese auch ziemlich nah ans Ufer. Also: Ton an beim Video!Read more

    Maike Hausmann

    Wenn ihr zügig in dieser Richtung weiterfahrt, trefft ihr auf Leni!

  • Day11


    August 6 in France ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    Heute ging es für uns in Europas größtes Aquarium. Zunächst konnten wir da ein riesengroßes Becken bestaunen, in dem uns vorallem die Rochen fasziniert haben. Mit einer Leichtigkeit gleiten sie durchs Wasser. Es ist zauberhaft!
    Auch das Robben Ecken, bei dem diese auch unter den Füßen durchtauchen konnte, war einfach nur fantastisch!
    Read more

  • Day5

    Etappe 5 - wildlife maar vooral saai

    July 27 in France ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C

    Vandaag stond er een etappe van 94 km. op het programma met wind mee (is onze vrind) en per saldo 50 meter dalen. We werden vandaar 80 km. vergezeld door onze nieuwe vriendin (lieve) L'oise. Bedankt voor je aanwezigheid! Bijna 3 wilde otters en een salamander aangereden. Het was een zonnige (en altijd gezellige) maar helaas ietwat eentonige dag. Gelukkig is Ritchies 'scharnier' gelukkig weer bijna de oude. Nu lekker bieren in Compiègne (topstadje).Read more

  • Day29

    Victoria school Villers- bre

    July 25 in France ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

    Today we were lucky enough to Visit the museum and courtyard of the Victoria school in Villers Brettoneux. It bears a sign that says "do not forget Australia". ❤

    After WW1, the school and 80% of the town was completely destroyed. Australian soldiers who returned home (mostly from the State of Victoria), with the help of their government, decide to help the municipality and organize a major fundraising in Australia, including in schools in Victoria .
    This money is used to rebuild in 1923 - 27 the school of boys - now called "Victoria School", on the very site of the one destroyed in 1918. Primary school still in activity, it is today the symbol of ties uniting France and Australia.

    1200 of those school kids fathers are buried at VB cemetary, the school has a sister school in Victoria which was partially destroyed by the 2009 fires. So the comitee launched a fundraiser and in 3 months, 14,000 euros were collected and used in part to rebuild the school in Strathewen (Victoria).
    Read more

    Glenda Nielsen

    How lovely. I remember the school in Victoria when the fires came through. Through past history, we are linked forever.

    Walter Gentzen

    lovely story great experience.

    Bronwyn Gentzen

    Great history of the school Taylah. Would like to see this school.

  • Day25

    Templeux- le- Guerard Cemetery

    July 21 in France ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    Yesterday Todd gave us an meaningful and emotional reading about Tommy's life.

    Today was a very special day, Todd planned a beautiful ceramony, for which Tommy's family were able to attend.

    They have worked with UWC-A to find him and have never forgotten the sacrifices he made for their family.

    The speech from Rosemary (his wife's granddaughter), was very emotional and really brought to life the impact the great war had on their families. I didn't see a dry eye in the ceramony.

    For the family, there has always been a sense of unease, a feeling that something was missing without knowing where Tommy lay. Now Tommy has a headstone that bears his name and it was amazing to see the solace this brought to the family.

    5985- PTE Thomas Cohan

    2nd Bn Australian Infantry

    KIA 18th September 1918
    Read more

    Walter Gentzen

    great uplifting story

  • Day23


    July 19 in France ⋅ ☀️ 39 °C

    July 19, 1916 at 6pm (broad daylight) the battle of Fromelles began.

    Today marks the 106th anniversary of the battle of fromelles.

    This battle was Australia's first major battle on the Western front. Troops of the 5th division were ordered to cease a 4km area of land controlled by the Germans.

    On the 1km front of trenches, 100m away lay the German trenches. In this small space of land, 3100 Australian casualties, 400 captured and almost 2000 KIA.

    More Aussies were killed on this day than the Vietnam, Korean and boar wars combined.

    Standing at VC corner, seeing sugar loaf 400m away and marching that 100m across what was no man's land towards cobbers statue really hit home for me.
    Read more

    Walter Gentzen

    great history lesson beautiful country

    Taylah Gentzen

    it is such a gorgeous country

    Denver Blake

    What must that day have been like for those soldiers…..

    Taylah Gentzen

    I can't even begin to imagine

    Bronwyn Gentzen

    It’s very sad to imagine what it would have been like. 😢

  • Day20

    Rosiel Communal Cemetery ReDedication

    July 16 in France ⋅ ☀️ 21 °C

    Today we had the honour of conducting the dedication ceramony at Roisel Communal Cemetery Ext for two mates from NSW.

    7499 SGT Edwin Douglas Lille
    2nd Bn. Australian Infantry, A.I.F.

    Died 19 September 1918 Age 24

    7520 LCPL Patrick Joseph O'neill (Patty)
    2nd Bn. Australian Infantry, A.I.F.

    Died 19 September 1918 Age 26.

    They both passed away together when a projectile went strait through the side of their dugout.

    The men were buried instantly and the location of their remains were a mystery until the unrecovered war casualties team conducted an investigation.

    After 104 years, these two brave men finally have a headstone that bears their name.

    "Lest we forget"
    Read more

  • Day17

    LCPL Patrick Joseph O'Neill

    July 13 in France ⋅ ☀️ 28 °C

    Before coming over to Europe on the JCGSA, we were given a task to research a soldier and find out about their history. Today at Roisel cemetery, I had the honour of sharing the history of LCPL Patrick Joseph O'Neil (patty) to the contingent. May the history of our fallen soldiers live on through all of us.

    Patrick Joseph O’Neil or Patty as his mates knew him. Was born in Manilla in 1892 to Arthur Mathias O’Neill and Ellen O’Neill (born Phelan), and was the first born to his siblings James Alphonsus O’Neill, Arthur Hilary O’Neill, and Mary Pauline O’Neill. Manilla was a small farming community of 780 people situated on the Namoi River, 45km SW of Tamworth, NSW, Australia, and was known for its wool and wheat. The town was named by the Kamilaroi people who lived by the banks of the Namoi River, named after the word “manellae” meaning “winding river”.
    Life was quiet in Manilla and most of Joseph’s early life would have been spent playing in the fields with his brothers and sister, and and helping out his mother and father. As a teenager, Patrick and his siblings probably spent summer days swimming in the Namoi River, climbing the embankment to the west, and attempting to walk from one end of the railway bridge to the other (this was a daring adventure back in the day). Firstly they would lay down and listen to the train track to see if a train was coming and then walk across the bridge, leaping from timber plank to timber plank without falling through the spaces and before a train arrives. Patricks family later settled in Tamworth, NSW and became a farmer.
    On August 3rd, 1914 the Australian government (GVT) offered the UK a military force of 20,000 men and placed the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) under the control of the British Admiralty. This was when the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) was formed and Australia could officially volunteer to fight as part of the 1st Brigade overseas. The 1st Brigade was made up of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Battalions which were recruited from mainly NSW, conducting their initial training over six weeks at makeshift camps in farms, parklands, sporting grounds and showgrounds across Australia.
    After the first anniversary of the ANZAC Cove landing at Gallipoli, it inspired a huge upsurge of patriotic sentiment. Marches and other commemorations were successfully used as recruiting devices, and to collect donations to provide comforts to those on the Western Front. As tensions rose across the world, casualty rates increased across the Western Front and by 1916 it was understood that joining the AIF was no longer an adventure. By July 1916 there was over 27,000 Australian casualties reported and Australia’s began to question their involvement, leading to a shortage of male volunteers willing to enlist in the AIF. It was then that Australia held a referendum for conscription. This was only narrowly defeated. Australia and South Africa were the only two countries that did not introduce conscription during the First World War.
    Unfortunately, on March 2nd 1917 Patty lost his beloved mother Ellen O’Neill.
    At this time, conditions of enlistment for the AIF were 18-45 years old, at least 5 feet 2 inches tall and a chest measurement of 22 Inches (fully expanded). Patrick was a young, healthy, strong-set farmer standing at 5/10Lb and 156 pounds with a chest measurement of 32 inches. This was exactly what the AIF was looking for. I’m unsure what drove Patty, a son, brother and friend to enlist in the AIF and volunteer to go to another country and fight on forign land under which was now known to be the harshest conditions imaginable. A place where his mates left on an adventure and never returned. Maybe it was the grief from his mothers passing or the patriotism and devotion to the country, the family and mates that he loved. On May 2nd 1917 at the age of 24 years and 5 months old Patty enlisted into the 2nd Australian Infantry Battalion and become 7520 PTE Patrick Joseph O’Neill.
    May 2nd 1917, Patty commenced his short recruitment training at the Liverpool Military Camp, set up at the Sydney Showgrounds. This training consisted of drill, military command and how to operate weapons and equipment. June 14th 1917, Patrick embarked with the rest of the 25th reinforcement cycle on HMAT Hororata A20 from Sydney to England. It was an eight week Journey on a 9,400 tonne ship travelling at 25.9kmh arriving in England on Aug 26th 1917. This would be the sixth and last embarkment from Australia to England on HMAT Hororata under the Commonwealth control.
    On February 12th 1918, Patrick proceed to Southampton, France and marched in to Le Havre on the Western Front. Le Havre is located 280km from Arras and was the admin base for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th Australian Division base depots agreed upon in pre-war plans between the British and French Military authorities. On Patrick’s arrival in February, it was dead in the middle of one of the coldest winters, rain, sleet, snow and a total of 85 hours of sunshine during the whole month. This temperature change would have been a major shock for a young farm boy used to the temperatures averaging 30 degrees during February in Tamworth. The only thing to keep him warm was a pair of Khaki breeches and a tunic (service jacket), with the occasional hot meal or cup of tea.
    Feb 23rd 1918, Patrick was sent to the 2nd Battalion lines near the Belgian wood. In early 1918 the collapse of the Russian resistance on the Eastern Front enabled Germans to transfer a large number of troops to the West. As a result, on the March 21st they launched an offensive attack along the Western Front. The initial attack came along a 71 metre front between La Bassee and La Fere. Shortly after, during the battle of Lys, the 2nd Battalion, along with the rest of the 1st Division were sent to Hazebrouck on the Western Front. Upon arriving there on the April 12th 1918, they took up defensive positions around Strazelle to await the German advance. On the April 17th, while defending the village of Sec Bois, the Battalion of brave young men helped turn back a determined German attack.
    Following this, between late April and July, a period of lull followed. During this time, the Australians undertook a series of small- scale operations (trench raiding and patrolling) with the aim to occupy the enemy’s outpost line. This later became known as the “peaceful penetrations”. The 2nd Battalion were then sent to relieve the 3rd Brigade around Meteren on April 27th, 1918. The 1st Brigade began patrols to capture German soldiers, gain intelligence and harass the enemy.
    Post these patrols In May, the 2nd Battalion took up a position opposite Merris, and remained there until the end of the month. Throughout June and July they alternated between Meteren and Merris adjacent to the Berlin border, during which time they continued their raiding operations, advancing the line about 910 metres without any significant losses. It was during these raids on the June 24th that Patrick sustained a gunshot wound to the neck, hip and thigh. He was transported from the field back to a relay post by the 3rd Australian Artillery Brigade and onto the 22nd General Hospital in Camiers where he received staples.
    June 29th 1918, merely five days after his infliction, Patrick was transported back to the No 6 Convoy Depot in Le Harve where he recuperated in a defensive position, on lighter duties before proceeding back to his unit on July 9th and re-joined his brigade on the 13th.
    On August 2nd 1918, the 2nd Battalion launched its own offensive operations. The 1st Brigade were attached temporarily to the 4th Division to assist as its reserve, guarding the river crossing at Cerisy. Following this, the 2nd Battalion were involved in the Allies’ own offence, launching to the east of Amiens on August 8th 1918. This advance by the British and Empire troops was the greatest success in a single day on the Western front. This day will forever be known as “the black day of the German Army in this war”. Through this period, the Battalion suffered three officers and 45 other ranks killed or wounded. The German troops were demoralised and around 30,000 soldier’s surrendered. This was the start of the 100 days of offensive operations from Amiens to Armistice.
    September 19 1918 during the Battle for the Hindenburg line the fighting was intense
    The 1st Division started the Amiens offensive in reserve but was later committed to the left flank along the Somme, taking part in actions around Chipilly and Chuignes across the Somme towards Bapaume securing the right flank of the British Army while it advanced on Bapaume. It also allowed the 3rd Australian Division to cross the Somme and secure the Australian Corps northern flank for the attack on Mont St Quentin.
    During these operation on August 30th 1918, Patrick was rewarded for his leadership, courage, morals and ethics as an Australian soldier and promoted to Lance Corporal (LCPL) by the CO of the 2nd Battalion in France
    On 18 September 1918 Hargicourt was recaptured by the 1st Australian Division, which seen the involvement of the 2nd Battalion. After securing Hargcourt on the morning of the 18th at around 5am the battalion hopped off the tape and marched a mile in heavy rain. LCPL Paddy and his mate SGT Lillie, dug a pit, and placed sheets of corrugated iron on top. At 4am on the 19th a large shell went through the side of the dugout and killed them instantly. From red cross investigations this was between Hargcourt and Jeancourt.
    The red cross investigation conducted had a letter from PTE Paterson which stated that “he had never met two finer men and they were both very popular in the Coy and They were the last men killed in the Batallion”.
    Four days after Paddy was killed On September 23rd, the 2nd Battalion was relieved by American forces. At this time the rest of the 1st Division took part in no further fighting and the first of the Australian soldiers were withdrawn on request made by Prime Minister Billy Hughes.
    At 11am on November 11th 1919, merely two months after LCPL O’Neill was KIA, the guns on the Western front fell silent. The November armistice was followed by a peace treaty of Versailles signed on June 28th, 1919. Between November 1918 and May 1919, the men of the 2nd Battalion sporadically returned to Australian soil for demobilisation and discharge.

    LCPL O’ Neill was initially buried in an un-marked grave as an unknown Australian soldier, His final resting place being here at Roisel Communal Cemetery extension Somme France III. H. 13

    Paddy, a farmer from country NSW, a beloved son, brother and friend.

    RIP LCPL Patrick Joseph O’neill,

    “Lest we forget”
    Read more

    Frank Langford

    What a beautiful moment today held for us all. You did an amazing job in your reflection Taylah. You captured Paddy beautifully. I'm sure his family would have been deeply moved today. Padre ❤👍

    Bronwyn Gentzen

    Really enjoyed reading the history behind Paddy! Well done Taylah ♥️

    Bronwyn Gentzen

    Is Paddy sitting or standing?

    Taylah Gentzen

    Paddy is sitting 🙂

  • Day18

    Assevillers New British Cemetary

    July 14 in France ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    Today it was an Honour to help Jack and finchy with their dedication ceramony's for

    16742 Gunner Norman Frederick McDonald
    Australian Field artillery
    KIA 31 August 1918 Age 31

    1046 Driver Ronald Charles Gillam
    Australian Field artillery
    KIA 31 August 1918 Age 24

    Both men were mates, from Mudgee. They died moving their artillery gun into action, today they have finally been found and layed to rest after 104 years.

    Rest easy boys

    "Lest we forget"
    Read more

  • Day5

    Le fort des Dunes und Nordsee

    June 26 in France ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    Nur eine Dreiviertelstunde von unserem Spot in Belgien liegt Dünkirchen. Da unsere Fähre nach England am Montag um 4 Uhr von dort geht, haben wir uns dazu entschieden den Tag in Dünkirchen zu verbringen. Zufällig sind wir dann auf das Fort des Dunes gestoßen. Von außen sah es super spannend aus und daher haben wir entschieden, dass wir eine Führung mitmachen.
    Es war mega interessant. Besonders krass fanden wir wie wichtig eigentlich Dünkirchen war/ist und wie viel Krieg hier geherrscht hatte. An einem Tag gehörte Dünkirchen zu Spanien dann zu Frankreich und am selben Abend zu England.

    Nach der Führung sind wir durch die Dünen an den Strand gelaufen. Am Strand waren noch einige Bunker übrig die damals von den Deutschen errichtet wurden.

    So genug geschichtliches! Das Meer ist super kalt, Nordsee halt 😅 Von dort aus konnten wir auch schon den Industriehafen, von wo aus unsere Fähre fährt sehen.
    Read more

You might also know this place by the following names:

Hauts-de-France, Nord-Passo di Calais-Piccardia

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