105 years since Australian troops first landed in France

Minister for Veterans' Affairs

TOMORROW we commemorate 105 years since the arrival of Australian troops, who were part of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC Corps), in Marseille, France, during the First World War.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester said these troops joined the Allied cause to fight against the powerful Imperial German Army, with every battle testing the limits of each man’s endurance.

“In February 1916, the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) and the New Zealand Expeditionary Force were rearranged as both forces had expanded, this led to ANZAC Corps being replaced by I ANZAC Corps and II ANZAC Corps,” Mr Chester said.

“The AIF men were fit and eager to prove themselves worthy of the Anzacs’ reputation of bravery, skill and initiative, a reputation that is remembered in Australian society more than a century on.”

The two newly formed corps included veterans who had been evacuated from Gallipoli to provide a foundation of experience, reinforcements who had been training in Egypt, recent recruits from Australia and the recently formed New Zealand Division.

“By the end of 1916, more than 10,000 men of the AIF had died on the Western Front, and some 30,000 had been wounded – losses which were felt immensely on the home front,” Mr Chester said.

“The impact of this war was felt by those who lost their comrades and in the Australian community where family members and friends grieved over those who would never return home. For their service and sacrifice, we say thank you.

“I encourage all Australians to offer a moment of their day to remember the service of all those who fought in the campaigns in France.”

As a lasting legacy to their service, the Sir John Monash Centre tells Australia’s story of the Western Front through the words of those who served. Set on the grounds of the Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery in northern France, and adjacent to the Australian National Memorial, the Sir John Monash Centre is the hub of the Australian Remembrance Trail along the Western Front.

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