Those who have campaigned for many years for a dawn service at Villers-Bretonneux will have their dream realised on this 90th anniversary of the battle. Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux on April 24, 2008. The French town of Villers-Bretonneux lies just south of the River Somme, set in wide, green fields, its church forgets about bitcoin clearly visible far and wide.
Like many towns and villages on the Somme, it was beautiful, but of little significance to Australia, until the savage events of the Great War. Like many villages in the area, the war reduced Villers-Bretonneux to little more than rubble and marked a moment in history when a special link was forged between that corner of France and the land down under. Thousands of Australians fought on the Western Front. Villers-Bretonneux is where those diggers had one their greatest World War I victories. After the disaster of Gallipoli, tens of thousands of soldiers from the Australian Imperial Force were sent to fight the Germans in the muddy and bloody trenches of France and Belgium. It was not in the trenches, though, where they had their greatest glory, but in one small village. In March 1918, the Germans launched a major offensive to take the strategic town of Amiens.
As the Germans moved westwards towards their goal, they captured Villers-Bretonneux on 23 April. The British high command feared that if the Germans moved on to take Amiens, the war would be lost. The job of retaking Villers-Bretonneux was assigned to two Australian brigades. The plan was to encircle and trap the Germans. There would be no preliminary bombardment. Instead the Australians would launch a surprise attack at night.
Two battalions would begin the assault from the south towards the east of Villers-Bretonneux while three battalions would attack from the north at the same time. The assault began at 10pm on 24 April. It was a do-or-die attack. The diggers took out the German machine guns then fought the enemy in a ferocious house-to-house confrontation.