Memorial tablet in remembrance of Australian soldiers who were killed at Villers-Bretonneux

Place Europe: France, Picardie, Somme, Amiens Harbonnieres Area, Villers-Bretonneux Area, Villers-Bretonneux
Accession Number RELAWM00770
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Heraldry
Physical description Granite
Location Main Bld: First World War Gallery: Western Front 1918: Villers Bretonneaux
Maker Unknown
Place made France
Date made 1919
Conflict Period 1910-1919
First World War, 1914-1918

Granite memorial tablet in the form of a rectangle with a semi-circular top bearing an Australian 'Rising Sun' badge in raised relief. The scroll beneath the badge is of polished granite and bears incised lettering 'AUSTRALIAN COMMONWEALTH MILITARY FORCES'. There is a carved flower at each corner of the rectangle. The central panel of the tablet is also of polished granite and has incised lettering, 'AUX HEROS AUSTRALIENS MORTS POUR LA DEFENCE DE VILLER-BRETONNEUX 24-25 AVRIL 1918 LES HABITANTS RECONNAISANTS', and 'D. JEANNOT A VILLERS BX'. All lettering on the tablet has been gilded. The tablet also bears a palm leaf in low relief.

History / Summary

Presented by the Mayor of Villers-Bretonneux, on behalf of the town's inhabitants, to members of an AIF Graves detachment, representing the Australian people, on 14 July 1919. The mayor's presentation speech included the following, 'The first inhabitants of Villers-Bretonneux to re-establish themselves in the ruins of what was once a flourishing little town have, by means of donations, shown a desire to thank the valorous Australian Armies, who with the spontaneous enthusiasm and characterisitc dash of their race, in a few hours chased an enemy ten times their number...They offer a memorial tablet, a gift which is but the least expression of their gratitude, compared with the brilliant feat which was accomplished by the sons of Australia...Soldiers of Australia, whose brothers lie here in French soil, be assured that your memory will always be kept alive, and that the burial places of your dead will always be respected and cared for...'.

The tablet was presented to the Australians with the view that after it had toured each Australian state it would be returned for inclusion on a proposed memorial to the Australians to be built at Villers-Bretonneux. Villers-Bretonneux asked for the return of the tablet in 1928 for the new memorial, but the architect who designed it did not incorporate it into his design and the tablet remained in Australia. A tablet with similar wording is located in the Crucifix Corner Cemetery near Villers-Bretonneux.