Villers Bretonneux

Location

Villers-Bretonneux is a village 16 kilometres east of Amiens on the straight main road to St Quentin (The N 29). Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery, is about 2 kilometres north of the village on the east side of the road to Fouilloy. Within the cemetery stands the Australian Memorial.

The Memorial and Cemetery are extremely well sign posted from all directions and the memorial in particular is highly visible for some distance.

From the N 29 turn northwards following the signs from the centre of the village. From Pozières follow the signs for Corbie. There take the road through the town following the signs for Fouilloy turning left just at the junction to head up this hill. (All names ending in -oy in French are pronounced -wah so if asking it is Foo-ee-wah)

The Cemetery and Memorial

Historical Information

The trees and shrubs have been replanted in readiness for 2018.

Villers-Bretonneux became famous in 1918, when the German advance on Amiens ended in the capture of the village by their tanks and infantry on 23 April.

On the following day, the 4th and 5th Australian Divisions, with units of the 8th and 18th Divisions, recaptured the whole of the village and on 8 August 1918, the 2nd and 5th Australian Divisions advanced from its eastern outskirts in the Battle of Amiens.

Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery

Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery was made after the Armistice when graves were brought in from other burial grounds in the area and from the battlefields.

Plots I to XX were completed by 1920 and contain mostly Australian graves, almost all from the period March to August 1918.

Plots IIIA, VIA, XIIIA and XVIA, and Rows in other Plots lettered AA, were completed by 1925, and contain a much larger proportion of unidentified graves brought from a wider area.

Later still, 444 graves were brought in from Dury Hospital Military Cemetery, under the wall of the Asylum near the West side of the Amiens-Dury road. From August 1918, to January 1919, this building was used intermittently by British medical units, and a cemetery was made next to an existing French Military Cemetery. The British cemetery contained the graves of 195 Canadian and 185 United Kingdom soldiers and airmen; 63 Australian soldiers; one man of the Cape Auxiliary Horse Transport Corps; and one French and one American soldier.

 
Looking towards the Cemetery and Australian Memorial

Looking towards the Cemetery and Australian Memorial

 

The following were among the other burial grounds from which British graves were taken to Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery.

Card Copse Cemetery, Marcelcave, on the road to Fouilloy, where 35 Australian soldiers were buried by the 2nd Australian Division in July and August 1918.

High Cemetery, Sailly-le-Sec, on the road to Ville-sur-Ancre, where 18 United Kingdom and eleven Australian soldiers were buried in June-August 1918.

Kangaroo Cemetery, Sailly-le-Sec (on the Ville-sur-Ancre road, but nearer Sailly), where 13 Australian soldiers were buried by the 41st Battalion in March-April 1918, and 14 of the 58th (London) Division by their comrades in August 1918.

Lamotte-en-Santerre Communal Cemetery Extension. The village was captured by Australian troops on the 8th August 1918, and the Extension contained the graves of 56 Australian and twelve United Kingdom soldiers who fell in August and September.

La Neuville-les-Bray Communal Cemetery, containing the grave of one Australian soldier who fell in August 1918.

Le Hamelet British Cemetery (behind the Church), containing the graves of 25 Australian soldiers who fell in April-July 1918; and the Communal Cemetery Extension, in which 27 Australian soldiers and one from the United Kingdom were buried in July and August 1916.

Looking out towards Corbie

Looking out towards Corbie

Midway Cemetery, Marcelcave, 1500 yards North-West of Marcelcave Church, made by the Canadian Corps and containing the graves of 53 Canadian and three United Kingdom soldiers who fell in August 1918.

Vaux-sur-Somme Communal Cemetery, containing three Australian graves of March-April 1918, and two United Kingdom of 1916 and 1917; and the Extension, made in May-August 1918, and containing the graves of 130 Australian soldiers and 104 soldiers (mainly 58th Division and Artillery) and one airman from the United Kingdom.

Warfusée-Abancourt Communal Cemetery Extension, in which five Australian soldiers were buried by the 12th Australian Field Ambulance in August 1918.

There are now 2,141 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War buried or commemorated in this cemetery.

608 of the burials are unidentified but there are special memorials to five casualties known or believed to be buried among them, and to 15 buried in other cemeteries whose graves could not be found on concentration.

The cemetery also contains the graves of two New Zealand airmen of the Second World War.

Both cemetery and memorial were designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens.

 

Australian Memorial

The Villers-Bretonneux Memorial is the Australian National Memorial erected to commemorate all Australian soldiers who fought in France and Belgium during the First World War, to their dead, and especially to those of the dead whose graves are not known.

See the link below

 
Jean Brillant VC

Lieutenant Jean Brillant VC
22e Bn Canadian Infantry
Québec Regiment
Died on 10th August 1918 aged 28

Fils de Joseph Brillant
Enrolé volontairement
À Rimouski Province de Québec
Tombé glorieusement
Sur le champs de bataille

The London Gazette No 30922, dated 27th September 1918

For most conspicuous bravery and outstanding devotion to duty when in charge of a company which he led in attack during two days with absolute fearlessness and extraordinary ability and initiative, the extent of the advance being twelve miles. On the first day of operations shortly after the attack had begun, his company's left flank was held up by an enemy machine gun. Lt. Brillant rushed and captured the machine-gun, personally killing two of the enemy crew. Whilst doing this, he was wounded but refused to leave his command.

Later on the same day, his company was held up by heavy machine-gun fire. He reconnoitred the ground personally, organised a party of two platoons and rushed straight for the machine-gun nest. Here 150 enemy and fifteen machine-guns were captured. Lt. Brillant personally killing five of the enemy, and being wounded a second time. He had this wound dressed immediately, and again refused to leave his company. Subsequently this gallant officer detected a field gun firing on his men over open sights. He immediately organised and led a "rushing" party towards the gun. After progressing about 600 yards, he was again seriously wounded. In spite of this third wound, he continued to advance for some 200 yards more, when he fell unconscious from exhaustion and loss of blood.

Lt. Brillant's wonderful example throughout the day inspired his men with an enthusiasm and dash which largely contributed towards the success of the operations.

Grave: VIA B 20 (Note that VIa is near the cross - it is not Plot VI)

 
Thomas Harrison

Private Thomas Harrison 4427
19th Bn Australian Infantry
Died on 17th July 1918 aged 24
Son of Frederick and Annie Harrison, of 43 Ben Boyd Rd, Neutral Bay, Sydney, New South Wales
Born at Lucknow, New South Wales

In fondest remembrance
Of a conscientious lovable
And Brave boy

Grave: III A 5

Robert Sykes

Private Robert Sykes 5542
19th Bn Australian Infantry
Died on 8th August 1918 aged 22
Son of Annie Sykes of Richmond Rd, Blacktown, New South Wales, and the late Walter Sykes

We miss
His darling smiling face
No one on earth
Can fill his place

Grave: III A 6

Sydney Florey

Private Sydney Florey 4517
49th Bn Australian Infantry
Died on 14th June 1918 aged 25
Son of George and Annie Florey
Husband of Tilly Florey, of Dunoon, New South Wales
Born at Kempsey, New South Wales

Out of the stress
Of the doing
Into the peace of the done

Grave: VIII C 7

 

The Australian Memorial The Australian Memorial
Villers-Bretonneux Villers-Bretonneux