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Belgium remembers the ANZACs

Date : 28 / 04 / 2015
Author : Jim Linton - VK3PC

The Australian and New Zealand or ANZAC soldiers of WWI will never be forgotten in Belgium. On ANZAC Day this year a dawn service was held at the Buttes New British Cemetery, Polygon Wood. There were about 1,500 who attended the ceremony, in a very special atmosphere, 100 years since ANZAC troops landed at Gallipoli, Turkey. Many ANZAC soldiers then went on to fight on the Western Front. In 1917 the soldiers came to Flanders, where they fought in the bloody Battle of Passchendaele.

A new parking lot near the Polygon was filled with many buses that had Australian, New Zealand, and British tourists for the service. During the ceremony that had prominent guests under the rising sun emblem, wreaths were laid, the national anthems of Australia, New Zealand, and Belgium were played, all captured by a live broadcast to Australia and New Zealand. The owner of Cafe De Lange Dreve across the Polygon Wood, Johan Vandewalle, looked forward to the 100th ANZAC Day. "For me it is a high day. You do not get every day so many Australians and New Zealanders to visit the region.” Vandewalle is the driving force behind the Brothers-In-Arms Memorial Project. The volunteers in the group created a monument to all fallen soldiers, and organises numerous fundraising activities.

The Saturday and Sunday had the first helicopter flights over the WWI sites. "That flight lasted 12 minutes and gave a beautiful picture of the war zone," said Vandewalle, who incidentally is also an amateur archaeologist. In a tent next to De Lange Dreve was the Royal Belgian Amateur Radio Union (UBA). Using the callsign OP0PPY among the many contacts it had included those in Australia, Russia and Turkey. Philippe Verhelst ON8PV from Waregem said: "We installed a large antenna and in a tent you could see original communication material from WWI." Also there was a large tent with new works from artists from Australia and New Zealand, inspired by the theme of ANZAC Day.



 

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