Anzac Day Services in France

Going to France for Anzac Day 2014?

Registration for the 2014 France Anzac Day Dawn Service is now available at www.franceregistration.com.

Are you travelling by private car? A reminder that there will be no parking available on site. More information on car park locations and recommended walking routes (Word 8.3MB).

Have you considered catching a shuttle bus to the Dawn Service? Shuttle buses, coordinated by Somme Tourisme, will run on 25 April from nearby towns to the Australian National Memorial site. More information on Shuttle Buses to the Memorial Site.

Download a What to expect and how to prepare for Anzac Day information sheet. (PDF 102 KB) (Word 163 KB)

The Dawn Service at the Australian National Memorial, the town services at Villers-Bretonneux and Bullecourt, and the Commemorative Service at Digger Memorial.

The following information has been prepared to assist visitors planning to attend the Anzac Day services at Villers-Bretonneux and Bullecourt, France, on 25 April, 2014.

The organisation of the Anzac Day commemorations is made possible with the assistance of the local communities of Villers-Bretonneux and Bullecourt and the Australian Embassy in France.

Soldiers standing by a wreath at a memorial

Official Anzac Day commemorations 2014

The official Anzac Day Commemorations on the Western Front are conducted by the Australian Government and local communities. All the commemorative services are open to the public. The details for the official commemorative services are:

 Event: Anzac Day Dawn Service
 Date: Friday, 25 April 2014
 Time:

2.00 am: Site opens

4.30 am: Commemorative program to explore the Australian experience of the First World War
4.30 am: Latest time for public to be seated
5.30 am: Dawn Service commences

 Venue: The Australian National Memorial,
Villers-Bretonneux
 Note: Due to the installation of technical equipment for the conduct of the Dawn Service, for safety reasons the central tower of the Australian National Memorial will not be open to the public from 23-26 April 2014.

Villers-Bretonneux Town Square Wreath Laying Ceremony

 Event: Anzac Day Ceremony
 Date: Friday, 25 April 2014
 Time: 8:45 am
 Venue: Monument aux Morts, Town Centre, Villers-Bretonneux

 Event: Sadlier Stokes Scholarship Presentation & Concert
 Date: Friday, 25 April 2014
 Time: 9:30 am - 10:30 am
 Venue: Covered Market Hall, Villers-Bretonneux

Bullecourt Services

 Event: Anzac Day Wreath Laying Ceremony
 Date: Friday, 25 April 2014
 Time: 1:30 pm
 Venue: The Commonwealth and French Monuments in the Bullecourt village centre – Square du Souvenir Francais
 Event: Anzac Day Commemorative Service
 Date: Friday, 25 April 2014
 Time: 2:30 pm
 Venue: The Australian ‘Digger’ Memorial on the village outskirts

Anzac Day 2008

Other associated events and activities

A number of other activities will take place in France in April in addition to the official services. For more information please visit the Australian Embassy Paris website.

Musical Support for 2014 Ceremonies

Musical support for the Anzac Day Commemorative Services in France in 2014 will be provided by an Australian Defence Force Band and the combined choir of St Michael’s Collegiate and the Hutchins Schools of Hobart Tasmania.

More information about Musical support for Anzac Day services.

Site information

The Australian National Memorial Site, Villers-Bretonneux

Access

Visitors approaching the Australian National Memorial site from Corbie and Fouilloy on foot will be directed to walk along the road on the opposite side to the memorial. Those approaching from Villers-Bretonneux will walk along the designated bike path to the memorial site. At the end of the pedestrian walkways a Gendarme (French police officer) will direct you to cross the road when it is safe to do so and you will enter the promenade area in front of the memorial site via a set of steps. Once on the promenade you should move through the turnstiles and towards the front entrance steps between the two pavilions. From the front entrance you will access the memorial site and walk 300 hundred metres up a grassed hill through the cemetery to the commemorative site.

Seating

4000 temporary seats will be installed at the Australian National Memorial site, Villers-Bretonneux. Reserved seating is only available for official delegates and people requiring assisted seating (see information below). There will be standing room on grassed areas to the side and rear of the seats.

DVA is aware that a large number of those attending the commemorations are elderly and would ask that attendees ensure that those who require a seat are offered one.

Please note that there will be no seating at the Anzac Day wreath laying service in Villers-Bretonneux town on 25 April, nor at the services in Bullecourt.

Toilets

Temporary toilets, including disabled toilets, and hand washing facilities will be installed for the service on 25 April at the Australian National Memorial site.

Please note that toilets in the towns of Villers-Bretonneux, Bullecourt, and at "Digger" Memorial are limited.

Rubbish

Rubbish bins will be provided at the Australian National Memorial site and visitors will be asked to dispose of rubbish thoughtfully or, where possible, take their rubbish with them.

Lost Property

If you lose or find property during the service at the Australian National Memorial site, please notify the ceremony staff at the Visitor Information Tent. After the commemorations, enquiries can be made to france@dva.gov.au

Media

There will be media present at all ceremonies. Attendees should be aware that there will be camera operators moving around the sites, and that cables may be laid along the ground. Please take care. The Dawn Service will be broadcast live to Australia by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. You may be filmed during the service.

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Ensuring your wellbeing at the commemorations

Lighting

There is no permanent lighting at the Australian National Memorial site. Safety lighting will be installed at the entrance and through the cemetery for the Dawn Service, but visitors may wish to bring a torch. There will be subdued lighting around the memorial itself during the Dawn Service – at levels necessary for a television broadcast.

Weather

The weather in the Somme region in April can be extremely cold (close to freezing). The Australian National Memorial site is exposed to the elements and is normally very cold before and after dawn. Visitors should ensure they are appropriately equipped for cold, wet, and windy weather, and that they take appropriate clothing with them when they disembark from their coach on arrival. The ground surface of the Australian National Memorial is grass, so warm, waterproof shoes should be worn.

Visitors planning to attend later town services should note that it can get quite hot during the day and layers of clothing are encouraged. A small day pack may be useful to carry extra clothing, a hat, sunscreen, and drinking water to avoid dehydration.

First Aid

First Aid services will be available during each of the official commemorations. Please approach a ceremony staff member or first aid tent if you require assistance.

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Traffic Arrangements at the Australian National Memorial Site for 24 and 25 April 2014

Traffic management is the responsibility of, and is managed by, French Authorities.

The road (D23) running between Corbie & Fouilloy and Villers-Bretonneux towns will be closed to all private vehicles from 2:00 pm on 24 April. It will not reopen until after 2:00 pm 25 April 2014.

For visitors travelling in private vehicles, there will be limited parking in Corbie & Fouilloy and Villers-Bretonneux. Designated car parks are available in the towns at the following locations:

  • Town Centre, Corbie
  • Town Centre, Fouilloy
  • Casino Supermarket. Fouilloy
  • Railway Station, Villers-Bretonneux
  • Company STDN, Villers-Bretonneux

Car park locations and recommended walking routes (Word 8.3MB).

Visitors will be able to park their car and walk to the Australian National Memorial. The walk to the Australian National Memorial from Corbie & Fouilloy is approximately 2 km and 3.7 km from Villers-Bretonneux taking 30-60 minutes. Care should be taken as the road is poorly lit in some areas, the surface is uneven and coaches will still be using this road.

Tour operators will be able to drop visitors off at the Australian National Memorial. Tour operator vehicles will then be directed by Gendarme to parking until after the service. You should check with your tour operator that they have allowed plenty of time to reach the Australian National Memorial site, especially given the change of traffic arrangements.

Shuttle Buses to the Memorial Site

Optional shuttle buses, coordinated by Somme Tourisme, will run on 25 April from nearby towns to the Australian National Memorial site before the Dawn Service. Seats are limited and must be booked and paid for online. Bookings close on 17 April

Shuttle bus bookings can be made through the Somme Tourisme website.

Please note that a shuttle ticket is not required to attend the Dawn service and does not guarantee a seat at the Dawn Service.

Several buses will depart from and return to the following towns in the region between 3.00am and 9.00am:

  • Amiens/Australian National Memorial/Amiens
  • Longueau/ Australian National Memorial/Longueau
  • Albert/Australian National Memorial/Albert
  • Peronne/Australian National Memorial/Peronne

The following bus will travel on to the Villers-Bretonneux Town Square Wreath Laying Ceremony between:

  • Amiens/Australian National Memorial/ Villers-Bretonneux Town Square Wreath Laying Ceremony/Amiens (4.00am – 12.00pm)

Visitors who make their own way from the Australian National Memorial to the Villers-Bretonneux town centre can return to Amiens by train, however it does not depart until 1.30pm. Please refer to the French railway site www.sncf.com (available in English).

Villers-Bretonneux Town Square Wreath Laying Ceremony – 25 April 2014.

After the Anzac Day Dawn Service at the Australian National Memorial site, visitors are invited to make their way to the French Monument, Town Centre for the Villers-Bretonneux Town Square Wreath Laying Ceremony that will commence at 8:45 am.

Please be aware that should you also wish to attend the town services that it can get quite hot during the day.  A small day pack may be useful to carry extra clothing, a hat, sunscreen, and drinking water to avoid dehydration.

Bullecourt Community Services – 25 April 2014

After the ceremonies in Villers-Bretonneux, the Anzac Day program continues with ceremonies in Bullecourt and Digger Memorial.

The Anzac Day Wreath Laying Service at the Commonwealth and French Monuments in the Bullecourt village centre commences at 1:30 pm.

Bullecourt is approximately 45-60 minutes by car from Villers-Bretonneux, and 15 minutes from Bapaume. Due to the large crowds expected, the road through the village of Bullecourt will be closed for local Anzac Day commemorations. Visitors may need to park outside the village and walk into the town for the service in the town centre, and to the service at the ‘Digger’ Memorial on the village outskirts. Please allow plenty of time when travelling between the two services. Local police and ceremony staff will be present if attendees require assistance. 

The Anzac Day Memorial Service at The Australian ‘Digger’ Memorial on the village outskirts commences at 2:30 pm.

Please note that there will be no vehicle access to the Australian ‘Digger’ Memorial. The walk from Bullecourt to the ‘Digger’ Memorial is approximately 800 metres.

No public transport is available to Bullecourt – visitors should make their own arrangements.

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Assisted Seating

Assistance will be available for visitors who have registered a health or mobility issue via a written application well in advance of the service period.

Those requesting assisted seating are able to have one carer with them to provide assistance. Consideration may be given to accompanying guests. Unfortunately due to seating capacity, it is not possible to extend this service to others travelling with their tour groups. Further information about the application and assessment process can be obtained by emailing france@dva.gov.au or telephone (02) 6289 6261. You can also write to:

Commemorations
Western Front Section
Department of Veterans Affairs
GPO Box 9998
CANBERRA  ACT  2601

There is limited Assisted Mobility parking available at the Australian National Memorial site. Visitors will require a car pass to access both the D23 road and Australian National Memorial site.

Due to the limited number of parking spaces available, priority is given to those visitors who:

  • Are unable to walk and/or have pain or difficulty walking
  • Require the use of crutches, a walking frame, calipers, a scooter, a wheelchair or other mobility aid

Assisted Mobility visitors are recommended to book a seat on the Somme Tourisme shuttle that runs from Amiens, Longueau, Albert and Peronne to the Australian National Memorial site. Shuttle services are coordinated by Somme Tourisme.  Bookings can be made here.

Visitors should be able to walk 300 metres unaided uphill though the cemetery to the memorial site (this is the approximate distance from the entrance to the assisted seating area) and a further 200 metres from the coach drop-off point to the entrance.

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Register Your Attendance

Registration for the 2014 France Anzac Day Dawn Service is now available.

The Department of Veterans’ Affairs recommends all visitors and trip leaders register their attendance for the France Anzac Day commemorations at http://www.franceregistration.com/.

Registration on the DVA registration system assists with planning for the commemorations. It also allows visitors to receive updates should there be any changes to the arrangements for the traffic or commemorations themselves. It is important for visitors to register the mobile phone number they will use while travelling to ensure they receive updates.

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Feedback

It is DVA's mission to continually improve the Anzac Day Dawn Service for visitors in France each year.  In this regard, it would be sincerely appreciated if you could take the time to complete the online survey about your experience this year.

Please go to:  www.dva.gov.au/france/survey

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Laying a wreath

Members of the public may lay a wreath at the end of the Dawn Service. The Master of Ceremonies will advise you when to move forward to lay your wreath. Please note – DVA has no capacity to receive wreath deliveries at the Australian National Memorial. If you do plan to lay a wreath, you will need to organise the wreath in advance and bring it with you to the Australian National memorial.

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Locating graves of deceased relatives

Many visitors to the Anzac Day Dawn Service at Villers-Bretonneux are keen to locate the graves of deceased relatives who fought on the Western Front, or their relative’s name on a memorial to the missing if they have no known grave.

There are almost 1,000 Commonwealth war cemeteries on the Western Front in France and Belgium, including the cemetery at the Australian National Memorial in Villers-Bretonneux.

The walls of the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux carry the names of 10,765 Australians who died in France during World War I and have no known grave. The names are engraved on the memorial in order of battalion, then alphabetically under rank.

A further 1,294 Australians who died in battle and have no known grave are commemorated on the screen walls at the VC Corner Cemetery near Fromelles in northern France. Those who died in Belgium and who have no known grave are commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial to the Missing.

Visitors wishing to locate a particular grave or name on a memorial to the missing should consult the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website at www.cwgc.org to identify the exact location of the grave or name on a memorial to the missing prior to travelling to France or Belgium.  Limited assistance may be available on the day.

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Accommodation

DVA is unable to assist with accommodation bookings or advice, however, you may wish to visit the Somme Tourisme website for more information:

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Security arrangements

For the latest travel advice on France please visit the Department of Foreign Affairs Smartraveller website for information regarding:

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Emergency contact details

Australian Embassy, France
4 Rue Jean Rey, Paris 75724, Cedex 15, France
Telephone: +33 1 4059 3300 / Fax +33 1 4059 3315

Department of Foreign Affairs - Canberra
R.G. Casey Building
John McEwen Crescent
Barton ACT 0221 Australia
Telephone: +61 2 6261 3111 / Fax +61 2 6261 3111

Emergency helpline
Consular Emergency Centre 24 Hour Phone Service:
Telephone: 1300 555 135 within Australia (local call cost) or
Telephone: +61 2 6261 3305 from outside Australia

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