Australian Embassy
Belgium, Luxembourg and Mission to the European Union and NATO

Commemorations

Centenary of the Battle of Polygon Wood, Passchendaele

5th Division Memorial, Buttes New British Cemetery, Zonnebeke, Belgium

Most Australian soldiers buried in Belgium died during the Third Battle of Ypres (Battle of Menin Road, Battle of Polygon Wood, Battle of Broodseinde, Battle of Poelcapelle and the Battle of Passchendaele), one of the major campaigns fought on the Western Front during the First World War. To commemorate the hundredth anniversary of the Battle of Polygon Wood,  Australia will conduct a Centenary service on 26 September 2017 at Buttes New British Cemetery, Polygon Wood. It is part of Australia’s Centenary of Anzac, First World War commemorations. For more information click here

 

Australian Commemorative Ceremony for the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Messines

On  Wednesday 7 June 2017 the community of Comines-Warneton, assisted by the Australian Defence Force, conducted a ceremony to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Messines.  The ceremony took  place at 11.00am in the Strand Military Cemetery, Ploegsteert.  For more information please click here.

 

Anzac Day 2017

Senator the Hon Stephen Parry, President of the Senate (L), and the New Zealand Ambassador to Belgium, Mr Gregory Andrews, stand at attention after laying their respective wreaths at the Cross of Sacrifice during the 2017 Anzac Day commemoration service at Tyne Cot Cemetery in Zonnebeke.

Anzac Day on the Western Front, Belgium – Tuesday, 25 April 2017
On Anzac Day 2017, the Australian Embassy, together with the New Zealand Embassy in Belgium and the Belgian Municipalities of Zonnebeke, Ieper/Ypres and Comines-Warneton organised an extensive programme of commemorative activities in West Flanders. The President of Australia's Senate, the Hon Stephen Parry led Australia's participation.  A selection of photographs from Anzac Day 2017 is available here.
The day before Anzac Day the Hon Dan Tehan, Minister of  Veterans' Affairs, visited West Flanders and photographs of his visit are available here.

Past Anzac Days

Anzac Day 2016
Australia’s Minister for Finance, Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann, led Australia’s participation during commemorative services on Anzac Day 2016 in Belgium. The services were organised by the Australian and New Zealand Embassies in conjunction with the Belgian towns of Zonnebeke, Ieper/Ypres and Comines-Warneton. They honoured the almost 13,000 ANZACs who fought and gave their lives in the battles of the Ypres Salient during World War One and included a dawn service at Buttes New British Cemetery and commemorative services at Tyne Cot Cemetery, Menin Gate and Toronto Avenue Cemetery.  The day before Last Post Association chairman, Mr Benoit Mottrie, was presented with an honorary medal in the Order of Australia for his service to Australia-Belgium relations during a special ceremony at the Cloth Hall in Ypres.  

Anzac Day 2015
Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop represented the Australian Government at ANZAC Day commemorations in Ypres, Belgium to highlight the importance Australia attaches to honouring sacrifices made on the Western Front during the First World War. Nearly 13,000 Australians lost their lives in Belgium during the First World War. In Ypres, from August to November 1917, Australia suffered 38,000 casualties – our most costly experience of war. The day's program started at 6am with the Dawn Service at Buttes New British Cemetery, Polygon Wood. Services then followed at Tyne Cot Cemetery, the Menin Gate in Ieper/Ypres and Toronto Avenue Cemetery in Ploegsteert. There was also Australian participation during the nightly Last Post Association ceremonies at Menin Gate on the 24th and 25th April.

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Media Releases

The Hon Dan Tehan MP
Minister for Veterans' Affairs
Minister for Defence Personnel
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Cyber Security
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC

26 Sepember 2016

Anniversary of the Battle of Polygon Wood

Australia honours the service and sacrifice of those who fought in the Battle of Polygon Wood on the 99th anniversary today.

Almost 6,000 Australians from the Australian Imperial Force 4th and 5th Divisions were killed or wounded in the battle fought near Ypres in Belgium during the First World War.

The attack on Polygon Wood was the 5th Division’s first major battle since Fromelles in July 1916, and the first time in the First World War two Australian Divisions fought side by side.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan said we must never forget the sacrifice of every Australian who has served in our armed forces and the sacrifice of those who serve today.

“On the anniversary of Polygon Wood, we should reflect on the experiences of the soldiers who fought in that battle so far from home and particularly those who paid the ultimate price,” Mr Tehan said.

“The Australians captured the Butte at Polygon Wood – a fortified mound – upon which veterans of the battle later chose to erect the 5th Division Memorial, which is the memorial that today commemorates that division’s sacrifice on the Western Front.

“I am pleased to announce the Australian Government, with the assistance of the Belgium Government, will hold a Dawn Service to mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Polygon Wood next year. This service will commemorate the centenary of many of the 1917 battles in this region, and will be held at Buttes New British Cemetery at Polygon Wood.”

Further information about the 100th anniversary commemorations is available at: http://www.anzaccentenary.gov.au/

News

Anzac Day Dawn Service – Australian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux, France

New brochure of Australian Remembrance Trail published by Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917
A team at the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917 in Zonnebeke, led by Freddy Declerck, has complied and published a new brochure on the Australian Remembrance Trail. It provides a brief history of Australia's engagement in Flanders during World War One, gives details of key sites along the Trial in the province and outlines Australian related exhibitions and resources available at the museum.

British Government organises two events in July to mark Passchendaele centenary
The last weekend of July will mark the centenary of the start of the Battle of Passchendaele. The British government organising two special events in Flanders to commemorate the centenary: a special Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate in Ypres/Ieper on 30 July and a ceremony of remembrance at the Tyne Cot cemetery on 31 July 2017. A public ballot is being used to allocate 4,000 tickets to attend the latter. Descendants can apply online for them at www.passchendaele100.org before 24 February.

Ambassador Higgie attends special Last Post ceremony on Remembrance Day

Ambassador Higgie is pictured (L to R) with Cmdr Emma Gaudry, LPA Chairman Mr Benoit Mottrie  and Col Scott Clingan at Menin Gate, Ypres.

As part of the Remembrance Day commemorations on 11 November, Ambassador Mark Higgie attended a special Last Post Association (LPA) ceremony at Menin Gate in Ypres. Afterwards he was presented with a bag of soil taken from the area around the Gate. The soil is destined for the Flanders Fields Memorial Garden at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. The garden is expected to open to the public in 2017 and is part of the Memorial's contribution to the commemoration of the almost 13,000 Australian lives lost in Belgium during the Great War.

Commemorations for first Australian soldiers killed in Belgium during WWI taking place on 17 June
Ceremonies to commemorate one hundred years since the first Australian soldiers were killed in Belgium during World War One were held on 17 June in Flanders and Canberra (Australia). Private Beaumont Jeffreys Philpott and Private James Jackson Mollison belonged to the 25th Australian Infantry Battalion which landed in France 19 March 1916, the first Australian Imperial Force battalion to arrive there. The two soldiers were reportedly coming off a scouting patrol in Messines when they were killed during artillery and gas shelling on 17 June 1916. They were aged 26 and 27 respectively.

In Australia the soldiers’ sacrifice was commemorated at a ceremony at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra which included the ‘Last Post’.  Wreath laying ceremonies will be held in Flanders on the same day (17 June) at the soldiers’ graves.  The Last Post Association’s evening ceremony at Menin Gate in Ypres/Ieper on 17 June was also dedicated to the two men. Photographs of the ceremony can be found by clicking here.

A report on the commemoration was published in The Australian newspaper which was penned by the Belgian Ambassador to Australia HE Jean-Luc Bodson and titled "Belgium salutes Diggers Philpott and Mollison on death centenary"

Municipality of Zonnebeke announces Wood of Peace initiative at Polygon Wood
The municipality of Zonnebeke, near Ypres (Ieper), as part of its program to commemorate the centenary of the Third Battle of Ypres (The Battle of Passchendaele) on 12 October 2017 launched on Remembrance Day 2015 its Wood of Peace project. The municipality aims to create a wood near the two Polygon Wood cemeteries, Buttes New British Cemetery – where the annual ANZAC Day dawn service takes place – and the Polygon Wood Cemetery.

The Zonnebeke municipality plans to plant a tree for each of the 523 identified soldiers buried in the two cemeteries. Relatives of those buried are encouraged to register their interest in the project via a new website www.passchendaele2017.org. The planting of the first symbolic trees – one for each nation whose soldiers are buried at the two cemeteries – is scheduled after the ANZAC Day Dawn Service in 2017. Planting will take place on 12 October 2017 for family members and other participants. Read more

12,749 Australians died in Belgium during World War One, many in the Third Battle of Ypres around Polygon Wood.

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