Villers-Bretonneux Town Hall
|Intercommunality||Val de Somme|
|• Mayor (2008–2014)||Patrick Simon|
|Area1||14.51 km2 (5.60 sq mi)|
|• Density||280/km2 (740/sq mi)|
|INSEE/Postal code||80799 / 80800|
|Elevation||45–107 m (148–351 ft)
(avg. 91 m or 299 ft)
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.2 Population without double counting: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.
First World War
In the First World War, on 24 April 1918, Villers-Bretonneux was the site of the world's first battle between two tank forces: three British Mark IVs against three German A7Vs. The Germans took the town, but that night and the next day it was recaptured by two brigades of the First Australian Imperial Force at a cost of some 1200 Australian lives. The town's mayor spoke of the Australian troops on 14 July 1919 when unveiling a memorial in their honour:
The Australian War Memorial in France is located just outside Villers-Bretonneux and in front of it lie the graves of over 770 Australian soldiers, as well as those of other British Empire soldiers involved in the campaign. The school in Villers-Bretonneux was rebuilt using donations from school children of Victoria, Australia (many of whom had relatives perish in the town's liberation) and above every blackboard is the inscription "N'oublions jamais l'Australie" (Let us never forget Australia). The annual ANZAC Day ceremony is held at this village on ANZAC Day, 25 April, each year. Traditionally, Australian commemorations have focused on Gallipoli. However, ANZAC Day commemorations since 2008 have also focused on the Western Front, and dawn services marking the anniversary of the battle of 24/25 April 1918 are held on ANZAC Day itself at Villers-Bretonneux.
|From the year 1962 on: No double counting—residents of multiple communes (e.g. students and military personnel) are counted only once.|
Places of interest
Delacour’s château, or, as the Australian force called it, the "Red château", served as headquarters and billets for Allied generals during the Battle of the Somme. Marshal Foch stayed there. At the end of fighting in November 1918 it became the local headquarters of the Imperial (later Commonwealth) Graves Commission. Later abandoned, it was extensively cannibalised for building materials. Its skeleton, which remained as a tourist attraction until 2004, was razed in that year and all traces of it were removed to make way for a supermarket.
- Anzac Day: Australians flock to Villers-Bretonneux to remember diggers who died on Western Front. ABC News Perth, 25 April 2015
- N'oublions jamais l'Australie, ("Let us never forget Australia"). Australian War Memorial, Canberra.
- The Western Front, Overview of WWI history, anzacday.org.au
- ANZAC Day focus turns to Western Front, The Sydney Morning Herald, 19 April 2008.
- Looking back on the battle of Villers-Bretonneux. ABC News Perth, 6 June 2014]
- Official Villers-Bretonneux web site
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Villers-Bretonneux.|
- Culture Victoria – historical images of the rebuilding of the Villers-Bretonneux School
- Villers-Bretonneux, Australian National Memorial