Villers-Bretonneux Town Hall
|Intercommunality||Val de Somme|
|• Mayor (2008–2014)||Patrick Simon|
|• Land1||14.51 km2 (5.60 sq mi)|
|• Population2 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 4th and 5th Division of the First Australian Imperial Force at a cost of over 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, the 2008 ANZAC Day commemoration focused on the Western Front, and a special dawn service marking the 90th anniversary of the battle of 24/25 April 1918 was 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.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Villers-Bretonneux.|
- Official website of Villers-Bretonneux (French)
- Villers Bretonneux, diggerhistory.info
- Villers-Bretonneux, quid.fr (French)
- Bound by history, French children honour their debt
- Culture Victoria – historical images of the rebuilding of the Villers-Bretonneux School
- Villers-Bretonneux, Australian National Memorial