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60 ... Villers - Bretonneux         

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The German western advance was halted here in March 1918 by the British. Australian troops were rushed to the area and heavy fighting ensued in the town and nearby woods for the next month. The Germans attacked in force on 24 April but were defeated by the Australians who retook Villers-Bretonneux on 27 April thereby saving Amiens.

Further attacks were made on the Germans in this region during June and July, one of these being the successful 4 July attack by Australian and American troops on Hamel to the north. The major allied offensive was launched on 8 august. Canadians and Australians spearheaded the British attack from positions close to Villers-Bretonneux. At the same time, 20 kilometres to the south around Montdidier, the French completely overwhelmed the Germans. The allies won a great victory along 50 kilometres of front marking a major turning point in the war.

Villers-Bretonneux was substantially destroyed during the war. In rebuilding, the townspeople have never forgotten the Australian soldiers. The battle has great significance in Australian history. Because of this the memorial, which stands in the military cemetery on the edge of this town, is Australia's principal First World War memorial.

The association between Villers-Bretonneux and Australia has both endured and developed since the war. In 1923 the primary school was rebuilt by donations from Victorian school children; the twinning of Villers-Bretonneux with Robinvale (Victoria) took place in 1984 and every April the town holds Australian "Anzac Day" Commemoration's.

 



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