Anzac Day 2003
in Hamel

Near the ceremonial space, dawn with thick fog.

Beginning of the ceremony, sun starts rising.

Adress of Captain Stuart Cree.

Wreath laying and salute.

Wreath laying, presentation of the tricolor by local veterans.

Walks and arriving of guests.

Hamelois and some of their guests on the background.

At dawn on 25 April 2003, many people attended the commemoration of Anzac Day at the Australian Corps Memorial Park in Le Hamel. It was the first time an Anzac Day service had been held at the Park. The event was part of a pilgrimage to former battlefields made by some Australian soldiers and their families (with some Canadians and an American), totalling nearly one hundred people. The majority of the soldiers are presently studying in Britain at the Joint Services Command and Staff College and the Royal Military College of Science. Anzac Day, in a few words, is the commemoration of the dawn landing at Gallipoli (Turkish coast, Dardanelles) by the Allies on 25 April 1915. It was the first major involvement of Australian troops in the First War and was also the discovering of the terrible realities of war. That day became a founding moment in Australia history as a nation.

The surroundings covered with fog, the morning freshness, the little light and the cloudy weather gave the ceremony a special environment in addition to the common contemplation. The short ceremony took place in a traditional way. It began with the speech of the leading officer, followed by the famous poem "In Flanders Fields". Then came the Last Post and the minute of silence. That solemn moment was only disturbed by lark trills in a sky where clouds turned to a rose colour thanks to a timid sun. After the Reveille and some prays, visitors, local veterans and the municipality of Hamel laid a wreath in front of the memorial stone.

After taking the time to visit the Memorial Park, pilgrims and spectators went down to the village to have a breakfast offered by the municipality and inhabitants. Some chose to walk the distance, taking the opportunity to visit the village, the Baastian plaque and the church. Breakfast had been prepared by the town and some keen volunteers devoted to the Franco-Australian friendship. Many had cooked cakes at home. Le Hamel is not familiar with huge official events and receptions of that size. At various levels, a big effort had been made to prepare the best breakfast possible. Understandably, a little worry was perceptible. Will we be up to it? Will tea be hot enough? Those worries quickly vanished just by watching the smiles and some of the guest’s reactions.

It was a meal in a very relaxed atmosphere, Hamel people doing their best to satisfy their guests in spite of the language barrier. They were widely thanked by applause after congratulation speeches. Next the Australians and accompanying people left for other visits and ceremonies - one more time they have left a very pleasant feeling in Hamel.

Tea or coffe ? That is the question !
"Normally it would be an honour to simply visit the memorials and sites however to be able to conduct the dawn service on such a significant site and to be received so warmly truly made our visit special. It was wonderful to see that after so many years, the bonds that link Australia and Le Hamel remain so strong."

From the letter sent to the Mayor of Le Hamel by Lieutenant Colonel Russell Hodson (the contingent commander).

Thanks to Captain Stuart Cree for helping building that page. 

Commemoration of the 4 July - 07/04/02 Armistice Day in Hamel - 11 November 2003