Tuesday was a wonderful but long day for our choristers as we headed for our first rehearsal at the ‘Digger’ Memorial, Bullecourt.
It was a spectacular day and with the sun so lovely and bright, photos were a challenge! We instead asked various choir members to read the plaques at the memorial:
While our choristers were rehearsing at the memorial, our accompanying people (non-choir members – from here on end we’ll call them ‘APs’) went into the small and picturesque village of Bullecourt to take in some of the sights. Our APs were keen to have a beer at La Canberra pub but it was closed – maybe next time!
The choir had a successful rehearsal and it was amazing to see the level of organisation involved to ensure the service will correctly and respectfully honour the memory of those that served.
After the rehearsal we headed off to the town of Vignacourt to visit Thullier Farm and Maison de Australiens where only recently a wonderful collection of photos were discovered (See Channel 7’s story here). Here, the choir posed to replicate one of the most famous photos.
Then to our first concert! The choir sang beautifully to the local Vignacourt community and they were warmly received with two standing ovations and an encore.
The Vignacourt community hosted a light supper serving French champagne for the choir and APs. The supper hall was decorated for Anzac Day and the community had lovely homemade art for the choir to take home. It really was an amazing display of gratitude to us as Australians as we all honoured our shared history.
…On an aside, when chatting with the locals we found out a bit about the romances kindled during the war – there were six weddings between Aussie diggers and the local French maidens. We were told one story about a digger and young French girl who found love in the village of Vignacourt and the digger returned after the war in 1920 to reclaim his sweetheart. The couple married and moved to Australia where they still have relations just near Canberra. There were also a couple of births after the war where an Aussie digger had been involved but the locals joked, “It’s all ok – at least it wasn’t the enemy!”
More news soon…
(Photos from Bullecourt Village taken by Renata Fassbind)