We arrive to The Australian National Memorial early for the broadcast rehearsal. It is a chilly, but sunny, picture perfect day. The memorial stands on the only high ground for miles which is why it was such a strategic position in both wars. As you walk up towards the memorial you pass the graves of the fallen – it is incredibly moving.
Exploring each grave, you notice there are different flags – Australian, British, Canadian and there are quite a number with a white flag and blue cornflower – these are the graves of the unknown soldiers. The French call the blue cornflower, ‘Bleuet’ and it is their symbol of remembrance.
At the memorial, the choir takes the stage with the Royal Australian Navy Band and the rehearsal begins. The atmosphere is quite amazing. It is a well orchestrated operation which takes the necessary time to ensure the service sincerely acknowledges the soldiers who gave their lives to liberate the town of Villers-Bretonneux.
Rehearsals go extremely well. There is a point in the afternoon when the bugler plays The Last Post and the atmosphere becomes alive with the memories of the battle. It is one of those ‘spine tingling’ moments where the significance of what we are doing really sinks in.
After rehearsal the choir gets a short break in the town of Amiens before our third concert for the tour, this time in the Saint Leu Church.
The choir sings to a small but very enthusiastic audience. I’m not sure if it was the lovely church – one of three still standing in Amiens – or their experience today but the choir sings so beautifully – in fact there were many tears in the audience.
It is a very picturesque town, as our AP Renata Fassbind captures in her photos below. It is the perfect place to get ready for Anzac Day. Our reason for being here. More news soon…
(On a side note…check out our shirts! Thank you Nathan from Sports Apparel for his kind and generous support for our crew neck performance shirts).