17. Arriving to the Western Front

Sunday 21 April

Before we get started, please note the Anzac Day Dawn Service at the Australian National Memorial (Villers-Bretonneux) will be broadcast on the ABC at 1.30pm (AEST) Thursday 25 April. 

Today’s blog was written by BBV chorister Sophie Millar and Birralee Blokes chorister Isaac Kozlovskis, to provide a first-hand perspective of the day’s events.

***

Our day began with a speedy breakfast at the FIAP hotel in Paris before heading to Amiens for our first rehearsal.

After four thrilling days in Paris, we said our farewells to our new favourite city and tried to prepare for what would be a day to remember.

For the Anzac Day Dawn Service Choir, all of whom had never been to the Australian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux, the bus trip was a period of anticipation.

Rehearsing with Australian servicemen and women of the Navy Band off-site enabled us to contextualise the musical aspects of the ceremony before our arrival at Villers-Bretonneux, after a morale booster of Easter eggs, provided by Joshua C.

None of us could have prepared for what was to come. We had been made aware that the experience might be emotionally overwhelming, but in no way did that rationalise what we were about to feel.

Walking through serene fields of green and gold, we glimpsed the tragedies of Australia’s sacrifices at the site. Rows of crosses and marble headstones marked the loss of hundreds of young Commonwealth soldiers.

It was a very confronting experience for many of the choristers who had struggled to fathom the extent of the horrors that occurred in such a peaceful place.

Many tears were shed, but the overwhelming sense of emotion seemed to transform our repertoire when rehearsing on site.

In Flanders Fields, Tell My Father, Band Of Brothers and After The War were brought to life amongst the names of the fallen soldiers.

After an extremely hot and taxing day of singing, we were all thankful to check into our new hotel and get some much needed rest.

***

We invite you to keep following our journey of this epic Europe tour!

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