Tag Archives: Armistice Day

Day 6: One more sleep! (For us in France anyway!)

It’s been such an incredible week of singing, discovery and nurturing connections between us Australians and the French, while remembering sacrifices made by many soldiers from throughout the world during WW1.

Today (Saturday) was a busy day as we headed to the Australian National Memorial for a final rehearsal with the Airforce Band, as the ABC and Department of Veterans’ Affairs rehearsed the service program for the Centenary of the WW1 Armistice.

We were warned it might be rainy but some of us didn’t expect the quantity of rain and the chill in the air.

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We consoled in the fact that no matter how cold and wet it would be, it was never going to be as bad as what the Anzacs went through with wet and soggy trenches and sometimes snow in the lead up to Christmas. Also, they didn’t just have to deal with the weather, they had to contend with vermin, disease, being fired at and more.

Anytime we could add layers of clean clothing. We enjoyed a break in a heated tent at lunch time. We had it pretty good … thanks to them.

After rehearsals choristers walked behind the Australian National Memorial to the Sir John Monash Centre, which is a cleverly set out museum. Here you can choose to download an App and plug-in your earphones to immerse yourself in WW1 history, where fascinating topics are covered including Monash’s incredible ‘all arms’ 93-minute Battle of Hamel in July 1918, how the war started, why Australia got involved, what they wore, the weapons used and the strategies of battles.

The museum seemed to touch deeply on subjects rarely brought to light, including the indigenous Australians who served. This was represented with an artistic sculpture of two emus. In aboriginal culture it is believed that if a person dies away from their home land, their soul wanders forever.

Another subject covered was how the soldiers felt when the war finally ended on 11 November 1918. Many soldiers couldn’t process what had happened, after too many years of horrific battle. This was represented in the words of one young solider:

“We had two victories today, we won the war and defeated the 5th Field Company at soccer.” 

Choristers spent a few hours wandering the centre before they gathered in the foyer to sing some songs to the visitors. It was a great way to finish the final day of rehearsals and exploration before the big day tomorrow.

We can’t wait to tell you all about it!

#vobarmistice100 #vobarmistice2018 #wewillrememberthem #lestweforget

Day 2: Explorations and singing for the beautiful community of Bailleul

Our choristers woke up to a sunny Paris, ready to hit the road for a day of exploration, reflection and singing, all the while heading north to our next port of accommodation and first concert.

(Special thanks to Tony Forbes for the above video) 

With a delay due to traffic, our plans for the day were rearranged on the fly, so we visited the Canadian memorial, Vimy Ridge.

The site boasts a huge monument for the Canadian soldiers of WW1. It stands at around 27m tall, in white. Our choristers took a moment to soak in the atmosphere, with one of our singers, Laurence honouring the soldiers by playing the bagpipes, with the sound floating throughout the memorial and close fields.

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The impressive Vimy Ridge (pic by Lindy)

Another aspect of the site that fascinated was the memorial for the Moroccan troops who fought with Canada. This memorial was particularly important for choristers Yazmin and Safia to acknowledge, as they are half-Moroccan.

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Yasmin and Safia at the Moroccan Memorial (pic by Lindy)

We then visited the Vimy Memorial Park nearby, which is set on a beautiful field with lush green grass, however, with the troughs created by mines and bombs from the war.

Our choristers participated in a tour which took the group through a tunnel under the field, which had been built to provide added coverage for soldiers.

Hitting the road again en route to Bailleul, the choir rehearsed on the bus to brush up on songs in the lead up to the first community concert.

VOB Armistice Tour

The choristers arrive at Bailleul City Hall (pic provided by Elise)

Our welcome to Bailleul began with a beautiful reception at Bailleul City Hall by Deputy Mayor Sébastien Malesys with his colleagues Olivia, Anne and Lucy.

(Special thanks to Tony Forbes for the above video) 

The choir then walked to the church behind city hall to prepare for the concert and as soon as they entered they realised the beauty of the performance venue, Église Saint-Vaast. The church was huge, with incredible resonance which is always a pleasure to sing in.

The concert experience was wonderful, with a crowd of around 200 who all seemed very moved by what we sang.

(Special thanks to Craig Donaldson for the above video) 

We were grateful to have attendance by Mayor Marc Deneuche and again by Sebastien, both of whom expressed their appreciation for our visit. It was an amazing experience to be able to connect with the locals through music.

(Special thanks to Craig Donaldson for the above video) 

One of these connections was the Francis family meeting a local who had found a bugle from WW1 which was inscripted with the maker’s details from London as well as the owners’ details. It noted it had been owned by an Australian soldier who coincidently had served in the same battalion as the grandfather of Heather Francis, who is playing flute for our choir.

After the concert, the locals treated our choir and APs to an impressive supper. It was a wonderful end to a great day of music making and friendship.

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Today (Wednesday) the choir headed to Amiens, with a few historical stops on the way, followed by a community concert in Fouilloy.

More soon!

#vobarmistice100 #vobarmistice2018 #lestweforget #wewillrememberthem