Remembering the battle that changed the war, 1918 image

4 April 2018

In the early hours of Anzac Day 1918, the 51st Battalion, comprising mostly of Western Australian men, engaged in the now legendary attack to dislodge the enemy from the French town of Villers-Bretonneux.

Although many lives were lost, the Allies were victorious, and the taking of Villers-Bretonneux from German forces is often regarded as the beginning of the end of the war. The 51st Battalion continued to play an active role during August and September of 1918, forming part of the 4th Division’s reserve for the attack on the Hindenburg ‘outpost line’.

After the Armistice on 11 November 1918, the men of the 51st began returning to Australia for discharge.

Darren Blackwood’s grandfather was there that fateful day in Villers-Bretonneux and now, 100 years later he will be making his way from Rockhampton, Queensland to Albany to pay his respects on Anzac Day.

“I chose Albany as the most momentous place to pay respects on this 100-year anniversary of the battle that changed the war, as the 51st Battalion consisted of many Western Australians whom my Grandfather served with and I wanted to spend it at a place close to the VB Cross,” Mr Blackwood said.

In 2008, Mr Blackwood travelled to the Western Front in France and attended the first Dawn Service at Villers-Bretonneux before taking part in the official presentation of the replica VB Cross by St George’s Cathedral to the town.

On Anzac Day in Albany next month, the RSL will host Mr Blackwood as a VIP at the Dawn Service where he will lay flowers in memory of all those who fought in The Battle That Changed the War.

“This Dawn Service has a lot of significance for me and I cherish this opportunity,” he said.

“My wife Karen and I are both very thrilled to visit the National Anzac Centre and experience all the attractions the region has to offer.”

The Anzac Albany Dawn Service 2018 will be accompanied by the Anzac Albany Festival and Convoy Campout which have been made possible with the support of the Australian Government’s Building Better Regions Fund and the City of Albany.