School children commemorate 99 years since battle at Villers-Bretonneux


Hundreds of school children laid a wreath to remember the 2400 Australian lives lost in the WWI battle of Villers-Bretonneux.

At the historic Maygar Barracks north of Melbourne, where soldiers were trained before they were sent to Gallipoli in World War I, hundreds of school children from Melbourne's northern suburbs payed tribute.

The battle at Villers-Bretonneux is regarded in Australian military history as one of the greatest individual feats of the war.

Dallas Brooks Primary School student Yadu Sijith said the legacy of the 2400 Australian soldiers who lost their lives has not been forgotten.

"It was brutal, it was really dangerous, hopefully another world war will not happen, it's really serious."

Wreath laying at Maygar Barracks
Wreath laying at Maygar Barracks

Collingwood Football Club president Eddie McGuire lived near the barracks as a child.

"The stories of Collingwood players who came here went off to war, died in the battle at the Somme, died in Gallipoli, and left this very place," he said.

"You know as a kid who lived just up the street you didn't know a lot about that, but now I come here with a very different mindset."

The annual ANZAC Day clash between Collingwood and Essendon has become tradition.

Essendon CEO Xavier Campbell said the day marks a temporary truce between the two fierce AFL rivals.

"Today is not really about Essendon, it's not about Collingwood. It's about ANZAC spirit, it's imparting the ANZAC spirit."

Honouring that commitment, the school children designed and created posters of their own interpretation of the battle.

The posters will now be sent to their counterparts in Villers-Bretonneux as a mark of mateship, forging links ahead of the centenary commemorations of the battle next year.

Victorian MP Frank McGuire said it's an "important for our school children to know and understand the history".

School children hold up their posters
School children hold up their posters

"Particularly from this community, which has evolved into virtually a United Nations in one neighbourhood, where people from 160 countries are now calling Australia home."

Fawkner Primary School student Jaffer Mohammed said it's important to keep peace in Australia and to remember the sacrifices of those who went to war.

"Respect the elders, the ones who fought in the war and just remember them," he said.

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