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  • Former prime minister John Howard will attend a luncheon hosted by the Queen at Windsor Castle. (AAP)Source: AAP
Seventeen years ago, former Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, told SBS Radio French, the story of his family in the battle for Villers-Bretonneux, that cost 1,200 Australian lives. SBS Radio French program shares John Howard's unique story of his family in this battle.
D. Kemp, C. Mallet, J.N. Ducasse / SBS Radio French program

18 Apr 2015 - 7:00 PM  UPDATED 2 Sep 2016 - 8:45 AM

In 1998, the then Prime Minister John Howard, told SBS Radio French program the story of his grandfather and his father who met by chance, during the war, on the western front after years of engagement in WWI.

John Howard’s father and grandfather took part in World War I and both fought on the western front. Towards the end of the war, in 1918 they both fought the same battle for Villers-Bretonneux.

On 24 April 1918, Villers-Bretonneux was the site of the world's first battle between two tank forces: three British Mark IVs against three German A7Vs. The Germans took the town, but that night and the next day it was recaptured by 4th and 5th Division of the First Australian Imperial Force at a cost of over 1,200 Australian lives.

It was quite unusual to have a father and son fighting the same war, let alone the same battle. They actually met by complete chance on the eve of the Mont St Quentin battle in a tiny village.

Listen to the exclusive SBS interview in English HERE.


The Howard family World War I file can be found in the National Archives of Australia HERE.