Following publication of “Timings for Anzac Day service at Villers-Bretonneux changed at short notice“, CONTACT asked the Department of Veterans’ Affairs for confirmation.
This is their answer…
The Government’s commitment to delivering a solemn, safe and dignified service to remember the service and sacrifice of all Australians, including those killed on the Western Front during the First World War, remains as strong as ever.
The timing of Anzac Day services in Australia and around the world is determined by the requirements of the community and support from the authorities at that location, and a range of other factors including weather and accessibility to the sites. In many places this is at a time other than at dawn. This change in time makes it easier for a broader audience, better use of available public transport and, as I understand, more opportunity for local French school children to attend. This will ensure the Anzac Legacy continues. Visitor safety and comfort is a key consideration for all commemorative events. A later starting time reduces the impact of challenging weather conditions, similar to those experienced in April and November last year.
It should be noted that the annual commemorative service in France commemorates both Anzac Day and the Battle of Villers-Bretonneux. The Battle of Villers-Bretonneux began at 10:00pm on 24 April and so, by the morning of 25 April 1918 the men of the AIF had virtually surrounded Villers-Bretonneux. It took the rest of that day and into 26 April to completely secure the town and to establish a new front line east of it. All elements of the service and ceremonial program, which have been highly praised by visitors to past Anzac Day services in France, will remain unchanged.
Prior to 2008, the Anzac Day service in France was held at 10:00am on the Saturday prior to 25 April (if it fell on a weekday). Following detailed discussions with the French Government and following feedback from attendees, invited guests and the relevant French authorities that support the commemorations in France, the Australian Government has decided to trial reverting back to a 10:00am service for Anzac Day 2019.
The locally run town service at Villers-Bretonneux will continue to take place following the Australian service at the Australian National Memorial. The Anzac Day Dawn Service at the Anzac Commemorative Site Gallipoli, will remain a dawn service as the landings commenced just prior to dawn. Aside from the Dawn Services held at many locations, the formal Anzac Day Commemorative Services and Marches held nationally, in major cities and regional and rural communities around Australia commence at various times ranging from mid-morning to early afternoon on 25 April.
FILE PHOTO (11 November 2018): Australia’s Federation Guard catafalque party prepare to dismount during the commemorative service for the centenary of the First World War Armistice, Australian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux, France. Photo by Corporal Jake Sims.
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