There will be no Anzac Day Dawn Service at Villers-Bretonneux this year. This year’s service will be held at 10am.
The Department of Veteran’s Affairs notified battlefield tour operators of this significant change on 24 January 2019 – just three months out from the event.
And, while the information is now promulgated on the DVA web site, we have no idea when it was put there. CONTACT certainly received no press releases about this and we are not aware of any effort by DVA to communicate this important information to the public.
Hundreds if not thousands of people will now have to alter travel arrangements that could have been in place for months, even years.
Anzac Day Services at Villers-Bretonneux have been held at dawn since 2008, but were previously held at 10am.
DVA says the change was made following the completion of the Anzac Centenary Commemoration Program 2014–2018 and after consultation with local-government representatives from the towns of Villers-Bretonneux, Corbie and Fouilloy.
“The Australian government has agreed to revert to a 10am start time as a trial for the 2019 Anzac Day service,” the DVA web site and the email to tour operators says.
CONTACT asked DVA for comment, but they have not responded (except to acknowledge receipt of our request, at 11.20am Friday 25 January).
In any case, it is true that the Dawn Service at Villers-Bretonneux in 2019 is not happening – but a 10am service will be held.
All those who had planned to attend a Dawn Service at Villers-Bretonneux in 2019 or any year hereafter, are well advised to check the DVA web site before finalising travel plans – or revisit their plans if arrangements are already made.
CONTACT sympathises with the individuals and tour operators who have had this significant change dropped on them at such inconsiderately short notice.
FILE PHOTO (2017): The Anzac Day Dawn Service at the Australian National Memorial outside Villers-Bretonneux in France. Photo by Corporal Max Bree.