Quick Facts

When:15 -29 July 2016
Key Highlights:
  • Guided battlefield tour
  • Attendance at Pozieres Commemoration Ceremony
  • Presentation by WW2 French Resistance
  • Attendance at Ravivage de la Flamme

Contact Details


Why Pozieres

Why Pozieres

Legacy was born in the aftermath of World War One by Lieutenant General Sir Stanley Savige and Major General Sir John Gellibrand, who quickly realised that urgent and needy assistance was required to look after the wives, partners and children of the soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice or their health in conflict. Today Legacy looks after over 90,000 of these families both in Australia and the United Kingdom.

World War One, and in particular the battlefields on the Western Front, is not only historic in nature but has also embedded a very strong and close relationship between France and Australia. The reason the battle of Pozieres was selected to commemorate is that Pozieres was an Australian Battle and was where Australian soldiers lost their innocence. It was to become the benchmark for all subsequent battles, remembered for its ferocity and intensity of the near ceaseless artillery bombardment. The Battle of Pozieres saw Australian soldiers enter the battle on 23 July 2016. Over a six week period Australia incurred 24,140 casualties with 6,741 dead. The Official Australian Historian Charles Bean at the time wrote “that no place on earth was more drenched with Australian blood than Pozieres”.

There is a memorial to the First Australian Division at Pozières, close to the ruins of the Gibraltar blockhouse, taken from the Germans when the Australian 1st Division attacked, took and held Pozières village between 23 and 26 July 1916. This action was one of the many battles between 1 July and 19 November of that year known collectively as The Battle of the Somme.

Success on the Somme came at a cost which at times seemed to surpass the cost of failure, and for the Australians, Pozières was such a case. As a consequence of being the sole British gain on 23 July, Pozières became a focus of attention for the Germans. Forming as it did a critical element of their defensive system, the German command ordered that it be retaken at all costs. Three attempts were made on 23 July but each was broken up by the artillery or swept away by machine gun fire.
It was the first major conflict of the 1st ANZAC Corps on the Western Front. The 5th Australian Division which was part of the 2nd ANZAC Corps was decimated at Fromelles in the weeks prior.

Pozieres was to be fought and won by the remaining Australian Divisions on the Western Front - the 1st, 2nd and 4th (The 3rd Division was training in England). These “Digger Divisions” were a mixture of hardened troops, who’d fought at Gallipoli and their ranks were filled with faces fresh from Australia. These were the 'Fair Dinkums' for anyone to join after the carnage of Gallipoli, must be 'fair dinkum’!

To the average Australian Digger- it was ‘Hell on Earth!’ It was where artillery rained down from three sides and life expectancy was measured in mere minutes, rather than years as lives were snuffed out in an instance.

Pozieres was key terrain. To control Pozieres, meant you controlled the battlefield and to control the battlefield was all. But this came at a price, a terrible price. It was paid for in blood, in tears and in souls. It was won on grit, determination and a staunch will to succeed. More than 50% of Australians who fought at Pozieres were killed, wounded or captured. Australians were awarded five Victoria Crosses for bravery for the actions around Pozieres. This single battle regrettably created more Legacy wards and widows than any other single battle of the War.

At the commencement of World War One, Australia had a population of approximately 4.5 million, which is roughly the current population of Sydney. Throughout the War it raised an Army of 417,000, with just over 330,000 serving overseas (just over the current population of Canberra). 156,200 were wounded or missing (gassed, wounded, or taken prisoner of war) and 58,132 were killed. Those that came home continued to suffer the horrors of war. Few families were left untouched by the impact of the First World War.

Of every 10 of the 330,000 who served overseas, seven were casualties: two were killed and five were wounded, many of them multiple times. As part of the larger military family, you will more than likely be related in some way to someone who fought and or died on the Western Front in World War One.

Participants of the tour will be able to experience first hand the impact that Australians on the Western Front had not only to the outcomes of major battles but also the lives of local French people. The study tour participants will walk the ground, analyse the battle and terrain, under expert guides and historians and experience first hand the challenges and sacrifices endured by the ANZACS. It is hoped that this greater understanding will focus these young people that the values of our ANZAC forefathers and that of Legacy are extremely relevant in today’s international communities and enable them to encourage and inspire others to be better citizens as well as carry the Torch of Legacy into the future.

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