The Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux is the repository of the names of more than 10,000 Australians who died in France during the First World War but have no known grave. The Memorial is situated a few kilometres north of Villers-Bretonneux on the D23.
The Memorial was completed in 1938 after a somewhat controversial lead up brought about by a shortage of funds during the Great Depression. The British and other Commonwealth Memorials had been completed well in advance of the Australian Memorial.
The Memorial consists of a large central tower with spectacular views of the surrounding countryside, flanked by two wing walls carrying the commemorative panels listing the missing.
It is approached from the entrance through a cemetery containing the graves of casualties from around the Commonwealth and of both World Wars.
During the Second World War, the Memorial was used as an Observation Post by the French and was extensively damaged by German aircraft and ground fire. Although repairs were carried out, some scarring can still be seen on parts of the memorial.
Not all of those lost in France with no known grave are memorialised here. VC Corner Cemetery at Fromelles commemorates a further 1 294 Australians lost there on 19/20 July 1916. Another seventeen Australian Flying Corps missing are memorialised at the Arras Flying Services Memorial in the Faubourg d’Amiens Cemetery at Arras.
There is a link in the sidebar to information about the annual ANZAC Day Dawn Service. It is very well attended so visitors should plan in advance and check relevant websites for details.
In April 2018, the Sir John Monash Centre was opened. After nearly 100 years there is at last a remarkable interpretive facility that tells the story of the AIF on the Western Front. All Australians can be proud of it,