Remains of First World War soldiers recovered in Bullecourt

The Minister for Veterans’ Affairs has just announced that the remains of two soldiers, likely to be Australians who fought in the First World War, were located at Bullecourt in France on Saturday, 23 May 2015.

The Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Senator the Hon. Michael Ronaldson, said the remains had been discovered by a French fossicker in an area known to locals as the ‘Australian line’ and then recovered by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC).

“After efforts to identify the soldiers, the remains will be interred in a nearby war cemetery with full military honours,” Senator Ronaldson said.

“During initial examination of the remains, CWGC personnel discovered a button with a map of Australia on it, supporting the likelihood that they are Australian soldiers.

“The First and Second battles at Bullecourt saw some of the most intense trench fighting of the First World War. Australians achieved amazing feats and sadly also suffered significant losses. General Haig described Second Bullecourt as ‘among the great deeds of the war’.

“Australia owes a debt of gratitude to these men, and all those who served our nation on foreign soil. It is our responsibility to ensure that their service and sacrifice is respectfully honoured,” Senator Ronaldson said.

Australian and British troops fought two bloody battles at Bullecourt in April and in May 1917, with the Australian Imperial Force sustaining approximately 10,000 casualties. Hundreds of Australians who died at Bullecourt remain missing.

Returning to Viet Nam

Gary McKay, the historian on our Viet Nam tours, was asked why he believes his tours are above the rest in their conduct and content. He said:

As the author of more than a dozen books on the subject of the Australian involvement in the American war in South Viet Nam, and as a Viet Nam war veteran (4 RAR second tour as a rifle platoon commander), I believe I have the credentials to ensure that our tour lacks nothing in the way of information and attention to detail.

I have been returning to Viet Nam almost every year since 1993 and for the last decade have been conducting and leading tours three and sometimes four times per year. In the last couple of years I have also been leading and guiding Anzac scholarship winners on tours to Viet Nam. Regardless of whether the tourist is a scholar, a returning veteran or somebody who wants to learn about the American war in Viet Nam or gain an understanding of one of the most complex and costly wars since the Second World War, the McLachlan battlefield tour will meet everyone’s expectations.

Viet Nam is fast becoming a developing nation within Asia and its charm and beauty may well be lost to future generations who want to see the real Asia and all that it means. Do not leave it too late to see this beautiful country and the part that Australia played in it during the days when we were all involved as national servicemen.

For veterans who want to return I strongly recommend my book Going Back which will assist those who may have second thoughts on returning to former battle zone.

Mat McLachlan added:

Our Viet Nam Commemoration Tour takes in most of the major battlefields where Australians fought against their elusive enemy. Gary McKay’s personal experience as an infantry officer and combat veteran (who was awarded the Military Cross for gallantry in Australia’s last major battle of the war), allows him to explain in detail how the battles developed, how they were fought and why the combatants fought the way they did. As a historian Gary has the knowledge and insight into providing the finer detail and brings the battles to life as you stand on the ground where brave soldiers from both sides fought and died.

The added bonus is that because Gary has been returning almost every year to the country since 1993 he has an incredible insight into the way Viet Nam has developed and changed since the war years. His intimate knowledge of Viet Nam and its culture allows him to take the tourist into a side of Vietnamese life that not many people get to see.

Gary studied Vietnamese at the School of Modern Languages in Queensland to give him a working knowledge of the language, the culture and social history of this beautiful country. Together with the local guides he provides a touring experience that is extremely rewarding and memorable.

Our 15-night Viet Nam commemoration tour departs on March 24.