Western Front 2014 Tour Testimonial
Our tour members depend on us to provide a once in a lifetime battlefield experience combined with exceptional customer service. We do our best to meet and exceed their high standards, which is what you’d expect from Australia’s leading battlefield tour company. Here’s what our past passengers say about Boronia Travel and Aaron Pegram
from the Australian War Memorial.
The main purpose of this note is to thank you for your part in making our recent Western Front Tour such an inspiring, informative and memorable one.
We saw so much and learned so much that our heads are still full of it all. Not least, we will always remember the shared good humour and camaraderie on the part of all involved that added so much to our total experience.
I said that I would email you a copy of a talk given my an English school friend of mine concerning the service and death of her grandfather near Ypres on 21st October 1914 and who has no known grave but possibly lies in one of the "unknown" graves of English soldiers killed on 20th and 21st October in the Ypres Town Cemetery Extension one kilometre outside Ypres on the Zonnebeekseweg.
Maureen's account contains much detail about the life of a regular soldier of that period, thousands of whom were rushed home from distant parts of the empire to stand in the way of "the race to the sea". Unfortunately, I had forgotten how lengthy the account was and how much personal detail it contained which is not likely to interest you at all. However, having said I would send it, I decided to post it to you rather than email it so that you can read it at a less busy time or bin it as you wish.
This particular soldier did in fact receive his fatal wounds at Zonnebeke, dying two days later in a farm building in territory then behind German lines but which was liberated by the French the day after his death. I presume the reason for his not being buried in a named grave is that one of his fellow wounded removed his ID tag and personal possessions.
I think I also mentioned to you once or twice the account of Bert Bishop's service with the 55th Battalion, AIF, as it had impressed me so greatly. The full title of the book is "The Hell, the Humour and the Heartbreak; a private's view of World War 1" published by the Kangaroo Press in 1991. Despite the grimness of many of the events described, the love and care with which the average Digger looked out for his mates shine through the book like a beacon, as do the vignettes of life in the Australian bush contained here and there in Bishop's account of his service from his enlistment in late 1915 until his return to Australia in 1919.
His experience at the battle of Fromelles, in particular, so soon after arriving in France is the most graphically described I have read. One of his cousins, also in the 55th, was one of the now identified Pheasant Wood soldiers, and another cousin in a sister battalion (same brigade) died of wounds in England two days after the battle, which, along with the fact that it was his very first experience of battle, perhaps explains why his account of Fromelles is so charged with both emotion and detail. Do read it if you have the chance.
Finally, thank you very much for the research you did before our tour, not only on my relative but also on all the others. Hearing their stories and seeing their resting places did give an extra dimension to the battlefield and strategy explanations you gave us.
Thank you again, and very best wishes to you for your ongoing work at the memorial."
Rosemary and Leighton Smith, O’Halloran Hill, SA