French remember Aussie war dead

THE tiny French town of Pozieres, in the immortal words of historian Charles Bean, ‘‘is more densely sown with Australian sacrifice than any other place on earth’’.

But the town, whose mayor, Bernard Delattre, will be in Newcastle today, does not have a proper memorial to mark their sacrifice.

Mr Delattre and the Pozieres Remembrance Association are raising money to build a memorial park for the 7000 Australian soldiers who fought and died at Pozieres in the summer of 1916.

Kim Sutherland, who led a tour of the Hunter Singers to the battlefield in 2007, is a descendant of one of those fallen soldiers.

‘‘Pozieres was the greatest loss of Australian life on any field of battle,’’ Ms Sutherland said.

Her great uncle, Private A.J.Gaughan of the 1st Pioneer Battalion, was fatally wounded at Pozieres in August 1916 and buried in a cemetery at nearby Boulogne.

‘‘I was the first member of my entire family to stand on that spot and see his grave,’’ Ms Sutherland said.

‘‘Sixteen of the people [on the tour] found relatives who were in the Somme.’’

More than 2500 Hunter men fought at Pozieres, part of the Battle of the Somme, and of those about 75 were killed there.

While the site is significant, it is often overlooked by pilgrims in favour of the nearby war memorial at Villers-Bretonneux. 

Mr Delattre will meet with lord mayor Jeff McCloy and Newcastle MP Tim Owen today before viewing World WarI memorabilia at Christ Church Cathedral.