A Message from Spirit of Remembrance:
Thanks to the 25 thousand plus people that have read and reacted so strongly to our Facebook campaign to help reverse the change of the 2019 Villers-Bretonneux Dawn Service to a 10am 'Morning Tea' Service .. we have now had the Prime Minister overide this DVA travesty ..and it's back where it belongs.. a Dawn Service at Villers-Bretonnex.
Thank you all. Follow our Facebook Page on this decision:
Whilst the Dawn Service at Gallipoli is famous the world over with both Australians and New Zealanders as the most revered of the overseas Anzac Day ceremonies, the ceremony at Villers-Bretonneux, first initiated in 1998 (situated on the Australian sector of the WW1 Western Front in Northern France) has rapidly gained ground to become "the" ceremony to attend now if you are looking to combine Anzac Day with your overseas trip to Europe or the UK.
On 25 April 2020, it is the 102nd anniversary of the second battle of Villers-Bretonneux on 24/25 April 1918, where the Australians halted - then smashed through the German advance and retook Villers-Bretonneux, (taken by the Germans on the 23/24th April), saving Amiens and in the process forever changing the course of the war in the Allies favour. This ferocious and historic battle is also famous for being the first tank - tank battle of the war.
For 2020 we are again operating our very popular PREMIUM 1 Day/Night tour from Paris to Villers-Bretonneux in France for this world famous Australian Anzac Day service at Villers-Bretonneux. We would be delighted if you could join us for this very special event.
About the 2nd Battle of Villers-Bretonneux: A small village about 20 kilometres from Amiens, Villers-Bretonneux was strategically very important as an observation point for an attack on Amiens. It is famous as the area where the Germans nearly broke through the Allied defences during the German spring offensive of 1918. The German High Command worked out that if they captured Amiens, then pushed quickly to the coast they would split the Allied Forces in two and win the war - or at least sue for peace on their terms. Their first major offensive to take Amiens had actually reached the Villers-Bretonneux area, before being stopped in the first battle of Villers-Bretonneux in early April by the Australians - also at great cost.
Brigadier General Grogan VC,who saw the 2nd attack on Villers-Bretonneux on 24/25th April, described the successful counter attack by night at short notice across unknown and difficult ground as "perhaps the greatest individual feat of the war". The Allied Supreme Commander, Marshal Foch, also referred to the "altogether astonishing valiance" (valour) of the Australians with this successful attack.
Date: Departs: (2020: Friday 24 April 2020)
Date: Returns: (2020: Saturday 25 April 2020)
Tour Code: PREMIUM: VB201DPAR
Tour Guide: Fully certified Spirit of Remembrance Battlefield Guide
Price P/Person: €440.00 (Approx A$696.00) (Payment in Euros)
* Note: Full payment is due 90 days prior to departure: *Booking Form:
Please NOTE that you MUST register with DVA for SECURITY CLEARANCE if you are attending this event. (Previous registration details. ( Note: This is not confirmed yet for 2020, however it has been the procedure for all previous Anzac Day events here)
The SJM Interpretive Centre
We will also be visiting the Sir John Monash Interpretive Centre, opened on the Anzac Day Villers-Bretonneux centenary 2018 by Australia's Prime Minister (then..) Malcom Turnbull.
* All event timings are based on previous years timings as supplied by DVA. These are still to be confirmed for 2020 by DVA
Saturday 25 April, 2020: (12.30 am (Approx) ** Assemble in front of McDonalds, Rue de Dunkerque, 75010 Paris (Near Gard du Nord Railway station)
1.30 am Coach departs.
En Route: There will be a stop at a service station to stretch our legs plus take a comfort stop and refreshments if needed. (food and drinks at own cost)
The Official Anzac Day Dawn Service - Australian National Memorial
Entrance to the site is via the promenade at the front of the memorial, and you will walk 300 metres uphill through the cemetery to the memorial site. The surface is grass and may be slippery if damp. Safety lighting is installed at the entrance and through the cemetery, but you may wish to bring a torch to assist with visibility.
Temporary seating is installed at the site. Seating will be made available for only a limited amount of people so we suggest seats are taken shortly after arrival. Reserved seating is only available for official delegates and for visitors with limited mobility (please advise us if you have limited mobility as space is limited and must be requested in advance - we cannot guarantee seats). If seating is full, there will be standing room on the grassed areas to the side and rear of the seats.
Security will be very strict at the ceremony and we want to allow plenty of time for security processing. Note: Security arrangements for todays Anzac Day ceremony at Villers-Bretonneux will have us first arriving with plenty of time for security processing and parking our tour coach at a major car/coach parking area nearby. (Please keep your passport with you for photo ID.)
Once at Villers-Bretonneux we will disembark and take our positions during the pre-commemorative service which starts around 4 am. The Dawn Service itself will start at 5.30 am. It is usually VERY cold before dawn at the memorial so be prepared and wear layered clothing as the day will change from sub freezing temperatures in the early morning to usually quite a warm day.(You will have a Spirit rainproof poncho in case it rains).
0330 (Approx) Coach arrives at Villers-Bretonneux Australian National Memorial for Dawn Service. On arrival we will undergo strict security screening before entering the Memorial grounds.
0400 (4 am) Pre-Service program starts at 4 am. Commemorative program to explore the Australian experience of WW1. (Everyone MUST be seated by 4.30am)
5:30 am: Dawn Service commences. A truly historic event.
Should you have relatives buried here please advise us previously - or your guide so he can locate them or consult the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website at www.cwgc.org
(** We can also provide wreaths for you to lay if you advise us in advance)
After the Service: Finish at 0730 am. Please join other group members on the promenade area ready for pickup before 8 am
What facilities are available during the Dawn Service?
● Temporary toilets, including disabled toilets, and hand washing facilities
● First Aid Services
● Rubbish bins
● Bottled Water (free)
After the Ceremony
0800 Depart from AWM at Villers Bretonneux by tour transport.
0900 (9 am) Breakfast/brunch at delightful Le Moulin des Ecrevisses restaurant Approx)
1100 (11 am) Depart restaurant.(Approx)
We then visit the Franco-Australian Museum in Villers-Bretonneux *Musee Franco-Australien (museum) & the famous "Lā Ecole Victoria" (Victoria School). ("Never forget Australia") and the new
Sir John Monash Centre
In the late afternoon we will visit Le Hamel ('Over in 90 minutes'- scene of Sir John Monash's superb logistics planning to win this pivotal battle in 90 minutes..) Pozieres and the Windmill Memorial, plus 1st Australian Memorial, and Mouquet Farm. Hear the Australian story of the the living hell of bloody Pozieres and how - in this horrific battle - Australia took over 23,000 casualties in 6 weeks with over 6800 men killed in action.
After this we then leave the area after a short break before returning to Paris. Arrival in Paris is expected to be approximatley 2230-2300. All timings are approximate as is the arrival time back in Paris, so it is suggested that you also book accommodation for the evening of the 25th in Paris for your return from this event.
What facilities are available during the Service?
Temporary toilets, including disabled toilets, and hand washing facilities
First Aid Services
Bottled Water (free)
The weather in the Somme region in April can be extremely cold (close to freezing). The Australian National Memorial site is exposed to the elements and is normally VERY cold early morning. You should ensure you are appropriately equipped for cold, wet, and windy weather, and take appropriate clothing with you when you disembark from the coach. The ground surface of the National Memorial is grass, so warm socks and waterproof shoes should be worn. * Included in your tour inclusions are a waterproof raincoat/poncho that also doubles as reflective heat blanket.
What should I take with me?
Rucksack. (Note: you will receive this before boarding your coach in Paris - as part of your tour we include a commemorative backpack to use as a small bag - it is quite useful to store things in)
Wet weather jacket.
(Note: You will also receive in your SOR commemorative tour kit a thick waterproof commemorative poncho)
Warm, layered, thermal clothing, jacket, hat or cap, gloves, scarf (* You also will receive a thermal (*Thinsulate) wool beanie (or cap) from us as part of your commemorative tour kit).
Comfortable, sturdy walking shoes
Lighter clothing for later during the day when it warms up to an ave. temp of around 15-18 degrees.
Drinking water and chocolate bars/energy snacks. (Note: once we leave Paris at 12 midnight we will have a toilet and quick snack stop scheduled for you enroute to Villers-Bretonneux.)
Camera/Camera phone (A MUST!)
As detailed, there will be an excellent SOR commemorative souvenir pack (included with your SOR satchel/shoulder bag) for everyone travelling on the tour including your high quality - full colour Villers-Bretonneux ANZAC day commemorative tour booklet.
*Please note all timings are approximate and that the itinerary is subject to change at all times due to reasons beyond our control, particularly with French security control measures which do change sometimes now without prior warning. Also, we cannot guarantee the return arrival time in Paris that evening/night so we recommend that you do not make travel plans for that evening.
Services of an EXPERT *highly qualified Battlefield/Historian Guide (*Guild of Battlefield Guides qualified ) for the duration of tour with specific knowledge on Australian WW1 battles.
The tour uses the same luxury coach throughout the tour with the services of experienced coach drivers
*Comprehensive HOT breakfast/brunch
Attendance at Anzac Day ceremony Villers-Bretonneux
High quality full colour souvenir book of the tour
High quality waterproof rain poncho.
Thinsulate® Beanie or cap
Western Front Maps (Incl. in book)
COSTS DO NOT INCLUDE
Meals and snacks as not included as above
Museum fees (if applicable) unless specified as above
Items of a personal nature
Please Note: Hand Luggage only: We cannot take large suitcases on this day tour.
NO child rate applies & infants (under 5 years) cannot be taken on this tour unless previously approved.
Please CONTACT US to book or if you require more information regarding our tour to this moving and wonderful ceremony. Space is strictly limited on the tour and at the ceremony.