Australian Embassy
Belgium, Luxembourg and Mission to the European Union and NATO

Commemorations

Commemorations  

Commemorations for first Australian soldiers killed in Belgium during WWI taking place on 17 June
Ceremonies to commemorate one hundred years since the first Australian soldiers were killed in Belgium during World War One were held on 17 June in Flanders and Canberra (Australia). Private Beaumont Jeffreys Philpott and Private James Jackson Mollison belonged to the 25th Australian Infantry Battalion which landed in France 19 March 1916, the first Australian Imperial Force battalion to arrive there. The two soldiers were reportedly coming off a scouting patrol in Messines when they were killed during artillery and gas shelling on 17 June 1916. They were aged 26 and 27 respectively.

In Australia the soldiers’ sacrifice was commemorated at a ceremony at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra which included the ‘Last Post’.  Wreath laying ceremonies will be held in Flanders on the same day (17 June) at the soldiers’ graves.  The Last Post Association’s evening ceremony at Menin Gate in Ypres/Ieper on 17 June was also dedicated to the two men. Photographs of the ceremony can be found by clicking here.

A report on the commemoration was published in The Australian newspaper which was penned by the Belgian Ambassador to Australia HE Jean-Luc Bodson and titled "Belgium salutes Diggers Philpott and Mollison on death centenary"

Schedule for Commemorations in Flanders - Friday 17 June
11:00-11:20 – Wreath-laying at the grave of PTE Mollison at La Plus Douve Farm Cemetery 
11:40-12:00 – Wreath-laying at the grave of PTE Philpott at Dranoutre Military Cemetery
20:00            –   Last Post Association nightly ceremony at Menin Gate Ypres/Ieper

                                       

 

   

 

Anzac Day on the Western Front, Belgium – Monday, 25 April 2016
Australia’s Minister for Finance, Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann, led Australia’s participation during commemorative services on Anzac Day (25 April) in Belgium. The services were organised by the Australian and New Zealand Embassies in conjunction with the Belgian towns of Zonnebeke, Ieper/Ypres and Comines-Warneton. They honoured the almost 13,000 ANZACs who fought and gave their lives in the battles of the Ypres Salient during World War One and included a dawn service at Buttes New British Cemetery and commemorative services at Tyne Cot Cemetery, Menin Gate and Toronto Avenue Cemetery.  The day before Last Post Association chairman, Mr Benoit Mottrie, was presented with an honorary medal in the Order of Australia for his service to Australia-Belgium relations during a special ceremony at the Cloth Hall in Ypres.  For more see  Anzac Day 2016 -  Program and Anzac Day 2016 Photographs - Last Post Association

Past Anzac Days in Belgium

Anzac Day 2015

Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop represented the Australian Government at ANZAC Day commemorations in Ypres, Belgium to highlight the importance Australia attaches to honouring sacrifices made on the Western Front during the First World War. Nearly 13,000 Australians lost their lives in Belgium during the First World War. In Ypres, from August to November 1917, Australia suffered 38,000 casualties – our most costly experience of war. The day\'s program started at 6am with the Dawn Service at Buttes New British Cemetery, Polygon Wood. Services then followed at Tyne Cot Cemetery, the Menin Gate in Ieper/Ypres and Toronto Avenue Cemetery in Ploegsteert. There was also Australian participation during the nightly Last Post Association ceremonies at Menin Gate on the 24th and 25th April.
 

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Frank MacDonald Memorial Prize ANZAC group to visit France and Belgium
The 2016 Tasmanian Government-sponsored Frank MacDonald Memorial Prize is touring France and Belgium from 16 -29 April 2016. The group of prize-winning Year 10 students and accompanying adults will include the Hon Guy Barnett MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier of Tasmania. The group’s activities in Belgium include laying wreaths at the Last Post Association evening service. While in Europe their activities can be followed via their Facebook page.

Centenary of the Battle of the Somme on 1 July - Passes for Australian descendants
Fifty passes are being made available to a service marking the centenary of the Battle of the Somme at Thiepval on 1 July for Australian descendants of those who fought in the battle. Read more

Anzac Day in France 2016
The organisation of Anzac Day commemorations is made possible with the assistance of the local communities of Villers-Bretonneux and Bullecourt and the Australian Embassy in France. The Department of Veterans Affairs recommends all visitors and trip leaders register their attendance for the France Anzac Day commemorations. Registration for the 2016 Anzac Day Dawn Service at the Australian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux is now available

Australian Veterans’ Affairs Minister visits Belgium
The then Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC, the Hon Stuart Robert MP, visited Belgium on 11-12 November 2015 as part of his trip to Europe to inspect key Anzac Centenary commemorative sites and to meet European friends supporting the memory of Australian sacrifice during World War One. While in Flanders he laid a wreath and recited the Ode at the Last Post Association’s nightly ceremony at Ieper (Ypres). Minister Robert then had a meeting with Flemish Prime Minister Geert Bourgeois in Brussels during which they discussed Australian-Flemish co-operation on World War One commemoration.

Municipality of Zonnebeke announces Wood of Peace initiative at Polygon Wood
The municipality of Zonnebeke, near Ypres (Ieper), as part of its program to commemorate the centenary of the Third Battle of Ypres (The Battle of Passchendaele) on 12 October 2017 launched on Remembrance Day 2015 its Wood of Peace project. The municipality aims to create a wood near the two Polygon Wood cemeteries, Buttes New British Cemetery – where the annual ANZAC Day dawn service takes place – and the Polygon Wood Cemetery.

The Zonnebeke municipality plans to plant a tree for each of the 523 identified soldiers buried in the two cemeteries. Relatives of those buried are encouraged to register their interest in the project via a new website www.passchendaele2017.org. The planting of the first symbolic trees – one for each nation whose soldiers are buried at the two cemeteries – is scheduled after the ANZAC Day Dawn Service in 2017. Planting will take place on 12 October 2017 for family members and other participants. Read more

12,749 Australians died in Belgium during World War One, many in the Third Battle of Ypres around Polygon Wood.

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