Media Release – COMMEMORATIVE CROSS & VIGNACOURT LIAISON PROJECTS

MEDIA RELEASE

Commemorative Cross Program

Project Background

The Bargara Remembers Commemorations Committee has initiated a Commemorative Cross Program following last year’s visit to the WWI battlefields of The Somme in France by President Greg Barnes and his wife Isobel. The project is now expanding to include a cultural relationship with the town of Vignacourt in north-western France.

Commemorative Cross1 (Medium)2,000 small plywood crosses have been crafted by Regalline Cabinets & Joinery and committee members will now fit each one with a poppy, a small Australian flag and the committee’s logo.

The crosses will be available for sale at $2 each from 12th March from:

  • Bargara NewsXpress (Bargara Central Shopping Centre)
  • The Barber of Bargara (Shop 5, 15-17 See Street, Bargara)
  • Bargara Australia Post Office (Windmill Square Shopping Centre -16 See Street, Bargara)
  • Café Caprice (Bargara Central Shopping Centre)

Any profits raised from the sales will be reinvested into further projects involving the Bargara State School and the ANZAC theme.

Members of the community who purchase a cross will be invited to write a short personal message on it before implanting it in the lawn in front of the Bargara War Memorial in the lead-up to ANZAC Day.

400 crosses have been sponsored by various businesses and members of the community and these will be offered to every student at the Bargara State School at no cost. Younger students who are unable to write will be able to attach their fingerprint to their cross in place of a message.

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Vignacourt & the Photos in the Attic Project

Vignacourt, France

Vignacourt is a town located in the north-western region of Picardy, France. During World War One it was used as a staging point for allied soldiers including Australian Diggers who were heading for the infamous battlefields of The Somme.

At the time, Louis and Antoinette Thuillier were a French couple living in a local farmhouse on the route taken by the Diggers as they marched to the Front and often to their death. Their passion for photography led them to set up an outdoor studio where they took thousands of photographs of the troops heading into battle.

Glass Plate Photo

Fast-forward nearly a century to 2010 when some 4,000 photographic plates taken by the Thuilliers were discovered in the attic of their farmhouse with many of them recording the images of Australian Diggers. Sadly, some of these were the last images taken of them.

These were to become the catalyst for a project that connects to the Bundaberg region.

Photos in the Attic Project

In late 2015 Michael Fiechtner of the InterCultural Consulting Group travelled to Bundaberg and briefed the Bundaberg Regional Council on a feature movie project entitled ‘Photos in the Attic’ which he and his wife Donna plan to make in the Bundaberg region due to the unique World War 1 stories that exist in the many communities.

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The movie which has been inspired by the discovery of the Thuillier’s glass photographic plates revolves around a love story between an Australian Digger from Childers, William (Bill) Court and a Vignacourt farm girl, Katherine (Rosie) Villeneuve who meet in Vignacourt in late 1916 and the enduring relationships that were formed between the soldiers and the French villagers. A story not told before.

The film is presently in pre-development and it is hoped to involve the local community in all aspects of the production.

Following the briefing with Council, Cr. Barnes approached Michael and introduced him to the Commemorative Cross Program and explored the opportunity to foster a relationship between the Bargara State School and the Vignacourt local School.

“I suggested that Commemorative Crosses from our Bargara students could be collected after ANZAC Day and sent to the Vignacourt School where local students could place them at the gravestones of Australian Diggers who lie in their town’s military cemetery” Cr. Barnes said.

Mr Fiechtner agreed, “I thought that this was an excellent idea noting that there are close to 400 students at the Bargara State School, and just over four hundred Australian graves in the Vignacourt Commonwealth Graves cemetery representing those who died in clearing stations close by during 1918, in the final stages of The Great War.”

“We are particularly excited about this proposal as the Mayor of Vignacourt made a pledge that his community would never forget the contribution and sacrifice by the Australians. In fact, the local school children were charged with the maintenance of the graves of fallen soldiers. The Bargara students will become a special part of this legacy that began nearly 100 years ago” Mr. Fiechtner said. 

“Photos in the Attic will be the catalyst for an ongoing relationship between the Bargara, Childers and Vignacourt Communities with a strong focus on our respective youth. It’s the young people of both countries who will carry this message on for future generations.”

Bargara State School Principal, Chris Norris is equally excited about the project. We are extremely excited to be a part of this project which will reinforce with our students a greater understanding and appreciation for the efforts and sacrifices of our service men and women”, he said.

“The children will enjoy the hands-on approach from making poppies, to placing a personal message on the ‘Bargara Remembers’ Commemorative Crosses. As a school we will be extremely proud to once again march down the road at the 2016 Dawn Service and see our 370 crosses with their personal messages of gratitude surrounding the memorial”.

“To also know that our Year 6 students will have the opportunity to have their personal message placed on the grave of their selected Australian soldier in France is simply amazing”, he said.

Cr. Barnes hoped that there was more to come. “During the evening of 24th April each year hundreds of villagers gather in Vignacourt  to pay homage to the fallen Australians. When the Bargara Dawn Service commences at 5.30am (local time) on ANZAC morning it’s 8.30pm on ANZAC eve in Vignacourt and we are hoping to be able to simulcast our entire Service in 2017 so that our overseas friends can share this special event with us”,  he said.

ENDS

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