In November 2018 the Footscray-Yarraville City Band embarked on a tour to Europe to commemorate the Centenary of Armistice of WW1. With us went the bands WW1 bass drum and the poppies made by local school children. This page shows some of the highlights of that tour.
Over a century ago this bass drum embarked with thousands of Australian soldiers on a journey to the other side of the world to fight in the Great War. Out of the heroism and sacrifice of those Australians so far from home the Anzac legend was born. Those men and women have long since passed and now it is the poppies, made by Victorian school children, heirs to the Anzac legend, that make the pilgrimage to those distant lands where the fallen lie, the drum once again bearing silent witness.
On arrival in France the band first paid a visit to the Australian Embassy in Paris where we performed for a number of Australian and French officials. We also took the opportunity to put the school childrens' poppies on display. A reception with the guests was held after the concert.
Deputy Head of Mission to France Angus McKenzie with Musical Director Phillipa Edwards and Project Director Colin Harrison holding some of the poppies made by Victorian school children for the Centenary of Armistice commemorations.
The band performing at the embassy to an audience of French and Australian officials.
The band traveled to the Australian National Memorial near Villers Bretonneux, France, to perform a commemoration ceremony for our service men and women and to lay the wreaths and poppies from our local communities and school children.
The band traveled to Iepers (Ypres) Belgium to participate in the nightly ceremony at the Menin Gate to commemorate the fallen. The Menin Gate is inscribed with the names of 55,000 soldiers with no known grave, 6000 of those names are Australian.
The band traveled to Sutton Veny, near Salibury Plain, where the townsfolk of Sutton Veny turned out to greet us and hear us play. The reason for the visit was to return to the place where the bass drum saw service and to pay tribute to Matron Jean Miles Walker. Jean served throughout the war but died on 30 Oct 1918.
Members of the band and the Sutton Veny community prepare for a service at the grave of Jean Miles Walker at the St Johns Church, Sutton Veny, 12 November 2018.
Matron Jean Miles Walker was buried with full military honors at Sutton Veny on 3rd November 1918. The coffin was borne to the graveside on a gun carriage preceded by a firing party and the band from the 1st Australian Training Battalion. It is believed that our bass drum was part of that band.
The drum, which we believe attended her funeral in November 1918 as part of the band of the 1st Training Battalion, returns one hundred years later for the memorial service.
The grave yard at St Johns Church, Sutton Veny containing 167 graves, 143 of them are Australian.