THE loan to The ACT Legislative Assembly by the Australian War Memorial of a celebrated World War I painting has been greeted with excitement by Speaker of the Assembly’s Speaker, Vicki Dunne.
Mrs Dunne described the painting by Australian war artist, Will Longstaff, “Villers-Bretonneux, ruins of the church” as “a poignant reminder of the aftermath of battle.”
The World War I battles of Villers-Bretonneux, in France, in April 1918, culminated in Australian and British troops retaking the village on April 25-26, just two days after German forces had captured it in one of the biggest tank battles of the war. The victory halted a planned attack by the Germans on the city of Amiens. Success in that plan would have seriously restricted the ability of the Allied forces to move troops and supplies along the western front.
“Whilst the Longstaff work is a sobering and stark reminder of the horrors of war, it also is representative of the bonds that exist between our three countries,” Mrs Dunne said, noting the “special bond of friendship between Australia, Britain and France and particularly the people of Villers-Bretonneux, the strength of which endures almost a century later.”
She said the loan would enable the Assembly to be engaged in the centenary of the Great War “in a very special way.”