Franco-Australian Museum, Villers-Bretonneux
The Franco-Australian Museum was established by the Franco-Australian Association. It was opened on ANZAC Day, 25th April 1975. It is located on the first floor of the Victoria School in Villers-Bretonneux.
Close Ties with Australia
The village of Villers-Bretonneux has very close ties with Australia following the battle to defend the village by British and Australian troops in the German spring offensive of March and early April 1918, called Operation Michael.
The village was almost captured on 4th April but the British and Australians held on to it. On 24th April the Germans attacked the village again, with the objective of removing the Allied defence here at Villers-Bretonneux and marching westwards on to the important Allied railhead in the town of Amiens. A small force of the Australian 15th Brigade, 2nd Battalion East Lancashire Regiment, plus numerous British stragglers who had left the village just ahead of the German attack, set up a defensive position and managed to hold off the German advance that day. The German advance was halted here and they never did get as far as Amiens in their final push to the west in 1918.
Victoria School: A Gift from Australia
Victoria School, in which the museum is housed, was built between 1923-1927 as a gift from the children of the Australian State of Victoria. The school hall, Victoria Hall, has wooden paneling and carvings of Australian animals and plants by the Australian sculptor John Grant and students from the Daylesford Technical College, Victoria.
A wooden sign in the Victoria Hall makes the statement “N'oublions jamais l'Australie”, which translates as “Never let us forget Australia”.
A sign in the playground also says: “Do not forget Australia” and this is also written in French in each of the classrooms.
A Franco-Australian museum is housed inside the school on the first floor above the classrooms. The collections held by the museum were established in the 1970s by material from private collections and donations.
The museum tells the story of the Australians on the Western Front in 1918 and the part they played in the battles to defend Villers Bretonneux.
The museum comprises:
- a small reception area with a ticket office and small souvenir shop
- a large exhibition room with photos, uniforms, letters and personal artefacts, copies of official documents and more
- a documentation area with books on Australia
- a 35 seat video room showing documentaries (by request) in English and French
Summer: March to October: 09.30 - 17.30
Winter: November - February: 09.30 - 16.30
Closed: Sundays and French Public Holidays (New Year's Day, Easter Sunday, Easter Monday, 1st May, 8th May, Ascension Day, Whit Sunday, Whit Monday, 14th July, 15th August, 1st November). Also annual closure of the museum is the last week of December and the first week of January.
Guided tours for groups (15 + persons) by appointment.
- Adult: Euros 4,00
- Child (6-18 years): Euros 2,50
- Adult Group (per person): Euros 3,00
- Child Group (per person): Euros 2,00
Location of the Franco-Australian Museum, Villers-Bretonneux
Address: Franco-Australian Museum, 9 Rue Victoria, 80800 Villers-Bretonneux
Telephone or fax: +33 - (0)3 22 96 80 79
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