Former ABC Broadcaster Derek Guille travelled to Europe with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. His most vivid memories are not of the brilliant MSO performances, but of something truly remarkable that happened on a day off.
Until recently, I knew very little about the town of Villers-Bretonneux. All I knew was that there was a village in France whose citizens continued to keep a promise made almost a century ago, to never forget the Australians who saved them in World War I.
A day off in Paris saw members of the MSO Brass Section take a side trip to Villers-Bretonneux for a private commemorative service at the Australian War Memorial – I was invited to come along and recite the Ode of Remembrance. That day is deeply etched in the memories of all of us as a truly remarkable and emotional experience. We were warmly welcomed as friends and discovered the depth of feeling that remains for Australia and Australians.
It has become very clear to me that more Australians should know about this place. We should all know what happened there in World War I and the legacy and strength of friendship that was so evident when the children of Villers-Bretonneux maintained the community’s promise to ‘never forget Australia’.
“The Promise really is a beautiful illustration of the story of friendship and enduring solidarity between France and Australia …… This book brings another dimension to History by linking it to the present day, with the help given to Strathewen Primary School to rebuild the playground after the bush fires. This is a very moving book, brilliantly illustrated and appealing to readers of all generations”.
- The Honorary Consul-General of France in Melbourne, Mrs Myriam Boisbouvier-Wylie.
“If you believe in stories, if you believe in Australian stories, if you believe in stories returning to the place from which they come in a spirit of humility and respect, if you believe in stories told in an inventive and highly effective way that will appeal to adults and children alike, “The Promise – The Town That Never Forgets: N’oublions jamais l’Australie” is a story for you”.
- Martin Flanagan, Journalist and Author of ‘The Game in Time of War’, ‘The Line’ and ‘The Fight’.
“A heart-warming tale for children, tracing the special bond forged nearly a century ago between the French village of Villers-Bretonneux and Australia……. A gentle introduction to the legacy of one of Australia’s most famous battlefields”.
- Les Carlyon, Journalist and Author of ‘Gallipoli’ and ‘The Great War’.