The Western Front: 100 Years On


Bianca Blades

Bianca is a lover of the written word and travelling the world. When she's not catching high-speed trains and getting lost in art museums, she enjoys exploring new forms of storytelling.

30th October 2018

The War To End All Wars

Amid the destruction and immense loss of life, red field poppies were one of the few wild flowers that grew on the grounds of war. In Flanders Fields, a 1915 poem written by Canadian doctor Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae, immortalised the poppy as a symbol of the lives lost to war.

One hundred years after the armistice of WWI, Back-Roads Touring is paying tribute to the fallen. On November 11 2018, Battlefields Tour Leader Steve Western will visit the Western Front with a small group of guests and stand together to honour those who lost their lives in their line of duty.

Rememberance Day 2018 with Steve Western

We spoke to Tour Leader Steve as he prepares to guide the Battlefields trip to the Western Front on Remembrance Day 2018.

Back-Roads: Your group will visit Villers-Bretonneux on November 11 2018. Can you share the significance of this place with us?

Steve: The Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux is the scene of the historic victory by the Australians on 25 April 1918 on the third anniversary of their landings on the beaches at Gallipoli. It’s an extremely moving place for all Australians to visit.

There were many Anzacs (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) who landed at Gallipoli and who were also at Villers-Bretonneux - where some lost their lives. It was symbolic that they were going into battle on the same date as the Gallipoli beach landings.

Before the ceremony I will remind the group to think of those in our families who fought, who survived and who died. The land on the Western Front is etched with all our DNA.

A Tour Leader's Perspective

BR: What inspired you to become a Back-Roads Battlefields Tour Leader?

SW: After visiting the battlefields for a number of years, learning so much, taking in so much information, building a great wealth of knowledge of the geography of the landscape, I thought it was about time to put something back. Pass on my knowledge and experiences to others.

Previously, I came from an engineering background, and you never know how you are going to adapt to something completely different. But the knowledge and the desire to pass this knowledge on, and the fact that the battlefields is my passion, was enough to give me confidence to help others discover the history of the battlefields.

Once you become a Battlefields Tour Leader you soon realise it’s more than just showing people what happened. It is the geography of the landscape and in some cases, sadly, showing them where family members lost their lives. Travelling in small groups, the tour is so much more personal which makes the whole experience far more rewarding for everyone.