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Prince Charles for France to mark pivotal WWI battle 100 years on

By Tony Jones

The Prince of Wales will visit France later this month to attend commemorations marking the 100th anniversary of the First World War battle of Villers-Bretonneux.

Australians fought alongside British troops in the decisive military encounter.

Charles will travel to the Australian National Memorial, near the French town of Villers-Bretonneux, to honour those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the 1918 battle.

The commemorations will be held on Anzac (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) Day - April 25 - which also marks the start of the First World War Gallipoli landings, and is a national day of remembrance Down Under.

Charles will travel on behalf of the Queen and will be joined at the event by Australia Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his French counterpart Edouard Philippe.

On April 24, 1918, the Australian 13th and 15th Brigades took part in a counter-offensive to recapture Villers-Bretonneux from German forces during a night attack along with three British battalions.

The military engagement has been described as a crucial turning point in the war as its success effectively put an end to the Germans' 1918 Spring Offensive.

Around 8,000 guests are expected to attend the commemorations, including those whose family members fought and died in the battle.

The event will feature a Spirit of Place ceremony and a dawn service will follow, during which Charles will give a reading and lay the first wreath of the official wreath-laying ceremony.

Later at an official breakfast Charles will meet representatives from 17 nations who fought on the Western Front. He will also visit the newly-opened Sir John Monash Centre, which tells the story of Australia's involvement in the Western Front during the First World War.

The fighting around Villers-Bretonneux in April resulted in over 9,500 allied casualties.

Belfast Telegraph

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