We have been talking about attending this service for so long it seems, and now we are finally here, and it doesn’t look like it will disappoint.
We find ourselves a spot to park in Corbie, about 4kms from the memorial and try to have rest before we head up around midnight as they are expecting capacity crowds, and we want to get a good seat, so a long wait until the service at 5.30am.
The long walkway towards the tower is lined on both sides with the headstones of soldiers from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, India, South Africa and the United Kingdom, and they were all illuminated especially for the night. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission does an amazing job of managing these cemeteries, they are so well looked after with flowers and well manicured lawns.
The front row was reserved for HRH, Charles The Prince of Wales, Malcolm Turnbull, and the French Prime Minister Edouard Phillipe, it was a shame we didn’t get an invite to that row.
The army band, and from Brisbane the Birralee choir entertained the huge crowd. There was also a projection on the tower of pictures of soldiers and a little story about where they were originally from, and where they died.
The weather was getting colder, and colder and by the time the service started it was freezing and the wind had picked up, but it was beautiful.
A piper played from the tower, the speeches and readings were short and poignant, but the one that bought tears to most eyes was from the French Prime Minister. He spoke with much emotion of the young men so far from home that gave their lives, and that will never be forgotten, so that France could be free.
The walk downhill back to Hermione was cold, and wet as the rain started just as the service was finishing, but it was an event we will never forget.