Australians on the Western Front: Follow in our soldiers’ wake

SNAPPED: AIF 2nd Division soldiers, Vignacourt, 1918. Picture: AWM P10550.140

SNAPPED: AIF 2nd Division soldiers, Vignacourt, 1918. Picture: AWM P10550.140

While resting behind the lines on the Somme, Australian soldiers posed for photographs taken by Louis and Antoinette Thuillier in Vignacourt and toured the underground city of Naours.

Travellers to the Western Front can now follow in the soldiers’ footsteps by visiting a newly-opened museum at the Thuillier farmhouse, walking in the nearby tunnels under Naours and seeing the personal inscriptions left by more than 2000 soldiers on the walls. 

Some of the amazing Thuillier collection, including 800 images of Australian soldiers, is displayed at Vignacourt and the Australian Government contributed $560,000 to preserve the glass plate negative collection, found in an attic in 2010.

HEROIC HISTORY: French archaeologist Gilles Prilaux points to graffiti in the Naours caves made by Nambour farmer Private William Gage who died at Pozières in 1916  Picture: Michael Grealy

HEROIC HISTORY: French archaeologist Gilles Prilaux points to graffiti in the Naours caves made by Nambour farmer Private William Gage who died at Pozières in 1916 Picture: Michael Grealy

French archaeologist Gilles Prilaux says the soldiers’ “graffiti” is particularly poignant for Australians.

A 56-page traveller’s guide to the Australian Remembrance Trail along the Western Front – which includes the new Sir John Monash Centre at Villers-Bretonneux – is available here.