Anzac tour leaves Collie Senior High School students with lasting memories

On April 13, 20 students, four parents, one RSL volunteer and five Collie Senior High School staff members embarked on the 2019 Collie Senior High School Anzac Tour.

Whilst this was the beginning of their tour, it was not where their tour had started.

This had occurred back in 2017 when expressions of interest were called for and they had the courage and commitment to put themselves forward as exemplary young people, willing to work hard to aspire to represent their school and community.

With the support of their parents and families, the school and the local community, they set about raising the necessary funds to realise their ambitions.

Through hard work and providing services to the local community, where no job was too small, they achieved their target in March this year.

The tour began in Paris and initially the group were out to see the sights of this most wonderful city. The Eiffel Tower and the district of Montmartre and the Basilica of Sacre-Coeur.

The next day included a visit to the Louvre.

It was also significant as this was the day the Cathedral of Notre Dame burnt down.

The group had been due to visit the cathedral but had spent too much time at a local fire station and made the decision to forego the cathedral.

Shortly after this the firemen the tour had just visited were called out to this eventful fire.

That afternoon the group participated in their first formal ceremony.

This was to honour France's Unknown Soldier at the Arc de Triomphe.

Here the students marched down the Champs Elysees, stopping the traffic at the famous roundabout and laid a bouquet of flowers with other French children, dignitaries and veterans.

They sang the French National Anthem, for which they had practiced for just this occasion.

A trip to the Palace of Versailles the next day was a real eye opener to the students but also significant as this was where the famous Treaty of Versailles was signed that ended the Great War formally and sowed the seeds of the next war.

During their travels of Paris, the group had to traverse this city through the use of the Metro underground railway system which was a great learning experience.

After this the tour proceeded to visit the battlefields of the Western Front.

For the next ten days, the students were immersed in the history of Australian sacrifice in the Somme and Flanders.

They learnt of the courage and bravery of so many; they honoured Collie war dead and those of their ancestors with pride and a solemnity that was heartfelt.

Poems were read, the Ode spoken and the Last Post played.

Their tour taught them about the enormity of the conflict, its sheer tragedy and changed all of them.

It culminated in Anzac Day at Villers-Bretonneux at dawn, where they represented their town with pride. Many services abounded, and the students, despite the length of the day and the emotion it embodied, participated throughout with the utmost respect and dignity.