Beyond Outrageous: French Wind Industry Plans Destruction of Sacred Battlefield Graves

The efforts by wind power outfits to desecrate the battlefield graves of thousands who died in France are nothing short of outrageous.

Quite rightly, historians and the relatives and descendants of those who died fighting to protect French lives and liberty are furious at French wind power outfits determined to literally rip up battlefields and the final resting places for thousands of men who made the supreme sacrifice. This time the target is Australia’s most sacred ground: Villers-Bretonneux.

France is up in arms over a proposed wind farm near a WWI memorial
The Washington Newsday
George Mackie
3 September 2021

France is up in arms over a proposed wind farm near a WWI memorial.

Opponents of a wind farm proposed near a battlefield in France where hundreds of Australian soldiers died during World War I are pressing the government to scrap the project, calling it an insult to the dead’s memory.

Politicians and activists have spent years fighting plans for wind turbines near World War I killing fields in northern France, where tens of thousands of Australians were killed or wounded.

In 2017, Australian officials expressed relief as the French state electrical provider Engie cancelled a wind farm project in Bullecourt, which had been the location of two particularly fatal battles for Australians.

The business claimed at the time that the harsh reaction, including that of the French government, had highlighted the site’s “sacredness.”

In the same year, French authorities rejected proposals for a wind farm near Australia’s national war memorial in Villers-Bretonneux, near President Emmanuel Macron’s hometown of Amiens, claiming it would be an eyesore.

However, in March of this year, an appeals court in Douai overruled that ruling, allowing wind energy company Les Vents de Picardie to proceed with the farm, which is located about five kilometers from the memorial.

Local lawmakers have turned the matter into a cause celebre, putting pressure on Macron to take the case to France’s highest courts.

In a telephone interview with AFP, Christophe Coulon, vice-president of the Hauts-de-France region, said: “We cannot accept that the required transition to green energy takes precedence over the memory and respect for the dead.”

“It’s a moral issue,” Coulon said at a press conference at the memorial site on Thursday with two other prominent local lawmakers.

The administration, on the other hand, has thus far refused to appeal the ruling.

Last month, the office of Environment Minister Barbara Pompili told AFP that it was not opposed to wind turbines being visible from memorial sites and that it would not take the case to higher courts.

Villers-Bretonneux was the location of one of Australia’s greatest World War I successes, when Australian troops besieged and retook the village from German forces, with 1,200 people dying in the process.

Every year, a small Anzac Day ceremony is staged at the location, which is one of many Australian tourists’ first stops in France.

The memorial, which is located close to a military cemetery, features a tower encircled by walls and panels inscribed with the names of the 10,732 soldiers who died in the war. Brief News from Washington Newsday.
The Washington Newsday

The Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux: dedicated to the memory of the 11,000 AIF men who fell in France and who have no known grave.

When the guns fell silent all across the Western Front on 11 November 1918, thoughts naturally turned to the 10 million combatants who had perished in what was meant to be the war to end all wars.

Of those who were killed in action, countless thousands remain buried where they fought and fell over a century ago.

STT’s grandfathers served with the AIF in Belgium and France, and were there when the Armistice took effect. One of them, who had won a Military Medal for conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty, described how every house and vehicle flew Allied flags and how the French went wild with delight, in Paris and all across France that day.

The killing and bloodshed had stopped; battered, broken and bruised these Australian boys were going home. But tens of thousands of those who left Australia’s sunny shores would never see their homeland again.

Consider a country, remote from the rest of the world, barely a “Nation”, with a little over 4 million people, largely clinging to the south-eastern cities and coasts of its wide brown land, that saw some 420,000 men, from all over it, and from all walks of life – farmers, bankers, lawyers, doctors, teachers, Aboriginal stockmen, and everything in between – enlist for service in the First World War; representing 38.7 per cent of the male population aged between 18 and 44. The whole country missed them all at the time; and far too many of them were missed forever after.

Of that number, some 330,000 joined the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) and saw action overseas: at Gallipoli, in the Middle East, Belgium and France.

In France, the AIF often saw the thickest of the fighting; took the most ground, artillery and prisoners; and suffered more than their fair share of casualties: by 1918, Lieut.-General Sir John Monash had honed his skills as a commander, and those of his troops, to be without equal.

Of the more than 295,000 members of the AIF who served in France and Belgium – at places like Fromelles, the Somme, Bullecourt, Messines, Passchendaele and Villers-Bretonneux – over 46,000 lost their lives, and 132,000 were wounded. Of those who were killed in action, some 11,000 have no known grave.

For Australians, that ground is our most hallowed. The contribution made by these men was Second to None: in valour, life and limb.

In the fearless recapture of towns like Villers-Bretonneux – an action involving a counter-attack at night, without artillery support – described by those that witnessed it as “the Most Brilliant Feat of Arms in the War” – the AIF earned the enduring respect of an embattled French people who, as the sign above the playground in their school declares, will never forget what was done by so many fine young men, so far from home.

That battle was fought on 25 April ie Anzac Day – a fact not lost on the AIF men who lined up in the dark that night outside the village which had been captured and all but destroyed by the Germans. The scene is described poignantly in Ross McMullin’s Pompey Elliott (Scribe 2008). Pompey Elliot was a bullish but brilliant Brigade commander, whose exuberant character instilled endless drive and valour in his men:

It was a complicated manoeuvre, especially in the dark, but Pompey’s men hurried forward to make up for lost time. They were ‘tugging and straining at the leash’, Scanlan noted. Keeping direction in the misty blackness was relatively straightforward, particularly for the 59th companies on the right, thanks to the blazing buildings in Villers-Brettoneux which had been set alight by ancillary shellfire. Silent and resolute, Pompey Elliott’s soldiers proceeded up the slope, taut with anticipation, excitement, and dread. Who would be the unlucky ones this time? Their splendid morale and determination were reinforced by the realisation that it was the third anniversary of the original Anzac Day, and they had an opportunity to commemorate it with a special exploit. The sporadic shellfire and obstructive wire they encountered on their way forward did not deter them. They pressed on until they reached the first objective, where there was a brief pause while the leaders checked positioning and direction. …

German flares went up; one landed near moving Australians and kept burning. They stopped still as one – a tribute to their training and discipline – but a machine-gun just ahead opened up erratically. In response Young gave, ‘in a calm, easy voice’ (according to a nearby sergeant), the order to charge.

With all the pent-up nervous energy that had accumulated during this long, suspense-filled day unleashed at last, Pompey’s men sprang forward with a wild, terrifying yell. ‘That ended any further attempt at checking direction’, observed Scanlan, who described the raw spontaneous roar by his men as ‘sufficient to make the enemy’s blood run cold’. The whole line responded, the intimidating cry being taken up by the 57th men along with the 59th and the 60th to the north. They all surged forward with an exhilarating, irresistible momentum. There was a desperate hail of machine-gun and rifle fire from the Germans, but the roar alarmed them, and their shooting was generally inaccurate. Most of them were caught by surprise and overwhelmed.

An English officer, who witnessed the work done by the Australians, Neville Lyton wrote:

the importance of Villers-Brettoneux cannot be over-estimated…. The Australians made a counter-attack at night which was completely successful … one of the most outstanding manoeuvres of the war. … the battlefield discipline of the Australians must be absolutely perfect, no matter what their billet discipline may be… Even if the Australians had achieved nothing else during this war but the recapture of Villers-Brettoneux, they would have won the right to be considered among the greatest fighting races of the world.

Little wonder that Australians hold sacred what was done for Villers-Brettoneux and little wonder that its people hold Australians in such high esteem a Century on. And rightly so.

Not only did Australian Diggers save many a French Town and Village, as they waited for the scarce shipping needed to bring them home after the Armistice on 11 November 1918, many remained in France and helped to rebuild their schools; and, on their return, rallied and raised funds back home to help with that fine and noble task.

The deep ancestral connection between many Australians and those who fought to save the French, and who endured indescribable suffering in doing so, brings with it a mixture of pride in the sacrifices made, and a sense of collective grief for the tragic loss of so many promising young lives; lives of precisely the kind needed to fulfill the hopes of a young Nation.

Nothing the wind industry does shocks or surprises STT. These people know no bounds, moral decency or shame. This latest outrage is just another example of their callous disregard for their human victims; whether trying to live peaceful prosperous lives; or, having made the supreme sacrifice, to rest in peace. Australians will never forget, nor will they ever forgive the French wind industry for desecrating the battlefield graves of their ancestors and the legacy of those who paid the supreme sacrifice, for liberty and peace for all.

About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.

Comments

  1. Peter Pronczak says:

    Please interpret my comment as being somewhat sardonic in humour.
    Although I understand ‘loyalty to crown and country’ it would not exist without enforced compulsory education.

    To 30Jun2021 http://www.caithnesswindfarms.co.uk/AccidentStatistics.htm: of the 220 fatalities: Please note: There are more fatalities than accidents as some accidents have caused multiple fatalities.
    127 were wind industry and direct support workers (divers, construction, maintenance, engineers, etc), or small turbine owner/operators.
    93 were public fatalities, including workers not directly dependent on the wind industry (e.g. transport workers, ecologists).
    And 338 accidents regarding human injury are documented.
    It is doubtful these figures are all that have have occurred.

    The playing of politics between countries discounts France not being pretold that their submarines would be rejected. It could even be interpreted that this interplay with the dead and living, was a face slapping exercise. Pythonesque.

    As it is claimed some 12 million in AU are intellectually sub standard, it says a lot about the education and political system.
    Want a preference with that?

  2. John Rutherford says:

    Nothing is sacred to the French. Normal interments in France are only for a certain period of time. They will stack burials. They are very unemotional about it.

  3. Graeme No.3 says:

    I expect Macron will ‘spit the dummy’ and approved the desecration.

  4. John Shewchuk says:

    Green energy hits a new low … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aPl2lTXTPQs

  5. Peter Pronczak says:

    Technology likes to kill people. So lets have fun & get stuck in; since the first swords became strong with carbon content, how is Glasgow going to to deny it?

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