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Experience Gallipoli for yourslf.
Experience Gallipoli for yourslf.

Top five battlefields to visit

IF THERE is ever an experience to put on your bucket list, a remembrance tour is it.  

See the places our troops fought and sacrificed their lives so we can live the life we do today.   

Both a moving and spectacular experience, paying your respects to the heroes and brave men and women who died right where you are standing, is one of a kind.  

Here are the top five battlefield destinations:    

1. Villers-Bretonneux, France

Sixteen kilometres east of Amiens, the Australian National Memorial in Villers-Bretonneux stands proudly.

The sombre atmosphere that weaves through the cemetary, memorial plaques and treasures from the First World War is enough to move all who visit - it's one slice of our history you must see.

It was here the Germans advanced on Amiens and took the village from exhausted British defenders, and the very next day the First Australian Imperial Force retook the town in a series of house-to-house fights.

The German troops were unnerved in the face of what is described as the wildest charge in the history of the AIF.

The village now has a school with a whole wing devoted to the heroism of the Australians and a sign which says 'do not forget Australia'.   

Battles were March 30 to April 5 and April 24-27, 1918.  

2. Anzac Cove, Turkey

Perhaps the most symbolic battlefield destination for Australian travellers, Anzac Cove will leave you speechless.

People gather every day on the stunning cove of the Gallipoli peninsula in north west Turkey to remember those who fought in the First World War.

After landing at Anzac Cove on April 25, 1915, the beach became the main base for Australian and New Zealand troops.

Smart traveller suggests exercising a high degree of caution in most of west and central Turkey and indicates most of the unrest is on the south east border.  

The Gallipoli Campaign was fought between February 19, 1915 to January 9, 1916.  

Anzac Cove is both stunning and a stark reminder of what our brave soldiers went through.
Anzac Cove is both stunning and a stark reminder of what our brave soldiers went through.

3. Bridge on the River Kwai, Thailand

The Bridge on the River Kwai is perhaps the best-known site on the Thai-Burma railway.

An initiative of the Japanese, it was built in 1942-43 by British prisoners of war and Asian slaves and was designed to transport cargo daily to India to back up their planned attack.

Nearby the bridge is Kanchanaburi War Cemetery and about 7000 POW graves belonging to men who died during the construction of the railway. The bridge was made famous when it featured in multiple movies and books.   

The Bridge on the River Kwai was built in 1942-43.   

4. The Battle of Long Tan, Vietnam

Revisit the site of the Battle of Long Tan, one of the most heroic and intense stories in our war history when a small Australian force was engaged by a vastly larger enemy. On the afternoon of August 18, 1966, 108 Australian and New Zealand soldiers fought for their lives against up to 2500 battle-hardened Viet Cong and North Vietnamese soldiers.

Today, the site is barely marked by a small memorial in the middle of the rubber plantation, down a nondescript dirt road. But the peaceful stillness there and the evidence of other Australians who have made the pilgrimage to pay their respects is unforgettable.

The remains of the Australian base at Nui Dat is a popular destination and isn't far away.   

The Battle of Long Tan was August 18, 1966.  

The memorial at Long Tan. Photo: David Frazer
The memorial at Long Tan. Photo: David Frazer

5. Normandy Landing Beaches, France

Less than two hours from the hustle and bustle of Paris, a sombre stretch of beaches skirt the mainland.

On June 6, 1944 - now known as D-Day - the invasion of Northwest Europe began with the landings on the Normandy beaches.

During the planning, the beaches were codenamed Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword.

Many don't realise the waterline where the allied soldiers came ashore was up to 450 meters of open coverless sand from the bottom of the once fortified cliffs.

Seeing the daunting stretches of menacingly bare and coverless sand stretching out beneath the once fortified seawall and the rows of headstones at several military cemeteries on the Normandy Coast is a solemnly enlightening experience.  

D-Day was June 6, 1944    

International tour coordinator, Sue McPherson
International tour coordinator, Sue McPherson nicky.norman


EXPERT'S PICK: Villers-Bretonneux

Stonestreets International Travel Specialist Sue McPherson says "This was perhaps the most memorable battlefields destination that I've ever travelled to. Learning the story of Australian bravery at Villers-Bretonneux and seeing the way in which the locals paid tribute to their sacrifice instilled me with such pride and admiration."  

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