Sacrifices honoured on site of crucial Anzac victory
THIS year will be the first time Robert Hobbs' father won't march with his medals on Anzac Day after he returned home from serving in the Australian Army during the Vietnam War.
That's because Robert himself will be wearing them proudly on his chest at the dawn ceremony at the Australian National Memorial just north of the French village of Villers-Bretonneux.
His shirt will also be adorned with the military medals given to his grandfather, who served for several years in the Royal Australian Air Force during the 1940s.
Although not as widely known as the Gallipoli campaign, 2018 marks the centenary of the Villers-Bretonneux battle which became a crucial turning point for Allied forces in the final year of World War I.
Throughout the month of April in 1918, Australian units assisted British troops in defending Villers-Bretonneux from German forces.
On the morning of the 24th, the Germans broke through Allied defences and captured the town, with their new position putting their artillery in range of the key city of Amiens.
But that same night, two Australian brigades joined three British battalions in a successful counter-attack under the cover of nightfall to reclaim the village and effectively halt the German offensive.
They tasted victory on April 25 but close to 2400 Australians were killed in the attack.
Mr Hobbs will travel with his close friend Barry Rowlands from Western Australia, who will also take with him medals from family members who served in the military.
Before the Anzac Day service, they will take part in a 10-day tour of the battlefields and landmarks across the Western Front.
"I'm not moved quite easily, not that I'm not a soft person, but this is proving to be quite an emotional trip," Mr Hobbs said.
"This will be the first time (my father) will be marching without his medals because he wants me to wear them over there.
"He's sacrificing wearing these this year so I can represent him and my grandfather over there as a symbolic gesture.
"It means a lot to me to wear them."
Mr Hobbs believes the trip is an opportunity to reflect on the horrors of war and the sacrifices that come along with it, which always take a heavy toll on everyday families.
"It's the ultimate sacrifice, there's no coming back from that. I just want (people) to sit and really reflect on how war is a horrible, horrible thing and we should all try and solve our problems without violence," he said.
"There's an invisible and an unseen energy that connects us all around the world on Anzac Day.
"This one will be firm and strong in France this year."