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By the time of the Armistice, Villers-Bretonneux – once a lively and flourishing French town – had been largely destroyed, and half its population had fled or died. From March to August 1918, Villers-Bretonneux formed part of an active front line, at which Australian troops were heavily involved. As a result, it holds a significant place in Australian history. Villers-Bretonneux has since become an open-air memorial to Australia’s participation in the First World War. Successive Australian governments have valourised the Australian engagement, contributing to an evolving Anzac narrative that has become entrenched in Australia’s national identity. Our Corner of the Somme provides an eye-opening analysis of the memorialisation of Australia’s role on the Western Front and the Anzac mythology that so heavily contributes to Australians’ understanding of themselves. In this rigorous and richly detailed study, Romain Fathi challenges accepted historiography by examining the assembly, projection and performance of Australia’s national identity in northern France.
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