National Servicemen from the Pine Shire have pioneered two successful exchanges of wreaths between local schools and schools in Belgium and France.


The wreaths, made from materials supplied by the Pine Rivers Branch of the National Servicemen’s Association of Australia, are laid on Anzac Day on memorials at the Strathpine West and Eatons Hills schools.

They then are flown to France and laid on the graves of 22 Australian Diggers who died on the Western Front and are buried at Poperinge in Belgium and Senlis-le-Sec on the Somme in France.

Both towns were the scene of fierce fighting throughout World War One.

The children of Poperinge remember the Diggers

At Poperinge, near Ypres, 11 members of the 11 th Australian Machine Coy who were all killed on the one day in 1917 are buried in the town war cemetery.

Another 11 Diggers who were killed in April 1918 in the fighting around Albert are buried at Senlis-le-Sec.


Children from the two towns lay the Australian wreaths on 11 November, Remembrance Day.

At Eatons Hill, a contingent from the French Veterans Association of Australia marched the French flag in alongside the Australian, New Zealand and National Service flags.

The Nashos provided the materials for the wreaths. They came about when David Hopkins, who also is a member of Toc H, found the grave of his great uncle, Private Walter Hopkins at Poperinge. Toc H’s headquarters, Talbot House, was founded in the town to provide rest and relaxation facilities for the thousands of Allied servicemen moving to and from the front. They included many Australians.


The President of Pine Rivers Branch, Mr.Ron Cuthbert, (left, at the School memorial ) said that the wreath exchanges helped retain and strengthen the close ties between Australia, France and Belgium.

France lost 10,000 soldiers killed on Gallipoli and had the heaviest losses on the Allied side on the Western Front. A wreath from France will be laid at Eatons Hill on Remembrance Day. French and Australian National Servicemen guard the flags.

Australian servicemen and women who have served in Afghanistan and Iraq were present at the Eatons Hill service, together with their military vehicles.

The Nashos have dedicated a plaque at the school bearing the names of the 11 Australians killed in and around Albert. They were some of the hundreds of thousands of British, French, Australian, New Zealand and other Allied troops together with a similar number of Germans who died to take and re-take a few square kilometres of trenches and shell holes.

It was a pivotal battle and the War ended six months later.

He said that he would like to see the wreath exchanges taken up by other schools in Queensland and around Australia. .

Mr.Cuthbert paid tribute to Mrs.Jan Dann and Mr.Clyde Campbell, Principals of Strathpine West and Eatons Hill schools and their teachers and children for the way they had conducted the Anzac Day services. He said any National Servicemen or any school that wished to become involved in the wreath exchange program could contact him 3882 2947 or the Secretary, Noel Midson, on 3205 1265.

Mr.Sultan, a French Marine (saluting, with our President, Colin Bell), and most of his members were National Servicemen in the French Armed Services.