Pierre Seillier is Feeling Happy
“Who on God’s Green Earth is Pierre Seillier, what’s the big deal about him being happy and what does any of that have to do with the weekly newsletter?” I hear you say. Read on.
ANZAC Day is coming. It will be an unusual ANZAC Day this year. The RSL has cancelled all public events for the first time in our lifetimes. It is all to do with a new microscopic enemy called COVID-19. This is why I would like us all to think of the ANZACs and remember their sacrifice and dedication this year, each time we walk past the Slouch Hat on the Cross or past the Soldier and the Little Girl. Both are focal points for remembering all soldiers who gave their lives for our freedom.
In Ypres, Belgium, they actually have an ANZAC Remembrance Service every Sunday night at 8.00 pm. They have been conducting that service, with armed service personnel present, the last post, wreaths, the full shebang, every week since the end of World War I (interrupted only by World War II). Nearby, in France, is the little town of Fromelles. Fromelles is the site of the worst tragedy in Australia’s history – 5533 men dead or injured in less than 24 hours – most of them in their early 20s and fighting in their first and last battle – just like the soldier in the statue; William Polding Ryan. Our Shoulder to Shoulder shelter is a tribute to the Lost Diggers of Fromelles; the foremost memorial to that battle in Australia and it has been placed on the National Register.
Pierre Seillier lives near the town of Fromelles. Pierre has a life project. He wants to honour all of those brave Aussie troops who travelled 17,000 kilometres across the oceans to a place far away, just to fight to save the lives of his grandma and her children and friends. He makes up a card for each soldier. He finds out their name, rank, history and how they died and he prints it so that the memory of the soldier is preserved. There is a statue near the town of Fromelles. Check it out on the link provided or Google Cobbers/Statue (https://www.alamy.com/stock-photo/cobbers-statue-france.html). It tells the story of one of the brave soldiers, Simon Fraser, who went into no-man’s-land between the Australian and German trenches and collected the dying soldiers who were calling out for help. Simon was shot and killed in one of his rescue attempts.
The Primary School in Fromelles France has a curious name. One would expect it to be called Fromelles Primary School, just like happens here in Wilton or Tahmoor. It is not named after the town. It is named after a statue instead, a statue that moves many visitors to tears every year. It is called “Cobbers Primary School”. Pierre is often a guest there. He shows the kids the cards of the soldiers that he has made. The kids like the cards. They like hearing the stories of the brave Aussie soldiers who travelled so far to fight for their freedom too. The school decided that the kids would each adopt a soldier and find out about them and their family. They decided that every week they would visit “their soldier” and put flowers on his grave. Some say a prayer for him and his family. My family has two long lost relatives in that graveyard; William Polding Ryan and Alfred Tuck. I know that the little girl who looks after Alfred Tuck’s grave is called Celeste. I did not know her name or even that she was visiting the grave until I found out, in halting English, that Pierre Seillier is Feeling Happy (read page 2 to see why).
The Cobbers Primary School also helped out a Victorian Primary School recently when they heard about the bushfires and the damage to that school. They are determined not to forget. There is a Channel 7 news item available to watch below. It is about the Cobbers Primary School. One little girl in the story is named Celeste. She is wearing a Koala back pack, sent from Australia. It was sent by my Aunty Laurel, aged 84. She sent it because Celeste, a little 6 year old we have never met, visits Alfred Tuck’s grave, our relative, every week and says a prayer for him and for us.
Channel 7 news: https://www.facebook.com/100006511971433/posts/2829987740561597/?d=n
ANZAC Day is cancelled this year, but their memory will never fade; even if ever here; then never there.
Lest we forget.