Anzac trip to France opens students’ eyes

Sacred Heart College students with a French flag memento of their exchange trip. Picture: Joe Mastroianni

Nine students from Kyneton’s Sacred Heart College say an exchange trip to France that included a visit to the Somme has changed the way they look at life.

Zach Craig, 15, was part of the group that spent almost three weeks last month taking classes at Lycée Notre-Dame du Roc and touring historic sites such as Pozières, where 6700 Australians died during World War I.

He said a cold, wet day spent looking at the thousands of grave stones, laid out in long lines at Villers-Bretonneux, was incredibly sobering.

‘‘We were all rugged up and didn’t have anyone shooting at us … it was hard enough as it was,’’ Zach said.

‘‘You’re used to hearing and learning about history, but this gave us a whole new appreciation.’’

Students were particularly taken by a banner in a school playground declaring: ‘‘We will always remember Australia’’.

‘‘It really opened our eyes to how important the efforts of our soldiers had been,’’ Zach said.