On the night of 24 April 1918 West Australian (51st Battalion) and other Allied Forces launched a counter-attack partly surrounding the village of Villers-Bretonneux and on 25 April the town was recaptured. Australian, British, and French troops restored the original front line by 27 April.
A number of charges against machine-gun posts helped the Australian advance; in particular, West Australian Lieutenant Clifford Sadlier of the 51st Battalion, was awarded the Victoria Cross, after attacking with hand-grenades. The two brigades swept around Villers-Bretonneux and the Germans retreated, for a while escaping the pocket along a railway cutting. The Australians eventually captured the German positions and pushed the German line back, leaving the German troops in Villers-Bretonneux surrounded. By 25 April, the town had been recaptured and handed back to the villagers. The battle was a great success for the Australian troops, who had defeated the German attempt to capture Amiens and recaptured Villers-Bretonneux while outnumbered; the village remained in Allied hands to the end of the war. In the words of one British general, the Australians ‘saved France’.
The Villers-Bretonneux Cross, made by men of the 51st Battalion, now housed in the Cathedral’s Soldiers’ Chapel, will be on display.
Music for the service is sung by members of the Cathedral Consort.