The "Two Blues" Special Edition.
All Saints' Day in Picquigny
Friday, 1st November, All Saints' Day, was celebrated throughout France with special ferver and solemnity. The day always a special day in the Church Calendar - has also been chosen by France as a Manifestation Day on which each year, the graves of her heroes and those of her allies, are to be visited and honoured, not only by the citizens of France, but [also] especially by the children. We were specially honored by being present on such an occasion this year, at the moment of the collapse of Turkey and Austria and continued German defeats on the Western Front. Picardy is always beautiful in Autumn, but today's bright sunshine made one feel more than ever that great love our Allies have for it.
The 16th Battalion with its band headed the procession from the Picquigny Square to the Military Cemetery. Our Westralian brothers were followed by practically all the children of the village, accompanied by their teachers, and loaded with bunches and garlands of flowers - roses of Picardy, dahlias and chrysanthemums. The venerable doyen, citizens - men and women - and the youths next to be called up, with their tricolor were near the children. Everyone wearing mourning showed how general had been France's sufferings. The "Two Blues" with our band came next.
At the cemetery our C.O. Major T. Wells M.C. represented the Brigadier.
Here the scene and ceremony were most impressive. The two battalions and civilians were massed around the small cemetery, the children inside.
Stirring speeches by the school master and doyen were followed by a never-to-be-forgotten scene, - the procession of the children with their flowers in and out along the lines of graves. Little mites barely able to toddle, ordinary school children and senior pupils - all proudly and reverently knelt and deposited their floral tokens. Many a man felt a tear welling and a lump rising, and yet it was all so simple. We know that the graves of our own "cobbers" were being honored in a like manner at the same time in many other parts of France and Belgium and that they would be so honored throughout the years to come.
Re-assembling on the Square in front of L'Hotel de Ville, the National Anthems of both nations terminated the celebration.
Address by M. Dangreville, Schoolmaster of Picquigny.-
All Saints' Day is consecrated to the memory of the dead in each family. We could not allow this day to pass without coming to pay respect to those who have so well deserved to be made part of the great French family.
To appreciate the gigantic work accomplished by the heroes who here sleep their last sleep, to estimate the debt of gratitude we owe them, let us look back.
In March, 1918, the German armies, by a crushing offensive, threw back the allied army across our department, right to Villers-Bretonneux. There, only hastily collected forces forbade them a further advance.
Well then, the heroes sleeping here and in the parish cemetery, are those who, by heavy sacrifice, stayed the invader.
We saw them, these soldiers, during the long days, arriving here from the battle fields covered with mud and blood, bruised, their eyes still filled with the vision of the horrible hell they had just left. Not a plaint came from their lips, stoics they had been in the battle, stoics they [remained] feeling death embracing them.