Fromelles shrine to keep history alive
The new museum to commemorate the once-overlooked World War I Battle of Fromelles will be a shrine-like, octagonal concrete building dug into a small hill on the fringe of the northern French village.
To be built not far from where almost 2000 Australians were killed in an overnight battle in July 1916, the winning design by Paris-New York firm Serero Architects will be finished in time for the 2014 centenary of World War I.
The plans reveal the village's distinctive church - destroyed in the Great War and rebuilt in the 1920s - will be visible through an easterly window which overlooks a grassed area landscaped to resemble a trench.
Another window will overlook the cemetery to the east, where 250 Australian and British soldiers were reburied last year after being exhumed from mass graves.
Lambis Englezos, the amateur historian whose research led to the discovery of the mass graves more than 90 years after the Germans buried the soldiers, said it was important for the world to remember what many Fromelles locals have never forgotten.
''The villagers over many years have demonstrated their empathy and compassion for the history and the sacrifice made on their ground,'' he said. ''Now more people will have a place to go to make their pilgrimage and to learn more about Fromelles.''
The new museum will replace the existing museum, housed in the attic of the village's town hall. Much of what will be on display will come from more than 3500 artefacts collected over the decades for the original museum. The single-storey museum is part of the Western Front remembrance trail, to which the Australian Government is contributing $10 million, designed to mark the centenary of World War I.
Among the other Western Front projects funded by Australia ahead of 2014 are improvements to a road near the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux, restoration of German trenches at Mont St Quentin and an interpretive facility at Pozieres.
The 1916 Battle of Fromelles marked Australia's introduction to war on the Western Front.