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More than a hundred years ago, in the fields of the Somme, a whole generation of young men who came from the other side of the world fought and fell   

Among them, out of a population of five million souls, 416,000 young Australians answered the call of duty under the banner of the Commonwealth and 295,000 served bravely on the Western Front in the mud and poppies of northern France where they paid a heavy price.   

This article is written by Francois Berthout, who lives in Amiens, France.

In Pozieres, Amiens, Villers-Bretonneux, the Mouquet Farm, nearly 50,000 of them fell under the bullets and shells and now rest in peace in the serene and silent cemeteries of the Somme but more than 11,000 Diggers have no known graves and are patiently waiting to be found on these sacred grounds on which they shed their blood. 

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Gone but never forgotten, we will always remember these young men known to god on the solemn walls of Villers-Bretonneux on which their names are engraved and on which their stories are told which I will always perpetuate with respect and love so that their memory, just like the poppies of the Somme never fades.

Today, it is with the utmost respect and the deepest gratitude that I would like to honor the memory of one of these young Diggers, one of my boys of the Somme who gave his today for our tomorrow.I would like to pay a very respectful tribute to Private number 2866 Walter George Brooks who fought in the 58th Australian Infantry Battalion, 15th Brigade, 5th Australian Infantry Division, and who was killed in action 105 years ago, on May 12, 1917 at the age of 20 in Pas-De-Calais but whose name is remembered with honor in the Somme. 
 
Walter George Brooks was born in 1897 in Drummoyne, New South Wales, and was the son of Robert and Elizabeth Brooks, of "Marndo", Govett's Leap Road, Blackheath, New South Wales. He was educated at Public School, Sydney, New South Wales, then after graduation, served for three years in the Senior Cadets then for 18 months in the 29th Infantry Battalion of the Citizen Military Forces and worked as a store hand.  
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Walter enlisted on September 8, 1916 in Sydney, New South Wales, in the 58th Australian Infantry Battalion, 7th Reinforcement, and after a short training period of one month, embarked with his unit from Sydney, on board HMAT A19 Afric on November 3, 1916 and sailed for England.
 
On January 9, 1917, Walter arrived in England and was disembarked in Plymouth and joined the 15th Training Battalion in Hurdcott to complete his training then two months later, on March 20, he embarked from Folkestone and proceeded overseas for France.
 
On March 21, 1917, after a short trip on the English Channel, Walter arrived in France and was disembarked at Etaples where he joined the 5th Australian Divisional Base Depot then marched out to unit on March 23 and was taken on strength in the 58th Australian Infantry Battalion on March 26 in Morchies, Pas-De-Calais and the same day, in support on the right of the 2nd Australian Division, launched a successful attack on the village of Lagnicourt and repelled several German counterattacks between March 26 and 27 to try to reconquer the village which was pulverized by the German artillery then on March 28, the 58th Battalion was relieved by the 30th Australian Infantry Battalion and marched for Villers-Au-Flos where the men "enjoyed a well earned rest" until April 5. 
 
 
On April 6, 1917, Walter and the 58th Australian Infantry Battalion moved to a camp at Beaulencourt, Pas-De-Calais, where the men were employed in improving the camp and dug several intermediate lines in the vicinity of the village. On April 15, word was received that the Germans stood ready to attack Lagnicourt again with 23 battalions and the 58th Battalion was sent to stop them. At first the German attack was successful and captured several batteries of the 1st Australian Artillery Division but at 7:00pm, after a vigorous counterattack led by four Australian battalions, Lagnicourt was recaptured and the Germans withdrew.  
 
However, Walter did not take part in the attack on Lagnicourt because he fell ill on April 11 and was admitted to the 15th Australian Field Ambulance suffering from gastritis and was transferred the same day to the 5th Divisional Rest Station. A week later, on April 17, he was admitted to the 56th Casualty Clearing Station, was discharged from duty on April 23 and joined his unit the next day in the Somme, at Mametz where the 58th Battalion bivouacked and followed a training period until May 7. 
 
On May 8, 1917, the 58th Battalion left Mametz and marched for Beugny-Vaulx, Pas-De-Calais via Albert and Bapaume and on May 10, joined the front line at Bullecourt and the Hindenburg line on which the Germans were falling back and shelling by the Australian artillery but two days later, on May 12, the 58th Battalion suffered a terrible bombardment from the German artillery which was very active all day, the lines of communication were cut and the German infantry opened fire at through no man's land with intense machine gun fire and Walter was declared "wounded and missing" but a commission of inquiry declared on October 10, 1917 that he was killed in action during the day of May 12, 1917, he was 20 years old. 
 
Sadly, the body of Walter George Brooks was never found and his name is now remembered and honored with respect on the walls of the Australian National Memorial in Villers-Bretonneux, Somme, alongside the names of 11,000 Australian soldiers who fought and fell in the north of France and which have no known graves. 
 
Walter, brave and determined, it was in the prime of your life that you answered the call of duty under the colors of Australia to do your bit on the battlefields of northern France alongside your comrades and brothers in arms. You all served with pride and faith in the trenches of the great war, in the mud and the poppies in which they gave their today and shed their blood side by side under the fire of machine guns and shells that rained down death and destruction and which forever changed the face of the world. In fury and chaos, the world slowly sank into the madness which seized the hearts and souls of thousands of young boys who left their homes with the innocence and the ardor of their youth, with the deep desire to fight and to do what was right in the name of peace and freedom.  
 
After a last embrace in the arms of their loved ones, they embarked thinking that they would live the greatest adventure of their young lives but far from home, in the fields of the Somme and Bullecourt, they found death and the apocalypse which transformed valleys and fields once silent and peaceful into fields of death, into slaughterhouses on which fell so many of heroes who paid the price for each step forward under rains of blood and steel. 
 
They saw their friends, their brothers being pulverized under shrapnel, they saw them suffocated under the greenish toxic gases, they saw them charged with bravery, bayonets forward to face the enemy in terrible hand-to-hand combat, in the clash of steel against flesh, in the screams and the violence of the attacks which ended in unimaginable bloodbath. It was the most beautiful spirit of courage and fraternity towards their destinies and never a single one of them retreated. They showed the determination and the bravery of the strong and young Australian nation which fought tirelessly in the blood red hills of Gallipoli where the ANZAC spirit was born.  
 
 
They fought in the clay of Passchendaele where men and horses were drowned, they fought at Fromelles then through the poppies of Pozieres and Mouquet Farm, sacred grounds today;  serene but where thousands of them rest in peace. 
 
They advanced towards Bullecourt where thousands of them were ruthlessly mowed down. 
Brave among the bravest, they fought like lions for the people of France who adopted these young men as their sons and who loved them as their children and between our two nations an undying friendship was born then in 1918, in Villers-Bretonneux. Then in Amiens, they definitely stopped the German army and saved our country; they helped us to recover after four long years of an interminable war but the price was high because they left behind thousands of their friends and brothers who found in France. 
 
The peace of their final resting places.
More than a hundred years have passed and the fields of war are silent today but the memory of these young boys will never fade and for them I would always give my today, I would give them my life and my devotion to bring them back to life with in my heart a deep admiration, an unfailing love that I would give to them until the end of my life so that they are never forgotten, so that they live forever. 
 
Thank you so much Walter, for all you have done for us who will be eternally grateful to you.  
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At the going down of the sun and in the morning,we will remember him,we will remember them.?  
 
Long live Australia.?  
 
Francois lives in Amiens, France. You can see her incredible work on facebook. https://www.facebook.com/francois.berthout.94
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