Australia’s War Memorial Oak: progeny planted in France

Planted to perpetually remind us of the very sombre beginning of WW1 in Europe, progeny of this original, special tree (image on left), now feature in the landscape of the British Military Cemetery in Etaples, France.

“These incredibly significant trees are living reminders of all those who have served, sacrificed and suffered,” says Tim Johnson, Director of TREENET, the non-profit behind the national Avenues of Honour project.

“They especially honour the 464 Australian WW1 diggers buried in the Military Cemetery in Etaples, France.”

The first of fifty (50) of these young, pedigree Oaks, was planted by Her Excellency Ms Gillian Bird, Australia’s Ambassador to France on Saturday the 14th May 2022.

This occasion formed part of a ceremony commemorating the 100th anniversary of the King’s Pilgrimage by King George V to the British Military Cemetery of Etaples on 13th May 1922.  King George’s great granddaughter, Anne, Princess Royal, was in attendance, along with many other dignitaries.
LCA News Story

TREENET was represented at the ceremony, by Mr Spencer Brown, his wife Martine and Rebecca Doyle , Director, Sir John Monash Centre & Counsellor, Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Australian Embassy, Paris, who are France-based supporters of Avenues of Honour and the French-grown War Memorial Oak tree progeny project.

Left image: Spencer, Martine & Rebecca
Spencer & Martine are holding copies of TREENET’s special booklets, distributed to dignitaries and members of school communities.
The booklets (French & English language versions) denote the significance of the War Memorial Oak progeny.

It is a quirk of fate, that Ms Martine Brown’s father, the young Capitaine Robert Algrain, was holding the standard in honour of King George V at Notre-Dâme de Lorette on 12 May 1922, welcoming King George V along his pilgrimage route to Etaples.

The Legacy of Australia’s War Memorial Oak Progeny in France Continues

Screen capture from the Jean Jaures College’s website, France

After the Jean Jaurès college, was also the turn of the Notre Dame de Foy primary school to welcome the 3rd tree of remembrance. A few students from different classes were selected to participate in this action. After a quick speech by Sébastien Baillet, culture assistant, the children, accompanied by the municipal green spaces service, tookpart in planting the tree and watering it. It will take about thirty years for this small shrub to become a large adult tree. In 2050, today’s young students will perhaps explain to their future children that they themselves planted this tree and will pass on the beautiful story that goes with it: “WAR Memorial Oak: The journey of the offspring”.