Australian visitors to Belgium seeking a military history experience are set to benefit from a new interpretive centre that opened in Ploegsteert, Belgium on 9 November.
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Senator the Hon. Michael Ronaldson, said the interpretive centre, Plugstreet 14-18 experience, depicts the experiences of soldiers and civilians in the Ploegsteert area during the First World War.
“The centre’s cutting-edge digital displays tell the story of Australia’s first large-scale action in Belgium, the June 1917 Battle of Messines,” Minister Ronaldson said.
“The Third and Fourth Australian Divisions, alongside the New Zealand Division and supported by British troops, played a key role in the week-long battle, the success of which prepared the way for the opening of the Third Battle of Ypres six weeks later.
“Australian and British soldiers alike commonly referred to Ploegsteert as ‘Plugstreet’, a title that still resonates today and is reflected in the centre’s name.”
Australia suffered some 6,800 casualties, killed and wounded in the Battle, 78 of whom lie in the nearby Toronto Avenue Cemetery, the only all-Australian cemetery in Belgium, and one of only two all-Australian cemeteries on the entire Western Front.
The centre sits within Ploegsteert Wood, adjacent to the Ploegsteert Memorial to the Missing and marks the completion of the final part of the Australian Remembrance Trail along the Western Front site in Belgium.
The Australian Remembrance Trail along the Western Front is a commemorative trail highlighting key sites along the Western Front that allows visitors to interpret the Australian experience of war. An overview of Australian Remembrance Trail sites is available here.