Former Moree Boomerangs player Joe Flick is heading back to France for Anzac Day this year, after receiving a very special invite from the Prime Minister.
Mr Flick has been invited by the Hon Darren Chester MP Minister for Veteran Affairs on behalf of the Prime Minister of Australia the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP to attend the official opening of the Sir John Monash Centre in Villers-Bretonneux, France on April 24 and to also attend the Anzac Day Dawn Service at the Australian National Memorial commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Villers-Bretonneux.
“I have been to three Armistice/Remembrance Day services in Villers-Bretonneux in 2014, 2015 and 2016 as a guest of the mayor, Patrick Simon,” Mr Flick said.
“I wanted to go again last year and then again in 2018 as a mark of respect and to honor those who fought for our freedom in World War I and thus completing a centenary of commemorations for 1914, 1915, 1916, 1917 and 1918.
“Unfortunately I couldn’t go last year due to lack of funds.”
This year marks another centenary with the Battle of Villers-Bretonneux taking place on April 24 and 25, 1918, which saw Australian troops push Germany soldiers back to the Hindenburg Line which slowly led to the end of World War I in November 1918.
Over the past three years, Mr Flick has come to meet and become warm friends with another Moree resident, Dawn Amos, who is a daughter of Sir Brian Crowley MM.
Sir Brian Crowley MM served in WWI along with Joe’s grandfather Michael Flick from Collarenebri.
Sir Brian was the manager of Oriel Station about 12kms from Colly and Mr Flick remembers his father telling him of working on the property over the years.
“We all knew of Sir Brian and his love and success with his race horses,” Mr Flick said.
“Dawn has told me of how she and her brother would ride these horses around the property and even into Colly, then race them and ride them back home; a winner of course.”
Mr Flick first met Dawn when he was putting together a booklet for the 2016 Anzac Day Dawn Service at Collarenebri and the pair immediately formed a strong friendship.
“I always wanted to ensure that we recognise all soldiers who come from or have an association with Collarenebri and Sir Brian was a logical choice,” he said.
“I consider Dawn to be a dear friend and a remarkable Australian and someone that the community should be very proud of.”
This ANZAC Day, Mr Flick will be shedding a tear on the Western Front but with joy and hope in his heart, and commemorating the lives of two WWI soldiers, Sir Brian Crowley and Mick Flick.
To research relatives who may have fought in WWI, log onto National Archives of Australia, click on record search, put in their name and dates then press enter. Names should then appear and most WWI soldier’s records are now digitalized and can be viewed instantly.