North Coast Couple Recognised in Federal Parliament

03 Mar 17

Nationals Member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker has used a Parliamentary statement to congratulate local couple Barry and Von Gracey on being awarded the French Legion of Honour for their work commemorating the World War I battle of Pozieres.

Speaking in the Parliament’s Federation Chamber this week, Mr Hartsuyker said:

“Barry and Von Gracie have dedicated themselves to keeping alive the memory of the Australian soldiers who so bravely fought at Pozieres in France.

I have been to Pozieres. Today it is a simple, peaceful French village, but 101 years ago it was the scene of one of the bloodiest battles ever fought by Australian diggers.

…There were more than 23,000 Australian casualties at Pozieres in less than seven weeks—only slightly less than the Gallipoli campaign, which lasted eight months. Of the casualties, 6,848 Australian soldiers were killed.

The fighting around Pozieres Ridge has become part of Australia’s military folklore. Official war historian Charles Bean said Pozieres:

‘… was more densely sown with Australian sacrifice than any other spot on earth.’

Barry and Von Gracey have spent more than a decade working to keep alive the memory of the men who fought at Pozieres. They have done more to build the relationship between Pozieres and Australia than anyone else.

Last year, Barry and Von were awarded the French Legion of Honour by the French government. They are believed to be the first couple to jointly receive the honour since it was introduced by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802. This is an exceptional honour, and I am very proud to be their local member.”

“I recently presented Barry and Von with a Federal Member’s Award to locally recognise their achievements at a small ceremony in my office in Coffs Harbour, and I congratulate them again on being recognised by the French Government for their efforts,” Mr Hartsuyker said.

The full speech is available on House of Representatives Hansard at: http://bit.ly/2mS8Y2b.

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