Fallen, not forgotten

Kalamunda RSL president Wayne Loughrey with Didier Pontzeele. Picture: Bruce Hunt www.communitypix.com.au d408219
Kalamunda RSL president Wayne Loughrey with Didier Pontzeele. Picture: Bruce Hunt www.communitypix.com.au d408219

At the Kalamunda RSL, he gave an informative speech about his work in exhuming the remains of unidentified WWI servicemen from the Western Front. Many of these men were Australian. However, Mr Pontzeele does not distinguish between nationalities.

He calls all the fallen soldiers ‘his boys’.

Senator Sterle met Mr Pontzeele when he travelled through the Western Front with a class from Darling Range College last year. Mr Pontzeele visited the Kalamunda RSL to meet with members and to help support the senator’s planned Western Front tour for the centenary.

During his inaugural Anzac Remembrance Tour, Senator Sterle said the students and teachers from the college had the good fortune of Mr Pontzeele acting as their guide in Belgium, including his own town of Gent.

One of Mr Pontzeele’s roles with the Belgian War Graves Office is to look after the maintenance and upkeep on more than 28,000 headstones that belong to soldiers who lost their lives during both world wars.

‘It’s an honour to have Mr Pontzeele in WA and I am glad that we were able to get him to the Kalamunda RSL, so he could explain what work is being done overseas to continue the legacy of identifying our fallen diggers,’ Senator Sterle said.

‘Year after year the RSL work tirelessly to organise Anzac and Remembrance Day ceremonies for thousands of a new generation to pay their respects to our fallen.

‘Like the boys currently in the RSL, Mr Pontzeele works to make sure that the memory of our boys resting overseas is never forgotten,’ he said.

If you have relatives lost in either of the world wars, without any formal identification, you can contact the Defence National Switchboard in Canberra on 1300 333 362.

DNA matching transfer can now be performed between Australia and Europe with bodies exhumed from graves in France, Belgium and Germany.