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South-west woman’s battle to protect history goes international  

Credit:  Port Fairy's Maria Cameron's fight to protect soldiers buried on French battlefields during World War I | Jenny McLaren | The Standard | November 17 2017 | www.standard.net.au ~~

Port Fairy’s Maria Cameron has taken the fight to stop a wind farm being built on the final resting place of thousands of Australian Diggers in France to the heart of the battlefields.

An outspoken critic of the project, the military researcher has been in demand by French media, notching up six interviews since arriving on the World War I Bullecourt battlefields this week.

Her visit follows an on-site meeting last Friday by Australia’s Ambassador to France, Brendan Berne, with local dignitaries and battlefields advocates.

“French journalists have been interviewing me wherever I go,” Mrs Cameron said from Bullecourt. “The mayor of Reincourt also came to see me. It has become big news in France.”

Mrs Cameron arrived on the battlefields in the eye of a media storm over French company Engie Green’s plans to build six wind turbines on the site of the 1917 Bullecourt battles where the bodies of an estimated 2500 Australian soldiers remain unrecovered.

She played a key role in the Fromelles battlefields mass grave discovery in 2009 and regards Bullecourt as an equally important war grave.

“I am very much against windmills. It is our sacred ground, our blood is in these fields. These men fought for us and I will fight for them,” Mrs Cameron vowed.

She and her husband Max, the great-nephew of Sergeant Simon Fraser who inspired the iconic bronze Cobbers statue at the Australian Memorial Park near Fromelles, made the pilgrimage to attend last Saturday’s Remembrance Day service at Fromelles.

Mr Berne met with local woman Colette Durand, who has worked tirelessly to preserve the memories of World War I Aussie Diggers, and the mayors and representatives of Bullecourt and neighbouring towns Reincourt and Noreuil. Mrs Durand’s son, journalist and advocate Gilles Durand has written a book about the Bullecourt battles and plans to produce a report citing a document from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission proving the presence of soldiers’ remains in the fields.

Following diplomatic talks with Veteran’s Affairs Minister and Wannon MP Dan Tehan, the French Government has backed Australia’s opposition to the wind farm and will lodge a submission on Australia’s behalf to a public inquiry on the proposal. Mr Tehan said Mr Berne would also ask the Australian Embassy to make a submission to the inquiry.

Source:  Port Fairy's Maria Cameron's fight to protect soldiers buried on French battlefields during World War I | Jenny McLaren | The Standard | November 17 2017 | www.standard.net.au

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