Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Naomi Stokes - the great granddaughter of Sergeant Charles Albert Stokes DCM - today presented the 2014 Sadlier-Stokes Prize during ANZAC Day commemorations in the French town of Villers-Bretonneux in the Somme.

The Sadlier-Stokes prize commemorates the heroic actions of Sergeant Stokes and Lieutenant Clifford Sadlier VC during the battle to liberate Villers-Bretonneux in 1918 – a battle that was instrumental in turning the tide of the war.

For their bravery and leadership, Sergeant Stokes was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal and Lieutenant Sadlier the Victoria Cross.

“Both soldiers came from Subiaco in my electorate of Curtin in Western Australia and I am honoured to pay tribute to their sacrifice,” Ms Bishop said.

“I am also privileged to be able to spend ANZAC Day with this community as it commemorates the service so many young Australians in the First World War,” Ms Bishop said.

“The Sadlier-Stokes Prize symbolises the historic bonds between our two countries and the communities of northern France.”

Naomi Stokes said that after the war her great grandfather returned to Australia to work on his farm “Villers” and raise his family. He rarely spoke about what happened in France, but marched every ANZAC day as a sign of respect.

“Charles was an amazing, courageous, inspiring and very humble man, who loved his country and his family. What he and his battalion endured and suffered will never be fully comprehended,” Ms Stokes said.

The €4,500 Australian Government prize is awarded to one primary and two secondary schools. The three winning schools, each receiving €1500, are:

  • Lucie Aubrac School at Capinghem in the North of France – for creating and acting in a play about a fictitious Australian soldier who shelters in a farm, wounded, after the battle of Fromelles.
  • Collège Germinal at Biache-Saint-Vaast in the Pas-de-Calais – producing an 18-panel exhibition, of which five tell the story of Australian soldiers on the Western front.
  •  Lycée des Nerviens (High School) at Bavay in the Somme – producing a 40-minute documentary mixing historical facts and docu-fiction about the role of Australia in World War One.

Bullecourt Primary School was awarded an honourable mention for its project on the Battle of Bullecourt, and a special prize of €500. The Sadlier-Stokes Prize has been awarded annually since 1990 to French students from the Somme or Nord Pas-de-Calais regions of northern France to further their experience and knowledge of Australia through education.

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