— Before coming here to die, did these dead soldiers have anything to do with the spirit of the Old World, or the great European nation named France? Or were they simply obeying orders in a blind fashion?
— Had they ever heard of France?
— Did they know anything about French history and culture?
— Did they speak French?
— Did they have personal contacts in France?
— Today, should we think of these countless dead Aussie soldiers as a symbol of Franco-Australian relationships, or rather as the terrible price of stupidity?
It goes without saying that we have no answers to such questions. Over a year ago, however, I was alarmed when Australian friends informed me that tour operators, in the context of the rugby cup, were offering Aussie visitors—besides the Eiffel Tower—a mindless blend of wine tastings and war cemeteries.
Talking of Australian graves in France, here's one that has concerned me over the last decade or so, ever since my encounter with the Dauphiné region: