Lost Diggers find teen French fans

A cultural exchange tour by French teenagers from a town where striking photographs of Diggers were taken during World War I won endorsement at the highest level yesterday when they met Tony Abbott.

The Prime Minister met nine teens from Vignacourt and the French and Australian organisers of their trip in Canberra.

Many WWI Diggers visited Vignacourt, north-west of Paris, where French couple Louis and Antoinette Thuillier took their photographs to send home as souvenirs. They were among almost 4000 glass negatives depicting Diggers, other soldiers and French civilians.

The negatives were found in the attic of the Thuilliers' farmhouse by Channel 7's Sunday Night program in 2011.

More than 800 of the glass plates were bought by WA businessman Kerry Stokes for the Australian War Memorial.

A selection of prints from the negatives went into the exhibition Remember Me: The Lost Diggers of Vignacourt, which is on a national tour.

Vignacourt also took the Thuillier collection to heart and an association of volunteers, including the teens visiting Australia, created cultural events and displays based on the Anzac legacy.

The teenagers arrived in Australia this month to interview descendants of the Lost Diggers for a documentary.

The group presented Mr Abbott with a signed book on the Lost Diggers and a medallion representing the Vignacourt municipal crest.

The group will visit Perth next week.

The West Australian

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