French school named after WWI digger
24 April 2018
A primary school in the small French town of Blangy-Tronville has been renamed after an Australian World War I soldier.
Private Arthur Clifford Stribling from the small town of Tarlee in South Australia died near Blangy-Tronville on 25 April 1918, while fighting as part of the 50th Battalion of the Australian Imperial Force.
Before officially renaming the school, the town conducted a memorial service at the soldier’s grave.
Invited guests included members of Private Stribling’s family, the Australian Ambassador to France, the town’s Mayor and Australian Defence Force representatives, including the Australia’s Federation Guard contingent in France for Anzac Day commemorations.
The Australian Defence Force Attaché Ceremonial – France and Belgium, Colonel Scott Clingan, said the town picked one Australian serviceman to represent many.
“The village wanted to pay their respects to all Australians who fought here during World War I as an act of gratitude for their service,” Colonel Clingan said.
“They picked one Australian soldier to represent them all and chose Private Stribling because he is buried in their local cemetery and comes from a town with a population of no more than a couple of hundred people – much like Blangy-Tronville.
“Also, because he died on Anzac Day 100 years ago.”
Private Stribling’s Great Nephew, John Willis, said he felt proud of his great uncle.
“It is very humbling to see a young man from our family, from a small town like Tarlee, have a school on the other side of the world named after him like this,” Mr Willis said.
“Until now, I didn’t really know anything about him except that he fought in the war, so this has been quite an experience. I’m proud that my great uncle’s name will help preserve the memory of the Australian soldiers here in France a century ago for new generations of French children,” he said.
During his speech at the renaming ceremony, the Mayor of Blangy-Tronville, Eric Guéant, said his town would never forget what Private Stribling and his colleagues did for France.
“Our schoolchildren will now see his portrait in their classroom every day; his sacrifice for France is to be passed on in our children’s memories,” Mayor Guéant said.
“This plaque bearing his name also testifies our tribute to you, the people of Australia, whose forefathers so numerously came, fought here and, for some of them, never returned home.
“You are more than our guests, you are more than our friends. We love you, definitively,” he said.
The renaming was one of several commemorative events and visits the Australian Defence Force contingent has attended since arriving in France, ahead of the Dawn Service at Villers-Bretonneux and Anzac Day March through the city of Bullecourt.