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Anzac Day 2016
“...a deadly and often doubtful struggle” PARLIAMEN T, WAR AND EMPIR E 1914-1918
RESEARCH PAPER SERIES, 2015-16 UPDATED 15 APRIL 2016
Anzac Day 2016 David Watt Foreign Affairs, Defence and Security Section
This ‘Anzac Day Kit’ has been compiled over a number of years by various staff members of the Parliamentary Library, and is updated annually. In particular the Library would like to acknowledge the work of John Moremon and Laura Rayner, both of whom contributed significantly to the original text and structure of the Kit. Nathan Church contributed significantly to the 2016 edition of this publication.
Introduction ................................................................................................ 4
What is this kit? .................................................................................................. 4
Section 1: Speeches ..................................................................................... 4
Recent Anzac Day speeches ............................................................................... 4
90th anniversary of the Anzac landings—25 April 2005 .................................... 4
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier............................................................................ 5
Ataturk’s words of comfort ................................................................................ 5
Section 2: The relevance of Anzac ................................................................ 5
Anzac—legal protection ..................................................................................... 5
The history of Anzac Day .................................................................................... 5
Is it Anzac Day or ANZAC Day? ........................................................................... 6
Traditions and rituals of Anzac Day .................................................................... 6
The dawn service .............................................................................................. 7
History of the ‘gunfire breakfast’, held after the dawn service on Anzac Day . 7
Anzac Day march .............................................................................................. 7
Follow-on and Two-up...................................................................................... 8
Wearing medals ................................................................................................ 8
Wearing rosemary ............................................................................................ 8
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Laying a wreath or flowers ............................................................................... 8
The Ode ............................................................................................................ 9
The Last Post..................................................................................................... 9
The Anzac Biscuit .............................................................................................. 9
The meaning of Anzac ...................................................................................... 9
Poetry ............................................................................................................. 11
Section 3: Gallipoli ...................................................................................... 11
Gallipoli: what happened on 25 April 1915? .................................................... 11
The plan .......................................................................................................... 11
The wrong beach? .......................................................................................... 13
A long and terrible day ................................................................................... 14
Chronology of significant events during the remainder of the year .............. 15
Gallipoli: frequently asked questions ............................................................... 18
Why did the Anzacs land at Gallipoli? ............................................................ 18
Who was first ashore? .................................................................................... 18
How many Australians died on the first day?................................................. 18
When did the Gallipoli campaign end? .......................................................... 18
What other nationalities were at Gallipoli? ................................................... 18
Where else at Gallipoli did the Anzacs serve? ................................................ 18
Were the British really ‘drinking tea’? ............................................................ 18
Why wasn’t Simpson decorated? ................................................................... 18
How many Australians died at Gallipoli? ........................................................ 20
The campaign ................................................................................................... 20
First-hand accounts of the Gallipoli Campaign ................................................. 20
Gallipoli—legend versus reality ........................................................................ 22
Gallipoli—military resources ............................................................................ 23
Gallipoli—biographies ...................................................................................... 23
Gallipoli—geography, then and now ................................................................ 23
Section 4: The Western Front ...................................................................... 24
The AIF on the Western Front .......................................................................... 24
1916 .................................................................................................................. 24
Battles ............................................................................................................. 25
Fromelles ...................................................................................................... 25
Pozieres ........................................................................................................ 27
Mouquet Farm ............................................................................................. 28
1917 .................................................................................................................. 28
Battles ............................................................................................................. 29
Bullecourt ..................................................................................................... 29
Passchendaele (Third Ypres) ........................................................................ 30
1918 .................................................................................................................. 31
Battles ............................................................................................................. 31
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Hamel ........................................................................................................... 32
Amiens—the Third Battle of the Somme ..................................................... 33
Mont St Quentin ........................................................................................... 33
Hindenburg Line ........................................................................................... 34
Indigenous AIF personnel during the First World War ................................... 35
People ............................................................................................................. 36
Section 5: Remembering and honouring: memorials and heritage ................ 36
Centenary of Anzac........................................................................................... 36
Ballot .............................................................................................................. 36
Links to sites with details of commemorative ceremonies ............................ 37
Remembrance Day ........................................................................................... 38
The Simpson Prize ............................................................................................ 38
War memorials and cemeteries overseas ........................................................ 38
War memorials in Australia .............................................................................. 39
Gallipoli websites............................................................................................ 40
Western Front ................................................................................................ 40
Remains of war dead ...................................................................................... 40
Section 6: Anniversaries .............................................................................. 40
1916 Anzac Day commemorations ................................................................... 40
AIF personnel serving in Egypt ....................................................................... 41
AIF personnel serving on the Western Front ................................................. 41
Newspaper articles describing the 1916 anniversary of the Anzac landings ... 41
New South Wales ........................................................................................... 41
Victoria ........................................................................................................... 42
Queensland .................................................................................................... 42
South Australia ............................................................................................... 42
Western Australia ........................................................................................... 42
Tasmania ........................................................................................................ 42
Section 7: Australian peacekeeping ............................................................. 42
Australian peacekeeping honour roll ............................................................. 43
Section 8: Statistics, links and further reading.............................................. 44
Australia’s wars and warlike operations........................................................... 44
Statistical information ...................................................................................... 46
Useful links for further information on Australia’s military history ................. 47
Roll of Honour ................................................................................................ 47
Books on the First World War held in the Parliamentary Library .................. 49
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Introduction On 25 April, the anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli in 1915, Australians and New Zealanders honour the men and women who have served and died in wars, peacekeeping and other defence operations. It is now 101 years since the landing, and 100 years since Anzac Day was observed for the first time in 1916.
The date of 25 April was etched into the national consciousness with the landing of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps at Gallipoli. The Anzacs forged a tradition of service and sacrifice that has continued to this day. We remember that more than 1.5 million Australians have served their country in wartime, and more than 100,000 have lost their lives.
Anzac Day is our national day of commemoration to remember veterans and those Australians who have died in war, and show support for serving members of the Australian Defence Force. Later in the year on 11 November—Remembrance Day—we pause for a second time, sharing with other countries the tradition of observing the anniversary of the Great War’s armistice to remember the dead of all wars.
What is this kit? This kit is produced to assist Members and Senators with their representational and ceremonial duties on Anzac Day. It can be accessed by members of the public, but for copyright reasons many linked items are available to Members of Parliament only.
The kit comprises eight sections:
Section 1: Speeches
Section 2: The relevance of Anzac
Section 3: Gallipoli
Section 4: The Western Front
Section 5: Remembering and honouring: memorials and heritage
Section 6: Anniversaries
Section 7: Australian peacekeeping
Section 8: Statistics, links and further reading
Section 1: Speeches ‘Possible speech notes: the significance of ANZAC‘, prepared by the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Security Section, Parliamentary Library, April 2008 (reviewed and updated in April 2010—Senators and Members only).
Recent Anzac Day speeches 25 April 2015—Anzac Day 2015 address, Pukeahu National War Memorial, Wellington, New Zealand, by the Governor-General, Sir Peter Cosgrove.
25 April 2015—Anzac Day National Ceremony—commemorative address, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, by the Governor-General, Sir Peter Cosgrove.
25 April 2015—Speech at the 2015 Dawn Service, Anzac Cove, Gallipoli, by the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott.
25 April 2015—remarks at the Australian Memorial Service: speech, Lone Pine, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Michael Ronaldson.
25 April 2015—Dawn Service address 25 April 2015, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, Chief of Army, Lieutenant General David Morrison.
90th anniversary of the Anzac landings—25 April 2005 Message for Anzac Day and address at the Anzac Day Dawn Service, Gallipoli, by the Prime Minister, John Howard.
Message from the Governor-General.
Address delivered by the Anglican Bishop to the Defence Force, Anzac Day Dawn Service, Australian War Memorial, Canberra.
Speech by the New Zealand High Commissioner, Kate Lackey, at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra.
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Tomb of the Unknown Soldier 11 November 1993—transcript of the speech made by the Prime Minister, Paul Keating, at the tomb of the unknown soldier on the occasion of the Funeral of the Unknown Australian Soldier, Remembrance Day.
In ‘The unknown Australian soldier’, Ashley Ekins discusses the symbolic significance of the return of the remains of an unknown Australian soldier (Wartime, no. 25, January 2004, pp. 11-13).
Ataturk’s words of comfort In 1934 the Turkish President and Gallipoli veteran, Kemal Ataturk, wrote a tribute to the Anzacs killed at Gallipoli:
Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives ... You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us. Where they lie side by side now here in this country of ours ... You mothers, who sent their sons from faraway countries wipe away the tears. Your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace after having lost their lives on this land. They have become our sons as well.
This inscription appears on the Kemal Ataturk Memorial, Anzac Parade, Canberra. It has been suggested recently that, notwithstanding their noble sentiment, there is insufficient evidence to ascribe the words to Ataturk. At present, this is a topic requiring further research and cannot be regarded as settled.
Section 2: The relevance of Anzac Anzac—legal protection The use of the word Anzac is restricted and protected by.
â¢ text of the Anzac Day Act 1995 (Act No. 21 of 1995). legislation
â¢ Information on and text of the Protection of the word ‘Anzac’ Regulations.
â¢ 4 February 2004—media release from Danna Vale, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs—‘Protecting the unique meaning of Anzac‘.
The history of Anzac Day The Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) landing at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915 gave us the date and name of Anzac Day. News of the landing saw outpourings of national pride, and it became clear that its anniversary was the appropriate day for commemoration.
The first day to be called Anzac Day was 13 October 1915 and occurred in Adelaide as a replacement for the Eight-Hour Day holiday (a forerunner of Labour Day and already a public holiday). This event was more of a patriotic carnival designed to raise awareness of, and funds for, the war effort than the solemn commemoration it was to become.
Anzac Day as we know it was first observed on 25 April 1916, as people came together to honour those lost at Gallipoli. In Australia, some state governments organised events to commemorate the occasion—but the Commonwealth did not. Acting Prime Minister (and Minister for Defence) Senator George Pearce viewed Gallipoli as a failure, and believed that a later battle might prove ‘more worthy of remembering’. He clearly misjudged the importance to the people of this day.
The wartime Anzac Days were especially important for the bereaved. With so many killed, the pain was palpable. Anzac Day was a moment to recognise and acknowledge the sacrifice with services and simple acts of remembrance, such as women tying ribbons onto the gates of wharves where they last saw their sons, brothers or husbands alive.
Anzac Day was a fixture by the war’s end. Politicians (some of whom had served, or lost loved ones and friends) forged bonds with the Returned Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Imperial League of Australia (now the Returned and Services League of Australia (RSL)), which assumed responsibility for the day. Rituals such as dawn services and street marches were developed, and gradually the families of the dead became quite marginalised. While all people were encouraged to remember, the day was in many ways for ex-servicemen to honour their dead. In
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Melbourne during the late 1920s, women, including mothers of those killed, were banned from the dawn service because of their wailing.
By the late 1920s, Anzac Day was a public holiday in every state and territory. In the 1930s, there was rhetoric about the need to pass the ‘Anzac spirit’ down to the next generation. This was partly politically motivated, as there was a feeling that people needed steeling for another war. In the Second World War, the ‘sons of the Anzacs’ were welcomed, and the day now honoured veterans of all wars. But despite greater numbers of veterans, by the 1960s its popularity had waned, and many wondered if Anzac Day would survive.
The resurgence started in the 1980s and 1990s. The RSL had been slow to welcome ‘others’—notably those who did not serve overseas, including most ex-servicewomen, and veterans of the ‘small’ wars. With a younger leadership, it has relaxed the rules to be more inclusive. Governments have reinforced the day’s significance with commemorative programs that reach out to the community. Anzac Day has evolved into a day for Australians to honour their war dead and veterans, and show support for serving members of the Australian Defence Force.
The Australian War Memorial’s (AWM) Anzac Day electronic encyclopaedia entry contains links to material on the history and tradition of Anzac Day, details and photographs of ceremonies, sound recordings of the Last Post and the Rouse, and educational resources.
The Department of Veterans’ Affairs website includes information on the origin of Anzac Day, silence, poppies, unknown soldiers, national and state ceremonies and audio versions of the Last Post, Rouse and the National Anthem.
Further information on poppies and rosemary is also available, as is the New Zealand perspective on Anzac Day.
Is it Anzac Day or ANZAC Day? The Anzac acronym comes from the initial letters of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, into which Australian and New Zealand troops were formed in Egypt before the landings at Gallipoli in April 1915. What was once commonly ‘Anzac Day’ is nowadays often referred to as ‘ANZAC Day’ (in homage to the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps). Which is the more correct?
The official historian, Charles Bean, who knew more about Australians in the Great War than anybody, wrote of a day in early 1915 when a staff officer arrived at HQ seeking a code name for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. Having noticed ‘A&NZAC’ stencilled on cases and also rubber stamps bearing this mark, a clerk suggested:
‘How about ANZAC?’ Major Wagstaff proposed the word to the general, who approved of it, and ‘Anzac’ thereupon became the code name for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. (CEW Bean, The Story of ANZAC from the outbreak of war to the end of the first phase of the Gallipoli Campaign, May 4, 1915 (11th edition, 1941) (Volume 1 of The Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918, pp.124-25.)
As a proper noun, as well as an acronym, ‘Anzac’ entered the vernacular of the Diggers and Kiwis. At Gallipoli, they called their position, simply, Anzac; and the famous cove, Anzac Cove. They started referring to each other as Anzacs too. Eventually, any Australian or New Zealander who served in the war could be called an Anzac— although to them a true Anzac was a man who served at Gallipoli (later issued a brass ‘A’ to stitch onto their unit colour patches).
On 25 April 1916, when people paused to observe the first anniversary of the landing and pay solemn tribute to those who had died at Gallipoli, by common accord it was Anzac Day, in honour of the men (not ANZAC Day, in reference to the corps.) The NZ Returned Soldiers’ Association, for example, had an ‘Anzac day sub-committee’; the King sent a message to be published ‘on Anzac Day’; and songs and poems honoured ‘Our Anzac Boys’. As many more died on the Western Front, the day evolved to honour all Australians and New Zealanders in the war (that is, not just those of the ANZAC, which actually ceased to exist after Gallipoli). These days Anzac Day encompasses all conflicts Australians and New Zealanders have fought in.
Traditions and rituals of Anzac Day While there were no specific traditions and rituals to begin with, by the late 1920s, most of those that we now associate with Anzac Day had developed in one form or another. The manner in which Australians and New Zealanders observe this day has continued to evolve, and will continue to do so as the veteran and wider communities change further.
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The dawn service The first commemorative event of Anzac Day is the dawn service at 4.30 am. This is about the time men of the ANZAC approached the Gallipoli beach. However, the origin is the traditional ‘stand-to’, in which troops would be woken so that by the first rays of dawn they were in position and alert, in case of an enemy attack in the eerie half-light. It is a ritual and a moment remembered by many veterans.
Some debate exists about the first dawn service. Nevertheless, early dawn services such as that held in 1923 at Albany, Western Australia, conducted by the Reverend Arthur White, Rector of St John’s Church, and formerly a padre with the 44th Battalion on the Western Front, were the forerunners of the modern tradition. The first official dawn service was held at Sydney’s Cenotaph during 1928. The simple ceremony was for veterans to assemble before dawn for ‘stand-to’ and two minutes of silence. Nowadays, all are welcome, and the dawn service has grown in popularity and in meaning for the community.
The story of the dawn service and its origins is found in the article ‘In honour of Anzac Day: grave history of Dawn Service‘ (Air Force News, vol. 44, no. 7, 25 April 2002).
Kerry Neale, ‘In the cold light of dawn’, discusses the significance of the dawn service continuing to grow while questions remain over its origin in Australia (Wartime, no. 38, 2007, pp. 38-39).
History of the ‘gunfire breakfast’, held after the dawn service on Anzac Day Many communities follow the dawn service with a ‘traditional’ gunfire breakfast.
‘Gunfire’ is a British tradition and was:
... the usual term for the early cup of tea served out to troops in the morning before going on first parade, whenever possible. In the War [WWI] recruits in training always had ‘Gun Fire’ supplied to them, the work before breakfast being found particularly trying. The morning gun in a garrison town suggested the name probably. (From Edward Fraser and John Gibbons, Soldier and Sailor Words and Phrases including slang of the trenches and the air force; British and American war-words and service terms and expressions in everyday use; nicknames, sobriquets, and titles of regiments, with their origin; the battle-honours of the Great War awarded to the British Army, Routledge, London, 1925, p. 113.)
The ‘gunfire breakfast’ seems to have evolved from the above, and comprises whatever is available at the time— it could be ‘coffee and rum’ or ‘stew, sausage and bread’, or even ‘bacon and eggs’ (which is served by the War Memorial for their ‘gunfire breakfast’ on Anzac Day).
A Victorian Parliamentary Committee investigating Anzac Day laws in that state in 2002, made the following comments, indicating that alcohol is served at the breakfast:
The existing liquor licensing regime for ANZAC Day is, in effect, one that observes the sanctity of ANZAC Day morning, but provides for discretionary exceptions. The Committee received evidence that there are special circumstances where morning liquor trading is reasonable. In particular, there are instances where liquor trading is complementary to the conduct of an ANZAC morning ceremony. A particular instance of this is the holding of a gunfire breakfast (Victoria, Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee, Parliamentary Review of ANZAC Day Laws, October 2002).
Anzac Day march From cities to small towns, the march has long been the centrepiece of Anzac Day. Marches were held during the Great War, and became popular with veterans in the 1920s, to honour lost friends and publicly express comradeship. The RSL organises the marches. While it was traditional for veterans who saw active service, it was later relaxed to include those who served in Australia in the armed services or ‘land armies’, during the Second World War. It has been relaxed further, with some encouragement or acceptance of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren marching, to assist aged veterans or to represent those no longer with us.
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Figure 1: Members of the Voluntary Aid Detachment passing the saluting base on Macquarie Street during Red Cross Day celebrations. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial
Follow-on and Two-up The march may be followed by reunions and lunches put on by local establishments. This is also the one day that the traditional Australian gambling game of ‘two-up’, or ‘swy’, may be legally played at venues. Bets are placed on how two pennies thrown into the air will fall. The ‘Ringer’ (in charge) will explain rules and betting procedures. Any persons of legal gambling age are welcome to participate. The entry on ‘Two-up’ from the Australian Encyclopaedia describes the ‘game’ and its origins.
Wearing medals Only the person awarded or issued medals may claim those medals as his or her own. He or she wears the medals on their left breast. Others (those who did not earn the medals) may honour the service of a relative by wearing medals on the right breast. Some veterans may be seen wearing medals on both breasts—their own on the left, and a relative’s on the right.
An ANZAC Commemorative Medallion and Badge was issued in 1967 to surviving Gallipoli veterans.
Wearing rosemary Rosemary is an emblem of remembrance. It is traditional on Anzac Day to wear a sprig of rosemary pinned to a coat lapel or to the breast (it does not matter which side, but left seems most common), or held in place by medals. Rosemary has particular significance for Australians on Anzac Day as it grows wild on the Gallipoli Peninsula.
Laying a wreath or flowers A wreath or a small bunch of flowers is traditionally laid on memorials or graves in memory of the dead. They might contain laurel, a traditional symbol of honour, and rosemary, or they may be native or other flowers. In recent years, it has also become popular to lay a wreath of red poppies—formerly associated with Remembrance Day, 11 November. Any of these wreaths or flowers are acceptable as a gesture of remembrance.
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The Ode The Ode comes from the fourth stanza of the poem ‘For the Fallen’ by the English poet and writer, Laurence Binyon. It was published in London in The Winnowing Fan: Poems of the Great War in 1914. It was used in association with commemorative services in Australia by 1921.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old; Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning We will remember them.
At the Anzac Day ceremony, an invited speaker often recites The Ode and upon his or her completion of the recitation, those present repeat the last words ‘We will remember them’. After a short pause this is followed by ‘Lest we forget’.
The Last Post This is one of a number of bugle calls in the military tradition to mark phases of the day. Traditionally, it marked the ending of a day. The Last Post was incorporated into funeral and memorial services as a final farewell, and symbolises that the duty of the dead is over and that they can rest in peace. On Anzac Day, it is followed by one or two minutes of silence, then a second bugle call, Reveille (also known as The Rouse).
The story of the Anzac bugle calls is told in Valley Voice, 19 April 2002.
The Anzac Biscuit The original Anzac Biscuit, also known as the Anzac wafer or tile, was a hardtack biscuit or long shelf-life biscuit substitute for bread. These were not necessarily popular with soldiers at Gallipoli, but there are now recipes for more edible domestic versions.
The meaning of Anzac The entries in the Oxford Companion to Australian Military History on Anzac Day and the Anzac legend provide good summaries of the importance of the day and of the legend.
In ‘Bean’s ‘Anzac’ and the making of the Anzac legend’, the author, David Kent, argues that the image of the Anzac was the careful creation of the official historian, CEW Bean who, as editor of the enormously popular 1916 publication, The Anzac Book, acted as a prism through which Australians were presented with an oversimplified view of the realities of war and its effect on men.
In ‘A possession for ever: Charles Bean, the ancient Greeks, and military commemoration in Australia’ Peter Londey argues that the Australian official war historian drew parallels between the deeds of the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) and ancient Greece in the 5th century BC (Australian Journal of Politics and History, vol. 53, no. 3, September 2007, pp. 344-349).
In ‘Re-reading Bean’s last paragraph‘, Martin Ball discusses the last paragraph of CEW Bean’s official history which has ‘long been appreciated as a concise yet effective statement about Australia’s response to its war experience’. Although the volume which contains it was published in 1942, the last paragraph was actually the first to be written in 1919 (Australian Historical Studies, no. 122, October 2003, pp. 231-247). Bean’s last paragraph reads:
What these men did nothing can alter now. The good and the bad, the greatness and smallness of their story will stand. Whatever of glory it contains nothing now can lessen. It rises, as it will always rise, above the mists of ages, a monument to great-hearted men; and, for their nation, a possession for ever (CEW Bean, Official history of Australia in the war of 1914-1918, vol. VI, chapter XXII, Sydney, Angus & Robertson, 1942, p. 1096).
In his 1988 article, ‘Anzac and the Australian military tradition’, historian Ken Inglis, describes the essential meaning of the word Anzac, its early use, the Anzac tradition in schools between the wars, the relationship between the Anzac concept and social class and between the Anzac tradition and feminism, the continuity of the tradition from the Second World War through to the Vietnam conflict, and the observations of writers, scholars, artists and film makers (Current Affairs Bulletin, vol. 64, no. 11, April, 1988).
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In ‘ANZAC: the sacred in the secular’, Graham Seal argues that the resurgence of interest in Anzac Day has ‘only served to emphasise the strongly secular nature of Anzac and its centrality to widespread notions of Australian nationalism’ (Journal of Australian Studies, vol. 91, 2007).
In ‘Reflections: a symposium on the meanings of Anzac’, to mark the 75th anniversary of the landings at Gallipoli, ten Australians discuss various aspects of the meaning of Anzac to Indigenous Australians and Vietnam diggers, the place of Anzac in Australian society and the future of Anzac (Journal of the Australian War Memorial, no. 16, April 1990).
‘Anzac’s influence on Turkey and Australia’ was the keynote address given to the 1990 War Memorial History Conference by Bill Gammage. In it he explored the different ways in which Turks and Australians remember Canakkale (Gallipoli), and how they regard each other as a result of the campaign (Journal of the Australian War Memorial, no. 18, April 1991).
In ‘Lest we forget the cult of the digger’ Nick Horden discusses how the memory of past wars continues to shape the Australian nation (Australian Financial Review, 20 January 2000).
‘What is Anzac Day? It is the embodiment of the national ethos‘, retraces the history of 25 April and the traditions of Anzac (Stand To, April-May 2002, pp. 4-5).
‘Why we will never forget’. Graham Cooke talks about how, even after four generations since Gallipoli, the Anzac spirit is still alive (Canberra Times Magazine, April 2003).
‘They shall not grow old’, Ken Inglis discusses how the Anzac legend grows rather than recedes (Age, 30 April 2004).
‘The mystique of Gallipoli’, Les Carlyon explains what makes Gallipoli so important to Australians (Canberra Times, 13 November 2004).
‘History should respect realities‘ by Craig Barrett and Martin Crotty. Argues that it is possible to balance a questioning approach towards the Anzac tradition with respect for the men who fought at Gallipoli (Australian, 1 February 2006).
In ‘The Anzac myth: patriot act‘, Mark McKenna argues that ‘since the early 1990s Australians have lost the ability (or inclination) to debate Anzac Day’ (Australian Literary Review, June 2007).
In Origins of the Anzac dawn ceremony: spontaneity and nationhood Robyn Mayes looks at three possible origins of the dawn service and discusses the sociological context of these.
Series on ‘Our Anzac heroes’ published in the Daily Telegraph in 2004:
‘Heavy hearts when the Light Horse disbanded‘, 20 April 2004
‘The living hell of a war that took so many lives‘, 21 April 2004
‘Sporting greats who fought bigger battles‘, 22 April 2004
‘The machines that brought destruction‘, 22 April 2004
‘Keeping soldiers well fed was half the battle‘, 23 April 2004
In their 2010 book What’s wrong with Anzac?: the militarisation of Australian history, Henry Reynolds and Marilyn Lake criticise what they describe as ‘the relentless militarisation’ of Australian history and argue that it is no longer appropriate to have a military event playing such an important role in defining the Australian identity (H Reynolds and M Lake, eds, What’s wrong with Anzac?: the militarisation of Australian history, Sydney, University of New South Wales Press, 2010).
In a review of What’s wrong with Anzac, Geoffrey Blainey rejects many of the arguments made by the authors, and states that the popularity of Anzac Day has fluctuated, and in all probability will continue to do so (We weren’t that dumb, Australian, 7 April 2010).
James Brown’s 2014 book Anzac’s long shadow: the cost of our national obsession argues that, although important, commemorating those Australians who served and lost their lives during war should not take resources away from currently serving personnel. Brown summarised his views in an article for The Age.
The debate about the use of the history of Anzac and what kind of commemorative activities are appropriate has gained pace since the publication of What’s wrong with Anzac and there are perhaps more dissenting voices
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now than has been the case in the past. The website Honest History contains a section entitled Anzac Analysed which attempts to promote some of these voices.
In ‘The minefield of Australian military history’ (Australian Journal of Politics and History, vol. 60, no. 4, 2014) Martin Crotty and Craig Stockings discuss the sometimes difficult relationship between academics and popular history.
Joan Beaumont, ‘Symposium: Commemoration in Australia: a memory orgy?’ (Australian Journal of Political Science, September 2015, pp. 536-544).
Anzac Day then and now (edited by Tom Frame, UNSW Press, 2016) contains a variety of essays which reflect on the history and meaning of Anzac Day. In his introduction to the book Frame discusses something of the tension that exists between differing viewpoints about Anzac Day in contemporary Australia. In so doing, he makes the following remarks:
I am uneasy with, and have not been persuaded by, some of the criticisms that have been made of what Anzac represents in Australian history and popular consciousness. But the identification of historical fallacies and the questioning of historical interpretations giving rise to boasting and conceit, hubris and self-righteousness are, at times, painful necessities if Anzac Day is to avoid descending into empty sentimentality or being hijacked for nationalistic propaganda.
Poetry A selection of four First World War poems by Leon Gellert: Anzac Cove (written in January 1916) and three poems about life and death in the trenches, from Volume 1 of Poetry in Australia.
The text of two famous First World War poems, In Flanders Fields and For the Fallen is here :
â¢ In Flanders Fields was written in 1915 by the Canadian physician and professor of medicine, John McRae, who fought on the Western Front in 1914 but was then transferred to the medical corps and assigned to a hospital in France. He died on active duty in 1918.
â¢ For the Fallen was written in 1914 by Laurence Binyon who worked at the British Museum. The fourth verse of For the Fallen is now more commonly known as ‘The Ode’. It was selected to accompany the unveiling of the London Cenotaph in 1919 and by 1921 was already in use in Australia as an ode read on Anzac Day. It has been used at commemorative services on Anzac Day ever since.
In ‘They also served—and wrote‘, Steve Meacham discusses a compilation of Anzac poetry, commenting particularly about Banjo Paterson and his association with the First World War (Sydney Morning Herald, 25 April 2002).
Section 3: Gallipoli Gallipoli: what happened on 25 April 1915? It was at 4.29 am in the eerie pre-dawn on 25 April 1915 when a Turkish outpost signalled the alarm. Below, barely discernible on the dark waters off Ari Burnu, a small plateau jutting out into the Aegean Sea, steamboats towed rowboats carrying Australians to the Gallipoli shoreline. There are very few instances in which the deeds of ordinary people fashion a whole chapter in a nation’s history and forge a national identity. This first wave of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) was doing just that. A minute later, the first boatloads reached the shingly beach and clambered out, under fire.
The plan The landing at Gallipoli was one of the more imaginative strategies of the First World War. In eastern Europe the Germans had delivered a series of blows to the Russians who, fearing a second offensive by Turkish forces from the south, appealed to their allies for assistance. Hard-pressed by the Germans on the Western Front and with Egypt threatened by the Turks, the British and French could not afford for the Russians to collapse. They agreed to attack Turkey. Their objective was to wrest control of the Dardanelles and re-establish sea communications with Russia through the Black Sea.
An attempt by warships in February and March 1915 to break through the straits was defeated. A plan to land troops at Gallipoli was then drawn up. It was actually a series of landings, originally planned for 23 April, but pushed back by bad weather:
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â¢ the main landing by British troops at Cape Helles, in the south, to seize forts and advance north
â¢ across the strait, on the Asiatic side, a landing by French troops to destroy artillery batteries before withdrawing and going to Cape Helles
â¢ at the northern end of the peninsula, near Bulair, where the peninsula is narrowest, a feint by British marines to confuse the Turks and
â¢ in the centre, the landing by Australian and New Zealand troops to block any Turkish troops retreating from the south and reinforcements coming from the north.
â¢ a map showing the landing beaches can be found here.
â¢ it is worth remembering that although we refer to British and French forces, in fact soldiers were drawn from many parts of the empires controlled by these countries. The ‘French’ included people born in France, but also Senegalese as well as other colonial troops. The ‘British’ included Englishmen, Irishmen, Welshmen, Scots, Indians, Gurkhas, Australians, New Zealanders and Newfoundlanders.
The plan was for the Anzac and British troops to link up for a final push across to the Dardanelles.
Mervyn James Herbert—South Australia
Mervyn James Herbert was born on 15 September 1887 in South Ballarat, Victoria to parents Ralph and Robina. After spending his youth in New Zealand, Herbert returned to Ballarat to complete a diploma in horticulture before joining the Victorian Scottish Regiment in 1907. In 1911 he moved to Adelaide, married Dorothy Royals and continued his military service; first with the South Australian Scottish Infantry, then the 78th Infantry Battalion, where he was Officer Commanding ‘F’ Company. By the time war was declared in August 1914, Herbert had been promoted to captain and was subsequently one of the first company commanders selected for the 10th Battalion. He embarked from Adelaide on 20 October aboard HMAT Ascanius as part of the AIF’s first convoy.
Herbert’s ‘D’ Company was one of the first to land at Gallipoli on 25 April, with his unit establishing itself on 400 Plateau before two of its scouts ventured beyond Scrubby Knoll—further than any other AIF troops would get during the entire campaign. Herbert continued to lead the company until the afternoon of 27 April when he was wounded in the left shoulder and right hand by an enemy sniper’s bullet.
Evacuated from Anzac Cove on the evening of 28 April, Herbert was treated at Alexandria, Egypt, before returning to South Australia on 3 August. However, he quickly returned to the front and by 12 March 1916 he had been promoted to major, having transferred to lead the newly formed 50th Battalion’s ‘B’ Company. In this capacity Herbert served at PoziÃ¨res and was wounded at Mouquet Farm before fighting at Ypres Salient as the Battalion’s second-in-command. Following this, Herbert spent the remainder of the war in England, where he held multiple administrative posts. A particular highlight of this period occurred on 7 February 1917 when Herbert acted as Escort to His Majesty King George V at the opening of Parliament.
Following the war Herbert returned home to his wife and three children in South Australia. His father and two brothers had also enlisted and survived the war. Herbert went on to serve as an area officer in the Yorke Peninsula before leaving military service and becoming a vigneron at Moorook on the Murray River. Having relocated to West Croydon, Mervyn Herbert passed away on 14 August 1964, aged 76.
Sources P Rosenzweig, ‘The first three days: memories of the Anzac landing’, Sabretache, 54.1, March 2013, pp. 36-47. ‘Mervyn James Herbert’, The AIF Project, website, accessed 13 March 2015. ‘Captain Mervyn Herbert: former Ballarat man’, The Ballarat Courier, 13 May 1915, p. 4, accessed 13 March 2015.
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Alfred Plumley Derham—Victoria
Alfred Plumley Derham was born on 12 September 1891 in Camberwell, Victoria to parents Thomas and Ellen. Having attended Scotch College, he studied medicine at the University of Melbourne, but deferred midway through his course to enlist in the AIF during August 1914. He was posted to the 5th Battalion and subsequently commissioned. Derham embarked HMAT Orvieto from Melbourne on 21 October 1914 as part of the first AIF convoy. He was wounded upon landing at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915, but his bravery in enduring battle for another five days resulted in him being awarded the Military Cross and being Mentioned in Despatches. Following his time at Gallipoli, during which he was appointed to the staff of the 2nd Brigade, he transferred to France before returning to Australia at the end of 1916 to complete his medical degree.
Derham married Frances Anderson in July 1917 and established his own private medical practice in 1920. He also became the city of Kew’s official medical officer and an honorary physician at Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital, on account of his specialisation in children’s diseases. However, his connection with the military endured; he served as a lieutenant-colonel in the Australian Army Medical Corps during the inter-war years and in April 1940 was appointed as a colonel in the AIF. Derham was captured in the February 1942 fall of Singapore and was subsequently held as a prisoner-of-war at Changi, Formosa and Manchuria. Returning to Australia in September 1945, he was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) the following year. Derham died from a heart attack on 26 June 1962 at Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital in Melbourne, and was survived by his wife and four of his five sons.
Sources J Grey, ‘Derham, Alfred Plumley (1891-1962)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, accessed 14 January 2015. ‘Alfred Plumley Derham’, The AIF Project, website, accessed 14 January 2015.
Figure 2: Unidentified men from the 1st Divisional Signal Company being towed towards Anzac Cove on the morning of 25 April 1915. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial.
The wrong beach? Those who landed near Ari Burnu often commented on how they landed on ‘the wrong beach’. Wrong might be too strong a word but the boats were certainly more bunched up when they landed about a mile north of the loosely planned landing site. The reason is unclear, but most likely the naval ratings taking the troops ashore were disorientated and simply veered left.
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This error gave the men a fighting chance. Had they landed on the ‘correct’ beach near Gaba Tepe, there would have been a slaughter (as at ‘Y’ Beach, one of the British landing sites at Cape Helles). Boats would have been shot up, and on the beach men would have been caught in barbed wire entanglements, against well-sited machine-guns. At Ari Burnu, the first wave came under fire from some of the 200 Turks in position at that time; some boats landing later were shot up, suffering heavier casualties. Most of the casualties on that first day occurred as men scrambled up the brush-entangled gullies leading off the beach, and over the ridges.
A long and terrible day The objective was Gun Ridge, the third ridgeline inland from the beach. Troops pushed up and over gullies, ravines and spurs. It was hard-going under fire, and they broke into smaller groups to advance over tracks or through undergrowth. They crossed the first ridgeline, some reached the second and a few got to the third, but they were too scattered to hold on.
Figure 3: An excerpt from the 10th Infantry Battalion’s War Diary describing the landing at ANZAC Cove on 25 April 1915. The 3rd Brigade, which included the 10th Battalion, made up the screening force for the landing and was the first ashore. This excerpt includes the line ‘our landing was to be effected quite unopposed’. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial.
As the day wore on, the remainder of the ANZAC landed. There was confusion on the beach, as new troops and wounded men intermingled. ‘Stragglers’ (men separated from their units) were found at the beach or sheltering in the gullies, but officers led many of them back into action.
The Turkish local commander, Mustapha Kemal (later, Kemal Ataturk, President of Turkey) organised his force and counter-attacked. The Turks secured the high ground and pushed on. An evacuation of the ANZAC was suggested, but naval advice was that it would be impossible. With nowhere to retreat, the Australians and New Zealanders dug in. They fought tenaciously, with mounting casualties, to cling onto a small strip of land that came to be called Anzac.
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The landing itself was a failure. The impossible had been asked of the men. There was no way that any troops could have landed, advanced four miles across hard terrain, taken a 4-5 mile stretch of ridgeline, and then withstood strong counter-attacks—all in the course of one day. What they did achieve was to secure a foothold and forge a legend.
The Gallipoli campaign cost the lives of more than 40,000 British Empire and French troops and 85,000 Turks.
Lieutenant-General Ewen George Sinclair Maclagan landed at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915 as the Commanding Officer of the 3rd Brigade. On 21 April 1915, Colonel Maclagan wrote the following letter to be read to members of the 3rd Brigade, in anticipation of the Gallipoli landings:
I had hoped to have been able to see the battalions of my brigade personally and put these matters before you. Circumstances have prevented this, so I am asking your commanding officers to read you this letter. It is necessary that you should understand that we are about to carry out a most difficult operation, Viz. ‘Landing on an enemy coast in the face of opposition’. Such an operation requires complex harmony of working between the Navy and the Army and unhesitating compliance with all orders and instructions.
You have been selected by the divisional commander as the covering force, a high honour, which we must do our best to justify. We must be successful at any cost. Whatever footing we get on land must be held onto and improved by pushing on to our objective, the covering position which we must get to as rapidly as possible, and once obtained must be held at all costs and even to the last man. In an operation of this kind there is no going back. We shall be reinforced as the Navy can land troops. And meantime ‘Forward’ is the word, until on our position, when ‘Hang on’ is what we have to do, until sufficient troops and guns are landed to enable us to push on. We must be careful and not give the enemy a chance of any kind; no smoking or lights or noise from midnight onwards till after daylight. Take every chance of reorganising (under cover if possible).
Attacks must be rapid, as the ground will allow. You will have to drop your packs; but carry tools forward as far as you can, it may mean saving lives later in the day. Until broad daylight the bayonet is your weapon, and when you charge, do so in as good a line as possible; one or two good pieces of bayonet work now may stand us in good stead later on. Every man must keep his eyes skinned and help his officers and non-commissioned officers to the utmost by reporting quickly things seen. Look out for your flanks. After taking a charger out shut the cartridge pocket. Once ashore don’t be caught without a charger in the magazine. Look after each cartridge as if it was a ten-pound note. Good fire orders, directions, control and discipline will make the enemy respect your powers, and give us all an easier task in the long run. Wild firing only encourages the enemy.
Keep your food and water very carefully; we don’t know when we shall get any more. Don’t show yourselves over the skyline, and give your position away, if you can avoid it. We must expect to be shelled when in our positions, but remember that is part of this game of war, and we must ‘stick it’, no matter what the fire. One thing I want you to remember all through this campaigning work is this, and it is most important: You may get orders to do something which appears in your position to be the wrong thing to do, and perhaps a mad enterprise. Do not cavil at it, but carry it out wholeheartedly and with absolute faith in your leaders, because we are after all only a very small piece on the board. Some pieces often have to be sacrificed to win the game, and after all it is to win the game that we are here. You have a very good reputation you have built up for yourselves, and now you have a chance of making history for Australia and a name for the Brigade that will live in history. I have absolute faith in you, and believe few, if any finer Brigades have been put to the test.
(Cited in R Kearney, Silent voices: the story of the 10th Battalion AIF in Australia, Egypt, Gallipoli, France and Belgium during the Great War 1914-1918, Sydney, New Holland Publishers, 2005, pp. 76-77.)
Chronology of significant events during the remainder of the year On 29 April 1915 HMAS AE2 was sunk in the Sea of Marmara. AE2 was the first submarine to penetrate the Dardanelles. For five days the AE2 carried out orders to disrupt Turkish shipping. When her torpedoes were spent and she was attacked by Turkish gunboats, the submarine was scuttled and her crew captured.
AE2’s commanding officer Captain Stoker was one of the subjects of the Defence Honours and Awards Appeal Tribunal’s Inquiry into unresolved recognition for past acts of naval and military gallantry and valour. The Tribunal’s 2013 report recommended that no further action be taken, stating:
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The Tribunal therefore concluded that on both process and merits, the case was properly considered at the time, followed due process correctly and that Lieutenant Commander Stoker was appropriately honoured with a DSO [Distinguished Service Order].
On 15 May the Commander of the First Division AIF, Major General WT Bridges was shot in the leg by a sniper. He was evacuated immediately but died on 18 May while being transported to Egypt for treatment. His body was returned to Australia (the only person to receive this treatment until the Unknown Soldier in 1993) and his grave overlooks the Royal Military College, Duntroon.
On 18 May the Turks launched a major counter-attack, but by this time the Australian and New Zealand troops had had time to prepare proper defensive positions and the resultant slaughter of the Turkish forces is thought to have left 10,000 men dead or wounded. The stench of the dead bodies was so great that on 24 May a formal truce was declared to allow the Turkish dead to be buried. This was the last time that the Turkish forces attempted a major counter-offensive.
With the failure of the May counter-attack, things quietened down until August, when British troops landed at nearby Suvla, and the Anzacs and Gurkhas made supporting attacks at Lone Pine, Chunuk Bair and the Nek.
In ‘The August offensive at Anzac’ Robin Prior takes a new look at the strategy underlying the series of attacks at places such as Lone Pine, Nek, Chunuk Bair, Hill Q and Hill 971 (Wartime, vol. 47, 2009).
The Battle for Lone Pine began on 6 August. The Lone Pine operation was planned as a diversion to draw Turkish reserves away from a major British attack to be launched at the northern end of the Australian and New Zealand position at Gallipoli. The Australians suffered more than 2,200 casualties at Lone Pine and the Turks over 5,000. Historian Peter Burness describes the battle and sets it in context in this article in Wartime.
Seven Australians were awarded the Victoria Cross for their bravery at Lone Pine. They are: Alexander Stewart BURTON, William DUNSTAN, John (Patrick) HAMILTON, Leonard Maurice KEYSOR, Alfred John SHOUT, William John SYMONS and Frederick Harold TUBB. A total of nine Victoria Crosses were awarded to Australians during the Gallipoli campaign.
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Figure 4: Lieutenant (later Captain) William Symon’s Victoria Cross citation, for action during the Battle for Lone Pine. Image courtesy of the National Archives of Australia.
On 7 August, units of the 3rd Light Horse Brigade fighting as infantry, attacked the Turks at the Nek (also known as the Battle of Sari Bair) with horrific results. The pre-attack artillery bombardment had ceased seven minutes early and New Zealand troops scheduled to attack from a different approach were unable to do so. The result was that 234 men of the 600 strong force lay dead and little was achieved.
The fighting at Hill 60 on 21 and 27 August in which Australian troops gave support to a larger British assault was the last major action of the Gallipoli campaign. The all-too-obvious stalemate of the campaign and the deterioration of the weather as winter approached convinced the high command that it was time to evacuate the troops. The evacuation is universally regarded as the best planned part of the whole venture thanks to the work of Major-General Birdwood’s Chief of Staff Brigadier General CBB White.
The evacuation of Anzac and Suvla began on 7 December and was completed by 20 December.
On 20 April 2009 the Australian Broadcasting Corporation released an online resource, Gallipoli: the first day. In ‘Anzac first: ABC relives Gallipoli online’, Lara Sinclair describes the new interactive website, outlining the sources and methods the ABC used to enable users to experience the first 24 hours of the Gallipoli campaign (Australian, 20 April 2009).
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Gallipoli: frequently asked questions
Why did the Anzacs land at Gallipoli? They were part of a British-French force attempting to capture the Dardanelles and open a route to Russia through the Black Sea. They were selected because their training had progressed and being based in Egypt, they were readily available.
Who was first ashore? We can never know for certain. An article by Peter Burness in the Australian War Memorial’s Wartime magazine discusses the claims of three men. CEW Bean, official historian, concluded it was possibly Lieutenant Duncan Chapman, 9th Battalion. The Queenslander wrote home: ‘I happened to be in the first boat that reached the shore, and, being in the bow at the time, I was the first man to get ashore’. One of his men later confirmed this. Chapman was killed at Pozieres, France on 6 August 1916.
How many Australians died on the first day? We do not really know. In bitter fighting after the landing, the details of many men’s deaths were sketchy. First to Fall, a CD-ROM by the Australian Defence Force Academy, names 621 men. The Roll of Honour lists 752 men as having died on 25 April 1915, although some of these are deaths are administratively classified as ‘on or about’ 25 April, and could have been later. Statistics of the military effort of the British Empire during the Great War, 1914-1920, provides a figure of 860 deaths from all causes between 25 April and 30 April.
When did the Gallipoli campaign end? The evacuation of Anzac and Suvla was completed on 20 December 1915, a few days short of eight months after the landing. The campaign ended on 9 January 1916 when British forces completed the evacuation of Cape Helles.
What other nationalities were at Gallipoli? The First World War was fought by competing empires, albeit empires in decline, and inevitably the men who fought came from different parts of the globe. The British-French force included men from these countries and their colonies. The ‘French’ included people born in France but also Senegalese as well as other colonial troops. The ‘British’ included Englishmen, Irishmen, Welshmen, Scots, Indians, Gurkhas, Australians, New Zealanders and Newfoundlanders.
The ‘Turks’ were mostly Turkish, but many were from other parts of the Ottoman Empire. Indeed journalist Robert Fisk points out that two-thirds of the 19th Division, the first to face the Anzacs, were Syrian Arabs.
Where else at Gallipoli did the Anzacs serve? In early May the 2nd Infantry Brigade and New Zealand Infantry Brigade re-embarked and sailed to Cape Helles. They were thrown into the Second Battle of Krithia. More than 1,800 Anzacs (about a third of the two brigades) were killed or wounded there. The survivors returned to Anzac. In August, the RAN Bridging Train landed at Suvla, north of Anzac, building wharves after the British landing there.
Were the British really ‘drinking tea’? When British troops landed at Suvla in August, the Anzacs were fighting and dying at Lone Pine, Chunuk Bair and the Nek. Peter Weir’s 1981 film Gallipoli made famous a story that the Anzacs could see the British ‘drinking tea’. This left a poor impression of British soldiers. The Suvla landing was poorly planned, and confusion on the beaches meant some units had no option but to congregate and wait for orders. Soldiers of any nationality would have taken this chance to ‘brew up’. Meanwhile, further inland, British soldiers were fighting courageously. The loss of 1,700 men killed or wounded in the first 24 hours is testimony to this.
Why wasn’t Simpson decorated? ‘The man with the donkey’ actually was decorated. Private John Simpson Kirkpatrick, 3rd Field Ambulance, was killed on 19 May 1915 and posthumously Mentioned in Despatches for his transporting of wounded men. This was noted in The London Gazette on 5 November 1915, and in the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette on 27 January 1916. This honour was rare. Other than the Victoria Cross, it was the only honour able to be granted to a man killed in action. Of the 60,000 Australians who died in the Great War, only about 220 were accorded this
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Figure 5: Private John Simpson Kirkpatrick assisting an unidentified soldier, Gallipoli, circa May 1915. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial.
honour. Simpson’s medals are held by the Australian War Memorial. They include his Victory Medal, with the Mentioned-in-Despatches rosette on its ribbon. Simpson and his donkey are still the subject of vigorous discussion. In ‘The donkey vote; a VC for Simpson—the case against’, Graham Wilson argues that ‘Simpson was no braver than any other man on the Gallipoli Peninsula’, and that the campaign to have Simpson posthumously awarded a Victoria Cross or an Australian Victoria Cross is ‘impossible and inappropriate’ (Sabretache, December 2006). Wilson later expanded his views in a book, Dust, donkeys and delusions: the myth of Simpson and his donkey (Big Sky Publishing, 2012). In ‘The man with the donkey: hero or fraud’, Tom Curran challenges critics who have refuted aspects of the story of Simpson (Sabretache, December 2008).
The Defence Honours and Awards Appeal Tribunal considered the merits of the case for awarding Simpson a Victoria Cross as a part of its 2013 Inquiry into unresolved recognition for past acts of naval and military gallantry and valour. In recommending that no action be taken the Tribunal noted:
Some submitters suggested that Simpson deserved a VC because he represented what it means to be Australian, and there was strong community support for such recognition. While this might be a popular proposition, the VC can only be awarded for valorous conduct in the presence of the enemy. The Tribunal found that Simpson’s initiative and bravery were representative of all other stretcher-bearers of 3rd Field Ambulance, and that bravery was appropriately recognised as such by the award of an MID.
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How many Australians died at Gallipoli? We do not really know. The estimate provided by the Australian War Memorial is 8,141 but, as is the case with virtually all casualty figures, this number has varied somewhat over the years and slightly different figures are cited in other sources.
The 8,141 figure is drawn from the War Office’s Statistics of the military effort of the British Empire during the Great War, 1914-1920. This figure is for deaths up to 16 January 1916 and might not include deaths after this date which resulted from wounds received before the evacuation. On page 239, Australian deaths are given as 362 officers and 7,779 other ranks (a total of 8,141), but on page 286 a table of month-by-month deaths is stated as adding up to 371 officers and 8,338 other ranks (a total of 8,709). Examination of the War Office table reveals that staff got their tallying up wrong. The monthly deaths actually add up to 359 officers and 7,800 other ranks, which equals 8,159. Robin Prior, in his book Gallipoli: the end of the myth (University of New South Wales Press, 2009), quotes the British Official History figure of 7,825 killed.
Given that the War Office’s lower number and the corrected sum of monthly deaths are close, that Australian official medical history statistics are reasonably close, and that the Roll of Honour for this period would be close too once unrelated deaths (from illnesses and accidents in Australia, at sea or in Egypt) are taken into account, then a revised estimate of the number of Australians who died in the Gallipoli Campaign could be around 8,150.
British casualties were around 120,000. French 27,000 and a Turkish figure, while uncertain, is thought to be over 220,000.
The campaign â¢ a summary of the Gallipoli Campaign from The Oxford Companion to Australian Military History—includes maps.
â¢ an excerpt of Denis Winter’s book 25 April 1915 -the inevitable tragedy (published on the Department of Veterans’ Affairs website ‘Gallipoli and the Anzacs’)
â¢ a brief summary of the Gallipoli Campaign from the 1990 media kit issued to assist Australia’s 75th anniversary official commemorative visit.
â¢ Gallipoli and the Anzacs website—commissioned by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and developed by the Board of Studies, NSW. Contains new and historical material on Gallipoli.
â¢ the Epitaphs of Gallipoli, a website developed by the Gallipoli Association detailing the headstone inscriptions of Australian and New Zealand soldiers with known graves on the Gallipoli Peninsula.
First-hand accounts of the Gallipoli Campaign CEW Bean’s first report of the Anzac landings at Gallipoli was published in the Commonwealth Gazette on 17 May 1915. At this point Bean was the official press representative with the Australian Expeditionary Force.
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Figure 6: On 17 May 1915, CEW Bean’s first report from Gallipoli was published in the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette. Image courtesy of the National Library of Australia.
British War correspondent, Ellis Ashmead-Bartlett’s first-hand reports on the Anzac landing at Gallipoli praised the courage of the ‘raw’ Australian and New Zealand troops. Ashmead-Bartlett became frustrated and disillusioned with the course of the campaign, and with the difficulties placed in the path of his reporting. In concert with the Australian journalist, Keith Murdoch, he attempted to circumvent the military censorship imposed by General Sir Ian Hamilton. Murdoch left Gallipoli with Ashmead-Bartlett’s letter to British Prime Minister Asquith which contributed to the withdrawal of troops from the Peninsula and the downfall of Sir Ian Hamilton.
In ‘Anzac: nationhood, brotherhood and sacrifice’, chapter four of Bill Gammage’s The broken years: Australian soldiers in the Great War, the author has used first-hand accounts of the Gallipoli Campaign by Australian soldiers to explore their attitudes to the war; to the fighting; to their British allies and their Turkish opponents; and to the death of comrades.
In this extract from The story of Anzac, volume 1 of the official history of Australia in the war of 1914-1918, CEW Bean, the official historian, summarises the course of the Gallipoli campaign from the landings to the end of the first phase in early May 1915 when the advance of the British forces at both Gaba Tepe and Cape Helles had
been brought to a standstill. Bean discusses Australian successes and failures in the early phase of the campaign up to Sir Ian Hamilton’s decision that the next thrust of the battle should be at Helles rather than at Anzac.
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Australian women served as nurses in the Australian Army Nursing Service. The women served on hospital ships close to the shore at Gallipoli and also on the Greek islands of Lemnos and Imbros, as well as back in Alexandria. Like the men, for most of these women this would have been their first experience of war and they worked with inadequate conditions and equipment.
Jan Bassett, writing in her book Guns and brooches: Australian Army nursing from the Boer War to the Gulf War (Oxford University Press, 1992), quotes Sister Ilma Lovell about conditions on the hospital ship Formosa off Suvla Bay in early August 1915:
We were receiving wounded all night and terrible wounds they were—the majority of them were fly blown and septic. All were operated upon on admission and the little theatre was kept busy all night—limbs, had they been able to have been treated before and would have been saved, had to be amputated.
A general history of the medical aspect of the campaign can be found in: M Tyquin, Gallipoli: the medical war: the Australian Army medical services in the Dardanelles Campaign of 1915, NSW University Press, Kensington, 1993.
Gallipoli—legend versus reality An article by Robert Manne, ‘A Turkish tale: Gallipoli and the Armenian genocide’, explores possible connections between the two events (Monthly, February 2007, pp. 20-28).
The following articles are from Wartime, a journal published by the Australian War Memorial:
â¢ N Steel, ‘What if...? Imagine the Gallipoli landings on 25 April 1915 had succeeded—what then?’ (Wartime, no. 38, 2007, pp. 34-37).
â¢ N Steel, ‘Heroic sacrifice’ (Wartime, no. 38, 2007, pp. 22-27).
â¢ H Broadbent, ‘Gallipoli from the Turkish perspective’ (Wartime, no. 38, 2007, pp. 18-21).
â¢ R Crawley, ‘Lone Pine: worth the cost?‘ (Wartime, no. 38, 2007, pp. 14-17).
â¢ P Hart, ‘War is Helles: the real fight for Gallipoli’ (Wartime, no. 38, 2007, pp. 10-12).
â¢ in ‘Gallipoli: a Turkish view’, David Cameron examines the first hours after the landings from the viewpoint of a company of 250 Turkish soldiers who opposed the ANZACs (Wartime, no. 42, 2008).
â¢ in ‘Gallipoli’s first day: Turkish documents separating myth and reality’ Harvey Broadbent looks at the first day of the campaign using material in Turkish archives (Wartime, no. 46, 2009, pp. 44-47).
â¢ C Roberts, ‘Turkish machine-guns at the landing‘. The author asks whether Australian troops landing at Anzac Cove on 25 April 1915 were subject to Turkish machine-gun fire (Wartime, no. 50, April 2010, pp. 14-19).
â¢ P Pedersen, ‘Burning Bridges‘. A profile of Major-General WT Bridges (Wartime, no. 50, April 2010, pp. 20- 25).
â¢ P Burness, ‘First man ashore‘. It is generally accepted that the 9th Battalion was the first ashore at Gallipoli but who was the first man to reach dry land? (Wartime, no. 50, April 2010, p. 30).
â¢ R Van Dyk, ‘The evacuation of Anzac‘. Uses unit war diaries to describe the evacuation of Gallipoli (Wartime, no. 50, April 2010, pp. 32-36).
â¢ ‘Air war over the Dardanelles’ by Greg Gilbert—explores the contribution of air power to the Dardanelles campaign (Wartime, Summer 2013).
â¢ ‘The day it all went wrong: the naval assault before the Gallipoli landings’ by Peter Hart—explores the failed attempt by ships from the British and French fleets to take the straits during March 1915 (Wartime, Issue 62, Autumn 2013, pp. 8-13).
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In ‘The first casualty’, Les Carlyon argues that the truth bears more eloquent witness to the heroics of Gallipoli than the myths that have grown up around it (Bulletin with Newsweek, 7 August 2001).
‘The lure of Gallipoli’, by Les Carlyon, is an article on the myth, the pride and the nostalgia evoked by the campaign and its commemoration (Australian Women’s Weekly, 1 August 2001).
In ‘A terrible beauty’, the final chapter of his book, Gallipoli, Les Carlyon summarises the importance of Gallipoli and sketches the fates of a number of the key protagonists.
In ‘When myth makers go over the top’, Ray Cassin argues that the prominence of the Gallipoli myth has served to obscure the sacrifice of soldiers who served in other campaigns (Age, 24 June 2001).
In ‘The last Anzac: the fatal shore that defines a nation’, Tony Stephens discusses where Gallipoli ranks in Australia’s historical picture (Sydney Morning Herald, 17 May 2002).
In ‘First casualty’, Robin Prior and Trevor Wilson give a summary of the Gallipoli Campaign and correct ten myths about it (Sydney Morning Herald, 20 April 2002).
‘Exploding the myths of Gallipoli’ by Ashley Ekins (Bulletin with Newsweek, 27 April 2004, pp. 30-33.)
In ‘The wrong place’, WF Refshauge examines the continuing debate about whether the original landing at Anzac Cove was made at the wrong place (Sabretache, September 2007).
In Gallipoli: the end of the myth (University of New South Wales Press, 2009), Robin Prior provides some forceful commentary on the planning and conduct of the campaign, reaching the conclusion that, even if it had been successful, the Dardanelles Campaign would not have shortened the war.
Gallipoli—military resources â¢ list of Anzac units which served in the Gallipoli Campaign
â¢ Anzac unit organisation chart (1915)
â¢ a summary of the casualties incurred by each of the nations which took part in the Gallipoli Campaign.
Gallipoli—biographies Gallipoli biographies contains brief sketches of the most prominent officers and ordinary soldiers who were involved in the campaign. The Australian War Memorial’s online encyclopaedia provides links to a number of Gallipoli biographies including those of CEW Bean and John Simpson Kirkpatrick (the man with the donkey).
Brief biographical details of Mustapha Kemal (later known as Ataturk) are available here.
In ‘First Anzac heroes’, Barry Clissold discusses the men who were awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal at Gallipoli and how they ‘set a high standard of courage for a young nation in its first major engagement’ (Wartime, no. 25, 2004).
Gallipoli—geography, then and now â¢ short descriptions of points of significance on the Gallipoli Peninsula, including Lone Pine, the Nek and Hill 60, Quinn’s Post, Gaba Tepe and many others
â¢ a relief map of the Gallipoli Peninsula showing the main features in 1915
â¢ Google map of Gallipoli, with an option to view satellite imagery revealing the contours of the coastline
â¢ the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards NSW (BOSTES) have developed the Gallipoli and the Anzacs website which includes information about the Anzac landing at Gallipoli, visiting Gallipoli today and the Anzac Commemorative Site, which was built at Gallipoli with the cooperation of the New Zealand and Turkish governments.
â¢ North Beach Gallipoli 1915 is a Department of Veterans’ Affairs publication which describes the Anzac Commemorative Site as it was in 1915.
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Walter John Styles—Northern Territory
Walter John Styles was born in March 1890 in Darwin, Northern Territory to parents Thomas and Eleanor. He subsequently moved with his family to Brock’s Creek (approximately 40 km SW of Adelaide River) and became employed as a labourer. Styles joined the AIF on 19 December 1914; however, as there were no recruitment centres established in the Northern Territory, he had to travel to Cairns to enlist. Having been posted to the 9th Battalion (2nd Reinforcement), Styles embarked from Brisbane on HMAT Seang Bee on 13 February 1915. According to Styles’ letter to his father dated 5 July, he was on the Greek island of Lemnos until 25 April when he spent the first 72 hours of the Gallipoli campaign helping set up field hospitals and wading out to boats under constant shrapnel fire to unload food and ammunition.
Styles again wrote home in early June, informing his sister that he had been wounded by a bullet to his left side on 30 May. Despite his injury, he continued for more than a week before receiving treatment—at first on a hospital ship, then at the 1st Australian General Hospital in Cairo. Writing to his sister on 13 June, Styles noted that ‘the hospital I am in has got 700 wounded and you would think there was nothing wrong with them to hear the laughing and joking’. Styles rejoined his unit (the 9th Battalion’s ‘A’ Company) on 13 July; however he was hit by enemy machine gun fire while digging a trench on 28 July 1915 and died later that day. Styles was buried at sea and is commemorated at both the Lone Pine Memorial and Darwin Cenotaph.
Sources ‘Walter Styles’, Fallen ANZACs, Northern Territory Government Department of Arts and Museums, website, accessed 22 January 2015. ‘Walter Styles’, The AIF project, website, accessed 23 January 2015. ‘B2455: Walter Styles’, First Australian Imperial Force Personnel Dossiers, 1914-1920, National Archives of Australia, Barcode #8095789, accessed 7 April 2015. ‘Unique Territory History WWI’, Anzac Centenary, Northern Territory Government Department of the Chief Minister, website, accessed 23 January 2015.
Section 4: The Western Front The AIF on the Western Front The Western Front entry in The Oxford companion to Australian military history provides a useful summary of the two and a half years the Australian Imperial Force spent fighting in France and Belgium (P Dennis, et al., The Oxford companion to Australian military history, 2nd edn, OUP, South Melbourne, 2008, pp. 586-598).
‘The fight that changed Australia’—an article by military historian David Horner on Australia’s role on the Western Front between 1916 and 1918 (Australian Magazine, 7-8 August 1993).
In ‘The end of the Great War: Australian soldiers and the armistice of November 1918’, Ashley Ekins describes the reaction of Australian troops to the end of the war, and the massive task of demobilisation (Wartime, no. 4, Summer 1998).
‘The worst war in history’, also by Ashley Ekins, sets out the effect of the end of the war on both the soldiers who fought in it and the country to which they returned (Age, 8 November 2008).
Australian battles on the Western Front during World War I, a Parliamentary Library Research Paper (16 August 1993) by David Anderson, which includes maps and short descriptions of the major battles in which Australian soldiers fought.
The Department of Veterans’ Affairs website, Australians on the Western Front 1914-18, has links to pages describing the major battles of each year of the war.
1916 After the Allied withdrawal from Gallipoli in December 1915, five Australian infantry divisions were formed to fight in France and Belgium. Four of them, the 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th Divisions arrived between March and June 1916 (the 3rd Division was formed in Australia and trained in England in the second half of 1916). Initially the four divisions were in ‘a relatively quiet sector’ around Armentieres known as the ‘nursery’ sector, although there were periods of ‘sharp fighting, shelling and some heavy raids’ resulting in more than 600 deaths by the end of June (P Burness, ‘1916: a terrible year’, Wartime, no. 36, 2006, pp. 10-16).
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The 5th Australian Division which remained in French Flanders, took part in ‘an ill-planned diversion at Fromelles on 19 July and lost 5,533 men’, including 1,917 killed. Over seven weeks from late July 1916, three other Australian Divisions, the 1st, 2nd and 4th, which had been sent to join the fighting on the Somme, launched 19 attacks in fighting around Pozieres and Mouquet Farm taking their objectives, but at a cost of 23,000 casualties (D Horner, ‘The fight that changed Australia’, Australian Magazine, 7-8 August 1993).
Fromelles In ‘The battle of Fromelles’, Ashley Ekins describes the fighting on the late afternoon of 19 July 1916 as the ‘worst day in Australian military history’. Ekins argues that ‘the battle of Fromelles was a model of how not to attack on the Western Front. It reflected the lowest point of military incompetence in the Great War...’ The major failing was not the inexperience of the Australians who fought gallantly, but ‘the piecemeal planning of the attack, which in turn stemmed from the ineptitude of senior commanders’ (Wartime, no. 44, 2008, pp. 18- 23).
Figure 7: Written on 23 July 1916, these excerpts were drawn from the 15th Australian Brigade’s report on the Battle of Fromelles. The 15th Brigade suffered huge casualties during the battle. From 21-22 July 1916, two of the Brigade’s four Battalions—the 59th and 60th—suffered around 1,450 casualties out of a strength of at most 2,000 officers and men. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial.
Up to 400 Australian and British soldiers, missing and presumed dead after the battle of Fromelles, were believed to have been buried in a mass grave by the Germans at Pheasant Wood, near the battlefield. The possible burial site was located in 2008 due to the efforts of a Melbourne group, the Friends of the Fifteenth Brigade Association, led by a school teacher, Mr Lambis Englezos.
In May and June 2008 archaeological excavation work was carried out on the site of the mass grave confirming that it contained human remains, likely to be those of a number of the 170 Australian soldiers and 327 British
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soldiers missing after the Battle of Fromelles in 1916. The Army History Unit re-engaged a team from Glasgow University’s Archaeological Division which had conducted a non-invasive survey at Fromelles in May 2007. This earlier survey revealed underground anomalies matching five pits seen in aerial photographs taken after the battle.
The Australian and British governments announced on 4 October 2008 that the remains would be recovered and re-interred in a new cemetery, and work to exhume the soldiers’ bodies began on 5 May 2009. Plans for a new cemetery in an open field in Fromelles were subsequently unveiled. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission began construction of the new walled cemetery in June 2009.
On 2 April 2009 the Australian Government published a list of the names of 191 Australian soldiers whose remains may be among those recovered from the site. On 17 June 2009 a contract was announced for the analysis of viable DNA from the site. The Department of Defence has a website containing details of the project.
The excavation of the site was completed in early September 2009 with the remains of 250 soldiers being exhumed. The remains were sent to LGC Forensics in London for testing in an effort to identify as many individual soldiers as possible. In his announcement of the completion of the excavation, the Minister for
Defence Personnel, Materiel and Science stated that ‘a large number’ of the remains belonged to Australians, but cautioned that it would take many months, and in some cases years, for proper identification to be completed. A joint Australia/UK identification board began considering the forensic findings in early March 2010.
In mid-2010 construction of the new Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) cemetery was completed at Fromelles. This was the first new CWGC cemetery to be established since the end of the Second World War. Further details can be found on the CWGC website. The cemetery is not located on the site of the grave pits but is set further up the slope overlooking the original site. It was decided to place the cemetery in a new location due to concerns about flooding and easier access for visitors (the original site is further down the slope and flooding is a regular occurrence). A small car park has also been built adjacent to the cemetery.
Figure 8: Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
The CWGC carried out the re-interment of the majority of the 250 sets of remains in individual graves during February 2010, with headstones which list the person buried as ‘unknown’. Names will be added to the
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headstones as information gained from the results of the DNA testing program becomes available. On 17 March 2010 the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs announced that the DNA testing had identified 75 of the men and that relatives had been informed. The Australian Army website carries a list of the men who have been identified. As at 8 April 2011 when the Minister announced the identification of 14 more sets of remains, the total number of men identified stood at 110. However, this process is ongoing and nine more soldiers were identified in early 2012. The total again increased with the identification of five more men in April 2013. These five were buried on 20 July 2013. Special events will be held at Fromelles and Pozieres to mark the 100th anniversary of these battles.
The cemetery was officially dedicated on 19 July 2010. In order to mark the completion of the project, a commemorative event took place at the cemetery at which the last of the 250 soldiers was buried and the Governor-General, Quentin Bryce, delivered an address. The 94th anniversary of the battle of Fromelles was also commemorated by a ceremony in the Commemorative Area of the Australian War Memorial where Ashley Ekins, Head of Military History at the Australian War Memorial, gave a special closing address.
During July 2014 a Museum of the Battle of Fromelles (MusÃ©e de la bataille de Fromelles) was opened.
Two months earlier the Royal Australian Mint issued a special twenty cent coin to commemorate the Battle of Fromelles. The coin carries an image of the statue by Peter Corlett which depicts Sergeant Simon Fraser carrying a wounded soldier over his shoulder.
The website of the Office of Australian War Graves contains links to overseas memorials, with information on current projects overseas and in Australian memorials.
Pozieres In ‘Men of Pozieres’, Peter Burness describes Australia’s first fighting on the Somme which began in darkness on 23 July 1916 when the 1st Australian Division took the village of Pozieres in a costly but successful attack (Wartime, Issue 34, 2006, pp. 38-42). In ‘Pozieres hell’, Burness examines the human cost of the battle on those who survived (Wartime, no. 22, 2003, pp. 14-19).
According to the Australian Army History Unit’s description of the battle of Pozieres, during which four Australians won Victoria Crosses, Australian casualties comprised:
1st Australian Division 5,285 officers and men
2nd Australian Division 6,846 officers and men
4th Australian Division* 4,649 officers and men
(*as at 16 August when relieved)
The National Film and Sound Archive, working in collaboration with the Australian War Memorial, has made available online actual footage of the Australians at Pozieres. The original filming was carried out under the direction of Charles Bean, and shows the Australians building trenches and preparing for the battle as well as
British and Australian artillery shelling the German trenches.
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Ivor Stephen Margetts—Tasmania
Ivor Stephen Margetts was born on 4 September 1891 in Launceston, Tasmania to parents Stephen and Charlotte. He excelled at sports at Launceston High School, where he was awarded many prizes and became a senior prefect. Although he briefly attended the University of Tasmania, his love of sports drew him to accepting a position as junior sports master at Hutchins School at Sandy Bay, just south of Hobart. Here Margetts continued to participate in his chosen pursuits of rowing and Australian Rules Football. He was also experienced in local militia units and successfully applied for a commission in the Australian Imperial Forces (AIF) upon his enlistment on 3 September 1914.
Appointed as a 2nd Lieutenant within the AIF’s 12th Battalion, Margetts embarked HMAT Geelong from Hobart on 20 October 1914 as part of the first AIF convoy. After further training in Egypt and the Greek island of Lemnos, Margetts was part of the second tow to disembark at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915 and was promoted to captain three months later. He wrote home to Australia regularly about his experiences, and a collection including his private diary and letters is preserved at the Australian War Memorial.
Having endured seven months of the ANZAC’s Gallipoli campaign, Margetts continued to serve with the 12th Battalion on the Western Front. He was killed in action on 23 July 1916 at Pozieres, six weeks before his 25th birthday. A well-liked and respected officer, Margetts was posthumously Mentioned in Despatches on 13 November 1916 and his name is recorded at the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial alongside other soldiers with no known grave.
Sources A Gerrard, ‘“Too good for the beastliness of war”: Captain Ivor Stephen Margetts, MID’, Sabretache, vol. LII, no. 4, December 2011, pp. 21-33, accessed 14 January 2015. ‘Ivor Stephen Margetts’, The AIF project, website, accessed 14 January 2015. ‘Captain Ivor Stephen Margetts: 12th Battalion’, Australian Red Cross Society Wounded and Missing Enquiry Bureau files, 1914-18 War 1DRL/0428, Australian War Memorial website, accessed 14 January 2015.
Mouquet Farm According to the Australian War Memorial:
Mouquet Farm was the site of nine separate attacks by three Australian divisions between 8 August and 3 September 1916. The farm stood in a dominating position on a ridge that extended north-west from the ruined, and much fought over, village of Pozieres. Although the farm buildings themselves were reduced to rubble, strong stone cellars remained below ground which were incorporated into the German defences. The attacks mounted against Mouquet Farm cost the 1st, 2nd and 4th Australian Divisions over 11 000 casualties, and not one succeeded in capturing and holding it. The British advance eventually bypassed Mouquet Farm leaving it an isolated outpost. It fell, inevitably, on 27 September 1916.
The Australian Army History Unit’s description of the fighting at Mouquet Farm lists the casualties as:
1st Australian Division 2,650 officers and men
2nd Australian Division (6th Bde only) 896 officers and men 4th Australian Division 7,158 officers and men
1917 The year 1917 started with the armies bogged down in the frozen trench lines that stretched virtually from the North Sea to Switzerland. In February, the Germans began withdrawing to newly prepared positions called the Hindenburg Line. In pursuit, Australians occupied Bapaume on 17 March—the objective originally set for the Somme offensive of 1916.
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Figure 9: One of the best-known images of Australians on the Western Front: artillery men walk along a duckboard track at Chateau Wood, Belgium, during the final stages of the Third Battle of Ypres (Battle of Passchendaele). Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial.
The British and French high command agreed to a spring offensive. Australians were not allotted to the main operation, but the 4th Division was selected for a supporting action, to attack the fortified village of Bullecourt. The 4th Division lost more than 3,000 men, including more than 1,000 captured—the largest number of
Australian POWs in a single action during this war.
Although the Arras offensive also had failed, the 2nd Division and British 62nd Division were ordered to attack Bullecourt again on 3 May. The Australians breached the Hindenburg Line, but lost heavily against counter-attacks. On 8 May, the 5th Division took over, making more ground, and on 17 May British troops took the objective. It was a hollow victory: 7,000 casualties for ground not needed.
The 3rd Division—the last of the five Australian divisions to arrive on the Western Front—entered the fray in April 1917, in the Ypres Salient, Belgium. This area was to dominate the Australian experience of 1917. On 7 June, the 3rd and 4th Divisions, with New Zealand and British troops, attacked at Messines. They suffered nearly 7,000 casualties, many from gas and ‘friendly’ artillery fire, but it was a clear victory. Unfortunately, high command hesitated in ordering a follow-up attack. British troops fought courageously against a now well-prepared enemy, but faltered.
In September, the Third Battle of Ypres started. On 20 September, the 1st and 2nd Divisions attacked at Menin Road; on 26 September, the 4th Division at Polygon Wood; on 4 October, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Divisions at Broodseinde; and on 12 October, the 3rd and New Zealand Divisions at Passchendaele. Ground was made in all places, but the front became bogged down after heavy rains. The mud was said to be ‘incomprehensible to anyone who has not experienced it’. In those two months, more than 8,900 Australians lost their lives, and nearly 24,000 were wounded or gassed.
Bullecourt During the broader Arras Offensive (April-June 1917) Australian forces played a central role in the First and Second Battles of Bullecourt. Between February and April 1917, German forces on the Western Front withdrew to a defensive line known to British forces as the Hindenburg Line.
On 11 April 1917 the Australian 4th Division and British 62nd Division attacked German positions either side of the village of Bullecourt, attempting to capture Hindenburg Line trenches. This attack was made with the
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support of a small number of British tanks, rather than with the customary preliminary artillery barrage of enemy positions. All the tanks were out of action within a couple of hours, and while some trenches were captured, they could not be held, and Australian troops were driven back by midday. Casualties were very high— the 4th Division suffered 3,300 casualties on this day alone.
A second attempt was made to capture Hindenburg Line trenches around Bullecourt between 3 and 17 May. Australian troops seized and held some parts of the Hindenburg Line and the British 62nd Division captured the village of Bullecourt on 17 May. Three Australian Divisions (the 2nd, 1st and 5th) took part in the two weeks of fighting at Bullecourt, and suffered a total of 7,000 casualties. Bullecourt is now the home of the Australian Memorial Park.
In ‘The battles for Bullecourt’, Peter Burness describes the horror and devastation experienced in April and May 1917 by Australian soldiers who fought battles around the French town of Bullecourt. Heavy Australian casualties were incurred in an attempt to capture a strongpoint in the Hindenburg Line (Wartime, no. 18, 2002, pp. 24-29).
Passchendaele (Third Ypres) The other major Western Front campaign in 1917 involving Australians was the Third Battle of Ypres in Belgium, and its precursor the Battle of Messines.
The purpose of the Battle of Messines was to capture a German-held ridge that bulged into the Allied lines. If the ridge was not captured prior to the main battle (Third Ypres), German forces would have been able to rain artillery fire down on the British flank as it moved forward. For more than a year prior to this attack, British, Canadian, New Zealand and Australian engineering units had been tunnelling under the German trench system at Messines. The mines laid in these tunnels were detonated on the morning of the battle, resulting in one of the most powerful (and certainly most deadly) non-nuclear explosions ever created. It is estimated that 10,000 German troops were killed when the mines were detonated. More information on the Australian role in the tunnelling and mine detonation is available in a chapter from the Official History.
The preliminary artillery barrage at Messines was also significant: in the week prior to the attack British artillery fired more than 3.5 million shells of various sizes onto the ridge at Messines.
Following the mine detonation, and advancing behind a creeping artillery barrage, nine divisions attacked the ridge from three sides. By mid-morning on 7 June all objectives had been taken in the limited offensive, although Australian, New Zealand and British troops fought off German counter-attacks for about a week. Australian participation in Messines consisted of the 3rd and 4th Divisions; the New Zealand Division also played a key role in the battle, being the Division that actually took the village of Messines. The two Australian divisions suffered 6,800 casualties in the two-week battle.
Messines was a startling success compared to the Third Battle of Ypres (July-November 1917). One of those huge, costly and largely unsuccessful battles of the Western Front, Third Ypres cost hundreds of thousands of British, Australian and Canadian casualties (and hundreds of thousands of German casualties), with little change in the strategic situation. At the end of the battle, and after three months, the Allies had gained just a few miles of ground; German forces would subsequently re-take this ground over a couple of weeks in April 1918. Of the eight or so sub-battles that made up Third Ypres, Australian forces were most heavily involved in the following:
â¢ Menin Road, 20-25 September
â¢ Polygon Wood, 26 September-3 October (The Fifth Division Memorial is located at Polygon Wood)
â¢ Broodseinde, 4 October and
â¢ The first attack on Passchendaele, 9-12 October.
Between the start of August and the end of November 1917 the Australian forces suffered about 38,000 casualties, of which 11,200 were killed in action or died of wounds. In October alone the Australian divisions lost 6,405 men—with a total casualty figure of 26,000—making it the bloodiest month in Australian military history. More Australians were killed during Third Ypres, not including Messines, than were killed in the entire Gallipoli Campaign.
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In ‘Byways to hell: Australian soldiers in the Battle of Passchendaele’ Ashley Ekins describes the Third Battle of Ypres in 1917 which cost 38,000 Australian casualties over three and a half months (Wartime, no. 1, 1997, pp. 7-13).
1918 In 1918, the First World War entered its fifth calendar year. The strength of national pride and of the fighting capacity of Australia’s forces had been acknowledged in late 1917 with the formation of the Australian Corps, comprising the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th Divisions. However, casualties made it difficult to keep the Australian divisions at strength. In May 1918 Lieutenant General John Monash was made the first Australian commander of the Australian Corps.
During 1918 the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) consolidated its ‘reputation for reliability, competence and skill‘.
On 21 March 1918, Germany, freed in the East by the defeat of Russia, launched Operation Michael, an initially successful final offensive on the Western Front in France aimed at splitting the Allied forces in the Amiens area and driving towards the English Channel. After the German offensive stalled, the stalemate on the Western Front began to turn in favour of the Allies with their more effective use of combined infantry, artillery, tanks and aircraft. During the final months of the war, the AIF was involved in a number of significant battles leading up to the Armistice on 11 November 1918.
Figure 10: Members of the 54th Infantry Battalion in Peronne, the day after the battle, 2 October 1918. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial.
Battles This year, 2016, is the 98th anniversary of five major battles in which Australian forces participated in 1918—the battles of Villers-Bretonneux, Hamel, Amiens, Mont St Quentin and the Hindenburg Line.
Villers-Bretonneux The First (4 April) and Second Battles of Villers-Bretonneux were fought in 1918, the second battle taking place on 24 and 25 April and involving a night-time counter-attack by the 15th Brigade of the AIF under Harold ‘Pompey’ Elliott in a desperate attempt to recapture the town of Villers-Bretonneux. The successful counter-
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attack by the Australians during the second Battle of Villers-Bretonneux was described by Brigadier General Grogan VC as ‘perhaps the greatest individual feat of the war’. The words ‘Do not forget Australia’ are on a sign in the playground of the Victoria school in Villers-Bretonneux that was rebuilt after the war with money raised by donations from Victoria, Australia.
In ‘Perhaps the greatest individual feat of the war’: the battle of Villers-Bretonneux, 1918’, Ross McMullin describes the AIF’s ‘daring night assault [which] saved the city of Amiens and decisively checked the German advance’ (Wartime, no. 2, April 1998).
‘ANZAC Day at Villers-Bretonneux’, by Brad Manera, also describes the fighting, featuring the actions of two Western Australian soldiers (Wartime, no. 22, 2003).
Peter Burness describes the hard fighting in ‘Anzac Day at Villers-Bretonneux‘, quoting a sergeant’s description: ‘The moon sunk behind clouds. There were houses burning in the town throwing a sinister light on the scene. It was past midnight. Men muttered, ‘it’s ANZAC Day’. It seemed there was nothing to do but go straight forward and die hard’ (Wartime, no. 42, 2008).
In 2008, to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the battle on Anzac Day 1918, an Australian-led Dawn Service was held on Anzac Day at the Australian National Memorial near Villers-Bretonneux. This was the first official Australian Dawn Service to be held at the Memorial in Villers-Bretonneux.
Figure 11: The ruined Church in Villers-Bretonneux after the second Battle. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial.
The Department of Veterans’ Affairs has a website with information and advice for those planning to attend 2016 Anzac Day commemorative services on the Western Front.
Hamel The Allied operation to capture the town of Hamel and the surrounding area on 4 July 1918 was under the command of Lieutenant General John Monash whose planning and careful arrangements led to what Monash himself described as a ‘brilliant success’.
The Australian War Memorial summarises the battle on its ‘1918 Australians in France’ website: ‘Hamel the textbook victory—4 July 1918’. Another summary of the battle of Hamel, by Chris Coulthard-Clark, argues that this ‘model of [a] completely successful all-arms battle … set new standards of generalship which were emulated subsequently by other commanders on the Western Front’ (C Coulthard-Clark, Where Australians fought: the encyclopaedia of Australia’s battles, Allen and Unwin, St Leonards, 1998, pp. 148-149).
In ‘Hamel: winning a battle’, the authors argue that Monash applied the principles of war, including ‘sound administration, meticulous planning, maintenance of morale, [and] concentration of force … with flexibility … Monash was an outstanding corps commander, with the ability to coordinate a wide range of available
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technology to form a coherent plan … Hamel reveals his complete mastery of the set-piece battle’ (Journal of the Australian War Memorial, no. 18, April 1991).
The Battle of Hamel, fought on American Independence Day, was the first significant instance of Australian ‘Diggers’ fighting alongside their newly-arrived American ‘Doughboy’ allies. The relationship between Australian and US troops on the Western Front is described in an article by Dale Blair (Journal of the Australian War Memorial, no. 35, December 2001).
In ‘Independence Day at Hamel’, Mitchell Yockelson describes how the successful first Australian-American battle alliance happened despite the objections of the American Expeditionary Force’s commander, General John Pershing (Wartime, no. 28, October 2004).
Amiens—the Third Battle of the Somme The quote in the title of Ross McMullin’s article, ‘The black day of the German army: 8 August 1918’, was the German strategist General Ludendorff’s description of the Allied offensive aimed at ending the enemy threat to the French town of Amiens and its vital railway network. The battle involved meticulous planning by the Australian commander, General Monash, and for the first time all five Australian divisions fought together (Wartime, no. 3, Spring, 1998).
In ‘8 August 1918: the battle won’, Peter Burness quotes from General Monash’s message to his troops:
Because of the completeness of our plans and dispositions, of the magnitude of the operations, of the number of troops employed, and the depth to which we intend to over-run the enemy’s positions, this battle will be one of the most memorable of the whole war.
Burness also quotes an Australian captain who expressed what would have been in the minds of many Australian soldiers at this stage of the war: ‘Wouldn’t it be delightful if one could get home and start the new year as a civilian’, a hope which Burness says, would have been unthinkable six months previously (Wartime, no. 33, January 2006).
A summary by Chris Coulthard-Clark of the fighting around Amiens, Lihons, Etinehem and Proyart between 8 and 12 August 1918, demonstrates that progress on subsequent days was not as spectacular as that of 8 August, although the action fought around Chuignes on 23 August 1918 ‘was a stunning success’ (C Coulthard-Clark, Where Australians fought: the encyclopaedia of Australia’s battles, Allen and Unwin, St Leonards, 1998, pp. 151-155).
In ‘The capture of the Amiens gun’, Robert Nichols outlines the story of the capture of the large ex-naval gun which the Germans had been firing at Amiens, and the subsequent controversy over competing claims to its ownership based on involvement in its capture by the 31st Australian Infantry Battalion, British and Canadian Cavalry, a British Sopwith Camel aircraft and the French nation (Wartime, no. 23, July 2003).
Mont St Quentin The summary by Chris Coulthard-Clark of the Australian fighting on the heights overlooking Peronne between 31 August and 2 September 1918 describes the Mont St Quentin action as a ‘brilliant operation … [which] to many minds … was the crowning achievement of the AIF, if not of the entire war’ (C Coulthard-Clark, Where Australians fought: the encyclopaedia of Australia’s battles, Allen and Unwin, St Leonards, 1998, pp. 157-158).
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Figure 12: Special congratulatory wire sent from General John Monash to the 2nd Australian Division in early September 1918, noting that ‘the capture of Mont St Quentin has evoked a chorus of praise throughout the press of the world’. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial
The Australian War Memorial’s summary points out that once the Germans were forced out of Peronne they had to ‘retreat to their last line of defence—the Hindenburg Line’.
The Official History describes the capture of Mont St Quentin and Peronne as having ‘dealt a stunning blow to five German divisions’.
Hindenburg Line On 29 September 1918 Australian and US forces spearheaded the attack on the German Army’s last and strongest line of defence, the Hindenburg Line. This second attack followed the breaching of the line by the 1st and 4th Australian Divisions on 18 September. On 3 October 1918 Australian troops broke through the final defensive system of the Hindenburg Line. This was followed on 5 October 1918 by the last Australian Western Front action in which Australian infantry captured Montbrehain village. Australian divisions were withdrawn from the front in early October for a period of rest and refitting.
Aubrey Hugh Darnell—Western Australia
Aubrey Hugh Darnell was born 7 May 1886 in Dublin, Ireland to parents Francis and Agnes. He attended school in both Edinburgh and Yorkshire, before becoming an officer in the Royal Munster Fusiliers in 1903. Having emigrated to Claremont, Western Australia sometime in 1910-11, Darnell was employed as a civil servant but continued his military service as a senior cadet instructor and local Area Officer. He enlisted in the AIF on 17 August 1914 and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 11th Battalion’s ‘D’ Company. Darnell embarked from Fremantle on 2 November aboard HMAT Ascanius as part of the first convoy.
Darnell’s 11th Battalion was among the first AIF forces to land at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915, and he relayed the events in a letter to his brother, noting that ‘we repulsed attack after attack and the shell fire and machine gun fire was Hell, no other word for it’. Darnell received his first of three Mention in Despatches for bravery during the Gallipoli campaign’s first fortnight. By late July, Darnell was the only remaining officer in his Company before he himself succumbed to illness and was evacuated on 23 October. Darnell rejoined the 11th Battalion in May 1917, having married Helen Berkeley earlier that year in England. The following year Darnell displayed ‘conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty’ during operations near the northern French town of Strazeele in early June, which led to him being awarded the Distinguished Service Order on 24 September 1918.
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However, the day the award was conferred, Darnell was killed by a bomb dropped from a German aircraft. Having been promoted to Major and in command of the 11th Battalion, Darnell and his junior officer were leading the battalion away from the Hindenburg Line near Roisel when both officers were killed, less than two months before the Armistice. Darnell was buried at Tincourt New British Cemetery the following day.
Sources ‘Aubrey Hugh Darnell’, The AIF Project, website, accessed 23 January 2015. J Hurst, Game to the last: the 11th Australian Infantry Battalion at Gallipoli, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 2005. ‘B2455: Darnell A H’, First Australian Imperial Force Personnel Dossiers, 1914-1920, National Archives of Australia, Barcode #3488435, accessed 7 April 2015. ‘Darnell, Aubrey Hugh (Major, d:1918)’, Australian War Memorial, website, accessed 23 January 2015.
Indigenous AIF personnel during the First World War Recent years have seen a growth in the knowledge of the contribution made to Australia’s First World War effort by Indigenous service personnel. During the First World War, recruitment into the 1st AIF was originally governed by laws and policies that prohibited Australia’s Indigenous population from enlisting—the Defence Act 1903 excluded persons who were not substantially of European origin or descent. Despite this barrier, Indigenous Australians still enlisted. New information suggests that a larger number had enlisted than previously thought—the original estimate of 400 has now risen to more than 1,000, and the number is increasing as more research is done.
The Australian War Memorial website contains an overview of Indigenous military service in Australia from the Boer War onwards. It also notes a number of Indigenous projects relating to the Centenary of Anzac. The Australian War Memorial (AWM) recently updated its website to reflect the known number of Indigenous service personnel who served in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) in the First World War. It was originally thought that around 400-800 Indigenous Australians had served in the First World War, but that figure was recently adjusted to 1,000 and according to Gary Oakley (AWM) the number could potentially increase to 1,300 as further research and verification processes continue. This process has historically been made difficult because enlistment forms at that time did not identify a person’s ethnicity.
Significant research into Indigenous service during the First World War is also being conducted by researcher Philippa Scarlett, who publishes the regularly updated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander volunteers for the AIF. The most recent update (2014) includes details of 834 enlistments or attempted enlistments. ‘Of these,
eleven are second enlistments, including three second enlistments under another name. 152 of those who volunteered did not serve overseas’.
The Australian War Memorial’s Indigenous Liaison Officer, Gary Oakley, gave a Parliamentary Library lecture on 28 May 2014 entitled ‘Aboriginals in the First Australian Imperial Force, a secret history’. This talk chronicles the expansion of knowledge of Aboriginal service personnel currently taking place. Audio, Microsoft Powerpoint slides and slide notes are available through the Parliament of Australia website.
The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies website contains an article ‘Indigenous Australians at war’ by Garth O’Connell.
Noah Riseman wrote an article entitled ‘Serving their country: a short history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Service in the Australian Army’, published in the Australian Army Journal in 2013.
Previously in 2009, in the same journal, Captain Timothy C Winegard published another article, ‘A case study of Indigenous brothers in arms during the First World War’.
James Bennett has written an article ‘Lest we forget black diggers: recovering Aboriginal Anzacs on television’, published in the Journal of Australian Studies in 2014.
Philippa Scarlett’s book Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Volunteers for the AIF: the Indigenous response to World War One (Indigenous Histories, Macquarie, ACT, 2011) attempts to list Indigenous service personnel from the First World War and provide information about them.
J Moremon, ‘A brief history of Indigenous Australians at war’, DVA website, [Undated].
There are also a number of memorials across Australia commemorating the service of Indigenous military personnel. The website Creative Spirits contains a list of Australian memorials that recognise Indigenous military service. These include the Yininmadyami memorial located at Hyde Park South in Sydney, which was unveiled in March 2015, and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander War Memorial in South Australia which was dedicated
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on 10 November 2013. In Queensland, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Dedicated Memorial Committee Queensland has been established to garner support and donations for the construction in Brisbane of a memorial for Indigenous personnel.
People The entry on General Sir John Monash in the Oxford Companion to Australian Military History sums up Monash’s character:
He had a cool head, an ability to make rapid decisions, a facility for logical exposition, a warranted obsession with detail and the determination and ruthlessness to obtain the maximum effort from his troops. His reputation as Australia’s greatest field commander is secure.
(Peter Dennis, et al., Oxford companion to Australian military history, 2nd edn, OUP, South Melbourne, 2008, pp. 369-372).
‘Master at arms‘ is a biographical article by Peter Pedersen on General Sir John Monash who, as commander of the Australian Corps in the last months of the war, oversaw successful Australian actions at Hamel, Amiens, Mont St Quentin and Peronne (Australian Magazine, 7 August 1993).
‘Pompey Elliott: true leader’, profiles the commander of the AIF’s 15th Brigade on the Western Front (Wartime no. 19, 2002).
‘Front-line angels’ by John Laffin describes the role of nurses in the Australian Army Nursing Service who worked on the Western Front (Australian Magazine, 7 August 1993).
In ‘The last hours of the Red Baron’, Thomas Faunce examines the role played by Australian airmen, soldiers and medical officers in the shooting down of the German flying ace on 21 April 1918 (Wartime, no. 32, October 2005).
Section 5: Remembering and honouring: memorials and heritage Centenary of Anzac With the approach of the centenary of the First World War and in particular the 100th anniversary of the landing of the ANZACs at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915, Prime Minister Rudd announced in 2010 the creation of a National Commission on the Commemoration of the Anzac Centenary on Anzac Day. The Commission, which included former Prime Ministers Malcolm Fraser and Bob Hawke, was asked to advise the Government on appropriate ways for Australia to commemorate the centenary. The Commission delivered its report on 28 March 2011. The Government’s initial response is here.
The Commission recommended that a Centenary Advisory Board be established and in July 2011 Prime Minister Gillard announced that the Board would be chaired by former Chief of the Defence Force Angus Houston. On 12 October 2011 the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on the Centenary of Anzac announced the members of the Board in a statement to the House of Representatives. The Anzac Centenary website can be found here.
On 7 March 2014 the Minister announced the termination of the Centenary Advisory Board and its replacement with the Anzac Centenary Public Fund Board.
On 19 February 2013 the Prime Minister and the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on the Centenary of Anzac announced the Anzac Centenary Local Grants program. This provided funding for communities to commemorate the centenary with region-specific activities. Funding was initially set at $100,000 per electorate but was subsequently increased to $125,000.
Further information about the local grants program can be found on the Anzac Centenary website.
Ballot The concept of a ballot in allocating places for the 2015 Anzac Day service at Gallipoli was first raised in a media release by the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs on 26 September 2012. Noting the anticipated level of demand and the difficult local terrain, the Minister suggested a ballot as a fair way of distributing access:
The commemorative site is surrounded by thick scrub, steep terrain and bounded by the Aegean Sea. There are also heritage and conservation measures in place to preserve and protect the battlefields meaning the area cannot be expanded. Due to these geographic and safety constraints, a limit of 10,000 public places exist for the Dawn Service.
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These places will be shared between Australia and New Zealand - with Australia to be allocated about 80 per cent of the total.
Subsequently, the Minister announced the Government’s approach to the ballot:
â¢ surviving widows of Australian First World War veterans will be given priority.
â¢ five per cent of tickets (400 double passes) will be available to direct descendants of Gallipoli veterans, with preference given for sons and daughters of Gallipoli veterans.
â¢ there will be 400 double passes for Australian veterans from other conflicts who have served overseas.
â¢ there will be 400 places for school students and their chaperones.
The remaining places (3,000 double passes) were available to all Australians and were distributed under the following criteria:
â¢ applicants must be an Australian citizen or permanent resident of Australia to register, but do not need to be living in Australia at the time of registration.
â¢ applicants must be a minimum of 18 years of age on, or before, 25 April 2015 to register.
â¢ applicants can only register once. All passes will be issued as double passes—the accompanying pass holder does not need to be an Australian citizen or permanent resident of Australia. No additional passes will be provided to an individual who is successful in the ballot. Pass holders must make all arrangements for their travel and cover all costs including flights, accommodation, transport and travel insurance, etc.
The ballot opened in mid-November 2013 and closed on 31 January 2014 with more than 50,000 applications. On 3 April 2014 the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs announced that the outcome of the ballot had been determined and that applicants would be informed by email and letter by 25 April 2014. Passes were sent to those people who were successful in the ballot process.
The maximum attendance figure of 10,500 (8,000 for Australia, 2,000 for New Zealand and 500 VIP guests) was based on a consultant’s report from Providence Consulting Group, a company ‘skilled in best use of real estate and the safe carrying capacity of a site’ and then subsequently confirmed in consultation with the Government of Turkey.
The Minister for Veterans’ Affairs has delivered three statements on the Centenary of Anzac which provide a summary of most aspects of the centenary. The most recent statement can be found here.
The Minister also announced that there would be an additional ceremony on 6 August 2015 to commemorate the Battle of Lone Pine.
Further commemorations at Lone Pine were announced by the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs on 28 February 2016.
On 25 March 2015 the Prime Minister launched the Spirit of Anzac Centenary Experience, a travelling exhibition that tells the story of Australia’s involvement in the First World War and subsequent conflicts.
Links to sites with details of commemorative ceremonies The following sites contain extensive information about commemorative activities:
â¢ the Australian War Memorial Anzac Day commemoration ceremonies
â¢ Department of Veterans’ Affairs Anzac Day
â¢ commemorative activities and projects from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs with information for schools on Anzac Day and on Anzac Day ceremonies in Australia and overseas and
â¢ the Returned and Services League’s (RSL) Anzac Day Commemoration page.
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Remembrance Day Remembrance Day (11 November) is the anniversary of the armistice which ended the First World War (1914- 18). It is set aside as a day to remember the sacrifice of those who have died for Australia in all wars and conflicts. It was originally known as Armistice Day.
For a history of how Armistice Day became Remembrance Day see Jennifer Amess, ‘A day of remembrance: 11 November’, Sabretache, vol. 24, April-June 1983, pp. 25-26.
The Flanders poppy (a bright red poppy) has been part of Armistice or Remembrance Day since the early 1920s. Wearing a red poppy is a sign of remembrance for the servicemen and women who died in war.
For further information see the Background Note, ‘Remembrance Day 2008—the 90th anniversary of the end of World War I’, published by the Parliamentary Library in November 2008.
The Simpson Prize The Simpson Prize honours John Simpson Kirkpatrick, the famous stretcher bearer who used a donkey to transport wounded men down the steep slopes above Anzac Cove and was killed by machine gun fire while doing so. It encourages school students to consider what Anzac Day means to them and to Australia through writing an essay. The list of 2016 prize winners was announced on 15 March 2016.
War memorials and cemeteries overseas More than 90,000 Australians who fought in the First and Second World Wars are buried overseas. Australia commemorates each of these war dead through either a memorial headstone at a gravesite, an inscription on a Memorial to the Missing (if the service person has no known grave), or a memorial plaque at a crematorium. Their names are also inscribed on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.
Australia’s war dead from the two world wars are buried in more than 80 countries, in close to 800 cemeteries worldwide. The Department of Veterans’ Affairs website contains a list of First and Second World War cemeteries with, for each cemetery, a roll of those service personnel who are buried there.
The electronic version of this publication contains two maps which plot the geographic location of the main Australian overseas cemeteries, Memorials to the Missing, and war (or ‘battle’) memorials, and provide some brief information on each site.
Kevin Blackburn discusses the restored Changi Murals originally created in a chapel (St Luke’s) within the huge prisoner of war camp established in the Changi area by the Japanese after the fall of Singapore in February 1942. Between September 1942 and May 1943 five near life-size murals of scenes from the New Testament were painted by a British prisoner, Stanley Warren, on two of the chapel’s walls.
The Hellfire Pass Memorial in Thailand is dedicated to those Australian and other allied prisoners of war (POWs) and Asian labourers who suffered and died at Hellfire Pass (Burma-Thailand Railway) and elsewhere in the Asia Pacific region during the Second World War. It was officially opened on 24 April 1998 by Prime Minister John Howard and the Prime Minister of Thailand, Chuan Leekpai.
The Australian War Memorial in London was dedicated on the morning of 11 November 2003 by Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister John Howard, in the presence of The Duke of Kent, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, and a party of 27 Australian Second World War veterans. The Memorial features a long, curving wall of West Australian green granite, reflecting the sweep of the Australian landscape. Inscribed on the wall are the names of many of the battle sites where Australian and British military personnel fought, superimposed upon the names of thousands of home towns of Australian men and women who served during the two world wars. The periodic flow of water across the wall highlights these names and is designed to evoke memories of the suffering and loss felt by all.
The Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux in northern France was unveiled on 22 July 1938 by King George VI. It lies within the Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery and was erected to commemorate all Australian soldiers who fought in France and Belgium during the First World War, and their dead, especially those with no known grave. The servicemen named on the memorial were Australians who died ‘in the battlefields of the Somme, Arras, the German advance of 1918 and the Advance to Victory’.
The Park of the Australian Soldier at Be’er Sheva in Israel, commemorating the charge of the Australian Mounted Division’s 4th Brigade against Turkish positions at Beersheba (as it was then called) on 31 October 1917, was dedicated in Israel in April 2008.
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The website of the Office of Australian War Graves contains links to overseas memorials, with information on current projects overseas and in Australia.
Ernest Murray—New South Wales
Ernest Murray was born in Surry Hills, New South Wales on 1 December 1880 before he moved with his family to Canberra in 1909. He was working as a mechanic at Duntroon when he enlisted in the AIF on 27 August 1914. He married Ruby Monaghan the following month before embarking HMAT Afric on 18 October 1914. As part of the 1st Field Company Engineers he landed at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915 and kept a diary throughout the campaign recording such events as the initial landings and the attack on Lone Pine in early August.
After departing Gallipoli in December 1915, he transferred to the 14th Field Company Engineers and served on the Western Front at Fromelles, Flers, Beaumetz, Bullecourt, Polygon Wood and Westhoek. He received the Military Medal for his actions in September 1917 at Polygon Wood and subsequently received a Bar to this Military Medal for further bravery the following month when he rescued wounded soldiers near Westhoek. He himself was wounded in January 1918 through exposure to mustard gas, and the impact of this would affect his health for the rest of his life.
Murray returned to Canberra after the war and settled as a farmer on a property titled ‘Kurrumbene’, which was located in the current suburbs of Narrabundah and Fyshwick. Three of his sons also went on to serve in the Second World War. Murray died of leukaemia on 28 July 1935 at Randwick military hospital in Sydney at 54 years of age.
Sources ‘Ernest Murray’, ACT Memorial website, accessed 25 March 2015. M Hall, ‘Canberra’s First Anzac’, Canberra Times, 25 April 2009, p. 3. ‘Ernest Murray’, The AIF Project, website, accessed 25 March 2015.
War memorials in Australia In addition to the Australian War Memorial (opened on 11 November 1941), there are a number of other sources of information about war memorials in Australia:
In ‘War Memorials in the Australian landscape’, (Wartime, summer 1998) Ken Inglis describes the importance of local memorials to Australian communities. See also, K Inglis, Sacred Places: war memorials in the Australian landscape, Melbourne University Publishing, Carlton, 2008.
The Australian Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial located in Ballarat, Victoria, honours more than 35,000 Australians who were held prisoner during the Boer War, the First World War, the Second World War and the Korean War.
The National Capital Authority’s website has information about the memorials lining Anzac Parade in Canberra. New memorials planned for positions on or near Anzac Parade are: the Australian Peacekeeping Memorial, the site of which was dedicated on 29 November 2007, with the winning design announced on 19 December 2008; the Boer War Memorial the site of which was dedicated on 31 May 2008; and twin memorials to the First and Second World Wars at the opposite end of Anzac Parade to the Australian War Memorial. The design chosen for the twin memorials to the First and Second World Wars has aroused some controversy and in February 2012 it was announced that the location was to be moved back from Rond Terrace on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin to Anzac Parade.
The Queensland Anzac Day Commemoration Committee’s website has the history, descriptions and photographs of the state war memorials in each state capital. State and city websites include those of Western Australia, Queensland (and Brisbane City), and New South Wales (including the Cenotaph and Anzac Memorial in Hyde
Park and Anzac Memorial history).
The Australian-American Memorial was dedicated by Queen Elizabeth II on 16 February 1954. It stands 73 metres high in the forecourt of Field Marshal Sir Thomas Blamey Square at the Department of Defence Offices, Russell, in Canberra. It is one of the city’s most prominent and distinctive landmarks. The press release from Senator Robert Hill on the 50th anniversary of its unveiling contains further details.
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Remembrance Driveway, which runs between Sydney and Canberra, was suggested by the Garden Club of Australia. Over fifty groves have been planted alongside the Hume and Federal Highways. The Driveway is a memorial to those who served in the Second World War and subsequent wars. The first of its trees—at Macquarie Place in Sydney (a plane tree), and the War Memorial in Canberra (a snow gum)—were planted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1954. It was intended to have a variety of trees, each selected for its suitability to local soil and climatic conditions. Each of the trees honours a serviceman or woman and some bear a plaque with his or her name. During the 1990s the Remembrance Driveway Committee and the NSW Roads and Traffic Authority worked together to develop ‘Victoria Cross’ rest areas along the highway—Gordon VC, Mackay VC, Kingsbury VC, Chowne VC, Derrick VC, French VC, Kibby VC, Edmondson VC, Wheatley VC and Gurney VC.
The Australian War Memorial maintains a program of travelling exhibitions.
Gallipoli websites Gallipoli and the Anzacs, a site hosted by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, contains a range of educational resources.
Western Front The Office of Australian War Graves (within the DVA) has stepped up activities to enhance commemoration of Australian service in France and Belgium. In response to an increasing number of visitors to the battlefields and war cemeteries, eighteen interpretive panels have been erected in France and two in Belgium to explain the significance of each battle site. In 2009 the Australian Government announced plans for an Anzac Trail to commemorate the achievements of Australians on the Western Front, and a dedicated gallery on a website commemorating Australia’s wartime heritage is now available.
The Australian Corps Memorial Park at Le Hamel—one of several memorials on the Western Front—was restored in 2008 and re-dedicated by the Governor-General on 8 November 2008.
A new interpretive centre, the Sir John Monash Centre will open at the Australian National Memorial site near Villers-Bretonneux in April 2018.
Remains of war dead Bodies of service personnel are often discovered on old battlefields or in wrecked ships or aircraft. When such discoveries are made, the standard practice is to inter bodies in a Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery.
Section 6: Anniversaries This year, 2016, is the 100th anniversary of the first commemoration of Anzac Day as well as the 1916 campaign on the Western Front. The following battles are covered in greater depth in Section 4 of this publication.
7 April 1916—the Australians, having recovered in Egypt from the rigours of service at Gallipoli, reach the Western Front and take up positions at Armentieres, France.
19-20 July 1916—the first battle for the Australians on the Western Front was the Battle of Fromelles. It resulted in 5,533 Australians being killed or wounded, and rendered the 5th Australian Division incapable of offensive action for many months.
23 July-7 August 1916—the first protracted battle for the Australians on the Western Front was Pozieres (part of the Somme battlefield). There were more than 17,000 Australian casualties from the 1st, 2nd and 4th Australian Division in the course of this battle.
3-4 August 1916—whilst the Australian infantry deployed to France in 1916, the Light Horse remained in Egypt. The Battle of Romani, Egypt, involving the Australian Light Horse, finally put a stop to the Turkish threat to the Suez Canal. After Romani, the Allies went on the offensive and, led by the Australian Light Horse, reached Gaza and Beersheeba (in Palestine) by early 1917.
22 November 1916—in the winter of 1916-17 the 3rd Australian Division, under the command of the legendary Australian General, Sir John Monash, arrives in France from England to join its fellow Australian divisions in the line in Flanders.
1916 Anzac Day commemorations The first Anzac Day was commemorated by members of the AIF in various parts of the world as much as it was in Australia, but circumstances often meant a different approach to commemoration.
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AIF personnel serving in Egypt Unit war diaries indicate that for the AIF units serving at Serapeum in Egypt, the anniversary of Anzac Day was commemorated with a memorial service held at 7 am, followed by a full day holiday of sports and swimming at the Suez Canal. Participants included the 4th, 8th and 12th Infantry Brigades and the 13th, 14th and 51st Infantry Battalions. Of those attending, the 12th Infantry Brigade’s diary entry was the most detailed, stating:
Anzac Day. Memorial service at 700, after which a whole holiday. Most of the Brigade went to the canal to attend water sports. Brigade competitions held in the morning, Divisional in the afternoon. The Brigade carried off 5 prizes out of 12 events. The day was fine. There was a great gathering of Australian troops on the banks of the Canal, which afforded a unique sight. The Prince of Wales and the Army Corps Commander attended the sports; the latter gave away the prizes.
AIF personnel serving on the Western Front The diary entries of AIF units in Belgium and northern France for 25 April 1916 revealed further varying responses to the Anzac anniversary. At Steenwerck in northern France, the 7th and 8th Infantry Battalions participated in sports following an inspection by the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 1st Australian Division. The 7th Infantry Battalion’s diary noted:
The GOC, 1st Australian Division inspected 7th Battalion on this birthday of ours. It is hard to realize that is 12 months ago today that Australians made such a name for themselves on that pitiless shore of Anzac and this glowing regiment of ours lost its finest, bravest and best men. Greetings were received from different people from all parts of the globe.
At Sailly sur la Lys, also in northern France, the 9th, 11th and 12th Infantry Battalions also commemorated Anzac Day with an inspection by the British General Herbert Plumer and an address by Brigadier-General Ewen George Sinclair-Maclagan, who himself landed at Gallipoli on 25 April the year before with the 9th Battalion. That Battalion’s diary also recorded that Company sports were held in the afternoon, with £50 in total prize money distributed.
Other units at the frontline trenches made no mention of the Anzac Day anniversary in their diary entries. For example, the 20th Infantry Battalion at Bois Grenier in northern France, simply remarked ‘In front trenches. Improvement of defences continued. Aerial activity. Three … wounded’. The 23rd Infantry Battalion at Fleurbaix in northern France similarly recorded that ‘Battalion in trenches. Enemy ineffectively shelled our communication trench. Uneventful day. Our patrol established a listening post … in front of our line. Enemy patrol dispersed by our machine guns during the night’. Further north at Petillion in Belgium, the 4th Infantry Battalion observed in its diary entry that ‘Early this morning Private G. Gibb, D. Co., killed by rifle bullet while on fatigue duty. Later in [the] day another casualty, Private Smith, slightly wounded. Today is anniversary of Anzac landing 1915 and special issue of cake made’.
Newspaper articles describing the 1916 anniversary of the Anzac landings The following articles, sourced from the National Library of Australia’s Trove database, describe the various events held in Australia commemorating the first anniversary of the Anzac landings at Gallipoli in 1915. These activities generally included memorial church services, parades and fundraising activities.
New South Wales 25 April 1916, The Sydney Morning Herald —Defence Minister’s message of appreciation on Anzac Day
25 April 1916, The Sydney Morning Herald —Anzac Day parade and church services
25 April 1916, The Sydney Morning Herald— full page article on the anniversary of Anzac Day
30 April 1916, Sunday Times (Sydney)—Anzac Day increase in recruiting
29 April 1916, The Cobargo Chronicle— Anzac Day commemorations at Cobargo
29 April 1916, The Scrutineer and Berrima District Press—Anzac Day memorials at Moss Vale and Berrima
29 April 1916, The Ulladulla and Milton Times—Anzac Day memorial at Ulladulla
29 April 1916, The Port Macquarie and Hastings River Advocate—Anzac Day commemorations at Port Macquarie
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29 April 1916, The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate (Parramatta)—Anzac Day memorial at Parramatta
29 April 1916, Western Herald (Bourke, NSW)—Anzac Day commemorations in Bourke
29 April 1916, Nepean Times (Penrith)—Anzac Day commemorations in Penrith
29 April 1916, The Armidale Chronicle—Anzac Day memorial at Armidale
Victoria 29 April 1916, The Ballarat Star—Anzac Day commemorations at Ballarat
29 April 1916, Darling Downs Gazette—Anzac Day commemoration in Melbourne with Acting Prime Minister, Senator George Pearce
29 April 1916, Footscray Chronicle—Anzac Day memorial service at Footscray church
29 April 1916, The Prahran Telegraph—Anzac Day commemorations at St Kilda
Queensland 29 April 1916, Cairns Post—Anzac Day memorial at Gordonvale
29 April 1916, Townsville Daily Bulletin—Anzac Day memorial at Ingham
29 April 1916, The Capricornian (Rockhampton)—Prime Minister Hughes’ Anzac Day messages and reporting of memorials at London, Melbourne and Brisbane
South Australia 29 April 1916, The Observer (Adelaide)—Official Anzac Day ceremony in Adelaide
29 April 1916, The Observer (Adelaide)—Anzac Day commemorations at Broken Hill
29 April 1916, The Kadina and Wallaroo Times—Anzac Day commemorations at Wallaroo
Western Australia 30 April 1916, Sunday Times (Perth)—Anzac Day commemorations in Perth
29 April 1916, Great Southern Herald (Katanning)—Anzac Day commemorations at Katanning
29 April 1916, The W.A. Record (Perth)—Anzac Day memorial at Perth Catholic Cathedral
Tasmania 29 April 1916, The Mercury (Hobart)—Anzac Day memorial in Hobart
29 April 1916, The Mercury (Hobart)—Anzac Day commemorations in Hobart
Section 7: Australian peacekeeping On 6 March 2013 the Council of the Australian War Memorial agreed to include all the names of ADF personnel killed in non-warlike service since 1947 (including peacekeeping operations) in the Roll of Honour. These people had previously only been included in the Remembrance Book. More than 30,000 Australians have served as peacekeepers. The Australian War Memorial lists 14 Australians who have died while on peacekeeping operations.
Australia’s first operation was in 1947, when military observers were sent to Indonesia under the banner of the United Nations (UN) to monitor the ceasefire between Dutch colonial and Indonesian independence forces. Since then, Australian military, police and some civilians have served on more than 50 peacekeeping missions.
Australian activities have included:
â¢ observing truces (and fighting) in locations such as Korea, the Sinai, Lebanon, the Balkans, Kashmir and Bougainville
â¢ providing humanitarian aid in remote areas such as the Congo and West New Guinea
â¢ establishing law and order in trouble-spots such as Cyprus and the Thai-Cambodian border
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â¢ observing elections and referendums in places such as West Sahara and East Timor and
â¢ de-mining in countries such as Afghanistan and Cambodia.
The first multinational peacekeeping mission commanded by an Australian was the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP). Robert Nimmo, a former army officer who was appointed as an Honorary Lieutenant-General in 1954, led UNMOGIP from 1950 until his death in 1966. His is the longest-ever command of a UN operation. Australians have since commanded several other peacekeeping missions in the Middle East, Asia and Pacific regions.
The first operation with more than 500 Australians was the Australian-commanded UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia during 1992-93. The first with more than 1,000 Australians was the Unified Task Force in Somalia during 1993. By far the largest commitment for Australia to date was the Australian-commanded International Force East Timor in 1999-2000, with more than 5,000 personnel deployed.
‘Peacekeeping’ can be a misnomer, as operations may be in war zones or areas of recent violence. There may be cultural difficulties to deal with between peacekeepers and locals, and between different nationalities of peacekeepers. There has been frustration, even within the ranks of peacekeepers, at the perceived impotence of some operations. The failure or inability to protect civilians in a number of locations, such as Rwanda, has been condemned. On the other hand, there have been some very successful peace operations as well.
Cases of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have been reported among former peacekeepers. Even some ‘non-warlike’ operations have imposed uncommon strains on personnel. Indeed, two of the deployments to the UN Assistance Mission in Rwanda (UNAMIR), including the period spanning the Kibeho massacre on 22 April 1995, have since been reclassified ‘warlike’. Members of these deployments have been issued with the Australian Active Service Medal, and are eligible for veterans’ entitlements.
In 1993 the Australian Defence Force Peacekeeping Centre was opened at Williamtown, NSW in recognition of the importance and increasing complexity of peacekeeping and to guide doctrine and training. In 2002, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) opened the Wanggirrali Ngurrumbai Centre at Majura, ACT for police peacekeeping training.
The six-volume Official history of Australian peacekeeping, humanitarian and post-Cold War operations is currently being written, jointly supported by the Australian War Memorial, the Australian National University and the Australian Defence Force (ADF). Volume II of this series Australia and the ‘New World Order’: from peacekeeping to peace enforcement: 1988-1991 by David Horner was published in 2011 and The good international citizen: Australian peacekeeping in Asia, Africa and Europe, 1991-1993 by David Horner and John Connor was published in 2014. The remaining volumes are in various stages of preparation.
The Australian Peacekeeping Memorial Project aims to build a memorial on Anzac Parade in Canberra. It has received backing from the ADF, Australian Federal Police, RSL, and the Australian Peacekeeper and Peacemaker Veterans’ Association. The winning design was announced on 19 December 2008.
ADF and AFP peacekeepers are currently serving in South Sudan, Solomon Islands, Sinai, and the Middle East.
Australian peacekeeping honour roll According to the Australian War Memorial’s peacekeeping operations website, fourteen Australians have died in peacekeeping operations:
Honorary Lieutenant-General Robert Nimmo, civilian-UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan, natural causes, Kashmir, 4 January 1966
Sergeant Llewellyn (Lew) Thomas, SA Police, seconded to Commonwealth Police (CP)-UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), vehicle accident, 26 July 1969
Inspector Patrick Hackett, NSW Police, seconded to CP-UNFICYP, vehicle accident, 29 August 1971
Sergeant Ian Ward , NSW Police, seconded to CP-UNFICYP, landmine explosion, 12 November 1974
Captain Peter McCarthy, Australian Army—UN Truce Supervision Organisation, Lebanon, landmine explosion, 14 January 1988
Lance Corporal Shannon McAliney, Australian Army—Unified Task Force, Somalia, accidentally shot, 2 April 1993
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Major Susan Felsche, Australian Army—UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara, plane crash, 21 June 1993
Lance Corporal Russell Eisenhuth, Australian Army—International Force East Timor, illness, 17 January 2000
Lance Corporal Shawn Lewis, Australian Army—Peace Monitoring Group, Bougainville, drowned, 20 May 2000
Corporal Stuart Jones, Australian Army—UN Transitional Administration in East Timor, accidentally shot, 9 August 2000
AFP Protective Service Officer Adam Dunning, AFP Protective Service—Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI), Honiara, ambushed and shot, 22 December 2004
Private Jamie Clark, Australian Army—RAMSI, Guadalcanal Island, fell down a mineshaft while on patrol, 10 March 2005
Private Ashley Baker, 2nd Battalion 2RAR International Stabilisation Force, East Timor, died from discharge of own weapon, 5 November 2007 and
Craftsman Beau Pridue was killed in a vehicle accident in Timor-Leste on 15 September 2011. Craftsman Pridue was an Australian Army Reservist.
Australian peacekeeping operations—other resources
A full list of Australian peacekeeping operations can be found on the Department of Defence’s Global Operations site which lists current ADF operations. The Australian Federal Police’s website on the International Deployment Group has links to current overseas deployments.
In August 2008 the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade released a report, Australia’s involvement in peacekeeping operations.
Peacekeeping, Humanitarian and Post-Cold War Operations—this link to the Australian War Memorial contains historical background, a timeline, and other information on observers and enforcers as well as operations in which Australia has been involved.
The Australian War Memorial also has links to articles about various peacekeeping operations.
The Australian Defence Force Peacekeeping Centre contains information on Australian Peacekeeping Operations around the world.
Australian Peacekeeper and Peacemaker Veterans’ Association website.
‘Faces of Australian Peacekeeping’ by Peter Londey, and the book Other people’s wars: a history of Australian peacekeeping, Allen & Unwin, 2003.
Peter Londey’s entry on Australia and peacekeeping in the Oxford companion to Australian military history (2nd edn, OUP, Sth Melb., 2008, pp. 412-417) has a table of past and current missions with dates, approximate contingent size, and the role of Australians in the mission.
In ‘Sixty years of Australian peacekeeping and peace operations today’, Tim Ford outlines Australia’s contributions to peacekeeping and the complexity of integrated missions (United Service, vol. 59, no. 1, March 2008, pp. 13-16).
Section 8: Statistics, links and further reading It should be noted that war statistics are subject to constant revision and numbers can vary year to year.
Australia’s wars and warlike operations Since the 1850s, when the Australian colonies became self-governing ahead of Federation in 1901, Australians have served in at least 21 wars and warlike operations (Note: ‘Warlike operations’ is the modern term for those operations qualifying for the Australian Active Service Medal. Date ranges noted are for Australian warlike service within these conflicts).
North Taranaki War 1860-61 Victoria dispatched HMCSS Victoria to New Zealand, with some of its sailors attached to the Imperial Naval Brigade.
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Sudan War 1885 New South Wales dispatched a contingent of 758 men, who reached the Sudan just as the war was winding up.
Boer War 1899-1902 The Australian colonies and, after Federation, the Commonwealth, sent about 16,500 troops to South Africa.
Boxer Rebellion 1900-01 New South Wales and Victoria dispatched about 560 naval and military personnel to China.
First World War 1914-18 About 416,809 enlisted, with about 340,000 (army and navy) serving overseas, mostly in Europe or the Middle East.
Second World War 1939-45 Nearly one million served (about 560,000 overseas) in the Middle East, Europe, Atlantic, Asia-Pacific, and Australia.
Malayan Emergency 1948-60 About 7,000 served, a few with British forces early on, then with a RAAF deployment from 1950 and Army from 1955.
Korean War 1950-53 More than 17,000 served, with Australia the second country (after the US) to commit to the defence of South Korea.
Thai-Malay Border (or Malay Peninsula) 1960-66 Several hundred troops patrolled the border area against insurgents during 1960-64, with RAAF flights until 1966.
Vietnam War 1962-73 and 1975 About 50,000 served ‘in country’ and about 10,000 in logistic support during 1962-73. A small group was involved in the emergency airlifts of 1975.
Confrontation (or Konfrontasi) 1963-66 About 3,500 served against Indonesian forces in southern Malaysia and its Borneo states (Sabah and Sarawak), and Brunei.
Thailand (Ubon) 1965-68 A few hundred airmen and troops served in and around Ubon, north-east Thailand, in a Vietnam War-related defence role.
Namibia 1989-90 More than 300 served with the UN Transition Assistance Group.
Gulf War (Kuwait) 1990-91 Nearly 1,800 (mostly naval) personnel served during the liberation of Kuwait, after the Iraqi invasion of 1990.
Cambodia 1991-93 About 600 served as UN peacekeepers in signals, mine clearance, policing and support roles, and others in non-warlike periods.
Former Yugoslavia (Balkans) 1992-97 A small number, mostly on exchange with British forces, served in UN and NATO forces; others later in non-warlike periods.
Somalia 1992-94 A small number served in UN units, and a further 1,500 served with the US-led Unified Task Force during 1993.
Rwanda 1994-95 More than 630 peacekeepers served during the two rotations classed as warlike; others in non-warlike periods.
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East Timor 1999-2003 More than 5,000 served in the Australian-led International Force East Timor and later operations; others in non-warlike periods.
Currently, there are approximately 400 ADF personnel in Afghanistan with an additional 650 in the broader Middle-East Area of Operations on land and at sea. The Prime Minister has stated that approximately 35,000 Australians served in Afghanistan.
Iraq, 2003-2009 More than 20,000 personnel served in Iraq as part of Australia’s contribution to the United States-led force.
Operation OKRA is Australia’s contribution to the military action against Daesh in Iraq and Syria. About 600 ADF personnel make up the Air Task Group (ATG) and the Special Operations Task Group (SOTG).
On 5 February 2016 the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs announced the appointment of Craig Stockings as the Official Historian for the official histories of Australia’s involvement in the conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and East Timor. It is expected that work will begin on this project during June 2016 and will take approximately seven years to complete.
Statistical information Gallipoli facts and figures is a compilation of statistics which includes:
â¢ the number of enlistments in 1914, and per month for 1915 and 1916
â¢ information on the recruiting marches carried out between October 1915 and January 1916
â¢ the number of Anzacs who served at Gallipoli and the number of Australian casualties per month from April 1915 to January 1916 and
â¢ the number of fatalities for each nation involved.
‘Prisoner-of-war death rates: some comparisons’ contrasts the number of Australian prisoners of war (POWs) in the First World War and the Second World War, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. It also compares the death rates among the prisoners of the Japanese from different allied nations.
The Australian War Memorial’s Australian military statistics webpage has links to a number of statistical surveys of Australia’s involvement in war and peacekeeping.
The Australian War Memorial’s information sheet, Australian war casualties, is a tabular summary of casualties in all theatres of war, derived from the Roll of Honour at the Memorial.
Determined to protect Australia’s interests by participating in the Paris Peace Conference that concluded the First World War, the Australian Prime Minister, Billy Hughes, claimed to speak for 60,000 war dead. He could also have added that he represented 156,000 wounded, gassed or taken prisoner out of a total of 416,809 enlisted men, according to the official statistics recognised by the Australian War Memorial. A recent book, however, questions these figures.
In Those we forget: recounting Australian casualties of the First World War, David Noonan arrives at a markedly different casualty count. By utilising statistical samples, he calculates that while only 379,000 men enlisted, and approximately 318,100 embarked for war, the death toll sustained by the Australians was between 61,900 and 62,700. These figures differ noticeably from those provided by official sources. His analysis also disputes the accepted number of wounded, suggesting that there were between 208,100 and 209,100 Australian hospitalisations for wounds. Furthermore, argues Noonan, if one considers post-war deaths attributable to service in the conflict and includes those Australians who died while in the service of foreign militaries and the merchant marines, the death toll rises by approximately 10,000 men.
To date there has been a muted response to Noonan’s figures, but his analysis illustrates that even a century after the start of the Great War, it remains a conflict characterised by controversy.
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Useful links for further information on Australia’s military history A list of Australian Victoria Cross recipients and biographical information about them, can be found in the Parliamentary Library online publication, Index of Victoria Cross recipients by electorate, or on the website of the Anzac Day Commemoration Committee.
Australia’s First and Second World War Official Histories have been digitised and are available on the website of the Australian War Memorial, as are a selection of Australian Army war diaries for both world wars, the Korean War and South-East Asian conflicts.
Department of Veterans’ Affairs: Commemorations pages and links to its other commemorative websites; the Australians at War film archive—‘designed to film and record the stories of over two thousand war veterans as a permanent asset for posterity’; and the Australians at War website—dedicated to those Australians who have served their nation during the past one hundred years.
The Australians at War pages on the Australian War Memorial’s website have links to an overview of Australian military history, information on military organisation and structure, and an online encyclopaedia.
The three services have webpages devoted to their histories: the Royal Australian Navy page includes historical information, feature articles and the history of former ships; the Australian Army has a page which includes links to army history information and unit associations and a traditions page; and the Royal Australian Air Force has a page with links to the history of the RAAF.
Firstworldwar.com is a website that provides an overview of the First World War.
Australia’s War 1939-1945 provides an overview of key areas where Australians served during the Second World War.
The website of the National Archives of Australia has links to defence service records.
Roll of Honour The Australian War Memorial maintains the Roll of Honour which commemorates members of Australia’s armed forces who have lost their lives in wars and warlike operations. A common misconception is that the Roll of Honour is only for those killed in action. Names are, and always have been, inscribed on the roll irrespective of the cause of death, be it battle, illness, accident, captivity, or other causes.
There are currently 102,819 men and women recorded on the roll. The following figures have been taken from the Australian War Memorial’s information sheet, Australian war casualties.
Note that updates to the Roll of Honour occur every year on Remembrance Day, and as a result the statistics above may not align with other sources of casualty figures.
Conflict Number of deaths
New Zealand Nil
South Africa 589
First World War 61,527
Second World War 39,651
Australia (North Queensland Coast, bomb and mine clearance) 4 Japan (British Commonwealth Occupation Force) 3
Papua and New Guinea 13
Middle East (UNTSO; Operation Paladin) 1
Berlin Airlift 1
Malayan Emergency 39
Kashmir (United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan) 1 Korean War 340
Korean War (Post-Armistice service—ceasefire monitoring) 16 Southeast Asia (SEATO) 6
Indonesian Confrontation 21
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Conflict Number of deaths
Malay Peninsula 2
Vietnam War 521
Irian Jaya (Operation Cenderawasih) 1
Western Sahara (MINURSO) 1
East Timor 2
East Timor (Operation Astute) 2
Solomon Island (RAMSI—Operation Anode) 1
Indonesia (Operation Sumatra Assist) 9
Other lists can be found below.
First World War Nominal Roll—those who served overseas in the Australian Imperial Force, 1914-18.
Second World War Nominal Roll—an index of servicemen and women who served during the Second World War.
M Lumb, Commonwealth Members of Parliament who have served in war, Research brief, 10, 2006-07, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 2007 and its companion publication Commonwealth Members of Parliament who have served in war: Colonial wars and the First World War, Research Paper, 2014-15.
Sixty-four Australians won the Victoria Cross during the First World War. A list of all Australian Victoria Cross recipients can be found in the Parliamentary Library online publication, Index of Victoria Cross recipients by electorate.
The most recent recipients of the Victoria Cross for Australia are Corporal Daniel Keighran and Corporal Cameron Baird (who was killed during the action for which he won the VC). Both men were serving in Afghanistan. Corporal Baird is the 100th Australian to receive a Victoria Cross.
Arthur Graham Butler—Queensland
Arthur Graham Butler was born on 25 May 1872 in Kilcoy, Queensland to parents William and June. After travelling to the UK where he studied medicine at St John’s College at Cambridge, he returned to Australia to work in Kilcoy, Gladstone and then Brisbane. Having married Lilian Mills in 1904, he later joined the Australian Army Medical Corps in 1912 and enlisted in the AIF on 20 August 1914.
Serving as the 9th Battalion’s regimental medical officer, Butler went ashore at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915 and became the only medical officer during the campaign to be awarded the Distinguished Service Order. Departing the peninsula in October, Butler transferred to France in April 1916 as deputy assistant director of medical services for I Anzac Corps. Later that year he commanded the 3rd Field Ambulance, having been promoted to lieutenant-colonel, and served at Bullecourt, Buire and the Menin Road.
Butler spent the final years of the war collating the AIF’s medical records and as commander of the 3rd Australian General Hospital in Abbeville, France. Upon returning to Australia he returned to private practice before relocating to Canberra as the medical officer at the Royal Military College. Butler had also been tasked with writing the official war history of the Australian Army Medical Service, with the third and final volume published in 1943. He died on 27 February 1949, at 76 years of age.
Sources C.M. Gurner, ‘Butler, Arthur Graham (1872-1949)’, Australian dictionary of biography, website, accessed 25 March 2015. ‘Arthur Graham Butler’, The AIF Project, website, accessed 25 March 2015.
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Books on the First World War held in the Parliamentary Library The Parliamentary Library holds a wide, and recently updated, collection of books about many aspects of Australia’s involvement in the First World War. Senators and Members and their staff are encouraged to contact the Library with requests about books relating to any matter discussed in this publication.
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