ANZAC's Dirty Dozen: 12 Myths of Australian Military History by Craig Stockings (book review)
The first myth, which editor Craig Stockings describes as a "monster of the mind", is that Australian military history did not begin with Gallipoli. Anyone with a passing interest in Australian military history will know that Australians fought in much smaller conflicts before the First World War, but a few Antipodeans at the Napoleonic Wars is hardly the same thing. So there is much to debate and that is the book's strength. The writers contort their arguments in an attempt to show another side of the Anzac story.
Bad Characters: Sex, Crime, Mutiny, Murder and the Australian Imperial Force by Peter Stanley (WW1 book review)
The postcard shows 10 Australian Diggers in their First World War uniforms grinning for the camera. But it was the message on the other side that must have angered the army's chief military policeman at Le Havre. For the soldiers were Anzac deserters who had sent their posed photograpg with the mocking message: "Au revoir, Nous 'us'." Peter Stanley explains the postcard is merely the most famous example of bad behaviour by Australia's original Anzacs: "Australians were 10 times more likely to go absent in the Great War than British soldiers, or the Canadians or New Zealanders."
Original Anzac book to be reprinted for a second time, with material left out earlier
Seven months into the Gallipoli campaign, war correspondent Charles Bean invited the diggers to submit poems, drawings and essays for a Christmas book. The process was promoted cash prizes worth 5 pounds. Bean got some 150 entries and The Anzac Book was published in 1916, selling an amazing 100,000 copies. It was published again in 1975 and now, in 2010, it has been republished for a second time. This time it includes material Bean judged inappropriate for publication, drawn from the archives of the Australian War Memorial.
Eyewitness account reveals Australians' role in 1918 massacre of civilians
A book casts dark shadows over Anzac mythology, confirming Australian participation in a massacre of Egyptian civilians - previously blamed mainly on Kiwis. Paul Daley discovered an eyewitness account of the 1918 slaughter of villagers and nomadic Bedouin at Surafend in the taped recollections of a trooper of the Light Horse. In the tape, held at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, Ted O'Brien described the attack on Surafend after the murder of a New Zealander by an Arab caught stealing from his tent. O'Brien said he and Australian comrades had fumed at the "wicked" Bedouin, drank rum and then had gone through the village "with a bayonet". As many as 120 were wiped out.
Last First World War Digger Jack Ross passes away
With the death of Jack Ross, none remain of the 416,809 Australians who signed up for the First World War - a national baptism of blood and pointless slaughter that continues to hold Australia in emotional grip. Ross never saw action because his mother pleaded with the authorities for him to remain in Australia rather than join his brother (who got spinal injuries) on the western front battlefields. Shortly after, Ross was moved to the Light Horse Brigade in Sydney, where he decoded German morse-code messages sent from Nuremberg. During the Second World War Ross again enlisted and again remained in Australia, as a member of the volunteer defence corps.
The Western Front Diaries by Jonathon King [book review]
The Western Front Diaries is the story of the hard-pressed and heroic Australians in the First World War. A vividly human first-hand account of savage trench warfare in a soldier's own words is lifted from letters and diaries. The story that shines through is of young idealistic volunteers killed en masse by bad leaders, but when used effectively manage to turn the tide of the war. It captures the horror, valour and humanity of the Aussie soldiers stuck in a hell of French mud and "Fritz" bombs. Icons of Australian history - Sir John Monash, and the French battlefields of Amiens, Pozieres, Ypres, Passchendaele - are brought to life and given fresh meaning.
Names of 191 Australians dead at Fromelles released
A list of 191 Australian soldiers who are thought to have perished in the Battle of Fromelles in 1916 has been issued by the Defence Force. The group is among 400 Australian and British soldiers who still lie at Pheasant Wood in Fromelles, France, after fighting in the first battle fought by Australians at the western front in the Great War. The Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, Warren Snowdon, said the Government had contacted relatives of 40% of those on the list and invited the public to come forward with information about others.
Exhibition explores how shell-shocked Australians coped after World War I
An exhibition at the National Archives in Canberra explores the consequences of war on Australians after the end of the war. "Shell-Shocked: Australia After Armistice" includes stories of the men and women who returned physically and mentally wounded and how families coped with the loss of loved ones. Curator Tracey Clarke says many soldiers and their families were left shell-shocked. "There's been a lot of research into the war itself but not so much into what happened after the war... over 300,000 servicemen were sent off... at the time there were only 5 million people in Australia." Of those 300,000 men, some 150,000 were wounded and 61,000 killed.
Battle of Hamel - The first time the Allied coordinated tanks, aircrafts and artillery
July 4, 1918 Allied forces - Led by Australian Corps commander Lieutenant General John Monash - began an all-arms battle against the Germans south of the River Somme on the Western Front. The Battle of Hamel lasted just 93 minutes, but it was the first time the Allied forces coordinated tanks, aircraft, artillery and machine guns. Historian Nigel Steel says this was a model for larger offensives which lead to victory. "What you see over the course of 1916 and 1917 and 1918, is a very painful... learning process whereby all of these tactics and new weapons are brought to the field."
Photo exhibition showcases experiences of WWI, WWII
"Icon and Archives: photography and the worlds wars" -exhibition featuring photos from World War I and World War II showcases the importance of photography in capturing Australian history. The 400 images at the Australian War Memorial (AWM) offer an insight into the experiences of both service personnel and those who were left behind. Curator Shaune Lakin hopes visitors will leave with an understanding of the role of photography during wartime. The photos have been selected from the AWM's collection of nearly 1 million and include images never showed before.
Last First World War digger Jack Ross in for a quiet Anzac Day
Australia's last living World War I soldier, Jack Ross, will be spending a quiet Anzac Day with his daughter at his nursing home. He last went to an Anzac Day march 2 years ago at Kangaroo Flat, but now finds it difficult to even get in or out of a car. His daughter Peggy Ashburn said her father will be watching the Melbourne Anzac Day march from his bed. "He will be watching the march from the nursing home this year... It's always a very sad time for him. He would like to be in the march but there is no way he can do it." Jack Ross enlisted in Jan. 1918, but never left Australia.
The Australian War Memorial seeks photos of every fallen Australian
The Australian War Memorial (AWM) is seeking individual photos of every man and woman listed on its Roll of Honour, which lists 102,000 Australians who have perished in conflicts. The memorial only has 6,600 images and wants to put faces to the names of the remaining 95,400 persons. Senior curator of photographs Shaune Lakin says photos make a personal link between the names on the roll and their stories. "Actually having a face to put to that name adds a lot of significance to the record of their service and sacrifice." The pictures will be used on the AWM's Roll of Honour online database.
Australia to have its own version of the Victoria Cross medal
Australia is to consider retrospectively granting its own version of the Victoria Cross to war heroes who were neglected by Britain. The government will set up a special war medals tribunal to review cases of Australian servicemen who were refused VCs. Almost 100 Australians have got the VC in conflicts since the Boer War. In 1991, Canberra decided it would award its own version of the medal, rather than deferring to Whitehall. No Australian VCs have been awarded since then, but the tribunal could change that from early next year, reevaluating cases such as Pte John Simpson Kirkpatrick - nearly mythical figure in Australia - who was killed at Gallipoli in 1915.
Australia claims it captured Damascus before T E Lawrence
T. E. Lawrence's claim that he and Arab guerrillas were the first to enter Damascus has angered Australians ever since. An exhibition, at the national war museum in Canberra, strives to put the record straight and show that Lawrence, a self-promoter, took away Australia's glory in order to give the Arabs a propaganda boost. The Australian War Memorial aims to show that it was the legendary Australian Light Horse, and not Lawrence, who seized Damascus in October 1918. Tim Fischer said Lawrence's failure to acknowledge the essential role played by the slouch-hat wearing troopers of the Light Horse was an omission repeated by British historians.
Albert Jacka should have been awarded 4 Victoria Cross medals (Article no longer available from the original source)
War hero Albert Jacka's relative has declared the army captain was "punished for his outspokenness" and should have been awarded 4 Victoria Cross medals. On the 90th anniversary of the battle of Polygon Wood - a wasteland near Ypres captured by the Australian infantry's 5th Division on Sept 26, 1917 - Ken Jacka said the battle should have fixed Albert Jacka's position as Australia's most decorated soldier. Instead senior command conspired to deny Jacka a Victoria Cross for his command of troops in the 4th Division's 14th Battalion. "the battalion commanders obviously found a nice safe dugout somewhere ... that was why there were no awards given."
Australia's first Anzac Day dawn service in France in 2008
Australia's huge losses on the Western Front in World War 1 will be recognised with the nation's first Anzac Day dawn service in France in 2008. The April 25 service — to be held in Villers-Bretonneux in the Somme — will mark the 90th anniversary of Australians liberating the village on Anzac Day in 1918. It will also herald the 90th anniversary of the armistice which ended the Great War. The service "marks a huge shift for Australia's commemorative tradition. But the 90th anniversary is the year to make the break with tradition," says Paul Stevens. The service is likely to have a big impact on the village, whose narrow streets have no hotel.
Lost for 90 years, Passchendaele diggers identified by DNA
They were lost for 90 years, killed in the Passchendaele battlefields of 1917. Now DNA technology has identified the remains of two Australian World War 1 diggers unearthed last year in the Belgian hamlet of Westhoek, east of Ypres. Sergeant George Calder and Private John Hunter will be overlooked no more. The remains matched with DNA taken from living descendants of the two soldier. They will be buried with full military honours at Belgium's Buttes Cemetery on October 4. The remains of 6 Anzac bodies were unusually well preserved when uncovered, buried in blankets tied up with signal wire, dirt-smudged rising sun badges pinned to the uniforms.
Diggers' bloody role in Irish uprising - Anzacs and Ireland
The year was 1916. Australian soldiers involved in the fighting on the Western Front had been granted leave and went to Ireland for a break. But instead of resting up, the Australian troops were pressed into more action by the British: to help crush the Easter Rebellion in Dublin. Some of the Anzacs involved were Gallipoli veterans prized by the British for their sharp-shooting skills. One group was ordered onto the roof of Dublin's Trinity College to snipe at Irish dispatch riders delivering messages to the the headquarters of the rebels. Historian Jeff Kildea has researched the episode and described the colonial soldiers' dilemma in a book Anzacs and Ireland.
160 World War I Diggers, medallions buried at Fromelles battlefield
A survey of site of the Battle of Fromelles suggests 160 Australians may be buried there. The scientific survey, which involved no excavations, revealed subsurface anomalies with wartime aerial photos. "The survey also found some compelling evidence that Australian war dead, possibly more than 160, were buried on the site, after the battle, by the Germans. The most dramatic evidence, two copper alloy amulets or medallions with inscriptions clearly identifying them as belonging to Australians, were located ...close to the light railway that wartime photos show the Germans using to move the dead."
4 brothers served in WW1 and WW2 - Australia's military history (Article no longer available from the original source)
Four Aboriginal brothers hold a unique place in the military history of the British empire. Frederick, Leonard, Edward and Herbert Lovett from Lake Condah saw action in WWI. All re-enlisted and served in WWII. Nigel Steel from Imperial War Museum in London says that as far as he is aware, the Lovett brothers' record of military service is unequalled. "And the Imperial War Museum as a Commonwealth institution - which looks at the military history of not just Great Britain, but also Australia, NZ, Canada, South Africa, India - brings in a lot of references and a lot of stories, it's certainly not something I've come across before."
Australian World War I Hero Marcel Caux deserted mates
The deceptions of Harold Katte, aka Marcel Caux, have led to red faces among Australia's defence forces because an image of the WWI soldier "hero" appears on a recruiting poster. In fact, Marcel Caux had twice deserted his comrades. Historian Lynette Silver, author of Marcel Caux: A Life Unravelled, said: "In many ways, Harold Katte was representative of a number of young Australians who enlisted in WWI. While we may view his incredibly colourful life with some amusement, and marvel at the way in which he managed to sustain so many lies for so long, his irregular private life and his two attempts at desertion make him a most inappropriate choice for a recruiting poster."
Australian World War One service Records Online
The National Archives of Australia has put its WWI service records online. This includes more than 376,000 records, 12.3 million pages of material, digitally scanned from the original paper records. Including enlistment documents, injuries sustained during the war, correspondence from family members, and even disciplinary documents - and They include records of service in the: First Australian Imperial Force (1st AIF), Australian Flying Corps, Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force, Royal Australian Naval Bridging Train, Australian Army Nursing Service, Home or Depot units for personnel who served within Australia during World War I.
WWI Digger Jack Ross turns 108
Australia's only surviving World War 1 Digger, Jack Ross, celebrates his 108th birthday in Bendigo. Mr Ross was planning a quiet get together with family and friends. "He's too deaf for much conversation and he's in a wheel - chair now, but he's still got his sense of humour," said his daughter. Mr Ross joined up for the Great War too late to serve overseas and was a wireless operator on Sydney's North Head. "I never talked much about the war. No one ever won anything out of wars."
Battle of Villers-Bretonneux worthy of Anzac tradition: 90th anniv.
The legacy of Sergeant Charlie Stokes, an Anzac in the pivotal World War I Western Front battle for Villers-Bretonneux, lives on in the small French village. A banner declares: Never Forget Australia. With Lieutenant Cliff Sadlier, Stokes charged German machinegun nests that had pinned the battalion down. Sadlier was injured, leaving Stokes to take out the remaining posts. Controversially, Sadlier received a Victoria Cross, whereas Stokes was awarded the citation of Distinguished Conduct Medal. Many believe that Villers-Bretonneux is as deserving of honour on Anzac Day as Gallipoli. Next year a dawn service will for the first time be held at the war memorial.
Gallipoli is national symbol - For Australians, a Turkish pilgrimage
9 decades after 130,000 people died in the great allied fiasco of WW1, the hills of Gallipoli peninsula are still littered with shrapnel. The trenches where the soldiers of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (Anzac) fought still riddle the hillsides, in places so close to the Turkish lines that the soldiers could lob hand grenades back and forth 3 times. Today no one swims in the waters of the Aegean out of respect; the Australians and New Zealanders who come to visit go to the nearby "Brighton Beach" instead. And come they do, in numbers that have exploded since the last diggers, or Anzac soldiers, died.
The Western Front of death - Australia's war losses in France
Les Carlyon's monumental The Great War asks us to accompany him on the geographical, intellectual and emotional journey he took in researching "the story", as he defines the Great War. The enormity of Australia's losses in France and Belgium are worth contemplating. At Gallipoli, 8709 soldiers were killed whereas 48,671 died in France and Belgium. Out of a population of 4.97 million, Australia lost 61,700 in the Great War with another 155,000 wounded. But the number who died as a direct result of their wounds in the decade after the war doubled the official killed in action figures.
Book admits Australia's mistakes: naive militarism in World War I (Article no longer available from the original source)
World War I, cane toads and the stolen generation are the most monumental stuff-ups in Australian history, according to a book "The Great Mistakes of Australian History". The biggest blunder was the naive militarism surrounding World War One, which cost 60,000 lives and wounded 150,000 men, Dr Crotty said. "World War I just cost us so much in so many ways. It resulted in incredible suffering among the soldiers and it just about tore Australian society apart." The Anzac legend was remembered as a time where Australians came together "but nothing could be further from the truth" as bitter debates raged over the issue of conscription.
Jacka VC - Victoria Cross winner stood out for his courage
Albert Jacka was the first Australian soldier in World War One to win the Victoria Cross. On the night of May 19, 1915, at Gallipoli, a dozen Turks captured a vital trench. He recaptured it singlehandedly, killing two of the enemy with his bayonet and five by rifle fire. The others fled. Robert Macklin's biography Jacka VC is a straightforward account of military exploits. There are vivid descriptions of his feats of valour: at Gallipoli, Pozieres, Bullecourt, Messines and Polygon Wood. Macklin details some dreadful failings of leadership. Vainglory and personal cowardice were all too common. Few senior officers led from the front. Jacka did.
Gallipoli battlefield study to reveal hidden secrets
Australia is to be part of a major 3-nation archaeological survey of the Gallipoli battlefield. It will combine conventional mapping with electromagnetic surveying to produce the most comprehensive historical and archaeological study ever conducted at the site. "One of the things we'll be spending a great deal of time on is the mapping of the trenches to see how they cohere with maps of the trenches and exploring what lies beneath." Professor Mackie says there is a "distinct possibility" that a wealth of material dating back to the days of antiquity lies buried beneath the battlefield.
Australia's most decorated soldier honoured with display
Australia's most highly-decorated soldier Harry Murray, who fought in both world wars, has been honoured with a special display at the Australian War Memorial. Lieutenant Colonel Murray won the Victoria Cross and a host of other medals for his courage at Gallipoli and France. Lobbying has prompted the Australian War Memorial to return a display of Tasmanian Harry Murray to the World War I section of the museum.
The Somme - French connection (Article no longer available from the original source)
We are standing on a grassy rounded hill overlooking a small French village. It is a picture of bucolic peace. Yet 88 years ago, the village was in ruins, the fields were churned-up mud, scarred with trenches and strewn with barbed wire and shells. The German army commanded the ridge while below in the darkness the Australian infantry, supported by Americans who were fighting there for the first time, lay waiting. A hill at Le Hamel: Here was the scene of one of Australia's greatest military victories. The panoramic panels that surround this hilltop monument tell the story of Le Hamel, a brilliantly fought battle and a turning point in WWI.
All too quiet on the Western Front - The only all-volunteer army
Gallipoli may have a dearly held place in the national psyche, but this honour really belongs to the Western Front. For never have so many Australians fought so hard in the one campaign to achieve such great results. The 8709 brave young Australians who were killed at Gallipoli, out of the 50,000 who fought there for 8 months before retreat, cannot be forgotten. The numbers from the Western Front, however, are even more staggering - 42,270 Australians were killed, out of the 250,000 who fought there for 2 years before they won. Australians won Victoria Crosses and military medals in battle after battle. It was the only all-volunteer army to serve the entire war.
Military madness of diggers lost in legend
Buried alive four times - once at Gallipoli and three times in France - by 1916 "Private A" could not stop the tremor of his head or limbs. Madness and the Military: Australia's Experience of the Great War, by Michael Tyquin is the first comprehensive study on mental illness in WWI. It shatters the stereotype of the tough Anzac, an icon that Australians look up to - but which never existed. Major Tyquin says of the soldiers who were "mentally shattered" by the war - some of whom recovered, though many did not - "I think we've erased them from our public memory. We like to celebrate Anzac, and there's no place in that myth for anyone that's less than perfect."
Brutal battles that created a legend (Article no longer available from the original source)
When Australians gather to remember those who paid the supreme sacrifice for our freedom, most will think of the landing at Gallipoli on the morning of April 25, 1915. Few will know that exactly three years later, in the muddy fields of northern France, Australian soldiers fought a battle which cost three times as many lives as the Gallipoli landing. This was Australia's other Anzac Day – and it turned the tide of the war.
Somme: Australia's bloodiest battle is overshadowed by Gallipoli
It was July 23, 1916, and Australian soldiers were in hand-to-hand combat in the ruins of the French village of Pozieres. It was an inferno of machine-gun fire, shouts and falling shells. Australians were throwing bombs into holes, bayoneting Germans, taking others prisoner. In just six weeks at Pozieres, Australia suffered 23,000 casualties, including 6000 to 8000 deaths. By contrast, 8500 died in the whole eight months of the Gallipoli campaign. An Australian Government website says 23,000 Australians died in the 1916 and 1918 campaigns on the Somme, half of all those who died in France.