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:
- observing truces (and fighting) in locations such as Korea, the
Sinai, Lebanon, the Balkans, Kashmir and Bougainville
- providing humanitarian aid in remote areas such as the Congo and
West New Guinea
- establishing law and order in trouble-spots such as Cyprus and
the Thai-Cambodian border
- observing elections and referendums in places such as West Sahara
and East Timor and
- 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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
Defence Force Peacekeeping Centre contains information on Australian
Peacekeeping Operations around the world.
Peacekeeper and Peacemaker Veterans’ Association website.
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.
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).
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