on the Western Front
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.
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).
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).
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
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
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.
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).
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
fight that changed Australia’, Australian Magazine, 7–8 August 1993).
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 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
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
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
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
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
During July 2014 a Museum of the Battle of
Fromelles (Musée 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.
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.
According to the Australian Army History Unit’s description
of the battle
of Pozieres, during which four Australians won Victoria Crosses, Australian
|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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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).
The other major Western Front campaign in 1917 involving
Australians was the Third
Battle of Ypres in Belgium, and its precursor the Battle
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
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:
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
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).
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.
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
(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-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.
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).
Day at Villers-Bretonneux’, by Brad Manera, also describes the fighting,
featuring the actions of two Western Australian soldiers (Wartime, no.
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
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.
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).
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
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
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
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
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).
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).
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).
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).
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’.
History describes the capture of Mont St Quentin and Peronne as having ‘dealt
a stunning blow to five German divisions’.
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.
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
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
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,
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 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
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).
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).
Elliott: true leader’, profiles the commander of the AIF’s 15th Brigade on
the Western Front (Wartime no. 19, 2002).
angels’ by John Laffin describes the role of nurses in the Australian Army
Nursing Service who worked on the Western Front (Australian Magazine, 7
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).
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