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  • March 22ND LANCASTER O PA 264 (survived to 12 Sq 29/09/1945) SELF F/S MUGGLETON-TILSON W/O ROLLASON – SGT SMART SGT DOLLING – F/S MALONEY OP NO. 24 – HILDESHEIM CONDITIONS NOT VERY GOOD. GAGGLE OFF COURSE AT TIMES. LEADERS SLOWING REALISING BEHIND TIME. WORRIED BY FLAK TO AND FROM TARGET. PILOTS PLAYING AROUND IN GAGGLE, BLOODY FOOLS. REPORTED FOR DROPPING BOMBS WHILST ANOTHER PLANE IN DANGEROUS POSITION. OUR PHOTOGRAPH DISPROVED ALLEGATION. GLAD TO RECROSS RHINE.
  • ‘Back to the old front line,’ called Imlay, as a bloodied messenger raced in. I glanced around the trench as I swung my gun on shoulder. Bright mess tins lay about. There was half a loaf of bread with an open tin of jam beside it, and bloodstained equipment lying everywhere. The dead sergeant still lay massive on the parapet. Other dead lay limp on the trench floor. Wounded sprawled or sat with backs to the parapet, watching us with anxious eyes. ‘You are not going to leave us?’ asked one of me. I could not answer him, or meet his eyes as I joined the party moving down the sap. For some reason I felt the guilt of deserting them was mine alone. Here was a tangle of dismembered limbs and dead men. The air was heavy with the reek of explosives. One man, with his foot blown off, leaned wearily back. He had a mills in his hand with the pin out. He would not be taken alive. Our party – about sixty strong, with our two remaining officers – spread along the German front line, mean with ready bombs and bayonets on the flanks. No other Australian force was left in the Hindenburg Line. Our shells still screamed about the parapet. When this fire died down the might of the German Army would fall again on our outflanked few. Between us and our line stretched masses of brown wire, and fifteen hundred yards of bullet and shell-swept level land, over which for a long time no messenger had lived in attempting to get across. Wounded men stood and sat silent on the upper steps of deep dugouts. I leaned on my gun, pondering the utter hopelessness of the position. A Fritz machine gun sat askew on the parapet. I was forming a project to bring it into action. Word came from the left flank, punctuated by bomb bursts, ‘Enemy bombing back. We have run out of bombs’. All stores of German bombs had been used up by our men. An officers’ voice called clear, ‘Dump everything and get back.’ Discard my beautiful gun? They mightn’t give me another! Our few unwounded climbed the parapet. Heavily I started to climb the steep trench wall where a shell had partly blown it in. I looked up to see Bill Davies standing on the top amid the bullets, with hand extended to help me up. A vast indifference settled on me, as I stood on the parapet. Three yards out a man lying over a strand of wire called, ‘Help me, mate.’ I put down my gun and tried to heave him into a shell hole. He screamed with pain as I heaved, so I stopped. ‘I can’t do anything for you, old chap’, I said, and hoping that I would be forgiven the lie, ‘I will send the bearers back.’ ‘Thank you’, he said. I picked up my gun and walked on. A shrapnel from the enemy flank churned the ground just in front, as I picked my way through the wire. A piece of shell fragment cut my puttee tape, and dropped the folds around my boot. In complete indifference I trudged over the field, making the concession of holding the gun flat so as not to be too prominent. A man reaches a blasé stage after too much excitement. Once I thought of settling down and blazing defiance at the enemy with my last solitary magazine. But the thought of our wounded in the track of the bullets made me refrain. Five-point-nines burst black on either hand, and futile bullets zipped about. They could no nothing to me. Silly cows to try. Someone ought to tell them… George Mitchell's walk was witnessed by hundreds and passed into AIF Legend. He was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal and later commissioned.
  • A further example of Nimmo’s courage was on 28 June 1915 when leading his troops towards Turkish positions. During the advance one of Nimmo’s sergeants indicated to him that there were Turkish soldiers firing at other Australian troops to the north of their position. Nimmo, appreciating that the Turkish soldiers were exposed from their position in relation to his, quietly collected a dozen men, explained the situation to them and issued quick orders, then gave the signal to rise and fire five rounds of rapid fire. The Turkish soldiers became confused and quickly took cover before fighting back. The situation soon developed into a skirmish with artillery shells and firing from an Australian warship, affecting the progress of Nimmo’s men. But Nimmo’s leadership steadied his men and again, his courage under fire was noted.
  • George Mitchell .. the culminating point ‘Backs to the Wall!’ Backs to hell, and old ‘Nick’ reaching out with his pitchfork. We could not hear our own rifles above the din, only knew by the recoil that we had fired. I could feel the sidelong glances from the men, and the unspoken thought, ‘How are you going to get us out of this mess?’ ‘Poor blighters, my job is to keep you here till you are done for, not get you out.’ On three sides, they closed in, only the way to company headquarters was open. Suddenly a runner dived in and I read the message, ‘Retire immediately.’ Down the bank once more and out on the lower plain, futile bullets pecked the ground as I trudged. What did it matter? Only a question of today, tomorrow, or the next day! To my delighted eyes, there stretched a well-sited, newly dug trench lined with capable looking Australians. Eager questions assailed me ‘Where is he, when is he coming?’ ‘Massing over the hill’ I replied, ‘here in about twenty minutes.’ ‘We’ve got him now, we’ve got him!’ Sorted out my platoon and led them to the extreme left where there was a gap. A roar of small-arm fire came from the right, a 13th brigade battalion, the 49th, swept forward into the gap. We watched as they swung along with irresistible momentum, the ranks thinned as they went, here and there groups shot and stabbed. Ahead of them ran field grey figures, the gap is closed by good Australian bayonets! No further attack came from Fritz. Down came their gunfire on us, the worst I ever experienced. Big shells punched the rocking earth with appalling fury, smoke rolled in clouds, had a bad attack of wind-up, and the taste of death was in my mouth. If I live through this, I thought as I lay in a heap, I will never be any good anymore. Ten shells a second, I calculated, landed on our hundred yards of front. Slowly the fire died away, the 2nd Division came up and relieved us, we assembled our weary few and marched back." George Mitchell, MC, DCM, "Backs to the Wall", 1937
  • RAAF History - 17 September David Lascelles Against all the colourful and emotive language in use today, this lovely piece of understatement is from a different era. I suggest it also speaks quiet volumes for the solid reliability of the dear old LANCASTER. Enjoy. D 17 September 1944, No 463 Squadron Lancaster JO-T departed RAF Waddington for a bombing sortie again Bologne, France. The following is extracted from the pilot’s post-operation report. "On our bombing run, immediately after "Bombs Gone" we were hit by heavy flak, causing a hole in our port wing approximately 11ft; X 6ft; and the ailerons severely damaged. Aircraft went out of control in a diving turn; during this time No.3 tank blew out, and exploded behind aircraft. I ordered crew to abandon aircraft and moderate control of aircraft was maintained at 4,000 ft; during which time Wireless Operator, Mid Upper and Rear Gunners endeavoured to get out of rear door. This was jammed and the handle broke off, so had to come to the front hatch which partly jammed adding further difficulties for crew trying to bale out. Eventually all members of crew apart from Pilot squeezed themselves out. During this time reasonable controlled descent was maintained with port engines fully opened; starboard engines half throttled; full aileron and rudder bias. It is estimated crew got out at 2,000 to 3,000 ft; and at 1,500 ft; I made an effort to bale out, unsuccessfully as the aircraft dived and was uncontrollable. I regained control of the aircraft at 800 ft; and having no alternative, had to make a forced landing in the quickest possible time. Landing eventually effected in a field that was obstructed with anti-invasion posts, with my starboard engine on fire; undercarriage and flaps serviceable and operated allowing me to make a successful landing. At the end of the landing run, to avoid further damage, swung aircraft to port, coming to rest in a wood. Made a quick get away as starboard outer wing and engine were on fire. Throughout these extremely difficult circumstances my crew behaved in an exemplary manner and showed calm and coolness throughout." Navigator (F/Sgt. Dent) states: "Our pilot's captaincy and leadership displayed throughout those intense moments gave us confidence and inspiration. We considered aircraft impossible to fly, and how he effected a landing was, in the opinion of all of us, a miracle, and we never expected after we left that the aircraft would be landed". Comment: So ‘ moderate control’ resulted from half of the left wing shot away, the right wing in shreds, a right side engine on fire, control surfaces severely damaged, fuel tanks blown away and the Lancaster falling out of the sky!!
  • This officer has completed 68 sorties and has displayed great courage and determination. During a sortie in January, 1943, Flying Officer Cowper was compelled to make a forced landing behind the enemy’s lines but he displayed great resource in outwitting the enemy and regained our own lines on foot. One night in July, 1943, he engaged a Junkers 88 and caused it to explode. The enemy aircraft disintegrated and a large portion struck and so disabled Flying Officer Cowper’s aircraft that he – was forced to leave it by parachute. He was later rescued from the sea and rejoined his squadron to resume operational flying. Since then, Flying Officer Cowper has destroyed another Junkers 88.
  • see No. 42 Sqn unit page Catalina serial number A24-100 and code number RK-L of 42 Squadron, RAAF, piloted by 401846 Pilot Officer (PO) (later Flying Officer (FO)) Clifford Dent Hull of Hawthorn, Vic. After completing a successful mine laying operation off Macassar (Celebes) Harbour on the night of 23 & 24 October 1944, the starboard engine of this aircraft was damaged by Japanese anti aircraft (AA) fire. Unable to maintain height on his return and with the second engine failing, PO Hull made a forced landing in the open sea south of the South Western Celebes Peninsula. He and his crew spent the next twelve hours on the water uncomfortably close to four Japanese airfields based in Southern Celebes, before a second Catalina (left), OX-U of 43 Squadron, RAAF, arrived to rescue PO Hull and his crew. A rubber dingy is visible transferring the downed crew to the rescue aircraft. A United States B24 Liberator bomber located the downed Catalina and guided the rescue Catalina in. The B24 continued to circle overhead providing protection. After the disabled Catalina had been sunk by machine gun fire, the rescue Catalina took off and returned safely to Darwin. This operation was one of the epic sea rescues of the Second World War, entailing a round trip of 1800 miles mainly through Japanese held territory. The rescue crew were: 415632 FO (later Flight Lieutenant (Flt Lt, DFC)), Armand Andre Etienne (Captain), of West Perth, WA; 408409 FO (later Flt Lt), Ian McCallister Robson of Sandy Bay, Tas; 428809 Flight Sergeant (Flt Sgt) (later Warrant Officer (WO)), John Joseph Sweeney (Navigator), of Newcastle, NSW, (visible standing on the wing of the rescue aircraft); 428832 Flt Sgt (later WO), Raymond Victor Tumeth of Haberfield, NSW; 428360 Flt Sgt (later WO), Derek Fanshawe Robertson of Camberwell, Vic; 12912 Sergeant (Sgt) (later PO), Robert Richard Tingman of Brighton, Vic; 12223 Sgt (later Flt Sgt), Albert Leslie Warton of Sydney, NSW; A2398 Sgt, Thomas Roy Elphick of Bondi, NSW; 33642 Corporal, James Francis Burgess Oliver of Glen Innes of NSW.
  • From Flight Sergeant Norman MacDonald, only survivor of JB472 The crew of Lancaster JB472 with Reginald Wicks as pilot, joined the Squadron on 23 November 1943. They flew their first mission on 23 November - a night raid on Berlin. This was closely followed by another night mission to Berlin on 26 November. On 2 December JB472 took off from Warboys airfield for their third raid on Berlin. In a report given by Flight Sergeant Norman Macdonald after the war he describes what happened to their aircraft as they flew over eastern Germany: 'Attack by enemy fighter reported by rear gunner - pilot acknowledged, took evasive action and just then we were hit. Crew put on chutes, aircraft in steep dive. At approx between 17 and 15, 000 feet violent explosion. I was sucked out the starboard side of aircraft. Regained consciousness at approx 4,000 feet opened 'chute landed ok. I believe pilot jettisoned bombs endeavouring to save crew and aircraft but aircraft crashed 20 miles north of Hannover. The next day I was captured in the goods yard of the village railway station by 2 German soldiers who were searching for me and taken to identify wreckage of aircraft from which German officials had removed the bodies of my 6 colleagues. Taken to Frankfurt for interrogation put into solitary confinement then to Stalag IVB.'
  • Warrant Officer Bell is a an efficient and most resolute pilot. He has taken part in may harassing attacks on the enemy and has invariably displayed a high degree of gallantry. He has destroyed four enemy aircraft. London Gazette 17 November 1944
  • Lt S.E. MILLS, D Company, 32nd Bn, 22 January 1917: 'He was in my platoon and was wounded pretty severely on night of 19/20 July. With the help of two other men we carried him to a place of comparative safety and dressed his wound. This was 200 yards behind the German first line and it was found impossible to get stretcher bearers through the barrage. When the order to retire was given it was a matter of charging through the two lines of Germans and so impossible to carry two badly wounded men. Green was left with some twenty or thirty others some of whom have since been reported as prisoners. It is my opinion that Green died of his wound although he was alive when I saw him last.'
  • Translation of German message, 2 October 1919, 'Iden: Disc handed over by Intell: Off: with 6th Army H.Q. through Central Office for Deceased Estates 12/10/16[,] Austral: Pte. A.E.N. Burney, 1226, 2nd Btn. fell in the neighbourhood of Fromelles on 19/7/16'.
  • During the advance against the BLUE LINE on the morning of 10th August 1918, Sergeant HOLMES led a patrol against an enemy machine gun position which was effectively holding up his company's advance. By his splendid coolness and skill he succeeded in capturing three prisoners and two machine guns besides inflicting many other casualties upon the enemy. His determination and prompt action enabled his company to continue their advance with comparatively few casualties. Sergeant HOLMES was badly wounded in this operation but refused to leave until his platoon had gained their objective Recommended 18 Aug 1918 Gazetted 15 September 1919
  • 'During operations of 25th and 26th September at POLYGON WOOD this man displayed great coolness and devotion to duty in that he was on duty at a signal station at Battalion headquarters at BLACK WATCH CORNER which was continually heavily shelled. The station was in a tench which was blown in several times and on many occasions partially burying the 3 men on the station. He with the aid of 2 others stuck to the telephones and kept communication open. finally the position was blown out and it was necessary to move to the Pill Box where the work was carried on till the battalion was relieved. On one occasion, when there were no runners available, and telephone lines were broken he, accompanied by Private McRae carried a despatch to the forward Battalion Station and when returning laid a telephone wire and was successful in establishing telephonic communication again. This was done under heavy shelling.' 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 31 Date: 7 March 1918
  • Distinguished Conduct Medal 'For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. After the battery officers had been wounded and many casualties sustained by heavy shell fire he took command, and by his splendid example, under very trying conditions, was able to complete the task of bringing the guns into position.' Source: 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 189 Date: 8 November 1917

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