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  • ‘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.
  • Before going into battle in September 1918 Bernard wrote the following letter to his brother Gabriel’s wife, Lottie. Interestingly, it is dated 1 October 1918; apparently it was not uncommon for men to date letters this way as they went into battle. This is believed to be the last letter that Bernard wrote. October 1, 1918 France Dear Lottie, Just a few lines, Lottie, in answer to your welcome letter to hand dated 9 June, was pleased to get a long letter from you and Gabe. So your little girls don’t forget me by what Gabe told me. Well I am expecting to be going to England on leave soon. I have been over here a long time and have been existing well. All the girls getting married, well good luck to them and tell your sisters that I wish them the best of luck as besides fighting hard for years and wasting the best years of my life over here but you know I have a nice little girl over here first for the time being and will close this letter wishing you and the children the best of luck. I remain, Bernard xxx Submitted by Julianne T Ryan, courtesy of Jenny Kingsford (nee Coyte).
  • 'At BROODSEINDE RIDGE East of YPRES this stretcher Bearer was assisting in clearing wounded under the most difficult and trying conditions from 4th to 9th October, 1917. Owing to the severe weather the mud was in places over the knees of the bearers and the route was shelled severely during the greater part of the time. On 9th October he took a squad from the R.A.P. under heavy shell, rifle and machine gun fire for 600 yards to find a Regtl. Stretcher Bearer who had been previously sniped, and dressed and brought him safely to cover. He set a most inspiring example of cheerfulness and devotion to duty.' Source: 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 95 Date: 27 June 1918 AWM
  • An extract from A Day I Never Forget by Marie Harris. I was posted to the Ack Ack Site at Goxhill Haven as a driver in 1943. My duties were to drive all vehicles and any vehicle wherever needed. There were 3 of us girl drivers, Moira Turnbull, Nan Caulfield and myself. Although I say it myself I think we did a darned good job (must have done for they never gave us the sack!). It was quite a good site really, ATS and soldiers all got on well together, taking the good with the bad, no luxuries as such and not many "Passes Out". Occasionally, when there had been a good night of shooting the enemy planes down, the Major and Officers would put on a dance and social night for us in the NAAFI. They would invite so many RAF and so many Yanks. It all helped to make a great night and lift our spirits and to mix or meet others who were doing what we were trying to do, keep old Hitler out. Most of the RAF were Air Crew and you would dance with one or two, get to know them a bit and have a great night, but knowing when you saw the Bombers taking off the following night they were up there doing the BIG BIT and come the next evening you would ask "where's Alec, Bob and Bill?" Just a shrug of the shoulders from their mates and you knew and felt sad, very sad. As I drove around the lanes to wherever my duties took me at a certain time of the day you would see the Bombers going off and up into the clouds and away, you got used to it, up into one circle, two circles and third circle away on their mission and you would say to yourself and often loudly "Good luck lads, come back for that Tango." It was one afternoon in December 1943 around 4.30 as I was driving a load of stores to another site in the Guy Truck, which had an open front and canvas covered back, going along this lane just wide enough for the truck and a ditch each side. Coming up to a farm on my right, it was very low cloud and the Lancasters were taking off into the circles, up and away, as I looked up and raised my right arm in a salute. They were so low and so near I felt I could nearly touch them. One went into this low cloud and I was thinking it's a wonder they don't crash they are so close together, when in a split second as it came out of the cloud, God, it was a head on crash with another Lancaster, one almighty explosion and all Hell was let loose. It was awful, I couldn't believe what had happened practically over my head, just over the farmer's field. I was so stunned, streaks of fire shooting all over the road and my truck. I pulled on the brakes and jumped in the ditch but only for a few seconds thinking some of the crew could be saved, so I ran up past the farmer's house, bits and pieces lying all over, just passing a barn and someone caught hold of me from behind and wouldn't let go, kept saying "NO LASS, NO LASS there'll be nothing". It was the old farmer. In no time at all the fire engines etc. were arriving. I pulled myself together and went back to my truck in a daze and drove onto the site, still couldn't believe what had happened. When I pulled up at the Guard House I was just rooted to my seat and couldn't stop crying, thinking of the Bobs, Alecs and Bills whoever just blown to bits. It was awful and still is. The guard called the Sergeant who took one look at my truck with all the bits and pieces, burns on the canvas and said "she must have been under it." They took me into the Mess and gave me a cup of hot strong tea and 20 minutes by the round stove (they were really kind.) I felt better and had to get on with it, so back to Goxhill. On arriving our MT Officer was concerned; did I need to go to the MO? No Sir, I'll be OK but when I went to bed I couldn't shut my eyes, this terrific explosion flashed before me every time. I was like this for quite a few nights. Another thing I can't bear even to this day to watch a film with planes crashing. I'd shut my eyes or go out of the cinema. Later in life I often used to think and wish I had gone back to see that farmer and I used to wonder if the families knew where their sons were lying. I was very pleased to hear that a Plaque is being dedicated in Remembrance to those poor souls. I can never forget them or what happened to them.. Driver Marie Harris W/44133 ATS.
  • Lloyd Maundrell, flew as a Captain for Ansett Flying Boats. Lloyd became very well known to Sydneysiders thanks to 2UE Radio Announcer Gary O’Callaghan who, with his “imaginary” friend Sammy Sparrow, used to announce the arrival of Ansett Flying Boats as they flew into Rose Bay, almost always it seemed with Captain Maundrell at the controls ! Ironically, Gary O’Callaghan’s son became a Seaplane Pilot himself, flying for the late Vic Walton.
  • 'For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty during the attack in front of VILLERS BRETONNEUX on 8th August 1918. Gunners [29015 H C] COURTNEY and TIDDY ran a line forward in face of heavy shell and machine gun fire and repeatedly patrolled same under heavy shell and machine gun fire in order to maintain communication. During the whole day's operation they acted in a most cool and daring manner, and under exceedingly trying circumstances showed a strong determination to succeed.' Source: 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 75 Date: 17 June 1919
  • On this day, a Beaufort bomber (A9-38) from No 100 Squadron was attacked by three Zero fighters off the southern coast of New Britain. Instead of coming off worst in an unequal fight, the more cumbersome Beaufort actually bested its more nimble opponents. During an engagement lasting under eight minutes, the Beaufort crew –– firing from nose, turret and beam hatch –– managed to score hits on one Zero, which dropped away sharply, while a second suffered multiple hits in one wing and its fuselage before spinning out of control. The third Japanese pilot wisely chose to withdraw. The tally of Zeros claimed by the crew was one probable and one damaged; years later Japanese records confirmed both Zeros were lost in the action. The encounter became famous across the RAAF’s Beaufort force. All four crewmen were mentioned in dispatches, and in 1943 the pilot, Sgt Clarence Reginald 'Reg' Green (later Flying Officer), also received the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal. RAAF History Unit
  • She faced no battle flame, she heard no German gun, The ship without a name, the luckless AE-1. Yet were her sailor’s lives no less for Empire lost, And mothers, sweethearts, wives must pay the bitter cost. Australia’s warships sweep the broad Pacific main, But one from out the deep will never rise again. Yet we shall not forget, through all the years that run, The fate that she has met – Goodbye to AE-1. Pent in their iron cell, they sank beneath the wave, Untouched by shot or shell, they drifted to the grave. Until their painful breath at last began to fail; Upon their way to death let pity draw the veil. They could not strike one blow, but out of sound and sight Of comrade or of foe they passed to endless night; Deep down on Ocean’s floor, far from the wind and sun, They rest for evermore – Goodbye to AE-1. A harder fate was theirs than men’s who fight and die, But still Australia cares, and will not pass them by; When Honour’s lists are read, their names will surely be Among the gallant dead who fought to keep us free. Their winding-sheet is steel, their sepulchre is wide; Theirs is a Monument of History, begun When down to death they went – Goodbye to AE-1. Del McCay
  • 'Night 27th/28th August, 1916 at MOUQUET FARM. For leading bombing squads which successfully entered enemy strong point 54, and pushed forward into strongly held communication trenches, holding same, and inflicting heavy casualties on a large body of the enemy troops, and thus covering our consolidating party. These two N.C.O.s [RULE and 619 John James MYERS] threw bombs untiringly, and it is due to their personal heroism that the enemy were held back for some time, thus giving us time to prepare for their counter attack. They stood to their posts under heavy shell fire with undaunted courage.' Source: 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 62 Date: 19 April 1917
  • Military Cross 'For fine courage and dash near Ascension Wood, on 18th September 1918. He displayed good leadership in manoeuvring his platoon across absolutely open ground under heavy fire, and was the first man into the enemy line, when he with a small party established a block until the remainder of the company got in. Assuming command, he attacked along the trench capturing fifteen machine guns and killing a large number of the enemy, and winning some 800 yards of enemy line.' Source: 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 30 Date: 25 March 1920
  • "like men who had been in Hell.........drawn and haggard and so dazed they appeared to be walking in a dream, and their eyes looked glassy and starey" (Ed...the proverbial 'thousand yard stare') 'Raid on Celtic Wood', Robert Kearney ISBN 978 1921 207 103 2017 Digital Print Australia pp28
  • OPEN LETTER TO NX 200630 Pte N B Morton 2/1st Australian Infantry Battalion K.I.A. 25.3.45 Dear Doc, We survivors were thrilled to read in The First Post (Oct 1995) that the ‘Neville Morton Drive” off Crescent Head Road has been named after you. Do you remember, the first bad news that day was that the muddy water we had been drinking revealed a dead Jap in it, as the level was lowered. The second bad news was that after you made contact, heavy fire came from the ridge and you wouldn’t answer our many calls to you. “Hec” Bowan came up the track to find you, but was shot next to me, in the arm and leg. Merv Sheen worked his bren well, but Cisco lying behind a tree had the top of his slouch hat shot off. On the order “withdraw”, we all got out without further wounds. Then the coy commander started to order 100 rounds gunfire from the 25 pounders and told us to retreat further. Sgt Frank Upham jumped to his feet and said to the C.C. – “No man moves past this tree until we find Doc Morton”. In true spirit of the AIF the CC apologized to Frank and ordered us “Go back and find Morton”. So four of us crawled back and we did find you Doc. We tied a rope around your leg and dragged you out of the line of fire. Your denture fell out and I put it in my pocket, hoping you would need it, but you were gone, so two of us put you on a stretcher and carried you to the rear, where we dug a grave and buried you and you became a map reference high in those jungle hills. We slept near you that night. Next day, after the artillery fired their 100 round or more we went back up the slope. You never had a chance Doc. The Japs were lined along the ridge, each covering the slope and the track. We even saw some Japs running down the other side. We think one had your hat. You weren’t the last killed in that needless campaign Doc. Willoughby­ Jackson and 4 others died from Mortars at Karawop, where Snowy Searle had a terrible death from a land mine. Don Carmichael, Eric Bowen and D’arcy McPhillps were also to die. Harry Hughes, Dick Mulholland, Cec Bevan and James each lost his right arm. The 6th Aust Div lost over 600 dead – 443 from battle wounds Even after the war problems continued with at least 4 suicides. The soldier who accidentally killed Bob Morris laid his head on the railway line at Chatswood. Doubt you’ll ever get this letter Doc, but we survivors remember: we’ve had fifty more years than you. Cheerio Doc, may meet you soon, your old comrade in arms arms, Bren No 5535 (2/1 Inf Bn) What colours we had – Black over Green! What a leader – P.A. Cullen! From 1RAR Website
  • 'For conspicuous skill and courage during a daylight operation, when he advanced with his platoon and captured an enemy post. To cover consolidation he pushed his Lewis gun forward under heavy fire. In spite of losing the whole crew, he kept his gun in action, silencing one enemy machine gun and keeping down the fire of two others, thus enabling his platoon to consolidate in time to resist a heavy counter attack.' Source: 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 31 Date: 4 March 1919
  • 'During the operations at POLYGON WOOD, east of YPRES on 20th September, 1917, Pte. BATES showed great bravery and devotion to duty when, as an observer, he moved out in front of the Battalion and there, by his determination to hang on and his personal disregard of personal safety, he gained and sent back much useful information as to the enemy's movements on his positions of assembly.' Source: 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 31 Date: 7 March 1918 Although the citation cites Polygon Wood, this was the limit of exploitation of the Battle of Menin Road. A subsequent battle commencing 26 Sep is known as the Battle of Polygon Wood.
  • For gallantry and devotion to duty on 29th September 1918, at Bony, when he was in charge of a party of tunnellers clearing and maintaining a forward road under heavy enemy shell and machine gun fire. Although, owing to infantry being held up heavy casualties were occurring, he carried through the work, and set a fine example of coolness and resourcefulness to those under him.' Source: 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 10 Date: 29 January 1920
  • Extract Article in the New Statesman in which Guy Walters argues that Holland completely counters the “revisionist” view that the Dams Raid actually achieved very little. According to Walters: The raid was in fact a triumph, and did an enormous amount of damage. After studying the German archives, Holland shows that: “…not only were two major dams completely destroyed, so too were seven railway bridges, eighteen road bridges, four water turbine power stations and three steam turbine power stations, while in the Ruhr Valley alone, eleven factories were completely destroyed and a further 114 damaged, many severely. Vast tracts of land had also been devastated by the tidal waves that had thundered up to eighty miles from the dams.” Such damage can hardly be considered “little of substance”. Furthermore, Holland completely skewers the argument that as the dams were quickly rebuilt, the damage was therefore not that great. The whole point of their swift reconstruction “underlines just how important they were to Germany”, and the men and material required had to be diverted from elsewhere. Holland also argues that the destruction of the dams struck a huge psychological blow against the Germans, as these were structures that were venerated as triumphs of the country’s might and technical knowhow. In short, the raid was indeed a catastrophe for Nazi Germany, and a triumph for the British. Holland’s analysis will no doubt draw its detractors, perhaps inspired by a politically fashionable thinking that seeks to denigrate just about every British success during the Second World War. Of course, there was much that we got wrong, but we also got many things spectacularly right. In my view, Holland’s programme was a well researched and presented documentary. There were interviews with three of the four surviving Dambusters – Les Munro, Grant McDonald and George “Johnny” Johnson – and a good use of far flung written source material, such as Charlie Williams’ letters, which are in archives in Queensland, Australia. Perhaps the point that came across most strongly was the airmanship involved. Flying a 30 ton aircraft a thousand miles through hostile territory just 100 feet above the ground required enormous concentration, exceptional skill and tremendous luck. When you consider the odds it is no real surprise that eight of the 19 aircraft failed to return. And no surprise, either, that this tactic was only used sparingly in the rest of the war. With so much already written and broadcast about the Dams Raid it is not surprising that little new information emerged. But that shouldn’t detract from what was a thorough film, mercifully lacking most of the frills and tricks which many documentary directors nowadays feel it necessary to add.
  • Extract from Dambusters Blog At the end of February 1943, David Shannon finished his tour of operations in 106 Squadron with a trip to St Nazaire. This was the 36th sortie in a run which stretched back to June 1942, shortly after his 20th birthday. During his tour, he had generally flown with a core crew made up of Danny Walker, navigator, Wallace Herbert, bomb aimer, Arnold Pemberton, wireless operator, Douglas McCulloch, mid upper gunner and Bernard Holmes, rear gunner. Over the course of the tour Shannon flew with a number of different flight engineers and/or second pilots, but in the last few months Sgt Cyril Chamberlain became the regular flight engineer. An enforced change happened in November 1942, when Danny Walker came to the end of his own tour. He was posted to No 22 OTU as an instructor and thereafter a number of different navigators filled in for him. These included the experienced Norman Scrivener and Winston Burnside, both of whom also navigated for Guy Gibson in this period. Shannon’s last operation in 106 Squadron on 28 February appears to have coincided with the end of the tours of Herbert, Pemberton, McCulloch and Holmes. Under normal circumstances, the crew would have broken up and all would have been sent on instructional duties for a period of six months. Shannon, however, wanted to carry on flying and somehow arranged a transfer to 83 Squadron at RAF Wyton, a Pathfinder outfit. It was there that he got a telephone call from Gibson, asking him to join him at Scampton where he was forming a new squadron. Chamberlain, Herbert, Pemberton, McCulloch and Holmes were apparently all still at Syerston, waiting for new postings. Consideration was obviously given to reconstituting Shannon’s 106 Squadron crew, since Chamberlain, Pemberton, McCulloch and Holmes were all transferred to the new 617 Squadron at Scampton on or about 25 March 1943. Herbert appears either not to have been asked or to have declined the offer. Also, Shannon’s old crew member Danny Walker was specifically sought out to fill the post of navigator, and was brought over to Scampton from No 22 OTU at Wellesbourne Mountford. It is not clear exactly what happened next. Shannon undertook two testing flights on 28 and 31 March, but he only recorded the names of the other pilots with whom he flew (Flt Lt Dierkes on 28 March, Flt Lt John Hopgood on 31 March). His next flight wasn’t until 6 April, when he did a 5 hour cross country and bombing trip. This was repeated, over a different route, two days later on 8 April. On both of these flights, a five man crew is recorded. This consisted of Walker and McCulloch, both from his 106 Squadron days, two new names – bomb aimer Len Sumpter and flight engineer Robert Henderson, plus Larry Nichols, a wireless operator borrowed from Melvin Young’s crew. After the war, Len Sumpter described how he and Henderson were recruited to the squadron. At that stage, he had completed 13 operations in 57 Squadron, based at Scampton. Then his pilot was grounded with ear trouble and the crew were broken up. He and his erstwhile crewmate Henderson knew that a new squadron was being formed in the next two hangars, and heard that Shannon was looking for a bomb aimer and a flight engineer, so they sought him out. “We looked him over and he looked us over – and that’s the way I got on to 617 Squadron.” (Max Arthur, Dambusters: A Landmark Oral History, Virgin 2008, p18.) No date is given for this “interview”, but it must have occurred sometime between 31 March and 6 April. Sumpter goes on to say that the crew didn’t get their own wireless operator until the end of April. He didn’t know – or didn’t mention – that there were three members of Shannon’s old crew, including wireless operator Arnold Pemberton, kicking their heels on the ground. On 11 April, Shannon’s logbook records the first flight of a new crew member, rear gunner Jack Buckley. He had been transferred from No 10 OTU, where he was working as an instructor. He was an experienced gunner and had been commissioned, having completed a full tour of operations with 75 (New Zealand) Squadron. Albert Garshowitz (misspelt as Gowshowitz) from Bill Astell’s crew was the borrowed wireless operator on this occasion. Two days later, on 13 April, a complete squadron crew list was compiled, under the title “Order of Battle”. This is preserved in a file in the National Archives (AIR14/842). It shows Shannon’s crew as: Henderson, flight engineer, Walker, navigator, Sumpter, bomb aimer, McCulloch, mid upper gunner and Buckley, rear gunner. The position of wireless operator is left blank. Flg Off McCulloch is also listed as A Flight Gunnery Leader. Four names are listed as ‘spares’, amongst whom are the other three members of Shannon’s 106 Squadron crew: Pemberton, Holmes and Chamberlain. Another two days later, on 15 April, Douglas McCulloch attended an Aircrew Selection Board. He must therefore have previously applied for remustering. However, he returned to the squadron and flew on more training flights with Shannon on 19 and 21 April. He was eventually posted to No 13 Initial Training Wing on 1 May. On 17 April, Bernard Holmes and Arnold Pemberton’s time at 617 Squadron ended, with them both being recorded as being posted to No 19 OTU at Kinloss. There is no record of the destiny of Cyril Chamberlain. Holmes’s son Robert recalls that his father apparently told his wife at the time that he and Pemberton were bored and frustrated through not being kept busy, and asked for a transfer. Eleven days later, on 24 April, another squadron crew list was published. The Shannon crew now shows two changes. The wireless operator position has been filled by Flg Off Goodale DFC and the mid upper gunner has the handwritten name of Sgt Jagger in a space which had been left blank by the typist. The A Flight gunnery leader is now shown as Flg Off Glinz (from Norman Barlow’s crew). There are no longer any names listed as spares (National Archives: AIR14/842). This date coincides with Goodale’s first appearance in Shannon’s logbook. It is notable that Brian Jagger’s name may appear here, but in fact he did not fly with Shannon until 4 May. Both men came with a deal of experience. Brian Goodale had a completed full tour and was recruited from No 10 OTU, where Jack Buckley had also been an instructor. Brian Jagger came from 50 Squadron. He had previously flown with John Fraser and Ken Earnshaw, two Canadians in John Hopgood’s crew, and they may have been instrumental in getting him on board. On this date, David Shannon’s Dams Raid crew was finally established, and they would fly together for the next few months. Quite why three members of his crew from 106 Squadron were earlier brought over to Scampton but never used remains a mystery. Later in the war, after a spell as an instructor, Bernard Holmes returned to operations with 77 Squadron, and joined a crew skippered by Wg Cdr J D R Forbes, the squadron CO. He remained there until the end of hostilities. He had married his wife Margaret in 1940, and they had two sons, born after the war. The family emigrated to South Africa in 1952, and he died there in 1979. Thanks to Robert Holmes, Clive Smith, Robert Owen and Nigel Favill for their help with this article.
  • Originally listed as 'No Known Grave' and commemorated at V.C. Corner (Panel No 11), Australian Cemetery, Fromelles; subsequently (2011) identified, and interred in the Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery, France. Note on Form B103: 'Identification Disc received from Germany. No particulars were afforded except that the soldier is dead. to be reported KILLED IN ACTION FRANCE 19-20th July 16.' Note on file: 'austr. Sold. Russell, A. 54. A.K. Nr. 4299. am 19.7.16. in Gegend Fromelles gefallen.' Note on Red Cross File 2380411: 'Identity disc recd. From Germany and despatched to Next of Kin ... 1.9.1919.' Statement, 3123 Sergeant F. POLDING, 54th Bn (patient, 9th General Hospital, Rouen), 9 November 1916: 'During the attack on Fleurbaix on the 19th July, we had very heavy losses. Many dead bodies were collected after the action and buried. I was informed by several men of the burying party that Russell's body was recovered and buried. I do not, however, remember the name of any particular man of the burying party who told me this.' 'The above name appeared on German death list dated 4-11-16.' Second statement, 4375 Pte E. SCOBLE, 54th Bn (patient, 2nd Birmingham War Hospital, Hollymoor, England), 18 February 1917: 'Arthur Russell's brother William Russell, 2300 54. A.I.F. told him Arthur Russell was killed and buried by Sgt. Allen.'
  • Statement, 2878 Corporal E.E. POULTER, B Company, 60th Bn, 29 January 1917: 'The last time I saw him was in No Man's Land about 150 yds. from our line. He was shot through the side and the bullet evidently lodged in his stomach as he doubled up and fell. We could not hold the ground. We went over with 1100 men and 63 men answered the roll call.'
  • Red Cross File No 2940705 has statements 4226 Pte L. HANNA, B Company, 54th Bn (former prisoner of war), 30 December 1918: 'On morning of 20th July 1916 at Fleurbaix I was alongside him when he was shot dead by sniper. Hit in Head (eye). We were then in Enemy's second line trench. They got in behind us into their 1st line and we were cut off. I was hit through helmet by same man immediately after but not hurt. We were taken Prisoners of War about 1 hour later. His body would be left in trench. I did not know his Christian name.' 3511A W.D. CARR, 54th Bn, 24 December 1918: 'In the morning between 8 and 9 o'clock I saw him assisting [1909 H.W.] Bilbow with a machine gun - when he was shot through the right eye either by sniper or machine gun bullet - not shrapnel, as he was killed instantly. It was in a quickly dug trench. We were captured shortly afterwards, so I know nothing as to his burial.' 1909 Lance Corporal W.H. BILLOW (sic), 13 January 1919: 'He was not killed going over the trenches but after he got over in the Germans' second line on the morning of the 20th. I was standing shoulder to shoulder with him up to the moment he was killed. He was hot by a sniper from behind, the bullet passing through his head. He had been working all night with me, trying to build up the trenches. It happened at Fleurbaix ... I took his paybook and his identification disc and was forced to give them up to the Germans with my own paybook.' 1841 S. TONKINS, 54th Bn, 28 August 1917: 'Pte Wildman was killed by shrapnel, I saw him lying dead on the ground in the German trenches, on July 20th at Armentieres.'
  • Red Cross File No 1420704 Statements from witnesses: 2818 J. ELLIOTT, 56th Bn, 6 November 1916: 'He came from Bathurst, N.S. Wales, and was buried in a cemetery between Sailly and Estairs, Bac-St.-Maur Road. I saw his grave there.' (this seems incongruous given his remains were recovered from the Pheasant Wood site) 3330 Pte P.G. HUGHES (patient, 23rd General Hospital, Etaples), 6 November 1916: 'James was killed by shell: I did not see it happen but I saw him lying afterwards. I think he was buried at the top of Pinney's Avenue in the cemetery.' 2780 Lance Corporal B.H. PHILLIPS, 56th Bn, '[2705 C.W.] Johnston was a L.M. Gunner and James was in A. Company. We made an attack on the 19th and were driven back to our own lines, and these two and three others were killed by the same shell in our trench. James' head was practically blown off. I - a stretcher bearer - was on the next bay and was called in. James and Johnston were both taken out and buried in a Cemetery behind the lines. I think the cemetery at the mouth of "V.C. Avenue" near Fleurbaix. I knew Johnston very well indeed, but James not so well.' 1704 Pte G.W. MURRAY, 56th Bn (patient, 9th General Hospital, Rouen), 16 November 1916: 'I saw this man killed by a piece of shell hitting him on the head on the 20th July near Fromelles. I heard afterwards that he was buried.' Originally listed as 'No Known Grave' and commemorated at V.C. Corner Australian Cemetery, Fromelles; subsequently (2010) identified, and interred in the Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery, France.
  • I mind they told me on a noisy hill I sat and disbelieved, and shook my head: “Impossible! Impossible! but still these other men have died, and others bled”. Knees clasped, I sat and thought, unheeding war. The trees, the winds, the streets came back to me; The laughter of his eyes, his home afar, The memory of his hopes, his buoyancy, His dreams, his jests, his moods of wistfulness, The quaintness of his speech, his favourite song; And this, -and this the end so pitiless! The man we knew! The man we knew so long! - To die-be dead-not move, and this was he! I rose and oiled my rifle musingly.
  • William Leonard East What task is this that so unnerves me now? When pity should be dead, and has been dead. Unloose that sheet from round the pierced brow; What matter blood is seen, for blood is red, And red’s the colour of the clammy earth. Be not so solemn,-There’s no need to pray; But, rather smile, - yea, laugh! If pure, thy mirth Is right. He laughed himself but yesterday. That pay-book? Take it from him. Ours a debt No gold can ever pay. That cross of wood About his neck? That must remain, and yet He needs it no, because his heart was good. We’ll house him ‘neath those broken shrubs; dig deep. He’s tired. God knows, and needs a little sleep.
  • The S.M.S. Emden was a Dresden class light cruiser, was built at the Imperial dockyard at Danzig and launched in July 1909. The vessel was part of the German East Asia squadron, based in Tsingtao, and in 1913 came under the command of Karl von Müller (1873-1923). In a daring but short career of destruction in the opening weeks of the War, the Emden wrought havoc in the Indian Ocean. Between 10 September and her destruction by H.M.A.S. Sydney on 9 November 1914, she had captured or sunk no fewer than 23 ships, including a Russian cruiser and a French destroyer in the battle of Penang on 28 October 1914. The combined value of the captures was estimated at £4 million. Arriving off the Cocos Keeling islands the Emden sent 53 men, under the first officer, Kapitänleutnant Hellmuth von Mücke (1881-1957), ashore to destroy the wireless apparatus at Port Refuge. A wireless message sent before those on the station were overpowered by the Germans was picked up by the Sydney, 52 nautical miles away. The Germans believed they had sufficient time to decommission the wireless station and for the landing party to rejoin the Emden, but with the rapid arrival of the Sydney von Mücke’s men had to be left to their own devices while von Müller attempted to retaliate to the superior firepower of the Sydney. Within the space of an hour the conflict had concluded and von Müller beached the Emden on North Keeling island, raising white flags of surrender. In the battle the Emden lost 133 officers and men killed, out of a crew of 376, while Sydney had four crewmen killed and 13 wounded. Von Müller and his surviving crew were captured and taken to Malta, from where in October 1916 he was taken to England and interned with other German officers at Sutton Bonington, Nottingham. In 1917 he led an escape of 21 prisoners through an underground tunnel, but was recaptured and, as part of a humanitarian prisoner exchange, sent to another camp at Noordwijk-am-Zee, Holland. Von Mücke and his landing party seized a derelict schooner, the Ayesha, made her seaworthy, renamed her Emden II, and escaped the attentions of the Sydney by sailing her to Padang, Sumatra. There, a German freighter transported them to Hodeida, Yemen. After many adventures in the Arabian peninsula, including an overland journey along the Red Sea and battling hundreds of armed Bedouin tribesmen, von Mücke and 48 other survivors arrived in Constantinople in May 1915, from where they returned to Germany as heroes.
  • Members of the Australian Imperial Force who served on Gallipoli will be entitled to wear over the Unit “Colour Patch” on both sleeves of the Service Dress Jacket and Greatcoat the letter “A” an indication that the wearer had taken part in the operations on the Gallipoli Peninsula.  - Military Order 354 of 1917 Members of the Australian Imperial Force who served on Gallipoli or the Islands of Lemnos, Imbros and Tenedos, or who have served on transports or hospital ships at or off Gallipoli or the Islands above-named, or in AIF lines of communication Units in Egypt will be entitled to wear over their Unit “Colour Patches” on both sleeves of their Service Dress Jacket and Greatcoat the letter “A” as an indication that the wearer had taken part in the Gallipoli operations. - Military Order 20 of 1918 Robert Kearney
  • This descriptor encompasses all elements of the Australian Army in WW2, less the Second AIF, which was raised explicitly for overseas service. The Militia (CMF) was tasked with Homeland Defence and service in specified Australian Territories, into which eligible males were drafted. Many transferred from there to the RAAF and the 2nd AIF. The Volunteer Defence Corps (VDC) was a volunteer force patterned on the UK Home Guard mainly comprising veterans of WW1. Garrison Battalions were also raised, as were Labour Companies which performed construction tasks.
  • In the operations against enemy positions at MONT DE MERRIS near STRAZEELE on night 2nd/3rd June, 1918, Private PERKINS was one of a party of three men under Sergeant PULLEN who attacked and captured three German machine guns in action. The first gun was rushed with the bayonet and the crew either killed or captured: the other two guns were attacked with hand grenades and the crews driven off. Throughout the action he showed great courage and dash, and set a fine example to the men of his platoon who witnessed the act.' Source: 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 23 Date: 12 February 1919
  • From Sydney's diary, his Battalion relieved the 19th Batttalion on Thursday 21 March but he gave no indication of location. Referral to the War Diaries of the 7th Brigade held by the Australian War Memorial indicate they were in camp at Canteen Corner and moved into the line near the villages of Romarin and Kortepyp just inside the Belgian border with France. The entry for Tuesday 26 March, their 2nd in the front line, stated it was 'very lively. Fritz shooting bombs nearly all night. Had to fall back for a while'. On Saturday 30 March Sydney recorded 'Fritz's plane bought by gunfire fell about 300 years from my dugout. Officer taken prisoner'. Sydney then tell that he 'went out with patrol. Spent several hours in no mans land. Very wet and got into swamp on the bank of the River Lys. No sign of Fritz so came in again. Wet through and mud up to knees'. On Tuesday 2 April Sydney recorded it was their 12th day in the line and that the Battalion was relieved by the South Lancashires from the Somme. Following the diary entries, the 26th Battalion spent the night in a camp and on Wednesday 3 April moved to Meteren en route for the Somme. On Thursday 4 April they left Meteren for Caestre 'to load gear on trains working all night'. Sydney records 'it was very wet and slushy'. They left Caestre at 6 am on Friday 5 April arriving in Amiens at 8 pm. Then then marched to Allonville where the spent the night. The next day they marched to La Neuville which Sydney described as 'a small village, left in a hurry by the population as everything was left behind, even cows and a few tame rabbits in out billet'. On Sunday 7 April the Battalion marched to Baizieux to spend some days in support. Sydney states there were 'no billets and have to put up this time in the trench and there are no places to shelter anyway'. On Thursday 11 April Sydney recorded that '3 Hun planes brought down by gun fire. Had no time to go over and see as we were ready to move up the line'. Friday 12 April was the Battalions 'first night in the front line about 4 miles from Albert. Very quiet. Heavy bombardment on our left but nothing our way'. On Friday 19 April Sydney recorded that they were at Franvillers having 'moved back a couple of miles for a couple of days spell. Living in holes in the side of a hill. Light fall of snow during the day. Very cold'. He comments on the 'terrible scarcity for matches' and then on Monday 22 April says he 'heard there were matches at Heilly about 3 miles away. Walked over and managed to get 4 boxes. Going up in line tonight on fatigue'. Wednesday 24 April saw them back in the front line from 11 pm. On 26 April they 'bombarded Fritz's trench with mortars. Knocked out his machine guns'. they were relieved from the front line on Monday 29 April, went into support for a day and then were 'marched out for a couple of days spell'. They were back in reserve on Saturday 4 May and 'had to dig bivies to camp for the night. Dug into bank alongside a railway. 9.2 gun on line shaking hell out of us'. On Friday 10 May Sydney and his mates left for the line arriving 4 pm and went into reserves. Again they had to build bivies, this time in the trench. Sydney records that they went into reserves near Ribemont and 'met my old friend the Queensland mosquito'. He also comments 'I think all the vermin in the world is around this part, not including Huns'. Compiled by Ian Cousens
  • From the 7th Brigade diaries, the 26th Battalion were back in line at Frenchcourt on 14/15 June. When an inspection was carried out at Frenchcourt on 20 June the Battalion consisted of 40 officers and 867 other ranks. They were described as being very smart. Returning to Sydney's dairy, he recorded on Thursday 27 June that they 'took over line at Villers-Bretonneux. D Company in reserve for 10 days living in dugout. Trey Bon'. It was Friday 12 July before they were 'sent out of the line for a rest'. He must have been back in the line on Wednesday 17 July as he noted that the 'Brits hopped over, took Fritz's line, went about 1500 yards and that 'D Coy had 40 odd casualties, 3 killed'. Saturday 20 July was the 4th Brigade Sports and Sydney noted that he 'met half Toowoomba' and names eight people. That was the last entry Sydney made in his diary. Compiled by Ian Cousens
  • Sydney's diary entries cease on 20 July. From the War Diaries of the 7th Brigade held by the Australian War Memorial, the 26th Battalion was in reserve at Glisy and Blangy from 1 August before moving up into the line on 7 August. On 8 August the Battle of Amiens commenced with an attack launched at 4.20 am. The 26th Battalion, working with a section of tanks, was on the right flank and were to advance along the north side of the railway line towards Marcelcave. Objectives ironically included Card Copse where Sydney was initially buried. Reports state there was heavy fog and visibility was restricted to 10 yards for about 2 hours. A large number of casualties were due to men being caught in their own rolling barrage. From reports in the Australian Red Cross Society Wounded and Missing Enquiry Bureau Files, Sydney was in D Coy and died instantaneously after being hit by pieces of a shell. Pte H Webley 6167 of B Coy 26th Battalion stated 'Casualty happened in the morning of 8-8-18 just after the hop over when still in action'. Pte Webley was wounded by the same shell. Sydney was initially buried on the 9th August in Card Copse British Cemetery one mile North West of Marcelcave before being re-interred in Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery on 31st March 1920. Sydney is also commemorated on the Mothers Memorial in East Creek Park and the Soldiers Memorial Hall, both in Toowoomba. Sydney's younger brother, Stanley Clifford Cousens #816 15th Battalion also served in WW1 and was killed in action on 9th August 1916 two years earlier at Pozieres. Compiled by Ian Cousens
  • On the evening of 14th July 1944, with the D Day invasion in full swing, a massive air effort was being mounted to disrupt German transport links. Having taken off from Binbrock (Lincolnshire-UK) on July 14, 1944, around 9:38 pm, for a bombing mission on the Révigny-sur-Ornain (Meuse) railroad, Lancaster ME755 AR-Z was shot down by a night fighter on the 15th. July 1944 around 02:05, near Chevillon Haute Marne in eastern France.. Only two crew members managed to escape: F / Sgt Brian Francis RAFTERY, Wireless Operator, RAAF, Sgt David WADE, AIr Gunner, of the RAF. The rest died in the crash and are buried at Chevillon Communal Cemetery. ALLAN, ALEXANDER, Sergeant, 562335, RAFVR, Flight Engineer, DICKERSON, KEVIN LESLIE THOMAS, Flight Sergeant, 421578, RAAF, Age 20, Bomb Aimer JEFFRIES, FREDERICK, Flight Sergeant, 1323904, RAFVR, Age 33, Navigator KILSBY, HORACE SIDNEY, Sergeant, 1575038, RAFVR, Age 21, Air Gunner VAUGHAN, WILLIAM ALAN HENRY, Pilot Officer, 421774, RAAF, Age 25, Pilot
  • 'On 4th October, 1917, during the operations on BROODSEINDE RIDGE east of YPRES. The attack commenced at 6am October 4, 1917 after rain commenced falling the day before. Coincidentally, the Germans planned an attack for exactly the same time. At 5.20am the German artillery opened up and then at 6am the Australian artillery started, both in preparation for impending attacks. After both troops emerged from their trenches to commence attacking to their surprise they found the enemy doing exactly the same. The Australians managed to recover from the shock quicker than their opponents as the Australian machine gunners opened up and cut the German lines to pieces. The Germans broke and the Australians managed to capture the ridge. The triumph at Broodseinde presented the Allied High Command with an opportunity, perhaps in the upcoming spring, of breaking the German hold. Source: 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 31 Date: 7 March 1918

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