ANZAC DAY 2018 – A Year of Many Anniversaries.
From WBro Damien Hudson, Editor Devotion News
This year will mark the 100th Anniversary of the end of the First World War. Over the last four years, there has been much attention on the 100th Anniversaries of events within the War and this year will be no different. There are many events which would make a good focus for this year’s Anzac Day Article;
In July, we can expect to hear of the Battle of Le Hamel in northern France (4 July 1918) - a successful attack by Australian and US Army infantry, supported by British tanks, against German positions. While comparatively small in scale, the Battle was to have far-reaching consequences for trench warfare, because, like the Battle of Cambrai in 1917, it provided a practical demonstration of successful tactics for attacking an entrenched enemy using combined arms. The strategy employed at Hamel was successful on a much larger scale in the Battle of Amiens and was a major factor in Allied successes later in the war.
The attack at Le Hamel was planned and commanded by the famous Australian Lieutenant General John Monash, commander of the Australians. All of the Allies' objectives were achieved within 93 minutes; just 3 minutes longer than Monash's calculated battle time. In 1918 General Monash was knighted in the field by King George V - the first time this honour had occurred for nearly 200 years. Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, the World War II British Army Commander, later described Monash as the best World War 1 General on Europe’s Western Front. No doubt the approaching anniversary of that battle was part of the thinking in the stupid plan to posthumously promote Gen Monash to Field Marshal. Described by the Australian Defence Association as “invalid, ahistoric and unnecessary” Monash himself specified his gravestone was to read only “John Monash” without title, rank or awards. Not being a Field Marshal is part of his story, and when you look at how many Field Marshals (four) Australia has had and who (one being King George VI) and why Monash does not need the rank to establish his credentials; his deeds did that. I think only 4 Field Marshals were for made for the UK during WW1 - and one was the Emperor of Japan. Alleged prejudice against Monash for being Jewish, his general approach, but the fact this man was Knighted in War and saw 300K at his funeral (unprecedented) and that he himself requested no rank or honours on his funeral stone - all stand much larger than "Field Marshal” to those who understand history.
The coming months will also mark the 100th Anniversary of The Hundred Days Offensive. This was the final terrible phase of the First World War, during which the Allies launched a series of attacks on the Western Front from 8 August to 11 November 1918, beginning with the Battle of Amiens and ending the War. The offensive essentially pushed the Germans out of France, forcing them to retreat beyond the Hindenburg Line, and was followed by an armistice. About 2.7 million men would be wounded or killed during that terrible time seeing the most intense casualties of the entire war.
Further along in history, 2018 marks the 75th Anniversaries of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, the introduction of Conscription in Australia, the Japanese defeat on Guadalcanal and closer to home, several significant battles (and about 30 in total) in Paupa New Guinea where the Australians held or pushed back the Japanese.
This year also marks 70 Years since a State of Emergency was declared in Malaya and the 65th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice. This is the 50th Year since the Battle of Khe Sanh, Battles at Fire Support Bases ‘Coral’ and ‘Balmoral’; all in Vietnam, the Hue Massacrce when 2,800 to 6,000 people were executed by Viet Cong and Nth Vietnamese regulars, the Tet Offensive also in Vietnam and the infamous photograph take by Eddie Adams photograph of Nguyễn Ngọc Loan executing Nguyễn Văn Lém on February 1, 1968,
It’s 25 years since 1 RAR arrived in Somalia and the 17th Year of the current War in Afghanistan in which 41 Australian soldiers have been killed and 261 wounded. Another Australian was killed while serving with the British Army; Bro. Rfn Stuart Winston Nash. Lodge Victoria Cross NSW is dedicated to the memory of him and Bro. Cpl. John Hurst Edmondson VC.
And, always in my mind, it is the fifth anniversary of the death of Brother Corporal Cameron Stewart Baird VC, MG (1981-2013), on his fourth tour of Afghanistan in the service of the Australian Army.
I think of all these things this ANZAC Day, but most of all I think of what these events meant to the men who suffered in War and what that meant to them and their families, especially to the families of those who did not return.
Lest we forget.