This week the Research Centre received a call from a fan of Sandy, Major General Sir William Throsby Bridges' favourite charger. November this year sees the 90th anniversary of Sandy's return to Australia, after a tour of duty which included the coast of Gallipoli, Egypt and France. Sandy's fan wished to confirm the information the Research Centre has about this much-loved animal in preparation for a ceremony to mark the anniversary.
Captain Cedric Howell was one of Australia’s greatest fighter pilots. Initially serving as a sniper with No. 46 Battalion he transferred to the Royal Flying Corps in March 1917; part of the original group of 200 Australians recruited from the AIF. He joined No. 45 Squadron, RFC and saw active service with this unit in France and Italy.
Vietnam Veterans Day is commemorated on 18 August every year. The day was originally known as Long Tan Day, chosen to commemorate the men of D Company, 6RAR who fought in the battle of Long Tan in 1966. On that day, 108 Australian and New Zealand soldiers fought a pitched battle against over 2,000 North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops in a rubber plantation not far from the small village of Long Tan. The Australians prevailed, but only after fighting in torrential rain for four hours.
Australian armed forces have had a long and proud association with surf lifesaving in Australia as reflected in this copy of ‘Surf in Australia’ magazine. It contains news and extracts of ‘letters from the services’ overseas, honour rolls of members killed in action, a report on the first R.A.A.F. surf lifesaving club at Evans Head run by the No.1 bombing and Gunnery School in New South Wales along with reports of fund-raising activities and news updates from Surf Life-Saving Association of Australia clubs all around Tasmania and across News South Wales.
The tragedy of the missing at Fromelles resonates once more 90 years after the battle. In June 2008 a further search for bodies began. It was initiated by a Melbourne school-teacher, Lambis Englezos. He was one in a group who became increasingly convinced that there were Australian and British bodies that had been buried by the Germans in mass graves who had not been recovered and re-interred after the war. Such claims needed to be backed up by careful research and this took some years to complete.
From March 1916 Australian divisions began arriving in France. Initially the troops found a pleasant land and a welcome change from sea voyages, the cliffs of Gallipoli, and the training camps of Egypt. There were four divisions, each about 20,000 men, and they were sent to French Flanders close to the Belgian border. Now, for the first time, the AIF was at the main theatre of the war.
Over the past few months the Memorial has been increasing its efforts to acquire photographs of men and women who died on active service whilst serving in the Australian military forces. 102,000 names appear on the Roll of Honour, and where possible, the Memorial has been trying to put faces to names by acquiring photographs of these men and women to link to their online Roll of Honour records.
Prisoners in German POW camps were very resourceful. My favourite items to have come out of POW camps in Europe are the maps they made for escape attempts. Early in the war men would draw their maps by hand, but this took a long time and at the end you would have only one copied map.
Series AWM347 is a recently acquired collection of historical records of the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI). Accumulated from 1927 to 1984, these records afford a detailed and often fascinating look into the thinking that characterised Australian and Allied intelligence doctrine for over half a century.