While 11 April 1917 saw the launch of the first action at Bullecourt, on 9 April the larger Arras Offensive commenced. The Arras Offensive of 1917 is often referred to as the Battle of Arras and is a significant battle honour more identified with the British Army. This offensive does however also incorporate the smaller ‘battles’ and 'actions' of the Scarpe, of Vimy Ridge which the Canadians commemorate, and Bullecourt which Australians identify with. (See post on battle honours – Bullecourt)
Monday 25 June 2007 by Janda Gooding.
George Lambert: Gallipoli and Palestine Landscapes Exhibition
In early 2007 the Australian War Memorial appointed Charles Green and Lyndell Brown as official artists to Iraq and Afghanistan. Charles and Lyndell are based in Melbourne and work collaboratively on the same paintings. Their experiences as official artists travelling with the Australian Defence Forces bear some similarity to those of George Lambert ninety years ago - having to work quickly and pack up at a moment's notice when the Forces need to move. They will be in Canberra to talk at the symposium this Friday 29 June about their time in Iraq and Afghanistan.
While reading about the Australians at Bullecourt in 1917, it struck me as odd that there is only one official battle honour for what seemed to be two distinctly separate battles, albeit in the same location. Furthermore, the official battle honour only refers to the second battle that occurred in May, and seemingly ignores the first battle that took place on 11 April. To satisfy my curiosity, I looked in to the matter further, with assistance from colleagues at the Australian War Memorial and from the Australian Army History Unit.
In September 1914 Charles Reginald Yells, a 24 year old labourer from Kapunda, South Australia enlisted with the AIF. Joining the 9th Light Horse Regiment, he trained at Broadmeadows in Victoria before embarking on the HMAT Karroo for Egypt in February 1915. In July 1915, he was promoted to Temporary Sergeant to teach at the Imperial School of Instruction at Zeitoun, Egypt. He worked as an instructor at the school until assigned for “special duty” to the Red Sea Ports on 10 August 1917.
Ninety years ago, in May 1917, the Australian War Records Section (AWRS) was formed in London. It is from this date that we trace the formal origins of the Australian War Memorial. Over the next two years the AWRS acquired approximately 25,000 objects, as well as paper records, photographs, film, publications, and works of art. All were brought back to Australia in 1919 and formed the basis of the collection of what would eventually become the Australian War Memorial.