The announcement of the dropping of an atomic bomb on Japan brought an uplift of spirit among personnel. The end of the war, hitherto a nebulous source of conjecture, suddenly became a definite possibility within a matter of days, even hours. Crowds imbued with eager anticipation mustered round the unit’s radio sets for each news session and gasped with amazement as statistical information about the potentialities of the bomb were unfolded. [57th/60th Australian Infantry Battalion war diary, 8 August 1945]
It has become known as Australia’s blackest night.
On 19 July 1916, the troops of the 5th Australian and 61st British Divisions attacked a strong German position, at the centre of which stood the Sugar Loaf salient, near the small French village of Fromelles. The overnight assault – the first major battle fought by Australian troops on the Western Front – was mainly intended as a diversion to draw German troops away from the Somme offensive further south.
On Saturday 10 July 1911, King George V gave his approval for the Commonwealth Naval Forces to become known as the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). One hundred years have now passed since this event. To celebrate the centenary of the Royal Australian Navy, the reports of proceedings for fifty RAN ships and establishments are being made available online via the Australian War Memorial's website.
While searching through the Memorial’s Research Centre collection looking for stories relating to the upcoming exhibition on nurses I came across the collection of Sister Beryl Maddock (nee Chandler), containing a typed memoir, newspaper clippings, letters and a scattering of photographs. Beryl’s story stood out to me as she was one of a small number of nurses selected to join the RAAF's newly formed Medical Air Evacuation Transport Unit in 1944.
In the early morning of 1 July 1916, more than 100,000 British infantrymen were ordered from their trenches in the fields and woods north of the Somme River in France, to attack the opposing German line.
Within 24 hours, the British army would suffer almost 60,000 casualties, a third of whom were killed, and record the most costly day in its history.
One of the many problems trench warfare presented to soldiers in the First World War was finding out what the enemy was doing behind his lines. The simple solution to this was height, and in a relatively short time many ways of getting men and a camera off the ground were developed.
The papers of Field Marshal the Lord Birdwood will be undergoing conservation, rehousing and digitisation for their long term preservation.