This year marks the 100th anniversary of the arrival of Australian troops on the Western Front during the First World War. More Australians would die in this theatre of war than in anyother.
Though introduced to the Western Front via the quieter “nursery” sector at Armentières, the Australians in France would face their first major operations at Fromelles and Pozières.
This Tuesday, the Australian War Memorial will remember and honour the service and sacrifice of those Australian’s who fought during the battle of Fromelles, 100 years ago. Fromelles occurred on 19/20 July 1916 and was the first major action fought by the Australians on the Western Front. Tragically, it resulted in over 5,500 casualties in less than 24 hours in what was a brutal initiation to the fighting in France.
The Boer War medal group of Lieutenant Frederick William Bell VC, including one of only six Victoria Crosses awarded to Australians in South Africa and the first awarded to a Western Australian, has gone on display at the Australian War Memorial.
Lieutenant Bell’s VC action occurred on 16 May 1901 at Brakpan in the Transvaal region of South Africa. His citation from 1901 reads:
During NAIDOC Week 2016 the Australian War Memorial will commemorate the proud service and sacrifice of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in times of war.
In a special NAIDOC Week Last Post Ceremony tonight, Memorial will honour Indigenous serviceman Private Maitland Madge. Private Madge enlisted when he was 21 and served at Pozières, where he was awarded the Military Medal. He enlisted again in the Second World War, aged 45, and served on Singapore, where he died as a prisoner of war in Changi in 1945.
Former Prime Minister of Australia the Honourable John Howard OM AC today launched the fifth volume of the official history of Australia’s peacekeeping, humanitarian and post–Cold War operations at the Australian War Memorial.