ANZAC Centenary 2014-2018: Sharing Victoria's Stories
  • Leaving Gallipoli – the man behind the plan

    December 15, 2015

    Australian Lieutenant Colonel Cyril Brudenell White devised the detailed plan to evacuate Gallipoli in December 1915.   This involved elaborate deception operations such as the so-called ‘silent stunts’ of late November, where no artillery fire or sniping was to occur from the Anzac lines. It was hoped that this would accustom their opponents to the idea that preparations were underway for the coming winter. Hopefully, the enemy would not, therefore, interpret these silences as a withdrawal.

    1442308757011Brudenell White was no stranger  to this kind of detailed thinking and strategy.

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  • Victoria Remembers Private Martin

    October 22, 2015

    P00069_001Sunday 25 October marks the 100th anniversary of the death, at Gallipoli, of Private James Charles (Jim) Martin. Jim Martin is thought to be the youngest Australian to die on active service.

    Jim was born in Tocumwal, NSW on 3 January 1901. Martin’s family moved to many different suburbs in and around Melbourne before finally settling in Mary Street, Hawthorn, in 1910. Having just left school to work as a farmhand, he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in April 1915 at the age of 14 years and 3 months. He told the recruiting officers that he was 18.

    Jim joined the 1st Reinforcements of the 21st Battalion with the service number 1553 and trained at Broadmeadows and Seymour Camps in Victoria. In June he left for Egypt on the troopship HMAT Berrima. He embarked for Gallipoli on the steamer HMT Southland, “to have our share of the Turks” (letter to his family, 26 August). However, the ship was torpedoed by a German submarine off Lemnos Island and Martin spent four hours in the water before rescue.

    Private Martin landed with his battalion on Gallipoli on 8 September. They were stationed in the trench lines near Courtney’s Post on the ridge above Monash Valley. He wrote to his family (4 October) that “the Turks are still about 70 yards away from us… Don’t worry about me as I am doing splendid over here.” But on 25 October he was evacuated to the hospital ship Glenart Castle suffering from enteritis. He died of heart failure that evening and was buried at sea. His name is recorded on the Lone Pine Memorial at Gallipoli. Copy courtesy of the AWM.

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    Jim Martin, pictured above with his family, is the subject of the book, Soldier Boy, by Anthony Hill.

    A list of ‘boy soldiers” from WWI can be found on the Australian War Memorial website, www.awm.gov.au/encyclopedia/boysoldiers/first/

    Victoria Remembers Jim, and all the many others who lost their lives whilst serving their country. Lest We Forget.

  • 5000 Poppies heading to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show

    October 20, 2015

    The Victorian State Government is proud to support the 5000 Poppies project in their adventure to showcase the stunning collection of knitted poppies at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

    Creator Lynn Berry will accompany acclaimed landscape gardener Phillip Johnson, as they take the poppies across the waters and display them for the world to see.

    Minister for Veterans, the Hon John Eren says “the 5000 Poppies Project is a stunning tribute to our servicemen and women. Now, people from all over the world will be able to pay their respects.”

    Learn more – https://5000poppies.wordpress.com/

    'Planting' of the poppies at Federation Square, Remembrance Day 2013. IMG_0158

  • The George Warfe Memorial Elementary School

    August 15, 2015

    A school in Papua New Guinea is to be named in honour of former World War Two commando leader, George Warfe, explains Darren Robins, who is the grandchild of a former member of the 2/3rd Australian Independent Company, WX2048 H.W. ‘Bill’ Robins, who fought under the leader in the Wau-Salamaua Campaign.

    George Warfe WWII Commando LeaderOn the 14th of October this year, 2015, the primary school in Kamiatum , Papua New Guinea will be named in honour of George Warfe, for his service during the Wau-Salamaua Campaign. The then Major George Warfe was OC of the 2/3rd Australian Independent Company.

    In early March 1943, the Imperial Japanese Navy occupied the townships of Lae and Salamaua in the Mandated Territory of New Guinea. Between then and the re-occupation of Salamaua by Australian and U.S. forces in September 1943, the campaign directly occupied 10-and-a-half Australian and American infantry battalions and three Australian Independent Companies, and on the Japanese side, at least ten infantry battalions and elements of several Special Naval Landing Forces. Colonel George Warfe DSO MC, then a major, was OC of the 2/3rd Australian Independent Company, which served in the Wau-Salamaua Campaign between late January and mid-September 1943.

    George Warfe was born in Victoria and with the exception of his overseas military service, spent almost his whole life and career in his home state. It was George Warfe, along with Ken Mackenzie, who jointly chaired the first meeting in early 1946 that resulted in the birth of the Commando Association of Victoria. Komiatum (now spelt Kamiatum) was a village and ridge just inland from the Japanese coastal base of Salamaua. Komiatum Ridge dominated the enemy L of C between Salamaua and their most forward defensive outpost of Mubo. The Kamiatum area now is a collection of family ‘camps’ in the Burali Valley between the Kamiatum and Bobdubi Ridges. Local industry consists mostly of subsistence agriculture, with some cocoa, and further inland, coffee grown.

    A small but well-presented war museum in the Buiumbui camp was named the Bui Warfe War Museum after the nearby stream which was named in honour of then Major Warfe in 1943. Since the building of a new elementary school at Kamiatum two years ago, it has been desired to also name this in honour of Colonel Warfe, as a representative of the thousands of Australians who served in the area during 1942-43 and the official dedication is on the 14th of October 2015.

  • Victory in the Pacific

    August 12, 2015

    This Saturday, 15 August 2015, marks 70 years since the end of the Second World War – Victory in the Pacific, or VP Day.

    Nearly 1 million Australians served in WWII, around 30,000 were captured as POWs and 40,000 would never return home. We encourage all Victorians to acknowledge this anniversary and take the time to commemorate the service and sacrifice of so many.

    A commemorative service will be held at the Shrine of Remembrance at midday.

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  • The 1st Royal Australian Naval Bridging Train

    August 11, 2015

    The 1st RANBT, arriving on the Gallipoli Peninsula in August 1915, set up its camp at what became known as Kangaroo Beach. It was responsible for a wide variety of tasks including: building and maintaining wharves and piers, unloading stores from lighters, controlling the supply of fresh water to front line troops, stock-piling engineering equipment, building a light railway for stores movements and carrying out repairs in an open-air workshop.

    Bridging%20Train%20Banner_1Engineering materials were scarce on the Gallipoli Peninsula, and faced with a lack of suitable bolts and iron dowels essential for pier construction, the men turned to a wrecked sand dredge to acquire the necessary material. It’s artificers removed guard-rails and rungs cut from steel ladders to fashion their own fasteners using a portable forge.

    From time-to-time men of the 1st RANBT involved themselves in other affairs as revealed by the following account told by a sergeant of the British 32nd Field Ambulance, stationed at Suvla Bay:

    Fairly late in the day, as we all lay sprawling on the rocks, I saw a small party staggering down the defile leading to this point. There were two men with cowboy hats and between them they helped another thin and very exhausted looking fellow, who tottered along holding one arm which had been wounded. As they came nearer I recognised my little lance-jack [lance corporal], very pale and a little thinner than usual. The other two were sturdy enough, one short and the other tall, with great rough brown hands, sunburnt faces and bare arms. They wore brown leggings, riding breeches and khaki shirts. They carried their rifles at the trail and strode up to us with the easy gait of those accustomed to outdoor life. ‘Australians’ said someone. “Where’s your boss” asked the tall colonial. “The adjutant is over here” I answered. “We’d like a word with him” said the man. I took them up to the officer and they both saluted in an easy going sort of way. “We found him up there” – the Australian jerked his head – “being sniped at and could not get away; he says he belongs to the 32 Ambulance, so here he is”.

    The two were about to slope off again when the Adjutant called them back. “Where did you find him?” he asked. “Up behind Jefferson’s Post; there were five snipers potting at him and it looked mighty like his number was up. We killed four of the snipers and got him out”. “That was very good of you. Did you see any more? We lost some others and an officer and a sergeant.” “No, I did not spot any, did you Bill?” The tall man turned to his mate leaning on his rifle. “No” answered the short sharp-shooter, “He’s the only one. It was a good afternoon sport, very good. We saw he’d got no rifle and was in a tight close-hitch, so we took the job on there and then, finished four of them, but it took some creeping and crawling.” “Well, we will be quitting this now” said the tall one. “There is only one thing we would ask of you sir, don’t let our people know anything about this”. “But, why?” asked the astounded Adjutant, “you saved his life and it ought to be known”. “Yes that may be so sir, but we are not supposed to be up here sharp shooting – we just done it for a bit of sport. Rightly we don’t carry a rifle; we belong to the bridge building section. We only borrowed these rifles from the Cycle Corps and we will be charged with being out of bounds without leave and all that sort of thing if this becomes known.” “All right, I will tell no one, but all the same it was good work and we thank you for getting him back to us,” the Adjutant smiled.

    The two Australians gave him a friendly nod and said “so long chaps”, and strode away along the defile.

    An excerpt from The 1st Royal Australian Naval Bridging Train, by John Perryman & Commander Greg Swinden, RAN

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  • Women Carers of WWI Veterans

    August 10, 2015

    Rosemary statue 1The Anzac Centenary has highlighted many aspects of Australia’s participation in WWI. It is also an opportunity to remember all Australians and their families who have served in wars since, including those serving today.

    In WWI 300,000 Australians served, 60,000 died and a further conservatively estimated 90,000 suffered physical and/or psychiatric war injuries. These injuries often translated into serious lifetime disabilities. Many died directly as a result, soon or sometime after the war. Many carried burdens of trauma so unique to war, their quality of life was significantly compromised, despite near average longevity.

    Finally at home, returned servicemen were given peace and care. That care and lifetime support rested primarily with their loved ones. The mothers, wives and even sisters and daughters delivered this service, quietly and uncomplainingly with little or no recognition, for sometimes many decades after the war.

    A group of women have formed an association called ‘Women Caring for Veterans of War Inc.’ (WCVW). They have sought to give these forgotten civilian heroines some belated recognition and commemoration. WCVW is comprised of wives of (mostly Vietnam War) Veterans and can easily relate and empathise with the plight faced by these WWI veterans women and their families, in much harder times. It is a timely reminder too, that the impact of war today has the exact same consequences and this is not just of historical interest.

    WCVW have commissioned, completed and will now erect a life-size statue of a civilian woman, circa 1918, to commemorate the enduring sacrifice women relatives made in caring for WWI Veterans. It will be placed in Victory Gardens, Ascot Vale on the prominent corner site of Epsom and Langs Roads. The dedication Ceremony is planned for the 29th August 2015 at 11am. The statue will co-exist nearby to a long standing WW1 memorial to the Fallen of the area. If you live in the local community, or are going to the Races or the Royal Melbourne Showgrounds, stop by and pay her your respects.

    WCVW wish to gratefully acknowledge Grants received from the Commonwealth Government, Anzac Centenary Local Grants Program through the Federal Seat of Melbourne and from the Anzac Centenary Community Grants Program, Victorian Veterans Council and for the unstinting support of the Moonee Valley City Council.

  • Lemnos Gallipoli Memorial

    August 8, 2015

    Today, 100 years since the first 40 nurses arrived on the island on Lemnos, ready to care for the wounded men of the WWI Gallipoli campaign, the Lemnos Gallipoli Memorial will be unveiled.

    P1010071The memorial commemorates the role of the Greek island of Lemnos in Australia’s ANZAC story and is dedicated to the Australian nurses and soldiers who served there during the Gallipoli campaign in 1915, to the 148 Australian soldiers who remain buried there and to the local Lemnian community who supported them.

    The Memorial has been created by Australia’s pre-eminent commemorative sculptor, Mr Peter Corlett, OAM. Mr Corlett has created some of Australia’s most endearing and moving commemorative sculptures, such as Weary Dunlop in Melbourne’s Domain gardens, Cobbers at Fromelles in France, the Bullecourt Digger in France, Simpson and his Donkey 1915 in Canberra and the Australian Light Horse Memorial at Beersheeba, Israel.

    Join us for the unveiling will take place at 11am today at Foote Street Reserve in Albert Park.

    Event information

  • Victorian Opera – Remembrance

    July 24, 2015

    Remembrance

    During the centenary year of the ANZAC landing in Gallipoli, Victorian Opera presents Remembrance, a moving tribute in story, song and image. Written and directed by acclaimed Australian author Rodney Hall, Remembrance spans six chapters – enlistment, embarkation, training, landing, trench warfare and homecoming. One of Australia’s best known operatic tenors, David Hobson joins eight of Victorian Opera’s talented young artists as they create a series of moving musical portraits against the backdrop of archival footage, accompanied by a chamber orchestra and community choir.

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  • True Jews and Patriots exhibition

    July 7, 2015

    As part of the Centenary of the First World War, the Jewish Museum of Australia presents True Jews and Patriots: Australian Jews and World War One, an exhibition featuring intriguing untold stories of Australian Jewish experiences of the Great War. The exhibition investigates the contributions and legacies of Jews who enlisted and considers the social context that motivated their participation and the devastating impact of war on the Australian Jewish community, through the stories of people who were there.

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