SHAPE THE FOCUS OF RSL AUSTRALIA

RSL Australia would like to hear from the community regarding what you think is the most important issue to focus on in 2023 and beyond. We want to better understand the current needs and priorities of veterans (both members and non-members).

The research will be conducted independently and a report of the results will be available in 2023. The insights will be used to shape the RSL Australia strategic plan.

To begin with, we have launched a short survey to gather responses to the question:

“If you were in charge of RSL Australia, what’s the one priority you would focus on to improve the lives of veterans and their families – and why?”

We look forward to everyone’s feedback – all are welcome to participate – whether you’ve served or never served in the ADF. Answers will be 100% confidential and anonymous, and four winners will receive $100 shopping voucher valid at most major retailers.

TAKE THE SURVEY

After we collect this feedback, qualitative data will be collected through interviews with veterans and members of the veteran community across Australia to understand a range of key issues and perceptions.

The insights gained in these interviews will shape the main national survey which will be launched in February 2023.

IDENTIFYING OUR FALLEN & OVERSEAS ANZAC SERVICES

Photo: Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery

Three Australian soldiers of the First World War have been formally identified more than 105 years since they were killed on the Western Front.

 Minister for Veterans Affairs’, The Hon Matt Keogh MP said identifying the soldiers, whose remains were found in 2006 and 2010, was the result of historical, anthropological, archaeological and DNA analysis by the Australian Army.

“After giving their lives more than a century ago, it is remarkable that we can now name these three individuals who served our nation, and hopefully bring some peace to their descendants.” Minister Keogh said.

 “When we say ‘Lest We Forget’ at the end of the Ode we mean it; we will remember them. These were people who had names and loved ones who never learnt their fate.”

Minister Keogh said two of the soldiers had died near the village of Fromelles in northern France in 1916.

“Private Walter Allen Grace was born in Derbyshire, England and worked as a labourer when he enlisted in Brisbane, Queensland in July 1915.

 “He was discovered near Private Edwin Charles Gray. Edwin was born in Riverton, South Australia who worked as a chauffeur and mechanic when he enlisted in Keswick, South Australia in July 1915.

“Their identification is the result of diligent and painstaking work by professionals and volunteers. Walter and Edwin now rest in Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery, their identities restored.”

 The third identified soldier was recovered in Belgium in 2006, one of five unknown Australian soldiers recovered from a wartime cemetery. Known as the ‘Westhoek Five’, by 2007 three of the soldiers had been identified.

 “The Army’s Unrecovered War Casualties team are now able to name the fourth soldier of the Westhoek Five, buried at Buttes New British Cemetery,” Minister Keogh said.

 “Private Thomas Allen Gibbens from the 29th Battalion was born in Carlton, Victoria and worked as a plumber when he enlisted at Broadmeadows in February 1916.

 “The important work to identify the last of the Westhoek Five will continue.

 

“I want to personally thank everyone who has been part of finding and identifying these soldiers, particularly the families who provided vital DNA. I acknowledge the volunteers of the Fromelles Association of Australia who work tirelessly to find the families of Fromelles soldiers.

 “While those who knew them could never visit their graves, their sacrifice is not forgotten, and can now be reflected upon where they lie, side by side with their mates.”

The three soldiers’ headstones will be rededicated in 2023.

 As we look to 2023, Australians planning to travel to France or Türkiye to attend next year’s ANZAC Day services can now book their attendance passes online.

 Minister Keogh said that although passes are free, anyone planning to attend the Dawn Service in either France or Türkiye must make sure they’ve secured their spot.

 “Both Gallipoli and Villers-Bretonneux are places of enormous significance to Australians. More than 8,700 of our countrymen lost their lives on the Gallipoli peninsula, and more than 46,000 died fighting on the Western Front in the First World War,” Minister Keogh said.

 “Each year on 25 April, ANZAC Day, Australians make the pilgrimage to these places to honour and remember those who served, and those who made the ultimate sacrifice in service of their country.

 Attendances passes are now available online at the ANZAC Day Services ticketing website  [https://commemorations.teg.com.au/].

 

We shall fight on the seas of nonsense policies

By Ross Eastgate

Winston Churchill knew a bit about soldiering, government and the consequences of failing to prepare adequately for future war.

He was also critical of politicians and generals who talked the talk but failed to follow through, having learned that lesson himself the hard way.

He wrote after the war, “The temptation to tell a chief in a great position the things he most likes to hear is the commonest explanation of mistaken policy.”

From his own leadership experience Churchill knew what men wanted and needed to fight well – leadership, training but also more practically bread, beer, weaponry and equipment, personal comforts and R&R, plus all the other myriad issues that he endlessly directed the War Office to address in WWII.

He understood soldiers’ psychology better than any other prime minister of his generation, none with military experience.

CLICK LINK to continue reading:

We shall fight on the seas of nonsense policies | Australian Defence History, Policy and Veterans Issues (targetsdown.blogspot.com)

Convoy of Russian T-80 tanks exploded one by one in attack by Ukrainian troops while fleeing

Footage shows Russian marines from the 155th Naval Infantry Brigade driving a burning T-80BVM tank, along a road in the largely destroyed town of Pavlivka, as flames and black smoke erupted from the vehicle following a Ukrainian strike. A group of Russian soldiers can be seen climbing on top of the tank and jumping down before they ran away from the burning wreck.

DO WE REALLY HONOUR OUR PAST? 

George Mansford ©November 2O22 
 
Stand tall and proud for all those yesterdays  
When our flag of unity was first flown to lead the way   
Raised by Colonials who drank sweetness of nationhood so new   
Long before PC and Woke vinegar was added for me and you  
No matter when or where, always for our nation is deep love  
A bright southern cross as a proud sign post blinking above  
Not “them and us” but always a loud clear cry; “a fair go for all”  
Fair dinkum; our precious way of life is worth fighting for 
 
So many served and gave their all on foreign sands    
Agony and blood in jungle, desert, snow and plowed land                                                     
Cruel seas and dark clouds churned with exploding hate  
Heroes with love of country and purpose we strive to emulate  
On special days, clothed in freedom, we gather, no matter where   
To honour our fallen who had sworn a sacred oath and dared   
Proud gatherings of young and old, who listen, sing, and pray  
That peace and unity will reign forever and a day  
 
 

 In Totality – Frontier War Truths

‘Truth Telling’ and Aboriginal Tribal Warfare

Luke Powell.

The Uluru Statement from the heart which Prime Minister Anthony Albanese recently endorsed in full, has a plethora of legal, racial and practical problems. More specifically, it argues a voice to parliament will be a part of the pursuit for historical ‘truth telling’, which includes the frontier wars and various massacres committed by European settlers. However, the statement remains silent on anything that does not support this one-sided view of Australia’s past.

One such incident is the silence on Aboriginal tribal warfare prior to and during European Settlement. Historian Geoffrey Blainey in The Story of Australia’s People, (Which won the prime ministers literary award in 2016) remarks,

“The new and very large Cambridge History of Australia … rightly denounces the massacres of Aborigines in the sheep lands but ignores the massacres of Aborigines by neighbouring Aborigines in the near and distant past.”

One particular chapter in Blainey’s book, the Duel and Battle, argues that the evidence for frequent and lethal fighting is ‘almost overwhelming’. In fact, the average death toll between Aboriginal tribes was so high Blainey believes it rivalled the most violent warfare in European periods:

“Such comparisons reveal that the annual death rate through warfare in that corner of Arnhem Land was nearly six times as high as that of the United States during an average year of its participation in the Second World War. Even the direct drain on Japan’s population through the loss of fighting men in China, the Pacific and all other theatres of war between 1937 and 1945 was not quite as high, statistically, as warfare’s drain on the population of Arnhem Land. In the Second World War, only the armed forces of the Soviet Union and Germany suffered losses of higher relative magnitude.”

A key source was Edward Stone Parker , a Methodist lay preacher who was sent to Port Phillip from London to serve as one of four assistant protector of Aborigines. He embraced the role with gusto and much sympathy, studying Aboriginal languages and their traditional way of life. He famously remarked ‘On the whole their way of life was a satisfying one, and could have been almost idyllic – but for their frequent fighting and the persistent fear of revenge.’ Parker goes onto quote a well-informed Aboriginal man who argued that before the British arrived ‘the country was strewed with bones, and were always at war.’ Indeed ‘whole tribes have been exterminated by sudden attacks on nocturnal surprises.’ While Parker strongly denounced the conflict between settlers and Aborigines, he identified that the wars between tribes were more destructive.

The fighting was both brutal and constant. The British settler with the most experience in observing traditional warfare was William Buckley, the escaped convict who lived with a friendly aboriginal group. After two women in Buckley’s group were killed, an ambush soon followed which saw several women wounded and later beaten to death. Their limbs were removed by sharp stone axes and shells. As Tim Flannery writes in his introduction to The Life and Adventures of William Buckley:

“Buckley records fourteen conflicts involving the violent death of a tribe member over the thirty-two years that he lived with the Wallarranga. Nine of the causalities were women, seven children and seven men. Ten enemies (two of whom were children) were killed in revenge. Buckley also documents the massacre of a tribe near Barwon Heads, the remnants of whom joined his group. The average size of an Aboriginal tribe was between twenty and sixty families, so the recorded death rate through violence is high indeed. Buckley cites just two principal causes for the conflict: disputes over women, and ‘payback killings’ following a death by natural causes.” As Flannery is not raving about the weather, he can be taken seriously for a change: Significantly, he goes on to write:

“Just why these bloody disputes were such a feature of the Aboriginal society that Buckley documents is unclear. Some writers have speculated that Aboriginal people had already come under stress and suffered disruption from European influence, but there is little evidence in Buckley’s narratives for this.”

Another supporter of the Aboriginal people who encountered inter-tribal violence was William Thomas who documented a devastating massacre in 1834 near modern day Melbourne. So significant was the loss of life that the historian Marie Fels, who immersed herself in the Thomas manuscripts, at first believed the stated death toll of 77 was a handwriting error!

There are even incidents of invasion and groups pushing out traditional holders of territory. For example, the Goonyandi people were evicted from their traditional lands in today’s Western Australia by their neighbouring tribe, the Walmadjari. In the words of Blainey, ‘the loss of territory must have been a frequent event.’

In 1875, the Southern Arrente in Central Australia were almost entirely wiped out by the Matuntara people. Between 50 and 80 assailants ambushed a group of women and children. The death toll, estimated at between 80 and 100, included women and children, many of whom were left to die after their limbs were broken. Murdering women and children was a standard tactic to nullify the chances of the tribe rebuilding and seeking revenge. Genocide, in other words.

Without the goodwill of the protectors of Aboriginal people and early convict escapees, the massacres of tribal groups by other tribal groups would not have been documented. A state of violent conflict worse than the European theatre of war speaks to the complexity of Australia’s history and the danger of appending to colonisation a basket of unique violence specific to one cultural group.

This goes to show the fraudulent dangers of national repentance and reparations. Who will pay the Southern Arrentes’ descendants for their loss? Will the Matuantara people be called upon to ‘pay the rent’ for the land they took from the Southern Arrente? Should the government insist there is an inherited debt of guilt to be apportioned for crippling women and children and leaving them to die? Will the perpetrators’ descendants be called upon to apologise in an admission of public guilt? It is hard to see anyone holding to that position. As Douglas Murray points out in his recent book, The War on the West

“In recent years, the critics of the West have marked themselves out through a set of extraordinary claims. Their technique is a pattern. It is to zoom in on Western behaviour, remove it from its context of the time, set aside any non-Western parallels, and then exaggerate what the West actually did.”

A similar thing is happening in Australia right now. If activists want to think seriously about putting the responsibility of past injustices upon modern descendants, the current demand for repentance and reparations must be expanded beyond ‘white guilt’ to acknowledge the massacres of Aborigines by other Aborigines. ‘Truth telling’, if it is to mean anything, should not be politicised.

 

 

 

 

A LOOK BACK IN REMEMBRANCE

I offer this video for your perusal and pray it brings back memories which were shared as we grew up when men of stamina and bravery who fought in the first war were still about to speak of their exploits.

Alas, time has moved on, and we must now rely on small productions like this to remind us of those times gone by.

In the not-too-distant future, someone may (will) make a video of exploits of our experiences in war and conflicts dedicated to our own stoicism and deeds following in those footsteps of those who came before us.

I dedicate this video to ALL those millions who served (were killed or maimed) their nations in times of conflict whether led by corrupt megalomaniacs or those that opposed them.

It’s recommended the use of a full screen will give the best viewing.

I Pray you all doing well and had a good and thoughtful day.

My kindest regards

Hans-Joachim (John or Speedie) SAHARIV

 

Phyllis Latour Doyle

23-year-old Phyllis Latour jumps from a US Air Force bomber and parachutes into occupied Normandy to gather intelligence on Nazi positions in preparation for D-Day. She uses an entrenching tool strapped to her leg to bury her ‘chute and clothes and begins a four month mission of impeccable spy craft posing as a poor teenage French girl.

Latour had been trained by the British Special Operations Executive (SOE). She learned about encryption and surveillance, how to send messages in Morse code, and how to repair the wireless sets. She had to pass gruelling physical tests set in the rough terrain of the Scottish Highlands. She learned the techniques of close combat, and described how they were taught by a cat burglar who had been released from jail on “how to get in a high window, and down drain pipes, how to climb over roofs without being caught.” Latour was determined to exact revenge against the Nazis, who had killed her godfather.

It would be a dangerous mission. Years later Latour told an interviewer “The men who had been sent just before me were caught and executed. I was told I was chosen for that area [of France] because I would arouse less suspicion.” She used bicycles to tour the region, often under the guise of selling soap, and passed information to the British on Nazi positions using coded messages. Acting the part of a silly country girl, she would chatter with German soldiers. She moved constantly to avoid detection. Often, she would spend nights sleeping in forests and foraging for food.

Latour developed an ingenious plan to conceal her activities. She carried her secret codes on a piece of silk, pricking each one with a pin when it had been used. She concealed the silk in a hair tie. When she was briefly detained by the Germans and subjected to search, she brazenly removed the tie and let her hair fall, to show that she had nothing to hide. During the summer of 1944 she sent 135 coded messages, helping Allied bombers to identify German targets.

After the war, Latour married and settled in New Zealand, raising four children. Her children knew nothing about their mother’s service until her oldest son discovered the information on the Internet in 2000. She was presented with the Chevalier of the Legion of Honour by the French government in 2014, as part of the 70th anniversary of the battle of Normandy. Still living in New Zealand, Latour is 101.

REMEMBRANCE DAY 2022 – LEST WE FORGET

The history of Remembrance Day in Australia goes back over 100 years. It is essential that Australians realise why on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month each year we honour the memory of those who served this great nation.

The following is from the Australian War Memorial’s page on the origin of Remembrance day.

“At 11 am on 11 November 1918 the guns on the Western Front fell silent after more than four years of continuous warfare. The allied armies had driven the German invaders back, having inflicted heavy defeats upon them over the preceding four months. In November the Germans called for an armistice (suspension of fighting) to secure a peace settlement. They accepted allied terms that amounted to an unconditional surrender.”

“The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month attained a special significance in the post-war years. The moment when hostilities ceased on the Western Front became universally associated with the remembrance of those who had died in the war. This first modern world conflict had brought about the mobilisation of over 70 million people and left between 9 and 13 million dead, perhaps as many as one-third of them with no known grave. The allied nations chose this day and time for the commemoration of their war dead.”

“After the end of the Second World War, the Australian and British governments changed the name to Remembrance Day. Armistice Day was no longer an appropriate title for a day which would commemorate all war dead.”

“In Australia on the 75th anniversary of the armistice in 1993 Remembrance Day ceremonies again became the focus of national attention. The remains of an unknown Australian soldier, exhumed from a First World War military cemetery in France, were ceremonially entombed in the Memorial’s Hall of Memory. Remembrance Day ceremonies were conducted simultaneously in towns and cities all over the country, culminating at the moment of burial at 11 am and coinciding with the traditional two minutes’ silence. This ceremony, which touched a chord across the Australian nation, re-established Remembrance Day as a significant day of commemoration.”

“Four years later, in 1997, Governor-General Sir William Deane issued a proclamation formally declaring 11 November to be Remembrance Day, urging all Australians to observe one minute’s silence at 11 am on 11 November each year to remember those who died or suffered for Australia’s cause in all wars and armed conflicts.”

The picture above was taken by an unknown photographer. It captures the last shots that were fired before the armistice on 11 November 1918.

Sadly, the guns of war have never remained silent for long.

It is the brave men and women who choose to serve in defence of this nation that stands between us and the guns of war.

Their efforts and sacrifices are the reason our nation has peace, and we can live our lives at home blessedly free from the sounds of war.

The least we can do in return is take 1 minute of silence on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month to remember them.

Lest we forget.