In October 1918, during the bloody final weeks of World War I, New York’s 77th Infantry Division became stranded behind enemy lines in France, suffering heavy losses from the advancing German Army. More than half the troops in the unit, known as the “Lost Battalion”, were killed or captured in the ensuing battle of Argonne while the nearly 200 men that remained struggled to alert headquarters for assistance beneath a barrage of artillery. To make matters worse, their location was misreported as an enemy position, exposing them to friendly fire as well.

When other attempts at communication failed, the battalion tried relaying word via homing Pidgeon. A bird was released carrying the message, “Many wounded. We cannot evacuate.” It was cut down by enemy fire moments later. Another pigeon was sent with the message, “Men are suffering. Can support be sent?” but it was shot as well.

As munitions and food dwindled with both friendly and enemy fire continuing to rain down, the imperilled unit turned to their one remaining pigeon, named Cher Ami, in a last-ditch effort to get the word out. Troops watched as that bird too dropped from the sky struck by a bullet, then incredibly take flight once again — successfully completing the 25-mile journey to headquarters even after being shot in the chest, blinded by shrapnel, and losing a leg, delivering the desperate message.

“Our artillery is dropping a barrage on us. For heaven’s sake, stop it!”

Thanks to the pigeon’s dedication in the face of danger, the 194 surviving soldiers of the 77th were saved.

For his show of valour, Cher Ami was awarded the Croix de Guerre, a decoration awarded to foreign troops by the French Army, as well as other honours by the United States. But despite receiving world-class medical attention — including a prosthetic leg — the heroic pigeon died from complications a year later.

Cher Ami’s body was later put on display at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC.

But Cher Ami was not the only heroic bird to save lives. More than 30 pigeons employed during World War I have been hailed for their service, receiving the Dickens Medal — an honour bestowed upon animals that exhibit “conspicuous gallantry” during times of war.


Biggest-ever Avalon Air Show draws a dozen key US officials

Photo: F-35 Lightning II aircraft from RAAF Base Williamtown fly off the coast. (Australian Air Force)

By Colin Clark

The United States is sending a delegation focused on the Indo-Pacific region, including top people from the Navy and Marines, as well as officials with a broader ambit such as the head of DSCA and the F-35 Joint Program Office.

The Avalon Show, which kicks off today, is already slated to be “the largest AVALON ever, with exhibition space sold out for the first time in the biennial event’s 30-year history,” organizers from the foundation that runs the show say. And it appears the US has noticed, with a dozen key officials slated to appear at the conference.

The runways and chalets will be packed with 798 exhibiting companies, which the AMDA Foundation says will be a 14 percent increase over the 2019 show, and will boast nearly 50 percent more industry, government, defence and scientific delegations, with 234 scheduled to attend.

There are expected to be 22 service chiefs, 14 representatives, three space commanders and six national armament directors from more than 40 countries, the foundation says.

The United States, Australia’s most important ally and supplier of much of its material, is not sending the most senior officials who often attend the Farnborough or Paris air shows, such as the secretary of the Air Force and the head of Air Force acquisition. Instead, the delegation is a mix of US officials who deal with Indo-Pacific issues, as well as the head of the F-35 program, the director of the Défense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA, which manages arms sales for the Pentagon) and the Marines’ deputy commandant for aviation.


Polish Leopard 2 tanks arrive in Ukraine as Sweden announces more to come

Photo: Ukraine prime minister Denys Shmyhal and Poland prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki share a handshake after the first Polish delivery of Leopard 2A4 main battle tanks arrive in Ukraine (Denys Shmyhal on Twitter)

By Tim Martin

The delivery marks the first foreign gifts of Western-made main battle tanks to Ukraine, a long-sought-after weapon for Kyiv which it hopes to use as part of a planned upcoming spring offensive.

On the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion, Poland has officially delivered its first tranche of Leopard 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine — just as the Swedish government announced plans to supply up to 10 of the same vehicles to Kyiv.

The delivery marks the first foreign gifts of Western-made main battle tanks to Ukraine, a long-sought-after weapon for Kyiv which it hopes to use as part of a planned upcoming spring offensive.

Poland said Friday it had delivered four Leopard 2A4 tanks, coinciding with a visit to Kyiv by Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, according to the Associated Press. That was confirmed by a tweet from Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Schmyhal, with a photo of him and Morawiecki shaking hands in front of the tanks. Warsaw is expected to deliver an additional 10 units in the future.

Meanwhile, Sweden’s prime minister Ulf Kristersson and defence minister Pal Jonson jointly announced Stockholm’s decision to send up to 10 Leopard 2A5 tanks, as part of a new military aid package for Ukraine.

The Leopard 2A5 tanks, of which Sweden holds 120 units, are in addition to 50 CV90 infantry fighting vehicles previously committed by Stockholm. The latest military aid package for Ukraine, from the Scandinavian nation, also covers the gifting of Hawk air defence system components and ammunition and IRIS-T air defence system components.

“The value of the [Hawk] components and ammunition, if purchased, would be several hundred million euros,” said Jonson in a social media post.

Jonson also said that he had been “inspired” to send more military equipment to Ukraine after personally visiting Odessa and Mykolaiv in December 2022.

An annual report from the Swedish Armed Forces, published Wednesday, revealed that a number of “ongoing renovations” and repairs have forced Swedish Army tanks and combat vehicles to suffer lower availability rates than expected.

Sweden had previously vowed that tanks were not “on the plate” when discussing the matter in January, but pressure from Germany and discussions with the “Leopard family” proved decisive, Kristersson told SVT, Sweden’s public television broadcaster.

The Swedish decision follows German chancellor Olaf Scholz, telling the Munich Security Conference last week that he and other political officials had been “canvassing intensively” to convince more countries to make Leopard 2 donations. He also revealed that Berlin’s gift of 14 Leopard 2A6 vehicles is set to deploy in Ukraine “very soon.”

Around 80 of the main battle tanks, or two battalions, are planned to be delivered, with Canada, Norway, Portugal and Spain also part of the international coalition. Overall, 11 countries have pledged to deliver tanks to Ukraine, according to US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

Graduation day for Ukrainian recruits

By Captain Annie Richardson

On February 24, 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine.

On the anniversary of the full-scale invasion, about 200 Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) recruits marched out from the UK-led and based training program under the instruction of the first Australian contingent deployed on Operation Kudu.

The program, which has seen nine partner nations train more than 10,000 Ukrainians, has the recruits undergo intensive combat training to rapidly learn the foundations of warfighting, using realistic and relevant scenarios designed to mimic the conditions in Ukraine.

This rotation of the volunteer force has been taught weapons handling and firing, wooded and urban fighting, trench warfare and medical survival skills by Australian instructors – who arrived in January this year.

Lined up in a hollow square on the parade ground of the camp they have been calling home, the trainees awaited the formal acknowledgement of the conclusion of their training, their graduation from civilian to soldier.

The contingent padre opened the graduation ceremony, recognising the sombre date with a prayer and a minute’s silence to reflect on the human suffering and tragedy of the conflict.

Following the silence, the Commander of the Australian Contingent on Operation Kudu, Major Gregory Sargeant, acknowledged the graduates’ dedication and the spirit they displayed throughout the course.

“Some of this training will be close to what many of you will soon be facing, or have already faced at home,” Major Sargeant said.

“You have had to learn very quickly, covering multiple topics to make you efficient soldiers, and you have all impressed the training team with your dedication and motivation.

“Our involvement is only a small part of your journey, but we take great pride in that small part we play.

“Look after yourselves, your friends and your families. Good luck and good soldiering.”

A Ukrainian National Support Element (NSE) Commander expressed his pride to the new graduates.

“It is a coincidence that you are graduating this day. Throughout this war we haven’t been acknowledging holidays or national days. Until the war is over, all our days are the same,” the NSE Commander said.

“You have done a lot of training in a short period. You have undergone different courses and drills, all of which will motivate you to continue the fighting.

“I am proud of you. You have worked very hard, your progress has been obvious and you have done very well.”

One graduating recruit, speaking in a mix of English and Ukrainian, humbly offered his appreciation for the course and his section commanders.

“Training here is very intense and, with regard to the Australian instructors, they work with love,” he said.

“They understand whom and for what they are teaching.”

The Ukrainian NSE Commander also expressed his hope and gratitude to the Australian instructors.

“Many of us have already seen combat during the Russo-Ukraine war but, no less, we have been so impressed by the level of knowledge from the Australian instructors who came here,” he said.

“We thank you for your motivation to come to help our soldiers and pass on your knowledge.”

“It’s important that we continue to work together. Australia and Ukraine share common values like freedom – which we are fighting for right now.”

The now privates, or ‘soldats’, will return to Ukraine to join their units and commence their new roles in their home country.

Australian soldiers from the 1st Brigade are deployed to the United Kingdom on ADF Operation Kudu, joining partner nations for the UK-led and based training program for Ukrainian recruits.

The contingent of up to 70 personnel is providing critical training to Ukrainian Armed Forces recruits to support their national defence following Russia’s illegal invasion.

Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Richard Marles visited Operation Kudu earlier this month and said he was proud of the quality of training being provided to the recruits.

“Our men and women of the Australian Defence Force, alongside our partner forces, should be proud of their efforts to provide a training program that will help the AFU soldiers who they have trained,” Mr Marles said.

“This training is critical and will help the Ukrainian soldiers to continue protecting their country and bring an end this conflict.”

No Australians will enter Ukraine as part of this program.


8/9RAR setting sights on busy year ahead

By Mike Hughes


Soldiers from the 8th/9th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, conducted live-fire training at Wide Bay and Greenbank training areas in Queensland as part of Exercise Ram Shot in February.

Members completed mounted and dismounted live fire using static and dynamic drills, including section attacks, shooting through obstacles and firing a MAG 58 general purpose machine gun off a Bushmaster protected mobility vehicle.

Lieutenant Daniel Kelleher said it was a good chance to practise getting the basics right ahead of major exercises later in the year, including Exercise Talisman Sabre.

“It’s really beneficial to get the soldiers live-firing, especially ahead of a busy year coming up,” he said.

“It’s part of our bread and butter; it’s incredibly important and it’s great for them to spend some more time in a field environment.”

Companies alternated between Greenbank and Wide Bay, enhancing their capability to quickly adapt to different environments.

Private Shaun Wickham said he enjoyed the exercise and it was a great opportunity to bond with the soldiers he will spend a lot of field time with.

“It’s good to get out at the start of the year and get hands on tools and fire some rounds down range,” he said.

“It’s great to spend some time with everyone; they’re a great group to be around and it’ll bring us closer together ahead of a big few months.”


Andrew Bolt on Sky News telling it as it really is!

Australia’s Sky News TV News host Andrew Bolt says out of vanity & “wilful ignorance” Australia’s political class has decided to make people “poorer & weaker”.

They’ve decided to get rid of our reliable electricity, the electricity that used to be about the cheapest in the world, the electricity that made us so rich, that let us set up smelters, and car plants, and factories of all kinds that gave us jobs,” Mr Bolt said. “And they’re going to get rid of this cheap & reliable electricity without – and get this – without having anything reliable to replace it.

Mr Bolt said the green projects by the government have “blown their budgets or are years behind”. “It’s a farce, except there’s nothing funny about it. I mean look at your power bills, are you laughing? Look at the jobs already lost, is that funny?” he said. “One green scheme after the other, failed or in strife, costing billions more than promised.”

Home Schooling – A must read.

Ah yes!  I remember it well…………………………………………………



Most of the generation of 60+ years were HOME SCHOOLED in many ways. See below – in our parent’s own words!


1. My mother taught me TO APPRECIATE A JOB WELL DONE.

“If you’re going to kill each other, do it outside. I just finished cleaning.”


2. My mother taught me RELIGION.

“You better pray that will come out of the carpet.”


3. My father taught me about TIME TRAVEL.

“If you don’t straighten up, I’m going to knock you into the middle of next week!”


4. My father taught me LOGIC.

” Because I said so, that’s why .”


5. My mother taught me MORE LOGIC.

“If you fall out of that swing and break your neck, you’re not going to the store with me.”


6. My mother taught me FORESIGHT.

“Make sure you wear clean underwear, in case you’re in an accident.”


7. My father taught me IRONY.

“Keep crying, and I’ll give you something to cry about.”


8. My mother taught me about the science of OSMOSIS.

“Shut your mouth and eat your dinner.”


9. My mother taught me about CONTORTIONISM.

“Just you look at that dirt on the back of your neck!”


10. My mother taught me about STAMINA.

“You’ll sit there until all that spinach is gone.”


11. My mother taught me about WEATHER.

“This room of yours looks as if a tornado went through it.”


12. My mother taught me about HYPOCRISY.

“If I told you once, I’ve told you a million times, don’t exaggerate!”


13. My father taught me the CIRCLE OF LIFE.

“I brought you into this world, and I can take you out.”


14. My mother taught me about BEHAVIOUR MODIFICATION.

“Stop acting like your father!”


15. My mother taught me about ENVY.

“There are millions of less fortunate children in this world who don’t have wonderful parents like you do.”


16. My mother taught me about ANTICIPATION.

“Just wait until we get home.”


17. My mother taught me about RECEIVING.

“You are going to get it from your father when you get home!”


18. My mother taught me MEDICAL SCIENCE.

“If you don’t stop crossing your eyes, they are going to get stuck that way.”


19. My mother taught me ESP.

“Put your sweater on; don’t you think I know when you are cold?”


20. My father taught me HUMOUR.

“When that lawn mower cuts off your toes, don’t come running to me.”


21. My mother taught me HOW TO BECOME AN ADULT.

“If you don’t eat your vegetables, you’ll never grow up”


22. My mother taught me GENETICS.

“You’re just like your father.”


23. My mother taught me about my ROOTS.

“Shut that door behind you. You weren’t born in a tent?”


24. My mother taught me WISDOM.

“When you get to be my age, you’ll understand.


25. My father taught me about JUSTICE.

“One day you’ll have kids, and I hope they turn out just like you!”




Cpl Walter Ernest Brown VC DCM

Born in Tasmania, Wally Brown was a grocer in Sydney when he enlisted in 1915.  He embarked from Sydney on 23 October 1915 to join the 1st Light Horse Regiment in Egypt.  In 1916 he transferred to the 20 Battalion (20 Bn) and finally taken on battalion strength battalion in France in August 1917. During fighting around Passchendaele between 5 and 10 October 1917, he tended to wounded under heavy fire and took charge of his section when his sergeant was killed.

For his actions during the fighting, Brown was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal. On 7 April 1918 he was promoted to corporal.

On 6 July, following the Battle of Hamel, Brown was detailed as part of 20Bn’s advance party for the relief of 21Bn on the right of Vaire Wood. Brown was told of a German sniper that had been causing problems and went forward to ‘have a pot at them.’ Working his way along the shallow trench Brown spied a mound approximately 70 yards across the open ground when he heard a shot fired.  Surmising that this was the source of the enemy sniper he discarded his rifle in favour of two Mills bombs (hand grenades) and rushed the mound. When another shot was fired he threw one of the bombs, which fell short, and dropped to the ground. After a few minutes when there was no reaction from the mound, he again rushed forward. Presently he found himself looking down into a trench, empty apart from an unmanned German machine gun at the entrance to a dugout.

Jumping into the trench he reached the dugout entrance just as a German emerged. Brown struck the German who fell back down the stairs. Unaware of the existence of another entrance to the dugout behind him, Brown turned to see other Germans appearing. Reluctant to throw his one remaining Mills bomb, he stood his ground and used it as a threat toward the enemy troops. The enemy troops immediately surrendered though Brown had to place himself in line of sight of both entrances while the prisoners moved over the parapet toward the Australian lines. He had managed to single handedly capture 13 Germans, including a highly prized officer.

He followed the prisoners and handed them over to 21Bn to be taken to the rear before promptly resuming his former duties.

For his actions in the capture of the German trench, Brown was awarded the Victoria Cross. Historian Charles Bean noted that Brown was ‘indeed the type of man certain to distinguish himself in this way if he survived.’

On 7 October he was presented with his VC by King George V at Sandringham. After the Armistice he was granted leave to undertake a cinematic course at the Victoria Cinema College in London followed by employment with the Imperial Film Company..

He returned to Australia on board the ‘Nestor’ on 15 Dec 1919 and discharge on 15 Feb 1920. Following his return to Australia he lived in Sydney before taking a position with the NSW Water Conservation and Irrigation Commission in Leeton in 1930.

He married Maude Dillon on 4 June 1932 at Bexley.

Following the outbreak of the Second World War, he re-enlisted stating his age was 39 when in fact it was 54, and was with the 2/15 Field Regiment in Singapore when it fell to the Japanese on 15 February 1942. Brown was last seen in the hours prior to the capitulation disappearing toward the enemy lines saying, ‘No surrender for me.’ His body was never recovered.

His name is commemorated on the Singapore Memorial. as Walter Ernest Brown VC DCM and was survived by his wife and two children, though their seven-year-old son died of meningitis the following year.



HISTORICAL narrative remains largely the prerogative of victors.

Charles Bean, chosen above some mediocre competition to be Australia’s official World War I historian, made the task his lifelong mission, producing almost single handed a comprehensive, enduring work.

He did so eschewing honours and triumphalism, his other great legacy Australia’s national war memorial in Canberra.

Bean was given unfettered access to official documents, veterans and with his own unique perspective provided the definitive Australian record of WWI.

CLICK LINK to continue reading

Australian Defence History, Policy and Veterans Issues (targetsdown.blogspot.com)

RIMPAC 2022 – The World’s Largest International Maritime Exercise

This exercise took place last year.

The world’s largest international maritime exercise, Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC). RIMPAC 2022 is 26 nations, 38 ships, four submarines, more than 170 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC from June 29 to Aug. 4 in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California. RIMPAC 2022 is the 28th exercise in the series that began in 1971.