On this day: Australians in Borneo

Australian_2-31_Bn_parading_through_Bandjermasin_17th September_1945 Enthusiastic welcome after Japanese occupation. Second World War Two..

17th September 1945: Soldiers of the Australian 2/31st Battalion pass through Bandjermasin in Borneo as they take responsibility for the island after the surrender of Japan in the Second World War. It was reported they were given an enthusiastic welcome by the locals.

The island of Borneo was under Japanese occupation from the end of 1941. Bandjermasin is now part of Indonesia.

From the collection of the Australian War Memorial, Canberra.

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On this day: London on Fire

This photograph, showing smoke and fire drifting across Tower Bridge and the River Thames in London after a German bombing raid, was taken on the 7th of September, 1940.

This was the first major Nazi attack on the city in the Second World War.

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Second World War Two Picture taken during first mass air raid on London 7th September 1940 describes more than words ever could, the scene in London's dock area. Tower Bridge against a b

On this day: Australian troops in France

Troops of the Australian 7th Brigade (Australian 2nd Division) pass the former German bunker known as “Gibraltar” in Pozières, France on the 28th of August, 1916.

The Battle of Pozières was part of the larger Battle of the Somme, which claimed around a million casualties. Pozières marked a victory against the German Empire for Australia, with the help of British troops. First World War.

From the collection of the Australian War Memorial, Canberra.

Gibraltar_bunker_Pozieres_(AWM_EZ0098)Australian 7th Brigade (Australian 2nd Division) pass former German bunker known as Gibraltar western end of Pozières 28 August 1916 during the Bat

Danger Close

Danger Close Long Tan Movie Vietnam War Travis Fimmel Australian Army 1966

I had the opportunity to attend a special screening of Danger Close – The Battle of Long Tan last night with some Vietnam veterans (including my father) and other members of the Australian Defence Force. They actually had a counsellor there just in case, and now I understand why – it was quite the experience.

Long Tan is the best-known battle Australia (and New Zealand) fought in the Vietnam War, but I was still amazed both by the quality of the movie, and the actors in it. The “face” of the movie is Major Harry Smith, played by Travis Fimmel, of Vikings fame.

In the 1960s my father was an armoured personnel carrier driver stationed in Nui Dat, which is the base under attack in the movie. He later fought another major battle only a few kilometres from the base: Binh Ba, which had its fiftieth anniversary this year.

It was amazing to see people my father knows portrayed on the big screen, and to know people who consulted on the film.

I would strongly recommend this movie, as long as you’re prepared for it. It’s very confronting, and that much sadder because none of it is fiction.

On this day…

Freed Korean “Comfort Women” – women forced to work as sex slaves for the Empire of Japan during the Second World War – talk to US soldiers in a photograph dated the 14th of August, 1944.

It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of women from Asia, as well as several hundred from the Netherlands and Australia, were treated this way.

Captured_comfort_women_in_Myitkyina_on_August_14_in_1944 Comfort Women - women forced to work as sex slaves for the Empire of Japan - after being freed by US soldiers. 14th August 1944. X

Here is the official caption of the photograph:

“Three Korean “comfort girls” (captured in Burma), photographed while being interrogated by Capt. Won Loy Chan (San Francisco, California), Tech. Sgt. Robert Honda (Hawaii) and Sgt. Hirabayashi (Seattle, Washington), all of the G-2 Myitkyina Task Force of the U.S. Army.”

On this day: Australian soldiers in France

10th August 1916: Australian infantry soldiers march towards their rest billet after fighting in the Battle of Pozières – part of the much larger First World War Battle of the Somme in France.

The Battle of Pozières, where Empire forces from Britain and Australia fought the Germans, resulted in a British victory.

The Brigade suffered 1898 casualties in the fighting between 25th of July and the 7th of August. Australian war historian Charles Bean wrote that Pozières ridge “is more densely sown with Australian sacrifice than any other place on earth”.

From the collection of the Australian War Memorial, Canberra.

Australian_6th_Brigade_marching_Somme_(AWM_EZ0092)10th August 1916 First World War One Near Warloy Somme Australian Infantry marching to their rest billets after fighting at Battle of Po

On this day: Images from the Battle of the Somme

The Battle of the Somme, one of the bloodiest battles in recorded history, was fought between July and November, 1916 as part of the First World War. The armies of Britain, France, and their empires fought the German Empire.

These images by famed British war photographer Ernest Brooks are dated the 10th of August.

King George V inspecting a German dug-out near Fricourt, 10th August 1916.

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The_Battle_of_the_Somme,_July-november_1916_Q970King George V inspecting a German dug-out near Fricourt, 10th August 1916.

Captured 15 cm (150 mm) Ringkanone 92 German gun near Mametz Wood, 10th August 1916.

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The_Battle_of_the_Somme,_July-november_1916_Q1044

German observation post in Trones Wood.

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The_Battle_of_the_Somme,_July-november_1916_Q862German observation post in Trones Wood, 10th August 1916. The Battle of the Somme. Ernest Brooks.

The Royal cars passing through a village on the journey from Chateau Bryas to Franvillers, passing a battalion of the Worcestershire Regiment on the march.

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The_Battle_of_the_Somme,_July-november_1916_Q952The Royal cars pass through a village from Chateau Bryas to Franvillers, passing a battalion of the Worcestershire Regiment on the march,