On this day: Australians off to War

Signallers from the Australian 2-15th Infantry Battalion at Pyrmont, Sydney, just before embarkation for the Middle East, 28th December 1940(AWM_photo_005560) Second World War Two

28th December 1940: Members of the Australian 2/15th Infantry Battalion wait to board the troop transport the Queen Mary at Pyrmont in Sydney. They were about to leave to fight in the Middle East.

Second World War.

From the collection of the Australian War Memorial, Canberra.

On this day: Christmas after the Korean War

23rd December 1953: Australian soldiers finish decorating a Christmas tree near the new border between North and South Korea. The tree is decorated with electric lights, to be powered by a generator.

The Korean War ended earlier that year, in July. 17 000 Australians served in Korea between 1950 and 1953.

From the collection of the Australian War Memorial, Canberra.

Christmas_in_Korea,_1953_(3116644983) 23rd December 1953 Korean War The finishing touches are made to the Christmas tree at C Company, 3rd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment electr

A Vietnam War Christmas

This collection of images shows Australian soldiers celebrating Christmas in Vietnam in the 1960s and 1970s.

Australia committed approximately 61 000 troops to the Vietnam War between 1962 and 1972 (and again occasionally until 1975), including many thousands of conscripts.

All the photographs are from the collection of the Australian War Memorial, Canberra.

December 1971. South Vietnam.

Private David McColl of Canberra, hanging puddings to mature before Christmas.

Christmas_in_Vietnam,_1971_(3116643779)South Vietnam. Private (Pte) David McColl of Page in Canberra ACT, hanging puddings to mature before Christmas

December 1967. Nui Dat, Vietnam.

Newly arrived members of 3rd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (3RAR), preparing their base camp for the Christmas season.

Christmas_in_Vietnam,_1967_(3117470156)Nui Dat, Vietnam. 1967-12. Newly arrived members of 3rd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (3RAR), preparing their base camp for the Christma

November 1970. Nui Dat, South Vietnam.

Corporal Arthur Wallis, 21, sharpening a knife in preparation for carving the three prime hams he has prepared for Christmas.

Christmas_at_Nui_Dat,_1970_(3116643487)Nui Dat, South Vietnam. November 1970. Corporal Arthur Wallis, 21, of Preston, Vic, sharpening a knife in preparation for carving the three prime h

On this day: Australian Victory in New Guinea

22nd September 1943. Australian Soldiers from the 2-6th Independent Company diplay Japanese flags they captured during the Battle of Kaiapit between 19 and 20 September 1943. Second Worl

From the collection of the Australian War Memorial, Canberra.

22nd September 1943: Australian soldiers hold up Japanese flags captured in the Battle of Kaiapit in New Guinea that ended two days earlier.

The battle, which resulted in an Australian victory over Japan, was fought from the 19th to the 20th.

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.

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: 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: Troops in France

Unidentified troops travel along the Australian Army route to fighting at Pozières and Mouquet Farm in France. 1st August 1916. The fighting was part of the larger Battle of the Somme.

While the battle was seen as a major victory for the British Empire, Australian troops suffered 23 000 casualties while advancing two only kilometres along this route.

In the background the village of Contalmaison is under German fire.

The image was taken by a British war photographer, and is from the collection of the Australian War Memorial, Canberra.

Road_to_Pozieres_August_1916_(AWM_EZ0084)Somme battlefield road to Pozières 1 August 1916. View north the village of Contalmaison shelled by the Germans. Australian troops I Anzac Corps

Hey – Australians!

Batlle of Binh Ba Vietnam War 50th Anniversary Canberra Australia 5th June 2019

Everyone in Australia: at 2pm tomorrow the 50th anniversary commemorations for the Battle of Binh Ba – a major battle in the Vietnam War – are going to be broadcast live on television from Canberra, and then repeated the day after.

My father has played a huge part in organising this event, and hundreds of soldiers, past and present, are flying in to participate. My parents are in the official party, and will be obvious on TV, and I’ll be sitting… somewhere…! We’ve all been too busy to finalise this.

Afterwards, there’s a function at the Australian War Memorial, and then there’s a huge dinner tomorrow night, and I’ll be staying at the hotel in the city, because there’s just so much going on!