The Battle of the Beachheads was the bloodiest of all the Papuan campaigns. The resolve and tenacity of the Japanese defenders was, to Allied perceptions, unprecedented to the point of being “fanatical”, and had not previously been encountered. Please join a group of well-qualified speakers as we examine the Battle of the Beachheads in a one-day conference.
Live Presentation via Zoom August 17 @ 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm AEST (UTC+10)
When war broke out in the Northern Hemisphere in 1939, the British called upon their Australian allies for support. The Australian government responded by sending five navy destroyers – HMAS Stuart, Vendetta, Vampire, Voyager and Waterhen.
On the back of the victories of Menin Road and Polygon Wood, the 1st Anzac Corps pushed on towards the dominating feature of Broodseinde Ridge. This time though, they would have the men of the 2nd Anzac Corps fighting alongside them. The Battle would see the Allied troops looking down upon green pastures for the first time in three years, bringing hope that the war may soon be over.
Following on from the success of the Battle of Menin Road, the 4th and 5th Australian Divisions took over from the 1st and 2nd Divisions to launch the attack at Polygon Wood. But the day before the battle is to commence, a strong German counter attack seized the ground which elements of the 15th Brigade were to attack from. It was a precarious situation which needed to be rectified immediately or else the whole attack could be thrown into confusion.
In 1917, General Haig began what would become known as the Third Battle of Ypres, with the intention of capturing the village of Passchendaele. But getting to the village would require a series of bite-and-hold battles. In September, the 1st and 2nd Australian Divisions, along with British and South African Divisions, launched the third in the series of assaults, at Menin Road. For the first time in history, two Australian divisions would be fighting side-by-side. If they were to ever have this chance again, they would have to prove just how formidable they could be.
Thousands of Australian soldiers saw combat in a series of battles in the Mediterranean and North Africa. Their service is less well known as it has tended to be overshadowed by the later battles in New Guinea and the Pacific. History Guild has created and published this eBook which tells the stories of the determination, resilience, bravery and sacrifice of the Australians who served in the Mediterranean theatre of the Second World War. It is available as a free download below.
Reading time: 10 minutes
After the retreat from Kokoda, the battered survivors of B Company, 39th Battalion regrouped at the small village of Deniki. Major Allan Cameron, a 30th Brigade staff officer, arrived shortly after at Deniki on 4th August. Disgusted by the apparently ‘unsoldierly’ appearance of B Company, he jumped to the conclusion that these men must have run away from the fighting and had abandoned Kokoda for no reason. He sent them further back to Isurava in disgrace, depriving the remainder of the 39th of the only troops with battle experience. This wouldn’t be the last time that a textbook tactical withdrawal would be mistaken for cowardice. Cameron then decided that Kokoda must be recaptured.
The Battle of Crete saw around 40,000 Allied troops, including over 6,500 Australians, defending against a German airborne invasion. The Allies fought valiantly, but were eventually overcome by the German paratroopers. However, they inflicted such severe casualties on the Germans that they never again used their airborne forces on a large scale.
During the 1st Battle of El Alamein the 9th Australian Division was tasked with the capture of Ruin Ridge. Despite heavy fighting during the opening stages they achieved some of their objectives, but their successes obliged General Rommel to divert large numbers of troops to contain the Australian advance. The fighting then became desperate, leading to heavy casualties and the near decimation of one battalion.
The 6th Australian Cavalry Regiment were the first unit of the AIF to see action in the Western Desert in 1940. This is their story.
Reading time: 8 minutes
One of the more impressive feats of arms during the second World War was the way in which the people of Crete fought a guerrilla campaign against the German occupation force. With help from the allies, the Cretans — men, women and even children — fought a brutal and bloody campaign against the invader. In this article, we look at what happened through the eyes of some of the people who participated, Cretan, British and Australian.
Over one hundred years ago, one of the most remarkable operations in military history occurred at the Dardanelles with the evacuation in December 1915 of 83,000 Australian, New Zealand, British and Indian troops from the Gallipoli Peninsula without a single loss of life. It will, as, one contemporary German correspondent reporting from the Turkish lines exclaimed, ‘stand before the eyes of all strategists as a hitherto unattained masterpiece’.
Just five days before Christmas, in the early hours of Monday December 20, 1915, the last Anzac troops left Gallipoli in what Australian historian Joan Beaumont called an “elaborate game of deception”. […]
Over the course of 1915, most of the 50,000 Australian personnel who served at Gallipoli passed through the island of Lemnos. Centring his attention on the Australian experience of the island, historian Jim Claven shares unique and humanising insights into the Gallipoli campaign.
Anyone looking at the old, small and slow destroyer group would think the same. Soon, however, the Axis and the rest of the world would learn just how formidable it was. The ‘Scrap Iron Flotilla’ and those who manned it proved just how much grit, determination and valour can achieve.
There were six Australian VC recipients during the Mediterranean and North African Campaigns of the second world war. From the heroics of Lt. Roden Cutler in Damour, Corporal Edmondson of the Desert Rats defending Tobruk in 1941 to Sgt. Kibby with his tommy-gun in El Alamein. Learn more about Australian gallantry in the Deserts of North Africa.
Operation Exporter was a little known, but very important campaign for the Australian military. It involved Australian’s fighting a strange war against confused Frenchmen who were not supposed to be our enemy. France had been defeated and subjugated by the Germans. The new French government, installed at Vichy, was answerable to the Führer. With France vanquished, the fate of their territories in Syria and Lebanon became uncertain.