In their own words: letters from ANZACs during the Gallipoli evacuation

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”. Self-firing guns were rigged to take pot-shots and camp fires lit to give the impression of there being more soldiers than there were. The Australians […]

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Who were we fighting at Gallipoli?

In the annual discussion of the Gallipoli campaign Australians are subjected to a variety of hyperbole and parable as commentators and reporters offer up the same old chestnuts for want of something else to say. That at Anzac Cove ‘our nation was born’, that it ‘came of age’ or that Australian forces at Gallipoli were […]

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COURAGE AND COMPASSION: A STRETCHER-BEARER’S JOURNEY FROM NO-MAN’S LAND AND BEYOND – BOOK REVIEW

Reading time: 1 minute
His is the true story of a young Australian soldier whose life of opportunity was challenged by trauma and salvaged by strength.

Nelson Ferguson, from Ballarat, was a stretcher-bearer on the Western Front in France in World War I. He survived the dangers of stretcher-bearing in some of Australia’s most horrific battles: the Somme, Bullecourt, Ypres and Villers-Bretonneux. In April 1918, at Villers-Bretonneux, he was severely gassed. His eyes were traumatised, his lungs damaged. Upon his return home, he met and married Madeline, the love of his life, started a family, and resumed his career teaching art. But eventually the effects of the mustard gas claimed his eyesight, ending his career. Courageously enduring this consequence of war, he continued contributing to society by assisting his son and son-in-law in their stained-glass window business. Advances in medicine finally restored his sight in 1968, allowing him to yet again appreciate the beauty around him, before his death in 1976.

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How They Fought: Indigenous Tactics and Weaponry of Australia’s Frontier Wars – Book Review

Reading time: 3 minutes
This is an excellent and much needed book. It examines the military aspects of the Australian Frontier Wars from an Aboriginal perspective, detailing the tactics, strategy, logistics and weapons Aboriginal people employed to resist European encroachment on their land. Covering several campaigns across different areas and time periods, it details both successes and failures of the Aboriginal military forces. Some of its most interesting conclusions reflect the extent to which Aboriginal resistance slowed and impeded the encroachment of European settlement across Australia.

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The Mabo decision and native title

Reading time: 4 minutes
On June 3 1992, the High Court of Australia handed down its decision in the long-running case of Eddie Koiki Mabo and his compatriots from the Torres Strait island of Mer. Together they challenged the authority of the Queensland government to claim not just sovereignty but also ownership of the land comprising their ancestral home.

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Remember El Alamein

Reading time: 5 minutes
Exactly 75 years ago, Australians dressed in steel helmets and khaki shorts, and often not much else, sat in weapon pits in the Egyptian sun about 120 kilometres west of Alexandria. They were preparing for what history would call the second battle of El Alamein, the great offensive planned by Lieutenant-General Bernard Montgomery. In the summer heat of July 1942, his predecessor, Archibald Wavell, had held the German–Italian drive towards Egypt, a battle in which the 9th Australian Division had played a notable part. Now, after gathering more troops, tanks and guns, Montgomery was ready to launch his Eighth Army against General Erwin Rommel’s Panzer Armée Afrika, a commander and a force admired and respected even by their adversaries.

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