World War 1 battlefields.August 20, 2019 in France ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C
The battlefields of WW1 got very close to Amiens which was a city Germany wanted to conquer. The newly formed Australian Army was sent to that region, among others a little further along the front, to help defend Amiens.
Our army in Europe consisted completely of volunteer civilians because our constitution of the time, prepared by our British rulers, forbade our real army from fighting on foreign soil so could not contribute when the mother country called for help from its Empire to fight the Germans.
Within days of arriving in France midway through 1916, our inexperienced amateur army was thrown into combat by its British commanders, with a poorly planned attack on a very experienced, well prepared German army in the battle of Fromelles. This was my grandfather's initiation to combat, receiving a serious shell wound to the scalp the first day. That's about as close as you can get to having your service record stamped wounded in action instead of killed in action.
Whilst gaining some ground that first day, one of the worst days in Australian army history, the next day they were quickly pushed back to where they started, making the brief attack a costly failure.
In any case, the Germans were already planning to retreat their forces to the "impenetrable" Hindenburg Line.
In 1918, after a change in power in Moscow, Germany was able to move troops from the Eastern front to the Western front for a new advance into France. The turning point came when Australian commander Lieutenant General John Monash devised an attack strategy to conquer Hamel in 90 minutes. Despite a set back of 20 minutes due to barbed wire not being properly destroyed by artillery, the objective was completed in 93 minutes, with minimal casualties and far more prisoners taken. This strategy became the model for 20th century warfare.
John Monash was an engineer prior to the war with one of his projects being the construction of Melbourne's Outer Circle railway, better known to many of us by its current use as the Anniversary Trail from Fairfield to Oakleigh.
After the war, he was given the task to build the Electricity Commission of Victoria, later renamed to the State Electricity Commission of Victoria.
I worked for the SECV for 15 years from the late 70s, mostly in their head office called Monash House. I had no appreciation whatsoever of John Monash. It is only in the last couple of years that I have learned of his achievements for Australia, Victoria and Melbourne. I now consider him to be the most underrated person in Australian history.Read more