Sydney Centenary Commemoration of the Third Battle of Ypres

The Families and Friends of the First AIF
invite you to attend or view
the Commemoration of the
Centenary of The Third Battle of Ypres 

including
Menin Road, 2025 September
Polygon Wood, 26 September to 3 October
Broodseinde, 4 October
Poelcapelle, 9 October
Passchendaele (First Battle), 12 October

 The Commemoration will be at
The Anzac Memorial, Hyde Park, Sydney
10:45am for 11:00am Tuesday 26 September 2017

Video of the Commemoration will be streamed live to
the Anzac Memorial’s Facebook page and will remain available for viewing at
https://www.facebook.com/AnzacMemorial/

 Dress Code: Lounge suit, Day wear, Decorations / Medals may be worn, Poppy umbrellas
Please RSVP to Geoff Lewis rsvp@fffaif.org.au

Jim Munro, President

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2017 John Laffin Memorial Lecture

John Laffin 1922-2000

Members and their guests are invited to attend

 The John Laffin Memorial Lecture

 Saturday 16th September 2017

  10:30 am to 4:30 pm

   Level 2, 99 York Street, Sydney CBD

One block from Town Hall Station – Several nearby car-parks offer an all-day rate of $20.

      Entry: $20 per head cash on the day                

 

Dr William Westerman: AIF battalion commanders at Third Ypres in 1917’.

Dr Ross McMullin: ‘In his own words, Pompey Elliott at War

Greg O’ Reilly: ‘4th Machine Gun Battalion AIF operations and personalities 1917-1918, new research

RSVP to rsvp@fffaif.org.au 

John Laffin Le Hamel 4 July 1998

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Centenary of commencement of The Third Battle of Ypres 31 July

The Centenary of the commencement of The Third Battle of Ypres on 31 July 2017 will be commemorated on July 31 at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Tyne Cot Cemetery, in Ypres, where 12,000 British and Commonwealth troops are buried.

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There will also be a Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate memorial in Ypres on July 30 and a number of live performances in the town’s market square to tell the story.

The photo above from FFFAIF Member Anny De Decker shows preparations by the BBC in the Main Square. From 29th till 31st there will be commemorative events. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (HRH Prince William and Kate) and King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of the Belgiums will attend events in Ieper on Sunday. Many of these will be broadcast worldwide, certainly the one at Tyne Cot on  Monday, where HRH Prince Charles is understood to be attending.

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The AWM web site describes the Third Battle of Ypres as the major British offensive in Flanders in 1917. It was planned to break through the strongly fortified and in-depth German defences enclosing the Ypres salient, a protruding bulge in the British front line, with the intention of sweeping through to the German submarine bases on the Belgian coast. The battle comprised of a series of limited and costly offensives, often undertaken in the most difficult of waterlogged conditions – a consequence of frequent periods of rain and the destruction of the Flanders’ lowlands drainage systems by intense artillery bombardment. As the opportunity for breakthrough receded, Field Marshall Sir Douglas Haig still saw virtue in maintaining the offensives, hoping in the process to drain German manpower through attrition. The main battles associated with Third Battle of Ypres were:

- Pilckem Ridge, 31 July to 2 August
- Langemarck, 1       6-18 August
- Menin Road, 20-25 September
– Polygon Wood, 26 September to 3 October
– Broodseinde, 4 October
– Poelcapelle, 9 October
– Passchendaele (First Battle), 12 October
- Passchendaele (Second Battle), 26 October to 10 November.

Australian Divisions participated in the battles of Menin Road, Polygon Wood, Broodseinde, Poelcapelle and the First Battle of Passchendaele. In eight weeks of fighting Australian forces incurred 38,000 casualties. The combined total of British and Dominion casualties has been estimated at 310,000 (estimated German losses were slightly lower) and no breakthrough was achieved. The costly offensives, ending with the capture of Passchendaele village, merely widened the Ypres salient by a few kilometres.

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Fromelles Day Sydney – Solemn Vespers and Procession from the Archibald Fountain to the Anzac Memorial Commemorative Service

Solemn Vespers at St Mary’s Cathedral on Tuesday 18 July 

Commemoration in Sydney of the 101st Anniversary of the Battle of Fromelles commenced with Solemn Vespers at St Mary’s Cathedral on Tuesday 18 July at 7pm commemorating the Australians in the Battle of Fromelles. The service was led by the Very Reverend Donald Richardson, Dean of St Mary’s Cathedral, in the presence of The Most Reverend Anthony Fisher OP, Archbishop of Sydney. The Service was sung by the Lay Clerks of St Mary’s Cathedral Choir with President of FFFAIF, Jim Munro Reading from Corinthians before the Dean’s Sermon.

Lt. General Kenneth Gillespie AC DSC CSM (Ret’d), Chair, NSW Centenary of Anzac Advisory Council, together with the Dean of St Mary’s, accompanied by Pamela Richardson and Carolyn McMahon of the NSW RSL Corps of Guards and Alexander Weilsmann, FFFAIF Member and St Mary’s Cathedral liaison with the NSW RSL Corps of Guards, laid wreaths at the Statue in Memory of Fallen Soldiers completed by George Lambert in 1931. As Australia did not have an official tomb of the unknown soldier until 1993, George Lambert’s recumbent figure came to be known informally as Australia’s ‘Monument to the unknown soldier‘. Located previously in the crypt, where it was touched in the evening by the setting sun, the memorial has now been moved into the aisle of the cathedral, to give the public greater access to it.

Iain Finlay, Adjutant NSW RSL Corps of Guards recited The Ode and Corporal Luke Glasson from the Australian Army Band, Sydney sounded the Last Post and after a period of silence, sounded Rouse. Corporal Glasson was under the direction of Warrant Officer Class One Rod Cornick OAM, Regimental Sergeant Major, Joint Ceremonial NSW of the Australian Army. Following the National Anthem, there was a Blessing and Dismissal by the Dean to conclude the Vespers.

This was the first time Solemn Vespers at St Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney has been held to commemorate the Australians in the Battle of Fromelles. FFFAIF would like to express it appreciation to FFFAIF Member Alexander Weilsmann for organising the Solemn Vespers and to the Very Reverend Donald Richardson, Dean of St Mary’s Cathedral and St Mary’s Cathedral along with the NSW RSL Corps of Guards and the Joint Ceremonial Unit NSW of the Australian Army. Approximately 60 people participated in the Solemn Vespers.

  

Solemn Procession from the Archibald Fountain to the Anzac Memorial

The Families and Friends of the First AIF hosted the 101st Anniversary Commemoration of The Battle of Fromelles at The Anzac Memorial Hyde Park, Sydney on Tuesday 19 July 2017. On a warm sunny morning, the Commemoration was preceded by a Solemn Procession from the Archibald Fountain to the Anzac Memorial celebrating the bond between Australia and France in The Great War.

The Solemn Procession leaving the Archibald Fountain Image by Rob Tuckwell Photography

The Solemn Procession leaving the Archibald Fountain
Image by Rob Tuckwell Photography

The Solemn Procession was led by civic leaders and senior officers from military and civilian services. Following the Australian National Flag Party from the Australian Army were:

Professor the Hon. Dame Marie Bashir AD CVO and the President of FFFAIF, Jim Munro,
the British Consul-General Michael Ward and the Deputy Consul-General for the Republic of France M. Olivier Le Van Xieu,

Lt. General Kenneth Gillespie AC DSC CSM (Ret’d), Chair, NSW Centenary of Anzac Advisory Council and FFFAIF Committee member Jill Hayes,

Mrs Meg Green National President War Widows’ Guild of Australia and Mrs Rhondda Vanzella OAM President of War Widows’ Guild of Australia (NSW)

The Honourable David Elliott MP, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, representing the Premier of New South Wales

The Honourable Lynda Voltz MLC, Shadow Minister for Veterans’ Affairs & Sport representing the Leader of the NSW Opposition

Mr. Bill Harrigan, State Councillor RSL NSW representing the State President, and Councillor Christine Forster, representing the City of Sydney

Brigadier Neil Sweeney Commander Headquarters 2nd Division, Brigadier Phil Moses Commander 8th Brigade and Brigadier Peter Connor representing Commander, Forces Command

Chaplain (GPCAPT) Peter Friend Air Command Australia and Captain Gavin Irwin Commander, Australian Fleet Command

A/ASST COMM Rick Griffiths Fire & Rescue NSW, Inspector Sean Heany NSW Police Force and Chief Supt Michael Bray NSW Ambulance

NSW Returned and Services League of Australia Corps of Guards

 They were supported by members of the French North African Veterans’ Association (the Association des Anciens Combatants Francais (NSW)) led by M Jean Louis Worobec and, Members of FFFAIF and Descendants’ organisations including The Fromelles Association, Australian World War One Descendants and Legacy as well as descendants of soldiers who participated in the Battle.

The Solemn Procession approaching the ANZAC Memorial with Association des Anciens Combatants Francais NSW & NSW RSL Corps of Guards. Image by Rob Tuckwell Photography

The Solemn Procession approaching the Anzac Memorial with Association des Anciens Combatants Francais NSW & NSW RSL Corps of Guards.
Image by Rob Tuckwell Photography

The procession travelled the distance of “400 yards”, equivalent to the widest part of “No-man’s land” on the Fromelles battlefield, and paid homage to the 5th Division veterans marching to the Anzac Memorial for the 50th anniversary commemoration in 1966. 

 Special thanks go to FFFAIF Member and Protocol Manager for the 101st Commemoration of the Battle of Fromelles, Alexander Weilsmann who co-ordinated many of the arrangements for the Procession including liaising with the NSW Police to ensure the security for the Procession and safe passage across Park Street and establishing the Order of Procession.

Commemoration of the 101st Anniversary of the Battle of Fromelles

The participants in the Solemn Procession were greeted by FFFAIF Commemorations Officer Margaret Snodgrass and joined those gathered at the Anzac Memorial including Anzac Centenary Ambassadors and the Trustees of the Anzac Memorial.

The Holy Family Choir Menai sang some Gathering songs and led more than 200 attendees in singing O Valiant Hearts, after which Master of Ceremonies, Darren Mitchell commenced the Commemoration.

The Prologue was delivered by the Hon. David Elliott MP, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, representing the Premier of New South Wales.

Pastor Bob Durbin led a prayer, followed by Brigadier Phil Moses Commander 8th Brigade of The Australian Army delivering the Commemorative Address. Brigadier Moses, whose family lost a relative killed in the Battle of Fromelles, Commands the 8th Brigade which first saw action in the Battle of Fromelles. He reflected on how moving an experience and how humbling it had been to participate in the Solemn Procession and the Commemoration and to reflect on the service and sacrifice of those soldiers who fought at Fromelles.

Brigadier Phil Moses, Commander 8th Brigade of The Australian Army delivering the Commemorative AddressFromelles_Sydney 19 Jul 2017_136 Web Russell Family Reflection Caroline, Cameron and Sophia Jeffries

Brigadier Phil Moses, Commander                           The Russell Family Reflection:
8th Brigade of The Australian Army                         Caroline, Cameron and Sophia Jeffries
delivering the Commemorative Address                      with Master of Ceremonies, Darren Mitchell                                               
   Images by Rob Tuckwell Photography                                                

An eloquent and moving Family Reflection was delivered for The Russell Family by Sophia and Cameron Jeffries conveying the impact on their family of having brothers Arthur and William Russell participating in the Battle of Fromelles with Arthur being killed in action and his body not recovered and William being wounded along with 65% of the 54th Battalions soldiers. William was sent to England to recover before returning to the Western Front in November 1916 and continued to serve with the 54th Battalion until September 1917 when he was killed in action during the battle of Polygon Woods. The discovery of Arthur’s grave at Pheasant Wood and his identification and re-burial with full military honours and their family visits to the battlefields with their “Pop” Adrian Russell had brought the family together. They were also proud they were to have The Russell Reserve at Rouse Hill commemorate the Russell Brothers.

Wreaths were laid while Piper Jim Braid played the Lament.

 Mr Michael Ward, British Consul General, on behalf of citizens of the United Kingdom Mr Olivier Le Van Xieu, Deputy Consul General of the Republic of France, on behalf of the citizens of France The Hon David Elliott, to lay a wreath on behalf of the citizens of NSW Images by Rob Tuckwell Photography

Mr Michael Ward, British Consul General, on behalf of citizens of the United Kingdom
Mr Olivier Le Van Xieu, Deputy Consul General of the Republic of France, on behalf of the citizens of France
The Hon David Elliott, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, representing the Premier of New South Wales on behalf of the citizens of NSW
Image by Rob Tuckwell Photography
Brigadier Phil Moses, Commander 8th Brigade of The Australian Army on behalf of the 8th Brigade Mr Jim Munro, President of the Families and Friends of the First AIF, accompanied by Mrs Margaret Snodgrass OAM, in tribute to the Fallen, together with Ms Julie Werner, Mr Rene Herbert and Ms Helen Carey, in memory of the Missing

Brigadier Phil Moses, Commander 8th Brigade of The Australian Army on behalf of the 8th Brigade
Mr Jim Munro, President of the Families and Friends of the First AIF, accompanied by Mrs Margaret Snodgrass OAM, in tribute to the Fallen, together with
Ms Julie Werner, Mr Rene Herbert and Ms Helen Carey, in memory of the Missing

 

Fromelles_Sydney 19 Jul 2017_247 web WreathesWreaths and floral tributes     Flag Party from HMAS Kuttabul and NSW RSL Corps of Guards Images by Rob Tuckwell Photography

Wreaths and floral tributes     Flag Party from HMAS Kuttabul and NSW RSL Corps of Guards
Images by Rob Tuckwell Photography
Cameron and Sophia Jeffries laying a tribute to Arthur and William Russell on behalf of the Russell Family Image by Rob Tuckwell Photography

Cameron and Sophia Jeffries laying a tribute to Arthur and William Russell on behalf of the Russell Family
Image by Rob Tuckwell Photography

Laying wreaths were:

The Hon David Elliott, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, representing the Premier of New South Wales laid a wreath on behalf of the citizens of NSW;
Mr Olivier Le Van Xieu, Deputy Consul General of the Republic of France, on behalf of the citizens of France and
Mr Michael Ward, British Consul General, on behalf of citizens of the United Kingdom

Mr Jim Munro, President of the Families and Friends of the First AIF, accompanied by Mrs Margaret Snodgrass OAM, in tribute to the Fallen;
Ms Julie Werner, Mr Rene Herbert and Ms Helen Carey, in memory of the Missing; and
Brigadier Phillip Moses, on behalf of the 8th Brigade.

For the Fifth Division of the AIF, Mr Bill Harrigan OAM, of the Returned and Services League of Australia (NSW Branch); and
on behalf of the War Widows Guild – State President Mrs Rhondda Vanzella OAM and National President, Mrs Meg Green

Representing the Leader of the Opposition in NSW – The Honourable Lynda Voltz MLC; and
City of Sydney Councilor Christine Forster

Representing Commander, Forces Command, Brigadier Peter Connor; and
Representing Fleet Commander, Captain Gavin Irwin ; and
Representing Air Commander Australia, Group Captain Peter Friend

Professor The Hon Dame Marie Bashir AD, CVO, together with
Mr Jean-Louis Worobec, President, and others from the French Veterans’ Association in NSW (Association des Anciens Combatants Francais (NSW))

Dr Patricia Jenkings, President of the United Nations Association, NSW; together with
Mr Geoffrey Benn on behalf of The Fromelles Association; and
Mr Hadyn White, on behalf of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs

On behalf of the NSW Association of Jewish Ex-Service Men and Women – Secretary, Mr Jon Green; together with
Mr Peter Allen, of the NAJEX Centenary Program; and
on behalf of Australian World War One Descendants – Vice President, Mr Greg Cowle and Mrs Karen Dawson

Representing the NSW Police Commissioner, to lay a wreath on behalf of the NSW Police Force – Inspector Sean Heaney, Sydney City LAC; and
Representing the NSW Ambulance Commissioner, to lay a wreath on behalf of NSW Ambulance – Chief Superintendent Michael Bray; and
Representing NSW Fire and Rescue – Acting Assistant Commissioner Mr Rick Griffiths

Rev Clare Percival, and Doug Percival, relatives of Private Thuillier Cardew, recently identified and whose gravestone was being dedicated that day at the Fromelles Military Cemetery in Pheasants Wood, France; together with
Ms Annette Tebb in memory of Ernest Jentsch

Cameron and Sophia Jeffries on behalf of the Russell Family in memory of Arthur and William Russell; and
Representing The National Servicemen’s Association NSW – Secretary Mr George Sachse, whose father served at Fromelles.

Lt. General Kenneth Gillespie AC DSC CSM (Ret’d), Chair, NSW Centenary of Anzac Advisory Council, reciting The Ode. In the background Piper Jim Braid and Eddie Claxton of the Fire and Rescue NSW Band. Image by Rob Tuckwell Photography

Lt. General Kenneth Gillespie AC DSC CSM (Ret’d), Chair, NSW Centenary of Anzac Advisory Council, reciting The Ode. In the background Piper Jim Braid and Eddie Claxton of the Fire and Rescue NSW Band.
Image by Rob Tuckwell Photography

The Ode was recited by Lt. General Kenneth Gillespie AC DSC CSM (Ret’d), Chair, NSW Centenary of Anzac Advisory Council before the Last Post was sounded by Eddie Claxton of the Fire and Rescue NSW Band followed by silence and The Rouse.

After a closing prayer and blessing, the Epilogue was delivered by President of FFFAIF, Jim Munro. Mr Munro recognised that:

“Our soldiers were young, enthusiastic and imbued with the spirit of mateship, but were no match for a well prepared and battle hardened enemy. Today we honour their service and sacrifice – they did what their country asked of them. Every Australian should be aware that the impact of good and bad decisions in war will impact down through the generations. The shattered families, the trauma and debilitating injuries that changed careers and opportunities, the disabled and institutionalised men who could barely play any part in the country that had asked them to give their all – we owe it to them and their families to honour their service and sacrifice” Mr Munro said.

He said he was particularly pleased to see that another of the soldiers reported as killed with no known grave has been identified and now has his own named headstone over his final resting place. There are still about 1,100 soldiers who were killed in the Battle of Fromelles and lie in un-named graves and Mr Munro called for all Australians who have a relative killed in the Battle of Fromelles to provide a DNA sample to the Unrecovered War Casualty Unit of the Army to help identify more of these men and help them get their identity back.

Fromelles_Sydney 19 Jul 2017_250 web French Dep C-G Olivier Le Van XieuPresident of FFFAIF, Jim Munro  Lt. General Kenneth Gillespie AC DSC CSM (Ret’d), Chair, NSW Centenary of Anzac Advisory Council Professor the Hon. Dame Marie Bashir AD CVO Image by Rob Tuckwell Photography

Deputy Consul-General for the Republic of France                                President of FFFAIF, Jim Munro
M. Oliviere Le Van Xieu delivering a Message from France                       Lt. General Kenneth Gillespie AC DSC CSM (Ret’d),
Chair, NSW Centenary of Anzac Advisory Council
Images by Rob Tuckwell Photography                                                                Professor the Hon. Dame Marie Bashir AD CVO

The Deputy Consul-General for the Republic of France, M. Olivier Le Van Xieu, delivered a Message from France, expressing appreciation for Australian support since The Great War and continuing today and the National Anthems of France, the United Kingdom and Australia were sung to close the commemoration. 

 

Special thanks go to the Trustees of the Anzac Memorial, their staff, and contractors for providing the marquees and sound system. The presence of the Holy Family Choir of Menai and the NSW RSL Corps of Guards and the Australian Army Flag Party, who along with the French Veterans of Association des Anciens Combatants Francais (NSW) contributed significantly to the solemnity and formality of the commemoration as did FFFAIF Member and Protocol Manager for the 101st Commemoration of the Battle of Fromelles, Alexander Weilsmann and FFFAIF Committee Member Jill Hayes. Photographer Rob Tuckwell created a good photographic record and Rosie Patrielli streamed parts of the service live to the Anzac Memorial’s Facebook page at facebook.com/AnzacMemorial.

 

Special thanks also to the Organising Committee of FFFAIF Members Margaret Snodgrass, Darren Mitchell and Alexander Weilsmann, Anzac Memorial Senior Operations Coordinator Belinda Mitrovich and Property Manager, Michael Trenear, Iain Finlay Adjutant and Pam Richardson Assistant Adjutant of the NSW RSL Corps of Guards, Warrant Officer Class One Rod Cornick OAM, Regimental Sergeant Major, Joint Ceremonial NSW of the Australian Army and Rosie Patrielli, Fundraising and Communications, Centenary of Anzac, Office for Veterans Affairs (NSW).

 

Jim Munro,
President, Families and Friends of the First AIF

 

Further photos

 

Fromelles Day Centenary Commemoration
19 July 2017
Anzac Memorial, Hyde Park Sydney

Professor the Hon. Dame Marie Bashir and FFFAIF president Jim Munro leading the Solemn Procession

Professor the Hon. Dame Marie Bashir and FFFAIF president Jim Munro leading the Solemn Procession

 

Coming soon

Fromelles Day Centenary Commemoration
19 July 201
Anzac Memorial, Hyde Park Sydney

 

Fromelles Day Centenary Commemoration
19 July 201
Anzac Memorial, Hyde Park Sydney

 

Coming soon

 

 Coming soon

 

Fromelles Day Centenary Commemoration
19 July 2017
Anzac Memorial, Hyde Park Sydney

 

 

 

Posted in Commemorations, Fromelles, The Western Front | Comments Off

Fromelles Day Commemorations, Wednesday 19 July

Fromelles Day Commemoration, Wednesday 19 July, Sydney

All FFFAIF members, friends and descendants and members of the public are invited to attend the Commemoration of the 101st anniversary of the Battle of Fromelles to be held at the ANZAC Memorial, Hyde Park in Sydney on Wednesday 19 July commencing at 10:45 for 11:00am. The commemoration is organised by FFFAIF in conjunction with the Trustees of the ANZAC Memorial to fulfil a commitment by the Trustees to the returned veterans of the 5th Division of the First AIF that their service and the sacrifice of their comrades on 19 July 1916 would always be officially remembered. The Battle of Fromelles was the first battle on the Western Front for the Australian Imperial Force and resulted in the largest loss of lives in any 24-hour period of Australia’s history.

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Fromelles Day Centenary Commemoration, 19 July 2016, ANZAC Memorial, Hyde Park Sydney

State President War Widows Guild Mrs Rhondda Vanzella OAM, Leader of the Opposition The Hon Luke Foley MP, Acting President, NSW RSL Mr. John Haines AM, FFFAIF President Jim Munro, Premier of NSW, the Hon Mike Baird, Ms Jill Hayes (FFFAIF), Major-General Gus Gilmore, AO, DSC, Professor the Hon. Dame Marie Bashir AD CVO, Minister for Veteran’s Affairs, The Hon David Elliott MP, and the Consul-General for the Republic of France, M. Nicolas Croizer, Pastor Bob Durbin and Mrs Margaret Snodgrass (FFFAIF).

The 11am Commemoration is preceded by a Solemn Procession from the Archibald Fountain to the ANZAC Memorial at 10:15am for 10:30 step-off. The Archibald Fountain in Hyde Park, unveiled in 1932, commemorates the bond between Australia and France during the Great War and the Procession to the ANZAC Memorial symbolizes the “400 yards”, equivalent to the widest part of “No-man’s land” on the Fromelles battlefield, and pays homage to the 5th Division veterans marching to the ANZAC Memorial for the 50th anniversary commemoration in 1966.

2016 07 19 Fromelles Day Sydney_0058 Solemn procession small cropped 2016 07 19 Fromelles Day Sydney_0086 Solemn procession small cropped 2016 07 19 Fromelles Day Sydney_0647 French veterans in procession small 

Invitations are also extended to attend Solemn Vespers in Commemorating the Australians in the Battle of Fromelles, to be held at St Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney on Tuesday 18 July 2017 at 7.00pm. Note that this is the evening before the Solemn Procession and Commemoration. A wreath will be laid at the Statue in Memory of Fallen Soldiers completed by George Lambert in 1931. As Australia did not have an official tomb of the unknown soldier until 1993, George Lambert’s recumbent figure came to be known informally as Australia’s ‘Monument to the unknown soldier” . Located previously in the crypt, where it was touched in the evening by the setting sun, the memorial has now been moved into the aisle of the cathedral, to give the public greater access to it.

 2016 07 19 Fromelles Day Sydney_0321 wreath laying small cropped2016 07 19 Fromelles Day Sydney_0341 wreath laying small2016 07 19 Fromelles Day Sydney_0394 wreath laying small

Please RSVP to FFFAIF Commemorations Officer, Mrs Margaret Snodgrass OAM, margaret@forsyth.com.au or phone: (02) 9419 7411 if you wish to attend the Solemn Vespers, Solemn Procession or Commemoration.

 

Fromelles Day Commemoration, Wednesday 19 July, Melbourne

1:30pm Wreath Laying at the Cobbers Statue, Shrine of Remembrance

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This is a joint service hosted by The Shrine of Remembrance and the Friends of the 15th Brigade to remember the 5533 Australians killed, wounded or captured during this disastrous 24-hour battle. 1:30 p.m. at the “Cobbers” statue.

Pozieres Day Commemoration, Sunday 23th July 2017, Sydney

The First Battalion Association is commemorating the 101st Anniversary of the Battle Pozieres at their annual service at Saint Columba Uniting Church corner Ocean and Forth Streets, Woollahra, 9:30am Sunday 23th July 2017.

2013-07-21 Pozieres Service Sydney 001a web  2013-07-21 Pozieres Service Sydney 010 web 2013-07-21 Pozieres Service Sydney 020a web

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Return of the Menin Gate Lions to Ieper

Johan Durnez, Waregem, Belgium, with Geoff Lewis, Raglan.

Edited version of article in DIGGER 59

Anzac Day - 2017

Return of the Menin Gate Lions to Ieper
Click on the image and zoom in to see greater detail. [Photo from Defence Image Library]

‘It was wonderful to see the lions back on the place where they [had] been for so many years’  [Johan Durnez]. Long-time FFFAIF member, Belgian teacher Johan Durnez, has written a report on an important event held at Ieper in April. Any members who have visited the Western Front would have likely paid their respects at the nightly ceremony held at Menin Gate, which commemorates 54 900 men who lost their lives in the Ypres Salient and who have no known grave. Those who have not had this experience, but who have visited the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, would have paused to inspect the two guardian lions which sat inside the front entrance of the memorial. Recent visitors to the AWM may have noticed that the lions seem to have disappeared. Johan tells the story of the return of the lions to Ieper:

The Menin Gate, as we know it, was only built in 1927. The gate was originally erected in the 1660s and was the entrance to the city through the ramparts. The two lions were carved from sandstone sometime around 1822, and initially stood at the front door of the Cloth Hall. Later, they were moved to stand on either side of the thirteen metre wide road.  It  was through  this  gate  that  thousands  of  British  and Commonwealth soldiers passed on the way to war in the Ypres Sector from 1914 to 1918.

During the Great War, the city was extensively damaged by shell fire. The lions were not immune and fell from their brick plinths. It was reported that one had lost its right foreleg and was chipped along its back.  The other was much more extensively damaged and all that remained was a damaged head and a trunk down to just below its ribcage. Then they disappeared for some years. Somehow they had survived and, in 1936, the Mayor of Ypres donated the two lions to the Australian Memorial as a gesture of friendship.

In 1985, it was decided by the AWM to restore them; this took six years. The lions were then returned to their familiar places. In 2014, they were lent to the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa and returned nine months later.

Johan’s photo shows two covered plinths prior to their unveiling.

Lions return to Menin Gate 24 April 2017 DSCN0516 (Medium) Lions return to Menin Gate 24 April 2017 DSCN0518 (Medium)

Undercover Menin Lions [Photo by Johan Durnez]

The lions were unveiled in their original positions on 24 April, and will be on display until 11 November, after which they will be returned to Canberra.

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The unveiling by Veterans Affairs Minister The Hon Dan Tehan
[Photos by Anny de Decker and Defence Image Library]

Lions return to Menin Gate 24 April 2017 DSCN0627 (Medium)Anzac Day - 2017

Veterans Affairs Minister The Hon Dan Tehan at the unveiling service and
Cpl Keighran VC reciting The Ode. [Photos by Anny de Decker & Defence Image Library]

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The unveiling Menin Gate Lions
[Photos from Defence Image Library and by Anny de Decker]

FFFAIF were represented by two of our dedicated Belgian members, Anny De Decker and Marie Claire Sinnaeve [widow of Ivan aka ‘Shrapnel Charlie’], who arrived two hours early to get a good ‘possy’ at both the unveiling service and the Anzac Day service the next day.

Anzac Day - 2017

Returned Lions, poppies and dignitaries at the Menin Gate
Another great image to click on and zoom in for the detail [Photo: Defence Image Gallery]

The photos were taken by Anny de Decker at the unveiling service on 24 April, 2017 and supplemented with photos from the Defence Image Gallery.

More images can be seen at https://images.defence.gov.au/assets/archives/5003.

As there are thousands of photos, search for the photos taken on 24 April 2017 by searching for “20170424″. Photos of Tyne Cot and the Belgium Dawn Service may also be viewed.

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Flanders Memorial Garden dedicated at the Australian War Memorial 4 April 2017

More than 6 000 Australian soldiers are buried in unknown graves in Flanders fields. Now there is a Flanders Memorial Garden at the Australian War Memorial containing soil from those battlefields, Flanders cemeteries and Australian places that the soldiers knew well.

 Flanders Memorial GardenFlanders Memorial Garden

Click on images to see more detail [Photos Jim Munro]

The new garden was dedicated on 4 April, 2017, in a poignant ceremony on a crisp Canberra morning.  FFFAIF Patron, His Excellency, General, The Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC and Mrs Cosgrove were special guests of the Chair of the AWM Council, Kerry Stokes AC and the Director of the AWM, Dr Brendan Nelson AO. FFFAIF President, Jim Munro, and Committee members Jill Hayes and Sue Tongue represented the FFFAIF.

Flanders soil was carried by the Federation Guard in 5 boxes constructed of Tasmanian Blackwood (the same timer used for the coffin of the Unknown Soldier) to lie near the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier overnight. The soil was from Tyne Cot Cemetery, Menin Gate Ramparts, Polygon Wood, Toronto Avenue Cemetery and Hill 60.

Flanders Memorial Garden Dedication 4 Apr 2017 Smoking ceremony for Flanders soil boxes IMG_7862 Flanders Memorial Garden Dedication 4 Apr 2017 dappled light for smoking ceremony for Flanders soil boxes IMG_7862

There were many memorable parts of this event. The  welcome to country,  and later smoking ceremony, conducted by Ngunnawal Elder Tina Brown, created a profound sense of the importance of ground – Australia’s ancient land, the battlefields and the new garden.

The soil from Flanders was carried to the garden and deposited in the solemn ceremony.

Flanders Memorial Garden Dedication 4 Apr 2017 Mr Verlaeckt placing Flanders soil IMG_7866_MomentFlanders Memorial Garden Dedication 4 Apr 2017 Plaque IMG_7888

Mr Verlaeckt, The Secretary-General of the Flanders Department of Foreign Affairs placing some of the Flanders soil in the Memorial Garden – click on images to see more detail

The Australian soil was collected from sites of significance in each Australian state and territory and local timber of significance was used for the boxesin which it was carried. The soli was from:

  • The Anzac Memorial in Hyde Park, Garden Island and Victoria Barracks in NSW
  • Yamba Homestead in the Woden Valley and Jerrabomberra Wetlands (Duntroon Trench Warfare& Bombing School) in the ACT
  • Torrens Training Depot, the Outer Harbour and Keswick Barracks in South Australia
  • Fremantle Port, Albany and Blackboy Hill in Western Australia
  • Soldiers Memorial Avenue in Hobart and ‘Northallerton’ on King Island in Tasmania
  • Port of Darwin (East Port) in the Northern Territory
  • The Shrine of Remembrance and Maygar Barracks in Melbourne and the Avenue of Honour in Ballarat in Victoria
  • Warwick, Enoggera and Pinkenba in Queensland

Flanders Memorial Garden Dedication 4 Apr 2017 Aust soil boxes IMG_7877 Flanders Memorial Garden Dedication 4 Apr 2017 NSW soil box IMG_7880

Wing Commander Sharon Bown (Ret’d) recited McRae’s ‘In Flanders Fields’ poem with perfect pitch. Speeches that followed  – by the Director of the War Memorial and Governor-General – were particularly relevant. The Chief of Army read the Last Post reading of the day about the three Seabrook brothers, who were all killed at Passchendaele, within 24 hours of each other.

The music added to the occasion. The Band of RMC Duntroon performed and a musician sang the song ‘O Passchendaele’ by Garth Porter.

The Secretary-General of the Flanders Department of Foreign Affairs, Mr Verlaeckt, spoke about the connection between Flanders and Australia. He mentioned the need for places of reflection at this time. Then, as he ended his speech, a flock of white cockatoos flew overhead in the early morning sunlight, calling out agreement. Perhaps they knew about the soil contributed from their Jerrabombera wetlands, where the Duntroon trench warfare bombing school operated.

Sue Tongue

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Sue Tongue with Jill Hayes at the Flanders Memorial dedication. Photos by Jim Munro

To see the AWM posting on the Flanders Memorial Garden dedication click here or go to https://oldsite.awm.gov.au/1914-1918/flanders-memorial-garden/

Posted in Commemorations, Ieper/Ypres, Memorials, Passchendale, Polygon Wood, The Western Front, Uncategorized, Zonnebeke | Comments Off

More Tasmanian soldiers have their Great War service acknowledged

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The Tasmanian Headstone Project  The Project commenced in 2012 when was discovered that there were a number of returned First World War veterans whose last resting place was no more than a dirt plot within the Cornelian Bay Cemetery located on the outskirts of the city of Hobart.  This meant that there was no monumental work or any other marker on their burial plot to indicate who is buried there.  To date 316 WWI unmarked graves have been identified.

On  31st March 2017, the Chief of Army, Lieutenant General Angus Campbell, DSC, AM unveiled a number of commemorative plaques on headstones recognising the service of soldiers, whose grave were previously unmarked.

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Once again, the weather was kind and there were a good number of people in attendance. The unveilings went off with military precision thanks to the involvement of members of the 12/40th Battalion who provided a guard and sentries for each of the graves being unveiled.

2017 03 31 Tas Headstone Project 8996 small2017 03 31 Tas Headstone Project 8997 small

This brings the number of veterans who have had their service recognised to 158, leaving 158 still to be done.

Previously on 7 November 2016 an unveiling was a great success despite the less than ideal weather with a large attendance and good publicity. The speech given by Brendan Nelson, Director of the Australian WAR Memorial resonated with the 150 + attendees. There were several family in attendance, who greatly appreciated the recognition given to their forebears

 In June 2016 31 headstones were installed and unveiled and in May Lambis Englezos was the guest speaker at an unveiling. The aim is to complete Cornelian Bay Cemetery by Remembrance Day 2018.

FFFAIF supports the project through the provision of along with the State RSL Branch  and the Tasmanian Government and a number of suppliers who contribute materials and other forms of support – Millington Cemeteries, Cement Australia, Sika Australia and Clennett’s Mitre 10. Further donations and contributions would be welcome.

The Headstone Project is managed through a FFFAIF Sub-Committee, Chaired by Andrea Gerrard but has its own website at http://www.tasheadstoneproject.org/. Read the “About Us” section for an overview of the project – and feel proud of their achievements, or the more comprehensive report in the Members Area of the www.fffaif.org.au website.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Centenary of the Anzac Obelisk on ANZAC Parade, Moore Park Sydney 15 March 2017

 

Smoking ceremony for centenary of ANZAC Parade Obelisk

Smoking ceremony for centenary of ANZAC Parade Obelisk

The commemoration of the centenary of the Anzac Obelisk on Anzac Parade was held at Moore Park Sydney on Wednesday, 15 March 2017. Official Guests included the NSW Governor, His Excellency General, The Hon David Hurley AC, The Ministers for Veteran’s Affairs, David Elliott MP and Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight, Melinda Pavey MP, Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, Andrew Constance MP, The Dean of St Mary’s Cathedral, Rev. Donald Richardson (whose grandfather was an original ANZAC), Keith Payne VC, representatives of the military services and ex-service organisations and elders of the local Aboriginal Land Council. The RAN Band also participated. President Jim Munro and Commemorations Officer Margaret Snodgrass attended as did Member Darren Mitchell who attended in his role related to the Korean War Memorial.  Alexander Weilsmann, who assists FFFAIF with the Sydney Fromelles Day Commemoration Service was a key person in arranging for the Obelisk being refurbished, re-located and commemorated.

Subsequently, Randwick Council indicated that it was committed to build a similar Obelisk at the southern end of ANZAC Parade, as was envisaged a century ago.

Wreath laying by the NSW Governor, His Excellency General, The Hon David Hurley AC DSC and Mrs Hurley

Wreath laying by the NSW Governor, His Excellency General, The Hon David Hurley AC DSC and Mrs Hurley

NSW Government dedication plaque

NSW Government dedication plaque

Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, Andrew Constance MP, Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight, Melinda Pavey MP and Minister for Veteran’s Affairs, David Elliott MP at the ANZAC Parade Obelisk

Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, Andrew Constance MP, Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight, Melinda Pavey MP and Minister for Veteran’s Affairs, David Elliott MP at the ANZAC Parade Obelisk

Anzac Parade, had previously been known as Randwick Road, but was renamed to commemorate the route used by which the troops marched from their training camps at Kensington and Randwick to their place of embarkation at Woolloomooloo.

Embarkation Park, overlooking the wharves at Woolloomooloo

Embarkation Park, overlooking the wharves at Woolloomooloo

Posted in ANZAC Day, Commemorations | Comments Off

Remembrance Weekend Sydney

Sydney, NSW – 11-13 November 2016

Friday 11 November

Remembrance Day Commemoration at The Cenotaph, Martin Place

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A number of FFFAIF members attended the Remembrance Day service at The Cenotaph in Martin Place, Sydney where President Jim Munro, accompanied by Jill Hayes, laid a wreath on behalf of FFFAIF as seen below.

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2016 John Laffin Memorial Lecture Series:
1916: The Western Front, Fromelles and Pozieres

The John Laffin Memorial Lecture commemorates the life and work of Australian military historian John Laffin who founded the Families and Friends of the First AIF in 1998.

john-laffin_-portrait_website

John Laffin

The 2016 John Laffin Memorial Lecture was held on Friday, 11 November, at the NSW Parliament House theatrette. The NSW Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, The Hon David Elliott was  represented by The Hon. Scott Farlow MLC. The Western Front Association and Fromelles Association, along with the History Teachers Association helped promote the event.

The focus was on Fromelles and Pozieres to mark the centenary of both battles. Speakers were Jim Munro, Patrick Lindsay AM, Tim Lycett, Royce Atkinson was followed by a Fromelles Q & A panel of Patrick, Tim, Royce, Chris Bryett and Annette Tebb.

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Shrapnel Charlie’s Diggers at Le Hamel, 25 July 2010. Colin Kidd

Matt Smith presented a review of the 2016 FFFAIF Western Front tour.

Will Davies gave an overview of the battle for Pozieres and advised of the current status of the project for Australian school children to contribute to the costs of building a new school at Pozieres.

A more comprehensive report of the John Laffin Memorial Lecture series is in the Members Area. Go to About > John Laffin

Sunday 13 November FFFAIF Members AGM, Sydney

The 2016 Annual General Meeting of the FFFAIF Inc was held in Sydney on Sunday, 13 November. The committee of management for 2016/17 was filled without the need for an election as the number of candidates matched the number of positions (nine). The committee members and positions are listed in General Meetings section of the Members Area of this web site along with reports presented for the AGM and the unconfirmed Minutes.

Western Front Association Australian Branch (WFA) Meeting 1pm – 4pm

Following the AGM, FFFAIF members joined with WFA members and members of kindred organisations to listen to the speakers at the WFA’s meeting. Gareth Morgan, President, Australian Society of World War 1 Aero Historians spoke on Australians in the RFC/RAF during the First World War, while Darren Crabb, a former RCAF and RAAF combat fighter pilot collector of RFC medals spoke on three medal groups he holds of WWI pilots

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Posted in Annual General Meeting, Fromelles, John Laffin Memorial Lecture, The Western Front | Comments Off