Anzac Nurses of the Great War

Launch of The Australian Nurses of the Great War Database

The Australian Nurses of the Great War Database was launched at the Anzac Memorial, Hyde Park with a number of presentations and the presence of many of the researchers and developers of the database, to highlight not only aspects and the lives and service of the Nurses, but to also demonstrate the power and flexibility of the Database as a tool for enquiry and research.

The Australian Branch of the Western Front Association in conjunction with FFFAIF presented a  Seminar, incorporating the 2022 John Laffin Memorial Lecture on Saturday, 30 April, 2022, focussing on Australian nurses of the Great War. In conjunction with this event, Anzac Nurses of the Great War has been added as a new menu on the www.fffaif.org.au website to provide links to many of the most significant websites related to Australian and New Zealand Nurses who served in the Great War.

John Laffin’s mother, Nellie Alfreda Laffin (nee Pike), served as a nurse in the Australian Army Nursing Service in the Great War and her story was be told by her granddaughter Sue Tongue and grandson Craig Laffin using archival material and family items. This was presented as the 2022 John Laffin Memorial Lecture as: “Our Nurse Nellie in the war.”, which was also streamed live on-line via Zoom. This case study helped showcase the role of nurses from Australia in the war, from the viewpoint of the life of one brave woman who served.

Studio portrait of Matron Gray and four sisters of the AANS at No1 Australian Auxiliary Hospital, Harefield on 9 April 1915. Source: Australian War Memorial

Other researchers shared their findings. A special afternoon tea was hosted for those attending with raffle prizes drawn during the day to raise. Craig Laffin donated a number of books written by John Laffin for the benefit of those attending..


Matron Gray with Sisters at No 1 Australian General Hospital, Sutton Veny 1919
Source: Australian War Memorial

Seminar programme:

Title: ‘Australian military nurses in the Great War.”

9:30 am: Arrival and registration.

10:00 am: Welcome.

10:15 am: The Australian Nurses of the Great War database by David Perkins.

11:15 am: Tribute to John Laffin, by FFFAIF President Jim Munro, followed by the
2022 John Laffin Memorial Lecture by Sue Tongue and Craig Laffin:
“Our Nurse Nellie in the war.”

12:30 pm: Lunch and time to explore the Memorial.

1:45 pm: Research presentations by invited attendees.

Krista Van-Tempest: Nurse Edith Blake QAIMNSR

Dr Nicole Bray and Janette Pelosi: 1AAH Harefield and More medals than most

Sarah and Ruth Miller: Nurse Caroline Ellen Wilson

James Oglethorpe: Sister May Oglethorpe AANS

Chris Bryett: Matron Kellett CBE, RRC, MID

3:00 pm: Discussion with afternoon tea (self-catered from kitchen).

Clare Ashton: 1934 nurses reunion

4:00 pm: Close of business.

 

The new Anzac Nurses of the Great War web page


The 1st Australian General Hospital (1AGH) Sutton Veny, May 1919
Approximately 300 nurses and military personnel. Seated in the middle of the front row is Matron Ethel Gray, Australian Army Nursing Service, and to her left is Commanding Officer 1AGH Colonel Huxtable (with walking stick and legs crossed).

More than 2,300 Australian military nurses served overseas during the Great War.

This Anzac Nurses of the Great War web page brings together information from multiple data sources and from multiple researchers to provide a searchable resource that honours both individual stories and enables users to make their own enquiries and compile their own analysis across collective groups.

 

Sutton Veny Matron, Sister Miles-Walker (d. Oct 1918) and AANS Sisters at AGH1 October 1919

Anzac Nurses Nominal Rolls of the Great War.

A number of nominal rolls listing the service of Anzac nurses from Australia and New Zealand in the Great War have been published and been made available on-line for research. These have been prepared by academic and family history researchers to document the military and other nurses who served in the First World War. Each roll contains different information but together they provide detailed information on this diverse range of women.

Links to some of these are posted here and each researcher has consented to their publication. All are in the public domain and are grouped here to assist other researchers.

This Anzac Nurses of the Great War web page has been placed in the  public domain as a free resource to enable families, students and researchers to be able to access this information and thereby honour the training, dedication and service of these special women.

To honour their service and sacrifice of Australian Nurses of the Great War, David Perkins has developed a new ‘searchable’ database that provides access to the service and biographical details of about 2,500 Australian military nurses who served in the Australian Army Nursing Service (AANS) and other Empire military nursing organisations.

The Australian Nurses of the Great War Database is available online on this page of the Families and Friends of the First AIF webpage. Each of David’s records contains links to relevant Australian War Memorial, National Archives of Australia, and Department of Veterans Affairs ‘Discovering Anzacs’ group stories. David is prepared to add new names to his database and will consider requests from other researchers to do so.

Click here to access The Australian Nurses of the Great War Database

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Additional Anzac Nurses Nominal Rolls and Women’s service in the Great War.

Other nominal rolls are accessible here. They include not only Australian and New Zealand nurses who served with their respective military nursing services but women who served with the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Nursing Service Reserve and as Red Cross Voluntary Aid Detachments or VADs.

The ‘Discovering Anzacs’ series of group stories contain several lists of nurses. These have been prepared by Heather Ford who has undertaken exhaustive research in the area. She has grouped the names into cohorts and submitted them to the Australian Department of Veterans Affairs as a number of ‘group stories’. Some are here:

First Convoy Nurses – 1914 | Discovering Anzacs | National Archives of Australia and Archives NZ (https://discoveringanzacs.naa.gov.au/browse/groupstories/7672)

AUSTRALIAN WOMEN WHO SERVED AND DIED DURING OR AS A RESULT OF THE GREAT WAR: | Discovering Anzacs | National Archives of Australia and Archives NZ ()
https://discoveringanzacs.naa.gov.au/browse/groupstories/19005

QAIMNSR Nurses who embarked on the HS Karoola in December 1915 | Discovering Anzacs | National Archives of Australia and Archives NZ (
https://discoveringanzacs.naa.gov.au/browse/groupstories/17503)

WOMEN’S ARMY AUXILIARY CORPS – QUEEN MARY’S ARMY AUXILIARY CORPS | Discovering Anzacs | National Archives of Australia and Archives NZ (
https://discoveringanzacs.naa.gov.au/browse/groupstories/13331)

Dr Kirsty Harris has produced the following nominal roll and is one of Australia’s leading authors and researchers relating to Australian Nurses at War:

World War One Nurses – Australian Nurses at War (https://kjhh.net.au/australiannursesatwar/world-war-one-australian-nurses/)

In New Zealand, Sherayl McNabb has documented the names of Nurses in the New Zealand Army Nursing Service and other New Zealanders who served in the Great War (she has also created nominal rolls for nurses who served in other conflicts in which New Zealand nurses served):

WW1 Samoa Nurses 1914 (https://www.nzans.org/Nurses%20Who%20Served/SamoaNurses1914.html)

1st 50 Roll
(
https://www.nzans.org/Nurses%20Who%20Served/1st%2050%20Roll.html)

NZ Nurses to Aust Roll (https://www.nzans.org/Nurses%20Who%20Served/NZNursesAANS.html)

NZANS WW1 Main page (https://www.nzans.org/Nurses%20Who%20Served/Full%20NZANS%20WW1%20Roll.html)

Jenny Baker has recorded a wide range of other Australian women’s service in the Great War (with many interesting photographs):

Looking for the Evidence – WW1 Women (https://sites.google.com/site/lookingfortheevidenceww1women/australian-women-at-ww1-research-home)

Faithe Jones (a genealogist) has compiled profiles and photographs of many Australian Nurses in World War 1:

http://ausww1nurses.weebly.com/

Australian nurses at Harefield Australian Auxiliary Hospital 1915

Mention should also be made of The History of the Australian Nurses in the First World War by Dr Ruth Rae, published as an Australian College of Nursing Centenary Commemorative Trilogy. The Trilogy details the important contribution of Australian nurses who served in the First World War (1914-18) and highlights the valuable service Australian nurses provided, to not only the servicemen, but to the ongoing professionalism of civilian and military nursing in this country. The Trilogy features:
Book one – From Narromine to the Nile (2nd edition)
Book two – Scarlet Poppies (3rd edition)
Book three – Veiled Lives (3rd edition) ACN First World War Nursing Nominal Roll. Some details relating to the nominal role can be found here:

Sneak peek: A Nominal Roll of Australian Nurses who served in the First World War (pp. 10-17) – Australian College of Nursing (https://www.acn.edu.au/sneak-peek-nominal-roll)
ACN Centenary Commemorative Trilogy – Australian College of Nursing

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The Anzac Nurses of the Great War web page has been facilitated by
Paul Simadas, RFD Lieutenant Colonel
Chairman Australian Branch Western Front Association
Vice President, Families and Friends of the First AIF
One of Paul’s FFFAIF responsibilities is liaison with kindred organisations with an interest in commemorating the service and sacrifice of Australian service men and women and their families during and after The Great War. Paul has liaised with most of the researchers listed above, and each researcher has consented to the publication of links to their work.

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Anzac Memorial Sydney Screening: Angels of the Battlefield

Angels of the Battlefield, made by students from TAFE New South Wales over a six-year period, pays homage to the over 3,000 civilian nurses who also served in the First World War. Often working near the front-line, 25 nurses were killed and 388 were decorated, with eight receiving the Military Medal.

Through the stories of Sisters Nellie Morrice and Katherine Porter, discover what life was like a century ago and the hardships and dangers nurses endured on active service. The film follows Nellie and Kitty from the small country towns of their birth through their nursing training in Sydney, their service in Egypt, Turkey and France to the tragedies and triumphs that followed their discharge from the military.

Angels of the Battlefield will be screened on the following dates and does not require a booking:

  • Tuesday, 26 April (3.30-4.30pm)
  • Friday, 29 April (3.30-4.30pm)
  • Monday, 2 May (3.30-4.30pm)
  • Wednesday, 4 May (3.30-4.30pm)

More information at Screening: Angels of the Battlefield | Anzac Memorial, Hyde Park, Sydney (nsw.gov.au)

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VALE Lt Col (Rtd) Graham Parker, OBE

VALE Lt Col (Rtd) Graham Parker, OBE

Lt Col (Retd) Graham William Parker, OBE (1933-2022)

It is with great sadness that we learn of the passing of Graham Parker, at Wilton, near Salisbury in Wiltshire on Tuesday 8 March 2022, aged 89 years. Graham is survived by his beloved wife Rona, daughter Joanna, son Julian and their families.

Graham has made a most remarkable contribution to keeping alive the memory of those who served in The Great War. Over 20 members of Graham’s immediate and extended family served during the Great War of 1914-1918. Graham’s uncle, Corporal Thomas Parker, 2nd Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers. was killed in action during the last week of the Battle of the Somme in November 1916. Eleven young men in Rona’s Hackett family served in the British Army, four of whom are buried in France.

Graham served continuously with the British Army and Civil Service for 45 years. In 1978 Graham’s keen interest in the Great War developed whilst serving as a Lieutenant Colonel on the Staff at NATO Headquarters, Mons, Belgium.

Following on from his research into his uncle killed on the 1916 Somme battlefield, Graham was asked to organise and guide tours for the military history society at the NATO base. Initially his tours were organised for Service personnel and their families serving in Belgium and Germany. The demand for places on his tours grew by word of mouth and most weekends he was committed to taking a group to visit the Western Front. Since that time he guided several hundred tours to the 1914-1918 battlefields of Flanders and France for the general public, school groups, Veterans’ Associations, the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, the National Defence College, Territorial Army units and the regular British Army. He was appointed OBE in 1979.

Graham has been a long-standing member of The Western Front Association (founded 1980)  and served on the National Committee for five years. From April 2008 to December 2020 Graham was a Vice-President.  Graham, often with Joanna (Honours degree in German), presented lectures to WFA branches on aspects of The Great War.

In July 1992 Graham arranged the purchase and presentation of six new bugles from the Royal Corps of Transport to the Last Post Committee to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the Menin Gate. He has also been an honorary member of The Friends of Talbot House (TOC H), with whom he has been closely associated for many years, assisting as a volunteer with the renovation of the house and garden in the mid 1980s.

Graham and his family spent 17 years in Belgium and between 1988-2000 Graham and his family ran Flanders Tours in their free time at weekends. This earned them a reputation for thorough research and innovative Battlefield Walks on the Western Front and Graham was an honorary badged member of The International Guild of Battlefield Guides.

Graham also advised on the Ypres Special Events Committee in the late 1980s and early 1990s. In 1991 he introduced The Poppy Parade and the dropping of poppy petals from the roof of the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing at the annual Armistice Day commemorative service. Since then, the Poppy Parade has been an integral feature of the Armistice Day ceremonies in Ieper.

Lt Col Graham Parker near the Cloth Hall and the Last Post Buglers at Ieper (2009/2008)

On 11 November 1995 Graham was leading the Armistice Day “Poppy Parade” commemorating the 80th anniversary of the battles of 1915 in the Ypres Salient. He was in advance of the main parade of bands, standard bearers and soldiers from St. George’s Memorial Church through the streets of Ieper to the morning ceremony at The Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing, when there was a sudden heavy rainstorm. On reaching the market square and the Cloth Hall Graham could see crowds of visitors and local people lining the road to the Menin Gate and the downpour resulted in umbrellas of all colours suddenly appearing along the route. The images of poppies on the old Flanders battlefield and the umbrellas lining the route on that wet Armistice Day in November 1995 were Graham’s inspiration for The Poppy Umbrella.

Having completed 32 years’ Regular Army Service Graham remained on the British Army Staff in Belgium for a further 12 years and on his retirement in 1995 Graham founded Rembrella Ltd. to develop The Poppy Umbrella. Graham’s daughter, Joanna, created the design of the single red poppy and in May 1998 the Poppy Umbrella was launched at the Chelsea Flower Show with all proceeds being passed to the Royal Hospital Chelsea. Since 2008, Rembrella has donated proceeds from on-line sales to the Help for Heroes charity caring for injured Servicemen and women and from 2013 to The Not Forgotten Association.

The Poppy Umbrella sales have helped generate funds for a number of ex-Service charities, military heritage organizations and centres of Remembrance for their work in the welfare, care and continuing Remembrance of serving and former Servicemen and women including The Royal Hospital Chelsea , The Royal British Legion, The National Memorial Arboretum, Staffordshire, In Flanders Fields Museum, Ypres, Thiepval Visitor Centre, Somme and the Families & Friends of the First Australian Imperial Force.

 

Lt Col Parker and his daughter Joanna at St Edith’s Baverstock at the grave of Pte Andrew Gibson and with then FFFAIF Secretary Chris Munro at Baverstock Anzac Day 2007

On ANZAC Day 2006, Graham and his wife Rona attended the inaugural ANZAC Service at St Editha’s Baverstock, Wiltshire, UK, where 29 Australian soldiers of the Great War are buried. Some years previously, a promotional photo of Col Parker and his daughter was taken at the grave of Private Andrew Gibson at St Edith’s Baverstock. The ANZAC Day services were initiated in 2006 by FFFAIF Members Jim and Chris Munro as Jim’s Great-Uncle, QMS Alan Andrews is one of those buried at St Edith’s. As a result of the close links between the Western Front Association (Graham as an Honorary Vice President) and the Families and Friends of the First Australian Imperial Force (FFFAIF Founder John Laffin was a key person in both associations) as well as the friendship and Baverstock connection, Graham offered for FFFAIF to be their Australian agent and the first consignment arrived in 2009.

Graham his wife Rona paying their respects visiting Australian and British war graves at St Edith’s Baverstock and laying a tribute at the grave of QMS Alan Andrews in April 2021.

More than 4,000 Rembrella products have been sold in Australia by the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, the National ANZAC Centre in Albany, the Anzac Memorial Sydney, the Queensland ANZAC Day Commemorative Committee and The Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne and by FFFAIF with sales benefiting these organisations and also contributing funding to Commemorations in Sydney for Fromelles Day and the Battles of 3rd Ypres as well towards the costs of headstones on unmarked graves of returned Diggers.

Remembrance Day Service at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra in 2010 and Headstones on previously unmarked graves of returned Diggers in Cornelian Bay Cemetery, Hobart [Tasmanian Headstone Project] 2017

Graham, with Rona and his family, has contributed to thousands of people with an interest in the Great War having the opportunity to better understand its significance and impact upon their families and their own lives. His legacy lives on with the http://www.greatwar.co.uk/ website run by Joanna and her husband David containing a vast amount of information on The Great War while also being a tribute to the extended Parker-Degg, Hackett-Hodson and Pipe-Legg families.

The Families and Friends of the First AIF honours the most remarkable contribution Graham has made to keeping alive the memory of those who served in The Great War and extends its condolences to Rona, Joanna, Julian and family at this sad time.

May he Rest in Peace
As we Keep The Memory Alive

Jim Munro
President

11 March 2022

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DIGGER 78

CONTENTS

Articles

Memoirs of Pte 1172 Clifford Sharman, 26th Bn, Part 1, Owen Cook  3-14

Analysis of the 4th Machine Gun Battalion at Hamel, 4 July 1918, Greg O’Reilly  15-19

‘Sorry, you two Australian Mums’: the death of Gnr 3513 Stanley Pearson, 1st FAB HQ, at Cape Helles, Michael Crane and Bernard de Broglio  20-26

1916 letter: Tpr 1314 John Briscoe, 2nd LHR, found on Trove  26

Pte 5415 Matthew McGann, 23rd Bn, Graeme Hosken  27-31

1918 letter: Sgt 1710 John McRae, 48th Bn, found on Trove  31

Red Dust (memoirs of a light horseman), Chapter 9, Tpr 3073 John Gray, 6th LHR  32-35

1918 letter: Pte 2828 John Hudson, 42nd Bn, found on Trove  35

Pte 1235 Job Sheldon, 34th Bn, Bill Durrant  36

Bandsman 2161 Ted McMahon stops the war, Neville Browning  37

Colour centrespread 1: Cemeteries and memorials on the Western Front, Heather Ford  38

Colour centrespread 2: War memorials in Wagga Wagga, contrib. by Greg Davis  39

The Wagga Wagga Memorial Arch, contrib. by Greg Davis  40

WWI Diggers buried in Cairns Pioneer Cemetery, Greg Knight  41-48

Ross Bastiaan’s Mouquet Farm plaque, John Skene and Graeme Hosken  48

Sgt 525 Cyril Kirby MM, 31st Bn, Mick James, Peter Nelson and Ann Kirby  49

Gallipoli diary of Pte 106 Harry Cicognani, Part 3 (final), contrib. by Robyn Smith  50-56

Spr 2426 Frederick Leslie Sainty, 14th FCE, Graeme Hosken & Trevor Edwards  57-66

Diaries of L/Cpl William Lycett, 4th Fld Amb, Vol II (1916), Part 5, contrib. by Tim Lycett  59-60

Pte 2017 Alfred Wright, 25th Bn, contrib. by Jillann Kerr  71-73

1918 letter: Pte 2312 Thomas Brown, 4th MG Sqn, found on Trove  74

Regular features

Trench Talk and Contact/Membership details  2

AIF anecdotes from Memories of Digger days, ‘The World’s News’ & Cartoon from ‘Smith’s Weekly’  37, 56, 66, 70

Etched in Stone, Russell Curley and Jim Corkery  75

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DIGGER 77

CONTENTS

Articles

Tour of a 35th Bn Company in the front line at Ypres, 1917, ‘Detonator’, AWM collection  3-6

Postscript: 35th Bn men killed 29 Sept to 4 Oct, 1917, Stephen Brooks  6-7

3rd Division AIF rest schedule, Mjr Gen John Monash, contrib. by Bill Durrant  7

Diaries of L/Cpl William Lycett, 4th Fld Amb, Vol II (1916), Part 4, contrib. by Tim Lycett  8-11

L/Sgt 4028 Archie Long MM, 1st Pnrs/4th Bn, Trevor Munro  12-14

Pte 4029 Edward Long, 4th Bn & 1st Pnrs, Trevor Munro  15-16

1918 letter: Pte 5468 Herbert Banks, 14th Bn, found on Trove  16

Account of a raid by men of the 34th Bn, May 1917, Lieut Ernest Shannon, Unit war diary  17

A lucky escape at Treux for Pte 469 Charles Oakhill MM, 3rd MG Bn, 3rd MG Bn Unit war diary for May 1918  18-19

Cpl 2413 Cornelius Mahony, 17th Bn, Phillip Mahony & Graeme Hosken  20-22

Roll call of Mahony relatives in the Great War, contrib. by Bernadette Mahony  22

1915 letter: L/Cpl 72 Eugene Mahony, 2nd Bn, contrib. by Bernadette Mahony  23

Gallipoli diary of Pte 106 Harry Cicognani, 1st Fld Amb, Part 2, CH Cicognani  24-31

13th Fld Amb stretcher-bearers captured at Mouquet Farm, POW statements, NAA  32-37

Red Dust (memoirs of a light horseman), Chapter 8, Tpr 3073 John Gray, 6th LHR  38-42

1918 letter: Sgt 5826 Robert Danaher, 17th Coy AASC, found on Trove  42

Fromelles, 19 & 20 July 1916: The ‘battle’ classified as an ‘attack’, Geoffrey Benn  43-55

1918 letter: T/Sgt 3685 Leslie Best, Corps Sig Coy, found on Trove  55

Pte 1874/1764 Charles Boylan, 1st Bn & post-war soldier-settler, Graeme Hosken  56-58

1916 letters: Pte 82 James Sheehan, 30th Bn & Dvr 97 John Johnstone, 8th LHR, from Trove  58

1918 letter: Pte 6408 Duncan Spence, 23rd Bn, found on Trove   68

‘Egyptian hospitals’: The care of our gallant wounded, HT Ferrar, 1915  59-60

Pte 1076 Joseph Burns, 19th Bn, Graeme Hosken, Sean McManus & Peter Benson  61-68

Humour amid Anzacs, ‘Irwin Index’ 1953, found on Trove  69-71

Lieut Ralph Doughty MC, 3rd FAB, at Pozieres, diary extracts contrib. by Peter Kivell 71

1918 Christmas dinner in Belgium, Pte 959 Thomas Dwyer MM, 24th Bn, found on Trove 72

Report on the 2021 John Laffin Memorial Lecture by Meleah Hampton, Paul Simadas 73

1918 letter: Pte 2312 Thomas Brown, 4th MG Sqn, found on Trove 74

Regular features

Trench Talk and Contact/Membership details  2

AIF anecdotes: ‘Memories of Digger days’, ‘The World’s News’19, 31

Etched in Stone, Russell Curley and Jim Corkery  75

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FFFAIF 2021 John Laffin Memorial Lecture, 25 September 2021

The John Laffin Memorial Lecture has been held annually since 2003. The Lectures honour the memory of the Founder of FFFAIF, Australian John Laffin who was one of the world’s most distinguished military historians. Both of John’s parents served with the Australian Imperial Force during WW1. His father was an infantry officer, and his mother a nursing sister. John grew up in a house where much of the adult conversations concerned memories of the war and from an early age the deeds of the Diggers were instilled in him. John became a journalist but enlisted in the second AIF in WW2 and was a veteran of the New Guinea campaign.

Post-War, John became a teacher of English, History and Geography and taught in the UK, which gave him an opportunity to explore the battlefields and see the encampments and cemeteries of significance to Australians. This stimulated his research and writings related to the Great War and he became a prolific author and authority on the War. The vast majority of his 130 or so books focused on the Great War.

John Laffin was also active in the formation of the Western Front Association in the UK and Europe in 1980 and he conceptualised and campaigned for the development of the Australian Corps Memorial at Hamel, dedicated on 4 July 1998. It was on this day that John conceptualised the establishment of the Families and Friends of the First AIF and he helped with the early planning for this before his untimely death in 2000.

The John Laffin Memorial Lecture provides an opportunity to showcase current research in Australian military history of the AIF and was introduced by the FFFAIF president Jim Munro.

The 2021 John Laffin Memorial Lecture

The 2021 John Laffin Memorial Lecture was presented on Saturday 25 September 2021 by Dr Meleah Hampton, an Australian military historian at the Australian War Memorial and ambassador-at-large for the Western Front Association described aspects of the planning and execution of the t1st and 2nd Battles of Bullecourt in France in April and May 1917. These two battles had the same objective, an attack against the newly constructed Hindenburg Line, to which the German forces had retreated in early 1917,  in order to shorten their lines and conserve precious manpower.

The Lecture was delivered via ‘Zoom webinar’, in conjunction with the Western Front Association in the United Kingdom to facilitate an international audience commencing at 7:00pm Eastern Australian time, 10:00am UK, 11:00am France and Belgium, 9:00pm NZ. More than 200 people participated in Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Belgium and the United States.

Dr Hampton’s Lecture described how the two Australian battles that we call 1st and 2nd Bullecourt were planned and executed. Meleah used war diaries and operations orders, along with contemporary accounts, to explain the  processes by which Headquarters planning was developed for the battles, and the reasons for firstly the failure of 1st Bullecourt in April, then the decision to repeat the attack in early May, and lastly to describe the stalemate that followed the end of operations. Meleah also revealed startling influences on the planning, some from unexpected places.

Australian troops in a sunken road at Noreuil on 17 May 1917 with remnants of the village in the background. The graves of Australian soldiers killed in 1st Bullecourt and near Langicourt are visible and are resting in what became the CWGC Noreuil Australian Cemetery. [AWM E2021]

Four of the five Australian infantry divisions fought at various times in the two battles, at a cost of nearly 10,000 Australian casualties. British losses were over 8,000 killed, missing and wounded in action.

Twelve British Mark IV tanks were allocated in the first attack on the 11th of April. They were used to replace artillery which had been diverted to other tasks on the Arras front! This left the 62nd (2nd West Riding) Division and the Australian divisions without essential fire support. The tanks failed, being ‘ditched’ or destroyed in their move forward, and the infantry advance broke-down. The dawn attack failed and the forces returned to their lines.

The decision to use tanks in the battle to substitute for artillery, imposed by HQ 5th Army (based on advice received from a junior tank commander), caused very high casualties amongst the troops. It made the Australians distrustful of tanks until well into the next year, confidence that was not to be restored in their use until the final AIF battles of the war. Staff planning processes in HQ 1 Anzac Corps were poor. Dr Hampton argued that General Birdwood and his chief planner Brigadier Brudenell White abrogated their responsibilities and did not, or were unable to, persuade General Gough to adjust his guidance and allocate artillery support.

The second attack did use artillery and the Australian and British forces achieved a limited degree of success. The Australian 2nd Division extended the line a thousand yards forward, and they were able to secure their objectives and repel German counterattacks. 1st and 2nd Bullecourt were nevertheless, like at Pozieres the previous year, a series of operations that had a crippling effect on Australian manpower and the morale of the men involved in the fighting.

Dr Hampton’s new interpretation of the battles and, at times, her controversial assessment of the performance of the commanders was founded in rigorous archival research that brought the battles to us in a new and original way. The talk was followed by Q&A and discussion.

The FFFAIF expresses our thanks to Dr Hampton for her talk, and to the UK Western Front Association for their co-operation and technical support in delivering the webinar.

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Commemoration of the Battles of 3rd Ypres in 2021

43 Divisions of British and Dominion troops were involved in the Battles of Third Ypres.

I ANZAC Corps, consisting of the 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th Australian Divisions, and II ANZAC Corps consisting of the 3rd Australian Division, the New Zealand Division with 2 British Divisions on rotation, fought alongside each other for the first time.
The battles lasted for 102 days with more than 300,000 casualties.

Australian Divisions participated in the following battles:

  • Menin Road, 20-25 September 1917
  • Polygon Wood, 26 September to 3 October
  • Broodseinde Ridge, 4 October
  • Poelcapelle, 9 October
  • Passchendaele (First Battle), 12 October 1917

Sydney

Sydney has been subject to COVID19 restrictions and a lock-down was imposed for Greater Sydney in July that has subsequently been extended until the end of September. This meant that the Anzac Memorial has been closed to the public and commemorations cancelled.

Fortunately, staff at the Anzac Memorial were able to lay a FFFAIF-supplied wreath in the French and Belgium Niche of the Hall of Memory and the Office of Veterans Affairs Communications team posted the event on social media.

FFFAIF on behalf of all relatives and friends of the Australian soldiers involved in the Battles of 3rd Ypres would like to express our appreciation to the staff and volunteers of the Anzac Memorial and the Office of Veterans Affairs for helping to commemorate the anniversary.

[Click on the following images to see more detail]

 

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DIGGER 76

 

CONTENTS

Articles

2nd Lieut William Harold Treloar, AFC, Heather Ford  3-9

Sister Ella Lord, AANS, contrib. by Faye Threlfall  10-12

1916 letter: L/Cpl 1524 Frederick McCann, 15th Bn, found on Trove  12

Pte 1515 Eugene Sullivan, 9th Fld Amb, Harold O’Keeffe  13-14

Checklist when taking over a new sector of the line, 34th Bn war diary  14

Tragedy for the 9th Fld Amb at Passchendaele, Graeme Hosken & Peter Benson  15-22

Capt Arthur McIntosh, 1st Bn & Dental Corps, contrib. by H Cooper, G McIntosh, B Cooper  23-24

L/Cpl 5622 William Mitchell, 18th Bn, Peter Bartley  25-27

Red Dust (memoirs of a light horseman), Chapter 7, Tpr 3073 John Gray, 6th LHR  28-34

The Skidmore siblings in WWI: Pte 228 Hector (2nd Bn), Margaret (AANS, Salonika), Jean (AANS, India), Graeme Hosken  35-45

Tpr 82 Harry Bunyan MM, 12th LHR, Trevor Munro  46-50

Pte 50978 George Herbert Taylor, 35th Bn, Bill Durrant  51-53

Chaplain Adam Stuart McCook, Bill Durrant  53

Diaries of L/Cpl William Lycett, 4th Fld Amb, Vol II (1916), Part 3, contrib. by Tim Lycett  54-57

Pte 4251 Roy Mayall, 7th Bn, found on Trove  57

“Cheer-Up” in South Australia, Paul Simadas  58

Lieut Leslie Butler MC, DCM, 9th Bn, Marie McAleer, Sue Tongue & Graeme Hosken  59-60

‘Star Effort at Gallipoli’ – the Gallipoli Star medal, Paul Simadas 60

Cpl 176 Sutton Henry Ferrier MG, 10th LHR, Ian Gill  61-62

Pte 106 Claude Henry Cicognani, 1st & 13th Fld Amb, Robyn Smith & Graeme Hosken  63-66

The diary of Pte 106 Claude Henry Cicognani (Part 1: Egypt), CH Cicognani  66-72

Pte 1375 George Thomas Wilson, 34th Bn & 3rd MG Bn, Ian Wilson, B Durrant & G Hosken  73-74

 

Regular features

Trench Talk and Contact/Membership details 2

AIF anecdotes: ‘Memories of Digger days’, ‘The World’s News’ 9, 24, 27, 34, 45

Arabic-English translations, from the diary of CH Cicognani 12, 58, 62

Etched in Stone, Russell Curley and Jim Corkery  75

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Fromelles Day 2021 Commemorations @ Sydney, Melbourne and Fromelles

19 July was the 105th anniversary of the Battle of Fromelles, the first engagement of the Australian Imperial Force on the Western Front following the withdrawal from Gallipoli. It was and remains the largest loss of Australian life in a 24 hour period with 1,917 killed or died of wounds, 3,416 wounded and 496 taken prisoner totalling 5,533 casualties. In 2008, the graves of 250 soldiers buried by the Germans after the battle were located and in 2010 reinterred in the new Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery and 166 of these soldiers have now been identified by name.

Download a copy of this report by clicking here Fromelles Day 2021 Commemorations @ Sydney, Melbourne and Fromelles.

Sydney

Unfortunately, the number of new cases of COVID19 in Sydney increased in the fortnight before the scheduled Commemoration and led to a lock-down for Greater Sydney that has subsequently been extended until the end of August. This meant that the Commemorative Procession and Commemoration Service that FFFAIF helps organise in conjunction with the Trustees of the Anzac Memorial was cancelled.

Fortunately, staff at the Anzac Memorial were able to lay a FFFAIF-supplied wreath in the Hall of Memory and the Office of Veterans Affairs Communications team posted the event on social media. This enabled the Anzac Memorial Trustees to honour the 1966 request of the final parade of the 5th Division veterans on the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Fromelles to always remember the sacrifice of the 8,100 soldiers of the 5th Division Killed in Action during the First World War and those who have died since.

Fromelles Day 2021 Sydney Wreath on 5th Division wreath stand in the
Anzac Memorial France and Belgium niche.
Photos by NSW Anzac Memorial & Office of Veterans’ Affairs
[Click on images to enlarge and see details]

Melbourne

There was also a wreath laying scheduled at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne in conjunction with the Friends of the 15th Brigade that was impacted by the lock-down in Melbourne. Lambis Englezos AM, Co-Founder of the Friends of the 15th Brigade and Honorary Member of FFFAIF laid a wreath at 2pm.

Fromelles Day 2021 Melbourne Lambis Englezos with wreath at Cobbers Statue
Photo from Lambis Englezos
[Click on images to enlarge and see details]

St Clare’s College Fromelles Documentary

Fortunately for those unable to attend these commemorations, they were able to have their own personal reflection and view the recently launched 30 minute St Clare’s College Fromelles Documentary. This extraordinary documentary reflects their 3 years of research, interviewing descendants and using innovative technology and gives an overview of the battle as well as an appreciation of its impact on families and the significance of the Battle of Fromelles in Australian history today in addition to highlighting the students’ work.

Fromelles

At 6pm French time on 19th, precisely the time when the Australians were attacking the German lines (2am AEST Tuesday 20th), a Commemorative Ceremony was held in Fromelles with a drink of Friendship at the Cobbers School afterwards. Face masks and social distancing was required. F.W.T.M.14-18 Secretary and FFFAIF Honorary Member, Carole Laignel [CL] of Fromelles and FFFAIF Belgian Member Daneille Roubroeks [DR] attended the Commemoration and have provided photographs of the Commemoration, as has Carole’s friend Dominique Bascour [DB] and Fromelles Museum’s Geoffrey Bouillet [FM].

Carole sets the scene:

At 6pm, the bells of the church were ringing and the important persons of the ceremony entered the very beautiful well flowered cemetery!

It was very hot, around 27°C, no wind, sunny and clear! We were lucky!

For the association A.S.B.F.* and then F.W.T.M.14-18, it was a special event, as it was the 30th anniversary of their first celebration of the Battle of Fromelles.

*In 1990 the Association pour le Souvenir de la Bataille de Fromelles (A.S.B.F. 1914-1918) created the Fromelles Weppes Terre de Mémoire 14-18, a museum in the town hall at Fromelles, which exhibited many of the artefacts found on the old battlefield.

Earlier in the afternoon, a wreath was laid by Martial and Catherine Delebarre on behalf of the F.W.T.M.14-18 at the Kennedy Memorial to Commemorate those who fell in the Battle of Aubers Ridge on 9 May 1915 as well as those soldiers of the British 61st Division in the Battle of Fromelles on 19 July 1916.


Wreath laid by Martial and Catherine Delebarre on behalf of the F.W.T.M.14-18 at the Kennedy Memorial, Fromelles. Photos: Dominique Bascour [DB]
[Click on images to enlarge and see details]

The Commemoration at the Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery commenced with the entry of about 40 flag bearers from various sections of the L’Union Nationale des Combattants (UNC – similar to the RSL Sub-Branches in Australia). Some had travelled significant distances and is testament to the esteem in which the memory of the Australian soldiers’ is held in France.



UNC flag bearers from Lille, Linselloise, Fleurbaix­ and surrounding areas
Photos: Dominique Bascour [DB],  Daneille Roubroeks [DB]
[Click on images to enlarge and see details]


The final flags to enter were those for Fromelles UNC, UK and Germany.
Photos: Daneille Roubroeks [DR]

Dignitaries entered including, M. Richard Smith, Sous Préfet (most senior provincial official) and Her Excellency Ms Gillian Bird, Australian Ambassador to France and the Mayor of Fromelles. M. Jean-Gabrielle Masson. Captain Ken Macaulay-Black RAN represented Colonel Joel Dooley, Australian Defence Attaché and was followed by Ms Rebecca Doyle, Counsellor at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA).


Photos: Dominique Bascour [DB],  Daneille Roubroeks [DR]

Carole estimated that around 100 people were there, silent, moved with a profound respect for the Australian soldiers killed in action during the 2 days of the Battle of Fromelles.

Master of Ceremonies, Lieutenant Colonel François Nozaïc welcomed those attending and introduced the Mayor of Fromelles, M. Jean-Gabrielle Masson. [Carole says he was speaking in very good French!]

Click here to see the Order of Service


M.C. LtCol Francois Nozaic and M. Jean-Gabriel Masson, Mayor of Fromelles.
Photos: DB, DR

The historical context of the Battle of Fromelles was presented by Ms Rebecca Doyle, Counsellor, Department of Veterans Affairs.


Ms Rebecca Doyle, Counsellor, Department of Veterans Affairs Photos: DB, DR

French and Australian Commemorative Addresses were presented by Mr Richard Smith, Sous Préfet and Her Excellency Ms Gillian Bird, Australian Ambassador to France.


Commemorative Addresses Sous Préfet and Australian Ambassador to France.
Photos: DB, DR

Individual tributes were laid to the fallen with children of Cobbers School laying 2 roses (one white & one red) at the graves of soldiers “Known unto God”. There was a stone on the headstone to make it easier for them to find the grave.

 
Cobbers School students laying tributes at the graves of soldiers “Known unto God”. Photos: DB, DR

The Official Wreath laying followed, led by M. Richard Smith, Sous Prefet and Australian Ambassador Ms Gillian Bird.


Sous Prefet and Australian Ambassador laying wreaths. Photos: DB, DR

Jean-Gabriel Masson, Mayor of Fromelles and Pierre Dugardin laid a wreath on behalf of the village of Fromelles and the UNC Fromelles


Mayor of Fromelles and President UNC Fromelles laying wreaths.  Photos DB, DR

Florence Morlighem, Deputy Du Nord and Frederick Marchand, Senator Du Nord laid wreaths. A wreath was also laid on behalf of Monsieur Damien Castelain, President of the European Metropolis of Lille. CAPT Ken Macaulay-Black RAN laid a wreath on behalf of the Australian Defence Forces and Ms Rebecca Doyle laid a wreath on behalf of the Australian Department of Veteran’s’ Affairs.


Wreath laying on behalf of Deputy Du Nord, Senator Du Nord, Metropolis of Lille, the Australian Defence Forces and the Australian Department of Veteran’s’ Affairs.
Photos: DB

A representative of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) and a Commodore of the Canadian Defence Forces also laid wreaths.


Wreath laying on behalf of Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) and the Canadian Defence Forces. Photos DR, DB

A British Army Colonel laid a wreath alongside Lt.COL Philippe Blanchard, President, UNC Sequedin section.


Wreath laying on behalf of the British Army and UNC Sequedin section. Photos DR, DB

Martial Delebarre AM and Jean Marie Bailleul laid a wreath on behalf of Fromelles Weppes Terre de Mémoire 14-18 (F.W.TM.14-18). A wreath was also laid by a Belgian soldier, (wearing a green beret) member of a Commandos’s association in memory of the soldiers who fought in the Battle of Fromelles.

Wreath laying on behalf of Fromelles Weppes Terre de Mémoire 14-18 and a Belgian Commando’s Association in memory of the soldiers who fought in the Battle of Fromelles. Photos DB

A wreath was on behalf of the 31st Battalion Association by Corrine Seillier (Pierre’s wife) and a niece of Annie Moreel for Madame  Demassiet.


Wreath laying on behalf of the 31st Battalion Association and Madame Demassiet.
Photos: DB


Wreaths of Senator Du Nord, Mayor of Fromelles, Department of Veterans’ Affairs, 31st Bn Association & CWGC, and Sous Prefet, Region du Nord, Metropolis of Lille, UNC Sequedin. Photos: CL, DB
[Click on images to enlarge and see details]


Wreaths from the people and Government of Australia and the Australian Defence Forces Photos: CL


Wreaths laid for UNC Fromelles, Deputy representing du Nord, Canada, UK, FWTM and Madame Demassiet. Photos: Photos: DR, DB

The Ode of Remembrance was recited in English by Captain Ken Macaulay-Brown RAN, who had participated in last year’s Commemoration and was representing Colonel Joel Dooley, Australian Defence Attaché in France, and then by Pierre Dugardin, President UNC Fromelles section in French.

The Ode recited by CAPT Ken Macaulay-Black RAN and then Pierre Dugardin President UNC Fromelles. Photos: DR

The Last Post was sounded, followed by A Minute’s Silence and the Rouse.


The Last Post. Photos: DR, DB

The National Anthems of France and Australia were played.

Master of Ceremonies, LTCOL Francois Nozaic concluded the Commemoration and invited the Flag bearers to lead the Dignitaries in procession.


Concluding the Commemoration. Photos: DR, DB

Prior to the Commemorative Service, FWTM Martial and Catherine Delebarre had laid a tribute on behalf of FWTM at the headstones of the Wilson brothers Sam and Eric, both killed in the battle and lying side by side.

Tributes for Sam and Eric Wilson. Photos: DB

Fromelles personalities resting after the Commemoration
Pierre Sellier, who is well known in Australia for posting tributes to Australian Soldiers who fought in the Battle of Fromelles rests in the entry to the Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery with Madame Demassiet and families. Madame Demassiet is the current owner of the land in which burial pits were dug by the Germans following the Battle and from where the remains of 250 soldiers were recovered and reinterred with full military honours in the Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery in 2010.

Fromelles Day 2021 Pierre Sellier and Madame Demassiet. Photo CL

As the sun sets over the Cemetery, the words of Rudyard Kipling’s Recessional come to mind:

The tumult and the shouting dies;
The Captains and the Kings depart:
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
An humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!


Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery. Photos: CL, DR

Thanks to them!
May they rest in Peace
Lest we forget.

Acknowledgements and Appreciation

Thanks to Carole, Danielle, Dominique and Geoffrey for their photographs and reports.

Thanks to the Australian Embassy, FTWM, Cobbers School, Musee de la Bataille de Fromelles and the Fromelles community for organising the Commemoration.

Thanks to the Fromelles community for caring for our Australian and British soldiers’ graves and welcoming Australians and other visitors to your community.

Jim Munro
President FFFAIF

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DIGGER 75

CONTENTS

Articles

The PNG grave of Lieut Col Maurice Wilder-Neligan, 9th & 10th Bns, Greg Knight 3-7

Dvr 2098 Cecil Barram, 5th FAB, Lynora Conley 8-12

Nurses at the wartime wedding of Sr Nell Pike and Cpl 4414 Charles Laffin, Sue Tongue 13-15

Red Dust (memoirs of a light horseman), Chapter 6, Tpr 3073 John Gray, 6th LHR 16-21

Sgt 2769 William Cecil Storer CdG, 24th Bn, Graeme Hosken 22-26

Pte 4053 George Anderson, 12th Bn, Jeanette Jackson and Rupert Dalley 27-39

Diaries of L/Cpl William Lycett, 4th Fld Amb, Vol II (1916), Part 2, contrib. by Tim Lycett 40-43

Garcon of the 12th Machine Gun Company, Greg O’Reilly 44-45

Tpr 3651 Herbert Bowden, 12th & 7th LHRs: the last of the light horsemen, Greg Knight 46

Pte 160/613 Fred McFee, 4th LHR/1st ALROC, Ron Morcom and Graeme Hosken 47-48

Men from the Wellington district: Tpr 1889 William Dunbar, 12th LHR; Tpr 1972 Joseph Yeo, 12th LHR/1st FE; Tpr 1951 Colin Douglas, 12th LHR/4th MGS; Tpr 1975 Walter Jackson, 12th LHR/4th MGS; Tpr 1973 Leslie Yeo, 12th LHR/4th MGS; Tpr 1941 Thomas Bennetts, 12th LHR; Pte 3146 Tom Yeo, 13th Bn; Pte 7094 Doug Yeo, 3rd Bn, Trevor Munro 49-59

Pte 3078 Arthur Henry Reeves, 47th Bn, Graeme Hosken 60-68

1916 letter: Gnr 21034 Patrick Harney, 9th FAB, found on Trove 68

54A: The 1928 Hamilton Tram Depot Monument, John Ramsland 69-73

1916 letter: Pte 546 Roy Lemon attends an Egyptian wedding, found on Trove 74

Regular features

Trench Talk and Contact/Membership details 2

AIF anecdotes: ‘It happened in the AIF’, Sporting Globe 12, 26, 43, 48

News of book releases 2, 15, 21, 48

Etched in Stone, Russell Curley and Jim Corkery 75

 

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DIGGER 74

Contents

Articles

L/Cpl 9641 Edward McCoy, AASC/43rd Bn, Peter Bartley 3-5

1918 letter: Pte 7444 George Parry, 42nd Bn, found on Trove 6-7

WWI poems of Spr NX6925 Herbert Beros, 2/6 FC RAE, Greg Knight 8-10

The Manly War Memorial, John Ramsland 11-16

A meeting with the Demassiets at Fromelles, Patrick Lindsay, sourced by Lambis Englezos 17-18

1917 letter: A/Cpl 550 Francis Gilfedder, 3rd Sqn AFC, found on Trove 18

The ‘missing’ Diggers of Ivanhoe, NSW, Graeme Hosken and Tony Nardi 19-21

A German in the AIF: Pte 6904A Gustav Mahle, 23rd Bn, Bill Durrant 22

Colour patches of the AIF, ‘Weekly Times’, 1919, found on Trove 23-24

Red Dust (memoirs of a light horseman), Chapter 5, Tpr 3073 John Gray, 6th LHR 25-29

1916 letter: Pte 576 George Howard MM, 20th Bn, found on Trove 29

The MacCulloch brothers of Yeoval, NSW, Peter Tremain 30-35

1915 letter: Gnr 1609 Wilfred Stenner, 3rd FAB, found on Trove 35

The capture of ‘Mephisto’ by the 26th Battalion, contrib. by Lynora Conley/Barry Stevenson 36-37

Colour centrespread: ‘Mephisto’, Provos, CWGC stonemasons at work, three AIF officers 38-39

Pte 2030 Victor Arandale, 33rd Bn, Bill Durrant 40-41

No. 1 Australian General Hospital, Paul Simadas 41

Monash and Dame Nellie Melba, Sue Tongue 42-43

AIF Divisional Memorials on the Western Front, John Skene 44-45

2nd Lieut John Cranswick, 12th & 40th Bns, Jim Rouse 46-50

Pte 2698 Alfred Wheate, 1st Pnr Bn, Graeme Hosken 51-52

Pte 6807 Walter Grono, 35th Bn, Bill Durrant 53

Pte 1044A Arthur Hecker, 7th Bn, Graeme Hosken with Patrick Wilson 54-56

1916 letter: Pte 1723 Charles Harris, 14th Bn, found on Trove 57-58

1917 letter: Pte 2440 John Jefferyes, 46th Bn, found on Trove 59-62

Pte 6069 Charles Palfrey, 15th Bn, Graeme Hosken and Barry Stevenson 63-68

Diaries of L/Cpl William Lycett, 4th Fld Amb, Vol II (1916) , Part 1, contrib. by Tim Lycett 69-72

1916 and 1917 letters: CSM 2080 William Parry, 48th Bn, found on Trove 73-74

Regular features

Trench Talk and Contact/Membership details 2

Digger humour, ‘Smiths Weekly’ & ‘Glen Innes Examiner’, found on Trove 7, 16, 22, 43, 72

Etched in Stone, Russell Curley and Jim Corkery 75

 

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