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 2021 John Laffin Memorial Lecture
The 2021 John Laffin Memorial Lecture will be presented on Saturday 25 September 2021 at 7:00 pm Australian Eastern Standard Time by Dr Meleah Hampton, the Australian military historian and researcher at the Australian War Memorial, on aspects of the 1st and 2nd Battles of Bullecourt in 1917.
Dr Hampton’s Lecture will describe how the two Australian battles that we call 1st and 2nd Bullecourt were planned and executed. Based on her analysis of Australian corps and divisional archives, Meleah will look at the battle plans for the April and May attacks, explain how and why they were modified or evolved, and reveal 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]
The lecture is open to members, their guests and anyone with an interest in the First AIF and its part in the Great War 1914-1918. The talk will be delivered via ‘Zoom webinar’, in conjunction with the Western Front Association in the United Kingdom and therefore to a global audience.