Villers-Bretonneux re-taken: a century ago

April 24, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Australian History, AUSTRALIANIA, HISTORY |

Gouache by A. Forestier

24, 25 April, 1918 A bloody, senseless slaughter, with superior tank support, had left the town occupied by a German Spring Offensive.  Foch and Rawlinson ordered the town to be re-taken. This meant a night attack (zero hour, 10 pm) against fortified enemy positions, including machine guns. The Australian 13th and 15th Brigades struck, using bayonets like stilettos, the so-called ‘peaceful penetrations,’ and despite being well-outnumbered and incurring heavy losses, took Villers-Bretonneux.  It was a charnel house, but the objective was achieved, within the ambit of Clausewitz’s dictum to ensure that the gain should always outweigh its cost. The allied forces…

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Shame

On 13 February 2008, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd made the following statement in the Hosue of Representatives, Canberra: “I move: That today we honour the Indigenous peoples of this land, the oldest continuing cultures in human history. We reflect on their past mistreatment. We reflect in particular on the mistreatment of those who were Stolen Generations—this blemished chapter in our nation’s history. The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page in Australia’s history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future. We apologise for the laws and policies…

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The Cars That Ate Reason

Mitsubishi folded car manufacturing in Australia in 2008.  Last year, Ford closed. This October, Holden closed its plant at Elizabeth, with stacks of local workers shown the door and associated industries going to the wall.  It is not as if we made crap cars.  It wasn’t from lack of an enthusiastic local market for Holdens and Fords. And it’s not as if the good old Aussie taxpayer hadn’t stumped-up its fair share of subsidised cash to keep the embers glowing. Market forces are many and varied. But they tend to follow immutable, organic, rules.  When organised car-making started up in…

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The Charge at Beersheba

October 28, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Australian History, Classic Film, FILM, HISTORY |

Painting by George Lambert (c/-Australian War Memorial)

31 October, 1917: That late afternoon saw the last great cavalry charge in history. The Australian 4th Light Horse Brigade staged a ridiculously audacious and brilliant wheeze that routed the opposing forces of the (once truly great) Ottoman Empire. This bit of derring-do cleared the way for the taking of Gaza, and allowed British forces under General Allenby to enter Jerusalem, the first Christian occupier since the Crusades. Allenby had worked out that Beersheba (in Ottoman Palestine) was critical to overcome, in order to advance on, inter alia, Damascus.  But there were fortifications and well-manned, 9 feet-deep trenches, held by Turkish soldiers who were…

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National War Memorial

August 29, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Australian History, AUSTRALIANIA, HISTORY, TRAVEL, WW2 |

Canberra, August 2017         Big planes, subs, tanks…dioramas of the most prodigious quality…enough military paraphernalia to convert the most conscientious objector into a club bore…the Australian War Memorial, a short cab ride up the hill on the other side of Lake Burley Griffin, directly aligned with the walk up the hill to Parliament on the other side of that lake, is well worth a visit, and it is free (gold coin donation encouraged).  An eternal flame flickers (see main image) in order to remind us that our forebears died for us, whether we appreciate it or not….

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