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5th Div to The Somme

21 OCT 1916: The 5th Australian Division entered the western front line near Flers on the Somme. By October the Somme battlefield was a waste of mud-bound craters. The troops’ misery is depicted in the Somme Winter diorama in the Memorial’s galleries. The Division began to form in Egypt in February 1916, after a decision to essentially duplicate the original AIF which had now withdrawn from Gallipoli. Delays in assembling the artillery meant that the Division could not depart for [...]

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Deakin Opens Cairo Centre

21 OCT 1915: Australian Red Cross Missing and Wounded Enquiry Bureau is established on this day. Miss Vera Deakin, daughter of ex-Prime Minister Alfred Deakin, establishes the Australian Red Cross Missing and Wounded Enquiry Bureau in Cairo. The Missing and Wounded Enquiry Bureau handled many thousands of enquiries from Australian families seeking information on wounded and missing soldiers during the First World War. Vera Deakin was born on 25 December 1891 at South Yarra, Melbourne. Her father, Alfred, later became [...]

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HMAS Australia Kamikaze Attack

21 OCT 1944: HMAS Australia is damaged by Kamikaze aircraft. The Japanese first used special air units (Tokkō-tai) to undertake suicide attacks on warships in the Allied fleet supporting the American landings on Leyte in the Phillipines. HMAS Australia was a battle-hardened heavy cruiser. She had fought in the North Atlantic campaign, West Africa, the Indian Ocean and the Coral Sea. She also took part in bombardments in the South West Pacific and had led the convoys of ships carrying [...]

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NSW Contingent to China War

20 OCT 1900: The China Wars and the New South Wales naval contingent enters Peking. New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia sent naval contingents as part of a British empire force deployed against anti-western Chinese secret societies. During the nineteenth century the major European powers compelled the reluctant Chinese Empire to start trading with them. There was little the Chinese government wanted from the West at the time but there was a strong demand for opium among the population. In [...]

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War Widow’s Guild Founded

19 OCT 1945: The War Widow’s Guild of Australia was founded on this day. The guild’s first president was Mrs Jessie Vasey, widow of Major General G.A. Vasey. It is still an active organisation today. Major General Vasey was killed in an aircraft accident near Cairns while returning to operational service. The War Widows’ Guild was founded by Jessie Vasey – a most remarkable woman. It was she who chose the motto for the Guild: “We all belong to each [...]

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HMAS Perth Attacked

18 OCT 1967: Viet Nam and DDG 38 HMAS Perth is hit by a shore-based gun. Perth is struck by return fire near Cape Lai, Viet Nam, while on the United States 7th Fleet ‘gunline.’ This was the only occasion on which an Australian warship suffered casualties from enemy fire during the Viet Nam War. The names of the four members of the crew of HMAS Perth injured by a North Vietnamese shell burst were issued by the Minister for [...]

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HMAS Geelong Sunk

18 OCT 1944: World War II and HMAS Geelong is sunk. HMAS Geelong was one of four corvettes lost during the Second World War. Geelong was laid down by HMA Naval Dockyard at Williamstown, Victoria on 16 October 1940. She was launched on 22 April 1941 by the wife of Lord Winston Dugan, then Governor of Victoria, and was commissioned into the RAN on 16 January 1942. After commissioning, Geelong visited her namesake city before undergoing working up trials. On [...]

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Battle of Templeton’s Crossing

15 OCT 1942: World War II sees more fighting at Templeton’s crossing. Australia’s 25th Brigade, 7th Division, drive Japanese attackers back from Templeton’s crossing. Templeton’s Crossing was the name given to the first point where the Kokoda Track, outward bound from Port Moresby, crossed Eora Creek. It was named in remembrance of Captain Sam Templeton of the 39th Battalion, who was killed near Oivi on 26 July 1942. During their withdrawal along the track, the Japanese conducted a determined defence [...]

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Australia Commits to GWOT

17 OCT 2001: The Global War on Terror, and Prime Minister John Howard makes the announcement on Australia’s commitment to the War of Terrorism, as Operation Slipper. After the terrorist attacks against the United States on 11 September 2001, Australia joined the US-led International Coalition against Terrorism (the Coalition) by committing military assets and personnel to Coalition operations in Afghanistan—the US-led action is known as Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF–A). OEF-A commenced on 7 October 2001 when the US and allied [...]

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Battle of Sariwon, Korea

17 OCT 1950: Korea, and the 3rd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment is in action at Sariwon. In a bold bluff, the battalion’s second-in-command, Major Ferguson, convinces at least 1,500 North Korean soldiers to surrender at Sariwon during confused fighting. The Battle of Sariwon took place on 17 October 1950 during the United Nations (UN) counter-offensive against the North Korean forces which had invaded South Korea. With many North Korean units falling back under pressure from UN forces the 27th [...]

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