Australian Defence Force (ADF) representatives will today attend the commemoration ceremony for the centenary of the Battle of Hamel, to remember the Australian, British and American troops whose courage, strength, and sacrifice helped turn the tide of the First World War.
Australia’s Federation Guard and members of the Australian Army, including the Australian Army band, will join the Governor General, His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK, MC (Ret’d), Minister for Defence Personnel, the Hon Darren Chester MP, and Chief of Army, Lieutenant General Rick Burr, AO, DSC, MVO, at the ceremony at the Australian Corps Memorial in the town of Le Hamel, France.
Lieutenant General Burr said although the Battle of Hamel was a small operation in comparison to others fought on the Western Front, it held great significance.
“The Battle of Hamel was the first time the Allies had fought under Australian command, with General Sir John Monash, GC, KCB, VD, appointed Commander of the Australian Corps only weeks prior,” Lieutenant General Burr said.
“General Monash used a strategy that saw infantry, tanks, artillery and air support working in conjunction on the battlefield for the first time under Australian command.
“The Battle of Hamel was a deliberate, calculated and swift attack, where the efforts of the combined forces retook the town of Le Hamel in just 93 minutes. In that time the Allies captured 1,600 enemy combatants.
“His effective planning inspired the larger offensives in the months that followed, which helped lead the Allies to ultimate victory in November 1918.
“The Battle of Hamel also marked the first time Australia and the United States fought together on the battlefield, with 1,000 American soldiers attached to the Australian Corps at the time of the battle.”
Following the ceremony, Australia’s Federation Guard and the Chief of Army will join Minister Chester at a Headstone Rededication for Private Robert Bowness at the Villers-Bretonneux Cemetery.
Private Bowness, from the 4th Pioneer Battalion, was killed by German artillery fire while digging a support trench at Le Hamel on 5 July 1918.
“Today’s rededication will be an opportunity to recognise Private Bowness’ service, and honour his final resting place,” Lieutenant General Burr said.
As Australia approaches the end of the four-year Centenary of Anzac program, the ADF continues to pay tribute to the service and sacrifice of the original Anzacs, who laid the foundation for today’s culture, ethos, values, and traditions.