21 September 1917

As wives of Australian warriors, I have the greatest admiration for you, for you have indeed made a woman’s supreme sacrifice in that you have given up your man to the service of his country…

But if you are a true woman you must have recognised what so many of our politicians and public speakers fail to realise, and that is that Australia can only be defended on the battlefields of Europe. This fair southern land of ours has too vast a coast line for its mere handful of population to defend, and should Germany come out on top in the world struggle now in progress, Australia is one of the richest prizes which would fall to her share. Think for a moment what this would mean…

Do you imagine, after being held back so long, these beasts of human form would respect your honour or the honour of your children? They do not understand the meaning of the word honour…

Were our shores invaded our men would be murdered in a few days at the most or turned into slaves for their Hunnish taskmasters, while the lot of the young married women will not bear writing about…

What can you do to prevent this? I will tell you… You can say to these other women whose husbands are still lingering behind their skirts: “I sent my man to defend my honour and incidentally yours, and now it is up to you to tell your man it is high time he did the same for you.”

This entry was posted on September 21st, 2017.

The Battle of Menin Road Ridge

Menin Gate at Midnight, Will Longstaff 1927. Image courtesy Australian War Memorial.

The Battle of Menin Road Ridge was an offensive operation launched by the British Second Army on the in the Ypres Salient in Flanders on the Western Front on 20 September 1917. Part of the Third Battle of Ypres, the action was an attempt to take sections of the curving ridge east of Ypres, traversed by the Menin Road. Fighting continued until 26 September and resulted in an Allied victory with 20,225 casualties, including 3,148 deaths. German casualties numbered 25,000 with 6,500 missing and 3,243 taken prisoner. The 1st and 2nd Divisions of the Australian Imperial Force saw action in this offensive; they sustained 5,013 casualties. Seven men from the Orange district died during the week long offensive; five of them on the opening day of battle:

Thomas Edward Priest
Henry Fabian Selley
Edward Alexander Dickson
William Robert Mullholland
Preston Edwin Argall
Walter Thomas Cornish
Alfred Leslie Northey

The Menin Gate Memorial at the eastern entrance to the town of Ypres in Belgium, pays tribute to the 350,000 men of the British Empire who fought on the Ypres salient. The monument is inscribed with the names of 56,000 men, including 6,178 Australians, who served in the campaign and who have no known grave.

The Menin Gate Memorial was officially opened on 24 July 1927. Each evening at dusk a ceremony is held to commemorate those who died in the Ypres campaign.

This entry was posted on September 20th, 2017.

20 September 1917

A scene on the Menin Road near Hooge, Belgium, Frank Hurley, 20 September 1917. Image courtesy Australian War Memorial.

This entry was posted on September 20th, 2017.

19 September 1917

Military Cross

The man who wishes to be in at the death must enlist now, or he will certainly miss the glory of the triumphal entry into Berlin, and the peace demonstrations in London

This entry was posted on September 19th, 2017.

Joseph Christopher Cox

Joseph Christopher Cox. Image in public domain.

Joseph Christopher Cox was born in March in 1890, the sixth of 13 children born to Francis Henry Baylis Cox and Martha Griffith. Most of Joseph’s siblings were born in Orange but by the turn of the century the family had moved to Menah near Mudgee, where Francis ran a grazing property, and where he was killed in a riding accident in January 1910.

In January 1916 26-year-old Joseph travelled to Dubbo to enlist. Private Cox was assigned to the 22nd Battalion, 17 Reinforcements, and proceeded to Dubbo training camp. The following week he travelled to Liverpool, where he spent two weeks before embarking for overseas service on 30 October.

Private Cox disembarked in Plymouth in early January 1917 and was marched in to Rollestone camp for further training before proceeding to France on 15 March. In early May Joseph was wounded in action, sustaining gunshot wounds to his arm and right leg. He was transferred to the 4th Southern General Hospital in Plymouth where he spent almost two months recovering. He rejoined his unit in France in August.

On 22 September 1917 Private Cox was reported to be missing in action in Belgium. On 29 September a court of enquiry determined that Joseph had been killed in action at Beaurevoir Wood on 18 September. According to a comrade Joseph and eight fellow soldiers were killed when a shell burst in their dugout. Joseph was 28.

In February 1918 Joseph’s mother, Martha, wrote to the Base Records Office to enquire if any of her son’s personal effects had been forwarded to her from France, and, if not, could they please be sent. The officer in charge replied:

“no personal effects have been returned to this office to date, but any coming to hand will be promptly forwarded”.

In April 1919 Charlotte Gardiner of Forest Lodge also sent an enquiry to the Base Records Office regarding Joseph’s personal effects. She was informed:

“it is considered improbable that any personal property he may have had in his possession at the time of his death was ever recovered”.

Joseph Christopher Cox is commemorated on the Wesley Uniting Church in Dubbo World War I Roll of Honour, the Dubbo War Memorial, the Dubbo RSL and on panel number 96 on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

This entry was posted on September 18th, 2017.

18 September 1917

This entry was posted on September 18th, 2017.

17 September 1917

This entry was posted on September 17th, 2017.

16 September 1917

This entry was posted on September 16th, 2017.

15 September 1917

This entry was posted on September 15th, 2017.

14 September 1917

Givenchy village lies a wreck, Givenchy Church is bare;
No more the pleasant maidens come to say their vespers there.
The altar rails are wrenched apart, with rubble littered o’er,
The sacred, broken sanctuary lamp lies smashed upon the floor.
And mute upon the crucifix He looks down on it all
The great white Christ, the shrapnel scourged, upon the eastern wall.

He sees the churchyard delved with shells, the tombstones flung about,
And dead men’s skulls, the white, white bones the shells have shovelled out.
The trenches running line by line through meadow fields of green,
The bayonets on the parapets, the wasting flesh between.
Around Givenchy’s ruined church the levels, poppy red,
Are set apart for silent hosts, the legions of the dead.

And when at night on sentry-go, with danger keeping tryst,
I see upon the crucifix the blood-stained form of Christ.
Defiled and maimed, the merciful, on vigil all the time,
Pitying his children’s wrath, their passion and their crime.
Mute, mute He hangs upon His cross, the symbol of his pain,
And as men scourged him long ago they scourge Him once again.
There in the lonely war-lit night to Christ the Lord I call,
“Forgive the ones who work Thee harm O Lord, forgive us all.”

This entry was posted on September 14th, 2017.