19 October 1917

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17 October 1917

You have made a great gift to the Empire…and now it devolves upon you to rouse these other mothers up to a sense of their duty. You have given yours, and it lies in your hands to a great extent to see that other mothers do likewise.

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16 October 1917

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15 October 1917

Mata Hari performing in Paris in 1905. Image in public domain.

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14 October 1917

HMAS Yarra. Image courtesy Australian War Memorial.

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13 October 1917

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The First Battle of Passchendaele

Assault on Passchendaele 12 October 1917, Frank Hurley. Image courtesy Imperial War Museum © IWM (E(AUS) 1233).

The First Battle of Passchendaele took place in the Ypres Salient of the Western Front on 12 October 1917. Part of the Third Battle of Ypres, the offensive aimed to seize the Passchendaele Ridge from the defending Germans. The assault was ill-fated from the outset, with inclement weather, misinformation, delays in communication and lack of preparedness contributing to a failed objective.

The Australian Third Division and the New Zealand Division spearheaded the offensive, with the Australian Fourth Division in support. Steady rain started falling in the lead up to the attack and confusion ensued when German artillery attacked part of the 3rd Australian Division before the battle started. The paltry Allied artillery barrage offered no protective to the advancing infantry, who were forced to press forward in the quagmire – at times waist deep – armed only with grenades, rifles and light machine guns.

Forward patrols managed to reach the village of Passchendaele, but were unable to hold it, and were forced to retreat to their starting point. The assault ended in total failure, with all attacking units retreating almost to their original position.

The New Zealand Division suffered more than 3,700 casualties as they ran into unbroken German wire at Bellevue Spur and fell victim to German snipers. Casualties that day included some 960 men killed or mortally wounded; the rest succumbed to their wounds in field ambulances and hospitals behind the lines in Belgium, France and England. 12 October 1917 would become known as the blackest day in New Zealand military history.

The Australian Imperial Force lost 4,000 men during the First Battle of Passchendaele; the month of October 1917 would prove the worst month for Australian losses of the whole war, with 40,498 men killed, wounded or missing in action.

The Battle of Passchendaele

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12 October 1917

Australian wounded near Zonnebeke Railway Station, Battle of Passchendaele, Frank Hurley, 12 October 1917. Image courtesy Australian War Memorial.

The news of the death in action of Lieut Reg Nancarrow, one of the most popular of our Orange boys, has cast a gloom over the whole district

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10 October 1917

There is not the slightest doubt that there are hundreds of young men in Orange who should be over in France doing their duty to the cause of Empire, and why they prefer to loaf about the street, propping up lamp posts and the corners of buildings, while their brothers are lying bleeding on the battlefields of France, passeth all understanding.

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9 October 1917

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