14 August 1918

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13 August 1918

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12 August 1918

His Majesty King George V, knighting Lieutenant General Sir John Monash, Australian Corps Commander, at the Corps Headquarters, Chateau de Bertangles, 12 August 1918. Image courtesy Australian War Memorial.

Just a few lines while the barrel is cooling. I have just been through what you might very well term a bit of hell let loose, but I am pleased to be able to say I am still in the land of the living. I came through without a scratch, but, by jove, a chap wants a great deal of luck at times to pull through … The heat is excessive. The temperature is 120 degrees in the shade every day. We are near water now, but during the stunt we were very short. I must close, as the flies are too bad for me to write any more.

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11 August 1918

While There’s A War by Dryblower (Edwin Greenslade Murphy) of Western Australia

When you’re finished perusing the paper,
And cheering our boys —from a chair,
When you’re laughing at Ludendorff’s caper
On the gore-soddened ground and the air;
When your chop you’ve contentedly eaten
With your omelet and cafe au vin.
When Britain, you know, can’t be beaten
And we’re blowing our way to Berlin,
Though we weren’t the first to begin it,
It knocks at our national core,
So sacrifice something to win it
While there’s a war.

Four years has it lasted, or nearly,
Four years of massacre mad—
Years when the Boches paid dearly
For each blood-reddened raid that they’ve had.
For years Britain’s best they’ve bombarded,
The Belgians, Australians and French,
For the long road to London’s been guarded
By battleship, trawler and trench.
They are there that the free man shall hear not
The boot of the Bosche at his door,
So at men who are saving you, sneer not
While there’s a war.

Their part they’re in patience performing,
They freeze in the flood lands of France,
While your well-fed proportions are warming,
And patronise pictures, and dance.
They face every vileness invented,
Each horror that hell could release
With their blood each success is cemented,
Their bones are the bulwarks of peace,
They gasp in a gas sodden crater
While in civilised comfort you snore—
Remember you’re but a spectator
While there’s a war.

If you can’t take your pack and a rifle,
And face the Hun murder machines,
If your lungs aren’t suited to stifle
In the mazes of tunnelled Messines
You can help, though you’re far from the fighting,
And the rumble of garrulous guns,
By the wrongs of the warriors righting
Who give hurry-up to the Huns.
Even blacks first discovered by Stanley
Leave their babes by a safe Afric shore,
So make up your mind to be manly
While there’s a war.

You, who have never enlisted
And are wooing a warrior’s wife:
You, who traitorously twisted
On the mate you have known all your life:
You’re earning no medals and crosses
This side of the safety-zone sea,
And if you don’t deal in divorces
Go East from the smile of the She,
Peace in the end may re-link ’em.
When the world-splitting struggle is o’er,
So dammit, just try to be dinkum
While there’s a war.

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10 August 1918

Horses of a fleeing German transport near Lihons, Proyart, killed by Australian artillery fire, 10 August 1918. Image courtesy Australian War Memorial.

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9 August 1918

Wounded Australians of the 15th Brigade, and wounded German prisoners sheltered beside a British tank near Harbonnieres, Battle of Amiens, 9 August 1918. Image courtesy Australian War Memorial.

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The Battle of Amiens

At 4.20am on 8 August 1918 430 British tanks lead a massive united Allied attack against the German army on the Western Front. The Australian Corps spearheaded the attack, led by Lieutenant General John Monash. The British 3rd Corps provided support on their left, and the Canadian Corps on their right. Aircraft of the British and Australian Flying Corps provided aerial support, bombarding enemy defences and severing enemy lines of communication.

The Australian 2nd and 3rd Divisions advanced rapidly along a 3.6km wide front in dense fog. By 7.30am they had broken through the German lines. Within the hour the Australian 4th and 5th Divisions had overtaken them, taking the village of Bayonvillers without contest. So successful was the advance that it ran ahead of Monash’s estimations.

By day’s end the Allies had forced an opening 20 kilometres wide and 11 kilometres deep in the enemy lines. Germany had sustained 27,000 casualties, including 16,000 prisoners, 7,925 of whom were captured by the AIF, who had also seized 173 guns.

Fighting continued until 11 August by which time Amiens and 116 other towns and villages on the Western Front had been liberated.

The counteroffensive was the most comprehensive allied victory to date. It heralded the beginning of the Hundred Days campaign, a four-month period of continued Allied success.

German morale sank to an all-time low in the prospect of imminent defeat. German commander General Erich Ludendorff later recorded:

August 8th was the black day of the German Army in the history of the war. This was the worst experience I had to go through … The 8th of August opened the eyes of the Staff on both sides; mine were certainly opened … The Emperor told me later on, after the failure of the July offensive and after August 8th, he knew the war could no longer be won.

The Australian Commander, Lieutenant General John Monash, was subsequently knighted by King George V for his role in securing an Allied victory.

Four men form the Orange district died during the Battle of Amiens; a fifth later died from wounds received during the battle:

Edmund Thomas Cornish
Spencer William Coleman
Howard Vivian Hawke
Alexander Murray Woods
Daniel Malcolm Wann

The 28 cm calibre German railway gun which became known as the Amiens Gun after its capture by Australian troops on 8 August 1918. Image courtesy Australian War Memorial.

The Amiens Gun was a 45 ton German 28-centimetre calibre railway gun captured by the Australian Imperial Force during World War I. The gun was brought to Australia as a war trophy and placed on public display at Central Railway Station, Sydney, between 1920 and 1923. The gun’s carriage was scrapped during the 1960s, the gun barrel remains on display at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.  The Amiens Railway Gun on display at Central Railway Station

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8 August 1918

Ruined houses at Amiens, 1918. Image courtesy Australian War Memorial.

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7 August 1918

Oh, the anguish of his parents;
Oh, the bitter tears they shed,
When they heard their boy was missing,
And they wondered was he dead.
Oh, those weeks and months of torture;
Oh, the agony and pain;
And they wept and prayed and wondered—
Will their boy come home again?
“Killed in action,” came still later,
But still they’ll watch and wait for him.

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6 August 1918

That this meeting of the citizens of Millthorpe, on the 4th anniversary of this great world’s war, expresses its loyalty and approval of the British nation in the fight for justice, liberty and true civilisation

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