Epping RSL sub-Branch President’s Message, October-December 2017
Now as we enter this last quarter of 2017, and the shadow of an atomic powered war is threatening the stability of peace in the pacific region, Australians should be very much aware of the significant contribution made by our armed services in the major battles for the repulse of oppression and the continuance of a world at peace.
In October 2017, our focus will centre on a significant part of the history of World War 1; the Charge at Beersheba in October 31st 1917. On that day and in the failing light of the afternoon when those Australian Horsemen of the 4th and 12th regiments of the Australian 4th Light horse Brigade, conducted a mounted infantry charge with bayonets in their hands, their only weapon for a mounted attack, as their rifles were slung across their backs charged over the 6 km of heavily defended open ground to capture the town of Beersheba thus securing for the remainder of the assembled forces the abundant water in various wells of that town; a charge that is in the annals of military history as probably the last mounted charge.
Not only are we remembering the valiant efforts of the First AIF in 1917 at Beersheba but also, we remember that this year we are commemorating the 75th anniversary of the battle of the Kokoda Track. This confrontation with the enemy, in the Owen Stanley Ranges of New Guinea, commenced on 21st July 1942 and lasted until 16th November 1942; that confrontation being undertaken by that fledgling force of the Second AIF, the 39th Australian Infantry Battalion. They had not completed their training and far from being fully equipped were deployed to the defence of this vital access to Port Moresby. If that city had been captured, the enemy could have had the assets to potentially invade Australia. The Kokoda Track campaign was a long and gruelling time for the Australian forces that lost over 600 killed or died of wounds during the various battle along the way with a further 1,000 wounded.
Australia of today, like other nations across the world, is morphing into a state of postmodernism, in which, similar to other societies in the western world, comprises a population of educated and self-assured young people and who are concerned with “reality”, “truth” and “humanity”. A new society that in its pursuit of greater egalitarianism is ever so eager to break down established values, concepts and the foundations upon which our nation has evolved over the past 2 centuries. Daily in the various media outlets we witness an attack on the bastions of our faith, our heritage and veneration of those that have built the nation. The rise of ‘popularism’ in political leadership and the emergence of a practice to not fully report a quotation or reasoned decision is so often identified as false news. From such a vision of tomorrow there is a serious potential to rewrite our history and the heritage of our nation.
Be ever vigilant to any attempt to recast history of nation and particularly of our armed services. These men and women by their involvement in their musterings or units have contributed to the security of our peace and have, through trials and hardships, through pain or suffering, proudly represented their country and their contribution is a part of our heritage.
John K Curdie OAM