Home' Tennant and District Times : 2016-0429 TDT Contents 8 TENNANT AND DISTRICT TIMES FRIDAY 29 APRIL 2016
TENNANT AND DISTRICT TIMES FRIDAY 29 APRIL 2016 9
‘The Somme to Afghanistan’
100 Years of ANZAC
Gerry McCarthy MLA
Member for Barkly
troops were landing on Gallipoli.
On the 25th April 1916 - 1 Austral-
ian Corps was in the line at Armen-
tiers and the Australian Mounted
Division was in Romani.
Currently in April 2016, 400 Australian defence
personnel are in Afghanistan as part of Operation
High Road, the follow on from Operation Slipper
which has involved over 26,000 Australians.
To date there have been 261 casualties with
forty one killed.
The deployment is ongoing. 2015 saw the 100th
anniversary of the day that has passed into leg-
2016 sees the 100th anniversary of our greatest
tragedies, Fromelles, Pozieres, Mouquet Farm
Today I remember and reflect on defining nation-
al events and personal tragedies of a century ago
that have made us who we are and contrast them
with the defence circumstances defining Australia
in more subtle ways today.
By April 1916 in World War I the cost and reality
of what had been achieved and the quality of the
force created at Gallipoli had become apparent.
The cost was 7600 Australians killed and 1900
The achievement in Bean’s words was the crea-
tion of “a military force with strongly established,
The community impact of such global commit-
ment on a country of about four million people is
impossible to grasp 100 years ago.
July 1916 began what can only be seen as the
most terrible period in Australia’s Military History
with the loss of 23,000 men.
Bean was to say that the Pozieres windmill
site, a site that Corporal Frederick Prentice MM,
an Aboriginal Australian born in 1894 at Powell
Creek near Elliott NT, proudly representing the
ANZAC spirit, had to pass through making critical
ammunition delivery “marks a ridge more dense-
ly sown with Australian sacrifice than any other
place on earth.”
By the second half of 1916 Australia was deal-
ing with casualties on a scale we cannot begin to
imagine with the experience of death, wounding
and shell shock common to almost every street
and every family in Australia.
By the time I was growing up in Sydney, some
memories were fading but most Australian fami-
lies still had damaged survivors from World War I
and 1916 Somme battles.
Many were Shell Shocked that is, in modern
medical definition, post-traumatic stress disorder,
yet however primitive the treatment available to
those veterans back then, they were not alone or
isolated in their suffering.
World War 1 would dominate the consciousness
of Australians’ for generations and today, ghastly
as it was; World War 1 is available for us to study
and its sights to visit.
We can read Bean’s history, we can share emo-
tions before the Somme dioramas in the Austral-
ian War Memorial and in 2016 it is possible to
walk Corporal Frederic Prentice’s route up Sau-
sage Gully past the graves that mark the stores
and ammunition dump, through Pozieres, past
the Windmill Site to Mouquet Farm and stand
where he won his Military Medal. Australians in
2016 stand in awe of the soldiers of 1916 wether
in front of the memorial statues of diggers that
adorn most Australian country towns, in the halls
of the Australian War Memorial or as tourist/pil-
grims on the fields of the western front, but how
can we understand and properly honour the cur-
rent defence personnel of this decade?
What will be the folk memory of Afghanistan’s
There is a section of the Australian War Memo-
rial dedicated to Iraq and Afghanistan, however,
will Australian’s ever really know the stories of
Afghanistan’s heroes or walk those battlefields?
Will future Australian pilgrims walk those areas
of operations that are half the distance from Aus-
tralia as the Battle Fields of France and will any
Australian town ever boast a statue of a digger
in Disruptive Camouflage Pattern Uniform with
Styer in hand to keep company the WW1 marble
digger with his 303?
I commissioned Dr Colin Baker to search the re-
cords of the Australian War Memorial for a mod-
ern parallel soldier to Corporal Frederic Prentice
MM of Powel Creek in the Northern Territory as
the 1916 war records are open.
In stark contrast Australia’s 2016 war records
are closed! In 1916 The 1st AIF was a very public
affair with recruit’s photos in the papers.
Today’s Defence force hides the identities of its
soldiers as a necessary protection in the war on
terror, in particular Special Forces soldiers who
have carried the greatest burden in Operation
Slipper living under a veil of secrecy and a code
However, at the point of giving up, Dr Colin Bak-
er discovered in our public library a 2014 jointly
written biography of a recently retired, present
century, Special Air Services soldier, Clint Palm-
er. (Macklin 2014) Clint Palmer had come from
Batchelor NT and if Corporal Prentice’s career
had typified the AIF citizen soldier of the 20th cen-
tury, Warrant Officer Palmer’s typified the career
of a professional soldier of the 21st century and
both are Territorians.
In 1916 enlistment from the Territory was not al-
lowed, while in 2016 approximately a third of the
Army’s combat force is located in the Northern
In 1916 Frederick Prentice had to conceal his
Aboriginality to enlist while for Clint Palmer it was
not an enlistment issue however, he made pub-
lic his Aboriginality part way through his career.
Frederick Prentice joined for the duration of the
war while Clint Palmer joined for a lifetime career.
Frederick Prentice chose to defend his country
in the depth of a crisis of national survival while
Clint Palmer joined the Army in a time of peace as
a career soldier.
In 1916 the Army was viewed as a means of na-
tional survival while in 2016 the defence force is
viewed as an instrument of national policy.
Frederick Prentice assumed that when the war
was over he would leave the Army told he was
fighting a war to end wars, while Clint Palmer
expected that when deployment to one conflict
ended he would commence training for another.
Frederick Prentice had no dependents for the
duration of his service while Clint Palmer had to
deal with being away from his wife and family on a
succession of dangerous deployments.
Frederick Prentice came home from his war
with little formal support available but to a great
deal of understanding from a community in which
most families had a damaged veteran, while Clint
Palmer came home from deployments with pro-
fessional support available, but little understand-
ing in the community of what he experienced.
The Afghanistan Galley of the Australian War
Memorial in Canberra surrounded by moving
visual accounts of returned defence personnel,
their partners and widows resonates; their pride
in what they engaged in; their loyalty and dedica-
tion to their units; their willingness to go back and
finish the job; their gratefulness for general pub-
lic support; however a constant theme published
and of the War Memorial accounts is that their
situation is not understood, that they are invisible.
Afghanistan veterans know the public do not un-
derstand the intensity of their conflict; that being
blown up in a high intensity battle that occurred
in relative isolation in Hell’s Half Pipe on Opera-
tion Anaconda in Afghanistan, can have the same
medium and long-term effects as being blown up
in a similar high intensity action at Mouquet Farm,
in the Somme battles, or a contact in Vietnam.
Afghanistan veterans are concerned the unique
nature of their war is not understood.
That Australians lack understanding of the long-
term effects like suicide bomber’s lurking in your
operational vicinity screened by children!
One hundred years ago the first ANZAC march-
es had returning heroes from a war to end all
wars with little understanding of Shell Shock and
limited professional support for veterans howev-
er, their families, mates, neighbours and the com-
Today’s ANZACS return from an ongoing pro-
cess of managing armed conflict across the
world, military operations that keep us free from
wars like the First and Second World Wars how-
ever today Australian Defence Force veterans,
and their readjustment challenges, often remain
invisible while clouded by Post Traumatic Stress.
The message of the courageous voices from the
Afghanistan Galley echo that we Australians need
to address that, veterans deserve and need our
total understanding and support!
Lest We Forget.
References: Bean, C ANZAC To Amiens: a
shorter history of the Australian Fighting Services
in the First World War. Australian War Memorial,
Callender,G. After the Blast: an Australian Officer in
Iraq and Afghanistan. Black Inc, Collingwood, 2015.
Macklin, R. Clint Palmer: SAS Insider. Hachette Aus-
tralia, Sydney, 2014.
anzac day 2016
Authorised by the Australian Government, Capital Hill, Canberra.
On average, one woman is killed every week at the hands of a current
or former partner. One in three women has been a victim of physical
or sexual violence, since the age of 15, from someone known to them.
One in four young people are prepared to excuse violence from a partner.
This is a cycle of violence, which starts with disrespect.
Not all disrespect towards women results in violence.
But all violence against women starts with disrespectful behaviour.
When we make excuses like “It’s just boys being boys”, we allow boys to
develop attitudes that can lead to violence. We raise girls to expect ridicule
from boys when we tell them “He’s only doing it because he likes you”.
When we do confront unacceptable behaviour, we play it down by saying
“Don’t worry, it wasn’t that bad”.
We’re allowing disrespect to become a normal part of growing up.
By doing so, we are unintentionally part of the problem.
We can all become part of the solution.
STOP the excuses.
START a conversation about respect with boys and girls.
LEARN more at australia.gov.au /respect
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
LET’S STOP IT
AT THE START
A joint Australian, state and territory government initiative.
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