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#26 auchonvillerssomme

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Posted 24 March 2010 - 07:50 AM

QUOTE (Peter Doyle @ Mar 23 2010, 02:54 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
This old chestnut again... The Gibson factor certainly has a lot to do with it. At least some diggers thought themselves 'Britons' fighting for 'Empire'
Peter


Did they though, after all most did not write their own epitaph.

#27 Simon J

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Posted 24 March 2010 - 08:08 AM

Hi Craig,

Here's one from my notes for you. It links into an ongoing search for me...

I have been searching for the surviving copy of Pompey Elliott’s narrative of events of operations at Polygon Wood c. 26th September 1917. This is the report referred to by Bean as an “ably compiled and very detailed report”,(1) but containing “statements, though he believed them to be true, [which] were definitely untrue and grossly unfair.”(2) – referring to the 33rd Division, 98th Brigade failure to get up on their right flank in the assault on 26th and, probably, failures the previous day in the German counter-attack coinciding with 33rd Division’s relief of 23rd Division.

Bean goes on to say that although Birdwood refused to accept the narrative for inclusion in the official version, “a copy survived.”(3)

...where is the surviving copy? Someone with ready access to the AWM? Would love a photo.

Hope that helps.

Cheers,
Simon


________________________________________
(1) Bean, C. E. W. Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918 Volume 4: The Australian Imperial Force in France, 1917 (Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1941). fn p. 832
(2) Ibid.
(3) Ibid.


#28 Waddell

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Posted 24 March 2010 - 08:11 AM

QUOTE (Craig P. Deayton @ Mar 24 2010, 04:36 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Thanks for that. One further point on 'Somme Mud' which I was curious about was when Davies believed the MS was written. The description of Dernancourt contains an obscure incident which (I am 99% sure) can only have come from the Official History which - if that was a source for Somme Mud' puts it late 1930's. It is a good read, but the slightly concerning issue is that one is not sure which aspects are faction and which authentic and which aspects may owe something to the OH.

Craig,

From memory (the talk was around eighteen months ago) Lynch wrote them in pencil during the early twenties and had them typed up in the 1930's (?). Edward Lynch also served in WWII on the NSW north coast as a commissioned officer at the army jungle training centre- if I recall rightly there was a suggestion that he may have still been working on the manuscript at that time. The preface to the book by Will Davies mentions that some excerpts were published in "Reveille", no date is given however.

There is a thread here on the talk somewhere I'll have a search for.

I agree with your last point, I wouldn't quote from it, but it is a great read.

Scott

#29 Craig P. Deayton

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Posted 24 March 2010 - 08:33 AM

QUOTE (nigelfe @ Mar 23 2010, 09:52 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Of course you also have to factor in exactly how 'Australian' the AIF was. Bearing in mind it was a volunteer force so the Irish were under-represented, its generally said that 1/3 had arrived in Australia from the British Isles as children and another 1/3 as adults. An unknown is how many had previously served in the British army (or RN) as a regular or TF/militia, etc.

I believe the Australians were paid more, particularly I suspect compared to British conscripts (assuming European practices were followed in this regard as they were later), so this could be a point of friction.


Thanks - I hadn't considered the pay issue but I suspect you are quite right on both counts. Around 30% of the AIF is the usual figure I see quoted (born in Britain) and I think a couple of people above have mentioned this also.

There are also frequent contemporary references (in newspapers at least) of Australians referring to themselves, their society and culture as 'British'

Craig




#30 Auimfo

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Posted 24 March 2010 - 09:18 AM

QUOTE (nigelfe @ Mar 24 2010, 07:46 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I've always had difficulty with the whole concept of anybody in any army below field rank being competant to critique, never mind criticise, generals commanding at div, corps, army or theatre level at the time. To my mind its fanciful to give such comments any credence, and I don't care who's grandfather it was.

The generals (and their staffs) were having to learn on the job, like the rest of the army, new type of war, new conditions, larger scale than they'd ever imagined. However, the great thing about the training of British officers was that they were encouraged to think and act offensively and not sit on their backsides waiting for something to turn up.

Frankly, I regard the contemporaneous criticism at the time as the same as in any organisation, everybody down to the most useless teaboy knows better than the guys actually responsible for running the show. It's probably been like this since the beginning of time.


I agree with you in part that this kind of criticism in whatever sphere of employment is often the case and has been around as long as most can remember. But that's not always to say that the 'workers' don't sometimes have a point. Being the one's generally at the pointy end of the job, they are occasionally able to see the practical solutions to a problem with the minimum amount of fuss. Of course, that's generally in a much narrower field of view without having to take in the overall plan but just maybe at times their thoughts needed listening to.

My belief about the Generalship is that indeed they were having to try and adapt to a new type of war on a scale they'd never encountered. However perhaps there were a few too many who refused to adapt and stayed true to the outdated methods whereas the successful ones were those who accepted the change and worked towards understanding it.

Just my personal opinion though.

Cheers,
Tim L.

#31 Craig P. Deayton

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Posted 24 March 2010 - 10:41 AM

QUOTE (Jonathan Saunders @ Mar 23 2010, 10:11 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Just a couple of things for you to consider. Apologies for haste and if I am repeating, as I have rushed through the comments made already.

To the best of my knowledge, very rarely did ANZAC and British forces "fight" side by side at Gallipoli. RM and RN battalions spent about 12 days up between Lone Pine and the Chessboard, and Hampshires and Cheshire etc at Rhododendron Ridge and The Farm. Although there was British inactivity at Suvla, the forces, again to best of my knowledge, were not in contact (ie not directly protecting a flank as such).

The other point I wanted to makle is in 1915 a large percentage of the ANZACs would have been British born - Im not sure how many, but my memory leads me to believe 30% in April 1915? Probably half of them had previous service in the British forces.

Where this is leading me, is that I think any criticism, warranted or mythical, would have arisen after/during the Australian involvement on the Somme. Again from memory, British units such as Ox & Bucks, also took heavy casualties fighting for Pozieres for example. I think the "mistrust" for want of a better word, came with Bullecourt and Im not sure that referred to Tommy Atkins, but more likely Bloody Red Tabs.

Just thoughts - again apologies for haste and not having time to add something more coherent.

Regards,

Jonathan S


Thanks Jonathan

I think you're right about Gallipoli and that the idea of the Suvla landing 'letting down' the ANZAC August offensive arose long after the fact. In fact, there was a good deal of admiration, even awe of the 29th Division among ANZAC letters - mostly on reputation rather than direct contact.

Certainly Bullecourt 1 seems to be watershed though as you point out.

Craig

#32 DavidB

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Posted 24 March 2010 - 11:15 AM

Simon,
You have probably seen the footnote in Bean's history re the battle of Polygon Wood where he says Ït was typical of Elliot that he followed up this success by forwarding an ably compiled
and very detailed report. It contained, however, besides strong criticism of his seniors, many downright statements concerning the division on his right. These statements, though he believed
them to be true, were definitely untrue and grossly unfair. Birdwood, with justice, refused to accept the report and to include it in the official records, but a copy survived."

Where that copy is I wouldn't know and unless an AWM employee could steer one to it, it would be an impossible task to find I think.

Cheers David

#33 Auimfo

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Posted 24 March 2010 - 12:52 PM

Well David, I don't work for the AWM and fortunately it wasn't impossible!! biggrin.gif

Is this what you might be talking about?

Title :Report on operations of 15th Australian Infantry Brigade at Polygon Wood on 24th, 25th, 26th and 27th September 1917 by Brig Gen HE Elliott [includes 7 sketch maps showing position of troops at Polygon Wood]
Series number: AWM51
Control symbol: 2
Contents date range: 1917 - 1917
Access status: Open
Location: Australian War Memorial
Barcode: 511167

Cheers,
Tim L.



#34 apple

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Posted 24 March 2010 - 01:59 PM

QUOTE (Craig P. Deayton @ Mar 22 2010, 09:53 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
You may recall Prime Minister Paul Keating's anti-English rant in 1993 (?) about the failure of the English to 'defend the Malay Peninsula' - ignoring the loss of an Army at Singapore and slandering the English yet again. It's a side issue, but a persistent and interesting one.

Craig


I am possibly getting ex Prime Minister Keating' s "Anti- English rants" mixed up here (there were quite a few), but you' re probably refering to the one were Keating claimed that Australians made up 18% of the troops in Malaya but 80% of the battle casualties during the fighting there. So, while we are quite off topic here, think the Right Honourable Mr. Keating had a good point about that one.

This link is also a bit off topic, but I think certain incidences during the Boer War would have influenced Australian troops opinion of British officers during the Great War.


Text of Scapegoats of the Empire at Project Gutenberg of Australia

http://gutenberg.net...s04/0400611.txt

Antony

P.S. As an olive branch, can I offer the offer the opinion that we overrated Brett Lee and he never should have bowled in more than 2 or 3 tests in England?

#35 DavidB

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Posted 24 March 2010 - 08:28 PM

Tim L
Guess you are probably right but then I am not an investigative copper but just an old tired retiree. devilgrin.gif

Cheers David



#36 geraint

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Posted 25 March 2010 - 01:30 AM

Just a side issue - but certainly of faint relevance. Hughes, the Australian PM and Lloyd George were both Welshmen, and their language of choice with one another was Welsh.

#37 Craig P. Deayton

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Posted 25 March 2010 - 01:46 AM

QUOTE (rgartillery @ Mar 24 2010, 12:15 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Simon,
You have probably seen the footnote in Bean's history re the battle of Polygon Wood where he says Ït was typical of Elliot that he followed up this success by forwarding an ably compiled
and very detailed report. It contained, however, besides strong criticism of his seniors, many downright statements concerning the division on his right. These statements, though he believed
them to be true, were definitely untrue and grossly unfair. Birdwood, with justice, refused to accept the report and to include it in the official records, but a copy survived."

Where that copy is I wouldn't know and unless an AWM employee could steer one to it, it would be an impossible task to find I think.

Cheers David


David

Ross McMullin wrote Pompey Elliott's biography (an outstanding book by the way) and as I recall he searched in vain for the Polygon Wood report. I am in touch with Ross so if you like I can ask him what he knows of its whereabouts. I would imagine that if Ross couldn't find it, it wont turn up but you never know!

Craig

#38 melwar

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Posted 25 March 2010 - 03:12 AM

QUOTE (geraint @ Mar 25 2010, 12:00 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Just a side issue - but certainly of faint relevance. Hughes, the Australian PM and Lloyd George were both Welshmen, and their language of choice with one another was Welsh.


I've heard this a lot, Geraint, being a Welsh-speaking Australian with an interest in the war, but I've never been able to prove it. Have you any idea if there are any letters or anything that still exist? I heard that they corresponded with one another in Welsh as a form of code.

#39 Craig P. Deayton

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Posted 25 March 2010 - 04:04 AM

QUOTE (melwar @ Mar 25 2010, 04:12 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I've heard this a lot, Geraint, being a Welsh-speaking Australian with an interest in the war, but I've never been able to prove it. Have you any idea if there are any letters or anything that still exist? I heard that they corresponded with one another in Welsh as a form of code.


I couldn't find the cartoon from the Bulletin - if I do, I'll send it on - but a description from the Australian Dictionary of Biography for David Low (cartoonist) contains a description

'The advent of W. M. Hughes as prime minister and his visit to London gave Low his second big chance. His cartoon, entitled 'The Imperial Conference', published in the Bulletin on 16 March 1916, made him famous: it depicted Hughes in full cry and the Imperial War Cabinet under cover over the caption 'Asquith: David, talk to him in Welsh and pacify him'. Thereafter, Low concentrated on Hughes's 'colourful and irascible personality'. In 1918 he published The Billy Book, a collection of satirical drawings of the imagined capers of Hughes in London. Low posted copies to English editors; Henry Cadbury, part-owner of the London Star, read Arnold Bennett's review in the New Statesman, secured a copy of The Billy Book and in 1919 cabled Low an offer to join the Star at a salary of £3000.'

Craig

#40 frev

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Posted 25 March 2010 - 04:37 AM


Probably hasn't come out too well, cutting it down to fit - but here it is:
Attached File  Hughes.JPG   85.04KB   0 downloads

Actually, Billy Hughes was born in London - to Welsh parents.
Cheers, Frev


#41 Simon J

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Posted 25 March 2010 - 06:14 AM

QUOTE (rgartillery @ Mar 24 2010, 11:15 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Simon,
You have probably seen the footnote in Bean's history re the battle of Polygon Wood....
<snip>

Cheers David


Hi David. Yes, as you can see I quoted it in my original post


QUOTE (Auimfo @ Mar 24 2010, 12:52 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
<snip>
Is this what you might be talking about?
Title :Report on operations of 15th Australian Infantry Brigade at Polygon Wood on 24th, 25th, 26th and 27th September 1917 by Brig Gen HE Elliott
<snip>

Cheers,
Tim L.


Hi Tim. Yes, that is the report. Tucked away in Pompey's Papers. Peter Pedersen at the AWM has confirmed it to me; here's some more info on what's in that file:

"Typed copy of Elliott's farewell message read to 7th Battalion the day before he left to take command of 15th Brigade, 1916; typed copies of correspondence between Elliott and Brigadier White, 1916; typed copies of operational reports by Elliott, including personal narratives of Polygon Wood, 1916 [sic SMJ]; Correspondence to Elliott from various commanders relating to his awards, 1916-1918; Letter written by General Birdwood to his commanders requesting the cessation of criticism of British troops by Dominion troops, 1918; Correspondence concerning the re-capture of Villers Bretonneux, 1918; Congratulatory messages to 15th Brigade regarding their successful attack on Villers-Bretonneux, 1918."

Anyone going there any time soon and can get me copies in exchange for copious beer on a visit to the UK or France...plus postage, of course?

@ Craig, see above

Thank you.

Simon


#42 stevebecker

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Posted 25 March 2010 - 07:48 AM

Mate,

Since you refer to Messines then we should coment here rather then other areas.

The 3rd Aust Div was new to battle while the 4th Div were old hands but had suffered much in all its battles, this Div (4th Aust) took part in more battles then any other Aust Div during the war and suffered far more losses.

But the major coments on British units at Messines were there being stuck up on German defences and aussie Bn's having to bail them out when they left our (aussie) flanks in the air.

Of cause that happened in only one or two places and are the only obverse coments I've seen.

At Messines the 4th Div was shelled to **** by the mistaken reporting by the Kiwis that the Germans had broken our line, This shelling caused hundreds of deaths when SOS fire fell on the forward lines held by aussie Bn's.

This caused a number of Bn's to retire because of this mistaken fire which lead to the very reason the fire was dropped in the first place.

Did British coments on the 4th Aust Div relate to this action or to some other area?

Cheers

S.B

#43 Craig P. Deayton

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Posted 25 March 2010 - 08:54 AM

QUOTE (Ron Clifton @ Mar 23 2010, 01:20 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
And, of course, John Simpson (Kirkpatrick) - "the man with the donkey". IIRC he came from Newcastle, or one of the other towns in the North-East.

As others have commented, a good proportion of the AIF would have either been British-born themselves, or the sons of British-born parents. In many cases these came from Irish stock, many of whom had no reason to love the English. In the Canadian EF, over 50% are thought to have been British-born, mostly Scots.

As Jonathan and David have said, I would place the problem of British generalship, rather than English troops in general, at the root of the Australian bias. Conversely, the increased pay given to the Aussies, and their perceived slackness in discipline out of action, cannot have endeared them to the British neighbours.

The important factor, then as now, is that when the chips were down, both nations (and the other Dominions) rallied round to fight for the "Imperial" cause.

Ron


Good points Ron

Its interesting to note that British generalship certainly came in for criticism in Bean's history, post war analysis and in the higher echelons of AIF command, but doesn't seem to have been a factor from Brigade level down to the trenches (at the time). At least I can't find much damning and blasting directed at generals.

Craig

#44 DavidB

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Posted 25 March 2010 - 08:56 AM

Simon J
I'll keep an eye out for you next time I go to the AWM. At the moment it's a horrid place to try and get a parking spot with half of Canberra being dug
up, most of it around the AWM. huh.gif
David

#45 Craig P. Deayton

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Posted 25 March 2010 - 09:12 AM

QUOTE (Auimfo @ Mar 23 2010, 01:40 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
My Grandfather, his three brothers and their father all served in the AIF but were English born. My Grandfather served throughout the entire war starting at the landing at Anzac and finishing on the Western Front in Nov 1918.

Interestingly, he had a great deal of praise for any professional 'regular' units of the British Army no matter whether they were Scots, English etc. (not that many were left) but regarded the the later conscripts and Kitchener's Army as very poor and untrusworthy indeed.

Strangely, he couldn't abide Monash one little bit but I suspect that had more to do with Monash being of German Jewish descent rather than a judgement of his ability.

Cheers,
Tim L.

P.S. Jonathon, you're only looking at British units that fought at Anzac. Don't forget that the 2nd Brigade AIF (and the NZ's) also fought and distinguished themselves at Helles (2nd Battle of Krithia).


Tim

I've found that's the conventional view - and it is most clearly and often represented in the memories of the long serving veterans. I guess that respect for the regulars is also what you'd expect. Interesting comment on Monash but I've seen other accounts (from Gallipoli through to 1918) which also demonstrate a distinct lack of affection. I'm not entirely sure it was his ethnicity - despite his obvious gifts as a commander, he seems to have been a bit clumsy at times in dealing with men.

Did your Grandfather serve under him at Gallipoli?

Craig


#46 geraint

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Posted 25 March 2010 - 11:19 AM

That Low cartoon certainly reflected the language issue Frev. I haven't any specific references to hand- but I'll dig about in the LlG biogs and see what it comes up with. I can faintly recall a lecturer on the period giving far more detail on the relationship - but that was donkeys' years ago.

#47 moggs

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Posted 26 March 2010 - 12:29 AM

MY Grandpa was born in Australia. His father emigrated from Glascow in his early 20s. Both considered themselves as British Australians - the Union Jack was fundamental to their beliefs in King and Empire.

It is my view that ever since Federation the Australians (including all who came from elsewhere) wanted so much to prove their worth to the empire. Certainly politics got in the way of the conscription issue but there's no doubting that the Australian soldiers were fiercely proud of their all-volunteer standing. They were in the war because they wanted to do their duty - their job as they saw it. They expected to be paid well as a matter of course. They were not necessarily army which is why so many were supposedly ill-disciplined off the line.

All of this comes to the fore with my point (long winded, sorry). The Australians grew to dislike the way they were treated by the Officer class. The Australians did respect those they knew and saw doing the right things by them, but in general would not respect anyone just because they had a higher rank. In one respect the Australians disliked being used and abused by people who, they felt, should know better. They so wanted to be like the British at first but quickly grew to distrust that sentiment - the emergence and acceptance of the slouch hat is symbolic of this definition of an Australian soldier as opposed to a British Australian soldier.

My Grandpa to his dying day was very proud of his links with the empire. His dispute was always with the heads and not the common soldier.

Jonathan

#48 Craig P. Deayton

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Posted 26 March 2010 - 04:04 AM

QUOTE (PJA @ Mar 23 2010, 02:23 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
This is a phenomenon more apparent - and here I'm venturing a suggestion rather than stating a certainty - in the last generation than it was in the Great War itself. Mel Gibson syndrome has a lot to do with it. I have actually heard Aussie youngsters express the view that Australia was left alone to fight at Gallipoli. There is also a mantra which states that Australia had the highest military death rate per capita of any belligerent in the war - a preposterous assertion, as a quick glance at Franco-German statistics will prove. In fact, the UK had a higher per capita mortality rate than Australia, as did New Zealand. It is true that the overall Australian casualty rate, assessed against the number who actually "took the field", was extremely high....but this does not justify the statistical sleight of hand given by commentators as renowned as Hugh Thomas. In a sense, this anti English Australian bias is a reflection of the Lions led by Donkeys school of thought that developed over here in the sixties and seventies. The British Empire was reviled, and the perception of Diggers being callously exploited by English "toffs" sat well with the repudiation of Imperial tradition. It's gratifying to note that recent Australian military history has refuted much of this.

Phil



Thanks Phil

The general consensus seems to be that this issue has its origins more in the 60,s, 70's, and definitely 80's with the tone of Peter Weir's 'Gallipoli' than was apparent in 1914-1918. Australian exceptionalism also seems to have gotten a kick along in these decades. Thank you also for your observations on casualty rates. The suggestion that the AIF carried more than a fair share of the casualties also seems to have arisen in the late 20th century.

The suggestion (and its only that) that an English officer ordered the futile charges at the Nek continue in 'Gallipoli' was perhaps the most egregious example
of Weir's 'improving' the story.

These myths have, as you say, been comprehensively demolished in recent years.

Craig

#49 frev

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Posted 26 March 2010 - 05:31 AM


QUOTE (Craig P. Deayton @ Mar 22 2010, 08:53 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
In fact one of the interesting sidelights is a very obvious Australian admiration and affection for the Scots. I'm not sure the Welsh were distinguished much from the English and I haven't found any references to the Irish.


Just one of those examples of the Aussies affection for Jocks over Tommies:

"Our men get on well with the Scottish troops, 'The Jocks' as they are called. They nearly always fight together. I remember one incident which happened just after the advance through Bapaume. We had advanced about 1000 yards under heavy fire and reached a road where we had to dig in. It was snowing a bit, and on our right we saw other troops advancing. They had long waterproof capes on, and in the mist they looked just like kilts. Our fellows cheered like mad, - I think I got rather excited, - but we were disappointed later when we heard that they were Tommies."
[from a letter dated 6/11/17, from Lt Walter J. McPherson, 59th Bn - from the book "Walter's War"]


#50 Craig P. Deayton

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Posted 27 March 2010 - 12:54 AM

QUOTE (Peter Doyle @ Mar 23 2010, 02:54 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
This old chestnut again... The Gibson factor certainly has a lot to do with it. At least some diggers thought themselves 'Britons' fighting for 'Empire'
Peter


Dear Peter

Thank you for those remarkable photographs - can you tell me where they are located?

Craig