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Australians On The Western Front

  • April 22nd, 2007
  • Posted by 7thmin

anzac-badge-reduced.gifPaul Stevens at the start of his military career was a Lieutenant in Vietnam, and retired as a full-time General officer in 1997… pursuing a long-term interest in military history.

He has been Director of the Australian War Graves Office for four years, a position that has brought him often to the war cemeteries in Europe, and produced an extended campaign knowledge of the First World War.

“I have become immersed.

“I feel happier when I’ve done a bit of reading and I’ve got to know the battlefields,” he says.

Interviewed for EUAustralia at the site of the Battle of Passchendaele in Flanders, Maj. General Stevens gave this brief outline of the Australians’ progress on the Western Front; from newly arrived units committed to battle at Fromelles, to an autonomous and successful military force:

“We fought in a disastrous battle at Fromelles, early on; a battle if you ask me we never should have fought, but these things happen, we did fight it.

“We fought in the Battle of the Somme, at Pozieres and Mouquet Farm, again battles with not much distance, a lot of resistance, “grinding away” if you like.

“We then went on to Bullencourt; again with a little more freedom, we got into the German lines twice, holding them the second time.

“Then we came up here, to Passchendaele, and we were successful again here.

“After this battle we formed the Australian Corps; we put all of our five divisions into one corps, and General Monash ended up commanding it.

“We held the German advance in 1918, around Villers-Brettoneux.

“Then on the 18 August we stepped off in the battle oif Amiens; for the next 100 days the whole allied force was irresistible, but we played a leading role.”

See also: Companion report, ANZAC Sets Scene For Passchendaele Events, EUAustralia, 22.4.097