Anger at incompetence in Gallipoli policy By Anne Fairbairn AM

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Anger at incompetence in Gallipoli policy By Anne Fairbairn AM Powered By Docstoc
					4                                                                        Stand To, June–July 2009

    Battles of Mainland Greece and Crete remembered
 T   he memorial service for the 68th an-
     niversary of the battles of Mainland
 Greece and Crete, held on May 25 at the
                                               ans Affairs, Alan Griffin, the Chief of
                                               the Australian Defence Forces, Air Chief
                                               Marshal Angus Huston AO ASC and
 National Australian Hellenic Memorial         Brig J M C Robins, representing the UK
 by the ACT Hellenic RSL Sub-Branch,           High Commissioner.                                                                                    The Minister for Veter-
 was attended by political, diplomatic           Others to attend included His Excel-                                                                ans’ Affairs, Alan Griffin
 and defence force representatives of          lency Mr George Zois, Ambassador of                                                                   (left) greets Lieutenant
 Australia, Greece, NZ, UK, Cyprus,            Greece, and His Excellency Mr Yannis                                                                  General Konstantinos
 European and World War II veterans.           Iacovou, High Commissioner for Cy-                                                                    Kalamatas, Deputy
   The Greek Defence forces were               prus, NZ High Commissioner Dr John                                                                    Chief of the Hellenic
 represented by the Deputy Chief of            Larkendale, accompanied Ms Kate                                                                       Armed Forces, at the
 the Hellenic Armed Forces, Lt General         Skandret for the Chief Minister of the                                                                memorial service.
 Konstantinos Kalamatas, and by Com-           ACT, Senator Gary Humphries, RSL
 mander Leonidas Tsiantoulas HN.               National President Major General Bill
   Official representatives of the Greek        Crews AO MC, Mr Bruce Tunnah OAM
 Government visited Sydney, Melbourne          (ACT Branch RSL), Mr Speros Vardos
 and Canberra as well as Wellington, NZ,       OAM representing the WWII Veterans
 as part of their itinerary before returning   and Mr George Kathakakis for the Cretan
 to Athens on May 27.                          Association.                                Frank Atkins, Les Cook, Keith Hooper,          The Australian Federation Guard
   Amongst the official party laying             Veterans of the Greek and Crete cam-      Ron Metcalfe OAM, Norm Simper, Irene         provided both the flag and catafalque
 wreaths were the Minister for Veter-          paign friends and relatives included        Lind and Paul Taylor.                        parties.

Anger at incompetence in Gallipoli policy                                                                                                   By Anne Fairbairn AM,
                                                                                                                                            continued from Page 3

 Lord “Jackie” Fisher (portrait detail)             Winston Churchill circa WWI                        Sir George Reid                            Charles E.W. Bean

    Continued from previous page               much as by turning a head or by lower-      with the Australian Imperial Forces at       was passed by the Imperial Parliament
                                               ing the pannikin from which he was          Gallipoli, France and Belgium. Bean          in the UK and established legislative

T   he official history of the Darda-
    nelles disaster was recorded in
detail by Australian historian Charles
                                                 The landing dissolved all doubts
                                               about the relations between the Aus-
                                                                                           was instrumental in the establishment
                                                                                           of the Australian War Memorial and
                                                                                           the creation and popularisation of the
                                                                                                                                        equality between the self-governing
                                                                                                                                        dominions of the British Empire. In
                                                                                                                                        effect it gave the dominion parliaments
E.W. Bean, who was permitted to be             tralian men and their officers, since the    ANZAC legend.                                equal status with the British Parliament
present at the landing at ANZAC Cove           appointed leaders revealed “character         My father joined the Australian army       established that the dominions were
and during the continuing battles, by          and competence”.                            in World War II. Bean told him, many         under the authority of the Crown as
the strident intervention of Reid (as            Bean resolved from the beginning          years later, that he was hugely appre-       opposed to the Government of Britain.
Australia’s High Commissioner to the           to offer as a memorial to the soldiers a    ciative of George Reid’s assistance in       Australia finally ratified this law in the
UK) with the British authorities.              full and accurate account of what they      arranging for him to be present during       Statute of Westminster Adoption Act of
  He was to stay on the peninsula for          had done, conceiving it to be his duty,     the Dardanelles campaign. He also said       1942.
the whole of the campaign, the only            as he puts it in the preface, “to record    that eventually the Australian forces           I am certain that my grandfather
correspondent to see it from begin-            the plain and absolute truth so far as it   would be also fully recognised — not         would have been extremely proud of
ning to end and having, as he hoped, a         was within his limited power to com-        just for their role at the Dardanelles but   the positive symbolism of ANZAC
perfect vantage point for recording the        pass it”.                                   also for their immense efforts in North-     mateship, galvanised in horrendous
Australians in action. Day after day,            The modesty was genuine but he            ern France. This is something which is       circumstances, which has emerged as
night after night, he set down in his          knew that he was uniquely well-placed       now certainly deeply appreciated by the      symbolic of our Australian way of life.
diaries what he was seeing and hearing         to do the job, having observed the men      people of Villers-Bretonneux.                   I never knew my grandfather — I
and what men said when he asked them           of the AIF at close hand for four years.      After the war he often discussed           was born many years after he died. He
about their experiences. Like every-           The odds must have been long against        with Bean the concept of the Sydney-         married my grandmother, Dame Flora
body else on both sides he got little          his surviving it all to become their        to-Canberra Remembrance Driveway,            Reid, when he was over 50 and she was
sleep in the first week of the struggle.        historian. Bean was struck in the leg       which my father helped create because        20. I have done quite a lot of research
  Bean rejects, with uncharacteristic          by a stray Turkish bullet, while follow-    he felt so deeply about the losses suf-      into his life and written about his con-
vehemence, a common British view               ing the column of Brigadier General         fered by Australia in both World Wars.       tribution to Australia. Flora was one of
that Australian troops had “advanced           Monash’s 4th Infantry Brigade at the        Also his older brother, Douglas lost his     the first women to receive the title of
in an ill-disciplined rush far beyond the      start of the Battle of Sari Bair. Despite   two sons, Bruce and Ian Reid, in World       Dame; this was bestowed for her huge
positions they should have occupied”           the wound, he refused to be evacuated       War I. My mother’s two brothers, Colin       contribution in caring for wounded
(page 602 in Bean’s official history            from the peninsula. He left Gallipoli       and Keith Ross Munro, were killed in         Australians in the UK, where she was
of the war). “The Australian soldier,”         for good on the night of 17 December,       World War II.                                living during World War I as the wife
Bean declares, “has scattered to the           two nights before the final evacuation.        One result of Australia’s faithful and     of Reid, the High Commissioner. Ac-
winds, once and for all, the notion, of-       He would return in 1919 with the Aus-       sacrificial effort to the cause of World      cording to my father, she always spoke
ten reiterated, that an Australian force       tralian Historic Mission.                   War I was an enhanced international          of the strong spirit of “mateship” that
would be ineffective through lack of             As an Australian journalist, war          status. After the war, the question of       existed among all the men she helped.
discipline.”                                   correspondent and historian who is          dominion independence arose. As Aus-            I trust today all Australians will
  Indeed, Bean insists that Australians        renowned as the editor of the 12-vol-       tralia developed a diplomatic service,       remember this and never seek to vilify
displayed a remarkable kind of self-           ume Official History of Australia in         the Government pressed for more au-          their fellow Australians, especially
discipline, which obliged every man to         the War of 1914–1918, Bean wrote            tonomy from Britain in enacting laws.        those who are of non-Anglo-Celtic
pay no heed at all to shell fire “even so       Volumes I to VI himself, which dealt        The Statute of Westminster 1931 (UK)         background.

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