Remembering the Battle of Hamel 100 years on

Wednesday, July 4 2018

The Hon Darren Chester MP
Minister for Veterans' Affairs
Minister for Defence Personnel
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC

ONE hundred years ago today, a 93-minute battle was fought during the First World War on the Western Front that is heralded as one of Australia’s greatest military achievements and is still considered a masterpiece of logistics and combined arms warfare.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester will represent the Australian Government at a Commemorative Service in Le Hamel, France today along with Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Ret’d) and Lady Cosgrove, and French Secretary of State under the Minister of the Armed Forces, Ms Genevieve Darrieussecq.

“Today marks the centenary of the Battle of Hamel, one in a series of battles after the German Spring Offensive had been halted at nearby Villers-Bretonneux on 25 April 1918,” Mr Chester said.

“The Battle of Hamel was a turning point in the First World War and the first time Australia fought alongside our American allies. We have fought together in every major conflict since.

“Seeking an opportunity to straighten the line north-east of Villers-Bretonneux, then Lieutenant General John Monash, in what would be his first battle as Australian Corps commander, decided to launch an attack on the Germans at Le Hamel.

“Monash meticulously planned the attack, consolidating the strategies used in previous battles by the British Expeditionary Force, and coordinated infantry, artillery, armour and aircraft in a way that had not been done before.

“The Allies achieved all of their objectives in 93 minutes, just three minutes longer than Monash had planned, with a relatively small number of casualties when compared with other battles on the Western Front.

“In all, some 1,200 Australians and more than 170 Americans were killed or wounded, while German casualties were more than 2,000 and some 1,600 were taken prisoner.”

Mr Chester said that many view the Battle of Hamel as the forerunner of the successful Allied battles leading to the end of the First World War.

“Official War Historian Charles Bean was right when he described Hamel as ‘a big battle on a small scale’ as the methods used—the product of trial and experience—were used on a far grander scale at Amiens on 8 August 1918,” Mr Chester said.

“The Battle of Amiens was a great success and in just over three hours, Allied troops had overrun the enemy’s front line. By the time the battle ended, the Allies had taken more than 29,000 prisoners, more than 330 guns, and had liberated more than 110 towns and villages.

“German General Erich Ludendorff called 8 August ‘the black day of the German army’, but for the Allies it represented a significant victory and further validated the effective tactics used at Hamel.

“As the Anzac Centenary 2014-18 period comes to a close it is important to remember these critical battles at the end of the First World War, but also to recognise a Century of Service commemorating the service and sacrifice of all Australians killed in wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations,” Mr Chester said.

The Centenary of the Battle of Hamel commemorative service will be broadcast live on ABC at 6.00pm AEST, Wednesday 4 July, as well as on the Department of Veterans’ Affairs Facebook page and YouTube channel.


Media Contacts:

Whil Prendergast: 02 6277 7820

DVA Media: 02 6289 6466

Office of the Hon. Darren Chester MP, Canberra.

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