HON DON HARWIN MLC PRESIDENT OF THE LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL
Marking the Centenary of the arrival of the first Australian troops in France in 1916
16 March 2016
Monsieur Consul général, distingués invités, amis.
We gather tonight to mark a sombre anniversary. The Australian troops who began arriving in France in March 1916, one hundred years ago this week, many of whom had already been bloodied in the nightmare that was Gallipoli, arrived at a time when some of the most hideous mass slaughters of the Twentieth Century were under way.
One such Battalion – the 48th was actually formed on this very day in 1916 in Egypt from various remnants of the Gallipoli campaign and by July was already fighting on the western front.
The hideous battle of Verdun had commenced just two weeks previously and was to last until December, during which, on 16 March the French forces achieved a major victory repulsing five enormous German assaults on Vaux.
It would not be long before Australian troops would be thrown into titanic battles, the names of which resonate in our history to this day: the Somme, Bullecourt, Messines, Fromelles, Pozieres and Villers-Bretonneux. Continue reading