Portal:Military of Australia/Selected article

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The north face of the Shrine
The Shrine of Remembrance, located in St Kilda Road, Melbourne, is one of the largest war memorials in Australia. It was built as a memorial to the 114,000 men and women of Victoria who served in World War I, but soon came to be seen as Australia's major memorial to all the 60,000 Australians who died in that war. It now serves as a memorial for all Australians who served in war, and is the site of annual observances of ANZAC Day (25 April) and Remembrance Day (11 November). Around the Sanctuary walls is a frieze of 12 carved panels depicting the armed services at work and in action during World War I. The Sanctuary is surrounded by a narrow walkway called the Ambulatory. Along the Ambulatory are 42 bronze caskets containing hand-written, illuminated Books of Remembrance with the names of every Victorian who enlisted for active service with the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) or Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force in World War I or died in camp prior to embarkation.

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Although Australia was remote from the main battlefronts of World War II, there was considerable Axis naval activity in Australian waters during the war. A total of 53 German and Japanese warships and submarines entered Australian waters between 1940 and 1945 and attacked ships, ports and other targets. Among the best-known attacks are the sinking of HMAS Sydney by a German raider in November 1941, the attack on Darwin in February 1942 and the Japanese midget submarine attack on Sydney Harbour in May 1942. In addition, many Allied merchant ships were damaged or sunk off the Australian coast by submarines and mines. Japanese submarines also shelled several Australian ports and submarine-based aircraft flew over several Australian capital cities.

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The History of the Royal Australian Navy can be traced back to 1788 and the colonisation of Australia by the British. During this period until 1859 vessels of the Royal Navy made frequent trips to the new colonies. In 1859 the Australia Squadron was formed as a separate squadron and remained in Australia until 1913. During the period before Federation each of the 6 Australian colonies operated their own colonial naval force, these amalgamated in 1901 as the Commonwealth Naval Force. The Royal Australian Navy was established in 1911 and in 1913 the fleet steamed through Sydney Heads for the first time.The Royal Australian Navy has seen action in every ocean of the world during its short life. Seeing action in World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam and countless smaller conflicts. Today the RAN fields a small but modern force, widely regarded as one of the most powerful forces in the Asia Pacific Region.

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The Battle of Leyte Gulf was a naval battle of the Pacific campaign of World War II, fought in the seas around the island of Leyte in the Philippines from October 23 to October 26, 1944. The Japanese intended to repel or destroy the Allied invasion of Leyte. Instead, the Allied navies inflicted a major defeat on the outnumbered Imperial Japanese Navy which finished it as a strategic force in the Pacific War. The battle is often considered to be the largest naval battle in history. Leyte Gulf was also the scene of the first use of kamikaze aircraft by the Japanese. The Australian heavy cruiser HMAS Australia was hit on 21 October, and organized suicide attacks by the "Special Attack Force" began on 25 October. In total Australia contributed around 10 warships and No. 10 Group RAAF which conducted ground attacks in the Southern Philippines.

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The Battle of Savo Island, also known as the First Battle of Savo Island and, in Japanese sources, as the First Battle of the Solomon Sea, took place August 8–9, 1942, and was a naval battle of the Pacific Campaign of World War II, between the Imperial Japanese Navy and Allied naval forces. The battle was the first major naval engagement during the Battle of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands campaign and a victory for Japan. Australia contributed two heavy cruiser to the battle, HMAS Australia and Canberra, navy Coastwatchers and a small number of Air Force aircraft. On August 9 Canberra was struck by two torpedoes and over 20 salvoes of 8 inch shellfire, Canberra was later scuttled by United States Navy destroyers.

The Battle of Greece was an important World War II battle which occurred on the Greek mainland and in southern Albania. The battle was fought between the Allies (Greece and the British Commonwealth) and the Axis (Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy) forces. The battle of Greece began on October 28, 1940, when Fascist Italy invaded Greece, and ended with the fall of Kalamata in the Peloponnese. With the Battle of Crete and several naval actions it is considered part of the wider Aegean component of the Balkans Campaign of World War II. The British Commonwealth troops were sourced mainly from the Australian 6th Division which played a key role in the battle, while units of the Royal Australian Air Force and Royal Australian Navy also took part in the battle.

The invasion of Tulagi, on May 3 and 4 1942, was part of Operation Mo, the Empire of Japan's strategy in the South Pacific and South West Pacific Area in 1942. The plan called for Imperial Japanese Navy troops to capture Tulagi and nearby islands in the Solomon Islands Protectorate. The occupation of Tulagi by the Japanese was intended to cover the flank of Japanese forces that were advancing on Port Moresby in New Guinea as well as to provide a base for Japanese forces to threaten and interdict the supply and communication routes between the United States and Australia and New Zealand. The only Allied military forces at Tulagi were 24 commandos from the Australian Army's 2/1st Independent Company, and about 25 personnel from 11 Squadron RAAF, operating a seaplane base on nearby Gavutu-Tanambogo with four PBY Catalina reconnaissance aircraft. Shortly after the Japanese landing the Australian troops on the island began a pre-planned evacuation destroying any materials of value. Tulagi was recaptured by the Allies on August 9, 1942.

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Operation Downfall was the overall Allied plan for the invasion of Japan at the end of World War II, but was ultimately never used. It was scheduled to occur in two parts — Operation Olympic, the invasion of Kyūshū, set to begin in November, 1945; and later Operation Coronet, the invasion of Honshū near Tokyo, scheduled for the spring of 1946. Kyūshū was to be invaded at three points — Miyazaki beach, Ariake beach, and Kushikino beach. Southern Kyūshū would become a staging ground for operation Coronet, and would give the Allies a valuable airbase from which to operate. Following the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the Soviet declaration of war against Japan, the Japanese surrendered and the operation was cancelled. If the operation had gone ahead Australia was to play a part. The 20 squadrons strong First Tactical Air Force was earmarked to take part in both Olympic and Coronet, while a planned Australian 10th Division was to land during Coronet. Any Invasion of Japan would have also seen the Royal Australian Navy play a role.

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The Battle of the Somme was one of the largest battles of World War I, with more than one million casualties. The British and French forces attempted to break through the German lines along a 25 mile (40 km) front north and south of the River Somme in northern France. One purpose of the battle was to draw German forces away from the battle of Verdun; however, by its end the losses on the Somme had exceeded those at Verdun. The battle is best remembered for its first day, July 1, 1916, on which the British suffered 57,470 casualties, making it the bloodiest day in the history of the British Army. As horrific as the battle of the Somme is in British memory, it also had a staggering impact on the German army; one officer famously describing it as "the muddy grave of the German field army." By the end of the battle the British had learnt many lessons in modern warfare while the Germans had suffered irreparable losses. Four Divisions of the Australian Imperial Force saw action during the Somme; the 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th, in total they suffered around 23,000 casualties.

The Victoria Cross (VC) is the highest recognition for valour "in the face of the enemy" that can be awarded to members of the British and Commonwealth armed forces of any rank in any service, and civilians under military command. It is also the highest military award in the British honours system. The decoration is a cross pattée, 1.375 inches (35 mm) wide, bearing a crown surmounted by a lion, and the inscription "FOR VALOUR". This was originally to have been "FOR BRAVERY", until it was changed on the recommendation of Queen Victoria, who thought some might erroneously consider that only the recipients of the VC were brave in battle. The decoration, suspension bar and link weigh about 0.87 troy ounces (27 g). In total 96 Australians have been awarded the Victoria Cross the first being awarded during the Second Boer War and the most recent during the Vietnam War.