Saturday, September 6, 2014

World War I soldier’s body believed Australian unearthed in France

ANZAC centenary

ANZAC centenary

THE body of a World War I soldier believed to have been Australian has been unearthed by a farmer in northern France close to one of Australia’s greatest military successes.
Farmer Jerome Barbare from the village of Villers Guislan in Cambrai district reportedly was ploughing his field and unearthed the body and knowing the history of the area, with his farmland being a former frontline in 1917 and 1918, realised it was a soldier.
He said he later found the uniform and buttons that suggested it was a Commonwealth soldier and he believed it to be an Australian. He also found a shoe, a bayonet and other artefacts.
Recognising soldiers’ bravery ... General Sir John Monash.
Recognising soldiers’ bravery ... General Sir John Monash. Source: Supplied
Authorities in France have informed the Australian Embassy in Paris. A spokeswoman said the Commonwealth War Graves Commission had launched an investigation and could not yet confirm the likely nationality of the soldier.
The Battle of Epehy fought on 18 September 1918 was fought by the British Fourth Army and two Australian divisions in front of the Hindenburg line against a by then demoralised German army.
General John Monash achieved great success with his 6800 Diggers taking thousands of German prisoners and capturing a huge arsenal of weapons including 300 machine guns and 30 trench mortars. The relatively quick 5km advance while successful saw 265 Australians killed and 1057 wounded.
Celebrated commander ... General Sir John Monash
Celebrated commander ... General Sir John Monash Source: Supplied
The battle was also the scene for the first mutiny by Australian forces with 119 men of the 1st Battalion refusing to launch another attack to help a nearby British unit.
Meanwhile, 20 World War I rifles were found dumped in a skip bin in Fromelles yesterday near the site of another Australian Great War battle. They were retrieved and are to be housed in a museum. Such finds are not uncommon in the area although they are not usually dumped in a bin.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Fluke discovery of World War I officer’s diary under the floorboardsduring a Manly house renovation

Fluke discovery of World War I officer’s diary under the floorboards during a Manly house renovation

Vietnam Military Records

Geoffrey Gaden wrote the diary while in the trenches of France in 1916.
Geoffrey Gaden wrote the diary while in the trenches of France in 1916.
RIPPING up floorboards in old houses usually yields nothing more historic than rot and mummified rats.
But the State Library of NSW is the richer for what Glen Butler found while renovating his Federation home in Manly.
It was a World War I diary penned by the Sydney-born military officer Geoffrey Gaden while he was fighting the Germans in the trenches of France in 1916.
The almost pristine diary had been secreted under the floorboards of an upstairs bedroom many decades before Butler bought the house about three years ago. Evidently, the diary had been completely forgotten.
The fluke find just weeks ago sent Library curator Elise Edmonds into ecstasies when Butler approached her. Edmonds’ exhibition of Australian war diaries, to commemorate of the centenary of WWI, had just opened and Butler had seen the publicity.
Manly War Diaries Author
Decorated soldier... Geoffrey Gaden
“It’s the kind of phone call you might dream about as a curator,” Edmonds said.
“I was speechless.”
Butler and Edmonds hastened to locate Geoffrey Gaden’s next of kin. Retired farmer Michael Gaden, of Bordertown, SA, had long cherished the story of his father’s distinguished service. But he had no idea about the diary.
According to the inscription, Geoffrey had sent the diary from France to his father Charles William Gaden in Sydney. Michael Gaden thinks that when Charles died in 1923, the diary would have gone to Geoffrey’s brother Alex Gaden, known as Ronald, whose wife owned the Manly house.
“We imagine Ronald put it there (under the floorboards),” Michael Gaden said.
A page from the diary.
A page from the diary.
Glen Butler and his find.
Glen Butler and his find.
He and Butler have decided to gift the diary to the State Library.
The diary puzzled Edmonds when she failed to find any Australian war service records for Gaden. On a hunch she searched the British records, and there he was.
Geoffrey Gaden, aged 15, had been sent to England for medical reasons and joined the British army when war broke out.
Gaden served in both world wars, won a chestful of medals from England and Russia including the Military Cross and the Cross of St Anne, and rose to Major.
He was part of the Gaden legal dynasty and his great uncle was three times NSW Premier Sir George Dibbs. Geoffrey’s nephew is the renowned Sydney actor John Gaden.
Geoffrey Gaden’s diary was found in pristine condition.
Geoffrey Gaden’s diary was found in pristine condition.
Map found inside the diary
Writings from the front line... A map from the diary.
In a long military career, Geoffrey Gaden was stationed in Iraq, Iran, Iceland, Barbados, and India where Michael was born.
In World War II Geoffrey was evacuated from Dunkirk.
“We have quite touching details of his writing to my mother an hour or two after being back in England (after Dunkirk),” Michael Gaden said. “He lost a hell of a lot of his men as prisoners of war in Dunkirk.”
Geoffrey was discharged in 1944, worked for the military in New York, returned to Sydney in 1949 and was living in Pymble when he died in 1967.
Michael Gaden is hoping to be in Sydney early next year for the opening of the renovated house, Graythwaite, a historic property in North Sydney owned by Shore school.
“(Graythwaite) is where my father was born in 1895,” he said.
Butler is keen to meet Michael Gaden.
“It’s been a very exciting find and an even more exciting journey to find the relatives of the (diary’s) author,” Butler said.
Gaden has never been to the Manly house.
“If I’d known what was under the floor, I would have,” he said.

WWII soldier's remains identified, Arlington burial set

U.S. reinforcements wade ashore off Saipan.
U.S. reinforcements wade ashore off Saipan. (National Archives)
The remains of a soldier reported missing in action on Saipan 70 years ago will be buried Sept. 12 at Arlington National Cemetery after Defense Department scientists confirmed his identity, according to a DoD news release.
Pfc. Bernard Gavrin, of Brooklyn, New York, served with 105th Infantry Regiment, 27th Infantry Division, which suffered more than 900 casualties, many caused by Japanese suicide attacks, during intense fighting on Saipan that began in June 1944. Gavrin was reported missing in action July 7, according to the DoD release; his status, and that of 21 fellow missing soldiers from the 105th, was changed to dead a year later.
His remains were listed as “nonrecoverable” by the American Graves Registration Service in 1948, but in 2013, a Japanese group seeking remains of Japanese soldiers found three dog tags belonging to U.S. servicemen while excavating mass graves in the caves of Saipan, according to a report in the (Fort Lauderdale, Florida) Sun-Sentinel.
One tag included Gavrin’s next of kin and his Brooklyn address, the newspaper reported. After the discovery, Army officials told Gavrin’s nephew that his uncle had earned a Bronze Star and Purple Heart, among other honors, during an Army career that began before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Scientists with Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Library authenticated Gavrin’s remains using “circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools including dental comparisons and mitochondrial DNA, which matched Gavrin’s cousin,” according to the DoD release.
In recent years, excavations on Saipan by a Japanese nonprofit group have turned up the remains of American and Japanese soldiers.
Last year, the group found remains and personal items of some American soldiers, which were turned over to the American government. Testing using a family member’s DNA confirmed Gavrin was among them.
His 82-year-old nephew David Rogers, of Delray Beach, Florida, said he was planning to be at the burial on Sept. 12. He said it was “absolutely incredible and unbelievable to all of us” that Gavrin would be laid to rest in “the most honorable place you could be buried in this country.”
Rogers, whose mother was Gavrin’s sister, said Gavrin was the youngest of three children and had enlisted in 1940. He said the last time he saw his uncle was when he was 8 years old and his uncle came to visit.
Rogers had injured himself, requiring stitches, and Gavrin went to his bedroom.
“He awakened me and kissed me on the forehead,” Rogers recalled.
Gavrin’s loss was shattering, Rogers said. When the telegram came and Gavrin’s mother, Rogers’ grandmother, opened it, “She let out a scream that lives with me to this day,” he said.
The remains of another soldier, Pfc. Richard L. Bean of Manasass, Virginia, also were identified. Memorial plans for Bean were not announced.
The remains of Pvt. William Yawney of Freemansburg, Pennsylvania, were found in 2011, just yards away from the 2013 excavation. He was laid to rest in a church cemetery in Northampton, Pennsylvania last May.

World War I: German soldier Otto Strube's photographs captured lifebehind the lines

World War I: German soldier Otto Strube's photographs captured life behind the lines

When German photographer Otto Strube was called upon to fulfil his responsibilities of military service at the start of World War I, his camera went along with him.
Now his family have shared his photographs, offering us a remarkable view of the German perspective of the war.
Otto served as a soldier in the German 44th Reserve Field Artillery Regiment and according to his grandson, ABC journalist Bernie Bowen, was involved in many of the battles Australians also fought on the Western Front.
He was born in a village south-east of Berlin in December 1893 and learned the still emerging art of photography, becoming a professional studio photographer.
At the time, there was automatic military service for all men between the ages of 17 and 45 years of age and it was not long before the German Army were utilising Otto's photography skills in various ways.
The resulting images offer us an insight of wartime life for German troops.
German soldiers play cards during WWI

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Destroyers for Bases: Roosevelt finds loophole in Neutrality Act tohelp Great Britain

Destroyers for Bases: Roosevelt finds loophole in Neutrality Act to help Great Britain

Tuesday, September 2, 2014 3:07 PM
"Red Lead Row," San Diego Destroyer Base, Calif., with at least 65 destroyers tied up there. Of those destroyers, 15 of them would go to Great Britain for the "Destroyers for Bases" agreement. Photographed at the end of 1922. Photo courtesy of Naval History and Heritage Command
“Red Lead Row,” San Diego Destroyer Base, Calif., with at least 65 destroyers tied up there. Of those destroyers, 15 of them would go to Great Britain for the “Destroyers for Bases” agreement. Photographed at the end of 1922. For a complete listing of ships’ names in this photo, please click here. Photo courtesy of Naval History and Heritage Command
By Naval History and Heritage Command, Communication and Outreach Division
In September 1940, Americans were still recovering from World War I two decades earlier with terrible loss of life. So deep were the wounds of the war, that Congress passed the first of four Neutrality Acts in 1935 banning the shipment or sale of arms from the U.S. to any combatant nation. Isolationism was popular among the citizenry, but as Germany continued to invade and take control of one country after another, President Franklin D. Roosevelt knew the time would come when the U.S. would be drawn into the war.
Still, he faced a conundrum: He was sympathetic to the needs of Great Britain and the need to stop the Axis powers of Germany, Japan and Italy, but in July he had accepted the Democratic Party’s nomination for a third term as president of the United States which counted among the planks of its platform a pledge that “We will not participate in foreign wars, and we will not send our army, naval or air forces to fight in foreign lands outside of the Americas, except in the case of attack.”
Lucky for Roosevelt that said nothing about sending ships.
And so it was, 74 years ago today, that Roosevelt proposed a solution that would help the embattled Britain and strengthen the United States’ defenses against any future threats: the Sept. 2, 1940 Destroyers for Bases Agreement.
When Germany began its invasion of France in May 1940, and marched into Paris a little more than a month later, it forced the British to evacuate thousands of French and British soldiers from Dunkirk. The evacuation came at a terrible cost: 68,000 men either dead, wounded, missing or captured, the loss of 222 ships including at least six destroyers plus another 19 heavily damaged, and the loss of more than 950 Royal Air Force aircraft.
“What General Weygard has called the Battle of France is over…the Battle of Britain is about to begin,” Winston Churchill delivered in a House of Commons speech in late June. He knew Britain, standing alone, was about to face her darkest hour and the only hope for help was an isolationist America.
Great Britain's Prime Minister Winston Churchill, left, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt onboard USS Augusta off the coast of Newfoundland during the Atlantic Charter Conference in Aug. 1941. NHHC photo
Great Britain’s Prime Minister Winston Churchill, left, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt onboard USS Augusta off the coast of Newfoundland during the Atlantic Charter Conference in Aug. 1941. NHHC photo
Churchill reached out to Roosevelt in July as German bombers began raids of Great Britain. The two world leaders had developed a close working relationship earlier in the year while Churchill was still the first lord of the admiralty. At the time, Churchill had urged the United States to take more of an anti-Axis position, pointing out that if Great Britain were to fall to the enemy, there would suddenly be a number of German colonies very close to America’s shores.
Bound by the Neutrality Acts, Roosevelt suggested a trade: air and naval bases within Great Britain’s colonies for 50 of the Navy’s over-aged destroyers. He could justify the swap because outlying bases would keep invaders from reaching America’s shores.
An agreement was quickly accepted on Sept. 2, 1940. The lease was guaranteed for 99 years “free from all rent and charges other than such compensation to be mutually agreed on to be paid by the United States.” Bases would be established in the Bahamas, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Trinidad, Antigua and British Guiana. Separately, bases in Newfoundland and Bermuda were “gifts generously given and gladly received,” Roosevelt said.
Roosevelt covered his bases, no pun intended, by reaching out first to Attorney General Robert H. Jackson to make sure the president had the power to enter into such an agreement without bringing it first to Congress. Jackson said he did. Jackson believed the Constitution gave the president the power under his title as Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy whose power is not defined or limited.
Roosevelt explained his actions to Congress on Sept. 3.
“This is not inconsistent in any sense with our status of peace,” Roosevelt assured Congress. “Still less is it a threat against any nation. It is an epochal and far-reaching act of preparation for continental defense in the face of grave danger.
“Preparation for defense is an inalienable prerogative of a sovereign state. Under present circumstances this exercise of sovereign right is essential to the maintenance of our peace and safety… The value to the Western Hemisphere of these outposts of security is beyond calculation. Their need has long been recognized by our country, and especially by those primarily charged with the duty of charting and organizing our own naval and military defense… For these reasons I have taken advantage of the present opportunity to acquire them.”
The destroyers for bases agreement was just one of several the United States would employ in order to help give Great Britain what help it could. After winning an unprecedented third term in office, Roosevelt tried to bring Congress closer to understanding America’s continued neutrality could not stand much longer.
During a fireside chat on Dec. 29, 1940, Roosevelt explained the message wasn’t about going to war, but instead “a talk on national security.” It was when he urged America to become “the great arsenal of democracy.”
Shortly afterward, he proposed the “Lend-Lease” program that allowed cash-strapped countries to purchase armament and equipment and deferring their payments.
In the meantime, just weeks after winning an unprecedented third-term in office, Roosevelt reached out to Churchill by sending his personal emissary, his former Republican opponent Wendell Willkie, to London with a message that included a few lines by American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, probably most famous for his poem “Paul Revere’s Ride” about America’s quest for independence from Great Britain.
But the stanza from “The Building of A Ship” included a personal note from Roosevelt, stating it applied to the British people:
Sail on, O Ship of State!
Sail on, O Union, strong and great!
Humanity with all its fears,
With all the hopes of future years,
Is hanging breathless on thy fate!
The lines resonated with the prime minister. As Congress wrangled with the decision to pass the “Lend-Lease” Act, Churchill responded to Roosevelt’s note during a Feb. 9, 1941 BBC radio speech to his citizenry:
“Here is the answer which I will give to President Roosevelt: Put your confidence in us. Give us your faith and your blessing, and, under Providence, all will be well. “We shall not fail or falter; we shall not weaken or tire. Neither the sudden shock of battle, nor the long-drawn trials of vigilance and exertion will wear us down. Give us the tools, and we will finish the job.”
The Lend-Lease Act was passed just weeks later. This act, along with the Destroyers for Bases Agreement, would help turn the tide against Germany in Europe. Churchill would later call the initiatives as “the most unsordid act” one nation had ever done for another.
Although both agreements created goodwill between the nations, it was the United States that probably benefited the most. With its defense industry ramping up, the U.S. would be prepared to join the fight when the time came on Dec. 7, 1941.

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