Return of Australian forces from Afghanistan 2013: Wartime Snapshot No. 14

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Series: Wartime Snapshots
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The 2014 Anzac Day poster honours our contemporary personnel in the Australian Defence Force (ADF) who are completing their service in Afghanistan, and links their contribution with that of the first Anzacs. The four words on the poster help us to focus on the purpose of Anzac Day.

Department of Defence 20130425adf8270845_109
Department of Defence 20130423adf8164101_008

Background

The 2014 Anzac Day Poster has several themes.

The 'Bullecourt Digger' stands in the Australian Memorial Park in France. It looks over the fields of Bullecourt where in April and May 1917 some 10,000 members of the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) were killed or wounded, trying to break into and hold part of the Hindenburg Line. It stands as a reminder of the bravery and tenacity of the Australians who fought in France during the First World War. We see these qualities reflected in our troops today, who continue the traditions of those who have served before them.

The background image shows members of the ADF taking part in an Anzac Day commemoration at Tarin Kot, Afghanistan. Australia's role in Afghanistan began in October 2001 when coalition forces, under American leadership, invaded Afghanistan and removed the ruling Taliban regime. Australian Special Air Service (SAS) squadrons took part in operations in the mountainous areas south of Kabul, carrying out reconnaissance and surveillance. ADF personnel have been praised for their capabilities and professionalism.

The decision to withdraw Australian troops from Afghanistan was announced in March 2013. In 2014, approximately 400 ADF personnel will continue training and advising the Afghan National Security Forces in Kabul and Kandahar. Australia will also supply instructors, advisors and support staff to the British-led Afghan National Army Officer Academy in Kabul.

Some 300 Australians have been killed or wounded serving on operational deployments to Afghanistan. Commemorating Anzac Day allows Australians to honour the service of Australia's veterans; remember the sacrifice of the fallen; thank those who have returned; and renew our bonds of community and our understanding of the Anzac traditions of courage and comradeship. This poster provides a comparison between the contemporary soldier and the first Anzacs. It also prompts us to think about how service may have changed in the years between the First World War and today.

References

  • Peter Burness, Australians on the Western Front - 1917 Bapaume and Bullecourt, Department of Veterans' Affairs publication, 2008.
  • Australians on the Western Front, Department of Veterans' Affairs series, 2006 – 2008.
  • Their Spirit, Our History, Department of Veterans' Affairs and Australian War Memorial publication, 2007.

Teaching Activities

Use the poster, background information and websites listed above, to answer the following questions:

  1. Look at the 2014 Anzac Day Poster:
    1. What people, objects and words can you see?
    2. There are three different themes in the poster. Identify and discuss these themes.
    1. Who was the sculptor of the 'Bullecourt Digger'?
    2. On whom did the sculptor base the features of the 'digger'?
    3. What message was he trying to capture in the sculpture?
    4. Compare the sculpture of the 'Bullecourt Digger' with the 'slouch hat' memorial at Bullecourt. Do you think they are appropriate commemorative memorials for Australian soldiers in the First World War? Why/Why not?
  2. Read about Sergeant John White and answer the following questions:
    1. When did he enlist with the AIF?
    2. Which battalion was he a member of?
    3. When were his remains found? How long was this after his death? How was he able to be identified?
    4. Where and when was Sergeant White finally laid to rest?
    5. How important might this have been to Sergeant White's family? Explain why.
  3. Australians, both military and civilian, have been engaged in Afghanistan for over a decade.
    1. What is the name of Australia's military deployment in Afghanistan?
    2. List some of the activities ADF personnel have been involved in during their time in Afghanistan.
  4. Read Section 4, Paragraph 1 of Their Spirit, Our History and discuss. What is commemoration?
  5. Read the words on the poster. Discuss each of these. How have the meanings of these words changed over time?
  6. What does the word 'Honouring' mean? Why do we honour those who have served? How do we do this?
  7. What does the word 'Remembering' mean? Why do we remember those who have lost their lives in war? How do we do this?
  8. What does the word 'Thanking' mean? Why do we thank those who have returned from overseas service? How do we do this?
  9. What does the word 'Renewing' mean? Why do we renew our understanding of the 'Anzac' traditions? How do we do this? How has our understanding of Anzac changed over time?
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