THE GREAT WAR: The spirit of the Anzacs – How Albert Jacka managed to seal it

BRAVE SOLDIER: LANCE CORPORAL ALBERT JACKA WAS A STEADY AND ENDURING FIGURE WHO WON THE FIRST VICTORIA CROSS FOR CONSPICUOUS BRAVERY IN WW1.

He rose quickly through the ranks.

JOHN MCNAMEE, Editor of Go55s

Lance Corporal Albert Jacka, had only four men left with him in the small section of bloodied trench at Courtney’s Post above the beaches of Gallipoli. He was 21.

It was May 19, 1915, and his 14th AIF Battalion had only been in Gallipoli for three weeks. The Turks had launched a fierce counter-attack and threatened to over-run Jacka’s hard-fought position. As the heavy fire burst overhead, suddenly a group of seven Turkish soldiers rushed the trench and a fierce fight began.

Four Diggers were killed or badly wounded.

The only survivor, Lance Cpl Jacka, took advantage of a diversion created by bomb throwers at one end of the Turkish position to counterattack the seven enemy single-handedly, killing the whole party: five by rifle fire and two with the bayonet.

For this conspicuous act of bravery he was awarded the first Victoria Cross of the First World War.

The young ANZAC, from the Melbourne suburb of St Kilda, soon became a national hero and his photo was used on recruiting posters and his exploits were well chronicled in local newspapers. He was widely described as “the symbol of the spirit of the Anzacs.”

RETURNED OF A HERO

He rose quickly through the ranks. And after Gallipoli when 14th Battalion was shipped to France in 1916, he had been promoted to captain.

His later acts of courage soon earned him more fame. He was awarded the Military Cross at Pozieres in what famous Australian war historian Charles Bean described as “the most dramatic and effective act of individual audacity in the history of the AIF.

In the bitter fighting at Pozieres, Captain Jacka recaptured a section of heavily defended trench, freed a group of recently captured Australians, and forced the surrender of 50 Germans.

Despite several serious injuries Captain Jacka survived the war and returned to a hero’s welcome along the streets of St Kilda in September 1919. He later became Mayor of St Kilda. Captain Albert Jacka died of kidney disease in 1931.

Captain Jacka and his awe-inspiring story was one of many featured in the recent Spirit of ANZACS exhibition. It ended in Sydney on April 27. The exhibition was on the road for two years. More than 350,000 people went through the gates. This month – Grand Years will publish a run-down of some other myriad exhibitions at the show.

<< First appeared Go55s newspaper by John Mcnamee. Web: www.go55s.com.au

Illustrations: Follow me. Jacka and his men steal the enemy’s thunder. A patient. Albert Jacka in hospitals overseas.


VALE: TONY MADIGAN, BOXER, DEAD – HE HAD A FEARSOME REPUTATION

Tony Madigan, the former Australian amateur boxer, who twice fought Muhammad Ali (Cassius Clay at the time), died last weekend. He was aged 87. He attended Waverley College where he learned to box and play Union. But it was boxing where he excelled. Winner of two Empire Games gold medals as a light-heavyweight in Cardiff in 1958 and Perth in 1962, and an Olympic Bronze medal in the division in Rome in 1960. Many of the spectators thought he had won, but in his semi-final in Rome Madigan dropped his hotly disputed point’s decision to the eventual Gold Medallist called Cassius Clay.


WALER: BILL THE BASTARD WAS ONE OF THE WALERS WHO WENT TO THE GREAT WAR. HE KNEW EVERY TRICK IN THE BOOK. BILL WAS A LUCKY, THOUGH. HE FOUND A RIDER WHOM HE TRUSTED:  MAJOR MICHAEL SHANAHAN OF THE LIGHT HORSE.

THE GREAT WAR: THE STORY OF A HORSE THAT WAS ONE IN A MILLION

FRANK MORRIS

This is the story of a lifetime. It concerns a horse. The bravest horse you’ll ever know and he was called Bill. He was ear-marked with a name for which he became famous: Bill the Bastard. The name stuck with him forever.

To make matters worse, horses like Bill, were often called mongrels; and it’s easy to see why. Bill the Bastard was a solid horse, weighing 730-kilograms; and he was a chestnut, standing about 16 hands high. He stood his ground.

Bill was built for power.

There was no other horse who could match him for performance and character.

Like 136,000-odd Walers, he was sent from Australia to the Great War; he was, alas, a strange horse indeed.

At the corral where he was housed, Bill had a serious problem. No one could ride him. A riderless nag, said one trooper. He tried and failed. Some troopers thought that Bill has a gleeful smile when a trooper ‘bit’ the dust.

“Bill the Bastard”, they would yell. Bill lived up to his name.

Until one day, Bill had discovered a mate. He was a rather tall looking figure and his name Major Michael Shanahan, of the Australia’s Light Horse. Bill had the intelligence to know if anybody could ride it be him.

The Major strode around the corral, taking a careful look at the chestnut. The chestnut stared back him.

BILL EDGED CLOSER

The corral medical orderly came over to the Major and shook his hand.

“That’s Bill the Bastard you’re looking at,” said the orderly. “Nothing usual except no one can ride him. That’s why we had a bet on him. You guessed it. Old Bill let go, hammer and tongs.”

The upshot, however, was that Bill sent many a-trooper sky high. It seemed to take ages for them to fall to earth. Now, not a single trooper would have a go.

Bill the Bastard edged closer to the Major. This was the first time Bill had looked into eye of Major Shanahan. The Major sensed this was a horse who had caught the glint in his eye. Bill had a deep-seated feeling about the Major.

He was gentle when he touched Bill. It made him shiver. The medical orderly watched closely. He then said: “Bill’s made a damned good packhorse. He never complains. When Bill in a mood it’s best to steer clear!”

The Major patted Bill. “You’re a real mate, aren’t you Bill.”

BILL, A TRUE ANZAC

The Major, unlike an executioner or victor, more simply a friend, stroked his face. He had an uneasy feeling as he looked at Bill. The Major was destined to this ride horse: he a determined Major and it a quarrelsome mount.

It’s a crazy name to give a horse, but it’s honest. Bill the Bastard. The Major dug dig deep into the book of prayer.

He was satisfied.

These two misfits, Bill and the Major, would join up and fight together.

They depended on each for their survival. And when men and horses were falling all around them, Bill’s own superior demigod qualities saved The Major and a section of his men from death. Bill had an unbreakable will, it was said.

He became known far and wide by members of the Desert Mounted Corps. He had become a legend. He had become a true Anzac.

Major Michael Shanahan died on October 12, 1964, at the age 94. Bill the Bastard was buried in Gallipoli.
There’s much more to this horse than you would realise.

<< Repeated from Grand Years 3 years ago.

Illustrations: Hospital-bound. The Major in a wheelchair. Five on a horse. Bill the Bastard carried the men back to base without a scratch.                                                                             


THE CHARGE: EVERYONE OF THE 800 MEN KNEW WHAT THEY HAD TO DO FOR VICTORY.

THE GREAT WAR: GUTS AND GLORY – REMEMBERING THE BATTLE OF BEERSHEBA 100 YEARS AGO!

FRANK MORRIS

The 800 light horsemen, 6 kilometres south-east of Beersheba, were preparing to turn the tide of war. The Battle of Beersheba was going to be a legend of the light horsemen who were playing a pivotal role in Britain’s Palestinian campaign against the German and Ottoman empires.

In 1917, the light horsemen knew the “importance of the coming action and that success must be achieved before darkness gave safety to the enemy.”

The official historian had “speculated that Brigadier William Grant must have felt that if strong, fast horses urged on by great-hearted men, ably led and careless of their lives counted for anything then surely they must triumph.”

A MASS OF HORSES

The horse soldiers moved off at 4.30pm. They knew that surprise and speed were their main weapons. Soon the horseman broke into a gallop. They topped the rise of the ridge and hundreds of mounted men set their horses at Beersheba.

The Turks opened fire but their target was still 5 kilometres away. “As they neared the enemy positions, British gunners covered their exposed flanks.” Suddenly, a mass of horses jump over the Turkish soldiers in the front trenches as they took aim and a number were hit.

The rest is history.

Never in their lives did the Australian countrymen ever ride in a race like this. They all rode for victory and for Australia. The Turk had been severely destroyed by the ruthlessness of the attack.

“Within an hour from the start of that wild ride the Australians were in command of Beersheba,” said Henry Gullet, in the Official History of the War, 1914-1918.

The role of the Indigenous soldier has been overlooked in the past in the Battle for Beersheba. “They were brilliant horsemen and they played a remarkable part,” said a spokesman for the Australian Light Horse Association.

<< Australians in Britain: Two World Wars, 2003, Department of Veterans Affairs; Frank Morris.

Illustration: The horsemen. After the battle, the 4 horsemen took time out for their horses and themselves.

WE’LL SHOW YOU: THE MEMORIAL OF THIS GREAT HORSE IS IN ANZAC SQUARE, BRISBANE.

THE GREAT WAR: READERS CAN VISIT THE FAMOUS WAR MEMORIALS

This is the first time this was done as a feature – the line-up of the famous war memorials. We’ll travel to every State of Australia and select what are considered are the best sites. Remember, WW1 ended in November 11, l918, and this is a splendid way of ending four-and half-years of heartaches and misery.


MATE, THERE’S A WAR ON HERE …

How people live? Milestones from 1900. The “black” plague raged in 1900 and claimed almost 500 lives. To combat the disease, tonnes of garbage were cleared away and thousands of rats slaughtered.

1901 – White Australia spiralled to 3,773,801. And on January 1, Australia became a federation. The East of Hopetoun took office as the first Governor-General; and Edmund Barton the first Prime Minister. On March 30, the first federal elections were held. Two months later, May, the first Federal Parliament was opened.

SHOOT STRAIGHT!

1902 – In February, the execution of “Breaker” Morant met with cries of anguish and protest in Australia. As soon as the rifleman raised their guns, Morant was heard to screech out: “Shoot straight, you bastards” The Boer War ended on My 31. About one in 32 soldiers did not return home. On June 12, Australian women won the right to vote.

1903 – The first crematorium in Australia was opened in Adelaide.

1904 – The famous singer Nellie Melba, who won the hearts and souls of many fans, let them know that her voice was available on record. The Australian public were outraged by Norman Lindsay’s drawing Pollice Verso.

Illustration: The truth at last. “Breaker” Morant let it be known what happened and paid for it dearly.

Posted in: Grand Years with Frank Morris at 03 November 17

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