The Australians on the Western Front, 1916–1918 exhibition series is a joint initiative of the RSL & Services Clubs Association and the Australian War Memorial.
Advancing to victory, 1918 is the third in a series of three exhibitions that will be on display during the Centenary of Anzac. The exhibition will be tour RSL clubs around New South Wales between March and November 2018.
1918 began badly. The terrible Passchendaele fighting had left the Australians exhausted and under strength. With few new volunteers, reinforcements were hard to come by. The divisions were under strain, but it was clear there were still many more battles to fight. Victory would come before year’s end, but the Australian Corps’s most important role still lay ahead.
Early on, the Australians faced the great German spring offensives. At Dernancourt they withstood the heaviest attack ever made on them, and at Villers-Bretonneux their bayonet charge repelled the Germans within sight of Amiens. On 4 July, under Sir John Monash, they went on the offensive with a well planned and executed attack at Le Hamel. Then came the great victory of 8 August. Further success followed when they captured the fortified hill of Mount St Quentin in early September, then broke the Hindenburg Line four weeks later.
The year’s actions left the Australian force near exhaustion, having suffered appalling losses. But the will of a nation spurred them toward victory as proud of their success, as were the diggers themselves.
The exhibition features key personalities and battles, and draws on the Memorial’s unique collections. On display are original maps, outstanding photographs, and remarkable works of art, some never displayed before. Other treasures include medals awarded to Monash and Lord Birdwood, an 18-pounder field gun, and an exposed portion of a British Mark IV tank.
The Memorial is pleased to partner with the Association to bring Australians on the Western Front, 1916–1918 to participating RSL clubs across New South Wales during the Centenary period.