Anzac Day is one of Australia’s most important national commemorative occasions.
25 April marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War.
It’s important that we remember those who served and died in war and on operational service past and present—including three brave men from the Queensland Audit Office (QAO).
The First World War
When war broke out in 1914, Australia had been a federated nation for only 13 years, and its government was eager to establish a reputation among the nations of the world.
When Britain declared war in August, Australia was immediately placed on the side of the Commonwealth. In 1915, Australian and New Zealand soldiers formed part of the expedition that set out to capture the Gallipoli Peninsula in order to open the Dardanelles to allied navies. The ultimate objective was to capture Constantinople (now Istanbul) which was the capital of the Ottoman Empire, an ally of Germany.
The Aussie and Kiwi forces landed on Gallipoli on 25 April, meeting fierce resistance from the Ottoman defenders. What had been planned as a bold stroke to knock Turkey out of the war quickly became a stalemate, and the campaign lasted eight months.
At the end of 1915, the allied forces were evacuated from the peninsula, with both sides having suffered heavy casualties and great hardship. More than 8,000 Australian troops died.
Gallipoli had a profound impact on Australians at home, and 25 April soon became the day on which the country remembered the sacrifice of those who suffered.
The actions of the Australian and New Zealand forces left a powerful legacy. What has become known as the 'Anzac legend' became an important part of the identity of both nations, shaping the ways in which they view their past and future military conflicts.
Our own Anzac legends
Three men from QAO exchanged pen for sword during the First World War. Namely, audit clerks Edward David 'Ted' Smout, Francis Edric 'Ric' Huntington and Frederick Arthur James Carter.
Ted was the first of QAO to enlist, joining in September 1915. He served as a Corporal on the Western Front. He was also an eyewitness to the final moments of the infamous ‘Red Baron’ Manfred von Richthofen.
In September 1919, Ted was discharged and returned to the audit office. Ted was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 1978, was made a Chevalier (Knight) of the Legion d’Honneur in 1998, and was Australia's longest surviving World War I veteran. Ted’s name now has a permanent place in our history, with the Ted Smout Memorial Bridge linking the Redcliffe Peninsula to Sandgate, where he lived after returning from war. To find out more about Ted Smout’s life and service, you can watch his interview with the Australian War Memorial.
Ric enlisted in April 1916. Within a few weeks of being promoted to Corporal, he was tragically killed in action in the Field of Flanders, France on 31 July 1917. He is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial, Belgium.
Frederick enlisted in January 1918 as a Gunner, served bravely on the Western Front and returned to Australia in July 1919. He worked with the audit office until December 1920.
Great men indeed.
Lest We Forget.
Reference: Australian War Memorial