The Laying of the Foundation Stones

 

The Anzac Memorial’s foundation stones were laid on 19th July 1932. The date is significant as it is the anniversary of the battle of Fromelles in France in 1916. The battle of Fromelles on the night of 19/20 July 1916 saw some of the heaviest casualties suffered by the AIF in a single day. A third of those who attacked the German positions in front of the village of Fromelles were New South Welshmen of the 5th Division's 14th Brigade. The division attacked with less than 8000 men and by the end of the action 5533 had been killed, wounded or captured.

Inscribed with the words ‘A SOLDIER SET THIS STONE’ and 'A CITIZEN SET THIS STONE', the foundation stones highlight the contributions of both citizens and those who served during the war. The soldier referred to on the first stone was Sir Phillip Game, the Governor of NSW. Sir Phillip had served as an officer in the Royal Artillery and later the Royal Flying Corps of the British Expeditionary Force on the Western Front during the Great War. The citizen referred to in the second stone was Bertram Stevens, the Premier of New South Wales. The decision to make anonymous those who laid the foundation stones seems to have suggested that the stones were laid by the community who suffered the impact of the loss inflicted by the Great War and its aftermath rather than a statement of immortality by identified individuals.

The ceremony at which the foundation stones were laid was attended by 15 000 people.

 

 

On this day

On this day
16 February

1942— BANKA ISLAND MASSACRE. Following the sinking of the SS Vyner Brook, many of the survivors, including 22 Australian nurses, reached the shore of Banka Island. Realising that their position was desperate, an officer from the ship set out with most of the women and children to surrender the group to the Japanese. The officer returned with 20 Japanese soldiers who ordered all the men capable of walking to move to hidden part of the beach and killed them. They then returned to the beach and ordered the 22 nurses and 1 British civilian woman to walk into the water. They were machine-gunned in the back. All the immobile survivors were then killed. Sister Vivian Bullwinkle pretended to be dead and was the only survivor