Remembrance Day 3

(Part 3 of 3)

The battle for Amiens

What should we remember?


The 8th of August 1918, will go down in Australian history as a significant day. It represents a bookend to 25 April 1914.

Monash’s plan worked brilliantly. The Germans were caught by surprise. Such was the care with which Monash planned this attack that the battle was won in 3 hours. Casualties among the Allies were less than 1%. A far-cry from earlier battles in these same fields.

King George V (a fellow German) was ecstatic with Monash. He knighted Monash in the field of battle. This was the first time in 200 years that this occurred– Sir John Monash.

The Germans despaired at their defeat. General Ludendorff, joint director of the German effort wrote despairingly in his memoirs

(The Australians and Canadians attacked in a thick fog) “that had been rendered still thicker by artificial means” (Monash’s smoke screen) with “strong squadrons of tanks, …. The German Divisions allowed themselves to be overwhelmed….. It was a gloomy situation. Six or seven Divisions that were quite fairly to be described as effective had been completely battered. ….8 August made things clear for both opposing Army Commands. ….We cannot win this war anymore but we must not lose it”

A few months later Ludendorff had a nervous breakdown.

Ludendorff, at age 53 was the same age as Monash and King George V. He too, was born in Prussia, not far from Monash’s parents. In 1923, he supported Hitler’s rise to power. If he had known about Monash’s Jewish ancestry he may have been driven to the psychiatric couch much earlier!

Remembrance Day is more than about remembering.

World War I was meant to be the war to end all wars. What did we learn?

80 million died in World War II. The war was longer and covered more continents. It introduced new technology, better killing techniques.

Notwithstanding, as I have previously posted, good decisions were made after the Second World War. The Marshall Plan and the economic restoration of Japan were products of sound judgment and foresight.

But there were also bad decisions.

Communism which had begun to gather momentum before the War began to spread its tentacles in the vacuum created by the War. The world was no longer controlled by a handful of monarchies and colonial overloads.

Russia moved into the Eastern bloc. China moved south and east into Korea, Vietnam and Cambodia.

The US committed folly after folly in its engagement in Vietnam, America’s longest war, with more than 30 years of bloodshed. In the end the US had nothing to show but ignominious retreat. After World War II, Franklin D. Roosevelt was determined to steer the US away from Vietnam. But none of the Presidents in the 60s and 70s had the courage to withdraw. What happened?

And was Communism a liberator? A saviour? A force for good?

It is estimated that in the 20th Century, 100 million people died at the hands of Communist regimes. This includes an estimated 50 million deaths that occurred through famines as a result of aggressive agricultural and government policies. Some of the worst dictators Mao, Stalin and Pol Pot were communists.

Remembrance Day must be remembered for the tragic cost of War. At each Remembrance Day we should recount the lessons of the 20th Century and commit ourselves to a world without violence. Commit to a world where energy is directed at preserving and advancing the dignity and well-being of each individual, regardless of race, colour, religion or beliefs.

Everyone must be vigilant.

We live in dangerous times. Important events are occurring but we do not know what they mean. We do not know where they will lead. I’m talking about the economic crisis in Europe, the unprecedented displacement of people, the rise of ISIS, Brexit, a cocky Putin, a bold China, a crazy North Korea, continued fighting in the Middle East, a general shift to the irrational right and now Trump.

Usually major events in history lead inexorably to war and a new order. We can only “join the dots” leading to war, after the event. Will this happen to us?

Let the cry of the 21st Century be


Lest we forget

References drawn from Roland Perry’s MonashThe outsider who won a war