Apr 242017
 

The First World War drew millions of people from around the globe into mechanised warfare more deadly than anything seen before.

Antipodeans rushed to the seat of conflict in Europe to do their duty in support of the Mother Country – Great Britain – in her hour of need. Unknown at their time of departure from Western Australia at the end of 1914, the Anzacs were on a date with destiny at Gallipoli, the strategic peninsula overlooking Turkey’s Dardanelles Strait. The bloody campaign is sometimes described as Australia’s ‘coming of age’.

Of the more than 60,000 Australian men and women who lost their lives serving in the First World War, however, more than 46,000 died in France and Belgium. Approximately 11,000 of these have no known grave. Tens of thousands more were wounded, some more than once.

For those who survived Gallipoli, the Western Front and the Middle East theatre, the sights, sounds, and smells of the battlefields would be remembered for the rest of their lives. Ultimately, their involvement helped shape Australian society and our national identity – one founded on courage, mateship, resourcefulness, and egalitarianism.

ANZAC Spirit 100th Anniversary Coin Series
1oz Silver Proof Coins

The Perth Mint’s 1oz silver coins from the ANZAC Spirit 100th Anniversary Series is building into an extraordinary collection portraying key moments in the lives of Australian troops during World War I. Working in conjunction with the Australian War Memorial and drawing inspiration from its extensive archive of historical imagery, each coin provides a fascinating insight into the astonishing mettle of the Anzacs .

Declaration of War 2014 1oz Silver Proof Coin

Britain declares war on Germany – August 1914

The British declaration of war on 4 August 1914 was greeted with widespread enthusiasm and jubilation across the Empire. In Australia, it was a chance for the fledgling nation to prove itself in battle and to rally to the cause. Prime Minister Joseph Cook declared, “Whatever happens, Australia is part of the Empire right to the full. When the Empire is at war, so is Australia at war. All our resources are in the Empire and for the preservation and security of the Empire”.

Making of a Nation 2015 1oz Silver Proof Coin

Australian and New Zealand troops land at Anzac Cove – 25 April 1915

In April 1915, more than 20,000 men of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (Anzac) were ordered to land on the western side of the Gallipoli peninsula. The ultimate aim of the Gallipoli campaign was to open Russia’s Black Sea ports to the Mediterranean. Even though the eight month campaign was considered a costly military failure, it was from this defeat early in the war that the Anzac legend was born. The Anzacs earned an enduring place in the Australian psyche, creating an incredible story of courage and endurance in the face of death and despair.

Be Worthy of Them 2016 1oz Silver Proof Coin

The Battle of the Somme – July to November 1916

The Battle of the Somme occurred between 1 July and 18 November 1916 with more than a million men wounded or killed. Australian troops, Gallipoli veterans and fresh reinforcements, arrived on the Somme in mid-July to support the British attempt to capture the high ground towards the village of Thiepval. Within six weeks the Australians suffered some 24,000 casualties, including more than 6,000 killed.

Many Never Returned 2017 1oz Silver Proof Coin

The Third battle of Ypres – July to November 1917

Australian participation at Ypres began during the Third Battle of Ypres between 31 July and 10 November 1917. Authoritative sources estimated that the combined total of British and Dominion casualties was 310,000 and the Australian forces incurred 38,000 casualties. A decade later, the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing was opened to commemorate 55,000 missing British and Commonwealth soldiers, including 6,000 Australians, who have no known grave.

A final 1oz silver coin in this compelling five-year series will be released by The Perth Mint in 2018.

PRIDE – RESPECT – GRATITUDE

Historical images courtesy of the Australian War Memorial.

Australian-War-Memorial-logoThe Australian War Memorial logo is a registered trademark of the
Australian War Memorial TM & © 2017

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 Comments Off on First Anzac experiences told through commemorative World War I silver coins  Tagged with: ,
Apr 062017
 

The story of the First World War from an Australian perspective is told through The Perth Mint’s ANZAC Spirit 100th Anniversary 1/2oz Silver Proof Coin Series.

With three coins issued per year between 2014 and 2018, we’re now at the penultimate release featuring designs symbolising key events from 1917 – a year in which Australian forces fought in telling campaigns on the Western Front and in the Middle East.

As well as designs symbolising Australian troops at Ypres and Beersheba, this year’s set pays tribute to the vital and courageous work of Australian nurses.

The ANZAC Spirit 100th Anniversary Coin Series
2017 1/2oz Silver Proof Three-Coin Set

Front Line Angels

Nurses from Australia worked in field hospitals comprising little more than a series of tents, and on medical ships transporting the wounded to England and Australia. Enduring a constant threat of artillery, bombing, and torpedoes from enemy submarines, they provided medical, emotional, and psychological support for many soldiers suffering horrific wounds.

The Grim Path Back

During the Third Battle of Ypres, months of shell-fire had rendered the landscape desolate and waterlogged. Duckboards were erected to allow troops to move up the line to the fighting, and for the wounded to be brought back down for medical treatment.

Speed and Surprise

When Australian light horsemen charged towards the Ottoman defences at Beersheba in Palestine in October 1917 they faced more than 1,100 Ottoman riflemen, nine field guns, and several machine-guns. The momentum of the surprise attack carried them through enemy positions and on to a remarkable victory. Success at Beersheba played a role in the fall of Gaza along the Palestinian coastline.

Free replica badge for subscribers

A replica Returned From Active Service Badge will be sent to subscription customers of the five-year ANZAC Spirit 100th Anniversary 1/2oz Silver Proof Coin Series. Originally awarded by the Department of Defence to returned servicemen and servicewomen who had fought overseas during the First World War, the badge was worn to show the civilian wearer had served overseas during the war.

Bonus items for subscribers accompanying earlier releases in this series comprise:

  • 2014 – replica Sydney Morning Herald front page from 4 August 1914
  • 2015 – replica letter from the brother of two soldiers killed at the battle of The Nek in 1915
  • 2016 – replica silk post card of the type used by WWI troops to write messages home
  • 2017 – replica Returned from Active Service Badge (pictured above)
  • 2018 – to be announced

By subscribing to The ANZAC Spirit 1/2oz Silver Proof Coin Series, collectors also qualify for a free replica billy tin in which all 15 silver coins can be housed.

Historical images courtesy of the Australian War Memorial.

Australian-War-Memorial-logoThe Australian War Memorial logo is a registered trademark of the
Australian War Memorial TM & © 2017

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 Comments Off on ANZAC Spirit Three-Coin Set commemorates Australian courage and compassion in 1917  Tagged with: ,
Mar 022017
 

Fact File – Battle of Beersheba
  • When did it take place? 31 October 1917.
  • Where is it? Approx 50km southeast of Gaza in the Negev desert.
  • Who fought? Allied forces against the Ottoman Empire supported by Germany.
  • Allied objective? Outflank the Ottoman line defending Gaza.
  • Victors? The allies, after a courageous charge by Australian light horsemen.

Background

After Gallipoli, Australian troops took part in the defence of the Suez Canal in Egypt which was under mounting pressure from the Ottoman attacks from across the Sinai Desert. They pushed out into the Sinai, patrolling the desert and engaging in skirmishes with the Ottomans, and ultimately participated in a British offensive that pursued them across the border into Palestine. Australian, New Zealand, British and Indian troops continued their advance in 1917, with one of their first objectives to capture the Turkish bastion of Gaza.

After two failed attempts to assault Gaza, British efforts shifted to Beersheba, a heavily fortified inland town at the eastern flank of the Ottoman defences. Success would allow the allies to bypass Ottoman forces, thereby undermining the security of Gaza on the coast. Capturing the wells at Beersheba would also bring relief to some 50,000 to 60,000 allied troops and their horses who were in desperate need of water.

Australian contingent

The 4th Light Horse Brigade was formed in March 1915 and served as dismounted infantry on Gallipoli. As mounted infantry, Australian light horse units relied on sturdy, hardy mounts – (New South) Walers – renowned for their indefatigable ability to carry a rider, his rifle, bayonet, ammunition and other equipment for long distances in hot, arid conditions.

lighthorse_on-parade

Troops of the 4th Australian Light Horse Brigade near Tripoli, Lebanon, in December 1918.

The courage shared by the men and their mounts was forever inscribed in the annals of history at Beersheba in Palestine, when in an effort to rout the enemy’s Gaza–Beersheba defences, they undertook a gallant charge against the Ottoman positions.

The battle

The fighting at Beersheba took place at dusk under orders from Lieutenant-General Sir Henry “Harry” Chauvel, the Australian commander of the Desert Mounted Corps. Some 800 Australian mounted infantry from the 4th Light Horse Brigade assembled six kilometres south-east of Beersheba with the 4th Light Horse Regiment on the right, the 12th on the left, and the 11th, who were on detached duty, in reserve.

Armed with their rifles and carrying drawn bayonets, they rode over a ridge and descended down gently sloping ground toward the town, where more than 1,100 Ottomans riflemen, nine field guns and several machine guns lay in wait. The Ottomans opened fire on the light horsemen as they approached and both horses and men were hit by the ensuing fusillade, but the mounted troops rode on, with members of the 4th Regiment dismounting at the trenches to attack the Ottomans on foot, while the 12th Light Horse Regiment succeeded in capturing the town.

charge-at-beersheba

A hand-coloured print sometimes considered to depict the charge of the Light Horse at Beersheba – most probably taken in 1918 during a re-enactment by the official photographer Frank Hurley.

Historic aftermath

Lasting little more than an hour, the momentum of the surprise attack carried the light horsemen through the Ottoman positions. They successfully secured the town and its wells, while taking in excess of 1,000 Ottoman prisoners at the same time. A significant victory for the allies in Palestine, the capture of Beersheba helped British forces penetrate the Gaza–Beersheba line; Gaza fell a week later, abandoned by Ottoman troops who withdrew further into Palestine.

The Australian War Memorial records the names of 31 light horsemen who died at Beersheba on its Roll of Honour. A further 36 were wounded, and at least 70 horses died and dozens more were injured. In spite of these losses, Beersheba was an outstanding success for the Australian Light Horse.

Commemorative gold coin

beersheba-gold-coin

Commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Australian’s courageous charge, The Perth Mint has crafted a 2017 tribute coin from 1/4oz of 99.99% pure gold. Depicting a member of the 4th Light Horse Brigade with his horse, the design includes a red poppy and the inscription THOSE MARVELLOUS HORSES.

The coin’s obverse depicts the Ian Rank-Broadley effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the 2017 year-date, and the monetary denomination.

The Perth Mint will release no more than 1,000 of The ANZAC Spirit 100th Anniversary Coin Series –Beersheba 2017 1/4oz Gold Proof Coin.

Australian-War-Memorial-logoThe Australian War Memorial logo is a registered trademark of the
Australian War Memorial TM & © 2017

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 Comments Off on Superb coin marks Light Horse’s heroic gallop into history at Beersheba  Tagged with: ,
Feb 202017
 

Australia has a profound association with Ypres in Belgium. Through this walled medieval city Australian soldiers and thousands of other allied troops marched towards the front line during some of the most costly fighting of the First World War.

ypresclothhall

Reconstructed Cloth Hall, Ieper.

At the centre of the city, they would have passed the historic Cloth Hall, first constructed around 1200. By 1917, this proud symbol of the region’s famous textile trade had been virtually destroyed by German artillery fire.

As they made their way towards the battlefields of the Ypres Salient, the troops passed through the Menin Gate, at which two stone lions, also heavily battle scarred, stood astride the road on silent guard.

Originally commissioned for the ancient Cloth Hall, these magnificent carved blue stone beasts had been relocated to the city’s eastern gateway in 1862. At the end of the war they were pulled from the rubble, and in an important symbolic gesture, the Burgomaster of Ypres presented them to the Australian Government in 1936 as a token of friendship and an acknowledgement of Australia’s sacrifice.

It is estimated that Australia suffered 38,000 casualties in the fighting around Ypres. The names of 6,000 Australians are included among those recorded on the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing dedicated to the 55,000 British and Empire troops who died in Belgium during the First World War and have no known grave.

The Menin Gate Lions now have a permanent home inside the entrance to the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. There, they stand in abiding honour of those who never returned from Flanders.

awm_lions-from-ypres

Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial – ART12510.001

The ANZAC Spirit 100th Anniversary Coin Series – Many Never Returned
2017 1oz Silver Proof Coin

Inscribed with the words ‘1917 Many Never Returned’, this addition to The Perth Mint’s five year ANZAC Spirit Coin Series bears a design representing war weary Australian soldiers walking near the ruins of the Cloth Hall in Ypres. Expressing the nation’s indebtedness to the men and their fallen comrades, the word GRATITUDE is included on the coin’s serrated edge.

Accompanied by a numbered Certificate of Authenticity, no more than 7,500 of these solemn coins will be released in individual presentation packaging comprising a red and black display case and superbly illustrated shipper.

theanzacspirit2017-silver-proof-coin

Australian-War-Memorial-logoThe Australian War Memorial logo is a registered trademark of the
Australian War Memorial TM & © 2017

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Jan 172017
 

While enduring the horrors of shells, bullets, and gas during World War I, letters from home provided troops with moments of joyful respite. For Australian troops fighting on the other side of the world, letters accompanied by photographs of wives, children, sweethearts and parents brought even greater delight.

wwiposterseries-homefrontTo this end, the Snapshots from Home League of Australia was established in early 1916 by Archibald Pursell, a director of the YMCA (Sydney), who had been inspired by the work of the League’s founding branch in London the previous year.

To meet the objectives of Snapshots, the YMCA distributed application forms to the men at the front, recruited photographers across Australia to donate their time and skills, and coordinated sittings for relatives wishing to send photos to their loved ones serving overseas.

In this way, around 150,000 intimate portraits were able to be sent to active and injured Australian soldiers in Europe and the Middle East during the remaining years of the War.

The YMCA dedicated much energy to making the scheme a success, advertising it in newspapers, magazines, shops, and at its own collection depots. Additionally, it adopted British promotional posters for use in Australia, including this memorable example which is portrayed on the latest addition to our Australian Posters of World War I Coin Series.

Designed by artist Fred Pegram, it captures the poignant moment when an off-duty soldier in battle-scarred France becomes the first in his group to celebrate the arrival of pictures from home. Including the League’s promise “YMCA will supply free of cost”, posters like this one helped make Snapshots one of the most effective First World War campaigns in Australia.

Australian Posters of World War I Coin Series

posters-of-wwi_x4coins

Issued annually between 2014 and 2018, Australian Posters of World War I reflects the large number of posters that were produced during the War to satisfy a wide variety of advertising and communication needs. With the addition of the 2017 Home Front coin, four out of five of these stunning releases are now available:

Limited Mintage

Produced by The Perth Mint in association with the Australian War Memorial, each coin in this outstanding and original series is struck from 1oz of 99.9% pure silver. Issued as Australian legal tender, each encapsulated coin is housed in a latex case which allows the design on both sides to be displayed.

No more than 5,000 of each coin in the series will be released worldwide.


AWM_RedCross_logos

The Australian War Memorial logo is a registered trade mark of the Australian War Memorial TM © 2017.

YMCA logo courtesy of YMCA Australia.

The red cross emblem is an internationally recognised symbol used to identify those providing impartial humanitarian assistance and protect them from harm in times of armed conflict. The use of the emblem is restricted under both international and Australian law in order to ensure that this meaning continues to be understood. In Australia, the use of the emblem without the authorisation of the Minister of Defence is a criminal offence.


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 Comments Off on New coin honours ‘Snapshots from Home’ – the YMCA’s remarkable photo project for First World War troops  Tagged with: ,
Nov 112016
 

To honour those who have died as a consequence of war, Australians are encouraged to observe one minute’s silence as the clock strikes the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month – the moment the guns fells silent on the Western Front in 1918.

The observance takes place in other Allied countries, including New Zealand, Canada, South Africa and the United States. But how did the tradition originate?

Edward George Honey has been credited as the first person to suggest a period of silence in which to remember the fallen.

Born in St Kilda, Melbourne, Honey was an Australian journalist who worked in Fleet Street after World War I. In May 1919, he wrote to the London Evening News appealing for a five-minute silence to mark the first anniversary of the Armistice.

A few months later, Sir James Percy FitzPatrick suggested to the British Cabinet a complete suspension of normal activity for two minutes during which everyone could focus on reverent remembrance.

King George V responded to Sir James’ call by asking countries of the British Empire “to stand still in solemn remembrance of the dead, who died that the world might be free.”

Armistice Day was renamed Remembrance Day in 1946 to commemorate those who were killed in both World Wars. The custom of a short silence remains integral to Remembrance Day ceremonies throughout the Commonwealth, and in Australia on ANZAC Day.

Honey is recognized in Australia as the originator of the idea on a memorial plaque in central Melbourne, which records “Edward George Honey… A Melbourne journalist who, while living in London, first suggested the solemn ceremony of silence, now observed in all British countries in remembrance of those who died in war”.

Australian-War-Memorial-logoThe Australian War Memorial logo is a registered trademark of the
Australian War Memorial TM & © 2016

The emblem and logo of the Returned & Services League of Australia Limited (RSL) are owned by the RSL and may only be used with the written consent of the RSL.

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