May 132015
 

Thirty-five Australians flew combat operations in the Battle of Britain during the summer and autumn of 1940. The RAF suffered heavily throughout the campaign, losing more than 500 fighter pilots, of whom at least 10 were Australian.

One such airman was Paterson Clarence Hughes. Born in 1917 at Numeralla, New South Wales, Hughes joined the Royal Australian Air Force at Point Cook in 1936. The following year he sailed for England to take a short service commission in the Royal Air Force.

With the outbreak of war against Nazi Germany in 1939, Hughes became a flight commander at the reformed 234 Squadron which flew a mixture of Blenheims, Battles and Gauntlets until March 1940, when it began receiving Spitfires.

Spitfires
In this legendary aircraft, Hughes proved himself to be a tough, uncompromising and determined fighter pilot, quickly chalking up sufficient victories to be considered a flying ‘ace’.

Hughes used aggressive and dangerous ‘close-in’ tactics which involved getting as near as possible to enemy aircraft before firing. On 7 September, as his squadron dived on a large force of German aircraft, it probably proved fatal for the brave young pilot. As Hughes flew close to a Dornier 17, his Spitfire is thought to have been struck by a large piece of debris from the exploding bomber.

With a tally of at least 14 confirmed, 1 probable, 3 shared and 1 unconfirmed attributed to his total, Hughes was the highest-scoring Australian fighter pilot in the Battle of Britain. For gallantry in flying operations against the enemy, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross on 22 October.

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill immortalised the extraordinary accomplishments of skilful and courageous pilots like Pat Hughes in one of his most famous wartime speeches: “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”

 75th Anniversary of WWII Series – The Battle of Britain 2015 1oz Silver Coin

Battle-of-Britain-coin_packaging
The Perth Mint is commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain with a superb release struck from 1oz of 99.9% pure silver. The coin’s reverse portrays representations of another iconic British fighter plane, the Hawker Hurricane.

While the Hurricane was considered less glamorous than the legendary Spitfire, more Hurricanes flew during the period of the Battle than all other British fighters combined, accounting for the highest number of RAF victories. The coin’s reverse shows two Hurricane fighters in cloud above southern England.

Issued as Australian legal tender, no more than 5,000 of these coins will be released, each housed in a display case and illustrated shipper accompanied by a numbered Certificate of Authenticity.

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Apr 172015
 

John Simpson Kirkpatrick – “the man with the donkey” – is one of the most potent symbols of Australian courage and tenacity on Gallipoli.

Simpson was 22 years-old when he landed at dawn on 25 April 1915 tasked as a stretcher-bearer. With the aid of a donkey brought in to carry water, he transported wounded men day and night from the fighting in Monash Valley to the beach on Anzac Cove.

Simpson-Donkey

Private John Simpson in Shrapnel Gully with a wounded soldier on his donkey. [Australian War Memorial – P09300.001]

On the morning of 19 May, just three and a half weeks after his arrival, he died while moving two injured men and was buried on the beach at Hell Spit.

There had been nothing remarkable to mark Simpson as a likely hero. Remembered as independent, witty and warm-hearted, he was a battler – an average bloke with an itinerant background. That he displayed such remarkable bravery and selflessness has made him an essential element of the Gallipoli legacy.

About John Simpson

  • John Simpson Kirkpatrick was born in 1892 in North-East England, and like his father before him, joined the merchant navy.
  • Jumping ship in Newcastle, NSW in 1910, he worked variously as a cane-cutter, station hand, coalminer, gold prospector and seaman on vessels around the Australian coast.
  • During his time in Australia, John wrote home regularly, sending part of his wages to his mother.
  • He enlisted in the Australian Army at Blackboy Hill Camp, Perth, dropping the name Kirkpatrick to avoid questions about his earlier desertion.
  • Private Simpson expected to be sent to England, but departed from Fremantle on 2 November 1914 aboard HMAT Medic, which joined the main troop convoy from Albany en route to Egypt.
  • Simpson loved animals and once on Gallipoli befriended a donkey often remembered as Duffy, although also known as Abdul or Murphy.
  • In the habit of taking breakfast as he strode up Shrapnel Gully in the morning, Simpson also whistled nonchalantly despite the deadly gunfire.
  • At almost the same spot where Major General Sir William Throsby Bridges, the founder of Duntroon, had been fatally shot a few days before, Simpson was killed by a burst of machine-gun fire that hit him in the back.
  • His dutiful donkey escaped unharmed.

In tribute, Colonel (later General) John Monash, Australia’s greatest commander of the First World War, wrote:

“Private Simpson and his little beast earned the admiration of everyone at the upper end of the valley. They worked all day and night throughout the whole period since the landing, and the help rendered to the wounded was invaluable. Simpson knew no fear and moved unconcernedly amid shrapnel and rifle fire, steadily carrying out his self-imposed task day by day, and he frequently earned the applause of the personnel for his many fearless rescues of wounded men from areas subject to rifle and shrapnel fire.”

2015 Gallipoli Stamp and Coin Cover

JohnSimpsonPNCThe Perth Mint and Australia Post are pleased to commemorate Private John Simpson and his donkey on this 2015 Gallipoli Stamp and Coin Cover. As well as a $1 Australian aluminium bronze coin bearing a portrayal of the unassuming hero, it features an official Australia Post 70c stamp with a first day of issue postmark imposed on the shape of a medical cross.

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Apr 082015
 

Gresley and Wilfred Harper were among the hundreds of men of the Australian Light Horse who lost their lives during the doomed charge at the Battle of Nek on 7 August 1915.

In October that­­­­­­ year, elder brother Walter (one of the founders of Wesfarmers and its longest serving chairman) wrote a heart-felt letter from his home at Woodbridge near Perth to his sister Clara, assuring her both boys had been killed outright and that they had been buried the following day near the trenches.

Gresley-and-Wilfred-Harper

Trooper Gresley Harper (left), 10th Light Horse Regiment – [Australian War Memorial P07183.001]. Trooper Wilfred Harper (right), 10th Light Horse Regiment [Australian War Memorial P07183.002]. From Guildford, WA, the Harper brothers embarked together aboard HMAT Mashobra (A47) on 8 February 1915 from Fremantle and were both killed in action on Walker’s Ridge, Gallipoli on 7 August 1915.

Walter’s assertions were based on Arthur Leakes’ eye-witness report, enabling him to relate chilling details of the awful events of the day. The odds were stacked so incredibly high against the success of the charge that those who took part were aware they almost certainly would not survive, as these telling excerpts from Walter’s letter recount:

“ ‘The Turks were not fifty yds away and had their guns turned onto us and were just waiting for us to mount the parapet. Every man in our line knew that it was almost certain death to get out of our own trench yet not one hesitated an instant when the word “go” was passed along the line. All went as one.

The noise was terrific – shells and bombs were bursting all around us in addition to the hail of lead. It seemed impossible that anyone could live through it.’

In several letters from the front soldiers have told how after Turkish charges the wounded were to be seen in the broiling heat trying to crawl back to cover and those too wounded to move waving their arms and legs either in death agony or as signals for help which could never reach them.

All of us have visions of our boys enduring these tortures and it is a great relief to know that they suffered the easiest of deaths – to be instantly killed in the excitement of battle.”

Bonus Gift For Subscribers

Reproduced in its entirety in authentic style by The Perth Mint as part of The ANZAC Spirit 100th Anniversary Coin Series, this historical document is a remarkable bonus gift for subscribers to the five-year 1/2oz Silver Proof Three-Coin Set.

This year’s coins pay tribute to the sacrifices of all those who fought at Gallipoli and also efforts at home to make the soldiers’ lives more bearable.

Bravest-of-the-brave-silver-coinBravest of the Brave

The coin’s reverse depicts the Anzacs as they battled to scale the rocky cliffs above Anzac Cove on 25th April 1915. An Australian soldier, with bayonet fixed to his rifle, is highlighted in colour.

Spirit-of-the-fallen-silver-coinSpirit of the Fallen

The coin’s reverse depicts a symbolic image of the Lone Pine tree in 1915 on the left, with soldiers walking through trenches filled with their fallen comrades. On the right is a coloured representation of the Lone Pine Memorial to the Missing.

Billies-for-the-troopsBillies for the Troops

The coin’s reverse depicts a symbolic image of a woman in colour giving a billy tin to an Australian First World War soldier. The image on the tin is the Alexandra Club Christmas billy tin design which features a kangaroo on the Gallipoli peninsula.

Subscribers will also receive a limited edition replica billy tin in which all 15 1/2oz silver coins issued between 2014 and 2018 can be housed.

Click here for further information about this year’s Three-Coin Set and a Series subscription.

BillyTin-replicaLetter

Replica of Walter Harper’s letter written in 1915 and a replica billy tin with room for all 15 1/2oz silver proof coins from the five-year ANZAC Spirit 100th Anniversary Coin Series.

 

Produced in association with the Australian War Memorial

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Apr 072015
 

The national postal service providers of Australia and New Zealand have come together in conjunction with The Perth Mint to honour troops from both nations who fought at Gallipoli.

The 2015 ANZAC Silver Coin & Stamp Set is a stunning collectable comprising an Australian 70c stamp, a New Zealand $2.00 stamp, and special commemorative stamp-shaped legal tender coins featuring superb complementary designs.

ANZACStampShapedAUCoinANZACStampShapedNZCoinSet on background imagery of Anzac Cove, they share the word ANZAC and silhouetted figures of two soldiers at a memorial service – an Australian bugler wearing a slouch hat, and a New Zealand catafalque sentry in a ‘lemon squeezer’ hat.

Imbued with hues that represent Australia’s sunburnt earth and blue skies, the design of the Australian issues include golden wattle, the national floral emblem. The New Zealand issues feature an emblematic silver fern and are infused with the lush greens and blues of New Zealand’s fertile landscape.

Each coin is struck by The Perth Mint from 1/2oz of 99.9% pure silver in proof quality. Issued as legal tender of Australia and New Zealand respectively, they feature a remarkable rim in the shape of stamp perforations.

Extremely limited mintage

An extremely rare joint-issue by the two ANZAC nations, just 2,500 of these sets will be released. Housed in a clear latex display case which comes in a shipper featuring key design motifs, each set is accompanied by a numbered Certificate of Authenticity.

ANZACStampShapedCoinSet

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Mar 312015
 

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) was formed on this day in 1921. It is the second-oldest independent Air Force in the world.

The RAAF traces its history back to the formation of the Central Flying School at Point Cook in Victoria in 1913. By 1914, it was known as the Australian Flying Corps (AFC).

Lieutenant-E-Harrison

Lieutenant Eric Harrison [Australian War Memorial A03916]

On 1 March that year, Lieutenant Eric Harrison made the first military flight in Australia using a Bristol Boxkite, registered CFS 3.

Military aviation came of age during World War I when Australia’s four AFC squadrons were primarily involved in reconnaissance. Many AFC veterans helped lay the groundwork for the future RAAF after the war.

During 1920, the AFC was replaced by the Australian Air Corps, which in turn became the Australian Air Force on 31 March 1921. King George V approved the prefix ‘Royal’ for what became only the second Royal air arm to be formed in the British Commonwealth, following the Royal Air Force.

In World War II, Australian aircrew fought throughout the world including Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, over the North Atlantic, the Indian and Pacific Oceans, India and Asia.

Today, the RAAF employs about 14,000 men and women, supported by 4,000 Air Force Reservists and 800 civilian public servants at a range of offices and 11 major bases across Australia.

100 Years of Australian Military Aviation 2014 1oz Silver Proof Coin

Commemorating 100 years of Australian military aviation, this 2014 release portrays an historic Bristol Boxkite, a pusher biplane in which early Australian aviators learned to fly. The design also includes a F/A-18 Hornet, an integral part of Australia’s modern air combat capability.

Centenary-of-Military-Aviation-in-Australia

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Mar 102015
 

In military tradition, the Last Post is the bugle call signalling the end of the military day. Historically, it was part of ‘Tattoo’, thought to have originated with British troops stationed in Holland during the 17th century.

The custom included the First Post which marked the start of evening inspection (beginning at the first sentry post). In between the sounding of First and Last Post, a drum was beaten to call off-duty soldiers in from local hostelries. The word tattoo comes from the Dutch for “turn off the beer taps”.

The Last Post was eventually incorporated into military funerals where it symbolises that the duty of the dead is over and that they can rest in peace. It is an equally important and moving component of commemorative services held each Remembrance Day and ANZAC Day in Australia.

On these occasions the Last Post is followed by a minutes silence, which is broken by another bugle call – either Reveille, or more usually, the Rouse.

Reveille derives from the old French word meaning ‘wake up’ and for hundreds of years has been sounded to awaken soldiers at sunrise. While the Last Post is associated with death, Reveille symbolises resurrection.

A shorter call, the Rouse, was the signal for soldiers to arise and attend to their duties. While the Rouse is most commonly used in conjunction with the Last Post at remembrance services during the daytime, Reveille is the bugle call heard at ANZAC Day dawn services.

2015 Anzac Day $1 Coin in Card

This year’s ANZAC Day $1 uncirculated coin marks 100 years since Gallipoli. Portraying a line of diggers with the inscription Lest We Forget, the coin is housed in a display card illustrated with a silhouetted Australian trumpeter sounding the Last Post and Reveille.

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