The Illinois National Guard and Australian Consul General Chris Elstoft commemorated the first time American forces fought side by side with the Australians as part of the series of events celebrating the 300th birthday of the Illinois National Guard in Springfield on May 6.
The American military forces that fought side by side with the Australians at the Battle of Hamel on July 4, 1918 were from the 33rd Infantry Division of the Illinois National Guard. The Battle of Hamel was just the beginning of a strong and close relationship, Elstoft said.
“Our shared history remains vital to today’s friendship.”
Rain disrupted planned outdoor events and forced the ceremony to take shelter inside Union Station, near the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.
Illinois National Guard Command historian Adriana Schroeder shared the story of the Illinois National Guard and Australian forces during the Battle of Hamel, July 4, 1918.
“At the end of June 1918, the 33rd Division was attached to the British Fourth Army for rear sector training,” Schroeder said. “During this time, Companies C and E, 131st Infantry and Companies A and G, 132nd Infantry were selected and attached to the Australian Corps with the mission of capturing the town of Hamel. Precisely at midnight on July 3, the attacking troops emerged from the trenches and opened their Independence Day by crawling back to the starting point. There they waited for zero hour. At 3:10 a.m. on July 4, after eight minutes of artillery preparation, 1,000 American soldiers marched with three Australian brigades and attacked from behind a barrage of artillery fire.”
Side by side, the Australians and Americans, working together, silenced the German guns and crews when they encountered them.
Schroeder said the troops overcame German resistance at 4 a.m., paused for 10 minutes to reorganize behind a dense smoke screen, and reached the final objective at 5 a.m.
“At dusk the enemy launched a counterattack, capturing five Australians and two Americans and about 80 meters of the front-line trench,” he said. “Company G, 132nd Infantry participated in repelling the counterattack. Just before the enemy retreated, the first platoon of Company E flanked the right, while a platoon of Australians flanked the left. Not only did they recapture the five Australian soldiers and two American soldiers, but they managed to capture 57 German soldiers and secure their machine guns.”
The Americans’ conduct drew high praise from Australian commanders, but even more appreciated was the verdict of the Australian soldiers, he told those gathered at the ceremony.
“The history of the 131st says: ‘The men of the 131st will always have as their motto the comment of their comrades-in-arms in that July 4th battle: ‘You’ll kill us, Yankees, but you’re a little tough. ,'” she said.
On 5 July, Lieutenant General John Monash, commander of the Australian Army, wrote a letter to Major General George Bell, commander of the 33rd Division. It read in part: “That the soldiers of the United States and Australia have been associated for the first time in such close cooperation on the battlefield is a historic event of such importance that it will live forever in the annals of our respective countries.” ”. nations.”
Maj. Gen. Rodney Boyd, deputy adjutant general of the Army and commander of the Illinois Army National Guard, said the Australian and U.S. military forces have a deep and long-standing partnership.
“As you heard today, this partnership began with the Illinois National Guard and the Australians at the Battle of Hamel,” he said. “Since the Battle of Hamel, Australians and Americans have fought together in every major international conflict. “We are the strongest allies.”
Boyd quoted Shakespeare in King Henry: “We few, a happy few, a band of brothers. For whoever sheds his blood with me today, he will be my brother.”
“Australians have shed their blood with us many times and are our brothers and sisters,” he said. “The United States and Australia face greater security problems as a result of an increasingly assertive China. But we face those challenges together.”
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin recently said that “the United States and Australia share a vision of a region where countries can determine their own future and should be able to pursue security and prosperity free from coercion and intimidation.”
“For decades, our two nations have stood side by side, defending our shared values ​​and fighting for the freedoms we hold dear. We have faced numerous challenges together, from the jungles of Vietnam to the mountains of Afghanistan, the deserts of Iraq and, of course, the numerous battlefields of World Wars I and II,” Boyd said. “It all started with a classic victory in 1918 over the Germans in a small town called Le Hamel in northern France. Our military partnership is built on a foundation of trust, respect, shared goals and shared sacrifices. We recognize that the security of our two nations is closely intertwined and we work tirelessly to ensure that our militaries are prepared to respond to any threat, anywhere in the world. “We are proud that the Illinois National Guard was present from the beginning of this strong relationship between two militaries and two great nations.”
Illinois Army National Guard Col. Michael Eastridge, former commander of the 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, who holds the lineage of many of the units that fought side by side with the Australians at the Battle of Hamel, He said that the soldiers were together less than a month before the battle of Hamel.
“The American soldiers were green, but eager to fight,” he said. “Australian soldiers were battle-hardened after years of war.”
He said the only disagreements between Australians and Americans came when one of our Illinois farmers occasionally confused an Australian with a Briton.
“The Diggers hated being mistaken for a Tommie; in their opinion they were tougher and better fighters than the British,” he said. “But they respected the courage of the Americans under fire.”
Eastridge said the Australians and Illinois National Guard soldiers worked closely and interchangeably.
“During the battle, the Americans were paired with Australian runners and medics to help prepare the American soldiers. The value of this combination of experience and inexperience proved valuable,” he said. “The Diggers and Doughboys were a great match. They still are. One thing that hasn’t changed is the arrogance of American and Australian soldiers. Both our American soldiers and our Australian allies share the confidence that they can overcome any obstacle and defeat any enemy. And we are still great friends.”
Elstoft, the consul general, said Australia also values ​​its shared history with the Illinois National Guard dating back to the Battle of Hamel. “We fought side by side, but I think you were under our command,” he said, smiling.
That, he said, “hasn’t happened much since then,” as the United States has become one of the strongest military powers in the world. Just as Lincoln’s name is published throughout Illinois, the name of the Australian commander of Australian and American forces during the Battle of Hamel, General John Monash, is published throughout Australia as one of the most prominent national heroes of its nation.
Eastridge said the Australians got along very well with the Americans from “the beginning.”
“They both shared a tough frontier arrogance. They also shared a democratic outlook on military rules and regulations and, frankly, both shared a distaste for the haughtiness and attitude of British officers towards the soldiers of their former colonies.”
He said that the Americans and Australians still get along very well and now they get along better with the British too.

Date to be had: 05.06.2023
Publication date: 14.09.2023 14:57
Story ID: 453446

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