100-Year Tribute to the Battle of Passchendaele

October 13, 2017

On Friday 13th October 2017 Lanham Financial Advisory hosted a Legacy Luncheon as a 100-Year Tribute to The Battle of Passchendaele.

The Battle of Passchendaele took place on the Western Front in October 1917, for control of the ridges south and east of the Belgian city of Ypres. Passchendaele lay on the last ridge east of Ypres, which was vital to the supply system of the German Army.

The campaign in Passchendaele was controversial in 1917 and has remained so. The choice of Passchendaele over areas further south, the weather in the region, the nature of the attack, and the human cost of the campaign have been argued over ever since.

The main presentation during the luncheon was delivered by Ashley Ekins, who is Head, Military Historian at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. Mr Ekins delivered a composed, yet emotional examination of the controversies at Passchendaele and informed the audience that for the decade that followed the Great War, just the mention of the word Passchendaele sent shivers down most people’s spines.

Mr Ekins stated that “the cost was enormous to gain simply 5 miles of ground, at the cost of 275,000 casualties of whom 77,000 were dead among the Australia there were 38,000 casualties with 12,000 dead in the space of three months, is just an astonishing figure”.

The audience learnt that in the month of October, 100 years ago, 12,000 Australians died in France and Belgium. In 1917 a total of 22,000 Australians lost their lives, which is possibly the worst year in Australia’s history.

Mr Ekins also explained how disappointing it is that Passchendaele is now the forgotten battle, and that less significant battles now hold the imagination of the Australian media and public.

Our CEO Peter Lanham was MC for the luncheon and also presented on the significance of the four major battles at Messines, Menin Road, Polygon Wood and Broodseinde, that preceded the Battle of Passchendaele. Mr Lanham also took the audience through a real life experience of the recitation the Ode of Remembrance at the Last Post ceremony that has been held every night since 1927 at Menin Gate as a tribute to the Australians who fell in the Ypres salient in 1917.

The luncheon opened with Mr Lanham paying tribute to Flight Lieutenant Fred Cassidy OAM from Peakhurst, who passed away age 94 in early September. Mr Cassidy was to be a guest speaker at the luncheon and many of the audience who were at the 2016 Legacy Luncheon fondly recalled his stories of ‘dive bombing’ the Japanese destroyers during the heights of the Battle of the Bismarck Seas (1945).

Paul Lane, the President of Sydney Legacy, spoke about the wonderful 94-year history of the greatly respected charity that cares for families of those who have served our country and given their lives or health as a result of that service.

In the Sutherland Shire there are many families who are cared for by Legacy and the luncheon’s primary purpose was to raise funds to ensure that each of those local children are able to attend the annual Legacy Kids’ Camp that will be again held at Moss Vale over Christmas.

Local 19-year-old Jacob Till was interviewed by Mr Lanham. Jacob’s father, Sergeant Brett Till, was the 10th Australian soldier killed in Afghanistan. Jacob spoke fondly of the Junior Legacy trip to The Somme in 2016, and also about the life-long friends that he has made from the Junior Camps over the last decade. With the support of Legacy, Jacob is now studying Construction Engineering and is a promising second rower for Southern Districts Rugby Club.

Brighton resident Gary Pearson, a former President of St George and Sutherland Division of Legacy, closed the luncheon by congratulating Peter and Lanham Financial Advisory for their work in providing financial advice for the widows from the Afghanistan conflict. He provided a first hand recount of the steep learning curve that the young widows and Veteran Affairs had in dealing with the unique family circumstances of our Shire residence.

The luncheon had no raffles, or auctions. Instead significant funds for the Legacy Children’s annual camp through the generous donations of the guests. It was a wonderful day where guests were provided with an abundance of historical recount, in a relaxed atmosphere where they had ample time to enjoy each other’s company. Cronulla RSL provided the perfect venue.

All in all an amazing day.

You can view photographs taken throughout the day by visiting our Facebook Page