This Week in History | Week 31By The Cove July 21, 2020
Week 31 | 27 July - 02 August
27 July 1942 | Formation of the Australian Women's Land Army
With many male agricultural workers leaving their farms to enlist, Australia required rural labour to produce food and other raw materials for the war effort. Women's organisations responded by setting up "land armies" in each state and many of these women were later absorbed into the Australian Women's Land Army. It was open to all women who were British subjects or "friendly aliens" between the ages of 18 and 50 not already engaged in rural work. (AWM)
27 July 1942 | Fighting at Ruin Ridge
On the night of the 26-27 July 1942, the 2/28th Battalion suffered 65 fatalities and 490 captured, in an attack on a place called Ruin Ridge in Egypt. The attack was the final assault in what is called the first battle of Alamein.
Peter Stanley originally presented Remembering 1942: Ruin Ridge on Sunday, 28 July 2002 beside the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial, as part of the Roll of Honour Talks series.
31 July 1917 | The Third Battle of Ypres
In the countryside near the Belgian town of Ypres, Australians fought in one of the most costly and horrific campaigns of World War I. Many of them died or were wounded in the epic struggle. The Third Battle of Ypres commenced on 31 July and continued until 10 November 1917. The objective of the battle was for British and French forces to roll back the German positions along the low-lying ridges south of Ypres and break through the German lines towards the Channel coast. After eight major British attacks, conducted over more than 3 months, the Canadian troops finally captured Passchendaele early in November. This marked the end of the offensive and the failure of the British strategic plan. The Allies had suffered some 310,000 casualties, of whom some 38,000 were Australian, and the Germans lost about 270,000 men.
After a preliminary battle at Messines, Australians took part in five major battles during the campaign. Often referred to as Passchendaele, the objective of the Australians' final battle, the campaign is also known as 'the Third Battle of Ypres.' The difficulty of pronouncing the name Ypres led many in the British armies to refer to the town and the campaign as 'Wipers'.
31 July 1962 | The advance party of the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam (AATTV) arrives in South Vietnam
Colonel Ted Serong, Commander of AATTV, flies into Saigon ahead of the main body, which would arrive on 3 August. The arrival of "the Team" signalled the beginning of more than ten years of Australian involvement in the Vietnam War.
02 August 1941 | Last major action involving Australians at Tobruk
After its capture Tobruk was garrisoned by the 9th Division, elements of the 7th Division and other Allied units. The town was surrounded on three sides by the German Afrika Korps in April and remained besieged, but was able to be re-supplied by sea until December. Most Australians however, left Tobruk between August and October.
02 August 1990 | Iraq invades Kuwait
On this day in 1990, at about 2 a.m. local time, Iraqi forces invade Kuwait, Iraq’s tiny, oil-rich neighbour. Kuwait’s defense forces were rapidly overwhelmed and those that were not destroyed retreated to Saudi Arabia. The emir of Kuwait, his family, and other government leaders fled to Saudi Arabia, and within hours Kuwait City had been captured and the Iraqis had established a provincial government. By annexing Kuwait, Iraq gained control of 20 percent of the world’s oil reserves and, for the first time, a substantial coastline on the Persian Gulf. The same day, the United Nations Security Council unanimously denounced the invasion and demanded Iraq’s immediate withdrawal from Kuwait.