Military History

This week in History | Week 51

By The Cove December 14, 2020

Week 51 | 14 - 20 December


14 December 1941 | Japanese forces land at Penang, Malaya

Penang's military importance lay in the island's port facilities and its stocks of ammunition and stores. When the allies were unable to stop the Japanese advance on the mainland it became clear that the island would have to be evacuated.


15 December 1915 | Evacuation of ANZAC forces from Gallipoli begins

In a well-planned operation, Allied forces withdrew from Anzac and Suvla between 15 and 20 December 1915. After the failure of the August Offensive, some senior officers began to question the value of remaining at Gallipoli. The British forces really needed reinforcements on the Western Front and at Salonika. In October, the British replaced General Sir Ian Hamilton with Lieutenant-General Sir Charles Munro. Munro immediately proposed evacuation.

On 22 November, the British decided to evacuate Anzac and Suvla. Planning moved quickly and efficiently. The evacuation of Anzac started on 15 December. Over 5 nights, 36,000 troops were withdrawn to the waiting transport ships. The last party left in the early hours of 20 December from North Beach at Anzac Cove. British and French forces remained at Helles until 9 January 1916.

Gallipoli was a failure for the Allies, with some 44,000 soldiers killed in an attempt to take the peninsula from the Ottomans. Victory came at a high price for the Ottoman Empire, which lost at least 87,000 men during the campaign.


18 December 1944 | 'Arty' Hill, Bougainville, captured

'Arty Hill', as it was known, was captured by the Queensland 9th Battalion, and was a major Japanese position on the Numa Numa Trail leading across Bougainville.


20 December 1917 | Second conscription referendum held in Australia

With the AIF further weakened by the losses of 1917, W.M. Hughes again asked Australians to vote for conscription for overseas service. The proposal was again defeated.



The Cove

The home of the Australian Profession of Arms.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Australian Army, the Department of Defence or the Australian Government.

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