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Australian War Memorial in Canberra

Thursday 10 September 2014

The plan for today was to visit the Australian War Memorial so Di could find the name of her great uncle Leslie James Corrigan on the Roll of Honour.

Leslie James Corrigan had served with the Tasmanian Bushmen in the Boer War in 1900 - 02, and enlisted again in October 1914 with the 3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment, and served at Gallipoli from May 1915. On 30 August 1915 he received a serious gun shot wound to the head at Quinn's Post and was evacuated to hospital in Alexandria. The Light Horse were sent to Palestine after the withdrawal from Gallipoli at the end of 1915 and were reunited with their horses. He re-joined his Regiment in May 1916 and was again wounded in action at the Battle of Romani. He died of malignant malaria on 24 October 1918, a few weeks before the end of the war, and is buried in the Jerusalem War Cemetery in Israel.

When we arrived at the memorial we joined a tour of the WW1 and WW2 galleries with a volunteer guide who was a walking encyclopaedia on the Memorial and its contents. After our conducted tour, we had lunch at the restaurant, then returned to spend more time in the World War 1 Gallery, before moving on to the WW2 Gallery, and the Hall of Valour that celebrates the recipients of the Victoria Cross.

There were two stand out winners of the Victoria Cross:

Albert Jacka was the first Australian to be decorated with the VC during the First World War, receiving the medal for his actions during the Gallipoli Campaign. He later served on the Western Front and was twice further decorated with the Military Cross for his bravery in actions that were both considered the equal of his VC award.

Keith Payne served in Korea, Malaya, Vietnam and Dhofor, winning a VC for an action in Vietnam. He holds more than twenty awards and service medals that are displayed at the War Memorial. While David was reading his service record, two 12 year old boys in school uniforms sidled up and decided that "This guy must have done something awesome". I think that they all did something awesome.

Another person who is celebrated at the Memorial but did not receive a VC is Ordinary Seaman Edward Sheean who was born at Barrington in Tasmania. Sheean served aboard HMAS Armidale as she initially took part in escort duties along the eastern Australian coast, in New Guinea waters, before the Armidale was tasked with assisting Australian operations in Timor. During a subsequent confrontation with thirteen Japanese aircraft on 1 December, Armidale was struck by two torpedoes and a bomb, and began to sink; and the order to abandon ship was given.

After helping to free a life-raft, Sheean was wounded by two bullets. He made his way to the aft Oerlikon 20 mm cannon and began to fire on the Japanese aircraft to protect those in the water. Sheean managed to shoot down one of the Japanese bombers, and was still firing the gun as the Armidale sank. Many of the survivors credited their life to Sheean and he was posthumously Mentioned in Despatches.

On 1 May 1999, the submarine HMAS Sheean was launched by Ivy Hayes (sister of Teddy Sheean) named in the ordinary seaman's honour. HMAS Sheean was subsequently commissioned into the Royal Australian Navy on 23 February 2001, and was the first Royal Australian Navy vessel to be named in honour of a naval rating and efforts have been made to have Sheean belatedly awarded the Victoria Cross for Australia.

A number of aircraft are on display at the War Memorial including a Lancaster Bomber. The Avro Lancaster B1, known as "G for George", has a remarkable history. "G for George" flew ninety operational missions over Germany and occupied Europe during the height of the bomber offensive. From the time it was built in 1942 until its retirement from active service in 1944, the bomber was flown by No. 460 Squadron RAAF. At that time the average life of a Lancaster on bombing missions was about three months. A dramatic sound and light show re-creates a night bombing operation over Berlin in December 1943.

On the way out of the War Memorial Di found a photo of Prince Harry with a young re-headed boy - Red heads Rule.

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Old and New Parliament House from the steps of the War Memorial.

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Australian War Memorial Entrance.

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Di with the Statue of Simpson and his Donkey.

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Pool of Reflection.

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Eternal Flame.

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Ceiling of the Hall of Memory.

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Australian Light Horse depicted in the centre panel of a window of the Hall of Memory.

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Australian nurse depicted in the centre panel of a window of the Hall of Memory.

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Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

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World War 1 Roll of Honour.

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L J Corrigan on panel 3 of the WW 1 Roll of Honour.

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Crew of HMAS Armidale including Teddy Sheean.

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Painting of Teddy Sheean strapped to his Oerlikon Gun.

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Lancaster G for George.

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Red Heads Rule.

Posted by TwoAces 17:45

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