I don't know why people keep mocking the French military prowess, courage and so forth

Friday, 30 November, Year 4 d.Tr. | Author: Mircea Popescu

general-gordon-benettAllow me to introduce Lieutenant General Henry Gordon Bennett CPAi, CBii, CMGiii, DSOiv, VDv etc (pictured right), a sort of the good soldier Svejk except real rather than literary.

His exploits are too many to name, but chief among them :

  • During the landing at ANZAC Covevi on 25 April 1915, Bennett fought on the southern flank of the Anzac beachhead. He led 300 men of his battalion to an advanced position on Pine Ridge, south of Lone Pine. While directing the defence of this position, Bennett was wounded in the wrist and forced to retire to the beach for treatment. When the Turkish forces counter-attacked in the evening, the 6th Battalion force on Pine Ridge was isolated and wiped out to the last man.
  • In early May, the 2nd Brigade was selected to move to Cape Helles to reinforce the British forces for the Second Battle of Krithia. On 8 May, Bennett advanced with his battalion in "impossible conditions"vii. Bennett was the only officer of the 6th, and one of few in the 2nd Brigade, to survive the advance unscathed (except but a fleshwound on his other wrist).
  • On 26 July, having been moved to France, Bennett protested at the conditions his men had to endure :

    My men are being unmercifully shelled. They cannot hold out if an attack is launched. The firing line and my headquarters are being plastered with heavy guns and the town is being swept by shrapnel. I myself am O.K. but the front line is being buried.

    which shows he cared.

  • In 1919 Bennett moved to Sydney where he worked as a clothing manufacturer and public accountant.
  • When World War II broke out in 1939, although only 52, Bennett was passed over for command of the Australian Imperial Force (AIF), the position going to General Thomas Blamey. The Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Brudenell White seems to have been opposed to Bennett being given an active command, which is a mystery unresolved to this day.
  • In December 1941 the Japanese invasion of Malaya began. Bennett's withdrew to Singapore. On 8 February 1942 the Japanese landed in Singapore. Bennet abandoned his men and made it to Java on one of the very last ships (some hot comandeering action involved). Justice George Ligertwood, the head of the commission named to investigate his conduct, remembers him thus :

    Just as important to him was his wish to lead the Australian army, a consuming aspiration which had been sharpened by not being given an early command. His prejudice against regular officers and his ambition clouded his professional judgement at the most important point in his career. When his most cherished goals were in tatters, he convinced himself that blame for his failure lay with others.

Now, how exactly did the French get their warlike reputation ruined ? They've almost beat the very Germans something like fifty or sixty times during the many flare-ups of the yet unresolved Salian-Ripuarian debate. What exactly did the Aussies ever entertain successfuly in the field ?

  1. Chartered accountant. []
  2. The Most Honourable Order of the Bath, formerly The Most Honourable Military Order of the Bath, but not anymore. []
  3. The Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George. []
  4. Distinguished Service Order . []
  5. Venereal Disease. []
  6. ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, part of the Rabbit and Sheep Foot Division. The cove itself is hardly worth the mention, a quarter mile feature on the Gallipoli peninsula. []
  7. It was starting to get hot and the turks were throwing things. []
Category: Trilenciclopedia
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2 Responses

  1. One word: Frogmen!

  2. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Saturday, 1 December 2012

    Lol. You mean Pigmen ?

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