Centenary of Mateship (1918-2018) at the Embassy of Australia

AAFSW President Dr. Joanna Athanasopoulos Owen at the celebration of Mateship, June 15, 2018

On Friday, June 15, 2018, the Head of the Australian Defense Staff and the Australian Defense Attache of the Embassy of Australia, Air Vice Marshal Alan Clements, CSC, inaugurated the art exhibition: “Diggers and Doughboys: The Art of Allies 100 years on Centenary of Mateship.” AAFSW President Joanna Athanasopoulos Owen, PhD was present to celebrate this important anniversary, which indicates 100 years since 1918, the first year that people from the United States, Australia, and New Zealand fought side by side with a common goal.

The Ambassador of Australia speaks at the event.

Indeed, in 1918 a new mateship was forged in battle. Australian General Sir John Monash was the first non-American to command U.S. soldiers in an offensive action — at the Battle of Hamel on the Western front in France in 1918. It was also the American troops’ first offensive action of the First World War. Four American companies were under Monash’s command, which proved to be a turning point in the Battle of the Somme. In honor and respect of the Americans he was leading, Monash chose July 4, 1918 for the assault on the strategically important town. In just 93 minutes, the town of Hamel was captured by the Allies. Sir John Monash is considered one of the best Allied Generals of the First World War and is Australia’s most famous military commander.

But Hamel is only the beginning of a century-long story. Throughout the 20th century, servicemen and servicewomen from Australia and the United States have served side by side, as friends and allies, in every major conflict, from WW1 to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. Indeed, Australia and the United States have fought side by side in every major conflict since 1918, such as: First World War (1914-1918), Second World War (1939-45), Cold War (1947-1991), Korean War (1950-1953), Vietnam War (1962-1975), Gulf War I (1990-1991), Somalia (1992-1995), War on Terror (since 2001), Gulf War II (2003-2011), Afghanistan (since 2001), Counter-ISIL in Iraq/Syria (since 2014).

“Diggers and Doughboys,” the art exhibition currently in the Australian Embassy, emphasizes that on July 4, 2018, 100 years of mateship is commemorated. This is a unique bond forged in blood and shared sacrifice that endures through mutual respect and shared values. The bond on the battleground also forged an enduring partnership with the United States that would be formalized in September 1951 in the ANZUS Treaty (Australia – New Zealand – USA). According to HE the Australian Ambassador to the USA Joe Hockey, to this day, the ANZUS Treaty remains the cornerstone of Australia’s national security.

Celebrating 100 years ofMateship.

As shown on the big poster by the entrance of the art exhibition, one of Australia’s most iconic war-time images, no one embodies the spirit of mateship and enduring friendship between Australia and the United States more than Australian Army Corporal Leslie “Bull” Allen. During the Second World War, on July 30, 1943 at Mount Tambu, New Guinea, Corporal Allen safely rescued twelve United States soldiers from the front line. For his bravery, he was awarded the Silver Star by the United States.

There is no doubt that the mateship between Australia and the United States will further develop and strengthen over the next hundred years in many areas such as: government partnership; economy, trade and investment; tourism and hospitality; defense and security; innovation, science and research; education and skills; community relations and engagement; arts and culture; and sports.

Joanna Athanasopoulos Owen, PhD
AAFSW President