Anzac Day Time to Remember a Forgotten DSO Hero

Discussion in 'Military Biographies' started by liverpool annie, Apr 28, 2009.

  1. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    You’ll hear a lot about Gallipoli.

    Take Anzac Day 1918 and a Queensland farmer by the name of Thomas William Glasgow, who sternly stood up, not only to his English superior officers, but to the enemy at Villiers-Bretonneux.

    This is four years after Gallipoli. And it is proof that Australians did, change the course of World War I. We fought, well above our weight.

    Thomas Glasgow, or "Bill" as they called him, was just 23 years old when he found himself sailing for the Boer War in South Africa as a lieutenant in the Australian Light Horse.

    His efforts there earned him the Distinguished Service Order.

    Glasgow was a major in the Light Horse unit at Gympie when World War I broke out and found himself sailing for Egypt, as second in command, of the AIF 2nd Light Horse Regiment.

    He again distinguished himself at Gallipoli and came out of that campaign as a Lieutenant-Colonel.

    He was 40 when he was promoted to Brigadier-General and given the job of raising and commanding the 13th Australian Infantry Brigade, for service on the Western Front. And this was his finest hour.

    It was on April 25, 1918, that Glasgow was to write his name into Australian history, at the second battle of Villiers-Bretonneux. A victory which the Australian senior commander in France, General Sir John Monash, was to call, "the turning point of the war."

    Two Australian brigades, Glasgow's 13th and the 15th, were given the job of re-taking Villiers-Bretonneux, a French village, vital to the integrity of the whole Allied line.

    It had been captured from the exhausted British, the night before.

    The Germans had ousted the British there, with an attack led for the first time by tanks. The Germans were cranking up the ferocity.

    Then an Aussie weighed in. When the two Australian infantry brigades were called in to help, Glasgow went to see the British 8th Division commander, General Heneker, some several kilometers away, to discuss battle plans. Glasgow decided to go see the potential battleground for himself.

    He told Heneker he’d decided to start the attack from a north-south line, clear of the enemy, between the forest and Cachy village and to attack eastwards, but south of Villiers-Bretonneux.

    Now for a subordinate to front his commanding officers was nothing short of extraordinary. But he knew what needed to be done.

    He was promptly told ‘no’. The British Corps commander said the attack was to be made from Cachy. But Glasgow stood his ground and gave the commanders as good as a gobfull.

    And ultimately he got what he asked for. Also convincing the British that their plans to attack just after dawn were ludicrous. He argued for a later start, and won that argument too.

    And guess what? Despite a few extremely hairy moments - waiting for British back-up troops - when Glasgow got his men inside Villers-Brettenoux, the Australian-style attack on the Germans was a resounding success.

    The swiftness and finality it imposed, at a critical point, and the success attained in spite of flouting a few old rules for such operations, have caused this attack to be cited, as the most impressive operation of its kind on the Western Front.

    World War I official historian, C.E.W. Bean, said that without Glasgow's strength, holding his point against the pressure of a hierarchy of commanders, the effort would have been futile.

    In fact, Glasgow remains one of our greatest heroes, because American Commanders maintain that his recapturing of that part of the Western Front changed the course of the War.

    So Anzac Day provides an opportunity to look at how Australians helped shape the world, as we know it today. And as I said, for a new nation –barely ten years old – Glasgow’s was a towering achievement.

    Ultimately, he was promoted to Major General and given command of the Australian 1st Division. He returned to Australia and left the AIF, exactly five years to the day, after he enlisted. Five years of breathtaking influence.

    In 1919, Glasgow was knighted and went back to the land, raising cattle in central Queensland.

    He went into Federal Parliament as a Senator in 1920 and served as Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Defence. In 1940, Sir William became Australia's first High Commissioner to Canada and served in that office until 1945. He died in 1955.

    Anzac Day, more than just a time to remember. It’s a time to be proud of our role in the fight for freedom.

    Sir Thomas William Glasgow, you’re a star.
  2. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

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