Tuesday 13 August 

12:00-1:30 pm, Adams Auditorium, UNSW Canberra at ADFA


Approaching the Battles for Bullecourt, April-May 1917

Following the German withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line in early 1917, the British Armies found themselves faced with heavily fortified, pre-prepared positions that were a greater obstacle that they had faced on the Somme the year before. The Australians found themselves facing the Hindenburg Line at its outposts in the area of Bullecourt, insignificant but for events that would follow. From early April, when outposts villages like Noreuil were attacked and captured, 1st Anzac Corps conducted a series of operations to advance the line and break the Hindenburg Line. What would follow was a series of poorly-planned, unevenly executed operations that resulted in more than 10,000 Australian casualties for few material gains. Following on from 1st Anzac Corps' series of attacks at Pozieres in 1916, the Bullecourt battles are an important point of comparison in understanding learning processes on the Western Front. This paper will discuss the importance and difficulties in breaking down operations like this in order to gain a better and different understanding of the operational conduct of First World War.

Dr Meleah Hampton

Meleah Hampton is a historian at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra. A graduate of the University of Adelaide, she is the author of two books on 1st Anzac Corps at Pozieres in 1916 (Attack on the Somme: 1st Anzac Corps and the Battle of Pozieres Ridge, 1916 (Helion, 2016) and the Australian Army Campaign Series book on Pozieres, 2018), and a contributor to a number collected works. She is a member of the editorial board for the newly relaunched British Journal of Military History (Vol. 5, Issue 1 available now at and is also a member of the editorial team responsible for the Memorial's Wartime magazine.



'[O]ne needs a special Pal in a place like this’: Relationships between Australian nurses during the First World War

While the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) recognised the importance of personal relationships as a source of morale amongst its fighting troops, less attention was devoted to fostering similar bonds amongst the nurses of the Australian Army Nursing Service (AANS). However, the personal and professional relationships between Australian army nurses during the First World War proved pivotal to their professional and emotional lives throughout the conflict. The support of a ‘special Pal’ who shared in their experiences had the potential to provide significant comfort and reassurance through some of the more trying aspects of life as wartime nurse. Relationships between nurses also provided a wider sense of solidarity, and a foundation from which these women could form a collective identity as Australian army nurses. This sense of unity and collective identity helped some nurses to challenge the social and behavioural restrictions they encountered as women in an overwhelmingly masculine space. Drawing on both official documents and nurses’ diaries and correspondence, this paper will explore the function and significance of personal relationships, and some of the external factors that facilitated and disrupted relationships between Australian army nurses. It will suggest that, despite the significance of these personal relationships, the administration and structure of the AANS and more broadly, the Australian Army Medical Corps (AAMC), often inhibited bonds between nurses, and that the disruption of personal relationships between nurses limited the formation of a wider shared identity amongst these women. 

Jaclyn Hopkins

Jaclyn Hopkins is a PhD candidate at La Trobe University. Her thesis examines the relationships and emotional experiences of Australian army nurses during the First World War. She is interested in nurses’ emotional labour, and their relationships and interactions with those on the battle and home fronts.  She was also a 2017 Summer Scholar at the Australian War Memorial.