Talisman Sabre troops honor Australians killed during World War I and beyond
By SETH ROBSON | STARS AND STRIPES Published: July 23, 2019
BOWEN, Australia — Military leaders from the U.S., Australia and Japan — in town for the biennial Talisman Sabre exercise — laid wreaths at a memorial to fallen Australian soldiers on the final day of maneuvers in this northern Queensland town.
Troops from several service branches of the nations that are participating in the monthlong drills gathered Tuesday at the Bowen War Memorial near the center of town to pay tribute to those who had made the ultimate sacrifice during World War I and beyond.
U.S. Marine Col. Matthew Sieber, an exchange officer with the Australian Army, laid a wreath on behalf of American forces.
“This is a good way to show our respect for those who have done this for years and years before us,” he told the other troops, noting that U.S. and Australian soldiers have fought side by side since the Battle of Hamel in northern France in 1918.
The memorial is topped by sandstone statue of a “digger,” as Australian soldiers were affectionately called during World War I. It was built by citizens of the town to commemorate those who died in service or were killed in action during that conflict. Later, plaques were added that list the names of locals killed in other conflicts.
Maj. Chris Thomson, the Australian Army officer in charge of exercise control in Bowen, said the cenotaph is typical of monuments in small towns all over Australia.
“Anyone who has sacrificed in conflict is represented by these memorials,” he told those in attendance.
Andrew Willcox, mayor of the Whitsunday Region, which includes Bowen, thanked the troops for keeping the community safe by showing the strength needed to resolve conflicts through diplomacy.
“This cenotaph is used on ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day,” he said. “We honor Australian and New Zealander troops and all the allies and also the people who we fought against who lost their lives.”