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A squadron of 13 LH on patrol during the Battle of Amiens August 1918 (VMR Museum Collection)

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Military History Tours

Military History Tours was the brainchild of Lieutenant Colonel Paul Murphy RFD (Ret'd), it operated from 1989 'till 2018. The formula was unique, using the skills of former soldiers where their stock in trade was situation analysis and battle preparation to act as volunteer battlefield guides. Further military skills of administration and as every soldier corporal and above is an accomplished instructor were exploited to create memorable experiences.

Tours covered most areas where Australians fought including every Centenary of Anzac commemoration. Of particular significance, Military History Tours, largely through Paul efforts, caused the first ever Dawn Service to be held at the Australian National Memorial at Villers Bretonneux in France in 2008. Also, as part of the 100th Anniversary of the Gallipoli Landings in 2015, he conducted a Surf Boat race in Turkey, featuring crews from Australia, New Zealand and Turkey, rowing down the Dardanelles, into the Aegean Sea, and finishing off ANZAC Cove.

One very important service provided by Military History Tours included helping our customers find out details of their ancestors’ service and when applicable, where they were wounded, killed, and where they fought.

The following pages are included to cover the period 1989 to 2018, and to summarise what the tours involved, and what it took to make them run. For example, the first ever Dawn Service at Villers Bretonneux, the Australian National Memorial built to honour our soldiers’ contribution to victory on the Western Front in World War 1, involved almost 2 years of battle between Military History Tours and the Federal Government. Some of the actions taken by the Department of Veteran Affairs, and Australian War Graves, were outrageous and now deserve telling. This is covered in the tour summaries attached. Only when the Government finally realised that the Service was going ahead, with or without them, that they came to Paul and offered to run it. Thanks to the massive attendance at the Service, it is now an annual Dawn Service

Following the Service at Villers Bretonneux, on 25 April, 2018, the 100th Anniversary of the battle that ultimately led to the way to how the war was conducted, and the promotion of General Sir John Monash to command of all Australian troops, Paul returned to Australia, secure in the knowledge that the commemoration of our ANZAC veterans would continue forever. However, any plans for Military History Tours to continue were severely interrupted when Paul had a health matter that required open heart surgery. He is now retired.

 

Villers Bretonneux

 

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