Back in early June, the Navy Health Reserve was asked to provide some health staff for an Army exercise, Exercise Hamel, to be held at the end of June 2016. In itself, this request was nothing unusual; such requests for support of military operations and exercises are frequent. What was interesting is that I had no clear idea as to what or who Hamel was, although I am sure many of my Army colleagues could have enlightened me.
Ninety-eight years ago, on 04 July 1918, the Australian 4th Division of the Australian Imperial Force, supported by the Australian 11th and 16th Brigades, British 5th Tank Brigade and four companies of the U.S. 56th Brigade carried out a successful attack against German positions in and around the town of Le Hamel in northern France during World War I. The battle was planned and commanded by Lieutenant General John Monash, who using a combined arms attack, achieved all of his objectives in 93 minutes, just three minutes longer than he calculated. Allied losses were 1,062 Australian casualties (including 800 dead) and 176 American casualties during the main attack. Around 2,000 Germans were killed and 1,600 captured, along with the loss of much of their equipment and a large quantity of British equipment that they had been captured in April. Two Australians, Thomas Axford and Henry Dalziel, were awarded the Victoria Cross for their actions during the battle.1
While small in scale, the combined arms tactics used in the Battle of Hamel proved to be very useful against entrenched troops and would be used successfully in larger battles, such as the Battle of Amiens, later in the war. It was also the first time that American troops participated in an offensive action under non-American command, although General Pershing set out explicit instructions after the battle to prevent further such use of US troops.2
Our third issue of 2016 addresses a range of diverse areas. Malaria, as both a maritime and operational threat, is addressed in two excellent articles. There is also a focus on veterans’ health, with articles on predictors of depression, reproductive health, men’s health and the utility of hippotherapy in veterans. Finally, there is an interesting historical article on medical support to the U.S occupation of Veracruz, Mexico, in 1914.
We continue to get a good range of articles, but other military and veterans’ health articles are always very welcome and we would encourage all our readers to consider writing on their areas of military or veterans’ health interest. Our themes are now available for both 2016 and 2017 to allow for authors to research and develop their articles – we certainly welcome articles in these areas but welcome any articles across the broader spectrum of military health. We would also encourage authors who are preparing to present at the AMMA Conference in October to consider writing up their presentations for publication in the Journal.
Dr Andy Robertson, CSC, PSM