A hundred years since Australia's most costly year of the war

On Saturday in Glen Innes, there will be a ceremony of Remembrance for those who fought died in the First World War and also subsequent wars, including the 810 from the town who served and the 120 who never came back.

1917 was Australia's costliest year of the First World War - 22,000 Australians died, 120 of them from Glen Innes. They, in particular, will be remembered on Saturday, November 11 at a ceremony in Anzac Park. Gordon Taylor, President of the Returned and Services League explains why it is important to remember.

It is a big milestone in that it’s the lead up to the centenary of the end of the “War to end all wars” but also because in 1917 there were terrible battles in which many Australians died.

The Australian Strategic Policy Insitute says 1917 was Australia’s “most stressful and costly year of the war”.

Anzac Park. The names are those of the 810 who served. Those who died have a star alongside.

Anzac Park. The names are those of the 810 who served. Those who died have a star alongside.

It explains why: “Australians would fight futilely at Bullecourt (twice), at the bloody but seemingly successful offensive at Messines, and in the three-month-long ordeal of the third battle of Ypres, expressed forever in the word Passchendaele, the name of the obliterated, mud-bound village where the Flanders offensive finally ended.

“By the year’s end, nearly as many Australians were to die in battle as had died in the war so far – almost 22,000. More Australians were to die in 1917 than in any year in our history, and most of them violently, and arguably for little gain. Even the successes in Palestine (at Beersheba, part of the third battle of Gaza, which brought the capture of Jerusalem) were countered by the debacles of the first two attempts to take Gaza.”