National

Hamel fighters remembered 100 years on

By AAP Newswire

Sydney soldier Harry Walter Dunn never got to see his War War I medal.

It was awarded after he died, aged 22, at the Battle of Hamel in northern France on July 4 in 1918.

He was one of about 1200 Australians killed, lost or wounded that day.

Gunner Dunn's great-niece Carole Miller proudly wore the medal on Wednesday when she laid a wreath for him and his older brother John at the Australian Corps Memorial at Hamel.

It was 100 years to the day since the battle.

"It's such a privilege to be able to come and remember them," an emotional Ms Miller said.

"I just think it's so important to remember they lost their lives and they were such young boys."

More than one thousand gathered in the hot sun for a sombre memorial service to pay their respects.

Before dawn in 1918, a united Australian Corps supported by American infantry surprised the Germans in an operation that lasted just 93 minutes.

The German losses were substantial - about 2000 - and 1600 were captured.

Australian Governor-General Peter Cosgrove called it "a stunning, quick and decisive victory" and paid tribute to Australian commander General John Monash on Wednesday.

"This was a battle of meticulous preparation, exacting strategy and well-laid plans executed to the finest detail," he told the service.

It shored up the Allied position and paved the way for a series of counter-attacks against the Germans, leading to an eventual Allied victory.

Siblings Jane Cox and Greg McKenzie made the long trip to Hamel with their family to honour their late grandfather, Andrew John Crawford.

Sgt Crawford was awarded a medal for rallying troops to storm a German machine gun position during the battle.

"It was important that we came here and just remembered him, even though he came home," Mc McKenzie said.

"He was one of the lucky ones."