Graves at Fromelles, France following the infamous battle of July 1916. Photo: (Supplied: Chandler Collection)
This week marks 103 years since the World War I battles of Fromelles and Pozieres — two of the deadliest and most gruesome in Australia’s military history.
In an attempt to feint and distract German forces who were battling the French and British on the Somme in the south, Australian forces were sent into Fromelles, about 100 kilometres north, at 6:00pm on July 19, 1916.
It was Australia’s introduction to the Western Front — the main theatre of the war — after spending months fighting in Gallipoli, and the results were disastrous.
The Berlin Wall was built in 1961 to stop an exodus from the eastern, communist part of divided Germany to the more prosperous west.
Between 1949 and 1961 more than 2.6 million East Germans, out of a total population of 17 million, had escaped. Many were skilled professionals and their loss was increasingly felt in the German Democratic Republic, or GDR, as it was called.
With the country on the edge of economic and social collapse, the East German government therefore made the decision to close the entire border, and erected the wall overnight, on 13 August 1961.
It was often referred to by eastern authorities as the anti-fascist protection barrier, to protect East Germans from the west.How was it built?
The concrete barrier, complete with 300 guard towers at regular intervals, was 96 miles in length and 13 feet high, though to start with it comprised temporary barriers of barbed wire coils.
The erection date of 13 August 1961 was deliberately chosen because it was a Sunday during the summer holidays. Over days and weeks the barbed wire was replaced with vertical concrete slabs reinforced with iron bars, and hollow blocks.
Photograph: East German soldiers set up barbed wire barricades in Berlin on 13 August 1961. Photograph: AP
Nothing was allowed to stand in the way of the wall. Houses on streets, such as Bernauer Strasse, where the pavements were in the west, and the backs of the houses were in the east, became part of the border construction.
The authorities simply ordered the bricking up of front entrances and windows. There are documented cases of people jumping from windows to avoid being locked into the east in their own homes.
The Matterhorn was climbed for the first time on 14 July 1865.
Four of the seven men led by the Englishman Edward Whymper lost their lives in the attempt, and the story of Zermatt and the tragedy on the Matterhorn was soon on everyone’s lips.
The rope connecting Edward Whymper and local guides Peter Taugwalder and his son to the rest of the unfortunate rope group, broke during the descent. It is now displayed in the Matterhorn Museum alongside other relics of this first ascent.
From 1857 onwards, several unsuccessful attempts had been made to climb the Matterhorn, mostly from the Italian side.
When Edward Whymper arrived in Valtournenche in July 1865, it was already his sixth summer season in the area.
During each of the previous five summers, Whymper had failed in his attempts to climb the mountain regarded here as the unconquerable King of the Alps.
Every unsuccessful attempt reinforced the superstition that the mountain was invincible, so that even experienced local mountain guides often turned down generous offers from the leaders of foreign expeditions.
But the Briton did not believe in mountain demons, and his project was based on rational thinking. He had studied the books of Horace Bénédict de Saussure and had come to the conclusion that the mountain could be conquered not from the Italian south-west side but via the north-eastern ridge on the Swiss side.
It was not Breuil that would be his starting point, but Zermatt – where Mont Cervin was known as the Matterhorn. In 1862, John Tyndall became the first to climb the south-west shoulder, now known as Pic Tyndall, together with his guides J. J. Bennen, Anton Walter, Jean-Jacques and Jean-Antoine Carrel.
But it did not appear possible to continue the ascent along the Liongrat ridge, and Whymper also regarded the Liongrat ridge as being unfeasible.
He therefore attempted to persuade his friend Jean-Antoine Carrel to attempt an ascent from the Zermatt side, but Carrel insisted that he wanted to climb from the Italian side.
In July 1865, Whymper happened to learn from a publican in Breuil that Carrel had set off for the Liongrat ridge again – without informing Whymper.
Whymper felt he had been deceived, and hurried to Zermatt in order to assemble a group for an immediate attempt via the Hörnligrat ridge.
On 14 July 1865, the mountain was successfully climbed for the first time by Whymper’s seven-man rope group.
The group climbed onto the shoulder over the Hörnligrat ridge and, further up, in the section where today’s fixed ropes are located, they diverted onto the north face.
Edward Whymper was the first to reach the summit, followed by the mountain guide Michel Croz (from Chamonix), the Reverend Charles Hudson, Lord Francis Douglas, D. Robert Hadow (all from Britain) and the Zermatt mountain guides Peter Taugwalder senior and Peter Taugwalder, his son.
They spotted Carrel and his group far below on the Pic Tyndall.
Stretching from Alaska to the pencil tip of Argentina, the 48,000km-long Pan-American Highway holds the record for the world’s longest motorable road. But there is a gap – an expanse of wild tropical forest – that has defeated travellers for centuries.
Explorers have always been drawn to the Darien Gap, but the results have mostly been disastrous. The Spanish made their first settlement in the mainland Americas right here in 1510, only to have it torched by indigenous tribes 14 years later – and in many ways the area remains as wild today as it was during the days of the conquest.
“If history had followed its usual course, the Darien should be today one of the most populated regions in the Americas, but it isn’t,” says Rick Morales, a Panamian and owner of Jungle Treks, one of a few adventure tour companies operating in the region.
“That’s remarkable if you consider that we live in the 21st Century, in a country that embraces technology and is notorious for connecting oceans, cultures, and world commerce.”
The gap stretches from the north to the south coast of Panama – from the Atlantic to the Pacific. It’s between 100km and 160km (60-100 miles) long, and there is no way round, except by sea.