Australian Lebanese ANZACS

Bookmark this
April 25, 2018 By ALHS

Anzac Day, 25 April, is one of Australia’s most important national occasions. It marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War.

It is the day on which we remember all Australians who served and died in war and on operational service. The spirit of Anzac, with its qualities of courage, mateship, and sacrifice, continues to have meaning and relevance for our sense of national identity.

"Many Australians of Lebanese heritage served with the Australian Armed Forces from Gallipoli until the present day – and some paid the ultimate price and died in battle."

It is also a time to remember Australians, including those of Lebanese heritage, who have served in military campaigns in Lebanon and nearby areas.

Ralph Hawkins, who many will know from the Society of Australian Genealogists and a great supporter of the Society, has been quietly working to record his late father’s experience serving with the Australian Army in the “Syrian” campaign. Gunner Reginald Hawkins (29194) served with the 2/6th Field Regiment and he took wonderful photographs while in Lebanon and his mate Mick Speer wrote vivid descriptions of their experiences in battle and down time.

It is an important part of our Australian history to recall Reg Hawkins and other soldiers who served in his regiment after the War sponsonered immigrants from Lebanon to Thornleigh in Sydney where the Hawkins family lived. Growing up Ralph came to know many of these families.

Here is a snippet from Ralph’s work:

“In August 1941, The 2/6th moved to a camp near the village of Djedadi and the 2/5th Field Regiment moved to the town of Bsarma to the south. Both camps were located in the Zawie District on high ground overlooking the coastal plain. The Battery Headquarters at Jedadi were located in the Mar Antonious (Saint Anthony) Monastery which was founded in 1847 by monks from the Kasdisha Valley in the mountains to the east. The rest of the regiment was camped in tents on the monastery garden. Reg’s first job was to locate a good source of water. The garden was fed with bore water, but spring water was the best for drinking purposes. He found supplies of spring water in the neighbouring villages and delivered it to members of the Regiment who were located on the summit of Mount Tourbal several miles away, to the rest of the regiment in the garden and to BHQ. The regiment employed Lebanese civilians as cooks and as labourers and guides. Lebanese women were employed to do the washing and to make camouflage nets. Mrs Simaan Lahoud of the Esplanade, Thornleigh was one of the women. One employee in the cook house was Joseph Khamis from Kefar Yachit. He emigrated to Sefton Road Thornleigh in 1951 where he was recognised by Reg and a lifelong friendship was established. When Joe purchased his block in Lockerbie Road in 1954 Reg helped him burn off the blackberries, and dig the foundations for the house, and construct the front path.

While Reg was in the Mar Antonious Monastery two young Lebanese boys also from the nearby village of KefarYachit would have passed him in the monastery courtyard.

Reg Hawkins in Becharre, Lebanon
Reg Hawkins in Becharre, Lebanon

When I was young my brother Michael and I used to go out into the forest with the family bedsheets and our penknives. We would lay the bedsheets on the ground under the pine trees, we’d climb the pine trees and dig out the pine resin which would fall onto the sheets below. At the end of the day we’d bundle the sheets up and take the resin to the Mar Antonious monastery where the monks would make it into incense. (Wajih Khouri to Ralph Hawkins c1990) 

Lebanese School Students Wave Passing Australian Troops
Lebanese School Students Wave Passing Australian Troops

Source: Australian Lebanese Historical Society Inc.

Related Article:

Lebanese ANZACs of World War One

Below is a list of Australians of Lebanese heritage who served during World War One. They are represented in all Australian campaigns including Gallipoli. Some were killed in action, some wounded and some were prisoners of war.... Read full article

Lebanese ANZACs of World War One 

Jbeil Byblos - Jounieh Railway Opening 1942 (video)

"AUSTRALIAN WAR MEMORIAL" - The Day Before The Opening Ceremony of The Beirut-Tripoli Railway. Location: Jounieh, Maameltien, Oukeibe, Naher Ibrahim, Al Fidar, JBEIL BYBLOS. Date: 19 December 1942 ... Read full article


Written by


1 Review



An interesting insight into the ANZACS time in the Middle East, especially Lebanon.

April 2017

Did you find this review helpful?


Recent Articles

The United Australia Lebanese Movement Australia Day Award Ceremony

The United Australia Lebanese Movement Australia Day Award Ceremony

in Community News

The United Australia Lebanese Movement (UALM) held its 22nd consecutive Australia Day Award Ceremony on 22/01/2020 endorsed by the Australia Day Council of NSW. The UALM is the only organisation outside of Local Government able to hold such an event.

January 26, 2020

Rubber Bullets, Tear Gas, Water Cannons Fired at Stone-Throwing Protesters in Beirut

Rubber Bullets, Tear Gas, Water Cannons Fired at Stone-Throwing Protesters in Beirut

in Local News

Security forces on Sunday fired rubber bullets, tear gas, pepper spray and water cannons at stone-throwing protesters in central Beirut, a day after almost 400 people were injured in the fiercest clashes yet...

January 20, 2020 By Naharnet Newsdesk

Lebanon ranks first in Huawei's Mideast ICT competition

Lebanon ranks first in Huawei's Mideast ICT competition

in World News, Local News

Lebanon ranked the first in Huawei's Middle East ICT competition which took place over the weekend in the Chinese city of Shenzhen, a Huawei statement said Monday. A total of 13 teams of 39 students from across the Middle East competed in the final.

December 3, 2019

Hariri Announces Resignation, Urges Political Parties to Protect Lebanon

Hariri Announces Resignation, Urges Political Parties to Protect Lebanon

in Local News

Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Tuesday submitted his government’s resignation to President Michel Aoun, on the 13th day of an unprecedented popular revolt against the entire political class.

October 30, 2019 By Naharnet Newsdesk