Today, Australia stops to remember our veterans. Soldiers past and present and their families, for all they have sacrificed in an effort to protect the freedom we have.

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Australian Cycling Corps c 1915 Broadmeadows, Victoria – source: Australian War Memorial

Cycling soldiers have played a significant part in our Australian Defence Force. From the early 1900’s cyclists were used as scouts during the Boer War. During WWI approximately 3000 men served in the Australian Cycling Corps, while deployed to the front line, many would not have served in operational units.   Though this didn’t stop them from being exposed to regular bombings from artillery and aircraft.  Cyclists operated in similar a fashion to cavalry, patrolling and carrying out reconnaissance.  It turned out they were unsuitable for this role as the trench mud and rubble was not very forgiving on the bicycles.  The soldiers didn’t rest there though, they laid communication cable, undertook traffic control, unloaded stores, harvested crops and assisted in burials until the Australian Corps Cyclist Battalion was disbanded in April 1919.

 

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Mates for Mates on The Big Battlefield Ride with Helping Heros – source Helping Heroes Facebook page

While no longer on the front line, bicycles continue to play an important role in our current Defence Force.  Soldiers both within Australia and overseas use them as a popular method of transport to move around barracks. One of the most significant roles bicycles now play in the life of our veterans, is helping rehabilitate through the Big Battlefield Ride with Mates4Mates, a 560km ride along the Western Front held in conjunction with Britain’s Help for Heroes.

To learn more about the role of Anzac cyclists, the historical account, Cycling to War, traces the formation of the units and the involvement that the Australian and New Zealand Cyclist Corps had in our war history.

 

Lest we forget

 

Sources: Australian War Memorial; digger history; Navy Daily; abc news; Help for Heroes; mates4mates.