The Australian General Who Saved 80,000 Assyrians in WWI

AINA – 2/6/19

(AINA) — In a new book entitled Debt of Honour, Australian authour Sarah Lindenmayer captures the enthralling true story of one of Australia’s great military heroes, Lieutenant General Sir Stanley Savige and his role in saving thousands of Assyrians during the horrors of the First World War.

The Book

During the Great War the Assyrians were called Our Smallest Ally by the British; tragically their allegiance came at great cost.

Related: The Assyrian Genocide

On a secret military mission in the Persian Alps, beyond the reach of allied support and with the enemy at his heels, an Australian officer rode into a refugee camp crowded with terrified, wounded Assyrians. He collapsed from his horse onto the ground before them. Who were the Assyrians? Why was an Anzac in Persia in 1918? And why was he so far off mission?

When Captain Stanley Savige landed at Gallipoli with the 24th Battalion, the first genocide of the twentieth century was underway to rid the Ottoman provinces of Christians. Three years later, this decorated hero of Gallipoli and the Western Front was head-hunted by the British High Command for a hell-raising mission in Mesopotamia and Persia to seize oil wells on the Caspian Sea. Exceeding his orders, Captain Savige rescued nearly 80,000 Assyrians refugees, as they fled in terror from the Ottoman Army. It is probably the greatest humanitarian act by any Australian during war or peace time and it was one the last atrocities of the Ottoman Genocide period of Seyfo, the Year of the Sword.

Savige returned to Australia after the Great War to lead a life of peerless philanthropic and military achievement. For the Assyrians, however, the plight for survival continued during Saddam Hussein’s regime up to the recent, heinous crimes of the Islamic State. Today, the debt of honour owed to General Sir Stanley Savige has yet to be acknowledged properly in his own country and the debt of honour owed to our smallest ally can never be repaid in full.

About the Author

Sarah Lindenmayer was raised in North Queensland, where her parents worked in the railway, later settling with her family in Brisbane. After graduating with degrees in European History and Literature, she lived and worked in London, Naples, Bordeaux and Cappadocia. She holds a Master’s degree in Anthropology and Sociology from the University of Queensland. Her interest in cultural history, genocide and resilience resulted in Debt of Honour, her first book. Sarah lives in Melbourne with her husband, and works in urban social planning and place-making.

Debt of Honour is available for purchase at debtofhonourbook.com.

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