The broken years : a study of the diaries and letters of Australian soldiers in the Great War, 1914-18

Full text

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Australian

National

University

THESES SIS/LIBRARY

R.G. MENZIES LIBRARY BUILDING NO:2 THE AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL UNIVERSITY CANBERRA ACT 0200 AUSTRALIA

TELEPHONE: +61 2 6125 4631 FACSIMILE: +61 2 6125 4063 EMAIL: library.theses@anu.edu.au

USE OF THESES

This copy is supplied for purposes

of private study and research only.

Passages from the thesis may not be

copied or closely paraphrased without the

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T h e B r o k e n Y e ars

A s t u d y of the d i a r i e s a n d l e t t e r s of A u s t r a l i a n s o l d i e r s i n the G r e a t War, 1 9 1 ^ - 1 8

Bill G a m m a g e

V o l u m e 1

23 F e b r u a r y 1970

T his thesis w a s s u b m i t t e d to the A u s t r a l i a n N a t i o n a l U n i v e r s i t y for

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T h i s is m y o w n w o r k

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A c k n o w l e d g e m e n t s

I have mo r e and g r e a t e r d e b t s th a n I c a n a c k n o w l e d g e .

269

G r e a t W a r v e t e r a n s (of 350 asked) c o r r e s p o n d e d w i t h me d u r i n g

1967

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8

; m a n y w r o t e o f t e n and at length, m a n y

s e n t w a r t i m e d i a r i e s and letters, or books, a r ticles, and

m a g a z i n e s , and s e v e r a l c h e e r f u l l y t o l e r a t e d m y f r e q u e n t

c o n v e r s a t i o n and i n t e r r o g a t i o n . All c o n s i g n e d a n e v e n t f u l

p a s t to a d o u b t f u l future; I t h a n k them, and I thank

p a r t i c u l a r l y M r W.F. A n d e r s o n ; C o l o n e l E. C a m p b e l l , D.S.O.

the late M r H.W. Cavill; the late M r P. C o n s t a n t i n e ; M r

F.H. Cox; the late M r A.W. E d w ards, M.M.; M r J. Gooder;

the late Mr T. Gordon; the late M r W.A. Graham; M r R.F.

Hall; M r S.V. Hicks; M r H.V. Howe; M r D. Jackson, M.M.;

S e n a t o r E.W. M a t tner, M.C., D.C.M., M.M.; M r J.H. S t u r g i s s

Mr W.E. Williams; an d M r A.G. Wo r d l e y .

I have h e l d a n A u s t r a l i a n N a t i o n a l U n i v e r s i t y

s c h o l a r s h i p fo r the p a s t three years, and d u r i n g that

time w a s h e l p e d b y m a n y pe o p l e . Mrs R o n a Fra s e r , P e t e r

Lowe, Si r F r a n k Meere, B r e n d a n Moore, Phil Moors, and

S c o t t R o b e r t s lent m e G r e a t W a r d i a r i e s or letters; and

J a n Knox, Mrs P a d d y M a u g h a n , M r s A n n Newsome, Pa t R o m a n s

and M r s B e a W i l l c o c k typed a d i f f i c u l t and d i s o r d e r e d

m a n u s c r i p t . M r A r t h u r Bazley, D r E r i c Fry, P r o f e s s o r K e n

Inglis, Dr J o h n Ri t c h i e , and D r B a r r y S m i t h w o r k e d g r e a t

c h a n g e s u p o n a d r a f t w i t h w h i c h t h e y p e r s i s t e d t hr o u g h o u t

its length, and M r A l e c H i l l and M r s B a r b a r a P e n n y a p p l i e d

s p e c i a l k n o w l e d g e to p a r t i c u l a r chapt e r s . I n v a r i o u s w a y s

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iv

m y g r a n d f a t h e r Mr W.J. Ga m m a g e , I a i n Gosney, K e n Inglis,

m y g i r l f r i e n d J a n Knox, m e m b e r s of the s t a f f at C e n t r a l

A r m y R e c o r d s O f f i c e i n M e l b o u r n e and of s e v e r a l libraries,

e s p e c i a l l y the M i t c h e l l L i b r a r y i n Sydney, G r a h a m Morey,

J o h n R i t c h i e , P e t e r T e m p l e - S m i t h , and the V i s u a l Ai d s

D e p a r t m e n t at the A.N.U.

I owe se v e r a l p a r t i c u l a r debts. The s t a f f at the

A u s t r a l i a n W a r M e m o r i a l and e s p e c i a l l y the L i b r a r y s t a f f

u n d e r M i s s V e r a B l a c k b u r n and M r B r u c e H a r d i n g have for

a l m o s t f o u r y e a r s a c c e p t e d m y p r e s e n c e a m o n g them, and

g i v e n me a n e n t i r e l y f r e e a c c e s s to all the r e c ords, and

h e l p e d m y w o r k w i t h a t h o u s a n d k i n d n e s s e s . A r t h u r B a z l e y

has b e e n a g o o d f r i e n d an d k n o w l e d g e a b l e g uide t h roughout,

and m y s u p e r v i s o r B r u c e K e n t c e a s e l e s s l y u s e d his

c o n s i d e r a b l e p a t i e n c e and a b i l i t y to e n c o u r a g e me a l o n g a

s o m e t i m e s d i f f i c u l t p a t h w h i l e at the same time r e s t r a i n i n g

m y ill c o n s i d e r e d e x c u r s i o n s f r o m it. I owe m u c h to the

f r i e n d s h i p and a s s i s t a n c e of all these p e ople, and I hope

that th e y w i l l not c o n s i d e r t h eir e f f o r t s too p o o r l y

r e w a r d e d by the q u a l i t y of the w o r k t h e y have impro v e d .

M y g r e a t e s t debt, pe r h a p s , is to a m a n I n e v e r met,

to Dr C.E.W. Bean, the able and g e n t l e s c h o l a r wh o

o f f i c i a l l y d e s c r i b e d A u s t r a l i a ’s p a r t in the G r e a t War.

His c h i e f w o r k is a m i l e s t o n e i n m i l i t a r y history, and

a m o n g the m o s t c o n s i d e r a b l e p i e c e s y e t w r i t t e n i n

A u s t r a l i a . He o v e r l o o k e d n o t h i n g m e n t i o n e d here, and

his w a s the m o r e c o m p a s s i o n a t e w r i t i n g , for c l e a r l y it

p a i n e d hi m to w r i t e ill of a n y man. B u t the f a u l t

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V

his love or r e s p e c t for h umanity, and he k e p t f a i t h i n its

p r o g r e s s d e s p i t e all the d a r k c i r c u m s t a n c e s w h i c h c o n f r o n t e d

his time. It is to him, and to the t h o u s a n d s of g r e a t

h e a r t e d m e n w h o w e r e his c o m r a d e s d u r i n g the war, that I

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C o n t e n t s C o n t e n t s

V o l u m e 1

A c k n o w l e d g e m e n t s iii

I l l u s t r a t i o n s vii

A b b r e v i a t i o n s ix

S o u r c e s and C o n v e n t i o n s xiii

P r e f a c e xxii

1. A u s t r a l i a n B r i t o n s 1

2. A u s t r a l i a d u r i n g the W a r 1

6

3- F r o m the Ne w W o r l d . .. 70

4. T r i a l by O r d e a l 1 1 6

5* N a t i o n h o o d , B r o t h e r h o o d , and S a c r i f i c e 1

65

6. T h e L a s t C r u s a d e r s 215

V o l u m e 2

7• T h e F l a m e - r a c k e d Years 266

8. N a t i o n h o o d . .. 359

9* . . . B r o t h e r h o o d and S a c r i f i c e 403

10. ’T h e O u t b r e a k of P e a c e * 455

A p p e n d i c e s 473

B i b l i o g r a p h y 479

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v i i

I l l u s t r a t i o n s

V o l u m e 1

S e c o n d D i v i s i o n s o l d i e r s c o m i n g out of Pozie r e s , A u g u s t 1916

A t y pical p a g e i n the A u s t r a l i a n p r e s s i n m i d 1915

I m a g e s of a h e i g h t e n i n g h ys t e r i a . . .

1918

r e c r u i t i n g h a n d b i l l

L i n e s of the 9 t h and 1 0 t h B a t t a l i o n s at M e n a Camp, D e c e m b e r 1914

T r o o p s e m b a r k i n g i n A u g u s t 1914 ... and late in

1915

C o l o n e l M o n a s h ' s l e t t e r to his w i f e o n the eve of the L a n d i n g

F r o m travail a n d t e n a c i t y ... a l e g e n d

C o u n t r y east of N o .1 O u t p o s t

'The C h a r g e of the 3rd L i g h t H o r s e B r i g a d e at the Nek'

M e n of the F i r s t B r i g a d e at L o n e Pine, A u g u s t 1915

S h r a p n e l G u l l y c e m e t e r y , N o v e m b e r 1915

C r i c k e t on Shell Green, D e c e m b e r 1915

M e n of the F i r s t L i g h t H o r s e B r i g a d e n e a r Esdud, J a n u a r y 1918

L i g h t h o r s e m e n i n the G h o r a n i y e b r i d g e h e a d , M a y 1918

V o l u m e 2

A p l a t o o n of the 2 9 t h B a t t a l i o n , A u g u s t

1918

P o z i e r e s v i l l a g e

Lt. C r o w l e ’s l e tt e r to his w i f e and son, A u g u s t 1916

F r o n t i s p i e c e

A f t e r p. 39

51 60

69

78 1 08 115

1

47

1

50

203 208

2 1 2

214

248

(at p .)

266

294

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V l l l

A u s t r a l i a n s i n Z o n n e b e k e v a lley, Fland e r s ,

O c t o b e r 1917 A f t e r p . 338

D e a d and w o u n d e d f r o m the P a s s c h e n d a e l e

f i g h t i n g , O c t o b e r 1917 377

10 A u s t r a l i a n d e s e r t e r s a d d r e s s a

P r o v o s t M a r s h a l 413

" W h y do y o u not s a l u t e ? . . . ” 421

” . . . a r i s k m o s t g l o r i o u s . . . ” 44-1

’X m a s M e m o r i e s ’ 4 6 0

He m i g h t have p l a n t e d crops... 478

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a) Units

A . A . M . C .

A . A . N . S.

A . A . 0 . C .

A . A . S . C .

A . F . C .

A.I.F.

A m b .

A . M . D . T .

A. M . T . S .

Anz .

A n z a c

A r t y .

Bde .

Bn.

B t y .

Coy.

Di v .

Eng.

F . A . B .

Fid.

H.A.G.

H.Q.

I . C . C .

L. H.

L . R . Op.

L.T.M.

M.G.

Mtd.

Australian Army Medical Corps

Australian Army Nursing Service

Australian Army Ordnance Corps

Australian Army Service Corps

Australian Flying Corps

Australian Imperial Force

Ambulance

Anzac Mounted Divisional Train

Australian Mechanical Transport Service

Anzac

Australian and New Zealand Army Corps

Artillery Brigade Battalion Battery Company Division Engineers

Field Artillery Brigade

Field

Heavy Artillery Group

Headquar ters

Imperial Camel Corps

Light Horse

Light Railway Operating

Light Trench Mortar

Machine Gun

Mounted

ix

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X

M.T.M.

R e g t .

R . F . C .

Sig.

S q u a d .

T r p .

T u n n .

b ) R a n k

B d r .

Brig.

C a p t .

C .0.

C o l .

Cpi .

C .Q.M.S.

C .S.M.

D v r .

Gen.

G n r .

L / C p 1.

L t .

M a j .

N . C .0.

P te .

R .Q.M.S.

2 / L t .

S g r .

S g t .

S . M.

S p r .

M e d i u m T r e n c h M o r t a r

R e g i m e n t

R o y a l F l y i n g C o rps

S i g n a l l i n g

S q u a d r o n

T r o o p

T u n n e l l i n g

B o m b a r d i e r

B r i g a d i e r

C a p t a i n

C o m m a n d i n g O f f i c e r C o l o n e l

C o r p o r a l

C o m p a n y Q u a r t e r m a s t e r S e r g e a n t

C o m p a n y S e r g e a n t M a j o r

D r i v e r

G e n e r a l

G u n n e r

L a n c e C o r p o r a l

Li e u t e n a n t

M a j o r

N o n - c o m m i s s i o n e d O f f i c e r

P r i v a t e

R e g i m e n t a l Q u a r t e r m a s t e r S e r g e a n t

S e c o n d L i e u t e n a n t

S i g n a l l e r

S e r g e a n t

S e r g e a n t M a j o r

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xi

S/Sgt. S t a f f S e r g e a n t

Tpr. T r o o p e r

c) C a u s e of t e r m i n a t i o n of service, etc.

W h e n o n l y the y e a r of b i r t h is g i v e n (e.g., b.l885)> the s o l d i e r c o n c e r n e d r e t u r n e d to A u s t r a l i a or w as d i s c h a r g e d i n E n g l a n d a f t e r the A r mi s t i c e .

A.W . L . A b s e n t w i t h o u t leave

D. Died

D.O.D. D i e d of D i s e a s e

D .O.I. D i e d of I n j u r y

D.O.W. D i e d of W o u n d s

K . I . A . K i l l e d i n A c t i o n

P.O.W. P r i s o n e r of W a r

R e p . T . A . R e p a t r i a t e d to A u s t r a l i a

re- e n l . r e - e n l i s t e d

S.I.W. S e l f i n f l i c t e d w o u n d

t r a n s . t r a n s f e r r e d

d) D e c o r a t i o n s

C .

C .B .

C . I . E

D . C .M

D. S . 0

G . C .

K.C.

C o m m a n d e r . ..; C o m p a n i o n . ..

C o m p a n i o n of the B a t h

C o m p a n i o n of the I n d i a n E m p i r e

D i s t i n g u i s h e d C o n d u c t M e d a l

D i s t i n g u i s h e d S e r v i c e O r d e r

K n i g h t G r a n d C r o s s . . . ; K n i g h t G r a n d C o m m a n d e r

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X l l

M.B.E. Member of the British Empire

M . C . Military Cross

...M.G. . . . of St Michael

&

St George

M. M. Military Medal

...S.I. ... of the Star of India

O.B.E. Order of the British Empire

V.C . Victoria Cross

V .D. Volunteer Decoration

...V.O. ... of the Victorian Order

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S o u r c e s and ConverLtions

Despite the s u pporting use of other sources, this

thesis is a study of the records of 999 Australians who

fought w i t h the A.I.F. during the Great War. T hey left

1

062

records, mo s t l y diaries or letters or extracts

therefrom, but occasio n a l l y notes or narratives w r i t t e n

some time after the events they describe, and once or

twice collections of m iscellaneous material. In r e s e a r ch

and in writ i n g I have emphasized the contemporary records

of front line men.

T h ey wrote for v ar y i n g purposes. Some were w r i t i n g

home, others d e l iberately r e c o rding the climax of their

1

lives. Some hardly me n tioned the war, others rarely

ignored it. Some m i n i mized their discomforts, a few

e xaggerated them. Many, w he n it came to the point,

d escribed just what they saw and felt, because the tumult

of the hour denied them an alternative, because they

w a nt ed an exact account for themselves if they lived or

for their relatives if they died, or sometimes because

they realized that the thoughts they confessed might be

their last on earth.^

None was obliged to be accurate, and these pages

report statements no doubt genuinely believed w h e n w r i t t e n

1

For example,

6

9. A rgyles (105,4), (d), Preface;

2 6 3

* Coe, (76,3), (D), Preface.

2

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xiv

but not true, and hearsay evidence and ’tall stories'

cloaked as truth by soldiers. I hope I have identified

most such statements, and I have omitted errors

a p parently peculiar to individuals. But this thesis

attempts to show what some A u s t r a li an soldiers thought

and felt during the war, and therefore must include

instances in w hi c h they erred. For the same r eason my

comments often describe what soldiers thought r ather than

w ha t I think: for example, X use words like 'patriot',

'Hun', and 'native' w it h their contemporary colourings,

not w i t h my own. Readers should not assume the literal

a c curacy of statements made or quoted here, nor believe

that these n e c e ssarily represent m y own opinion.

Most of the manuscripts were collected f o l l owing

various appeals to the general public, or after requests

made in the 1920s and 30s by the A us t ra li an War Memorial

to specific veterans or their relatives. Unless some

sections of the community responded to these requests

more w i l l ingly than others (which m a y be), there was no

bias in the c o llection of the sources; but I have

appended statistics about their writers w h i c h attempt to

indicate possible bias' in what they recorded, and the

1

figures show apparent discrepancies. These may have led

me to exaggerate 'positive' factors in the early chapters

for example, the importance of Empire or nationalist

sentiment, rather than the desire to be 'in it' or to act

in concert w i t h mates, as causes for enlistment. But I

doubt that any significant bias exists in the chapters

See pp.

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X V

de s c ri bi ng the figh t i n g and its consequences, because in

that situation differences in attitude seem to have cut

across civilian backgrounds, w h i c h retained their

influence in expre s s i o n rather than sentiment. Since

censors were concerned merely w i t h place names and troop

movements, I could find no other significant bias in the

r e c o r d s .

But, as though to mock the attachments of gentler

times, there are three parti c u l a r omissions: religion,

politics, and sex. Of these the most important is

religion, and these pages instance m e n who enlisted to

d e fend their God, who remained devout Christians through

e ve r y travail, and who, if they became fatalists, became

so by trusting God entirely. Yet apparently the average 2

A u s tr al ia n was not religious. He was not a k ee n

churchman: he avoided church parades, or if he could not

avoid them he tended to show sudden enthusiasm for w h ic h e v e r

d e n om in a t i o n w o rshipped w i t h i n easiest m a r c h i n g distance.

He distrusted chaplains, and sometimes detested them,

because he was an Australian, and because they were

1

But it was not m y experience that one group write more ob s e rvantly or effectively about the war than another, nor was lack of education a handicap in this respect. Fo r example, see p p .

3 0 6

-

7

» 439-40.

2

At least 2 chaplains have attested to this. See

Henderson, K.T.: Khaki and C a s s o c k , p p . 2, 7 3 ~ 5j 143“ 4, 151» in Rule, E.J.: J a c k a 1s Mob, p . 144. See also Mann, L.:

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xvi

o f f i c e r s , e n j o y i n g the p r i v i l e g e s of l e a d e r s but n o t the 1

c o n c o m i t a n t r i sks an d r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s o f b a ttle.

T h e r e w e r e e x c e p t i o n a l c h a p l a i n s , m e n w h o i g n o r e d

m i n o r b l a s p h e m i e s to c o n f r o n t m a j o r evils, w h o s h o w e d

t h e m s e l v e s b r a v e u n d e r fire, and w h o r a n k e d the n e e d s and

w e l f a r e of s o ld i e r s a b ove the p a t r i o t r e l i g i o n of the

w a r t i m e p ulpit. T h e s e m e n t a u g h t b y p r a c t i c e and example,

a n d w e r e a m o n g the m o s t r e s p e c t e d i n the A.I.F. But,

t h o u g h it was not t h e i r intent, t h e y t e n d e d to d e m o n s t r a t e

th a t the r e w a r d s of v i r t u e w e r e o n e a r t h r a t h e r t h a n i n

H e a v e n , and to be a d m i r e d as m e n r a t h e r t h a n c h a p l a i n s .

P r o b a b l y they a d v a n c e d the p i e t y of t h e i r f l o c k o n l y 2

i n c i d e n t a l l y .

M o s t A u s t r a l i a n s f o u n d l i t t l e in w a r to p r o m p t

c o n s i d e r a t i o n of a h i g h e r d i v i n i t y . S o m e t u r n e d to G o d i n

m o m e n t s of stress, b u t the m a j o r i t y k e p t t h e i r m i n d s

s q u a r e l y u p o n the w o r l d a r o u n d them, d i s p l a y i n g a

p r a c t i c a l c o n c e r n fo r the e x i g e n c i e s of battle, and a

1

Fo r this and the two pre c e d i n g sentences, for example, 356. Cpl. W.I. Everard, 2 M.G. Bn., Farmer, of Marshfield, S.A. K.I.A. 4/7/18, aged 27* (L), 17/9/17

980. Rev. W.F. Shannon, O.B.E., A.I.F. H.Q., Minister, of W a y l a n d s , W.A. b.1872. (d), 19 / l 1/ l 5

21. A i t k e n , (101,2), (L),

2

/

7

/

1 6

; 4 1 . Allen, (77,2), (L), IO /

8

/

1 6

; 262. Cleary, (220,2), (d ), 29/lO/l6;

477-J a c k s o n , (154,2), (L), 17/9/17; 991. Hicks, (255,3). (D), 5/12/15

Harney, W. : 'Harney's War', O v e r l a n d , N o .13, Oct. 1958, p .

8

. 2

For this p ar ag ra ph thus far,

1 4 . Adcock, (100,4), (L), 4/12/17;

6 0 7

. M i t c hell, (79,2), (D), 14 /l /l 6

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X V 1 1

p r e o c c up at io n with questions of food and rest, dead m a t e s

3

leave, and the next fight. Not often d u ring that blind

struggle did they consider the A lm ig ht y B ei n g who directed

their existence.

Politics interested them even less. T h e y debated

conscription, and a few reviled strikers in Australia, but

these were issues of war, not politics. " D i s cussion on

Politics Is Not In the F as h i o n H e r e " , a soldier in France

told his brother, a Sydney M.L.A., "we Have a lot more

Serious Subjects to Juggle w i t h Its mo s t l y old Fritz &

so on." Faction and preference, socialism and capitalism,

were civilian luxuries, far too remote to move m e n

embroiled in the d eadly business of war.

A l th ou gh one or two soldiers discussed their love

affairs, most never wrote about sex, so that in this thesis

co n s i deration of the subject is not possible. To judge

fr o m venereal disease statistics, some applied taboos

about sex to words but not actions, and I am told that m a n y

m e n took advantage of w hatever 'horizontal refreshment'

chanced to offer. Yet apparently sex did not loom large

a mo n g them. To m en on Gallipoli, in Sinai, or in the line

in France, relations w i t h w om en were not possible; to m e n

k e ye d by battle, p e r p e tu al ly half exhausted, and conscious

that they fought in part to defend the rights and chastity

of women, sexual relations were not, at least in

imagination, attractive. In talk they discussed and joked

about sex, but less frequently than about the incidents

_

975* Molesworth, (281,2), (l), 7 / 3 / 1

8

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)-x v i i i

of w a r , ' and i n p r a c t i c e , p r o b a b l y , m o s t h o n o u r e d the

h o n o u r a b l e , and a v a i l e d t h e m s e l v e s o f the a v a i l a b l e .

As w e l l as these o m i s s i o n s , there w e r e A u s t r a l i a n s

w h o w r o t e little a b o u t the war. T h e s e m e n m a y have p a s s e d

t h r o u g h g r e a t e v e n t s w i t h o u t comment, and p e r h a p s some of

t h e m w e r e not m u c h a f f e c ted by the struggle. The n a r r a t i v e s of

m o r e e x p r e s s i v e w r i t e r s m a k e that s e e m s c a r c e l y credible,

b u t if there w e r e s u c h soldiers, it is n o t e w o r t h y ,

b e c a u s e they w o u l d q u a l i f y this record, w h e r e a s of

n e c e s s i t y they have o n l y p a s s i n g l y i n f l u e n c e d it.

M a n y m e n c i t e d i n the c h a p t e r s w h i c h b r i n g the

n a r r a t i v e to the A . I . F . ?s e m b a r k a t i o n f r o m A u s t r a l i a w e r e

f r o m the B r i t i s h Isles, b e c a u s e , b e i n g s e p a r a t e d f r o m

t h e i r rela t i v e s , these m e n w e r e o b l i g e d to w r i t e w h a t

o t h e r s spoke. P e r h a p s their p r e d o m i n a n c e has s l i g h t l y

e x a g g e r a t e d the s p i r i t of Empire, and u n d e r r a t e d the

a d v e n t u r o u s e a g e r n e s s of u n t r a v e l l e d A u s t r a l i a n s ; b u t

B r i t i s h b o r n m e n w e r e a m o n g the m o s t a r d e n t A u s t r a l i a n

n a t i o n a l i s t s , and E n g l i s h m e n r e t u r n i n g home a m o n g the

k e e n e s t travellers.

R e l a t i v e l y fe w l i g h t h o r s e m e n w r o t e o n the c a m p a i g n

i n S i n a i and P a l e s t i n e , w i t h r e s u l t s e v i d e n t i n that p a r t

of the thesis; p o s s i b l e cau s e s f o r this are s u g g e s t e d o n

p a g e 235, i n f o o t n o t e 1 .

B e c a u s e this is a n a c c o u n t of h o w s o l d i e r s f e l t

r a t h e r th a n of w h a t they did, and c l a i m s to r e p r e s e n t o n l y

t h ose d i a r i e s and l e t t e r s a c t u a l l y read, this is no t a

m i l i t a r y h i s t o r y of the A.I.F. S o m e t i m e s fo r w a n t of

Bean, op. cit., VI, p.l8n.

(21)

x i x

space, sometimes because too few diaries or letters

de s cribed them, there is no reference to A.X.F, actions

in Mesopotamia or against the Senussi, nor to one o r two

battles, most notably the defensive action A u st ra li an

i n f a n t r y fought at Lagnicourt, France, on 15 April 1917*

Yet I make no claims about the uniqueness of the m e n I

describe,or ofany A u s t r al ia n soldier: m uc h of what is

w r i t t e n here might apply to Canadians or New Zealanders,

and no doubt some of it would be true of soldiers in every

a r m y .

There are several simplifying conventions, chiefly

employed in footnotes:

The fullest information about any soldier is

contained in the footnote w h i c h •firs t cites him, and this

footnote is referred to in subsequent relevant footnotes

b y its page number followed by its note number, in brackets

after the writer's surname. As example of a first

footnote is,

607. Capt. G.D. Mitchell, M.C., D.C.M., 48 Bn., Clerk, of

Thebarton, S.A. b.1894. (d), 24/4/15

and of a subsequent footnote for the same man,

6 0 7

. Mitchell, (79,2), (D), 1/

6

/ l 5 where Mitchell is first

m e nt io ne d on p .

7 9

» n .

2

.

Abbreviations are listed on pp.ix-xii; and ranks,

decorations, and units are those w h i c h a w riter terminated

his A.I.F. service from any cause: w h e n only the y e a r of

b i r t h is given, the writer returned safely to A u s t r al ia

(22)

X X

S u r n a m e s are p r e f i x e d i n f o o t n o t e s b y a number:

this a s s i s t s r e f e r e n c e b a c k to a f i r s t f o o t n o t e and

to the b i b l i o g r a p h y , w h i c h l i sts the r e c o r d w r i t e r s

c hr o no 1 o gi c a 11 y .

U n l e s s it is o t h e r w i s e i n d i c a t e d or apparent, see

also i n f o o t n o t e s p r e c e d e s e v i d e n c e s u p p o r t i n g the g e n e r a l

p o i n t or s u b j e c t u n d e r d i s c u s s i o n , n o t m e r e l y the s u b j e c t

m a t t e r of the f o o t n o t e to w h i c h it is attached; however,

this w i l l v a r y b e t w e e n sources, b e c a u s e no s o l d i e r w a s

o b l i g e d to a r r a n g e his th o u g h t s logi c a l l y , or to c o n f i n e

them to a single subject. The a l t e r n a t i v e w a s a

p r o l i f e r a t i o n of f o o t n o t e s d i f f i c u l t fo r the w r i t e r and

d i s t r a c t i n g f o r the reader, an d i n a v o i d i n g this I hope

I have r e t a i n e d a c c u r a c y and clarity.

P r i m a r y or s e c o n d a r y s o u r c e s of s l i g h t r e l e v a n c e

b u t r e f e r r e d to i n the text are a n n o t a t e d i n full i n the

a p p r o p r i a t e foot n o t e , the r e m a i n i n g s o u r c e s r e f e r r e d to

are f u l l y a n n o t a t e d i n the b i b l i o g r a p h y .

The text is l i b e r a l l y i n t e r s p e r s e d w i t h i m p r e c i s e

i n d i c a t i o n s of n u m b e r - 'most', 'many', ’some', 'a f e w ’,

etc. T h o u g h it is u n l i k e l y that I h a v e always s u c ceeded,

I have a t t e m p t e d to give these i n d i c a t i o n s some v a l i d i t y ,

a nd i n d o i n g so h a v e b e e n g u i d e d b y the w e i g h t of i n t e r n a l

evidence, b y Dr B e a n ' s work, b y d i s c u s s i o n w i t h r e t u r n e d

men, and b y w h a t s e e m e d to me p r o b a b l e . B e c a u s e all

these p r o d u c e u n c e r t a i n results, and p a r t i c u l a r l y b e c a u s e

e a c h a s s u m e s that w h a t s o l d i e r s sa i d is w h a t t h e y thought,

r e a d e r s s h o u l d take these w o r d s to i n d i c a t e o n l y r o u g h

(23)

xx i

Finally, to avoid frequent interruptions in the

narrative, I have not normally used sic to indicate

p un c t u a t i o n or spelling errors in quotations, and I

(24)

xxii

P r e f a c e

T h e r e has n e v e r b e e n a g r e a t e r t r a g e d y t h a n W o r l d

W a r One. O t h e r events, b y l e a d i n g v a l o r o u s m e n to

c o n t e s t trivial c a u s e s and b y e n c o u r a g i n g the

p e r p e t r a t i o n of b a s e an d n o b l e acts, have b e e n as

t r e a c h e r o u s to h umanity; no e v e n t has i n v o l v e d so many,

n o r so b l i g h t e d the h o p e s of men. T h e G r e a t W a r e n g u l f e d

a n age, and c o n d i t i o n e d the times that foll o w e d . It

w r e a k e d h a v o c and d i s i l l u s i o n a m o n g e v e r y t h i n g its

c o n t e m p o r a r i e s v a l u e d a nd t h o ug h t secure, it c o n t a m i n a t e d

e v e r y g o o d ideal f o r w h i c h it w a s waged, it t h r e w up w a s t e

a n d h o r r o r w o r s e t h a n all the e v i l s it s o u g h t to avert,

a n d it left l e g a c i e s of s t a u n c h n e s s an d s a v a g e r y e q u a l to

a n y w h i c h have b e w i l d e r e d m e n a b o u t their p u r p o s e o n earth.

A m o n g those w h o f o u g h t i n the w a r w e r e 3 3 0 , 0 0 0

A u s t r a l i a n s . T h e y w e r e c i v i l i a n s w h o v o l u n t e e r e d f o r and

w e r e a c c e p t e d into the A u s t r a l i a n I m p e r i a l Force, s o l d i e r s

w h o e n l i s t e d and s a i l e d to d e f e n d K i n g and Country, or fo r

the n o v e l t y of it. O v e r s e a s a m a e l s t r o m c a u g h t them, and

i n f o u r y e a r s s w e p t m o s t of t h e i r a s s u m p t i o n s away.

A l t h o u g h their s p i r i t s r a r e l y w e r e b r oken, they a m e n d e d

t h e i r o u t l o o k s to a b s o r b the u n e x p e c t e d c h a l l e n g e s t h e y

e n c o u n t e r e d , and r e t u r n e d to A u s t r a l i a the f l o t s a m of

o l d ways, b u t the h a r b i n g e r s of a n e w w o r l d ? a n d a n e w

c e n t u r y .

One t h o u s a n d of these s o l d i e r s left the d o c u m e n t s

w h i c h i n s p i r e d w h a t follows, a n d the thesis c o n s i d e r s

(25)

t he m s e l v e s , and no t m e r e l y a b o u t the A.I . F . at large, or

a b o u t k i n d r e d s o l d i e r s f r o m C a n a d a or N e w Z e a l a n d or

S c o t l a n d , or a b o u t m e n at war. It m a y not be p o s s i b l e to

d i s c e r n the n a t u r e of man, b e c a u s e e a c h g u e s s e s at that

f r o m his o w n s t a n d p o i n t , and i n d e s c r i b i n g o t h e r s m a k e s a

p u p p e t of himself, and d a n c e s to his o w n i n v e n t i o n . Yet

if these m e n do no t a n s w e r g r e a t q u e s t i o n s , they m i g h t be

s e e n to r aise them, fo r they too h ad to a s k w h e t h e r their

a c t i o n s p r o s p e r e d m a n k i n d or c o r r u p t e d it, w h e t h e r m a n k i n d

i t s e l f is g r e a t or d e praved, and w h e t h e r m e n s erve e v e n t s

or m a s t e r them.

T h e r e f o r e I c o m m e n d the c h r o n i c l e s they w r o t e to the

re a d e r . T h e y are i m p r e s s e d w i t h a t r a g i c n o b i l i t y b e y o n d

the a b i l i t y of the f o l l o w i n g e x t r a c t s to convey, and the

s p i r i t of a n age m o v e s t h r o u g h t h e i r p a g e s fa r m o r e

(26)

Adieu, the y e a r s are a b r o k e n song,

A n d the r i g h t g r o w s w e a k i n the str i k e w i t h wrong,

The lilies of love have a c r i m s o n stain,

A n d the old days n e v e r w i l l come again.

Figure

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References

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