A SHORT HISTORY OF AUSTRALIA

Part 7

           

AUSTRALIA IN THE GREAT WAR 
 
At midnight on August 4, 1914, messages were telegraphed from London to all parts of the British dominions announcing that a stage of war with the German Empire existed from that hour. Australia was prepared for the news. Information from the Imperial government had warned Commonwealth ministers, and the cablegrams in the newspapers had kept the public informed of the intense anxiety and breathless suspense existing in Europe during the interval between the assassination of the heir to the Austrian throne, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, at Sarajevo, on June 23, and the ultimatum presented by Austria to Serbia on July 23. The probability that if a war broke out, as a consequence of this crime in the Balkans, it would be a world war, was perhaps realized only by those who were close students of foreign politics. Day by day the news flashed through the cables that Serbia, though innocent of all official knowledge of the murder, which was committed in Austrian territory, had accepted practically all Austria's demands, but that Austria nevertheless continued to mobilize her forces with a view to crushing Serbia; that Russia had intimated that she would be compelled to intervene if Serbia were attached; that Germany would in that event hurl her huge army against Russia; and that France, faithful to her alliance with Russia, would then make war on Germany. 
 
 
The British Foreign Office was exerting its utmost efforts to preserve the peace; and for a few hours, on July 30 and 31, a spark of hope flickered fitfully, flattering the optimism of those who thought that these exertions would be successful. both Russia and France gave undertakings to Great Britain that they would not commit any aggressive acts against Germany, or do anything to spoil the negotiations that the Foreign Office was conducting, with the aim of holding back the deluge of war. but on July 31 Germany served Russia with an ultimatum demanding that she should countermand her military preparations within twelve hours; and on August 2 German troops invaded Luxemburg, a neutral state lying between her territory and France.
 
During these anxious days the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in London thrice warned the German Government that if Belgium were invaded, the treaty engagements under which Great Britain was bound to maintain the neutrality of that country would be honoured. But Germany, having declared war on Russia on August 1, and having planned to attack Russia's ally, France, by an invasion through Flanders, demanded of Belgium on August 3 that permission should be given for German troops to march through. Permission was refused by the Belgian Government. The German government thereupon threatened to compel Belgium by force of arms to permit her territory to be used for an attack on France. The King of the Belgians on August 4 appealed to Great Britain to safeguard the integrity of his country, and a promise that this would be done was promptly given. the British foreign Office at the same time telegraphed to Berlin that unless satisfactory assurances were given by 12 o'clock that night, the  British government would feel bound to take all steps in its power to uphold the neutrality of Belgium. The German Chancellor expressed to the British ambassador his astonishment that Great Britain should be prepared to go to war to uphold her treaty engagements - 'just for a scrap of paper.' As the undertakings required were not given, war was declared. Of all the staged in the process of precipitating the civilized world into disaster, the Australian public was well informed.
 
 
H.M.S. Australia battle cruiser 1913-1924
 
 
When this calamity broke upon the nations, Australia was in the midst of a domestic political crisis. The Cook Government, which attained office after a general election in June 1913, submitted to Parliament two bills, which had been passed by the House of Representatives but wee rejected by the Senate. The Commonwealth constitution provides that if the Senate rejects a bill which has been passed by the House of Representatives, or makes amendments in it which the House will not accept, and if after an interval of three months the House of representatives again passes the b ill, and the Senate again refuses to accept it, the governor-General may dissolve both Houses simultaneously. In the first half of 1914 bitter controversy raged over the two measures which the Cook Government, with its very fragile support, insisted on forcing through Parliament. Twice were the b ills, which were submitted as 'tests,' driven through the House of Representatives, though the casting vote of the Speaker was the only nail on which the fate of the government hung. Twice were the bills rejected by the Senate, where the Labour majority regarded the threat of a double dissolution as 'bluff.' On July 30 the Governor-General, on the advice of ministers, decided to use his power under section 57, and dissolved both Houses. Australia was, therefore, busily occupied with preparations for the general election, which took place on September 5, at the time when the great guns were thundering on two fronts in the deadly conflict in which the great powers of the world were locked.
 
Both the Prime Minister who was in office at the time of the commencement of the war, cook, and the leader of the Opposition, fisher, were agreed as to what the imperative duty of Australia was. Cook said on July 31: 'whatever happens, Australia is a part of the Empire and is in the Empire to the full; when the Empire is at war, Australia is at war.' Fisher was equally emphatic: 'Should the worst happen after everything has been done that honour will permit, we Australian will help and defend the mother country to our last man and one last shilling.'
 
 
Australia Army WW1 cartridge pocket 1917
 
When the electors of Australia went to the poll, therefore, they had before them the plain assurances of both the party leaders that Australia would be faithful to her obligations. Some party leaders, including W. M. Hughes, urged that a way should be found for avoiding an election in such circumstances. What we the manoeuvrings of political groups in comparison with the magnitude of the issues at stake? Australia's very existence as a free democracy was menaced; for it was keenly realized that the triumph of Germany in the war would mean a redistribution of territories such as, in past great mean a redistribution of territories such as, in past great wars, had transferred the sovereignty of vast dominions. But the constitutional wheels had been set revolving, and they had grind on till a new Parliament emerged. the result was that the strength of the Labour arty was increased from 37 to 42 in the House of representatives, and from 29 to 31 in the Senate. the cook government fell, and Andrew Fisher became Prime Minister for the third time on September 14. It was under his administration, and particularly under the direction of his experienced Minister of Defence, G. F. Pearce, that the first contingents of the Australian Army steamed away to war. Within about a month of the declaration of war Australian and New Zealand ships and troops had lowered the German flag in every one of the possessions of that Empire in the Pacific. On August 31 Samoa was surrendered to the Australia. Early in September the Union Jack was hoisted at Rabaul, the capital of German New guinea (Kaiser Wilhelm's Land), and at Herbertshohe, the administrative centre of the Bismarck Archipelago. 
 
Within four days of the outbreak, the Inspector-General of the Australian military forces, Major-General Sir William Bridges, had, with his staff, worked out the details for the organization of the Australian Expeditionary Force - the A.I.F. The call for enlistment evoked an enthusiastic and eager response from every quarter of the continent. Training camps were established. All the resources the Government could command were strained to the utmost to produce equipment, uniforms, and all the immensely multiple requirements of an army. Steamships were chartered to transport men and horses. With marvellous rapidity an army nearly as large as the British part of the army commanded by Wellington at Waterloo, was fitted out for service, complete to the last button; and within eight weeks of the declaration of war it was ready to leave for the front. That its departure was delayed was due to the fact that the sea was not yet sufficiently secure for a large flotilla to be moved.
 
 
Australia Army WW1 wire cutters, 1917
 
The transports were concentrated at King George's Sound. Thither steamed from all the Australian States and from New Zealand the ships crowded with troops - thirty-eight ships, convoyed by the Australian cruisers Melbourne and Sydney, the British cruiser Minotaur, and the Japanese cruiser Ibuki. On the early morning of November 1 this great fleet, each unit in its appointed place in the long rank, the four protecting cruisers one ahead, one astern, and on each flank, headed for the Indian Ocean on the voyage of Egypt, where the army was to undergo its last stages of war-training to prepare it for the desperate enterprises which lay ahead.
 
 
At the outbreak of the war Germany had in the Pacific two fast modern cruisers, the Gneisenau and the Scharnhorst, and two light cruisers, the Emden and the Koenigsberg, the Australia, the flagship of the Australian Navy, was a more powerful and a swifter ship than either of the German large cruisers, and either the Sydney or the Melbourne was capable of destroying the other two. But for some weeks after the commencement of hostilities the commodore of the German squadron, von Spee, managed to conceal the whereabouts of his vessels. Occasionally fragments of wireless messages were picked up, but Von Spee, who probably knew that he must be annihilated some time by superior force, was resolved to do as much damage as he could before he went to the bottom. The Australia searched for him in the vicinity of the German Pacific possessions, but he was careful to keep far enough away from the range of her guns. The Emden, commanded by Karl von Muller, was known to be somewhere in the Indian Ocean when the first contingent left Australia. This vessel had been playing the part of the bull in the china shop among the British mercantile marine in eastern seas. In two months von Muller had sunk or captured seventeen ships. Only a day or two before the A.I.F. left King George's Sound, the Emden, disguised by a dummy funnel and a neutral flag, dashed into Penang Roads, torpedoed a French destroyer and a Russian cruiser, and swiftly vanished again. If this busy little hornet of the sea could have got among the thirty-eight transports at night, it would have found fierce employment for its sting. As long as the Emden was afloat the ocean routes were not safe, and news of its whereabouts was eagerly desired.
 
 
WW1 Photo - Victory parade past Australia House, 1919
 
On the morning of November 9 the fleet was about fifty miles from Cocos Island, a small coral atoll in the Indian Ocean, in latitude 12 degrees 5'8", longitude 90 degrees 55'E. The wireless station upon the island, before 7 o'clock, sent out the S.O.S. call for help, with the message that a strange ship of war was approaching. The message was repeated a few minutes later. After that the Cocos wireless station ceased to answer calls. It was conjectured that the Emden was the ship mentioned, and the Sydney (Captain Glossop) was ordered off at the top of her speed to investigate. By 11 o'clock the Emden was a shapeless heap of scrap-iron on the palm-fringed beach of North Cocos. It had fought a gallant running battle for more than an hour, but its 4 in. guns afforded no effective answer to the 6 in. guns of the Sydney.
 
The first phase of warfare in which Australian military forces were occupied was in beating off a Turkish attack upon the Suez Canal in February 1915. turkey entered the war as an ally of the Germanic powers in the previous October, against the wishes of the Sultan military party led by Enver Bey, who was manipulated by German officers. The objects of the Turkish move against the Suez Canal were, first, to deprive Great Britain of one of her most important maritime routes, and secondly to stimulate a Moslem raising in Egypt. The Attack was made on February 2. It was met by a force of English, Indian, and Australian troops - these commanded by Brigadier-General McCay. After three days' fighting the Turkish effort wither away, and no later attempt to capture the Suez Canal zone was dangerous. the great movement in which the Australians and New Zealanders participated ruing the first year of the war was one wherein their valour won for them supreme renown and honour. It was the assault upon the Gallipoli Peninsula. the reasons why this enterprise was undertaken were as follow.
 
 
WW1 UK Lion mane of colonies: Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Africa
 
The gigantic military struggle on the western front, in Flanders, reached a deadlock. The first onrush of the German armies was stopped. The German commanders had counted on crumpling up all resistance and smashing their way through to Paris, where they would dictate terms to the defeated Allies. These plans failed. but though the Germans were held up by the French and British defences, they were strongly entrenched in their own positions. Two great armies dug themselves in. From their trenches and from the air they hurled at each other thousands of tons of shells, bombs, and rifle bullets. Attacks and counter-attacks at various points along the far-stretched lines were successful, or they failed, whether undertaken by the allies or by the German s; but ground gained one week was lost the next. The war had become one of attrition. It was desirable to develop an attack in some other direction, which might secure a successful conclusion. Further, it was desirable to force the Dardanelles, wrench Constantinople from Turkish control, cut off Turkey from the Germanic powers, and, by opening the Black Sera, place Russia in easy communication with her allies. Russia had great stores of wheat in her southern ports, which she could spare for Great Britain and France, and she needed supplies of war material, which the Allies could furnish. The clearing of the Dardanelles, if it could be effected, would, as was said by the author of the idea (Winston Churchill) mean 'victory in the sense of a brilliant and formidable fact.'
 
 
Australia.WW1 submariner's badge
 
In January 1915 the British War Council determined that the attack upon the Dardanelles should be made. But the Turks, anticipating trouble, had constructed strong fortifications upon the Gallipoli Peninsula; and though some of the most powerful battleships in the British Navy rained shell upon the works, the bombardment did little towards reaching the object in view. The naval attack was a failure. It became apparent that the goal would not even be in sight unless military forces were landed, who would drive the Turks out of their fortified positions. The mistake made from the beginning was in attempting to open the Dardanelles by naval warfare only. In March, therefore, it was determined to send an expeditionary force to the Gallipoli Peninsula, and endeavour to destroy the Turkish batteries, preparatory to sending ships through the Straits. The operations were placed under the command of General Sir Ian Hamilton.
 
The Australian Army in Egypt, commanded by Lieutenant-General Sir William Birdwood, was ordered at the beginning of April to embark for the island of Lemnos, which was selected as the base for the grand attack upon Gallipoli. Some weeks before the troops left Egypt on 'the great adventure,' the name 'Anzac' had been coined. It was in the first instance simply a word of convenience; it became a name hallowed by a tragic and glorious history within that fatal year. A telegraphic code word was required. the initial letters of the words 'Australian and New Zealand Army Corps,' stencilled on cases of supplies, suggested to a clerk that Anzac would be a useful short name for telegraphic purposes, and, with General Birdwood's approval, it was adopted. English as well As Australian troops took part in the Gallipoli campaign. Here we are concerned only with the phases of the operations which are relevant to this narrative; and even these can be related only in outline. any narrative which would do adequate justice to the superb, reckless courage with which the landings were effected, to the heroic fortitude with which every inch won from the Turks washed, to the stubborn valour which marked the incessant fighting throughout the occupation, would require not a few paragraphs but more than one volume.  
 
On April 25 landings were forced at two places. Feint attacks were simultaneously made at four other points, in order to occasion a dispersal of the Turkish forces, and to conceal from them the exact places which it was intended to hold. the 29th Division, consisting of British regiments, in co-operation with a naval division and a French contingent, landed at Cape Helles, the nose of the Gallipoli Peninsula. the Anzacs landed at a little cove to the north of a rugged promontory which the Turks called Gaba Tepe. By noon 10,000 men were ashore at Anzac Cove. All the morning since dawn the transports from Lemnos had been bringing up their freights of splendid men in the pink of condition. The sun shone from a cloudless blue sky upon the sparkling waters of the Aegean as the ships moved inshore. From the land batteries a hail of bullets spattered the sea, and shells from heavy howitzers screamed through the air, dealing out death to many of the men in the boats which dashed through the shallow waters from the transports to the shore. One boat full of dead men drifted aimlessly in the surf. Overhead, shells from the cruisers covering the landing poured upon the Turkish position. Seaplanes floated above the storm, reconnoitering, and signalling messages to the officers.
 
 
Singing and shouting, the Anzacs scaled the cliffs, hundreds of them mown down by the Turkish fire; but the dauntless remainder passed on, and dug themselves in on the top. The fighting was incessant from the early morning of the 25th, all through that day, all through the night, all through the following day. Not for a moment did the rattle of rifle fire and the boom of the big guns cease. The losses were terrific - but the landing was achieved; and that troops were able to gain a footing at all on that steep and rocky peninsula, under constant fire from concealed positions, was the result of a great feat of arms not eclipsed for daring and endurance by any during the war. 
 
The purpose of this desperate attempt, the conquest of the peninsula, was never accomplished. Every phase of the campaign has been the subject of controversy, and it will be discussed, in respect to its origins, its probability of success had military effort accompanied naval work from the beginning, the strategy, the command, the tactics, and everything connected with it, as long as military history is studied. To describe the many battles which raged on that narrow strip of soil would be beyond the present purpose; merely to enumerate them would be to dispose in a few words of splendid deeds of heroism wasted on vain attempts. After the landing, and the failure of the Turks to dislodge their assailants, there was a period of three months during which the position was one of stalemate, resembling that on the western front. In August General Hamilton launched attacks on the mountain range of Sari Bair, and 12,000 men went down in five days in the fierce fights by which it was attempted to dislodge the Turks from that stronghold,. In the same month endeavours to capture fresh positions by effecting a landing at Suvla Bay were deleted. The last battles were fought during August 21 to 27, when the Anzacs set themselves to hurl the Turks from an advanced post known as Hill 60, They gained the crest, and dug themselves in, but the enemy were still in control of the eastern slopes. 
 
By the middle of August the purpose for which this deadly campaign was undertaken, the capture of the Dardanelles, became regarded as too costly and too little likely to be successful with the strength that could be spared from the main theatre of war. General Sir Charles Munro, who was sent out to take command in succession to General Hamilton, reported that the position so far won on Gallipoli 'possessed every possible military defect.' Lord Kitchener, the Minister of War, visited Munro recommended withdrawal; Kitchener confirmed his judgment. The decision to evacuate was arrived at on December 8. By the 20th, 80,000 horses, and all guns and stores were removed. but 35,000 brave men were left buried on that war-mangled piece of ground, of whom 8,500 were Australians. Meanwhile fresh Australian contingents had been raised, equipped, and trained; and from March 1916 until the close of the war these men took part in the titanic military operations in France. they distinguished titanic military operations in France. they distinguished themselves nobly in a series of great battles from July 1 - 31 on the Somme. the capture of Pozieres on the 24th, and the holding of the place against wave after wave of fierce German counter-attacks, was a singularly fine achievement. General Birdwood's Anzac corps, too, played a valiant part in the holding of Bullecourt (May 1917), an advanced salient against which the Germans hurled every weapon of attack they possessed. for this work warm congratulations were won from the Commander-in-Chief, Haig.
 
The capture of Messiness Ridge (June 1917), the share taken in the third battle of Ypres (November 1917), the defence of Amiens (March and April 1918), and the defeat of the Germans at Villers Bretonneux (April 1918) were the most memorable and distinguished pieces of fighting by Australians on the western front before the crowning glory of August. During 1918 the Australian divisions had been reorganized and placed for the first time under the command of an Australian general. Lieutenant-General Sir John Monash was an engineer by profession, a graduate of the University of Melbourne in the three faculties of arts, laws, and engineering. He was a man who was accustomed to undertaking extensive and difficult enterprises. the tasks of the day, large or small, presented themselves to his mind as problems to be solved; and he brought to bear upon the military perplexities which confronted him in war, exactly the same kind of rapid and devising intelligence as he had been in the habit of exercising upon his professional work. since his youth he had served in the Victorian militia, and he had a flair for soldiering. He was one of the earliest of those who presented themselves for service in the A.I.F., and had endured the agonies and disappointments at Gallipoli. Now, in the second half of 1918, he found himself at the summit of the ambition as a soldier, in command of an army corps of seasoned veterans, his own countrymen, men already famous for their achievements and still eager for distinction. the troops and officers serving in the command had a profound respect for his intellect, and no general ever had more complete confidence in his staff and men than Monash felt. that mutual trust was sorely tried and completely justified during he great days of the third battle of the Somme. 
 
The task which the Australian Army Corps had before it was to break through the German defences in the centre of a line which was to be assaulted by the 4th British Army, commanded by General Rawlinson. The Australians had the Canadians on their right, and English corps on their left. the battle commenced shortly after 4 o'clock in the morning on August 8. Before 6 o'clock the Australians had achieved the task entrusted them, driving the Germans six miles beyond the line which they were holding on the previous day. the highest tribute to the effectiveness of this day's fighting that could be paid came from General Ludendorff, the chief of the German staff, in the book which he wrote after the war, that after August 8 he gave up the last vestige of hope.
 
From that date the Germans were kept 'on the run.' The Australians, elated with victory, had a full share in keeping them moving eastward. Day after day, following that wonderful beginning on the 8th, more and more ground was won from the enemy. there was no looking back. By September 18 the Allied Arkmies had advanced to the formidable Hindenburg line, an immensely strong complication of trenches, three deep, protected by machine guns, heavy artillery, barbed-wire entanglements, and every device that science and ingenuity could suggest o a resourceful enemy. The Australian Army Corps shared with French, British, Canadian, and American troops the assault upon this last outwork of the Germans defences, on September 18. The fighting was severe, as indeed it had been since the beginning of these operations. Between August 8 and October 5 the Australians had lost 8,7800 men killed and 24,000 wounded. but by the latter date the Hindenburgh line had been smashed and the Germans were in retreat. The Australian had been fighting continuously for six months, and had earned the rest which was granted to them. by that time the war was virtually over; for though an armistice was not granted to German y till November 11, her war leaders granted to Germany till November 11, her war leaders knew that they were beaten long before that date. There was no longer any doubt about he result.
 
In another theatre of war, meanwhile, in Palestine, Australian light horse and camel corps, under the command of Lieutenant-General Sir Harry Chauvel, were engaged in important operations against the Turks. The defeat of the enemy at Romani, and again at El Arish, in June 1916, were the preludes to a series of battles fought on ground rich with the history of three thousand years. The military map shows thirty-six sites of battles between the Suez Canal zone and Damascus where these splendid troops fought during 1916-18. Three battles wee fought at Gaza. Places famed in antiquity and modern times for their connection with great events - Boer-sheba, Jaffa, Jerusalem, Jericho, Joppa, the Jordan Valley, Galilee, and Tiberius - had fresh chapters in their long and chequered history written during these campaigns in which the bronzed men in brown uniforms from the southern continent swept the Turks before them till Palestine was cleared. In the final offensive of September 18, in which the whole operations were commanded by General Allenby, with the Australian cavalry and camel corps as his swift and terribly efficient thrusting weapon, Damascus was wrenched from the Turks after a sovereignty of four centuries. The campaign ended its unbroken spell of victory on October 30. It had been fought in great heat and discomfort, and the supplying of a large mounted army fighting in such difficult country was in itself a triumph of skilled organization. No more brilliant military work was achieved anywhere during the war than during the Palestine campaign; and throughout the country's thousands of years of history no more splendid spectacle was witnessed in it than the advance of Chauvel's massed squadrons of camels and cavalry, ever victorious where Napoleon sustained defeat.
 
The Australian solider established for himself on these campaigns on Gallipoli, in Flanders, and in Palestine a reputation for courage, resource, endurance, and intelligent initiative which filled his countrymen with pride and experienced soldiers with admiration. Marshall Foch, summing up their qualities after the war, said of them: 'From start to finish they distinguished themselves by their endurance and boldness. By their initiative, their fighting spirit, their magnificent ardour, they proved themselves to be shock troops of the first order.' We turn now to the occurrences in Australia during the war. In October 1915 Andrew Fisher resigned the Prime Ministership on accepting the post of High Commissioner in London,. His successor at the head of the Government, William Morris Hughes, held that office during the most anxious and eventful period in the history of Australia, from October 1915 to February 1933. It is the fate of politicians who attain to high rank to endure violent alternations of popularity and disfavour, and Hughes experienced both in uncommon measure. He evoked enmities by the policy and by his methods. But only a churlish and rancid opponent would deny that his fervent Celtic temperament was deeply stirred by the war, and that, realizing its fateful significance for Australia, he devoted himself unsparingly to stimulating the spirit of her people and maintaining the effectiveness of her armies.
 
In 1916, after a visit to Great Britain and the battlefields of France, Hughes dame to the conclusion that the need for reinforcements was so serious that every capable man of military age in Australia ought to be pressed into service. His Government and his parliamentary party were sharply divided on the issue. One of the members of the cabinet resigned as soon as the question of conscription was raised. Hughes agreed that if during a stipulated period voluntary enlistment proved sufficient to keep the army up to strength, he would not press conscription upon the country. But the numbers required were not realized. There was also the difficulty that he could not count upon sufficient votes in the Senate to carry a bill enacting conscription  It was therefore determined to take a referendum of the people on the question: 'Are you in favour of the Government having in this grave emergency the same compulsory powers over citizens in regard to requiring their military service for he term of the war, outside the Commonwealth, as it now has to regard to military service within the Commonwealth?' The voting took place on October 28, 1916. There were affirmative majorities in three States, Victoria, Western Australia, and Tasmania. The total number of affirmative votes was 1,087,557; but the negative forces numbered 1,160,033.
 
Hughes's action in this matter destroyed him as leader of the Labour Party. There had been signs of revolt against his leadership before the conscription issue was raised, but this policy brought the movement against him to a crux. His parliamentary party held a meeting (November 16) at which a motion was submitted expressing the party's lack of confidence in him. He met it by leaving the room, followed by twenty-four members who approved of his policy. His government was at once reconstructed, four ministers being among the opponents of his war policy. The Labour Party as it had existed before the emergence of this crucial issue, which was canvassed with an intensity of bitterness exceeding anything known in Australian politics hitherto, went to pieces. Hughes now depended for his parliamentary support upon a party consisting of the former Opposition, strengthened by those former members of the Lab our pa5rttyh who had followed him in November. Another reconstruction of the Ministry was necessitated. The Australian National War government, which commenced in February 1917, consisted of Hughes himself, still Prime Minister, and four of his old colleagues, with five others recruited from the ranks of the old Opposition - including Sir Joseph Cook and Sir John Forrest (who was created a peer with the title of Lord Forrest of Bunbury in 1918, but continued to sit as a member of the House of Representatives.) The new Government faced a general election in May 1917, and was returned with strong majorities in both houses of the Parliament. 
 
The Government was impressed with the need for obtaining recruits in greater numbers than were coming forward for voluntary enlistment. Moreover, conscription had been adopted in Great Britain, in New Zealand, and in the United States, which had entered the war in 1917. It was believed by ministers, and by many in the country, that the Australian people would now be prepared to consent to compulsory service being made their rule for the purpose of maintaining the strength of the contingents which had been winning such fame in the war. The Government explained, in a proclamation published throughout the country, that they desired to ensure recruiting to the extent of 7,000 men per month, and that they proposed to ask for authority to call up by ballot single men between the ages of 20 to 44, only to the extent that voluntary enlistment did not provide the numbers required. to attain this definite purpose referendum, on December 20, 1917: 'Are you in favour of the proposal of the Commonwealth government for reinforcing the A.I.F. oversea?' Majorities against the proposal were recorded in four States, New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, and South Australia. The number voting in the negative was 1,181,747; the affirmative votes numbered 1,015,159. Soldiers on service voted at both referenda, their votes being included in the totals of the States to which they belonged. The majority of the soldier votes was only slightly in favour of the conscription proposal. At the first referendum they recorded 72,399 affirmative and 58,894 negative votes; and at the second referendum 103,443 affirmative and 93,794 negative votes.
 
During the war Australia despatched 329,883 soldiers abroad. Of these, 59,342 were killed and 166,818 were wounded or 'gassed.' The coast of Australian war services from 1914 to the end of 1919 was 265,800,433 pounds. Up to 1923 the total had mounted to over 19,000,000 pounds. After the important part that Australia had taken in the war, it was but fitting that her statesmen should be consulted as to the terms of peace. A delegation from this country, headed by Hughes, participated in the discussions which determined the terms imposed upon Germany and Germanic powers; and the treat of Versailles, signed June 28, 1919, contained the signatures of the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defence, Senator Pearce, as well as of the representatives of the other British Dominions, and of the Great powers which had formed the Alliance during the war. Australia also accepted form the League of Nations - which was established under the treaty of Versailles - mandates for the administration of what had been German New Guinea and the island of Nauru. The mandate made Australia responsible to the League of Nations for the proper administration of these territories, and for promotion of the material and moral well-being of the natives.
 
The Hughes Government continued till after a general election in December 1922; but when the new Parliament met in February 1922 the party which had hitherto supported the Prime Minister desired that a change should be made. Hughes therefore retired, and the Prime Ministership was attained by Stanley Melbourne Bruce, who had served as a soldier in the war and was wounded on service. Bruce had found a seat in Parliament, and, was soon promoted to ministerial rank, entering the Hughes ministry as Treasurer in 1921. His rise to the chief place in Australian politics was without precedent for rapidity.
 
IMPERIAL RELATIONS AND THE AUSTRALIAN SPIRIT
 
The constitutions conferred upon the Australian colonies in 1855 contained the most liberal endowment of self-government that had ever been secured in the history of colonization by dependencies from a mother-country. The attitude of British statesmen towards oversea dominions had recently undergone a rapid and sweeping change. Only a few years before, Lord Grey had maintained that Great Britain had a perfectly right to ship her felonry to the colonies despite their reluctance to receive them. He could not understand the resistance offered by the Cape of good Hope, by Victoria, and by New South Wales. But the same Lord Grey, having failed to perpetuate transportation, became the sponsor of measure which left the Australian colonies free to do as they pleased within very wide limits, while affording them complete protection.
 
Not all British statesmen agreed with this liberal policy. Disraeli, for example, said some years later in a public speech, that self-government in the colonies ought to have been conceded as part of a great policy of Imperial consolidation. 'It ought to have been accompanied,' he said, 'by an Imperial tariff, by securities for the people of England for the enjoyment of the unappropriated lands which belonged to the Sovereign as their trustee, and by a military code which should have precisely defined the means and the responsibilities by which the colonies should have been defended and by which, if necessary, this country should call for aid from the colonies themselves.' But Disraeli, who had also spoken of 'these wretched colonies' as millstones having round the neck of the mother-country, never understood the problem or the people whom it affected; and it is certain that attempts to control either the land or the economic policy of Australia from London would have resulted in failure. the colonies had to be free to work out their own destiny - making mistakes, perhaps, but paying for those mistakes themselves, and able to rectify them by their own means.
 
A school of English political thought, which had representatives in high official places, believed that self-government would work towards the separation of the colonies from the mother-countgry, and that it would be no lamentable occurrence if such were the case. Frederick Rogers, afterwards Lord Blachford, who was Permanent Under-Secretary of the Colonial Office from 1869 to 1871, wrote, in a piece of autobiography: 'I had always believed - and this belief has so confirmed and consolidated itself that I can hardly realize the possibility of any one seriously thinking the contrary- that the destiny of our colonies is independence, and that in this point of view the function of the Colonial Office is to secure that our connection, while it lasts, shall be as profitable to both parties and our separation, when it comes, as amicable, as possible.' The views of Rogers were quite commonly entertained in England, though they have often been falsely attributed to some eminent men who both repudiated and worked against them - to Gladstone, for example. But that they were the view of the official who was mainly responsible for guiding British colonial policy enduring a critical period indicates that relations were not likely to be maintained on very sympathetic lines. Higinbotham's scornful reference to the Colonial Office and its permanent chief during the exciting Darling Grant crisis in Victoria, was a castigation of the official attitude in terms that were meant to scorch, and did. 'It was said of the Athenian republic in its best days,' said Higinbotham, 'that it was governed by the poodle dog of a courtesan, and the bon mot was made out with with great ingenuity. It was said that the poodle dog engrossed the attentions of the mistress, the mistress engrossed her lover, and the lover ruled the fierce democracy and controlled its policy. I believe that a similar remark might be applied with far more truth to the present relations between the colonial Office and these countries. I believe it might be said with perfect truth that the million and half of Englishmen who inhabit these colonies, and who during the last fifteen years have believed they possessed self-government, have been really governed during the whole of that time by a person named Rogers. He is the chief clerk in the Colonial Office. Of course he inspires every minister who enters the department, year after year, with Colonial Office traditions, Colonial Office policy, Colonial Office ideas.' 
 
Yet, despite the frequently strained relations between ministers in Australia and the Colonial Office officials, there never was any antagonism between the Australian people and the mother-country. there was always, on the contrary, a deep and sincere bond of affection between them. Henry Parkes's famous and vivid phrase, 'the crimson thread of kinship runs through us all,' was no mere piece of rhetorical decoration. It was an expression of the living faith of the man and of those for whom he spoke. How thoroughly British the population of Australia has always been, how trifling has been the foreign admixture is a great fact in the history and in the psychology of the country which has been all too inadequately appreciated. In an earlier chapter it was pointed out that every name of those who framed the Commonwealth constitution was a name of British origin. A related fact of much significance is that from the very beginning of responsible government, the head of every Government which has held office in any of the six States, and in the Commonwealth, bore a British name. The names of nearly all the judges and ministers of State answer to the same test of origin.
 
Over thirty years after responsible government was initiated it occurred to the Imperial Government that it might be advantageous to confer with representatives of those oversea countries which had been allowed to go their own way, and had not, to the surprise of many, become independent republics. a new spirit began to make itself manifest in the speeches of British public men. Lord Goschen told his countrymen that 'statesmanship had never found a home at the Colonial Office,' and that it was time that the relations between the parts of the British Empire were seriously considered. the summoning of the first Colonial Conference in 1887 marked the beginning of a new era. Yet it is doubtful whether there would have been a Conference then had it not been that in 1887 Queen Victoria attained the Jubilee of her accession, and representatives of the colonies had to be invited to take part in the celebrations. to that circumstance in part, at all events, is to be attributed the holding of the first of a series of gatherings which opened the eyes of British politicians to the fact that the colonies had grown into political communities whose opinions must be regarded. 'There was a time perhaps,' said Deakin, one of the Victorian representatives, at the first day's sitting, 'when an invitation to a conference such as this would not have been sent from the mother-country; but there has never been a time when such an invitation would not have been cordially responded to by the Australian colonies.' A purely consultative conference it necessarily was, but some practical results nevertheless flowed from it, and it served above all to awaken British ministers to the fact that these distant English-speaking populations must be treated in a fashion different from the old practice.
 
There was a second Conference in 1897, when the Colonial Secretary happened to be a statesman who took his office seriously, and entertained broad imperial views. He concurred in the opinion that such gatherings ought to be held periodically, and not be dependent upon the occurrence of such an event as a jubilee or a coronation. Ten years between the first and the second Conference was too long a gap. In 1902, therefore, Chamberlain summoned a third Conference. by that time Australia was a federation, and was represented by her Prime Minister, Barton. A fourth - now called an Imperial, not a colonial - conference was held in 1907, when again the Prime Minister (Deakin) was present; and a fifth in 1911, when Fisher represented the Commonwealth. In addition there have been special conferences for special purposes, notably that on Imperial Defence in 1909, and that relating to the European War in 1916. On these occasions the dominions and the mother-country have conferred on subjects of common interest, and their statesmen have met on equal terms in the trusteeship of a great imperial heritage. the conferences completely dissipated the old suspicion on the one side and official obtuseness on the other, and removed the once prevalent feeling of inevitable dissolution. Constructive statesmanship set its gaze on ideals of growth towards closer union and complete co-operation.
 
The personal link between Australia and Great Britain since the dawn of responsible government was the colonial governor; since federation the Governor-General has been an additional source of strength. The Australian States have not followed the Canadian example, in choosing provincial governors within the country. there has been no serious demand that the practice of the Crown appointing the Governor should be discontinued. A large number of men have held the Sovereign's commission in Australia, before and since the era of responsible government, and many of them have been men of exceptional ability and high character. Some have had very difficult situations to handle, and could not avoid giving offence to one party or the other. but the rules which a Governor should follow are well defined, and a man who follows them firmly, tactfully, and with s little to say as need be, cannot go far wrong. A step in the direction of closer trade relations with the mother-country was made by the tariff of 1908, which gave a preference of 5 per cent, to British goods over those of foreign origin. This policy was one upon which Deakin felt keenly. The preference affected British goods to the total of over 20,000,000 pounds, and the diminished duty upon them amounted to over one million pounds per annum. the preferential rate was maintained in subsequent amendments of the tariff, and represents part of what is called the 'settled policy of the country.'
 
The student of British colonial history who makes a comparison between the relations of the mother-country and her oversea possessions under the old system, and those prevailing under the new, must be struck with the violent contrast. When in the seventeenth century England was fighting the French for dominion in North America, the war was one in which the colonies themselves were vitally interested. If the French had secured the waterway of the Mississippi and the Ohio, and had connected Canada with Louisiana by a chain of forts, the westward expansion of the English colonies stretched along the Atlantic seaboard would have been blocked. The war was in behalf of the colonies. Yet we find them not only reluctant to aid, haggling in jealous distrust of each other, having to be bought, coaxed, and bullied to supply men and equipment, but positively making money by supplying goods to the enemy. We find the contrary result under free institutions.
 
The first indication that Australia meant to play a part in Imperial affairs on the wider field of world politics, occurred in 1885, when W. B. Dalley, then act6ing Premier of New South Wales, raised and equipped an expedition for service alongside the British Army in the Egyptian campaign. When the South African War broke out in 1899, Australia was not yet federated, but each of the six States despatched contingents which took part in the two and-a-half years' fighting, and earned for themselves a brilliant reputation for valour, initiative, and resource. Before the south African War was finished another Australian expedition took part in British operations in China (1900) connected with the suppression of the Boxer rebellion. Upon the outbreak of the great European War in August 1914, Australia flew to arms on the instant. German military and political writers had predicted that, if a great war occurred, Australia would declare her independence, or that Manchester would become a republic.
 
It has stood for very much in the development of Australia that her people have been proud of their race and sensitive to maintain its best traditions. British history is their history, with its failings to be guarded against and its glories to be emulated. British in origin, they can at this distance of time survey the cause of the foundation of settlement on their country, and be without regrets that for want of better ones those proved fruitful, because this land thus became a field for the exercise of their racial genius for adaptation and for conquering difficulties. To this country of fertility, sunshine, and vast spaciousness they have brought whatever civilization Europe had to give them, and have added to it the fruits of their own inventiveness. So it has also been with their literature. the riches of English letters are theirs, and the best things are read with no deeper zest anywhere than here. but new scope for life, the spirit of an ancient race flourishing in fresh conditions, call for new interpreters; and have found them. Tellers of stories, writers of poems, painters of landscape - of these Australia has had her own.
 
Henry Kingsley, in Geoffrey Hamlyn (1859) wrote a tale of squatting life which has pleased many thousands of readers during half a century, and is likely to stand the best of time. Marcus Clarke, drawing his basic facts from authentic sources, produced the classic novel of the convict days in his grim and powerful For the Term of His Natural Life (1874). 'Rolf Boldrewood' (T. A. Browne) knew intimately the life which he described in his tales, Robbery under Arms (1888), The Miner's Right (1890), Nevermore (1892), The Squatter's Dream (1891), and others; and their fidelity will give them endurance, though some readers may grow impatient with the author's slipshod style. When robbery under Arms first appeared as a serial in the Sydney Mail, it proved to be of thrilling interest to readers in the farthest corners of Australia, and Browne used to relate that, when it was nearing its conclusion, a party of shearers in a far-out sheep station, to whom the instalments had been read, impatient to know the fate of 'Starlight', sent a messenger on horseback to the nearest telegraph office many miles away, to telegraph to Sydney for the conclusion. 
 
Henry Lawson wrote stories of 'back-blocks' life that are full of vigour, vividness, and humour, especially those in his first prose volume, While the Billy Boils. Louis Becke's many tales of the Pacific Islands are pastels by a beach-comber whose talent for story-telling and wealth of experience were discovered by J. F. Archibald, the first editor of the Sydney Bulletin. Even the very far interior has found an author to describe its way of living, in Mrs. Gunn's truthful and entertaining We of the Never Never.
 
Australia s never run short of poets. The rain may sometimes fail to fall when it should, and the rivers may dry up in their glistening beds, but the Pierian spring flows constantly and copiously. there are things in verse which each generation can produce for itself, and things which can only be the work of one man at one time. Of the former kind there is very much in Australian literature, of the latter not a large quantity. Amongst earlier generations of writers Henry Clarence Kendall (1841-82), Adam Lindsay Gordon (1833-70) and James Brunton Stephens (1836-1901) are worthily held in remembrance, but only the first named of the three was Australian born. Kendall possessed a rich and limpid lyric gift, loving the quiet places where meditation brought forth flowers; and his verses breathe an atmosphere of 'unfooted dells and secret hollows dear to noontide dew.' Gordon, horse-breaker, steeple-chase rider, dreamer and ne'er-do-well, friend of jockeys and shepherds, came to Australia in 1853. Educated at Cheltenham and Oxford, he never lost the mark of the scholar and gentleman there impressed upon him; and the memory of his sporting life in England coloured several of the poems he wrote in Australia:
 
I remember the lowering wintry morn,
And the mist on the Cotswold Hills
Where I once heard the blast of the huntsman's horn,
Not far from the seven rills.
 
But his main inspiration was Australian. Here he wrote things which are known by heart and repeated in camps and shearing sheds. It is the kind of immortality that he would have liked. His horse ballads, with their hoofs clattering along the lines, are his best guarantee of popularity. He read his Horace by candle-light in redolent stables, and scribbled his poems in pencil on odd scraps of paper. To Swinburne, whose fiery genius was in full efflorescence during Gordon's writing period, he owed much, as is apparent in such lines as these:
 
In the spring when the wattle gold trembles
Twist shallow and shine,
When each dew-laden air-drought resembles
A long draught of wine;
When the sky-line's blue burnished resistance
Makes deeper the dreamiest distance,
Some song in all hearts hath existence -
Such songs have been mine.
 
There is a fine vein of romance and an atmosphere of wide expanses in Gordon, mingling with his native melancholy. He loved the life he wrote about, and he loved writing about it.
 
Brunton Stephens was a scholarly clerk in a Government office in Brisbane, with his Dante never very far from his elbow; and he wrote some very noble verse, sincere in spirit, chaste in diction, and charged with emotion. His best piece is his prophetic ode on 'The Dominion of Australia' (1877):
 
She is not yet; but he whose ear
Thrills to that finer atmosphere--
 
 
he, the seer, knew that she must come to be, and that in the attainment of unity --
 
Our bounds shall be the girdling seas alone.
 
In a younger generation Australia has found a fresh band of poets to sing her songs and chant her ballads of the life that is her own - of the mines and the cattle camps, the forests and the mountains, of the great wide expanses where the stockman,
 
Sees the vision splendid of the sunlit plains extended,
And at night the wondrous glory of the everlasting stars.
 
A deeper spiritual note, too, has been struck in the chants of Bernard O'Dowd, who has woven into rhythms the thought of a complex and swiftly changing age. Andrew Paterson ('The Banjo') has given his countrymen, in 'The Man from Snowy River,' perhaps the most popular poem that has ever been written in Australia, a piece of picturesque ballad-writing that is known by heart by many a man who only knows greater poets by name. Henry Lawson's often rough but very real poetry is not from the heart of a man of temperament and experience. There are passages in the virile 'Star of Australia' that ring like the authentic message of prophecy, written as this poem was nearly a quarter of a century before the name of Anzac blazed into being:
 
We heard no more of our bloodless flag, that rose from a nation's slime;
Better a shred of deep-dyed rag from the storms of the olden time.
From grander crowds in our "peaceful skies" than ever there before
I tell you the Star of the South shall rise - in the lurid clouds of war.
 
There are boys out thee by the western creeks who hurry away from school
To climb the sides of the breezy peaks or dive in the shaded pool,
Who'll stick to their guns when the mountains quake to the tread of a might war --
And fight for a flight or a Great Mistake as men never fought before;
When the peaks are scarred and the sea-walls crack till the furthest hills vibrates,
And the world for a while goes rolling back in a storm of love and hate.
 
Victor Daley was the most finished artist who wrote verse in this country; and thee is strong feeling in the often haggard stanzas of Barcroft Boake.
 
Perhaps not many of the writings of these men are well known outside Australia; but what of that? She has her own life, and it is good; they wrote for her about the things that are hers; and they have helped her people to understand their country, their destiny, and themselves.
 
The things which are most characteristic of Australia, in landscape as in life, have only been truly seen by those who have steeped themselves in the atmosphere of the land. It is interesting to observe that pictures painted by artists of real merit in the early years seem to-day to be not Australian pictures, so much as pictures of European scenes 'with a difference.' The light, the colour, and above all the character, are not Australian. to some observers, indeed, it seemed that Australian scenery could never be attractive to the landscape painter. A writer in an early edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica said that this was 'no very beautiful or picturesque country, such as is likely to form or to inspire a poet.' There was nothing in the scenery, the writer thought, 'to expand the heart or fancy.' Barron Field, Charles Lamb's friend in his Memories of New South Wales, laid it down that 'no tree to my taste can be beautiful that is not deciduous. What can a painter do with one cold olive green?'
 
But a later school of painters, born in the country, knowing its moods and familiar with its most intimate spirit, have found an infinite diversity and depth of beauty where earlier comers saw only sameness and dullness. The rich colour of the eucalypts makes the canvases of Hans Heysen glow with a warmth that is transmitted to them b a painter who loves the great trees of the forest. Such pictures as Arthur Streeton's 'The Purple Noon's Transparent Light,' in the Melbourne Gallery, and George Lambert's 'Black Soil Plains' in the Sydney Gallery - both landscapes of striking beauty and power - are the work of men who, having grown up amidst Australian scenery, have afterwards studied abroad and brought to the interpretation of the characteristics of their own country a technical accomplishment acquired in the best schools.
 
In the creation of an Australian spirit the poets and the painters have had their part; and in the days to come their service sill be esteemed hardly less than the excellence of their achievement.
 
 
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