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Tuesday, 27 May 2008
Great War, South Australian History, The Critic, 5 May 1915
Topic: Gen - St - SA

Great War

South Australian History

The Critic, 5 May 1915

 

The May Day Parade at Adelaide Children's Hospital

 

After the landings at Gallipoli, The Critic, 5 May 1915, wanted to be seen to be patriotic but complained that everyone was being kept in the dark. The commentary in the newpaper indicates the common sentiment being expressed at the time.

 

The Critic, 5 May 1915

Town Topics

THE TRAGEDY NEARER HOME.

Within the last few' days the people of South Australia have been brought to a tragical realisation of the dark days of the war. Up till then, somehow, while there had really been no sunny hours, the clouds of sorrow had not yet gathered. Our boys were away on active service, but were not in the firing line. There had come from Egypt, indeed, lamentations because of the idleness and the postponed day of action. Many of the soldiers had, with humorous protest, declared that they had become known as "Kitchener's six-bob-a-day tourists." Every gallant heart was throbbing in anticipation of the day when the real thing would happen, and the Australiap would be given an opportunity to show the stuff they were made of. It was no empty boasting of patriotism that had taken them away from home to foreign fields. But hope deferred was making the heart sick.

PERPLEXING SECRECY.

Then, suddenly, there came from Egypt the intimation that the Australians and the New Zealanders had gone, to the Dardanelles to push back the Germanised Turk, and to help the Allies to force their way to Constantinople. It was then that relatives and friends in the Commonwealth began to realise that it was becoming a serious business, and that any day the grim news of casualties of fallen heroes would flash through. The remarkable feature was the manner in which the sad, but inevitable, tidings came to the anxiously-waiting public. A veil of absurd and perplexing secrecy was drawn by the censors over the casualty lists. Australia found herself in the extraordinary position of receiving from the homeland messages congratulatory of the deeds performed by her sons on the field of battle and of being entirely ignorant of what had been accomplished. There were expressions of sympathy with those who had heroes in the fight-but nobody knew whether they had fought, or where, or when. In South Australia the newspapers published telegrams from the Governor- General complimenting the people on the magnificent part their soldiers had played in the tragic theatre of war, and nobody knew why. The Defence Department may have had good reasons for adopting this strange policy of secrecy, but up to the present they have not been revealed, and certainly cannot be understood. Red tape is surely the last thing that ought to be tied around the eagerly-sought advices of war casualties. However, that was the position, and in these days of military discipline there is apparently nothing to do but submit to it. It is most unfortunate, but it seems inevitable.

HEROES ON THE FIELD OF HONOR.

Already the soldiers of South Australia have shone resplendently on the field of honor. At the time of writing, five heroes have answered to the "Last Post," and half a dozen others have been wounded-a small total, comparatively, but these are early clays to estimate the length of the gallant roll call. Of this we are sure: there will be none who will shrink from meeting the foe with his heart full of courage and a proper sense of what is expected from a British soldier - the patriotism which knows no bar to duty in a game characterised by awful odds. Here Death is to be met in glorious fashion, for the sword is unsheathed in a nation's honor and for the defence of an Empire's liberty. The young sons of Greater Britain have shown that they have in them the fibre which has made the great traditions of the Empire, and that they can hold a trench and storm a hill with all the clashing gallantry of the troops of England herself. It is a magnificent thing to have this demonstrated. Australia proved in the Boer War that she was not wanting in the stuff that makes the best war material, but this great conflict in Europe is on a scale that almost relegates the South African campaign to the category of a prolonged skirmish. Kitchener, however, was satisfied with what he saw there, and when a much more serious call came and the Commonwealth mark a noble response in men, the Secretary for War knew that wherever he sent these soldiers from the six States of the Commonwealth and New Zealand - they, would do their duty with unflinching courage and unconquerable determination. In selecting the men for the campaign against the Turks, Kitchener paid to Australia a singularly high compliment. The enemy is formidable. The Turks have already had considerable experience in the firing line. It has been disastrous, certainly, but none can cavil at the strength of the Ottoman forces. With elaborately-trained German officers at their head, the Turks will be a powerful enemy to dislodge, and it is to be feared that the Australian casualty lists will carry a much larger burden of sorrow, and that tears will be shed in many homes before victory is complete. Meanwhile the fight continues, and as each hero falls and pays the most heroic price of his patriotism, there will come to the Australians who were waiting at home for the sad and triumphant tidings from the front, a growing exultation of pride at the deeds which are being performed in the precious name of liberty and right in far-away battlefields.

THE Y.M.C.A.

The Y.M.C.A: has always been an institution worthy of the most generous support of the public for its many manly activities and its fine example in practical Christianity. The long history of the Association has been studded with achievement, and its expansion has represented an asset to the community of growing value. Now the Y.M.C.A, has, so to speak, gone into the firing line. It is doing a triumphant work among the soldiers at the front, and is an established - and really necessary - feature of the routine of the training camps. With great opportunities it is accomplishing great results. The public ought to recognise, in the only fitting manner that recognition can be made, the services that are being rendered. That is by cash appreciation. The demands on the financial resources of the Association necessarily have been extraordinarily heavy during these times, but with this larger sphere for expenditure has come shrinking revenues. It is the duty of the people to alter that unfortunate position. The community is the better for the Y.M.C.A. that stands and works in its midst.
 

Of course this was all before the real tragedy revealed itself at Gellipoli and the anger set in. Same with the Y.M.C.A. for very shortly it would be mired in some of the worst scandal reaching all the way to the top tiers of goverrnment. These are the last headlines of optimism and the notion of being willing servants of the British Empire. By the next month, things changed.

 

 

Further Reading:

Great War, South Australian History

Great War, August 1914

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920

 


Citation: Great War, South Australian History, The Critic, 5 May 1915

Posted by Project Leader at 6:58 PM EADT
Updated: Monday, 26 July 2010 4:55 PM EADT

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