Tag Archives: remembered

It’s time Australia’s conscientious objectors of WW1 were remembered, too



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An anti-conscription rally in Melbourne, 1916.
Heritage Council of Victoria

Rick Sarre, University of South Australia

As we commemorate the centenary of the Armistice, it is appropriate that we pay tribute to the thousands of largely forgotten people who formed a significant social and political coalition at the time of the first world war: those who fought against conscription, and against the war, including a significant number of conscientious objectors.

Military registration and training for all Australian men aged 18 to 60 was compulsory from 1911. But there was no provision in Australian law that required men to enlist for active service overseas. Signing up for such service was voluntary, and with the promise of a short war, there was no difficulty for recruitment officers finding their men.




Read more:
World politics explainer: The Great War (WWI)


However, as news of the horrendous losses at Gallipoli from April to December 1915 and the slaughter on the Western Front from mid-1916 filtered back to Australia, enthusiasm for overseas duties began to wane.

Australia was not meeting its recruitment target. Only about a third of eligible men were volunteering.

Labor Prime Minister Billy Hughes determined that the only way to increase enlistment numbers was to impose conscription. He decided to hold a plebiscite (sometimes referred to as the “conscription referendum”) to carry out what he saw as his obligation to the Empire, and to do so with the consent of the Australian people.

But there were many vociferous voices from the trade union movement, the Labor Party and an active women’s coalition campaigning for a “no” vote. Religious adherents, too, found themselves well represented in the “no” campaign, with many Catholics, Quakers, Christadelphians, Adventists and Jehovah’s Witnesses in the forefront of the pacifist movement.

Archbishop Daniel Mannix.
National Museum of Australia

Archbishop Daniel Mannix was a leader in the Catholic Church in Melbourne. He took a strong stand against conscription, adding that the war was “just an ordinary trade war” driven by trade jealousy. Conscription, he maintained, would simply reinforce “class versus class” social injustices.

Remember, too, that the British had, in April 1916, put down with force the Easter Rising in Ireland. Almost 2,000 Irish were sent to internment camps. Most of the leaders of the Rising were executed in May 1916. Mannix was Irish-born.

Margaret Thorp, a Quaker, was another strong voice in opposition to the war, and critical of the support for the war by the mainstream churches. A member of the Anti-Military Service League, she later joined others to inaugurate a branch of the Women’s Peace Army in Australia and, later, a branch of the Sisterhood of International Peace that supported the international No-Conscription Fellowship.

On October 28, 1916, Prime Minister Hughes put the conscription ballot to the vote. It was defeated by a margin of 3%.

The following year, Britain sought a sixth Australian division for active service. Australia had to provide 7,000 men per month to meet this request. But voluntary recruitment continued to lag behind requirements. On December 20, 1917, Hughes put a second conscription ballot to the people. It, too, was defeated, this time by a larger margin (7%). The war continued to the Armistice with volunteers only.

By the end of the war, over 215,000 Australians had been killed, wounded or gassed. Only one out of every three Australian men who were sent abroad arrived home physically unscathed.

An anti-conscription poster.
Parliament of Australia

During the 20th century, Australian law developed a variety of positions on conscientious objection. Such status today relies on an applicant meeting the requirements of the Defence Act 1903 as amended in 1939. Conscientious objectors need not have deeply held religious beliefs. But they must be able to ground their objection in moral beliefs, and be able to articulate them.

People who were not able to be officially recognised as conscientious objectors in Australia during the first world war were prosecuted when they failed to register. While historical records are impossible to collate accurately on this subject, some 27,749 prosecutions had been launched across the country by June 30, 1915. Stories of the tragic social consequences for these men, and for conscientious objectors, are legion. Objectors particularly were often maligned as cowards and self-seekers. But the historical records illustrate that theirs was not an easy path. They did not lack courage. In many respects, the choices made by conscientious objectors required a greater determination and certainty of belief than was needed by the men who enlisted voluntarily.




Read more:
Only the conscription referendums made Australia’s Great War experience different


There is a permanent memorial for conscientious objectors in Tavistock Square, London, and one is planned for Edinburgh, Scotland. There is a tribute at the National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City for the pacifists Joseph and Michael Hofer, who died in Leavenworth Prison in 1918 while incarcerated for refusing military service.

It is regrettable that Australia has no public memorial to our forebears who campaigned against compulsory military service, and the war itself, for reasons of conscience and faith. As we commemorate the centenary of the Armistice, there is no better time to remedy that oversight.The Conversation

Rick Sarre, Adjunct Professor of Law and Criminal Justice, University of South Australia

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


Today in History: 25 April 1915


ANZAC Day – The Landings at Gallipoli Commenced in WWI

This day each year is remembered as ANZAC Day in Australia, a day when Australians remember the fallen of every war Australians served in. The first ANZAC Day held was one year after the first landings at Gallipoli in Turkey during World War 1. We remember the cost of war, we remember those who died while fighting to protect our freedom and way of life. We remember those who served and who still serve in battles, wars and peace-keeping roles around the world and throughout our history. We do not forget them.

For more visit:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anzac_Day
http://www.anzacday.org.au/


Article: 18 April 1942 – The Doolittle Raid


On this day in 1912, the Doolittle raid on Tokyo took place. 70 years on, four of the remaining raiders got together and remembered the raid.

For more, visit:
http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/04/19/us-usa-doolittle-reunion-idUSBRE83I04J20120419


Today in History: 25 March 1306


Robert the Bruce Becomes King of Scotland

On this day in 1306, Robert the Bruce became the King of Scotland. He continued as king until his death on the 7th June 1329. He led Scotland during the Wars of Scottish Independence in which Scotland regained its independence from England. He is probably more remembered outside of Scotland for his role in the life of William Wallace, particularly since the film Braveheart based on the life of William Wallace.

For more, visit:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_the_Bruce

Download the following books:
King Robert the Bruce, by Alexander Falconer Murison
The Story of King Robert the Bruce, by Robert Laird Mackie
The Bruce, by John Barbour and William Mackay Mackenzie
Robert the Bruce and the Struggle for Scottish Independence, by Sir Herbert Maxwell


Today in History: 25 January 1759


Robert Burns Day/Burns Night – Burns Supper

This day is known as Robert Burns Day in Scotland, which is of course the day on which the famous Scottish poet Robert Burns, was born. Burns was born on this day in 1759.

Wherever Robert Burns is remembered, a Burns Supper is generally held on or about Robert Burns Day/Night. These suppers usually include a haggis, Scotch whisky and the reading/recitation of poetry written by Robert Burns.

For more on  Burns Suppers visit:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burns_supper

For a book by Thomas Carlyle, ‘Burns,’ visit:
http://www.archive.org/details/burns01carl


Today in History – 26 April 1865


United States: John Wilkes Booth is Killed

On the 14th April 1865, John Wilkes Booth assassinated the President of the United States of America at Ford’s Theatre, in Washington D.C. Booth, a Confederate sympathizer, managed to escape the scene of his crime and fled on horseback to a farm in northern Virginia. It was here, 12 days after his attack on the president that Booth was shot and killed.

John Wilkes Booth was born on the 10th May 1838, into the well known Booth family and became a well known actor in his own right. But it would be his assassination of Abraham Lincoln that he would always be remembered for.

Eight other co-conspirators were tried and convicted for their parts in the assassination and other roles in the plot that resulted in the death of the president. Four of these were hung a short time later.

 


Today in History – 25 April 1915


ANZAC: First Landings at Gallipoli – Turkey

Around the world today, Australians and New Zealanders will be remembering the fallen, on what is now known to us as ANZAC Day. ANZAC Day is remembered annually on the anniversary of the first major military action fought by the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps during World War I. On this day in 1915, ANZAC troops landed on the beach of what is now Anzac Cove. Gallipoli was evacuated in December 1915. The campaign was a disaster, but a legend was born out of it, that of ANZAC.

ABOVE: Map Showing the Location of Gallipoli

ANZAC Day was officially held for the first time in 1916 with a number of ceremonies and services held in Australia, New Zealand, England and Egypt. It was not until 1927 however, that Australians held their first uniform remembrance day and it became more established after that.

From the Second World War, ANZAC Day took on a broader significance, as a day to remember the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country in both Australia and New Zealand.

For more visit these sites:

 


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