WWI in the Herald: Archive
MONDAY 19 APRIL 1915
The announcement by Mr. Holman, the State Premier that the Government intends to proclaim Empire Day this year as a public holiday throughout the State gives rise to doubts as to the propriety or wisdom of the proposal.
It is, of course, understood that it is prompted purely by a spirit of loyalty and a desire to give public expression to Australia’s views. But however excellent the intention may be, its wisdom will be questioned on various grounds.
To begin with, there is no need today to offer any further proof of the whole-hearted and loyal support which Australia is giving to the Mother Country.
Not a day passes but there is a manifestation of that spirit in one form or another. Australia’s naval and military help is regarded by the Imperial authorities as of great value.
While her troops have not so far appeared at the front in any part of Europe, their presence in Egypt was of moral utility. But before the war terminates they will have the opportunity of showing that they can comport themselves as gallantly as any other of the Imperial armies in the field.
Whatever may be said to the contrary in relation to its population and resources – that is as to the provision of accoutrements and munitions – Australia has done well.
She is still recruiting, training, and equipping soldiers to reinforce the Allies. In the work of charity Australia’s share is not inconsiderable, and it is being carried out on a scale which will make it assume very large proportions before the war is over.
It will probably continue long after hostilities are concluded, as not only the sick and wounded, but the unfortunate people whose towns, villages, and farms have been stripped and destroyed both in Belgium and France will need assistance until they can make a fresh start in life.
There is probably hardly a home in Australia today where something is not being done in this splendid cause of humanity and charity.
A ceremony such as that which may be carried out for special observance will not emphasise this feeling. The day will always be commemorated quietly as in the past.
It is not, however, on this ground that the proposal to turn the day into a public holiday is opposed. But, in addition to the fact that it is not necessary to proclaim Australia’s loyalty by any special ceremonial, there is the fact that the present is a time for working, and not for holiday making.
The object, of course, is different, but that is what the day will amount to.
There are not wanting people who assert that Australia is too much addicted to holidays. One day is not a long time to suspend work, but it implies a diminution of the power of the woollen and armament factories to supply goods which are most urgently needed.
New South Wales plays a large share in providing the requirements of the Commonwealth Government, and it is not desirable that this work should be unnecessarily stayed.
It has also to be remembered that while a holiday may always be welcomed to certain classes there are a large number of daily wage-earners to whom it comes as a sacrifice.
In all probability the example of New South Wales will not be followed by the other States, and it is more than questionable if it will be adopted by the Federal Government, The one day on which a holiday as a day of rejoicing would be hailed with pleasure would be the day that peace is signed as the result of crushing victories won by the Allies.
It is officially stated in Berlin that naval airships successfully bombarded several defended towns on the British east coast.
They all returned undamaged, despite the heavy fire to which they had been subjected.
An official communique states:-
There has been desperate fighting in the Carpathians. We took prisoner 1140 men, and captured three machine guns. The enemy suffered heavy losses.
We successfully repulsed the enemy in the direction of Stry, where the Austrians are attempting a turning movement against the Russian left.
We captured two heights near the Telphotsch roads.
The Carpathian roads are everywhere in a bad condition, owing to the thaw which has set in.
Our destroyers sank four steamers and several sailing vessels off the coast of Anatolia.
The military expert of the “Novoe Vremya” states that Germany is evidently preparing to attack the whole front in the hope of saving the situation by an overwhelming blow on the Censochova-Cracow front.
The ‘Corrieredella Sera’ states that the streets of Constantinople were on Wednesday placarded with manifestoes demanding peace, and accusing the Germans of the origin of the Turkish people’s misfortunes.
The newspaper adds that the desire for peace among the poorer classes is almost universal. Many are in a state of semi-starvation.
A communique states:-
A battleship supported by aeroplanes, effectively bombarded the El Arish end of the concentration camp of Turkish troops.
A Constantinople telegram states that H.M.Ss. Majestic and Swiftsure bombarded the fortifications near Gabatepen on Thursday.
The German’s timely reinforcements, consisting of ten army corps, have thus far saved the Uzok Pass from falling into the Russian’s hands, but the latter almost have surrounded the Pass, and are gaining new heights daily.
The Telepuich and Zuella battle began on Wednesday, when the Russians advanced in dead silence, and cut the enemy’s wire entanglements, and surprised the enemy with an overwhelming bayonet charge. The Russians did not fire.
The Kaiser is sending Bavarian and Saxons systematically to Bukovina and the Carpathians, while concentrating his home troops on the Prussian frontier.
The manoeuvre either indicates dissentions, or that the Warsaw front is still regarded as the danger point.
The Russians made a slight forward movement at Sokhaczew.
In a report to Senator Pearce, the Minister for Defence, General Bridges, in command of the Australian Expeditionary Force, refers to some of the statements appearing in Australian papers concerning the conduct of the troops.
“I am not aware,” he states, “of anything that has occurred that warrants such sweeping statements that have been made, and I give them a full denial.”
Senator Pearce added: “I now also officially deny those statements. I am not referring so much to Captain Bean’s letters, as to the use made of them by some of the newspapers.”
The report continues: “The percentage of men who have to be returned for misconduct is, I think, very small. Most of the offences were purely military offences, such as absence without leave, and drunkenness.”
(From Embarkation Rolls)
AB Driver Archer Cox Castleden, Toronto, Royal Australian Naval Bridging Train
Sergeant James Duncan, Hamilton, Australian Army Medical Corps, General Reinforcements
Private William Innes, Killingworth, 1st Infantry Battalion, 6th Reinforcements
Private John Henry Mitchell, North Lambton, 2nd Australian General Hospital, Special Reinforcements
Private John Tonner, Teralba, 20th Infantry Battalion