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John Oxley Library

Defend the Empire, defeat the Germans

By JOL Admin | 9 March 2015

Queensland newspaper reporting in the first week of March 1915 was persuasively patriotic, with a distinctly anti-German flavour. On the 6 March, The Queenslander reported a patriotic address by the Reverend Allan MacKillop, Moderator of the Queensland Presbyterian Church, in the Warwick Presbyterian Church on Sunday evening 24 February. The Revd MacKillop suggested that while we in Queensland regularly heard about the operations of warships or aerial bombardment of Britain, we did not tend to hear much about the ‘silent suffering that was going on all the while among the poor, whose wage-earners were at the front’.

He posed the question, ‘What could we expect if Britain were defeated?’ In his view, the Germans had brought ‘hell’s trinity’ - pestilence, famine, and the sword – to Belgium, and their hatred of Great Britain would only bring further desolation and destruction. He stressed that were they ever to land on British shores they would certainly humiliate and oppress the British people, but the greatest humiliation would await the people of Australia. ‘The German flag would be hoisted over the Federal capital, and over every State Parliament and public building in the Commonwealth, not temporarily, but for ever.’ He encouraged all able young men to offer their services to their country, spurred on by the prospect of humiliation, oppression, slavery, and disgrace if they did not act while there was time.

Recruits on a parade float in Brisbane ca. 1915

Recruits on a parade float in Brisbane ca. 1915

On the 7 March, The Northern Miner reported an event held at the Charters Towers Town Hall on Monday 6 March, to farewell fourteen new volunteers. After the presentation of handkerchiefs and pencils to the recruits, the Enlisting Officer Mr Johnson gave a patriotic address, and stated that the men had done ‘the noblest thing possible to do’.

He continued, saying, ‘They knew what they were doing and were not doing it out of bravado. They were going to fight for their country, their wives, their children or sweethearts. They were offering their lives knowing that every woman and child in the British Empire was looking to the men to go out and defend the Empire. They would stand up and fight as honestly and confidently as those men who had come back. They were going out to do the greatest work any man could do’.

Mr Johnson thanked the recruits in the name of their country, and for taking action to fight under the Union Jack and to uphold ‘the land where woman or man may live under all conditions’. After the singing of the National Anthem, a local band accompanied the recruits to the train station.

Robyn Hamilton - QANZAC100 Content Curator, State Library of Queensland


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