History Parkes

stories, photos, anecdotes….. sharing the past

Local Reaction to the Outbreak of War

Imagine if war was declared today as you’re reading this, and Australia was asking for men and women to volunteer to go and fight. How would you react? What emotional responses would you expect to see from residents within the Parkes shire? Would there be patriotic songs spontaneously springing forth wherever crowds gather? When you read the letters in the local paper would you expect to see letters of support and pride at those answering the call? One of the most distinguishing differences between residents of the Parkes Shire now and back during the outbreak of the Great War are their reactions to news of war and men signing up. There was a greater sense of belonging to “the Empire” and doing our duty for “King and country”. Those who were being farewelled were given rousing send offs, with some well-wishers travelling great distances to send their regards. Read through the responses and reactions that have been preserved from local residents around century before us.

The following excerpt from The Story of Trundle: A Country Town and its People gives an accurate account of what people in Parkes Shire, indeed all Australia were feeling.

In Australia the prospect of war was greeted with waves of patriotic enthusiasm. Wild expressions of loyalty to England and the Empire broke out in the streets in the capital cities as Australians declared themselves ready to stand by the mother country if war was declared. On 3rd August 1914 the Commonwealth Government announced that in the event of war they would place the Australian navy under the control of the British Admiralty and that they would send a force of 20,000 men to any destination desired by the Home Government. The announcement was greeted by enthusiasm from Australians who gathered around newspaper offices singing “Rule Brittania” and other patriotic songs again and again. Australia stood ready to leap willy nilly from its isolation and innocence into the harsh realities of a world at war.

(Watts, Janice P. & Wright, Chas F. The Story of Trundle: A Country Town and Its People. Trundle: Ian Berry & Judith Curr, 1987. Print)

The following letter to editors of local newspapers highlights the pride and sense of belonging to the Empire which many people felt back 100 years ago.

Letter from Parkes Red Cross Society showing the pride in men who were answering the King's call

Excerpt of a letter from Parkes Red Cross Society showing the pride in men who were answering the King’s call and the responses to the Red Cross letter

For the complete image, click the link below (it will open in a new window)

http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/printArticleJpg/112307988/3?print=n

(Source The Western Champion Thursday 22nd July 1915 p27 as found on http://trove.nla.gov.au/)

Australia has a long and interesting history of poetry. It’s a way of putting the emotions of the people into written form and below is a poem that honours those who volunteered to serve their King and country.

National Poem showing the pride reserved for those who volunteered to enter service. Accompanying article also shows how far and wide people would travel to send-off those who had enlisted

National Poem showing the pride reserved for those who volunteered to enter service. Accompanying article also shows how far and wide people would travel to send-off those who had enlisted

For the complete poem and article as found in The Western Champion Thursday 24th June 1915 click the link below

http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/printArticleJpg/112307523/3?print=n

(Source The Western Champion Thursday 24th June 1915 p21 as found on http://trove.nla.gov.au/)

Too often the amount of women’s involvement in wartime is neglected. Women took on the roles of their husbands, fathers and brothers who went to war – while also continuing their own duties. In addition they formed organisations such as Red Cross within their local communities, wrote letters, sent parcels and more. Below is a group whose sole aim was to make sure that soldiers going and returning from the war received encouragement and gratitude for their efforts.

Photograph of Peak Hill's "Cheerio Girls" who arranged send-offs and welcome home parties to all boys who enlisted from Peak Hill

The “Cheerio Girls” arranged send-off and welcome home parties to all boys who enlisted from Peak Hill.
(Chappel, Charles B. (ed) A History of Peak Hill and District Parramatta: Macarthur Press, 1989. Print)

Young officers were given advice on how to adjust to life in forces. Below is an excerpt detailing how young men could prepare themselves for life as an officer. This was the WW1 equivalent of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey (available in the catalogue of Parkes Shire Library) and detailed information such as commanding men under your command.

Hints to Young Officers

Hints to Young Officers (The Western Champion Thursday 16th March 1916 p23 as found on trove.nla.gov.au)

http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/printArticleJpg/112316370/3?print=n

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This entry was posted on April 17, 2015 by in ANZAC, General history, Parkes, Peak Hill, Red Cross, Trundle and tagged , , , , , , .
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