THE GREAT WAR: Part 1. Service in North Russia -- two Aussies win the Victoria Cross

TROOPS IN FLIGHT: A REMARKABLE PHOTOGRAPH WHICH SHOWS A SCENE OF THE REVOLT OF RUSSIAN TROOPS AT THE EASTERN FRONT.

Recently, I found a copy of Anzacs in Arkhangel by Mark Challinger in my bookshelves. In the book the author notes, “This book is about a strange and little-known chapter of Australia’s military history” about Australians who went to fight Bolsheviks in North Russia as members of the North Russia Relief Force. This is their story. – MB.

MAX BALL

Adapted BY Frank Morris

In early 1918, after Russia withdrew from World War 1, the UK Government decided to despatch a military mission of about 560 persons to North Russia to instruct and lead Russians (Whites), who were loyal to the Provisional Government, and opposed the Bolsheviks (Reds).

(The object was) to secure military stores at Murmansk and, perhaps, re-establish an Eastern Front.

Designated “Elope Force” it included 21 Canadians, four New Zealanders (of whom two were born in Australia), and nine Australians. All were volunteers. A second force, code name “Syren”, of 600 British troops, was sent to Murmansk.

Twelve months later, matters had not gone well. The Bolsheviks (Reds) were prevailing over the White Russians and reinforcements were needed to support Elope in Arkhangel. Indeed, the British Government was concerned that its troops may need to be rescued.

PROVE THEIR METTLE

In April, 1919, recruiting posters were displayed in London calling for volunteers from trained soldiers, who were fit and over the age of 19, for the North Russian Relief Force. The volunteers would be enlisted in the British Army; if not still be serving British soldiers.

At the time, some 70,000 AIF volunteers were in Britain waiting for transport home. Some had enlisted in the AIF in 1918 and had not seen action in France; and wished to prove their mettle.

Some may have been attracted by the generous pay offered by the British Government; and some, after the adrenalin rush of being in action, may have been bored.

For whatever reasons, up to about 150 Australians volunteered to serve in the Relief Force. To do so, they had to request their discharge from the AIF and enlist in the British Army.

Samuel George Pearse was born in Penarth, Wales, and enlisted in the AIF in Melbourne in July, l915, aged 18. Assigned to the 1st Machine Gun Bn, 2870, Private Pearse was awarded the Military Medal in France.

PEARSE CHARGED THE ENEMY

Private Pearse, now 133032 of the British Army, was assigned to the 45th Bn Royal Fusiliers, distinguished himself on operations south of Arkhangel.

On August 29, 1919, Sergeant Pearse’s unit was assaulting an enemy battery when, under heavy fire, he cut his way through barbed wire and charged an enemy blockhouse single-handed, killing all the occupants with bombs; but he met his death minutes later.

The citation records that “it was due to him that the position was carried with so few casualties. His magnificent bravery and utter disregard for personal safety won for him the admiration of all troops.”

Next: The Great War -- Arthur Percy Sullivan, of Crystal Brook, South Australia, arrived in Britain in September 1918. Sullivan commenced artillery training and, because the war was over, never sent to France.

<< Service in North Russia wins two Aussies the Victoria Cross; Max Ball. Camaraderie magazine, Second Edition, 2016.

Pictures: One of two winners: A bunch of Canadian Troops being inspected by their General. Hooray! A band of Aussie machine gunners hear the fighting is over. 


COMING NEXT YEAR: A new series of the Australian Chronicle covering the growth of this country’s second 100 years. The series will be called Building a Nation.


MONTAGE: FRANK MCNAMARA SPOTTED A COLLEAGUE, CAPTAIN DAVID RUTHERFORD (CENTRE) WHO HAD CRASH LANDED IN THE DESERT. MCNAMARA WON THE VC FOR HIS REACTION AND BRAVERY.

FLASHBACK: THE GREAT WAR – AUSTRALIAN FYING CORPS HAS A REMARKABLE GROWTH

VC was won by Captain Frank McNamara, who landed in the desert under heavy Turkish fire, to rescue a fellow pilot.

Adapted by FRANK MORRIS

Australia’s air-force goes back to when it was called the Central Flying School, which was established at Point Cook, Victoria, in 1914. Since those days, most people have an interest in what appeared to be a “mechanical aberration” of minor interest: flying.

The School, therefore, started on a somewhat small scale. It consisted of a six-man team, two pilot instructors – Lieutenant E. Harrison and Lieutenant A. A. Petre – a cook and caretaker, and three tiny planes, two Deperdussins and a Bristol Boxkite.

Although World War 1 was to see a remarkable growth in aerial power, the School was the only permanent air base structure in the Commonwealth until 1921. It was transferred to East Sale, Victoria, in 1948. The School was maintained as the original unit of the Royal Australian Air Force.

The first trainees at the School were army officers, who began studies on August 17, 1914.

Three of the officers, Lieutenant Richard Williams, T.W. White and G.P. Merz, had happy and unhappy distinctions. Williams, who was later knighted, was the first Australian officer to earn air rank and became Director-General of Civil Aviation in 1946.
White was also knighted and became Minister for Air and Civil Aviation in 1949.

THE ONLY MAN SENT

Merz, on the other hand, had the mishap of being the first Australian pilot to be killed in action, in Mesopotamia on July 30, 1915.

Lieutenant Harrison was the initial pilot to be sent abroad by the School’s foundation instructors; Rafael to join up with the naval military expeditionary force, which captured New Britain from the Germans, in the latter part of 1914.

Australia was the only Dominion to create its own air-force during the war. This way, flying personnel from other Dominions enlisted to join in the Royal Flying Corps.

In 1915, the first of four squadrons that went to Mesopotamia and France had a notable record. They destroyed 276 enemy planes at the cost of 60 Australian aircraft.

HOW TO SWING PROPELLERS

Squadron No 4 went to Germany in December 1918. It was the only Australian unit of any kind to take part in the Allied occupation.

The first Squadron saw more action than any other RAAF Squadron. The 28 officers and 195 men of No. 1 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps, left Melbourne on March 16, for Suez.

When they departed, they had no planes with them – only two cars and seven motor cycles. The pilots use borrowed aircraft and the job the ground staff had learned meticulously was how to swing propellers.

Captain Frank McNamara was the only Australian airman in World War 1 to win 50 decorations and the VC, the Victorian Cross.  McNamara, though badly wounded, landed in the desert under heavy Turkish fire to rescue a fellow pilot.

When the four AFC Squadrons returned to Australia in June 1919, they were disbanded. But in 1921, Australia became the first Dominion to create its own air force independent of army or naval control. The Australian Flying Corps became the Royal Australian Air Force.

<< From Historical Firsts produce by Tucker & Co Pty limited; 1960s.

Pictures: Promotion. Air Vice Marshal Frank McNamara (right) photographed with the boys. One and only. Lt. Frank McNamara, the first Australian aviator to win the Victoria Cross.


THE GREAT WAR: “OUR LAST MAN AND OUR LAST SHILLING.” PRIME MINISTER ANDREW FISHER (CENTRE( PLEDGED TO THE PRIME MINISTER OF ENGLAND.

FLASHBACK: THE GREAT WAR – THE AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTERS WHO LED US INTO BATTLE!

Prime Ministers are elected by the party and, as chief minister, they are the leaders of our country.

Adapted by FRANK MORRIS

Joseph Cook hailed from England and he migrated to Australia in 1860. Cook entered federal politics as a member for Parramatta in 1901. He became leader of the Free Traders in 1905 and, as soon as Reid resigned, he took over.

Cook, age 52, spent his political life changing between different parties. But before changing his political life from party to party, Cook went to work in the Lithgow mines until 1891. He left when he was elected to the NSW parliament as a Labor member.

There was plenty of guile spread among the opposition of Labor. He was noted as a man who had worked hard, and had profited. Others saw him as a gentleman who, politically speaking, had seen the light.

AUSSIE NAVY SAILED INTO SYDNEY

As prime minister he was leader of the Liberal Party but he struggled to pass many of his initiatives due to a lack of a majority.

Cook tried to improve the situation by seeking and obtaining the first double dissolution; but his government was defeated by Labor.  The ALP, again led by Andrew Fisher, was “immediately  consumed” by World War 1.

During Cook’s term Australia’s new naval fleet sailed into Sydney Harbour on October 4, 1913.

“Since Captain Cook’s arrival, no more memorable event had happened than the advent of the Australian Fleet,” said Prime Minister, Joseph Cook.

Cook was Prime Minister for 12 months. He was elected on June 24, l913. He was born in 1860 and died in 1947.

ANDREW FISHER – DECIDED TO STAND BEHIND BRITAIN UNTIL “OUR LAST SHILLING”

In his final term as prime minister, Andrew Fisher was faced with leading the country into the start of World War 1. Under his government, Australian troops fought in Gallipoli, the Middle East and Europe.

Fisher made a well-known pledge: That Australia would stand beside Britain, the mother country to the end.
“To help and defend her to our last man and our last shilling,” said the prime minister.

That’s why Australia went to war.

‘FRICTION’ WITHIN CABINET BUILT UP

In the election on September 17, 1914, Labor was returned to power and Fisher was prime minister for the third time. The Great War, by this time, had started; and it dominated federal politics until early 1919.

Fisher serves as prime minister until October 27, 1915. Author Ronald W. Laidlaw said “friction within his cabinet had built up” and the time for him was to “prove difficult.”

Standing in the wings was William Morris Hughes, one of “most colourful and controversial Labor politicians” in Australian history.

Fisher was born in 1868 and died in 1928.

WILLIAM MORRIS HUGHES – THOSE CONSCRIPTION ISSUES

Just about everyone called him “Billy” Hughes. Hughes time in power lasted over 7 years; and with 58 years of his life spent in Australian politics, he hold the record for being the “longest-serving parliamentarian ever”.

During the war he became known as “the Little Digger”. Hughes belonged to fives parties and he was expelled from three. He is remembered for being the most clever and controversial member of his day.

In 1916, Hughes paid a visit to England to discuss the progress of the war. He met Herbert Henry Asquith, the British prime minister, and other members of the cabinet. He complained about the way Australian troops had been used at Gallipoli and went on to make a number of requests.

He attended the “special” Economic Conference in Paris where he argued passionately for “an aggressive post-war commercial policy.”

Hughes got back to Australia on July, 1916. He launched the introduction to conscription in a bid to make up troop numbers.

ANOTHER WHITE WASH

By doing so, he divided his own party and the bulk of the Australian people. Even many politicians – including the Labor premier, Arthur Holman, most newspapers, capitalists, patriots and conservatives.

But Hughes managed to oppose Daniel Mannix (who became Roman Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne in 1917) and anti-conscriptionits, farmers and many others.

Speeches were made, meetings held, posters displayed and letters written to newspapers.

On October 28, 1916, was the referendum. It was a landslide for ‘No’. The voting was 1,087,557 for ‘Yes’ and 1,160,033 voted against.

In 1917, Hughes and his government asked the people to vote a second time on the issue of overseas service. Basically, the people were fed up with the war and defeated the government most soundly.

The referendum went on to reinforce the previous decision. The tally was 1,015,159 for those in favour and 1,181,747 against. It was another whitewash.

Four and half years later, November 11, 1918, World War l ended. Hughes reign ended in 1923. He was born in 1862 and died in 1952.

<< Australian History; Ronald W. Laidlaw, 580pp; MacMillian Company Pty Ltd, South Melbourne, Victoria; 1980.

Pictures: Welcome. Prime Minister Joseph Cook welcomes the new fleet in Sydney. He said war. Prime Minister Fisher was “immediately consumed” by World War 1. Chose wrongly. Prime Minister Billy Hughes: he was behind the conscription debacle.


COMING IN AUGUST: SHERLOCK HOLMES & FRIENDS: JUST WHEN THE SHERLOCK TELEVIONS SERIES IS THE TALK OF AUSTRALIA, HE WILL SUDDENLY BECOME THE TALK OF GRAND YEARS. SHERLOCK WILL APPEAR IN TWO EPISODES IN AUGUST AND MONTHLY UNTIL NOVEMBER.


NEARLY THE SAME: THE HMS GALATEA CAME TO AUSTRALIAN SHORES MANY TIMES. SHE’S SIMALAR TO PELORUS OF 21 GUNS.

RAN NAVY: PART 2. ROYAL AUSTRALIAN NAVY NAMED … BUT THERE WERE DARK DAYS AHEAD

In June, 1859, the British force on the Australian station consisted Iris (26 guns), the Pelorus (21guns), the Niger (14 guns), the Elk (12 guns) and Cordelia (11 guns).

The Admiralty proposed to increase the force.

It said: “Not only to provide for the defence of the Colony, but in the event of war, to give periodical convoys to treasure ship ships proceeding home, either by the Cape of Good Hope or by Cape Horn.”

The first Admiralty proposal to establish a permanent Australian naval force was made in 1869. The plan was for the colonies to pay half the cost and upkeep, but the idea fell through.

RISE OF GERMANY

In the succeeding decade, several other suggestions were made for the creation of a separate Australian squadron. But without success. `

Each colony proceeded independently – with the exception of Western Australia which had no naval force or whatever – to provide coastal and harbour defences.

Towards the end of 19th century, the lack of a central Government and the financial stringency in Australia, meant the 1887 scheme was slow to take shape. However, the rise of Germany as a naval power early last century gave the some urgency to the development of an Australian station.

The Navy Defence Act of 1910 was passed. In October, 1911, the King authorised the adoption of the title Royal Australian Navy. – Adapted by Frank Morris.

<< Adapted from Historical Firsts, Tucker & co Pty Limited; 1960s.

The First. HMAS Australia was the right ship at the right time.

Posted in: Grand Years with Frank Morris at 28 July 17

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