Having just finished a 7000 word history on No.2 Sqn Australian Flying Corps
, I can sympathise with F.M. Cutlack in the difficulty he faced in translating the history of the Australian Flying Corps without it being a series of combats. Cutlack wrote the eighth volume of the; "Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918"
. Charles Bean
was the editor for the history and wrote six of the volumes himself. In his 1916 book on the ANZACs he wrote;
".... it was on 25th April, 1915, that the consciousness of Australian nationhood was born.
Charles Bean was largely responsible for beginning the myth of the ANZACs, but to focus on the myth of nationhood through blood-letting is to lose the true value of the ANZACs in Australian history. Never before had so many Australians left the country's border at the one time, nearly 9% of the nation - they left thinking they were Britons, and came back knowing they were Australian. The ANZACs and the Australian Imperial Force's experience of World War I was a cultural revolution.
The ANZAC Spirit
One of my favourite Australians is Richard Williams - he was a century ahead of his time, being completely devoid of any cultural cringe. His firm belief in the principle that Australian solutions to Australian problems were superior led him through World War I as one of Australia's greatest leaders to the Air Marshall position in the Royal Australian Air Force.
It comes as no surprise the Robert Menzies removed Williams in the 1930's from Air Marshall and replaced him with a retired British hack that the Royal Air Force didn't even want. In the Menzonian world-view, the British did it better, whereas the ANZAC spirit determined that Australians do it better.
One of the areas that point to the cultural shock and cultural clashes the ANZACs went through was in discipline. The battles the British hierarchy and Australian soldiers had with each other were largely cultural battles over how things should be done. Australia provided a great deal of the teeth, while the British had a good deal of the Commonwealth's tail. So there was bound to be clashes in this area with British Officers commanding Australian soldiers.
Not all British Officers were blind to the Australian culture of collective discipline; Lt Colonel Louis Strange who commanded 80 Wing in France had two Australian squadrons under his command. He commented
In individual squadron fighting these Australians had no equals in their best days, and more than once they raised the record for numbers of enemy aircraft destroyed in one day by any squadron. The secret of their success was, in my opinion mainly due to their sense of initiative ....
Nevertheless, we had our differences of opinion at times. One of them was due to the unofficial use of service cameras, and another time there was the trouble over the bartering of rations with the local inhabitants. No one minds the swapping of a tin of bully beef for a few fresh eggs, of course, but a Wing Commander has to draw the line somewhere when he finds one of his Australian Squadrons running the village grocers shop and general store. Even so, my Australians were discreet enough in the way they went about their business, so that I might have ignored it, had it not been for the inhabitants of the neighbouring villages. When the latter got to hear of the bargains, they turned our place into a sort of fair and market on Sundays, and so I was compelled to put my foot down.
I do not want this to be considered a reflection on Australian discipline, which was good - good enough in fact, to ensure the highest efficiency in their work, but it was a different standard of discipline to that in force in our own squadrons. I cannot put down Tom Purdey's remarks about the combat reports sent in by these Australian Squadrons; suffice to say that they were couched in such language which would have shocked the sedate officials of the War Office, but the number of victories they related covered a multitude of sins.
What Strange recognized, was that Australians held themselves to a different form of discipline. It was a collective form of discipline that was without the strict hierarchy of British discipline. The Australians were without the respect that the British officers believed that they were due simply because of their rank.
One commonality that is the usual is that of the uncouth, larrikin Australian soldier who doesn't care for regulations, convention or rules. This is an outgrowth - if stereotypical - view of the culture clash. Australian World War I history is full of these anecdotes. Cobby relates;
It was near the end of May that the GOC Army, General Plumer, visited us [4th Squadron AFC]. He inspected the squadron and addressed the officers, apologising with frequent grunts for the fact that the Distinguished Flying Cross, which a number of us had gained, was not available to hang upon our chests.
He was particularly interested in "X", one of our on-flying officers, who wore the King's and Queen's South African ribbons [from the Boer War], until he questioned him as to the unit he served with in South Africa. It appeared that the officer concerned had been a sergeant and later reduced to a trooper by the General himself, the reason was asked.
When that it was for riding along the lines in voluminous underwear, obviously at some time the property of a Dutch Vrau, the General gave another "Howk" and moved off. It was the only time we saw him.
Another funny story from Private Miles of the Royal Fusiliers
The Colonel decided that he would have a full dress parade of the guard mounting. Well, the Aussies looked over at us amazed. The band was playing, we were all smartened up, spit and polish, on parade, and that happened every morning. We marched up and down, up and down.
The Aussies couldn't get over it, and when we were off duty we naturally used to talk to them, go over and have a smoke with them, or meet them when we were hanging about the road or having a stroll. They kept asking us: 'Do you like this sort of thing? All these parades, do you want to do it?' Of course we said, 'No, of course we don't. We're supposed to be on rest, and all the time we've got goes to posh up and turn out on parade.' So they looked at us a bit strangely and said, 'OK, cobbers, we'll soon alter that for you'.
The Australians didn't approve of it because they never polished or did anything. They had a band, but their brass instruments were all filthy. Still, they knew how to play them.
The next evening, our Sergeant-Major was taking the parade. Sergeant-Major Rowbotham, a nice man, but a stickler for discipline. He was just getting ready to bawl us all out when the Australians started with their band. They marched up and down the road outside the field, playing any old thing. There was no tune you could recognise, they were just blowing as loud as they could on their instruments. It sounded like a million cat-calls.
And poor old Sergeant Rowbotham, he couldn't make his voice heard. It was an absolute fiasco. They never tried to mount another parade, because they could see the Aussies watching us from across the road, just ready to step in and sabotage the whole thing. So they decided that parades for mounting the guards should be washed out, and after that they just posted the guards in the ordinary way as if we were in the line.
Both those stories represent the cultural clash at its core. The basis for British and Australian society were different at their core. The Australian behaviour in a group was much more egalitarian and easy-going. It should be noted, that the Australian attitude did not stop the Australian units or soldiers from achieving on the battlefield either. The Australia Corps on the ground, the Lighthorse in Palestine and the Australian Flying Corps in the air, all earned well deserved reputations for military effectiveness.
The ANZACs were the first to put Australian culture under the spotlight - on the world stage - and in large numbers. Australian culture and the Australian manner of doing things was put under the incredible stress of combat, with average Australian folks. In this stressful and dehabilitating environment, the Australian way of doings things - not only survived - but was sufficient for Australian units to over-achieve.
The Australian, General John Monash wrote on this issue
Very much and very stupid comment has been made upon the discipline of the Australian soldier. That was because the very conception and purpose of discipline have been misunderstood. It is, after all, only a means to an end, and that end is the power to secure co-ordinated action among a large number of individuals for the achievement of a definite purpose. It does not mean lip service, nor obsequious homage to superiors, nor servile observance of forms and customs, nor a suppression of individuality... the Australian Army is a proof that individualism is the best and not the worst foundation upon which to build up collective discipline.
The ANZACs, the Lighthorse, the Australia Corps, the Australian Flying Corps and the Australian Navy all validated the Australian manner of action and achievement during World War I. In essence, they validated Australian culture. This is the true value of the ANZACs - not the creation of a nation - but the domestic cultural validation of Australian values, action and beliefs. They achieved by doing it the Australian way.
Most Popular on South Sea Republic
The articles that have been viewed the most:
Most Popular Restaurants in Phoenix
Phoenix Eats Out
is the restaurant review site for Phoenix
and Old Town Scottsdale
which lists the modernist and contemporary restaurants, taverns and bars in the greater Phoenix area.
This is the list of the most popular restaurants pages from phoenixeatsout.com that have been viewed the most;
My personal favourite restaurants in Phoenix are AZ88
, Humble Pie
, Orange Table
, The Vig
and others coming close behind. View the complete list with the photo-journalistic style images on phoenixeatsout.com
Most Popular Hikes in Arizona
Arizona is an outdoor state and has lots of hiking in the city and around the state. Phoenix is unusual for most cities in having several large mountains in the center of the city with great hiking. Anyone who comes to Phoenix has to do the Echo Canyon trail on Camelback
and the Summit Hike on Squaw Peak
or Piesta Peak. The views of the city, suburbs and surrounding mountains are wonderful from Camelback and Piesta Peak.
For more experienced hikers there is the McDowell Mountains in North Scottsdale that has several difficult and strenuous hikes in Tom's Thumb
and Bell Pass
. Alternatively, you can hike the highest mountain in Arizona. At 12,600 feet Humphrey's Peak
is a long and difficult hike.
Alternate Australian Constitutions
Between 2004 and 2009 this site, southsearepublic.org
, was a constitutional blog based on scoop which focused on Australian and global constitutional issues.
One of the strongest aspects of it was the development of constitutions by those involved in the blog. These constitutions are the outcome:
The constitutions were built using principles from Montesquieu's separation of powers, the enlightnment's universal political rights and the ancient Athenian technology of sortition and choice by lot.
Archives For South Sea Republic
South Sea Republic started in 2004 as an Australian constitutional blog in 2004 based on scoop software. It was an immigrative outgrowth of Kuro5hin. The archives for each year since then;
The articles are ordered by views.
Who Is Cam Riley
I am an Australian living in the United States as a permanent resident.
I am a software developer by trade and mostly work in Java and jump between middleware and front end.
I originally worked in the New York area of the United States in telecommunications before moving to Washington DC and
working in a mix of telecommunications, energy and ITS. I started my own software company before heading out to
Arizona and working with Shutterfly. Since then I have joined a startup in the Phoenix area and am thoroughly enjoying myself.
I do a lot of photography which I post on this website, but also on flickr. I have a photo-journalistic website which lists
the modernist and contemporary restaurants in phoenix. I have a site on the Australian Flying Corps [AFC]
which has been around since the 1990s and which I unfortunately
lost the .org URL to during a life event; however, it is under the www.australianflyingcorps.com
The AFC website has gone through several iterations since the 90s and the two most recent are Australian Flying Corps Archives(2004-2002)
Australian Flying Corps Archives(2002-1999)
which are good places to start.
Websites Worth Reading
Websites of friends, colleagues and of interest;