Australia: Respect, Rubbish Bins and Underwear

Anzac Rubbish BinI was astonished. There have been so many complaints about the branding of Anzac and Gallipoli but I never expected to see a rubbish bin adorned with the official logo of the centenary of the landing at Gallipoli.

There it was on Glenferrie Road. I was walking to the hairdresser, minding my own business, and the anniversary was thrust in front of me, unasked, via a rubbish bin!

I took a photo and showed it to a local resident. They took it in their stride. “I think they put Christmas banners on the rubbish bins in Hawthorn too”, they said. I vaguely recall seeing Christmas bells on the rubbish bins. It makes them look pretty and we don’t seem to mind trashy (pardon the pun) promotion of Christmas do we? Anzac is also sacred so if it works for Christmas it must be fine for Anzac.

The Anzac rubbish bin actually says a lot about us. We have a rather haphazard sense of respect. To my knowledge no-one else has raised an eyebrow about these bins and the fact that the logo of a supposedly revered anniversary is a wrapper for a rubbish receptacle.

The banner on the bin highlights the official government logo for the centenary. The Australian government’s Anzac Centenary website stipulates that permission must be sought for any use of the logo, so I presume that the Department of Veteran Affairs has approved the Boroondara Council’s use of the logo on rubbish bins. There is no controversy about these bins in the local area so if they have been noticed, which we can’t assume in a country that plasters logos on everything, people have thought the bins are fine.   Continue reading

Australian Wartime Entertainment in a Century of Wars

Banner of the title of the exhibition on the wall at the entrance to the exhibition.The arts were important to many Australian soldiers during the World War I. This is evident from reading the diaries of Australian soldiers. Soldiers wrote about the books they read, the songs they sang together, quoted extracts from poems and many diaries have sketches and accounts of the beautiful churches they visited. I am planning to do some further research on the singing of Australian soldiers so I was pleased when I accidentally found an exhibition at the Victorian Arts Centre about the entertainment of Australian soldiers.

The exhibition, ‘Theatres of War: Wartime entertainment & the Australian experience‘ tells the stories of the professional entertainers who put on concerts for Australian troops in war zones over the last one hundred years. The exhibition looks at the entertainment provided during wars to boost morale on the home front, military personnel who entertained troops and those entertainers who were not part of the military but who travelled to war zones to entertain the soldiers.  Continue reading

The Anzac Day Silence, Religion and Garland

At today’s National Ceremony for Anzac Day attendees will stand for one minute’s silence to remember all those who have lost their lives in wars and to reflect on what Anzac Day means. The minute’s silence has been part of Anzac Day since the first commemorations of Anzac Day on 25th April 1916. Digitisation of old documents allows us to see how the Anzac Day we know today was first conceived.

As I noted in my post, The Emergence of Anzac Day, planning for the first anniversary of the landing of Australian and New Zealand troops at Gallipoli started early in 1916. Queensland’s Anzac Day Commemoration Committee (ADCC) was formed at a public meeting in Brisbane on 10th January, 1916. This committee war chaired by the Premier of Queensland, T J Ryan, and included leaders of the Roman Catholic, Church of England, Presbyterian and Methodist churches, the Salvation Army, members of parliament, the mayors of Brisbane and South Brisbane, members of local councils and military representatives. The honorary secretary was an army chaplain, Canon D J Garland.

Canon David John Garland

Canon David John Garland

Canon Garland was a Church of England priest who had years of experience in public advocacy. He had been instrumental in campaigns which led to religious education being reintroduced in state schools in Western Australia (1893) and Queensland (1910). Most recently he had been invited to New Zealand to lead a campaign to have religious education reintroduced in schools there. The outbreak of World War I had derailed this campaign. Garland moved back to Brisbane and became a military chaplain.

Garland was asked by the Anzac Day Commemoration Committee in 1916 to devise a program which could be used throughout Queensland to commemorate Anzac Day. Committee member, H J Diddams recalled in 1921 that the program Garland submitted to the ADCC on February 18th included a minute’s silence (Diddams, p. 9). The ADCC encouraged towns and cities throughout Queensland to follow this program, the elements of which were publicised in newspapers such as The Brisbane Courier. Continue reading

Kitty’s War by Janet Butler

Kitty's War by Janet Butler, (St Lucia, Qld:  University of Queensland Press, 2013).

Kitty’s War by Janet Butler, (St Lucia, Qld: University of Queensland Press, 2013).

This is the kind of history I want to read.  Thorough research, deep analysis and compelling writing, Kitty’s War by Janet Butler engaged me from cover to cover.

In Kitty’s War author, Janet Butler, does not merely recount what she has learned from the diary of World War I nurse, Kit McNaughton, she interrogates McNaughton’s diary, draws heavily on a myriad of contemporary historical resources and produces a searching analysis of war, gender and the nature of diary writing while maintaining an engrossing narrative.

Kit McNaughton served with the Australian Army Nursing Service from 1915 for the duration of the war.  Initially stationed in Egypt, she served on the island of Lemnos treating men injured men at Gallipoli.  After the withdrawal from Gallipoli she was transferred to northern France where she served in a number of hospitals in northern France treating enormous numbers of soldiers injured in the horrific battles on the Western Front.

Looking back through my notes in my reading journal I see that I have repeatedly used the word ‘perceptive’.  Butler does not take the diary at face value and the book is all the better for it.  The chapters about Butler’s service on the island of Lemnos treating soldiers injured at Gallipoli would have been bland if Butler had not dug deeper.  Butler is sensitive to the cultural constraints under which the nurses worked.  The ideals of a ‘good nurse’ required nurses to be stoic in the face of difficulty, ministering angels only thinking of the needs of the patient and not of their own.  McNaughton reflects these ideals in her diary hence she makes little mention of the awful conditions under which she is working.   Drawing on other sources Butler allows the reader to understand the context in which McNaughton’s diary is written. Continue reading

Our Schools and the War: the Victorian Education Dept and WWI

Book Cover of 'Our Schools and the War'

‘Our Schools and the War’ by Rosalie Triolo (North Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2012).

War is not just about tactics on the battlefield or the machinations of political leaders.  It is also about community, both at the site of active fighting and in the home towns and cities that have seen their men disappear to fight.

In Our Schools and the War’ Rosalie Triolo explores Australia’s participation in World War I in terms of community.  She focuses on the students, parents, teachers and officials who comprised the Education Department of Victoria.  Triolo examines the battle field as well as the home front in her quest to understand how this education community responded and contributed to what was referred to as ‘The Great War’.

The consideration of the role played by Victorian school children in the war is one of the strengths of this book.  Throughout the war the Education Department exhorted school communities to raise funds for the war effort.  Triolo shares a long list of activities undertaken by students.  In Leongatha students raised canaries for sale, made photo frames, caught mice and sold fish they caught.  Students at other schools sold vegetables they grew, helped to feed farm animals, gave musical performances, caught rabbits and sold their skins and made fly nets.  Innovation in fundraising was encouraged as long as it did not have the taint of gambling.

Children were made to feel as real contributors to the work of the communities in which they lived.  Their contributions to the war effort gave them many opportunities to apply what they learned at school. We may have a stereotype view of education in this era, that it was about the three R’s rote learning and corporal punishment, but Triolo observes,

…children were given unprecedented responsibility and autonomy in their communities.  They were freed to exercise initiative, step out of desks and classrooms and engage in activities for the wider community as never before.

p. 79

Continue reading