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Wartime - War Conditioning

A New Type of War which Very Few Expected


They were ordinary young men some only 18 years old. They were just starting out on life, they were apprentices, clerks, labourers, farmers, bushmen, etc. Now they were being trained in a very different trade, they were to learn how to be part of a huge organisation. They were going to war and some would not come back. But they were young and this was a great adventure, at least it was at first!

George Mosse was professor of history at the University of Wisconsin comments:

The First World War was the great watershed of our time. It was a completely different kind of war than you'd ever seen before in two ways. First of all, the trench warfare was something quite new and had never existed on this scale before. And then, I would say, there had never been so many casualties, so many dead. Never had there been experienced such a mass death. People become accustomed to death. In the trenches they (the soldiers) sat on corpses and they used corpses for shelter, and I think those things had tremendous consequences later on. I remember myself, for example in the 1930s - you heard constantly over the radio, twenty, thirty-thousand Chinese slaughtered by the Japanese: you just got used to it, you just got used to that sort of thing.


Young men were joining the armed forces and leaving the district, more were coming to the large camp at Chermside, uniforms were everywhere, organisations such as the Red Cross were organising to help the troops with supplies of 'comforts'. People were adjusting their thinking to deal with the reality of war; enthusiastic at first, but as the casualty lists began to grow longer the mood changed to......?

The Brisbane Courier on the 14-11-1916 reported that there were 2,400 men training in Chermside Camp. That would have almost doubled the population of Kedron Shire and would have been a boost to local business enterprises especially the tanneries and slaughter yards.

People were forming organisations to help the troops in the front line by sending them parcels and raising money to pay for the parcels. They were giving 'send offs' to departing soldiers and planning' welcome homes' for returning diggers.

Shire of Kedron - Statistics 1911


The Shire of Kedron was formed on 11-11-1879 and was centred on the village of Downfall Creek renamed Chermisde in 1903. The present day suburbs are shown on the map.

Source: Statistics of the State of Qld 1910, John Oxley Library (S319.43 1 J.O.L.)P. 3F

Kedron Shire occupied an area of 43 sq. miles or 111 sq. Km and had a population in 1911 of 2,400 occupying some 540 dwellings which would probably be the number of families in the area. The shire was divided into three sections with three councillors for each section. The shire chambers were located beside Downfall Creek on Gympie Road opposite Murphy Road. (Photo)

The area was growing and by 1921 the population had risen some 124% to 5,834 persons with 1,250 occupied dwellings.

Direct Impact of the War on Kedron Shire


In World War I soldiers marching along Gympie Road through Chermside would have been a common sight. This photo taken in 1915 shows a company halted near Sparkes Street.

In 1914 the population of Kedron Shire would have been approximately 1,456 males and 1,256 females. The number of males in the 18-25years group would have been approximately 238 and many of the able bodied ones would have enlisted. (These figures have been extracted from the published statistics for the state of Queensland)

Of the 33 local diggers in our records whose enlistment age we know only six or 18% were over 25 when they enlisted. If this statistic holds true for the 283 who enlisted then about 236 of them would have been under 25 years on enlistment. Of course there would have been a steady stream of such young men enlisting at later years during the course of the war. There may have been some from outside the shire whose names were recorded but we have no way of checking.

By1914 the number of occupied dwellings in the shire had risen to 620 and that figure could be taken as an indicator of the number of families in the Shire; many of them would have been closely related.

We know the names of 53 soldiers who were killed and it can be safely assumed that at least a twice that number would have been wounded which would be a total of 159 casualties. When this number is distributed among the 602 families in the shire then something like one in four could have been directly affected. Everybody in the shire would have known a digger who had been killed or wounded.

Further, since many of the families were related one death or casualty would impact on a sizeable group of people. This would spread to the friends of the affected soldier. Thus a climate of fear would be ever present in the community as news of battles was reported and the casualty lists in the paper would be anxiously scanned.

Many would live in dread of the telegram from the War Office notifying the death of a loved one. The nightmare continued for the duration and, for some, beyond as they waited for news of someone missing in action. And there were many soldiers in this category who fell in the muddy, bloody fields of Flanders and the Somme. In places up to about one third of the Allied dead were never found.

The young men who left were mostly single and all of the eight killed were under 25 when they enlisted. Add to this group those who returned and died early or never married due to wounds and there would have been fewer prospective husbands, leaving some young women single for life.

Chermside Camp - Light Horse


The Bushman image of a skilled rider was strong and looked romantic. The Light Horse men had to be able to ride better than the best. Some of them took part in the "last great cavalry charge" at Beersheba in Palestine. (Kath Ballard Archive)

Chermside was a remount depot for the Light Horse and mounts were brought in from the bush to be broken in and trained. The volunteers also had to be trained and one of the tests was to see if a man could ride a horse. If he could ride bare back he was well on the way; then he had to be able to shoot.

Many remembered the reputation Australians had in the earlier Boer War and they wanted to maintain it, some did while others finished up serving as Infantry in France.

A side issue for Chermside and Kedron was that the Light Horse needed leather, best quality, and the local tanneries were able to produce it. All the diggers needed boots and belts, the local tanneries suppled that as well.

A continual stream of new horses were coming into Chermside for training. Kath Ballard records that an outstanding civilian 'breaker' was an Indigenous man, Jack White, who had a reputation that "no horse ever beat him".

News of Light Horse


A local man, Joe Fisher, enlisted in the Light Horse and returned to start a successful business in the grocery trade. He opened several shops in the local district. This photo gives a good idea of the amount of fine leather needed by horse and rider. (Fisher Family)

The following tragedy was reported in the Brisbane Courier on Thursday, 16 December, 1915.

LIGHT HORSEMAN KILLED.

FATALITY AT CHERMSIDE CAMP.

During the progress of the storm yesterday afternoon a number of members of the Light Horse encampment at Chermside took shelter in the Methodist Rest Tent. The storm had not been long in progress when the pole of the tent snapped, and one of the iron hooks which were affixed to the top of the tent pole was thrown with some violence amongst the sheltering soldiers. Trooper H C Mole, attached to No. 1 Depot Squadron, received the full impact of the falling missile which struck him on the side of his head, split the skull and the unfortunate soldier was killed instantaneously. Captain Mooney was quickly in attendance but he was powerless to render service. Several other soldiers received slight abrasions, but their injuries were in no case serious.

Trooper was buried in Toowong Cemetery with full military honours.

There are many reports of the Chermside Light Horse Camp in the Brisbane Courier. To read them click Link 1 below.

Chermside Camp - Signallers


Signallers - Heliograph


In 1914 the army was still using the heliograph to send morse code messages using reflected sunlight. This was still effective as it was easy to set up and could act independently of wires which were regularly blown up. (Queenslander 1916)

The Heliograph was used for centuries to send messages by flashing sunlight using a mirror. The British Army in India used it effectively to send rapid messages long distances via a series of stations. As long as the stations were in sight of each other the message could be sent very quickly. It was state of the art in the 19th Century.

Signallers - Telephone


The telephone came to Chermside in about 1909 so it was very new in 1916 for most people. It is likely that these young men are using the telephone for the first time. (The photo was published in the Queenslander 1916)

The new century saw many changes in warfare and this was one of them. However they never overcame the problem of telephone lines being blown up at the front. When that happened messages had to be sent by runner which was the oldest method of all. The runners faced the same problem as the wires, many lost their lives and they earned the medals they were awarded for bravery. But when the telephone worked it was the best method until the wireless (radio) appeared later in the war. Then the enemy would jam the wireless. As Isaac Newton said in the 17th Century "for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction".

Chermside Camp - Infantry - Training


Drilling with rifles and satchels but no uniforms at Chermside. There were no permanent buildings in the camp, the men lived in small tents while kitchens, toilets and mess huts were all temporary structures. They paraded on the grass among the gum trees; there was no parade ground. This reflected the Australian solier's attitude to the army; it was part time. (Kath Ballard Archive)

The Australian troops in both World Wars were citizen soldiers, they were not professional soldiers. There was a corps of professional soldiers but the great majority intended to go back to civilian life once the war was over.

Many of the men regarded drill as a nuisance, saluting as nonsense and their time was their own after five o'clock. The Army was their employer and they wanted to work eight hour days until the fighting started then they fought and fought 24 hours a day for weeks at a time. They stopped when they staggered exhausted from the front line and literally dropped asleep on the shell pocked roadsides.

No wonder the English High Command regarded the Australians as rather unusual soldiers.

Chermside Camp - Infantry - Marching to the Train


Training over, the Infantry are marching to the train at Zillmere which was just a short way for men who were used to walking. I wonder how many of these men had ridden in a motor car like the one parked by the post and rail fence? Is that an Australian flag, it doesn't look like the Union Jack? (Kath Ballard Archive)

The Infantry marched everywhere, long route marches in full pack of about 60 pounds (27Kg) was normal. They sang as they marched and probably grizzled at the drill, but they shaped up in battle and that is what counted. General Sir John Monash commented to some English Generals that his men were not very good at saluting and drill but when it came to battle their discipline was excellent. Of course Monash treated his men as thinking adults and in return he got their loyalty and confidence.

Flashback - New Arrivals


New Arrivals at Chermside Camp. This photo contrasts strongly with the above one showing the change from beginners to trained men marching out. Here they are a nondescript group of individuals who hardly knew one another. (Kath Ballard Archive)

When the volunteer recruits arrived in camp they were indistinguishable from any other group of fit young Australian men. They were a group of individuals until the Army took over to turn them into soldiers who could act as a unit. They became family members of their unit where they acted together and looked after each other. They depended on each other, trained together, relaxed together, fought together, survived together.

Chermside Camp - Artillery Section


A part of the Artillery Section at Chermside Camp, 1916. (Courtesy of John Oxley Library)

Little information is availabe on this section of the camp. It could be that the Artillery men were doing general or basic training prior to going to a training camp which was equipped with an Artillery firing range.

Dr Jack Ford mentions that there was a long building, possibly an artillery park for 18 pounder guns. It was situated on the present site of the George Hastie Cricket Pavilion on No. 10 oval.

Chermside Camp - Machine Gunners

3rd Reinforcements, Machine Gun Section, Chermside Camp. The photo comes from The Telegraph and is captioned "Recently Departed for the Front."

The machine gunners could have been doing basic training as there is no information available so far to indicate that a machine gun range existed in the local area.

Alleged Mutiny at Chermside Camp


The following incident showed that all was not smooth running in the camp. Was it simply a "storm in a teacup" due to the Australian attitude to discipline?

ALLEGED MUTINY.
Brisbane Courier 7th January 1916. P.8

THE CHERMSIDE CAMP INCIDENT. EVIDENCE OF THE DEFENDANTS.

The court-martial was continued at the Enoggera Military Camp yesterday, before Lieutenant-Colonel Wallace Brown (A. and I. Staff, president), Captain A. A. Staines (Reserve of Officers), and Lieut. W. O. Penroso (A and I Staff), at which Private Albert Edward Coyne and Private Leslie M'Phail, members of the 14th Reinforcements of the 5th Light Horse, were charged with: (1) Joining in a mutiny in forces belonging to his Majesty's regular forces, in that they, at Chermside, on November 19, 1915, joined in a mutiny by combining among themselves, and with other soldiers of the same unit, to refuse to march to the general parade ground until they had received their pay and (2) disobeying a lawful command given by their superior officer, in that they, when personally ordered by Lieutenant J. Trickett, Officer Commanding the 14th of the 5th to go "Sections right," preparatory to marching to the general parade ground, did not move. Captain B. A. Ross prosecuted, and Mr. H. L. Kelly (Messrs. Cannan and Peterson) appeared on behalf of the defendants, each of whom had pleaded not guilty to the first charge. Coyne had pleaded guilty to the second charge, and M'Phail not guilty.

So far I have not found the final decision in the case.

The Home Front - Civilian War Effort


Parcels prepared and sent by the Comforts Fund and Red Cross were eagerly sought by the troops in France. The digger facing the camera looks as if the war had just ended. (Courtesy of Aust. War Museum Neg No E403)

The people at home were busy raising funds, making suitable gifts of clothing to help the diggers through the European winter, balaclavas, scarves, mittens were badly needed. Probably the most needed item was socks which were needed to keep the diggers feet dry and prevent 'trench foot'; they were knitted by the thousand.

Comfort parcels were very popular, they contained tinned biscuits, dried or preserved fruit tea, chocolate, sugar, cigarettes and tobacco, writing paper, matches and anything else the sender could include.

Fund raising was continuous and widely varied from street stalls, to garden parties, dances, raffles, card parties, fancy dress balls, mile of pennies, flag collection, etc, etc.

Some fund raising organisations were Australia wide such as the Australian Comforts Fund or State wide such as the The Queensland Patriotic Fund which announced that as at 13 September 1917 it had received a total of 535,579-15-5 in donations.

Individual families sent their own parcels while some military units had their own well organised fund such as the following announcement in the Brisbane Courier shows:

The committee of the 4th Pioneers' Comforts Fund announces that it is arranging for Christmas gifts for the pioneers on active service, and states that all friends and relatives who are anxious to forward parcels to their boys in this battalion may do so through the 4th Pioneers Comforts Fund (basement) Preston House, Queen street, Brisbane The committee appeals for money and gifts of socks, mittens handkerchiefs, finger stalls, tinned goods, cakes, puddings and smokes which may be forwarded to the secretary (Miss M Garraway) at the above address, and asks that panels and gifts be brought in, if possible, by September 14, when packing will be commenced.


Mrs Hannah Cook the champion knitter of the Kedron Comforts Fund in World War I. She is knitting what looks like a sock with the wool, rolled into a ball and held in the bag on her left arm.

David Teague in his book History of Kedron records that the Kedron ladies held special fetes in Love's paddock to raise funds. One of their number Hannah Cook knitted 900 pairs of socks and mittens, mostly for the Fund but many were given to departing local men.

Knitting was very common in the first half of the 20th Century when it was considered by many that 'bought' cardigans, jumpers, socks, etc were inferior to the home made variety. But Bruce Pie's factory in Kedron changed all that after World War II when he employed hundreds of girls to work his knitting machines.

A good knitter could read the paper or carry on a converstation while she knitted. When she went out visiting or driving in the sulky she took her knitting. It could be done anywhere anytime and it had a therapuetic effect to offset the cares of the war.

The Home Front - Schools


The Honour Board was not made until 1922, long after the war. However the names on it are all ex-pupils, in many cases the older siblings of students at the school during the war. Knowing that these men, and one woman, were serving in the armed forces lent extra incentive to the pupils and teachers to work for the war effort.

Chermside State School lost no time in swinging into war mode.

By December, the war was gathering pace and the School Committee donated two guineas (Two pounds and two shillings) to the Belgians who were regarded as heroes, because they took the full force of the German armies as they swept through Belgium and on to the invasion of France. In addition, a collection 'on Flag' in 1917 is mentioned as having raised ₤2/10/21/2 (Two pounds ten shillings and two pence halfpenny) for the war effort.

The Head Teacher, Lewis Williams, recorded in his annual report that the children were working for the Red Cross making crutches, splints, socks, nightingales ("A kind of flannel wrap used to cover the shoulders and arms of a patient while confined to bed" - Internet), face cloths, scarves and eye bandages. Even the boys, he does not say how many, were knitting along with the girls. The school took part in helping the appeal for Christmas goods for wounded troops. There would have been few Australian wounded in 1914, so the goods were probably for British troops who were fighting and retreating on the Western front in France.

As the war progressed the demand for all of these materials increased alarmingly and in 1915 he reported that knitting classes had started and every child above Grade 2 had learned to knit. Also Grade 8 girls were given book prizes by the Red Cross for their knitting for the soldiers; some girls did 6 pairs of socks as well as other work. The socks were particularly valuable for the soldiers in the trenches where they suffered from 'trench feet' which was caused by being perpetually wet. They used to rub their feet with whale oil and then put on dry socks, hence the need for an endless supply of woollen socks.

No doubt these efforts were encouraged by the fact that many local young men, including ex-pupils, were joining the armed forces and going off to war: no wonder the boys were knitting.

Teachers Joining the Armed Services


On a state wide basis, World War I greatly affected the State school system as many male teachers joined the armed services and the schools were understaffed. Only the strenuous efforts of the female teachers kept the Education system operating. In 1915 the Minister for Education, Herbert Hardacre, in the Annual Report of the Secretary for Public Instruction, 1914. p 22 wrote:

Teachers and other officers have responded nobly to the call of Empire. Up to the 30th August 1915, 146 teachers had enlisted in one capacity or another. Many of them hold commissions. Their education, training and previous military experience fit them for leadership. Three teachers have been killed, ten have been wounded, and two have been invalided home.

By the end of the war, 460 Departmental employees had enlisted, 61 were killed, 117 were wounded or missing and many were discharged as unfit for duty.

Chermside School would have had its share in these problems and would have had to call on retired teachers and existing staff to make the extra effort to keep the school operating. There would have been more combined classes, less sick leave, more 'burning the midnight oil', everybody had to 'soldier on'.

Propaganda


This was one of the most successful propaganda photos of the war. It showed the 'unspeakable' Hun murdering an innocent nurse whose only crime was to heal wounded soldiers. The effect on the civilians at home was dramatic, they learned to hate the Hun, which was the intention of the producers. (A French version of the photo on Wikipedia)

Edith Cavell - A French poster used after the execution of Nurse Edith Cavell in Brussels on 12th October 1915. Cavell was a distinguished nursing sister and teacher who was training nurses in Belgium before the war. She was well known in nursing circles and was very highly regarded.

She was also very patriotic and set up an 'underground railway' to channel Allied soldiers from German occupied Belgium to neutral Holland. This was treason as far as the Germans were concerned and lead to her Court Martial and execution.

The French and British took up the execution calling it murder and used it as one of the most successful propaganda exercises of the war. Of course they changed the story to show just how the brutal and evil the 'Hun' was.

Edith was shot by a firing squad of eight men but the story the propaganda machine churned out was that she heroically refused a blindfold and actually fainted at the sight of the firing squad. While she laid on the ground the German Officer in charge shot her.

Note the firing squad in the poster looking everywhere except at the body of Edith, the inference being that they were ashamed to be there! (The first casualty in war is the truth!)

Incidentally the French shot several women, including two German nurses, who helped German prisoners of war to escape back to Germany; but the French were on our side and that justified the deed?

This sort of propagands influenced some idealistic young men to join the forces and try to redress the injustice of the Hun. Judging by sentiments expressed in some of the letters written by diggers to their families home it was successful. Just how much it influenced voters in the Conscription Referendums is unknown.


Tyne Cot, Passchendaele, the largest Commonwealth Cemetery of all where 12,000 soldiers who were killed in the Third Battle of Ypres lie buried. It also commemorates the 35,000 men whose bodies were never found. This was the face of modern warfare and many young men didn't like it.

The name "Tyne Cot" is said to come from the Northumberland Fusiliers seeing a resemblance between the German concrete 'pill boxes' or concrete redoubts which still stand in the middle of the cemetery, and typical Tyneside workers' cottages or Tyne Cots.

The main pill box has been restored and acts as a base for the Cross of Remembrance in the cemetery.

Poziers and the Conscription Referendums


Gibraltar Bunker, a German strongpoint at Pozieres which illustrates the destruction caused by some of the heaviest shelling of World War I. The village was completely destroyed, not a brick left upon a brick, literally. (Courtesy AWM http://cas.awm.gov.au/item/EZ0098)

From 1911 Australia had compulsory military training of young men that started in the school cadets and continued in the Militia. The Commonwealth, under the Australian Defence Act, had the power to conscript all able-bodied males aged between 18 and 60 for the defence of Australia but not beyond.

Australian troops fighting overseas were volunteers and as the numbers of casualties became known in Australia the numbers volunteering fell steadily.

Since only volunteers could be sent to the fighting in Gallipoli and France recruiting campaigns had to concentrate on using patriotism and the repugnance of the 'barbaric Hun' to fill the ranks. This worked in 1914-15 but by 1916 the casualty lists were beginning to have a negative effect and the enlistments were hardly keeping up with the losses.

James Button noted that the British government was pressuring the Australian government to send more troops to replace the losses. In 1916 it was estimated that 5,500 Australian men per month was needed to replace the casualties in the existing five divisions in France.

A continuous stream of young men had to be sent to replace those killed and wounded, especially after the two weeks long Battle of Pozieres 23rd July to 5th August 1916. In that short time the AIF sustained 13,000 casualties of which about 4,000 were killed. It was the greatest bloodbath the Australian army ever experienced. Gallipoli is much better remembered but although 8,700 men died there it was over an eight month (32 weeks) siege.

Peter Charlton adds that when the Australians finally withdrew, after about five weeks, they had suffered some 23,000 casualties and pushed the line forward some 1,500m.

The plaque on the high ground at Pozieres Windmill points out, "Australian troops fell more thickly on this ridge than on any other battlefield of the war." One might add, or in any other war, in the following 94 years.

Pozieres showed that the volunteer system of recruitment was being stretched to its limit; maybe beyond.

The Australian government decided to hold a referendum on the 28th October seeking power to make overseas service compulsory. It was narrowly defeated.

Button notes that in 1917 the British asked for a sixth division from Australia which would take another 7,000 men per month to achieve. The second referendum on 20th December was also defeated by an even greater number voting no. This ended the very divisive debate for the remainder of the war.

Bill Gammage in "The Broken Years" notes that the front line diggers in France voted three to one against conscription. P.177

This photo may have been of a demonstration in Brisbane for the pro-conscription side of the first referendum in 1916. This horse drawn mobile display with the poster "Willing to Go" on the front would have moved around the city where shoppers would see it. The anti-conscription side probably had a similar float. (Courtesy of John Oxley Library)

In the early 20th Century before wireless (radio) and Television, public meetings, newspapers, posters and floats were widely used. There did not seem to be much dialogue between the pro and anti camps. Meetings seemed to be preaching to the converted and only increased the bitter division of the voters.

Even the churches were directly involved with the Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne, Daniel Mannix, taking a lead in the anti-conscription faction while some prominent Church of England Bishops supported the pro-conscription faction.

Many meetings were held in Brisbane around the Conscription issue. The following one was reported by the Brisbane Courier:

MEETING AT STAFFORD (Stafford- on-Kedron
12-10-1916
A meeting under the auspices of the Kedron War Council was held in the
Oddfellows' Hall, Stafford, last night, Councillor, T Gibson (chairman of the Kedron Shire Council) presided at the meeting which was by addressed by Messrs' T Bridges and T R Roberts, MLA, and T Ure M'Naught, and subsequently the following motion, proposed by the chairman, and seconded by Councillor M. J Gallagher, was carried unanimously: " That this meeting of residents of Stafford-on-Kedron pledges itself to vote 'yes' on October 28, and to do its best to assist the Prime Minister in bringing his proposals to a successful issue."

A vote of thanks was accorded the speakers on the motion of Mr Wadley.

F L G Roberts, 240 Queen St Brisbane (This may have been the reporter).

It took a long time for these passions to die down.

Kedron War Council and Repatriation Fund


The Kedron Shire Office 1912 beside Downfall Creek on the outskirts of Chermside. This was the local centre of the War Council and the raising of money for the Repatriation Fund. The Secretary of these organisations was the Shire Clerk, Mr Willis. (Courtesy of John Oxley Library)

In his 1917 Diary, Thomas Hamilton records his attendance at regular War Council meetings, usually in the Kedron Shire Chambers at Chermside. (On Gympie Road opposite Murphy Road) Chermside was a local branch while the head office was in Charlotte Street, Brisbane, and was probably under Commonwealth Government control.

What the Council did is not recorded but Thomas mentions that he was involved in raising funds and at one time met the Brisbane secretary for "getting assistance for an artificial leg". This would presumably be for a returned and discharged digger.
He was chairman of a subcommittee to raise funds for the "forthcoming effort in Marchant's Park to raise funds".
------------------------------------------
Repatriation Fund- Committee
This Committee was probably helping returned diggers to settle back into civilian life as also happened after WWII. A local committee operated at Chermside and there was a head office at the Courier building in Brisbane.

Thomas attended meetings at the Kedron Shire Council Chambers and was involved in fund raising by canvassing people and businesses to donate money or goods that could be sold at "a fete in Love's Paddock for the repatriation fund." He also attended a "coin evening in (the) School of Arts (which had a) record attendance (for the) repatriation fund."

He attended a subcommittee meeting at Zillmere on one occasion; there were branches in many places.

Below are some exerpts from the Brisbane Courier:

CHERMSIDE September 16 1916. |
'The Kedron Shire War Council was held on Tuesday night, Mr J. Gibson in the chair. The collections from the various parts of the shire made on behalf of the "Do Without Week" cards were handed in, and were found to total 2-14/5/.

The chairman (Mr Gibson) moved, and Mr Anthony seconded, that letters of sympathy be forwarded to the parents of soldiers whose names appear in the casualty lists.

Kedron War Council and Repatriation Committee 1914-1920 (Back Row) T A Hamilton, J G Argo, A Marquis, C Wren, D Barker, S Mison, (Middle Row) D Knox, N Veith, K McPherson, J Hamilton, R Antony, T P Millard, W Robertson, W Hawkins, P Carter, (Front Row) M J Gallagher, J King, J Rodgers, J Gibson, C Willis, J Mackie, T Burchull This photo is unique in that it is a collection of many of the prominent men of Chermside-Kedron in the early part of the 20th Century. (Hamilton Collection)

August. 21-8-1919
The Kedron War Council met In the Shire Hall last night, Councillor Macpherson presiding. Several claims for assistance from returned soldiers were dealt with. The council decided that 300 of the funds be divided amongst soldiers' widows in the shire.

Some applications were received for land in the shire for the use of returned men. Hearty votes of thanks were accorded Messrs. J. Rogers (hon. secretary) and Millard for their investigation of claims and other services.

Anti German Feeling in the District.


Norman Lindsay drew several propaganda posters during the war. While most people did not believe that there was any danger of a German invasion of Australia the posters did encourage loathing of anything German. For some people this was enough to give them the excuse to distrust all Germans and then take out their anger on local people or their property. (Courtesy of Aust War Memorial - http://cas.awm.gov.au/item/ARTV00079)

As far as one can see at present there was not a lot of this zenophobic activity as took place in other places: but there was some. This was partly caused by the Government propaganda camaign which was directed at the German nation but also affected the local, and mostly patriotic, German settlers; the innocent suffered in the process.

Dr Ford mentions some name calling and one instance when two women of German descent who were denied a vote in the 1916 Referendum by the official at the voting booth. They protested and were able to vote in the 1917 Referendum.

Two German named streets, Mueller and Groth Roads were left with their names unchanged. Dr Ford notes that an incident ocurred when "a group of recruits from Chermside Camp marched down to the store (Hacker's) after rumous were spread that the Hacker's had sent remittances back to Germany". It must have been mainly shouting.

The Brisbane Courier reported:

KEDRON WAR COUNCIL
CHERMSIDE, June 14 1916|

The Kedron Shire Council Committee met in the Council Chamber Chermside on Tuesday evening, Councillor J Gibson, (Chairman of the Kedron Council) presiding.

The "Do without Week" ' is to be closely observed thorough. (This was a fund raising measure for the war effort.)

It was unanimously agreed that the following resolutions be forwarded to the Premier with the hope that they be affected by the Government and militia authorities.

(1) That the Kedron Shire Council is of opinion that persons of enemy origin living in the State are not bearing their due proportion of the true burden of the war and we recommend that the Government adopt the necessary adopt to cause a special tax to be levied upon them as a War Tax.

(2) That the attention of the State Government be directed to the lack of sympathy and assistance, given to any of the other War Funds by some subjects of enemy origin throughout Queensland, and that the State Government be respectfully asked to cooperate with the Defence authorities in formulating a scheme to rectify the situation; also that no subject of enemy origin should occupy a responsible position under the Government until twelve months after the war.

Just what the Government did with the suggestions is unknown. The German residents of Kedron Shire were much the same as anybody else, some of them probably came to Queensland to avoid being conscripted into the German army many years before the war.


The following excerpt comes from the Kedron Shire Council Minutes:

Ref. from QSA SRS3665/1 item 2 Kedron Shire Council Minute Book 1.9.1914 - 2.8.1921

p. 126 - 11.4.1916

Councillor Burgess asked: Why is Vellnagel not getting a share of our blacksmith work?

Clerk Replied: There is little blacksmith work done outside our own forge, if anything else required, easily executed by British workmen, thus carrying out Council's instructions to employ British workmen only.

Councillor Burgess failed to get a seconder for more work for Vellnagel.

This was Council policy based on the national descent of a person, not on that person's views. The Vellnagel family had a very long business association with Chermside until the firm shifted to Brendale in 2006. It still operates there and nobody questioned their loyalty in World War II.

Dr Ford also instances a more serious offence which occurred on Armistace Day 1918 which he describes as "one last act of senseless destruction". May Price recounted the incident:

"And some louts down the road they just about wrecked the German church. They broke windows and so on. The funny part of it was that the Germans were good settlers and a lot of their sons were at the war (in the AIF)... They didn't want the blooming war..."