Tasmanians at war

The date for ANZAC Day, April 25th, was chosen because it was the day of landing at Gallipoli in 1915.  The day has been honoured ever since, now an incredible 107 years ago. Tasmania’s contribution to the war effort of WWI was massive from what was then a small society. 181 Tasmanians lost their life at Gallipoli.  They rest in the various cemeteries located in Turkey.  Many Tasmanians saw action on the first day of landing, such as Harry Hodgman who lost his life .They served with the 12th AIF Battalion (Bn) of which more than half were from Tasmania. 

Tasmanians were also strong in representation in the 15th Bn, which held the infamous Quinn’s Post and Pope’s Hill.  Both endured the accuracy of the Turkish guns.  Tasmanians served too, with the 26th Bn and the 9th Battery Field Artillery.

The 3rd Light Horse, with their mounts left behind in Egypt, was used as reinforcements three weeks after the landing to join the 15th Bn at Pope’s Hill.

Gallipoli veterans wore the small letter “a” on their colour patch.

Nearly twenty thousand Australians were wounded at Gallipoli with 8, 300 dying.  Many died at a later date as a result of their wounds and are buried elsewhere.

In round figures, 60,000 Australians died during the war, and (again) in round figures this includes 3,000 Tasmanians.  Dating from April 1915 until November 1918, I calculate approximately 7-8 Tasmanian young men died every three days at the front. This is not counting the wounded or sick. Each day the local newspapers would carry their names.  One can only imagine the stress and grief of the families at home. It is an incredible statistic; a tragic one.  Such figures would not be acceptable in this modern era.

WWI, however, was not the first occasion Tasmanians have been involved in wars and have lost their lives. The first war that Tasmanians served, 158 of them, was the one in New Zealand, 1863-64. I have not been able to find any fatalities among those who left, although I suspect there were one or more. The first recorded Tasmanian to die in battle that I have researched was Arthur Dobson who died 25th March 1879 during the Zulu War.  Other Tasmanians served. Then in the Sudan, artillery man James Robertson died 31st May 1885.

Between 1899-1902 Tasmanians served in South Africa during the 2nd Anglo-Boer War. I have found and documented 42 of our sons who lost their life in that far away land. In comparison to WWI of course that may not sound a lot, but putting it in perspective, our recently involvement in Afghanistan, 41 Australian soldiers died over a 13 year period – 41 too many I agree and we must take into account eight times as many veterans have committed suicide since returning.  Something is dreadfully wrong here. Tasmanian, Corporal Cameron Steward Baird was awarded a Victoria Cross (VC) for his services in Afghanistan.  Sadly he was killed in action June 22, 2013.

Two VCs were awarded to Tasmanians during the South African War, eleven in WWI and one in WWII that being Teddy Sheean which was awarded, 12th August 2020 many years after his action.  He was our first naval man to receive the honour.

The conclusion of WWII in 1945 did not see the end of our involvement in war.  We have noted that Tasmanians served with great distinction in Afghanistan with the death of Baird who had served also in East Timor and Iraq. There were Tasmanians serving in the Korean War, The Malaysian Campaign (which really was a war) and the Indonesian Confrontation and in every conflict Tasmanians died.

Then there was the most controversial war of all, Vietnam where a number of Tasmanians died. One of the very few who lost their lives serving with the Royal Australian Air Force was a Tasmanian, Ronald Betts. There is a lovely memorial to Tasmanian Vietnam fatalities at ANZAC Park, Lindisfarne.

ANZAC Day then is a time when we rightly remember all those fallen, all those who returned wounded, at time with horrific wounds which lingered until they passed away. We remember all who served in every theatre of war. This includes the deserts of North Africa, the terrain of South Africa, the jungles of Asia, the Pacific region and of Vietnam, the hell of the western front and Gallipoli. Many experienced the bitter cold of Korea. Our naval personnel served on every ocean of the world and our airmen over the skies of Europe, Asia, the Pacific, and North Africa. On ANZAC Day we also reflect on those at home who worked diligently to support our fighting men and of course we remember our nurses who served with valour throughout the war where-ever our military served.

The Tasmanian Irish

St Patrick’s Day.  It is a day which is not only enthusiastically celebrated world-wide, but in Tasmania as well.

From the beginning Irish immigrants and people of Irish descent played an important part in the settlement of Tasmania and the development of attitudes and institutions. Since the days of convicts there have been many Irish societies and organisations. Probably the first Irishman of some note to settle here would be Dr Jacob Mountgarret who came with John Bowen in 1803.

We tend to think that the majority of convicts who came to Tasmania were Irish, but this is not so. About 25 per cent of all convicts were, with the rest, 70 per cent being English, and a spattering of other nationalities and races. Most of the Irish convicts were sentenced because of criminal acts, but many also were victims of a defective land system, which meant the peasant became increasingly dependent on the landlords. Many were transported on what was called “White Boy” offences, ranging from disturbances and taking illegal oaths to stealing cattle, sheep and horses, particularly in times of hardship, such as during the potato crop failure. The worse offenders were transported to Van Diemen’s Land then to Macquarie Harbour.  Peak times were during the 1830s.

There were also political prisoners such as the seven Irish exiles to Van Diemen’s Land, John Mitchel, Thomas Francis Meagher, John Martin, William Smith O’Brien, Kevin O’Doherty, Terence MacManus and Patrick O’Donohoe, They were sent to their penal home in 1849 and 1850.  Three of the seven exiles were Protestant. 

Another political prisoner of note was surveyor James Meehan who played an important part in the establishment of Hobart under our first Governor, David Collins.

The Irish influence was strong during the most peculiar social upheaval in 1879 that Tasmania has ever seen. Whipped up by a visiting preacher, Charles Chiniquy, he held meetings at the Town Hall and lambasted those of the Catholic faith.  The disturbance was so great, that it was the only time the army has been called out in Tasmania to restore peace.

As with many thousands of Tasmanians, from a very difficult beginning they carved a life for themselves, foundations of which seceding generations have enjoyed. The Irish blended in well. True, they kept their pride in being Irish, but over all there was little confrontation in Tasmania.  Most worked hard, many made good for themselves.  Hard, working, law-biding, moral, strong family people.

The Irish Legacy in Tasmania lives on. The Irish largely settled towns such a Richmond and Westbury and a number of Tasmanian towns have Irish names such as Avoca, Blessington, Irishtown, the Shannon River and Liffy Falls.  Castle Forbes Bay in the Huon was established by the landing of Irish female convicts in 1836 from the vessel of the same name.

Up until when Eric Reece (a Methodist) became Premier, all Labor Premiers were of Irish extraction and Catholic. One such was Dwyer-Gray a most colourful and interesting Premier.  He was a staunch Tasmanian who actively worked for secession, believing Federation had not been kind to the island he loved and served. True like many Irishmen he loved the bottle, which proved to be a bit of a problem. We must not forget that our only international film star, Errol Flynn was of Irish stock. Errol was more prone to claim Irish ancestry than his Tasmanian origins.

Militarily of course, their contribution to our war effort was strong.  Perhaps during the Boer War, they sympathised with the hardy Boer, but during World War I their contribution is without question and they suffered the price as well as everyone else.  Indeed the Irish participation in the war on the side of the British was enormous and that is why the Irish uprising in 1916 was a failure. During World War II of course they had so harmonised with the rest of the population they were no longer, by a large degree, distinctive to the rest of the population.

C.M Dennis, the great Australian poet, up there with Lawson and Paterson, was of Irish extraction as was Rolf Bolderwood who wrote the Australian classic, Robbery Under Arms, two among many.

Our affection for Ireland is strong, not forgetting that the influence that it has had in shaping our State which cannot be underestimated.  Irish humour is world renown. The Irish have the wonderful ability to be able to laugh at themselves. Irish humour has not only delighted us all, but has influenced how we view matters.

Australia Day 2022

Australia Day has its origins two hundred and thirty four years ago. It was when 1500 souls left England for a perilous journey to an unknown land and future. To arrive at their destination 15,000 miles of sailing to the east coast of Australia lay before them. It took eight months to do so, a feat for which Governor Arthur Phillip should be admired.

A form of celebration to remember the event was held as early as 1817. From thereon, the day knew various names, such as Anniversary Day and Foundation Day. In 1931 Victoria adopted the name Australia Day and in 1946 the Australia Day Council was formed in Melbourne to foster national appreciation of the day’s signifigance.

Those involved in the momentous expedition in 1788 were diverse although three out of every four was a convict. Others included officers, marine, crew, women and children. How many actually finally made it to Botany Bay 18th January before moving on to Sydney Cove Port Jackson, January 26th 1788 is debatable. Sixteen of the 1500 died before the First Fleet actually left Portsmouth, England and during the voyage twenty two children were born with several dying. It is recorded that forty convicts died during the journey while others fell overboard and some even escaped. There were numerous accidents. Taking into account all the factors that could have happened and perhaps should have happened the mortality rate was surprisingly modest. It was a well thought out and organised expedition, far better than the Second Fleet when 280 convicts died with another 200 convicts dying on the Third Fleet.

After leaving Portsmouth, the fleet sailed first to Rio de Janeiro, Portuguese Brazil, then on to Cape Town, South Africa to replenish food supplies. Following was the crossing of the Indian Ocean, finally to Port Jackson. One can only imagine the suffering of the convicts.

Landing was a relief, but it was just the start of the challenges that lay before these people. Governor Phillip immediately got everyone working. Male convicts began to clear the land and erect shelters. Construction then work began on the barracks, governor’s house and a hospital. Phillip’s problems were immense. Upon settlement, glaring neglect showed. For instance there was insufficient female clothing. A list of convicts and their crimes and when they were to be released did not exist. He found there were not enough balls or cartridge papers for the armaments. Then there was human nature which he had to deal with such as officers arguing amongst themselves, fighting between convicts and sailors and theft. Before him were the unknown land and how to feed, protect and shelter everyone and how to administer the law and how to implement it. The list went on and on. Yet in November 1791 Phillip could write to Lord Sydney in London, “I can still say with great Truth and equal Satisfaction that the Convicts in general behave better than could be expected.”

Within seven years, food shortages had given way to a relative bounty. In 1795 the main crops had met the colony’s needs with more than 2000 farm animals being grazed which included cows, cattle, sheep and goats. It was a marvellous achievement and Australians should be proud of this fact.

Australia Day belongs to every citizen of this country, whether we are been here in excess of 10,000 years, more than two hundred years, post war or a recent arrival. It is a day where politics is tossed aside. Aboriginal activist and politician, Jacinta Nampijinpa Price recently said, she is “proud to celebrate this day regardless of background and who are not ashamed of our nation’s history or all we have achieved together”.

That achievement is something that should be highlighted. Success just does not just happen; it has to be worked towards with great effort and fortitude. On January 1st 1901 a new country was born when the six independent colonies federated into one. Over the many years the strides towards a vibrant, liberal democracy which is the envy of the entire world, hence the demand, more than we can absorb, to come this land down under and make it home.

Australia Day is the day for barbecues, sports and a time of reflection, that while no country is perfect and that no people are either, we can put our differences aside and act as one on this special day, this day of celebration.

Freedom Rally Hobart November 2021

It was way back in September 2020 when I addressed one of our first gatherings.  Now in November 2021 we are still fighting. Australia is a police state where our freedoms have been taken away.  This is the new RESET as stated by Klaus Scwab, founder of the World Economic Forum and according to him we are all going to be happy and own nothing.  Well, we know who is going to owe everything – the Globalist elite.

Australia is a country where those in charge, Police Commissioners, so-called health experts, political advisors and Premiers instruct us to inform and pimp on our fellow citizens – all for our own good; all in the name of fighting the spread of Covid-19. We now have a two tiered citizenship, those who are vaxxed and those who are not vaxxed.  Perhaps the latter should go around with a yellow star sewn to their breasts.  This is in spite of the fact that Section 51 (22A) of the Australian Constitution forbids forced medical procedure.

The Premiers have become power drunk showing no compassion and no understanding. Our Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, does nothing. He said as a federalist he will not intervene with what is happening in State affairs and that he has no power to do so, regardless just a fortnight ago, his  own senator, Amanda Stoker, said the Commonwealth can interfere if it chooses to.   Morrison does not lead when he should. Is he just too weak or is he a willing part of the whole decaying system? 

I never thought I would see Australia come to this.  Like many, many Australians, my father put his life on the line fighting tyranny in North Africa during WWII.  His father, my grandfather, went to an earlier war as well.  He survived, but three of the family died during WWI, – as said – many did.  But we must ask ourselves?  What was it all for? We live in a world that is beyond imagining a few years ago.  A country where police brutally bash fellow citizens while being selective on who can hold demonstrations and who cannot. But good things can come from bad.  Those police black shirts who shot that man in Melbourne five times, now are facing legal proceedings and they will be publicly named and hopefully shamed, as well as who authorised the shootings of our own people. A number of the police have forgotten their oath and have become nothing but agents of the government.

Too few politicians have stood up in the defence of the people and of our freedoms. The majority will do what their Party tells them to do. This is the weakness of the party political system. Why do we keep voting for the same old parties?  Liberal/Labour/National and the Greens?  After all they are the ones who have destroyed this nation of ours.  They are all globalists, believing in the One World Government. They have been taken up on the mountain and have sold their souls. In the meantime the people suffer, suicides are up, mental health is up, bankruptcies are up, businesses close down and people struggle financially.  Kids can’t play in the parks.  Curfews. What nonsense is this? And we are all forced to have the jab. Families cannot visit each other, cannot attend funerals and children are separated from their parents. People cannot attend religious services.  This is crazy and callous.

What was it that ex-President of the USA, Ronald Reagan said, “the most dangerous ten words in the English language are, ‘I am from the government, I’m here to help you’.’’  Governments are not here to help us, they are here to entrench their own power, which is always at the expense of the people. I recall the section in the bible, when the people screamed and demanded to have government run by mortals. It was the prophet Samuel who warned them of the dangers awaiting them. (1 Samuel 8). Fellow prophet Jeremiah was to write, “The heart is wicked above all things, who can know it?” (17:9). And so it is with human nature – not to serve, but to be served.  Those we elected do not seem to understand why they are there.  They are there to serve us; we are not here to serve them. We are their employers, we pay their wages.

Our massive and tireless efforts are having effect, not just in Australia, but throughout the world. We have seen the huge demonstrations in Melbourne, bigger than I have ever witnessed and I can remember the anti-Vietnam demonstrations.  Premier Dan Andrews called such concerned citizens, “extremists” and “that is not democracy”.  Is he joking?  He has constantly destroyed any concept of democracy in Victoria.  Now Prime Minister Morrison (at long last) says that State governments have to back up on taking away people’s freedom.  But where have you been Mr Morrison over the last 20 months?  They are finally waking up that people are fed up and are angry and it may affect how we vote – and that is all they are interested in….how it will affect them.

We have entered a new era, a dark era, when thuggery and brainwashing is the order of the day.  Sadly most people comply, but there are the few who will lead, who are brave, and who believe that we are free individuals. We are born free.  We are born with God given freedoms where we exercise free choice.  We can choose how we live.    All this repression cannot be happening by accident.  It is by design.  Premiers, Prime Ministers, even Presidents are just puppets serving those behind the scenes, the cabal– the billionaires the bankers, financiers and corporate giants. And as for the ordinary politician?  He or she are just puppets.

But there is hope.  There is always hope.  The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray.  There is an in-built passion within human beings for freedom. We have seen tyranny come and go throughout history and freedom reasserts itself. It comes at a price usually by the few sacrificing themselves for the benefit of many. I believe Good will prevail in the end. I do recall that line in the movie “Never Ending Story“ when the young boy confronted the savage, horrible beast (and is there a hidden message here?) and asks it, “Who are you” with the beast replying, “I am just a Messenger,” adding, “when people believe in nothing they are easier to control.” That’s where we are at now, isn’t it?  Our beliefs, our heritage, our religions are mocked and discarded.  People do not believe in anything anymore.  Thus they are easier to control with myths.

Stand firm.  Do not compromise. Let’s keep our faith and trust, attributes that will lead to victory. When the people are constantly fed a message of fear just remember that is because the political elite fear the people. There is a great awakening.

Andrew Inglis Clarke

Father of Federation and of the Hare Clarke Voting System

Clark, an amazing Tasmania, was a Barrister, Parliamentarian, Attorney-General, electoral reformer and Constitutionalist.

Clark was indeed a ‘sound’ lawyer.  His refusal to accept anything, but an honest and reasonable fee prevented him from making a fortune from his profession. He was, however, more than a lawyer; he was also an engineer, poet, political philosopher and the Father of Australian Federation.

The electorate of Denison has now been changed to Clark, named after Andrew.

He is credited in his first year in the House of Assembly with initiating 150 Ministerial Bills, only one fewer than Henry Parkes.  Some of his Bills dealt with cruelty to animals, legalising trade unions, more orderly control of public houses, the care of destitute children, payment of Members of Parliament and reforming laws on lunacy.

The University of Tasmania was established largely because of his efforts with association with colleague, Neil Elliott Lewis later to become Premier. He was Vice-Chancellor of the University of Tasmania 1901-1903.

Clark attended the first conference on Federation held in Hobart in 1886 and in 1890 was a Tasmanian delegate to the Australasian Federation Conference and to the national Australasian Conference in 1891. In his early years, Andrew was taught at home, because of his poor health, by his talented mother, Ann Inglis.  Later he attended the Hobart High School leaving school at 16.  At the age of 24, he decided to study law and in 1877 was admitted to the Bar.

As early as 1874, Clark was a promoter of proportional representation voting as opposed to the one-man, one-vote concept.  In 1878 Clark married in Melbourne Grace Paterson, daughter of John Ross, a Hobart ship builder.  In the same year he was elected to the House of Assembly for Norfolk Plains, but lost in 1882. 

In 1885 Clark founded the Southern Tasmanian Political Reform Association and unsuccessfully stood for election once again in 1886.  During the same year the movement promoting the establishment of a Commonwealth had its birth in Tasmania when on 25th January 1886, the first session of The Federal Council of Australia was opened by Governor Strahan.  Clark, of course, attended.  Later as a member of the Federal Council, he would draft a Federal Constitution for the convention of 1891.

In 1887 Clark was elected and served as Attorney-General under Premier Phillip Oakley Fysh (1835-1919) until 1892.  Sadly in this year of 1887 he lost his son, Melvin Inglis who died in infancy.

In August 1896, Clark was able to introduce proportional representation for Hobart and Launceston for the following year, after heated discussion. It became known as the Hare Clark system. Thomas Hare was an English Barrister. Clark also urged modification such as the transfer of surpluses and reducing the element of chance.  In that year, he was unable to attend the Federal convention because he was in America.

Opposition to the Hare-Clark system was vigorous with petitions being received by the Parliament to abandon it.  On the whole, it would appear electors mastered it quite well. Premier Edward Braddon was urged to adopt it.

In the 20th December 1897 in the Town Hall there was a presentation of an address to Clark for his stand on his constitutional principles. Clark replied by saying how important it was to the adherence to constitutional methods as the only safe guard to public liberty, particularly against the dictatorship of any one man or group of men. Here, I firmly believe he would be appalled how the Australian Constitution has been abused and ignored by the Federal Government and Premiers, because of the current social circumstances. Section 92 and 117 for example guarantees movement of citizens between States while section 51 (xxiiA) is against forced medical procedures, such as mandatory vaccinations or the unconstitutional National Cabinet of Premiers. As Clark would understand without these constitutional provisions we are dominated by those enjoy their new found power.

In 1898 Clark was appointed a judge of the Supreme Court of Tasmania and a senior judge in 1901. Clark never enjoyed strong health and the year of his death 1907 (14th November),  proportional voting was adopted for the whole state and used for the first time at a general election, April 1909.  In 1907 the established two party system did not exist in Tasmania.

What type of man was he personally?  James Backhouse, legal practitioner, historian and author states in his book Prelude to Federation (OBM Publishing 1976), “Lewis (N. Elliott) is one of the very, very few, prominent politicians in whom public spirit is at all marked.  A. I. Clark is another.”

The Hare-Clark electoral voting system continues to apply State-wide for the House of Assembly.  It has it detractors, but generally it is well received.

A more detailed article is available in the people section of this site