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.

Why the Sport Stadium in Hobart cannot be built

There are very good reasons why the proposed sports stadium to be constructed at Regatta Point, Hobart, cannot be built, rather than it should not be built.

The stadium appears to hang on the acceptance of a Tasmanian team into the AFL as stated by the Minister for Sport and Recreation, Nic Street.  The proposal will cost $750 million and will be funded by various government levels and investment from the private sector.  The site is owned by the people of Tasmania and is managed by the Hobart City Council.

The site is near to the Hobart Cenotaph and the grounds of the Royal Hobart Regatta which includes the historic John Colville Pavilion.  There are other recreational facilities which will be impacted and which are enjoyed by Tasmanians, it being so close to the CBD of the capital.

The impact will be considerable. The government has stated that it will be in continual dialogue with the RSL and the Regatta Association.

However, there are considerations not yet taken into account and are not stated on the government’s website regarding the proposal.

I have had on good authority that if the stadium is built, it will block out any visual observance of the rising sun during the dawn service on ANZAC Day. This, alone, is why it should not be constructed at Regatta Point.

Near the proposed site exists the old Queen’s Battery and is close to the Domain Cenotaph where the main military observances take place in the south. Built in 1864, the Queen’s Battery served as protection from foreign invaders until the mid-1920s. It is also the site where the 12th battalion camped before going to WWI.  The site was excavated some decades ago and by the request of the RSL in 1992, it was filled in. Another historic aspect, still there under the earth, are trenches of a zig-zag formation.  These exist closer to the John Colville Pavilion and while their purpose has been forgotten, I surmise they were bomb shelters from WWII.

The question must be asked; what impact will such a huge stadium have on these historic structures?  This also must include the John Colville Pavilion with its many plaques imbedded in its stand, such as those to the boatmen and rowers who served in both world wars. There are tablets also in memory of John and his brother Charles Colville who served with distinction in promoting and serving the regatta in past years.

Other questions must also be asked.  Is the stadium needed?  In the south for large entertainment productions we have the Deck near Elwick and in Clarence, Blundstone Stadium for sporting events, such as cricket and football, including AFL matches. Is the proposed new stadium warranted, even though it is a wonderful dream?  It will be financed by government and private funds.  We all know that budgets blow out and the said $750 million will probably be no exception.  Governments will borrow to finance it and if the private investment does not eventuate as it is hoped, then we the tax payer will be paying more for its completion. Will it prove to be a white elephant?

Upon inquiry regarding parking for the stadium I have been informed that it is still being planned.  If parking will be close to the site, then roads will have to be constructed to the venue and huge parking areas will be provided. Parking on the existing Queen’s Domain is quite a distance away from Regatta Point and how it would be managed has not been suggested.

This does not even take into account the impact upon future regattas after the stadium is completed and ready for the 2027 football season. The Royal Hobart Regatta, dating from 1835, will see its 185th anniversary next year.  It is the oldest continuous regatta in Australia.

Too many questions are still not answered and I would suggest they have not even been considered during the eagerness to plan the stadium and how much, already, has the government paid to the architects in drawing up plans?  It has to be substantial.

That the stadium will block out the sun during the dawn service on ANZAC Day is enough to say ‘no’ to the proposal while taking into account other questions regarding its construction.

70th Anniversary of the Queen’s reign

The 6th February 2022 was the 70th anniversary of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, being proclaimed Queen. She was a young married woman of 26 years of age, born in 1926.  March 6th is not the date that she was crowned. The coronation would come later, 2nd June 1953 in Westminster Abbey. Her first visit to Tasmania occurred in February 1954 when she was invited to open the Tasmanian Parliament. The Queen was accompanied by her husband, The Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip.

The Queen was the first child of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. She did not expect to become monarch so soon, if ever.  She was third in line, after her uncle, Edward, The Prince of Wales and her father, the Duke of York.  She and Philip married 20th November 1947 at Westminster Abbey.  The Duke died 9th April 2021, three months shy of his 100th birthday. Who could forget the lonely figure, clad in black, mourning alone?  The Queen had been informed that it was not necessary, but she chose to adhere to the same regulations that had been imposed upon her people.  We have seen it was not the case for many politicians obeying the same rules which they themselves decreed.

What dramatically intervened in her life was the Constitutional crises involving Edward the Prince of Wales and Mrs Wallis Simpson. The affair ended in controversy when Edward, the king, but not crowned, abdicated in 1936. This meant that his younger brother George had the throne forced on him, a role he had not preferred to have inherited. It was Shakespeare who said, “some have greatness thrust upon them”. The reluctant Prince, then known as Albert, proved to be a great king.

The King did not enjoy good health and underwent an operation and afterwards appeared though weak, fitter. His illness continued and it was obvious he was dying of cancer. At this time Princess Elizabeth and the Duke had two young children, Charles and Anne. For a number of months the King prevailed. On the 31st January 29t 1951 the King waved goodbye to his daughter and son-in-law from the London Airport. They were off to a tour of East Africa.  In the small hours of 6th February 1952 the King died.

The young couple were enjoying a stay at a hunting lodge, a wedding present from the inhabitants of Kenya, when the news of the death of her father, was received. She had planned to move on to Australia and New Zealand, but she immediately drafted apologies herself. One vital chore she had, as now monarch, was to declare as Queen, how she would be known. Her full name is Elizabeth Alexandra May.  Her title would now be Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland.

In 2022, she is also the Queen of 14 Commonwealth Countries and Head of the Commonwealth of Nations.  He has the title, “Defender of the Faith”.

By the time of her crowning in June 1953 she was the celebrated monarch of nearly a quarter of human beings then living on earth.  She was crowned against the setting of Handel’s, Zadok the Priest and Nathan the Prophet.

Australia’s first l visit of the royal couple was when they arrived into Sydney 3rd February 1954 and later, on Saturday 20th February 10:30 am, the royal yacht Gothic berthed into Hobart where their hectic and extensive tour of Tasmania began. Upon arrival they were met and addressed by the Lord Mayor of Hobart, Sir Richard Harris and Lady Harris, at the Town Hall. It was on the Monday that Her Majesty opened the fifth session of the 30th Parliament of Tasmania, which was followed by a Garden Party at Government House. The media on the day said that 150,000 people lined the city streets as the royal couple proceeded from Parliament House to Government House. On the way in Stoke Street, a little Dutch girl, Jeltje Folkerts, in national costume, was waiting with a bouquet of roses as a tribute of loyalty from the New Australians.  The Queen’s car halted, the Queen leaned over and accepted the bouquet with a warm smile.

On the Tuesday they departed from Cambridge aerodrome to fly to Wynyard and from there visited, Burnie, Ulverstone, Devonport and Launceston.  They flew out of Western Junction aerodrome to Essendon, for Melbourne and for elsewhere.

It was part of a six month tour, so that the new Queen could meet her people world-wide.

The Queen is now 95 years old.  Her reign has seen dramatic changes throughout Australia and the world.  She has served faithfully for 70 years, making her not only the longest serving British monarch, but the longest serving monarch in the world.

Many of the years have not been easy for her, but she has endured through the ability to see things through, to sacrifice herself and dedicate her life to her people, not to governments, but to her people.

  • Reg A. Watson is a Tasmanian author and historian and Tasmanian Convener of Australians for Constitutional Monarchy.

Pic:  Author of the article, Reg Watson, with a “”Opening of Parliament by The Queen” (1954) brochure published by the Tasmanian Government. It was presented to him by the late Dr George Howatt, an American political scientist who made his home in Tasmania.  Dr Howatt was the world’s leading expert on the voting system of the Hare-Clark.

Australia in the year 2021

Australia in the year 2021. A police State. A country where our freedoms have been taken away. This is the new RESET. It is a country where those in charge, Police Commissioners, so-called health experts, advisors and Premiers instruct us to inform 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. The country is hopelessly in debt which grows by the day.

The Premiers have become power drunk; show no compassion, no understanding, lie and are corrupt. Our Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, does nothing. He does not lead when he should. Is he just too weak or is he a willing part of the whole rotten system? When the Australian Constitution is abused he says not a word, other than “there’s nothing I can do” even though he can use the High Court. That is what it is there for. Interpreting the Australian Constitution.

I never thought I would see Australia come to this. 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. Compare the treatment between the soft approach to Black Lives Matter and the brutal repression of the Freedom Marches and Workers. The police too are drunk on their new found power. They have forgotten their oath and have become nothing but agents of the government – governments who are corrupt and sinister.

I wonder what those who sacrificed their lives in war would think of the new Australia. What would they think of the mediocre creatures that control our lives called politicians? To be fair a few are standing up for the people, like Pauline Hanson, Mark Latham, Craig Kelly, Campbell Newman, George Christensen, Eric Abetz and Malcolm Roberts. Too few in number. 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 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 to the devil. In the meantime the people suffer, suicides are up, mental health is up, bankruptcies are up, businesses closing 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 is, 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. Remember 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. Our Premiers, little people who have no souls, fulfil that status.
In my humble opinion and I hope I am wrong, but Australia is (to put it crudely) “stuffed”. But there is something more here than just Australia – it is a world-wide phenomenon that is going on. Repression throughout the western world. It’s working to an agenda. Those in charge are evil in the extreme.

Much of the mainstream media are co-operating in this, mouthing the government line that we all need to give up our freedom for the betterment of all, but with no clear indication when those freedoms will be given back – which will be never. 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. God has given us our freedom, not governments. We can choose how we live. All this cannot be happening by accident. It is by design. Premiers, Prime Ministers, even Presidents are just puppets serving those behind the scenes, the cabals who are calling the shots – the billionaires the bankers, financiers and corporate giants. And as for the ordinary politician? He or she are again just puppets, but lower down on the chain, while the useful idiots are the brainless robots that implement their will without knowing it in every facet of society.

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?), who said “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 like global warming and that we all going to die because of the virus if we do not do as we are told. They are superior beings, the political elite. Yet, we are “all in it together” which is just sheer nonsense and hypocritical.
Stand firm. Do not compromise. Keep your faith and trust, attributes that will lead to victory. Whereas wen the people are constantly being fed a message of fear; just remember that is because the political elite fear the people.

120th Anniversary of the Australian National Flag

The Flag of Australia
The Australian Flag

3rd September this year is the 120th anniversary of the Australian National Flag, which dates from 1901. It was on that day Prime Minister Edmund Barton announced the winners of a competition who had designed a flag for Australia. A large flag, 5.5metres by 11 metres, was then flown over the dome of the Exhibition Building, Melbourne. At that time the flag was known as the Commonwealth blue ensign; later, the flag became known as the Australian National Flag. It was not until 1953 with the passing of the Flag Act that it was proclaimed definitively the Australian Blue Ensign as the National Flag and the Red Ensign as the proper colours for merchant ships registered in Australia.

The origin of the Australian National Flag is more than interesting, because our flag was chosen as a result of a nation-wide competition.  Indeed, as far as I am aware, Australia is the only country where this has happened. One per cent of the entire population of Australia responded with an entry.  Therefore it was the PEOPLE who originated our flag, which is a wonderful achievement and we should be proud of that

Those who judged the flag entries did so with the guidelines in mind of history, heraldry, distinctiveness, utility and the cost of manufacture.  It was Lady Hopetoun, wife of the Governor-General, who opened a display of the entries in the competition. Sir Edmund Barton announced that five entrants, who had submitted similar designs, were to share the honour of being declared the designers of Australian National Flag.

It is important to know that the designers were given a free rein on ideas, so there was no cohesion or any enforcement of what was expected.

It is said one of the winners of the competition, Ivor William Evans, who was born in Melbourne that his father, a flag maker, may have influenced his son’s design. Mr Evans senior would have been aware of the Australasian League Flag, the symbol of the anti-transportation movement of colonial times and which is held in that city.  The flag is very comparable to the national flag and preceded it.

Ivor was 14 years old when he submitted his entry.  But what was his motive?  Was it because his father suggested it to be similar to the historic one in Launceston? There is no record of this; rather Ivor believed that the flag of the United Kingdom, Great Britain had a place on Australia’s flag because of the historical links between our island continent and the British Isles. Ivor believed that it had an “Honourable place” on the Australian flag and he recognised this fact – a new nation paying respect to its origins. Ivor made a flag that he filled with symbols of his hope for the nation’s future. 

If we project ourselves back a hundred and twenty years at the time of federation, pride in the new nation was strong and we had adopted our own national Constitution.

The Southern Cross as displayed on our flag has great meaning. It tells the world geographically where we are situated and it also shows whereas we have a British heritage we are different and we are a separate nation to the Mother Land. Another reason for Ivor’s choice of the Southern Cross was Dante’s poem when he wrote about four bright stars which symbolised the four moral virtues of justice, prudence, temperance and fortitude – principles that Australia should live up to.

We possess a beautiful flag which was displayed with great enthusiasm at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.  Down through the 120 years it has been displayed through adversity (war and natural disasters) and national and personal successes. It was first flown after its origins in 1901. I have a photograph of it draping Harry (Breaker) Morant’s grave in South Africa during the Anglo-Boer War when he was executed on the 27th February 1902.

All Australians are encouraged to fly or display the Australian National Flag and to celebrate Australian National Flag Day on 3 September each year. Australian National Flag Day was proclaimed in 1996.

Here are some ideas to help celebrate Australian National Flag Day: Conduct a flag-raising ceremony. Business and organisations which don’t have a flagpole may wish to display the Australian National Flag in the public areas of their buildings, such as foyers. Fly from your own home.  Display from your car. We have a most beautiful and one of the most impressive and recognizable flags in the world. Every display should be befitting the national emblem. There is no restriction in flying the flag as stated by the then Prime Minister, Ben Chifley in a press statement of 1947. Let’s safeguard it and be proud of it.

Reg A. Watson is a Tasmanian author & historian.  He is also President of the Australian National Flag Association (Tas)