Friday, April 24, 2015

45,000 Australian Fathers Are Fighting! Will you help. ANZAC DAY 2015

It IS because we hate war and what it does to those who fight and the legacy of pain, anguish and anxiety its bestows on families for generations, that we speak of those who served. We don't glorify war by recognizing their participation we simply state the facts and acknowledge that because of their sacrifice our generation and hopefully generations to come will never have to give of so many sons and daughters that they gave in that first great war World War One.  Lest We Forget? How could we? White Australia was such a young nation still fresh from their original homeland and the allegiance was strong.

According to the Australian War Memorial the requirements in August 1914 for enlistment in the First World War, Australian Imperial Force was 18-35 years, height of 5ft 6 inches and chest measurement of 34 inches.  In 'June 1915 the age range and minimum height requirements were changed to 18–45 years and 5ft 2in, with the minimum height being lowered again to 5ft in April 1917. During the first year of the war approximately 33 percent of all volunteers were rejected. However, with relaxation of physical standards of age and height, as well as dental and ophthalmic fitness, previously ineligible men were now eligible for enlistment'. 

This extension of age enabled my grandfather Charles Winter Clarke, who was forty four and a half years old to enlist at Camberwell, Victoria (not far from where he lived in 13 Bellet Street) in July 1917. He was, surprisingly one of only 255 people from middle class Camberwell who enlisted in the AIF. And I mention this because apparently those from less affluent suburbs like Richmond were more likely to enlist. Given the average age of men who enlisted in WW1 was 23 years old and they were generally single, it appears that Charles was an anomaly because of his age and the fact that he was married with eight children, however, it it perhaps exactly THAT which inspired him to volunteer. There was also a certain amount of pressure on family men with propaganda posters instigated by the Australian Government such as this one, which would have been hard to ignore.
Image of a Australian World War One recruiting poster, courtesy of the Australian War Memorial. (Copyright the A.W.M.)
Or this one, which was to sway public vote in the plebiscite on conscription. Note that unlike other countries Australia did not bring in conscription and all who fought in WW1 were volunteers!
Poster by Norman Lindsay.,_1916
A scheme has been devised by the Quarter- master-General of the Military Forces, by which farrier-sergeants and shoeing smiths of light horse and artillery units may secure superior training to fit them for their special military duties. He has Issued Instructions that at all camp classes shall be arranged under the direction of veterinary officers, at which demonstrations and lectures shall be given with regard to shoeing, feeding, first aid, and horse management generally. Certificates will be issued by the instructing officers as "students" become qualified. During camps of training the shoeing of horses will be done in the veterinary lines as part of the practical course. (The Sydney Morning Herald, Saturday 28 November, 1914)

After enlisting in the AIF and spending time in the Broadmeadows Training Camp, a few months later in September 1917 Charles requested (indeed begged) to be transferred from the military camp in Broadmeadows to the Light Horse Regiment because, in his words 'there seemed to be more vacancies and more suitable to me as a farrier with a fair veterinary experience'. When Charles came to Melbourne he worked as veterinarian/farrier and demonstrator at Melbourne Veterinary College, 40 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy.

Letter from Charles 1917
E.F. J. Bordeax a veterinary surgeon and lecturer at the college provided a reference so that Charles could be transferred to the 4th Light Horse Regiment.

Letter of Reference 1917
Charles Winter Clarke

Charles Winter Clarke was born in 1873 near Warwick, Queensland and it is more than likely that he learnt his trade as a farrier whilst growing up on a farm. Indeed, men from the farming districts were more heavily represented in the Light Horse and although Charles lived in Camberwell, Victoria his early years were experienced in rural Queensland. Before Charles enlisted he and his wife Catherine had eight children - William, Arthur, Olive, Jessie, Charles, Catherine, Reginald and George. If he had been killed in WW1 I would never have existed because Catherine gave birth to my father David in 1920, followed by Margaret and Agnes, who unfortunately drowned at Elwood beach in 1935 at the tender ages of 13 and 11.

ANZAC day is not only about Gallipoli it's about all Australians who served in all wars and there were many Clarke men including my father David Henry Clarke, who I have mentioned before on this blog who joined up. Click here.
David Henry Clarke
So, this is my homage and my comment on ANZAC day, of course I have written about it before, if you wish to read what I've written click on this link.

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