The Chronicles of a Gay Gordon
by Jose Maria Gordon
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An amusing incident occurred at a place called Derdepoort, some ten miles outside Pretoria, where one of our columns, under General Hutton, was holding a section of the defences of the capital. I had dispatched their supplies of winter clothing to them, and it was decided to issue them on a Sunday afternoon. Amongst the thousands of cases that my depots were handling were many containing presents of tobacco, pipes, books, and so on, to the men of the contingents. When the unpacking of those that had arrived at Derdepoort had taken place on the Sunday afternoon it was discovered that several very large ones contained women's and children's garments of all kinds and descriptions. The Tommies were not slow in appreciating the situation. The sounds of hearty laughter were soon ringing throughout the camp. I heard it in my tent, where I was taking a quiet afternoon nap. I went out to see what was happening. It was indeed a quaint sight. An amateur fancy dress ball was being held, and anything more comical it is difficult to imagine. The explanation of the arrival of the costumes was soon made clear. An association of ladies had been formed in New Zealand with the object of supplying clothing for the Boer women and children in the refugee camps that had been established by us for them in South Africa. The cases containing the clothing had been forwarded to Derdepoort by mistake.

During Lord Roberts's stay in Pretoria it was discovered that a plot was set on foot to kidnap the Commander-in-Chief. It was, however, nipped in the bud. One of the leaders was an officer of the Transvaal State Permanent Artillery. The plot, of course, failed and the officer was brought to trial and duly shot. Tommy enjoyed his bit of fun over the attempt to kidnap Lord Roberts. At that time Lady Roberts and her daughters were at Pretoria, and the Tommies thought that it wouldn't be so bad if they kidnapped Lady Roberts, but they had the strongest objection to losing Bobs.

Previous to the Battle of Diamond Hill a short armistice was arranged for. The commanding officer of the Boers opposed to us at the time was General Louis Botha. The military situation then was a difficult one. Had it not been that just then General De Wet, in the north-eastern part of the Orange River Colony, had become suddenly and successfully aggressive, it was probable that General Botha would have come to terms. However, as the result of De Wet's action he decided to carry on. The interesting point in the incident was the fact that General Botha's wife was selected as our emissary. Probably it was the first time, and the last, that the wife of an enemy's general acted in such a capacity.

On our arrival in Pretoria the whole of the conditions appertaining to the civil life of the town had to be reorganized. Previous to its occupation by us Kruger had ordered that all Boer families who had members serving in their forces and who occupied leased houses could do so free of rent, while men in business with relatives fighting could occupy their leased premises at half the usual rents. This disability on the part of the property owners to obtain their rents was at once removed by Lord Roberts. In order to give effect to this decision it was necessary to appoint officials. Practically what was really required was a sort of glorified bum-bailiff, with the necessary assistance, the bum-bailiff holding a position similar to that of a magistrate. I was asked to suggest the name of a senior officer of the Australians who would be suitable. I did so. But the point arose by what name was the appointment to be designated? I don't remember who was the happy originator of the name, but it shortly appeared in General Orders that Colonel Ricardo, of the Queensland Forces, had been appointed "High Commissioner of Ejectments" at Pretoria. Surely a name worthy of Gilbert and Sullivan.

I was lunching one day at the Pretoria Club when Bennet Burleigh, the well-known war correspondent, told me that he had just lost the services of his dispatch rider and asked me to recommend him a good daring rider and first-class bushman to take his place. All through life I have found that trifles often have serious consequences. I just happened, on my way to the club, to have seen crossing the square Morant, otherwise Corporal Buller, of the South Australian Contingent. I had not seen him for some considerable time. I bethought myself at once that Morant would be just the man to fit the billet. If I had not happened to see him I should certainly not have thought of him and Morant's career might have been a very different one. I told Burleigh that Morant was a gentleman, a good rider and bushman, and I didn't think he personally feared anything. Burleigh thanked me and offered to take him at once. Next morning Morant became his dispatch rider.

Occasionally, after this, during the advance to Koomatipoort, Morant would turn up and pay me a visit. He usually arrived with a bundle of any old newspapers he could get, which he very gravely and without a smile handed over to me, hoping that they would be very welcome. But there was a look in his eye that I knew well. "Have a whisky and soda, Morant?" I'd say. "Well, sir, I don't think it would be so bad. I would like one very much." He would then settle himself down comfortably, light his pipe and start to tell me all sorts of bits of news that had come his way. I often had but a few minutes to give him and had to leave him in possession, telling him to look after himself and be happy. Which he did.

He was well pleased with his job, looked a typical war correspondent himself, and was making good money. I heard no more until, some months later, I received a note from him from England telling me that he had been taking a short holiday and was returning to South Africa. He was joining a friend of his, Major Hunt, and they proposed to raise an irregular corps on their arrival. The corps was raised, the "Bushveldt Carabiniers." This corps had nothing whatever to do with Australia. Nor could Morant himself lay any claim to being Australian. The corps was raised from Colonials and British, chiefly out of a job, then in South Africa. They appear to have had somewhat of a free hand in the operations which marked the latter portion of the campaign. Drives were taking place. Units were scattered, and to a certain extent had to be left to their own devices. The Bushveldt Carabiniers occupied for some time a wild region called The Splonken. While dealing with the Boers in that locality Major Hunt had, so it was officially reported, been murdered by the Boers, having been induced to approach a farm house on which a white flag was flying. The story goes that he was found lying dead on the stoep of the farm and that his body had been mutilated. Morant swore to avenge his friend's untimely end—it was reported that he had become engaged to Hunt's sister during his visit to England. He determined to give no quarter, and several prisoners who fell into his hands were promptly shot there and then. He and four other officers were, later on, in January, 1902, court-martialled on the charge of having personally committed or been accessory to the murder of twelve Boers. The five were found guilty, in different degrees. Handcock, Wilton and Morant were sentenced to death, and Morant was shot at Pretoria.

I am in a position to give a short account of Morant's last hours. When crossing over in the ss. Surrey from South Australia a man called John Morrow, who had been my groom for a couple of years in Adelaide, had become a close friend of Morant's. It was difficult to say why. Practically the only thing they had in common was their love for horseflesh. Morrow was quite an uneducated man. Morant was the opposite. Still, friends they were. When the Police Force for the protection of Pretoria was raised the majority of the men selected came from the Australians, and Morrow was one of them. Later on he had been appointed one of the warders at the jail. As bad fortune would have it, he was given charge of Morant and was with him the evening before he was shot. I had a long letter from Morrow, later on, enclosing a photograph of the officers concerned, which had been taken, evidently, about the time that the corps was raised. On the back of it was written in pencil: "Dear Jack. To-morrow morning I die. My love to my pals in Australia.—Morant." It was probable that these were the last words that Morant wrote. Morant died as he had lived. He faced his end bravely.

Part III



On my arrival at Adelaide I at last resumed my duties as Commandant after three and a half years' absence. The Government of South Australia did me the honour to promote me to the rank of brigadier-general, and the Governor informed me that I had received the Companionship of the Order of the Bath for my services in South Africa.

The Act to constitute the Commonwealth of Australia received the Royal assent on June 10, 1900. The provisions that had been considered in framing it had received lengthy and most careful consideration on the part of the colonies concerned. There had been no hurry and no unnecessary speeding up. The history of each of the colonies tells us that they had always worked on constitutional lines, and that they had not been slow in adopting measures which had proved of benefit and a credit to those who first put them on the statute books. No point that might create serious discussion, or mar the initial success of the Commonwealth had been overlooked. The ablest brains of all the colonies had worked in unison, a great achievement in these days of selfishness and personal greed.

Everything was in readiness. The elections for the Commonwealth Parliament took place, and the first Government was formed. Sir William Lyne was then Premier of the Mother State. He was charged with the formation of the first Ministry, but was not successful in his task. The responsibility then fell upon the shoulders of Sir Edmund Barton, who gathered round him what was at the time called "the Ministry of all the Talents." The Premier of practically every State was included. Then came March 1, 1901, when the actual constitutional functions of the Commonwealth started. For some time previously, in fact even before the Act had received Royal assent, the question who was to hold the all-important appointment of Governor-General had been exercising the public mind. In Australia itself there seemed to be only one opinion. The Earl of Hopetoun was easily favourite.

It may be safely said that no Governor of any of the Australian colonies up to that time had so successfully represented the Throne. Those who were in Melbourne on his arrival when he became Governor of Victoria well remember a man of somewhat light build, middle height, pale, clean-shaven, youthful in appearance. A few minutes' conversation with him satisfied one of his affable ways and genial disposition. There was nothing hard in his features, but the lines about the lower part of his face would set firmly and resolutely when required, while his eyes, when looking at you straight in the face, left no doubt of his strength of character. A man of parts, a keen sportsman and a reliable personal friend. From the very first day of his arrival both his charming countess and himself won the hearts of the people. One may almost say that it was love at first sight, if this phrase can be applied to popular feeling. The outward signs of the approval spontaneously given to the appointment ripened during his term of office into personal affection, which was returned by both the holders of the high office, and became deeper with each year of their stay in Melbourne. The sister colonies were not slow in appreciating the good opinion formed of him by the Victorians. Whenever he visited the neighbouring Governors he received splendid welcome. When his term of office expired and he returned home he carried with him the good wishes of all. It is not to be wondered at, therefore, that his appointment as the first Governor-General was looked upon as a most desirable one.

The Government had decided that the Governor-General's first landing in Australia should be at the capital of the Mother Colony, New South Wales, and it had been arranged that the then flagship of the naval squadron in Australia, the Orlando, should meet the mail steamer on which Their Excellencies were travelling, at Adelaide, and convey them to Sydney Harbour. I remember well the morning the steamer arrived at Adelaide. We had heard by cable from Western Australia that His Excellency was anything but well, but we were not prepared to see him looking so ill. It was with difficulty that he was transferred to the Orlando, and we wondered whether he would recover sufficiently to take his part in the arduous functions ahead of him. However, though always somewhat on the delicate side, he was full of grit and determination, and, when the time came, he was able to fulfil all his obligations, much to the delight of everybody.

Sydney had surpassed itself in the arrangements to celebrate the unique occasion. I don't remember ever seeing decorations so profuse or in such good taste. The whole of the principal streets were a mass of colour. Venetian masts lined the pavements at short intervals. Endless festoons of evergreens and flowers crossed overhead. Balconies and windows were swathed in bunting and flags; thousands of electric lamps lit up the decorations and made the city a blaze of light. What shall I say for the Harbour? Looking towards this from the roof garden of a club in Macquarie Street it was a sight to be remembered but difficult to describe. The surface of the water, smooth as oil, dark as the overhanging sky, reflected every one of the myriad lights on the ships resting on its surface, and the houses lining the foreshores. Endless ferry-boats, like things of fire alive, rushed hither and thither. And when the great display of fireworks began, and hundreds of rockets rose from ship and shore, there seemed to be no harbour water, for the reflections of the roaring rockets were seen apparently to dive into the earth.

The day of the "Proclamation" came. A bright and sunny morning, followed by a real hot day. The route of the procession was over four miles long. Immense crowds lined the streets, and all available space in the great Centennial Park was covered with people. What a day to remember! The Commonwealth of Australia became an actual fact. All the aspirations and all the desires of the colonies to be one and united were consummated on that day. What a future lies before it! Before its twentieth birthday it has made history of which any young nation may well be proud.

The next and most important function, namely, the opening of the first Commonwealth Parliament by H.R.H. the Duke of York, accompanied by the Duchess (their present Majesties), took place in Melbourne. Their Royal Highnesses, as may be remembered, travelled to Australia in the Ophir. Melbourne was not to be outdone in enthusiasm or loyalty. She vied hard with Sydney to make herself worthy of the occasion, and well she did it. But, somehow, she seemed to lack variety in effect. This I put down—I may be wrong—to the fact that Melbourne is a newer city than picturesque old Sydney, and that, of course, Melbourne does not possess Sydney's harbour. The whole of the royal functions in Melbourne, as well as those that took place in the individual States, during the visits of their Royal Highnesses, were carried out with complete success.

The Duke took the keenest interest in everything, and insisted on getting information on manifold points of detail. I may refer to a case in point. At that time the South African War was still on, but numbers of soldiers had returned to Australia, amongst them many who had been granted commissions while serving in South Africa. Some of the men were members of the Permanent Forces before the war. As these forces were limited in number, there were no vacancies to employ them as officers on their return, so it had been decided by the Government that if they chose they could rejoin, reverting to the rank of non-commissioned officers they had held previously, and be granted the honorary rank of their grade on relinquishing their appointment. The men concerned were by no means satisfied, and the matter came before the notice of His Royal Highness.

Just before the Ophir left Adelaide on the return journey to Western Australia I was sent for on board. His Royal Highness asked me to explain to him the position of these men. He strongly objected to the action that had been taken, with the obvious result that the question was adjusted by the Government quite satisfactorily. The chief officials of the Commonwealth had been appointed, namely, the Governor-General, the Prime Minister and the members of the Government. The Members of both Houses of Parliament had been elected, had taken the oath of allegiance, and were in session. The three chief departments, which were automatically to be taken over by the Government from the States were: first, the Defence Forces; secondly, the Customs Department; thirdly, the postal services. As regarded the customs and the post office, these services had been, in each State, under the able administration of competent civil servants. The task set for the Government was simply the selection of chiefs from amongst the officials of the existing State departments considered best fitted for the position.

The selection of an officer for the position of Commander-in-Chief of the Commonwealth forces was quite a different matter. While the general organization of the forces of the individual colonies had been run on somewhat similar lines, there were many anomalies to be eradicated and many difficult problems to be solved. The seniority and other claims of the whole of the officers employed on the permanent staffs of the different States had first to be taken into consideration in the military reorganization. This task alone necessitated much care and thought in view of the many fairly well paid positions that would be at the disposal of the Commander-in-Chief. Then the inauguration and organization of the central administrative offices and State commands. Further, and all-important, the preparation of the estimates for the yearly expenditure at the disposal of the Commander-in-Chief, for on this naturally depended the establishment to be maintained. Last and not least, a man possessing the thorough confidence of the Government, an officer of high repute, with much tact, was required. At times when I had been riding across the veldt in South Africa with General Hutton we had spoken of the coming Federation of the Australian colonies. He was always watching the news from Australia. When it was evident that the Act of Parliament initiating the Commonwealth would receive the Royal assent I became quite satisfied that Hutton had settled in his own mind to be the first Commander-in-Chief. As far as I remember Hutton first came to the front in the operations in Egypt, when he made a special study of mounted infantry. He was a firm believer in the usefulness of this—then—new branch of the service. Later on, when he was appointed Commandant in New South Wales, he found at hand the very material to train as mounted riflemen. Australians, as we all know, are excellent horsemen and first-class shots. The nature of the country, with the probable forms of attack to which it might be subjected, lends itself to their use as mounted riflemen rather than as cavalry. While Commandant in New South Wales he devoted much of his energy towards the training of the mounted troops in this direction. An able soldier, firm in purpose—somewhat too firm sometimes—he did not spare himself in the interests of his men. Fortunately for him he was the happy possessor of considerable private means, which, needless to say, helps towards independence. But what about tact? During his term as Commandant in Sydney he had several differences with those in power. That he did not always succeed in getting his own way goes without saying. But at any rate when he left New South Wales the forces of that State were certainly more efficient than when he took over the command. His experiences afterwards in Canada were undoubtedly of value to him, though it would appear that an unfortunate disagreement between himself and the Ministers there led to his resignation of that appointment. Owing to these two former appointments, and to his having had the command of the Overseas Brigade in South Africa, it was evident that his claims to be the first Commander-in-Chief in Australia would receive consideration. The first Minister of Defence appointed by the Prime Minister, Sir Edmund Barton, was the Hon. Mr. Dickson, a Queenslander, who unfortunately died within ten days of his appointment.

Sir John Forrest, who was afterwards raised to the peerage, and who since died while on his way home to take his seat in the House of Lords, took Mr. Dickson's place as Minister of Defence. I remember quite well dining with him one night in Melbourne when he asked me what would I think if Hutton were appointed Commander-in-Chief. I told him that it wasn't so much what I thought, rather that, as he knew him personally pretty well himself, what did he think? He answered that he thought it would be all right. "Well," I said, "you know best. It's you, as Minister, that'll have to battle with him."

"I won't quarrel with him. It takes two to make a quarrel."

"All right," I said. "I presume, from what you've told me, that the appointment is practically made. Time alone will tell." General Hutton was appointed, and within nine months the relations between him and Sir John became, to say the least of it, more than strained.

Next in order of importance as regarded appointments was, to my mind, that of private secretary to the Governor-General. If there is an office that requires consummate tact, knowledge and even-minded temperament, commend me to that of private secretary to a Governor-General. In his case Lord Hopetoun was fully satisfied to avail himself of the services of Captain Wallington, with whom he was already intimately acquainted. Captain Wallington had served in the capacity of private secretary to several Governors. I wonder, if he happens to read these lines, whether he will agree with me that perhaps during his long term of office he enjoyed the quiet days he spent in Adelaide with Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton, who was then Governor, as much as any of his time in other colonies. Captain Wallington, now Sir Edward, must forgive me if I remind him of the soubriquet by which his personal friends knew him—"Better not." All his friends rejoice in the fact that he is now filling a very high position of trust and enjoying the best of health.

I have been following, if you have noticed, the sequence of appointments which it devolved upon the Government to make in initiating the Commonwealth. I will continue this plan as regards the senior positions under the Commander-in-Chief. At the time of General Hutton's arrival the commands in the several States were held by the following officers:

New South Wales: Major-General French (late) Royal Artillery.

Victoria: Sir Charles Holled Smith's term of office as Commandant had expired shortly before the inauguration of Federation, and the post was held by my old friend General Downes, who, on his retirement finally from the South Australian Command, had settled in Melbourne, and had been requested by the Victorian Government to take on the duties of Commandant temporarily.

Queensland: Major-General Finn, seconded from the 21st Hussars.

South Australia: I was still Commandant.

Western Australia: Colonel Francis.

Tasmania: Colonel Legge, (late) Royal Artillery.

Pending the expiration of the terms of service of Generals French and Finn in New South Wales and Queensland the first important vacancy to be filled was that of Commandant of Victoria, held temporarily by General Downes. This was offered to me and I accepted it. When the appointment was announced Kingston was the first to send for me to congratulate me. I felt, indeed, short of words to thank him for what he had done for me. I owed so much of my success to him. He was kind enough to say "that he could honestly assure me that if my work had not been satisfactory I would not have had his support and that of his colleagues and Parliament; that he was sorry I was leaving South Australia, and he would prophesy still higher promotion for me in the future."

These words, coupled with the fact that I was once more to follow my old friend General Downes's footsteps and occupy his chair as Commandant of Victoria, set me thinking.

I certainly could not follow General Downes again to higher positions; his retirement from active military work was final. It was useless to seek for a second "vision," but it was in my power to renew the resolution I made years previously, and, remembering Gordon of Khartoum's maxim, "Never allow your pleasure to interfere with your duty," I fully determined there and then not to rest until I had reached the highest position in the military forces of the Commonwealth, and justified Kingston's prophecy.

On being elected to the Federal Parliament Kingston severed his connexion with the South Australian Government. It was not long before he made his mark as a member of the Federal Cabinet. The influence of his strong personality, his high attainments and sincere belief in the splendid future of the young Commonwealth, marked him as a coming Prime Minister. When this reward seemed to be within his grasp a serious illness overtook him. After a long spell of enforced idleness he returned to Parliament. He was a changed man. His constitution had been impaired beyond recovery. A relapse followed which resulted fatally. A great man cut off in the prime of his life—regretted by all—a loss to the Commonwealth.



My wife and I took up our residence in Melbourne, securing a comfortable house not far from "The Grange," which had been the official home of the Commandant of Melbourne in the earlier days and was then occupied by General Hutton.

Four years of steady, solid work followed, during which General Hutton laid the foundations for a sound organization of the future forces of the Commonwealth. Contingents of Federal Troops were raised, trained and dispatched to South Africa. It was a time worth living for from an official point of view.

Two special occasions are worth noting: one the presentation of colours to the units which had taken part in the South African War, and the other the visit of the Japanese Fleet. With regard to the former, King Edward, ever ready to recognize the services of those who had joined the armies to fight for the Empire, presented Colours to such units of the mounted Commonwealth Forces which had sent volunteers to the war. The Colours had arrived in Melbourne, and Colour parties from the units concerned throughout the Commonwealth were ordered to assemble in Melbourne for the presentation ceremony. A parade of the metropolitan troops took place at Albert Park. It was an inspiring sight, the first practical recognition the troops had received of the services they and their comrades had so well and so readily given for the Empire. This occasion marked only the beginning of the enthusiasm which the thoughtful action of His Majesty created throughout the Commonwealth. The Colours, so dearly valued by the recipients, were welcomed not only by the soldiers but also by the residents of the districts to which they belonged.

I hardly feel inclined to enter into the question of the visit of the Japanese Fleet, either from a political or from a diplomatic point of view. At the time when it took place there was no Anglo-Japanese Treaty. The naval German base in north-eastern Papua was not established. Unquestionably the peril to Australia of attack by Japan existed. Upon what grounds the Japanese decided to send their fleet in force to Australia it is difficult to imagine. The Japanese Government must have been fully aware of the fact that Japan was a menace to Australia. What was their object in proposing to pay a visit which was to bring them within the territorial waters of a country which naturally looked upon them as a possible enemy nation? I have failed to get any information on this subject.

Whether the Japanese Government approached the Government of Australia in the matter has never been made public. The fact remains that their fleet did arrive in Australian waters, that all possible courtesy was tendered to them, and that they were given every opportunity to learn much about Australia and its social and economic conditions, and to become personally acquainted with its ports and harbours. The visit of the Japanese Fleet was not popular with the public at large. The Japanese have never been personae gratae to Australians. Still, when they arrived they were received in an honest, friendly way.

A very interesting point arose with reference to their visit. We were at the time about to hold a review of the metropolitan military forces in Melbourne by the Governor-General, and it was suggested to me, as Commandant, that the Japanese admiral should be invited to send units under his command to take part thereat. It was my duty to point out to the Commander-in-Chief that there existed an international custom that no troops of a foreign nation were allowed to land under arms on British soil. As a matter of fact, I believe this rule applies to all European nations.

In my mind I doubted whether an invitation to the Japanese Admiral to send units to take part in the review under the command of—to them—an alien officer, and to appear without arms, would be acceptable. The invitation, however, was sent, and an answer was received to the effect that the Admiral would be glad to avail himself of it, provided his men would be allowed to carry their arms. It then became necessary to obtain the approval of the home authorities to permit them to do so. Approval was given. The review duly took place, and some four thousand Japanese sailors and marines took part in it. I think I am right in stating that this was the first time that a British officer commanded troops of a foreign country under arms in time of peace on British soil.

General Hutton's term of office was nearing its end. For some time previously a movement had been started to make a radical alteration in the organization of the forces. Its object was to do away with the position of Commander-in-Chief and substitute a small Army Council, assisted by a Military Board. This was following in the footsteps of what had already taken place at home, where the post of Commander-in-Chief had been abolished on the expiration of Lord Wolseley's term of office and the Army Council constituted.

Personally I was against the proposed change. From my point of view I looked upon it as a risky experiment. The reorganization of the military forces was still in progress and a master-mind with full responsibility was necessary to complete it. Further, the proposed constitution of a small Army Council and Military Board did not seem to me to be advisable. My objections were chiefly with reference to the constitution and duties laid down for the Military Board. I submitted a memorandum on the subject.

The experience I had gained while I held the appointment of Military Adviser to the Australian Colonies, 1897-99, had taught me how impossible it would be in time of war, or even in anticipation of a war, to obtain supplies of warlike stores for Australia, not only from the Continent of Europe (whence at that time even the Home Government had to import many essential requirements, such as searchlights), but from England itself. No further example of this need be quoted than the one given by me with reference to the scarcity of small-arm ammunition at the time of the declaration of war against South Africa.

I had determined therefore that on my return to Australia I would set myself the task of establishing an Australian arsenal and an explosive factory.

The advent of the Boer War and afterwards the inauguration of the Commonwealth of Australia necessarily postponed any practical action. However, on taking up my duties as Commandant of Victoria under the Commonwealth Government, I commenced to school public opinion in favour of becoming self-supporting in a matter so intimately and seriously affecting the material interests and welfare of its people. As regarded the arsenal, Australia possessed every ingredient required for the manufacture of every nature of gun, from a 9.2 to a maxim, from .303 rifle and bayonet to a service revolver. Coal, iron ore, copper, wood, tin, zinc were there in plenty.

Railway engines, agricultural implements, mining machinery were all being manufactured locally. Why not guns, mountings, rifles, and so on? Practically similar conditions applied to explosives.

The change from the Martini-Henry to the .303 Lee-Metford, and later on from the long to the short Lee-Metford, left Australia in a sad plight. It was some years before the Home Government were able to supply the orders sent from Australia. All through that time the local forces and rifle club members suffered from inability to obtain up-to-date rifles. As a few thousands of the new rifles arrived they were issued to the partially-paid force, and their discarded ones were passed on to the volunteers, and finally, when actually worn out, to the members of the rifle clubs, who mostly hung them up as trophies of a past era over their mantle-pieces at their homes, and bought up-to-date match rifles at their own expense.

The situation was becoming grave; discontent was rife; interest in rifle shooting was waning fast. The time had come for a determined effort to force the Government to take action.

One of many curious facts which it is difficult to account for is the apathy which often takes hold of a Government when a plain businesslike proposition is put before them. My long experience in dealing with Colonial Governments had taught me that the surest way of achieving one's object was to take into one's confidence the leaders of the Opposition for the time being, convince them of the soundness and merits of the proposal, and induce them to adopt the scheme as a plank of their own policy. Those in power generally resented the Opposition's interference, and at times just out of "sheer cussedness," refused to move in the matter at issue, forgetting that more than probably in a few months they themselves would be sitting disconsolate and minus their Ministerial salaries on the Opposition benches, while their late opponents scored heavily by quickly giving effect to the proposals they themselves had, through that "sheer cussedness," failed to adopt in the interests of the country. Considering how short-lived Cabinets were in the early years of Federation, there was little risk, if any, in carrying out the above plan.

As a very heavy expenditure would have to be incurred in establishing an arsenal, small arms and explosives factory, it was incumbent on me to prove to the Government that such an expenditure was not only justifiable from a national insurance point of view but that it could be made actually a money-saving proposition, apart from the fact that, by utilizing Australian products and labour, as well as local inventive talent, all the money spent would remain in the country instead of passing on into the hands of strangers.

In order to ascertain the probable expenditure of a plant capable of turning out from thirty to forty thousand rifles per annum, I personally arranged for confidential agents to make thorough inquiries in England, America and Germany, and while awaiting their report to me I gave my attention to the selection of a suitable site.

The coal mining town of Lithgow, situated some eighty miles west of Sydney, possessed so many advantages that my choice was soon made. Leaving Sydney, the plain extends as far as Penrith, which lies at the foot of a high range happily named the Blue Mountains. The train which serves the western districts climbs its way to Katoomba and Mount Victoria, the highest point, through wonderfully picturesque scenery, and then descends rapidly to low levels, emerging at the town of Lithgow, a branch line connecting it with the southern railways system via Blayney and Young. The coal deposits at Lithgow are extensive; large fields of iron ore are available at no great distance further west. Iron and steel works on a big scale were in process of being established. Every consideration pointed to the suitability of the site, and, as a matter of fact, no voice was raised against it.

Later on I received the reports of my agents. Those from Germany were unsatisfactory. A close examination of the English and American estimates of cost showed that the English prices were exorbitant, and, in addition, the time-limit I had set for the delivery of and setting up the machinery at Lithgow, namely, eighteen months, could not be guaranteed by the English firms.

Armed now with full information, I submitted the proposal to the Government, the Minister for Defence at the time being my old acquaintance, Mr. Playford, from South Australia.

The Press and the leaders of the Opposition supported the proposal, and the Government went so far as to approve of inquiries being instituted by the Defence Department as to the probable cost and other points of importance. Mr. Playford appointed one of our officers then in England to co-operate with the High Commissioner for the purpose. I had not deemed it necessary to inform Mr. Playford of my private inquiries, simply pointing out to him that in my opinion the factory could be established at a satisfactory figure.

Probably through lack of sufficient experience, the result of the inquiries by the officer selected was a report as to cost which practically damned the proposition. Mr. Playford was annoyed that I had so insistently expressed my opinion that the cost would not be prohibitory, and, as he put it in his curt way, he told me I had practically made a fool of him. I did not allow myself to be put out by his rudeness, as General Owen had done, but smiled and asked him if the Government had decided to turn the proposal down definitely. If so I would be obliged if he could let me have an official minute to that effect, as I had another course to suggest for his consideration. On receipt of his minute I requested a further interview with him. My new proposal was that I was prepared to give up my appointment and establish the factory myself, provided the Government agreed to take 20,000 rifles a year for seven years at the price which we were then paying the War Office, and that at the end of the seven years the Government could take the concern over at a valuation if they so desired. This offer I put in writing and I let it be widely known that I had made it.

Mr. Playford was once more annoyed. He could not understand how it could pay me to throw up my career to undertake a job which his advisers had reported upon so adversely. If he had been let down by them, my offer accepted, and I scored a success, what opinion would the public form of him? In order to avoid falling between two stools he decided to recommend to the Government to call for tenders throughout the world. I had impressed upon him that this was essential in order to test the bona fides of the tenderers. Tenders were called for. I had gained my point, for I knew that if the confidential reports of my agents were fairly correct, the amount of the American tenders would be close on 50 per cent. lower than any others, as no European country, bar England and Germany, was in a position to undertake the order. I accordingly then informed Mr. Playford of my views on the matter and patiently waited for the day when the tenders were due. I shall not forget Mr. Playford's chagrin when he found that my forecast had been verified to the letter. If I remember correctly the American lowest tender was some L97,000, the lowest English one some L140,000. As the tenderers were a well-known firm of high standing in the United States (contractors to their Government) their offer was accepted and the factory was established at Lithgow.

I had been successful all round, and scored at last off Playford.

General Hutton left Australia; the Army Council and Military Board were established. General Finn, a cavalry officer, who, at the time of the inauguration of the Commonwealth in 1901 was Commandant of Queensland, and had afterwards succeeded General French as Commandant in New South Wales, was appointed Inspector-General. General Hoad became Chief of the General Staff and Senior Member of the Military Board.

My term of office as Commandant of Victoria expired. I was offered the command of "The Mother State," New South Wales, which became vacant on the appointment of General Finn as Inspector-General. I accepted. It was one more step to my final goal.



Shortly after I took up the command in New South Wales an incident occurred which gave the first real impetus to the serious consideration and final adoption by the Government of the system of universal service as proposed by me eleven years before when Commandant in Adelaide. I had arranged to read a paper to my officers in New South Wales. Owing to the fact that our own military institute was not sufficiently large to accommodate them we had made arrangements to hire one of the big public halls, and we had decided to ask the Lord Mayor of Sydney, Alderman Allan Taylor, to take the chair and to send invitations to many of the chief citizens to be present. My object in reading this paper was to push on the question of universal service. The title I had selected for the lecturette was, "What has Australia done for the Australians, and What are Australians doing for Australia?" After I had finished the Lord Mayor made a few remarks with reference to the subject at issue and concluded by moving a vote of thanks. This was really outside our practice at the institute. I thanked the Lord Mayor for his kind remarks, and in quite a colloquial way said that it was distressing to go round the public parks about Sydney on holidays and Saturday afternoons and see thousands of young men sitting on fences smoking cigarettes, content to loaf and look on while a few men played games. It happened that the previous Saturday had been the last day of one of the cricket Test Matches, against England played at the Sydney Cricket Ground. The attendance thereat had been enormous, as usual—some thirty-five thousand people. The next morning I was astonished when I got the morning papers to see the following headings: "The Citizens of Sydney insulted.... Forty thousand loafers at the Sydney Cricket Ground. So says our new Commandant, General Gordon."

Then followed a statement to the effect that while addressing the officers under his command and many eminent citizens the evening before, the general had stated that on the previous Saturday he had been present at the Sydney Cricket Ground and had seen thousands of loafers whose time would have been far better taken up if they had been devoting it to fitting themselves for the defence of their country, and that they (the newspaper reporters) considered it a very undeserved reflection on the thousands who were watching the big tussle at the Test Match.

Knowing full well that these headings would have been telegraphed to the Press throughout Australia and have appeared therein that same morning, I at once wired to the Military Board, for the information of the Minister, to the effect that the newspaper reports were inaccurate. I was reported also to have stated that I had ready for the consideration of the Government a scheme which would form the basis upon which to found a system of universal service. This latter part of their report was correct. I had made that statement. I had prepared the scheme in Adelaide eleven years before.

Shortly after sending my wire to the Military Board I received one from them drawing my attention to the Press reports and requesting an explanation as to their correctness as regarded the "thousands of loafers," and further desiring to be informed if the statement as to the scheme for universal service was accurate, and, if so, instructing me to forward it for the information of the Minister by the first post. My own telegram, which had crossed theirs, had answered their first question. With reference to the second I notified them that the scheme would be posted that afternoon. I can reproduce here the actual document which I sent down. It read as follows:

SCHEME for the defence of the Commonwealth of Australia, based on the recognition by the citizens of the Commonwealth of the personal responsibility on the part of one and all to prepare themselves in time of peace so as to enable them to bear their share of the burden of the protection of the Commonwealth and Empire in time of war.



It is submitted that:

(a) The national growth of a nation depends on the recognition of the personal responsibility of that nation's citizens to develop her industrial and commercial interests and the integrity thereof.

(b) In the present economic conditions of a young nation such as Australia (an island continent containing an area of practically one-third of the British Empire whose population totals only some five millions of inhabitants), it is not considered advisable or even practicable to establish and maintain a standing army of sufficient strength to enable the nation to put its trust for its protection on such a standing army and, thereby, relieve the rest of its male inhabitants from the responsibility of service in case of an invasion.

The maintenance of such a standing army would, it is urged, be a direct loss, as it would severely cripple the best interests of the economic development of the nation in time of peace, specially in the early years of the nation's growth, and it would entail an expenditure not justifiable under such circumstances.

(c) On the other hand, it is contested that, if a system of training every young man can be devised:

1stly, To have a sound mind in a sound body;

2ndly, To submit to military discipline;

3rdly, To shoot straight;


4thly, To learn sufficient drill to enable him to fulfil his duties in the ranks with such knowledge and intelligence as will give him the necessary confidence in himself; and that system is so carried out that it does not interfere in any way with the industrial, professional, or commercial avocations of such young men, then the foundation will be laid of a national defence force based on the highest principles of citizenship which will be of the greatest value for home defence or to fight away from her shores in the interests of the Empire.



The system aims at securing for every young man:

1st, A sound mind in a sound body;

2nd, A disciplined mind;

3rd, The ability to shoot straight;


4th, A sufficient knowledge of drill to give him confidence in the field.

The first requirement—that of securing "a sound mind in a sound body"—can only be successfully accomplished by a very carefully thought out and progressive method of training the mental and physical qualities of our boys from the time when they first go to school. The training of the youthful minds may be safely left to the Education Departments; it is necessarily commensurate with the individual capabilities of the boys.

The physical training can be accomplished, and is already so accomplished in certain schools, by a progressive system of physical culture. There is no difficulty in providing a manual of physical culture for boys which shall be progressive and uniform in character, and which can be taught in all schools by the teachers themselves; in fact, one has been already prepared at my suggestion by Mr. Weber, Melbourne.

The second requirement—that of securing "a disciplined mind." Here again it is essential to commence to instil the principles which form a disciplined mind as early as possible in the boy's early youth. Self-denial, obedience to the orders of their superiors, and respect and affection for their elders, are perhaps the most important of these principles.

This task may again be safely left to the officers of the Education Department.

It will be seen, therefore, that the first two requirements may be obtained by a system, as advocated above, to be imparted to all boys in their early youth by those who are charged with their elementary education, and it is urged that such system should be uniform and form part of the school curriculum, the teachers being required to qualify to impart the necessary instruction.

The third requirement—"the ability to shoot straight." Here again the earlier in life a boy is taught to handle firearms safely the more probable it will be that he will become a straight shot in his manhood.

In this respect it is pointed out that such instruction could not be expected, except, in some cases, to be given by the teachers, who could not reasonably be called upon to qualify themselves to teach the use of the rifle as experts. It therefore becomes necessary that qualified instructors should be provided to attend all schools and superintend personally the training of such boys as shall prove their capabilities to be trusted in the actual use of the rifle with ball cartridge.

It will be seen that it is only in the attainment of this third requirement that an extra expenditure to that now incurred is required by the employment of expert instructors.

Now for the fourth requirement—"a sufficient knowledge of drill to give a man confidence in the field."

In this respect it is well to give such statistics as are available in order to grasp thoroughly the nature of difficulties that have to be encountered in achieving the object aimed at.

It is submitted that the statistics available for the State of New South Wales apply equally to the other States of the Commonwealth pro rata of their population.

In New South Wales in December, 1904, there were:

17,467 male children between the ages of 12 and 13 17,214 " " " " 13 " 14 16,666 " " " " 14 " 15 16,084 " " " " 15 " 16

Of the above number of male children the following were attending schools:

Public Private Between Schools. Schools. Total. Out of 12 and 13 years 12,650 3,160 15,810 17,467 13 " 14 " 11,400 2,840 14,240 17,214 14 " 15 " 6,080 2,080 8,160 16,666 15 " 16 " 2,400 1,240 3,640 16,084

It is evident that the falling off of 50 per cent. at the age of 14-15 years and of 75 per cent. at 15-16 years proves that the schools cannot and are not to be depended upon as the training ground of the nation's boyhood beyond the age of 14-15 years; and that at the very time when that training would be naturally expected, if continued, to reach the most satisfactory results, namely, from 15 to 18 years of age, the boys are removed from the schools, in natural compliance with the demands of the economic conditions of citizenship in the nation, and that unless some satisfactory means is devised to compulsorily compel those boys who have left school to continue to be trained up to the age of at least 19 years, the earliest age at which young men may be considered capable of undergoing the bodily fatigue necessary to give them sufficient knowledge of such drill as will ensure that confidence in the field so essential to success as a fighting unit, it would appear evident that the foundation previously laid by the attainment of the first and second requirements as a whole, and the third requirement in part, will remain a foundation only, and the superstructure thereon will not be completed.

It is on the above grounds that it is contested that the cadet system, as popularly understood, is not considered to be reliable as a solution to the fulfilment of the requirements laid down for the training of a citizen soldier.

It is now pointed out that it is reasonable to argue that:

1st. It may be considered equally undesirable to compel boys from 15 to 19 years of age as to compel young men from 18 to 23 years of age to be partially trained.

2ndly. It will hardly be denied that the partial training of young men from 18 to 25 years of age in the field will give better results than the training of boys from 15 to 19 years of age, and on these premises it is urged that, to attain the fourth requirement, all young men from 18 to 25 should be partially trained, and thereby build on the foundation laid down by the attainment of the 1st and 2nd requirements and part of the third.

But, can some practical means be suggested which will maintain the boys' interest in their work during the gap made by the period taken from the time that a boy leaves school and that when he reaches the age of 18, without interfering with the performance of those duties of his civil life for which he may be preparing himself?

The following suggestion is submitted, namely, the establishment in all centres of population of public gymnasia for the training in physical culture, and that rifle shooting by means of miniature ranges, and, further, the imposing upon those who employ lads up to 18 years of age, the obligation of enabling such lads to attend a course of instruction during each year at these gymnasia at such times as may be deemed advisable, provided such training is not made irksome to the lads themselves or detrimental to their employers' interests or their own.



The scheme proposed therefore comprises:

1st. A general uniform system of mental and physical culture in all schools up to the time when the boy leaves school.

2ndly. The scientific training necessary to develop a disciplined mind in all schools.

The above to be under the direct supervision of the Education Departments.

3rdly. The teaching of schoolboys to shoot straight under expert supervision.

4thly. The establishment of public gymnasia for the training in physical culture and rifle shooting up to 18 years for lads who have left school.

5thly. Universal annual partial training in drill, also the special encouragement of all manly sports without interference with their civil occupations.

And finally, the formation of rifle clubs for all citizens between 25 and 60 years of age throughout the Commonwealth, with the fullest facilities for the encouragement of rifle shooting.

This my scheme was adopted in its entirety. A study of the Act of Parliament instituting it will show that the whole of the provisions suggested above were fully met.

But to return to the consequences of the Press reports. I had called upon the editors to contradict the statements attributed to me as regarded the loafing on the cricket ground, but pointed out at the same time that I had fully meant what I had said with reference to the great waste of time and the failure on the part of thousands of young men to fit themselves for the defence of their country, owing to the absence of some form of legislation which would make it necessary for them to devote some of their time to the development of their physical and moral welfare. The Press, as a whole, fully acquitted me of any intentional desire to call those who had attended the Test Match loafers. They also assured me that they were in full agreement with my remarks otherwise, and with the end such remarks had in view, that they fully intended to start a campaign with a view of bringing about the necessary legislation for universal service on the lines suggested by me, and would not rest until that object was achieved. This they accomplished.

As is now well known, by an Act of Parliament in 1909 the principle of the universal liability for all males from 12 to 25 years of age to be trained for military service was made law for the first time in any English-speaking community, and I was more than satisfied that my personal views which I had held for so many years, ever since in South Australia, in 1895, I had prepared the first scheme for the approval of Charles Cameron Kingston, had actually become the law of the land.

Before leaving this subject I must give praise to those officers and citizens who, taking up the question at issue after the reading of my lecturette and the events which followed, formed the Defence League of Australia, and published a paper named The Call, which never once failed in unhesitatingly and most strenuously calling on Parliament, the citizens, and the Government of Australia to bring about the introduction of the Universal Service system. Its leading spirit was Colonel Gerald Campbell, of Moss Vale, a most energetic Volunteer officer.

An amusing incident occurred the night that I was entertained by some of my friends at the Union Club on taking up the command at Sydney. After dinner we played bridge. Mr. X, who had not been long married and had got into the habit of 'phoning home in the evenings that his business kept him in town, was asked to play at my table. His wife did not relish his rather constant absences and sternly refused to go to sleep until he returned home at night. This annoyed him much. Result, some arguments when he reached home. On the night in question we played till about 3 A.M. "Surely," thought Mr. X as he drove home, "the wife will be asleep to-night." Very silently he entered his house, undressed, and opened the door of their bedroom. It was all lighted and his charming partner very much awake. Tableau!

"Now," she said, "look at the clock—4 A.M. I am full up. You can leave this room, please."

"No, my dear," he answered her; "to-night was not my fault at all. You see, we gave a dinner to our new Commandant, General Gordon, and then we played bridge. I was asked to play at his table. The old man [sic!] would not go to bed, so I had to stay. So you see, I could not help myself."

"That will do," she answered. "You have told me many tarradiddles before; now you want to make an ignorant fool of me. Well, I am not one. I do happen to know that General Gordon is dead! Go away."



Shortly after the initiation of the Universal Service system, the Government was met with the difficulty of providing the necessarily increasing cost. On the estimates being framed for the ensuing year it was found that the expenditure was somewhat heavier than had been anticipated. The Government had followed my advice so far and were quite prepared to urge Parliament to find the money, but they considered it would be most desirable to get the highest military opinion procurable to support them in doing so. How was this to be done? There was only one solution. I advised the Commonwealth Government to approach the Imperial Government with a view to their sending an Imperial officer of highest standing to report, whose opinion, if favourable to the system as inaugurated, would be of the greatest possible value in backing their demands for sufficient funds to meet all its requirements.

Lord Kitchener was selected by the War Office, instructed to visit Australia, make a thorough inspection, inquire fully into the progress made with the initiation of the system, report whether it was sound in principle and practice, and, if it met with his approval, suggest such modifications as he considered advisable.

Lord Kitchener arrived at Port Darwin on December 21, 1910. Advantage was taken of his visit by the Commonwealth Government, not only to obtain his opinion as to the merits or otherwise of the Universal Service scheme, but also a report upon the efficiency and the standard of training existing at the time in the Commonwealth Forces. I was at the time Commandant of New South Wales.

I arranged for a camp of continuous training for the whole of our States' field forces, to be held at the Liverpool Area from January 5-12 inclusive, and for the Garrison troops at their respective war stations.

As it may interest soldiers to see the nature of the work carried out during the camp, I quote from the "general idea" of the exercises the programmes of two days' work:

Thursday, 6th January, 1910.

FIELD FORCE 1ST LIGHT HORSE BRIGADE (Manoeuvre and Tactical Exercise)


Brigadier Colonel J. M. Onslow. Orderly Officer Captain E. W. R. Soane, V.D. Brigade-Major Captain J. M. Arnott. Instl. Staff Officer attached Captain R. C. Holman, D.S.O. Intelligence Officers {Captain T. H. Kelly. {Lieutenant Nordmann.


Units Commanding Officers

1st A.L.H. Regiment Lieut.-Colonel C. F. Cox, C.B. 2nd A.L.H. Regiment Major A. J. O. Thompson. 3rd A.L.H. Regiment Lieut.-Colonel G. De. L. Ryrie. No. 3 Battery, A.F.A. Major C. F. Warren. No. 1 Field Troops, Corps of A.E. Captain E. V. T. Rowe. Half No. 2 Company A.C. of Signallers Lieutenant E. G. Donkin. No. 1 Light Horse T. and S. Column Major J. G. Tedder, V.D. No. 1 Light Horse Field Ambulance Major W. M. Helsham.


Units Commanding Officer

No. 5 Squadron 1st A.L.H. Regt.} Captain C. D. Fuller No. 5 Squadron 2nd A.L.H. Regt.}


No. 3 Battery, A.F.A. 5 rounds per gun, shrapnel. 10 rounds per gun, blank. Pom-pom Guns 25 rounds per gun. Colt Machine Guns 250 rounds per gun. Small-Arm Ammunition 25 rounds per rifle.


2nd L.H. Brigade—At disposal of Brigadier for Drill and Manoeuvre.

1st Infantry Brigade—Brigade Drill and instruction in Manoeuvre under Brigadier.


General Idea

A Northern Force (Brown), consisting of one L.H. Brigade, covering the detrainment of Troops at PARRAMATTA, reach LIVERPOOL at 10 P.M. on the night of the 5th January.

A Southern Hostile Force (White) of all arms is reported to have occupied APPIN.

Special Idea

(Reference-map of Liverpool Manoeuvre Area)

During the night of 5th-6th January, the O.C. Brown L.H. Brigade received order to march at 9 A.M. on the 6th January by the right bank of the GEORGE'S RIVER and reconnoitre towards APPIN.


1. Reconnaissance and Screening Duties by the Light Horse.

2. Use of Artillery in checking the advance of hostile Infantry by long-range fire. (See Map No. 1—Target, Infantry advancing, marked 1.)

Textbooks:— "Light Horse Manual," '07, Sec. 299 et seq. "F.S.R.," Part 1, Chap. VI. and Chap. VII. "F.A.T.," '08, Chap. VIII.


Development of Attack

1. The advance to within long-range rifle fire.

2. The further advance to decisive fire positions.

3. The struggle for fire supremacy.

4. The assault.

(Map No. 1 for 2, Infantry entrenched, Target marked II.; for 3, Infantry on ridge, Target marked III.)

Textbooks:— "F.S.R.," Part 1, Chap. VII. "Musketry Regs.," '05, Sec. 110 et seq. "F.A.T.," '08, Chap. VIII.


The Pursuit

(Map No. 1, Infantry retreating. Target marked IV.)

Textbooks:— "F.S.R.," Part 1, Chap. VII. "F.A.T.," '08, Chap. VIII.

N.B.—Information as to the positions of the enemy (represented by targets) is to be gained by the patrols and scouts of the Brigade. No other information will be given.

Friday, 7th January, 1910.



Brigadier Colonel C. M. Ranclaud, V.D. Orderly Officer Captain A. C. Muhs. Brigade Major Major J. P. McGlinn. Instl. Staff Officers attached {Major F. B. Heritage. {Lieutenant W. J. Smith.

{Lieutenant A. J. Gibson. Intelligence Officers {Lieutenant J. M. C. Corlette. {Lieutenant A. W. Jose.


Units Commanding Officers

Brigade of Field ArtilleryNo. 1 Battery, A.F.A. } No. 2 Battery, A.F.A. } Lieut.-Colonel R. M. S. Wells, V.D. No. 5 (Howitzer) Battery, A.F.A. } No. 6 Squadron, 1st A.L.H. Regt. Lieutenant P. Connolly. No. 1 Field Company, Corps of A.E. Captain A. W. Warden. 1st Battalion, 1st A.1 Regt. Lieut.-Colonel W. Holmes, D.S.O., V.D. 1st Battalion, 2nd A.1 Regt. Lieut.-Colonel G. Ramaciotti, V.D. 1st Battalion, 3rd A.1 Regt. Colonel C. S. Guest, V.D. 1st Battalion, 4th A.1 Regt. Lieut.-Colonel J. Paton, V.D. Half No. 1 Company, A.C. of Signallers Lieutenant J. E. Fraser. No. 1 Infantry T. and S. Column Captain P. W. Smith. No. 1 Field Ambulance Lieut.-Colonel T. M. Martin.


Units Commanding Officers

No. 1 Telegraph Company, C. of A.E. Lieutenant J. S. Fitzmaurice. Half No. 1 Company, A.C. of Signallers 2nd Lieutenant G. K. Davenport.


Nos. 1 and 2 Batteries, A.F.A. 5 rounds per gun, shrapnel. 10 rounds, blank. No. 5 (Howitzer) Battery 5 rounds common. 10 rounds, blank. Machine Guns 250 rounds. Small-Arm Ammunition 25 rounds per rifle.


1st L.H. Brigade—Regimental and Brigade Drill, Macquarie Fields.

2nd L.H. Brigade—Brigade Tactical Exercises, Macquarie Fields.


General Idea

(Reference Map—1/2 in. Map, County of Cumberland)

A force (Brown) consisting of one Infantry Brigade, covering the approaches to PARRAMATTA from the South, is camped at LIVERPOOL.

A hostile force (White) of all arms is known to be at HELENSBURGH.

During the night of the 6th-7th January, reliable information was received that the White force had advanced along the OLD ILLAWARRA ROAD, and was bivouacked at DARK'S FOREST.

Special Idea

(Reference Map.—Map of Liverpool Manoeuvre Area)

On the morning of the 7th January the O.C. Brown Brigade was informed by his patrols that the White Advanced Guard had occupied ECKERSLEY at 8 A.M.

On the receipt of this information the O.C. Brown Brigade decides to advance and attack the White force.


1. Reconnaissance and Screening Duties by the Light Horse.

2. Use of Artillery in checking the advance of hostile Infantry by long-range fire.

(Map No. 2—Infantry advancing, Target marked No. 1.)

Textbooks:— "Light Horse Manual," '07, Sec. 299 et seq. "F.S.R.," Part 1, Chap. VI and Chap. VII. "F.A.T.," '08, Chap. VIII.


Development of Attack

1. The advance to within long-range rifle fire.

2. The further advance to decisive fire positions.

3. High-angle fire by Howitzers on enemy's position—Targets marked III and IV.

4. The struggle for fire supremacy.

5. The assault.

(Map No. 2 for 2, Infantry entrenched, Target marked II; for 4, Infantry on ridge, Target marked III. Enemy's reserves behind hill marked IV.)

Textbooks:— "F.S.R.," Part 1, Chap. VII. "Musketry Regs.," '05, Sec. 110 et seq. "F.A.T.," '08, Chap. VIII. "L.T.," '05, Sec. 129 et seq.


The Pursuit

(Map No. 2.—Infantry retreating—Target marked V.)

Textbooks:— "F.S.R.," Part 1, Chap. VII. "F.A.T.," '08, Chap. VIII. "L.T.," '05, Sec. 129 et seq.

N.B.—Information as to the positions of the enemy (represented by targets) is to be gained by the patrols and scouts of the Brigade. No other information will be given.

On the morning of January 5, 1910, Lord Kitchener and his staff arrived by train from Brisbane at Newcastle, New South Wales. Only the local garrison troops were in camp there, the local units of the Field Forces having proceeded to the general camp at Liverpool.

The question of the fixed defences at Newcastle was at the time causing considerable anxiety owing to disturbances in the ground due to the coal mines. The construction of a new fort had been decided upon and its position selected. The whole day was spent in making a most careful examination of the harbour, the coast line and the existing forts. Lord Kitchener in his report approved of the site chosen.

He arrived at the Liverpool camp on the next morning, Thursday the 6th, at 7.15 A.M. Early morning parades were being held by all corps. He watched some units at work and then went to the quarters prepared for him. After breakfast he at once began his inspection, and from that time until he left the camp, three days afterwards, there was practically not an idle moment.

When we were inspecting the camp lines Kitchener was rather interested in the incinerators I had ordered to be used for the first time. An old Irish ex-soldier employed as a camp policeman was asked by the general how they were working. "Fine, sir," he said. "And what are they called?" "Well, sir," said Pat, "I am not quite sure, but I think they call them insinuators." Kitchener had a hearty laugh.

On the Thursday evening I was ordered to arrange for a certain small portion of the troops to leave camp at two o'clock next morning under the command of an officer specially selected. Their destination was not divulged. The remainder of the troops under my command were to bivouac at a place called Signal Hill, some three miles from the camp, at 7 A.M. next day and await instructions. These orders were carried out. Sharp at half-past seven Lord Kitchener and his staff rode up to Signal Hill. I was not aware of the whereabouts of the small force that had left the camp at 2 A.M.

He sent for me and informed me that he had prepared me a task to be carried out at once. The idea was that an enemy's convoy and escort—which was composed of the troops we had detached the night before—were marching along certain roads following up an enemy column. The position of the column of the enemy's troops and convoy were roughly given. My business was to capture the convoy with the troops at my disposal, and he wished me to at once give my orders to my commanding officers for carrying out my plans. The commanding officers were assembled without delay. My own mind was soon made up as to my plans. The orders were given, and within a quarter of an hour of the time when I had left Lord Kitchener my troops were on the move.

An amusing incident happened afterwards. One of my cavalry brigades had been ordered to cut off the convoy. It had done so and was moving rapidly to close in on it. I myself was riding with them; it was the last phase of the attack. Knowing that the manoeuvre was over, for we had captured the convoy, and seeing Lord Kitchener and his staff not very far away, I rode up to him to report. With something of a smile on his face he said to me when I reached him, "Have you come to surrender yourself? Because, if not, I am going to make you a prisoner. I am here with your enemy, who has four guns at this point" (they were imaginary), "you must stay here with me." So I was taken prisoner. He then asked me to explain to him the position of my troops at that moment. In doing so I told him that, on our right, along the crest of the hill on which the convoy was travelling, I had an infantry brigade. The edge of this hill, right along, was covered with fairly thick bush, some three to four feet high; I had ordered the infantry to creep right up, keeping under cover to within some sixty yards of the top of the ridge without showing themselves, lie down, and keep as quiet as possible until such time a certain whistle signal was given, when they were to rise and collar the convoy.

When I explained to Lord Kitchener that the infantry were quite handy, he said, "Well, I want to see them." I gave the whistle signal agreed upon, and immediately, for a distance of some three-quarters of a mile along the ridge, on the flank of the convoy, up jumped a couple of thousand infantry. It was my opportunity now, so I ventured to tell him that, as the convoy and the four guns were now in my hands, I took it that my troops had rescued me and that I was afraid he was my prisoner. He laughed and said, "Well, I'm going to order the 'Cease fire' to sound, which puts an end to the morning's work, and then I am free."

It was an inspiring morning, that morning, a fine day. Everyone was most keen and anxious in his work. All knew that Kitchener's critical eye had been upon them all the morning. He had ridden from place to place watching their work. They had been on the march for some eight hours and were now assembled for the return to their camp, six miles off. He took up his stand on the side of the road and watched them as they marched past homewards. Practically every man at the time serving in the Field Forces in New South Wales was present. They came from every part of the State. The attendance reached the very high average of close on 97 per cent.

After his inspection of the Field Forces the garrison troops and the fortress defences had to be inspected. The garrison troops, the units detailed for the defence of the forts and harbour, were inspected on Saturday afternoon, having taken up their positions in accordance with the local scheme of defence. Afterwards visits to the forts occupied the time till late at night. Finally we embarked on board the submarine mine-layer, the Miner, to watch the working of the searchlights protecting the mine fields and navigable channels. Close on midnight the inspection was finished and we returned to Government House.

Before we reached the landing-stage Lord Kitchener asked me to get him a sheet of paper. I did so. He then said, "I wish you to publish this Order to-morrow." Taking his pencil, he wrote as follows:

"To General Gordon. Be good enough to inform the officers, non-commissioned officers and men under your command of my appreciation of the keen interest and great zeal they have shown in carrying out their duties during my lengthy inspection. They are doing well, and it has been a pleasure to me to have been present with them during their period of continuous training.

"(Signed) KITCHENER."

This Order, I knew, of course, would be most acceptable to all concerned. Next day, just previous to their leaving for Melbourne, Captain Fitzgerald, his personal secretary and close friend—who later on, unfortunately, was drowned with him—told me that I should be proud to receive that Order, as he had never known "the Chief" to have issued one in a similar manner before. During his visit he reminded me of the conversation we had in South Africa when I asked Lord Roberts's and his opinions on my scheme for the Universal Service. He heartily congratulated me on having achieved what then he thought my too ambitious hopes, and assured me he would support the movement heart and soul. This he did, as his report proved.

I think it only fair to the Government of that day to say that they did carry out the whole of his recommendations, and that every one of his suggestions was in force within three years after his visit.

Practically all men of any importance, politicians, business men, working men, one and all enthusiastically helped. A considerable improvement was noticed, not only in the general bearing of the trainees, but what was much more important, in their physical and moral development. The keenness of the lads themselves was proved by the extra time voluntarily devoted by them to receiving instruction to qualify as officers and non-commissioned officers, attending courses of lectures, special parades and rifle matches. The police authorities throughout the Commonwealth were asked to watch carefully and report as to whether, in their opinion, the system was influencing the character of the boys generally, and if so in what directions.

In 1914 reports were received from the police in all the States. They were unanimous in stating that, "in their opinion, the behaviour of the youths who were subjected to the training had vastly improved, and that the principal effects of a beneficial nature were increased self-respect, diminution of juvenile cigarette smoking, 'larrikinism,' and generally a tendency towards a sense of responsibility and a desire to become good citizens."

Wherefore it is seen that the chief aims as laid down in my scheme have been fully realized, namely, to secure:—

(1). A sound mind in a sound body;

(2). A disciplined mind;

(3). Ability to shoot straight; and

(4). Sufficient knowledge of drill to secure self-confidence in the field.

Some time after Lord Kitchener's tour of inspection the first flying machine arrived in Sydney. It was sent out by the Bristol Company—a biplane of the most primitive kind, where the pilot sat on the front of the lower plane with his feet resting on a board, and the passenger squatted behind him with the engine racing at his back. There was, of course, considerable excitement in Sydney and much curiosity to see it in the air. We were holding a camp of instruction for the mounted troops at Liverpool, and the proprietors of the aeroplane suggested a flight from Sydney to the camp, some twenty miles, and asked permission to carry it out. I naturally agreed.

It was a perfect summer's morning when, at about 7 A.M., a small black spot was seen high up in the air; it was the flying machine rapidly approaching the camp at a height of some 3,000 feet. It landed safely on a spot previously selected, much to the delight of the men in camp, most of whom came from the country districts. The Governor-General, Lord Dudley, was in camp with us, and was anxious to be taken up, and I personally also intended to arrange likewise. Something, however, intervened, with the result that the pilot left the camp before we returned to lunch after the morning's work.

At the conclusion of the camp I returned to the barracks. The morning after I was going into breakfast when a messenger arrived from the manager of the Bristol Company with a letter inviting me to be the first to fly over Sydney, and asking me to go out to the Ascot Race Course at about eleven o'clock, where the machine was quartered. I drove out, and on my arrival I was told that the pilot was away but that the mechanic, a young Scotsman of about twenty years of age, who had a pilot's certificate, was available if I wished to trust myself to him. I certainly felt rather doubtful on the point when I looked at the youth, especially as he had not been up in it himself since his arrival in Australia. However, I took courage, said, "Right you are," and scrambled up behind him. The engines were started, she sped along the grass, and before I could realize it we were some 500 feet high up in the air, still rising and sailing over Botany Bay. As the manager had told Macdonald to go wherever I directed him, I decided to fly over Sydney and the harbour, so that I should pass over the barracks, the forts, Government House, the Post Office and the principal streets of Sydney and give the public a fair opportunity of watching us.

It was a lovely day; the machine behaved splendidly. Young Macdonald was as cool as a cucumber, and we returned and landed at the Ascot Race Course after two hours of a delightful experience. I regret to say that my youthful pilot was killed during the early days of the war; his machine dived into the Thames and he was drowned.

Some years later I selected the site for and established at Point Cook near Melbourne the first Flying School in Australia.



The next big event of importance after Lord Kitchener's tour of inspection was the arrival of the American Fleet. Whether the visit of this fleet, which comprised practically the full strength of the American Navy, had any connexion with the visit of the Japanese Fleet which I have already told you about, I do not know. Was it by way of a demonstration in force in the waters of the Pacific in answer to the display made by the Japanese? Had it a political aspect in other ways? Or was it purely a pleasure trip, arranged by the American Government to give their naval officers and men an extended tour for purposes of instruction and pleasure? Who can tell? I cannot. But I can testify to the pleasurable times they had during their lengthy stay at the several ports they visited.

Sydney woke up again. The occasion had arrived to remember the great days of the inauguration of the Commonwealth. Sydney wanted to decorate herself again and to look her best, and she certainly succeeded. Though somewhat different in detail, the decorations of the city and streets were as gorgeous as those of 1901, on the inauguration of the Commonwealth, and everyone was determined to give the Americans (and incidentally himself) a real good time. It is doubtful if the foreshores of the great harbour of Sydney will ever hold again so many thousands of spectators as they did on that glorious morning when, at 11 A.M., the leading warship of the American fleet entered the Heads, and, clearing the inner point of the South Heads, made direct for the anchorage up the harbour, followed by the remaining fifteen men-of-war.

Previous to the arrival of the fleet a question had arisen which had much exercised the Government and civic authorities of Sydney. It was understood that during the stay of the fleet in Sydney Harbour—about ten days—there would be, daily, visiting the city anywhere from six to ten thousand officers and men on liberty leave. The authorities thought that it would be advisable to make some provision for military picquets and extra police in case of disturbances, and they approached me with a view to our supplying the wished-for military assistance. I pointed out that there was positively no precedent for such action, especially in the case of visiting guests. It was the privilege of the guests to look after the behaviour of their own men and to land their own picquets if they considered them necessary. At the same time I ventured to suggest that it might be thought advisable to enrol a number of special constables—who, of course, would be in plain clothes and unknown—to assist the police if required. It is to the credit of the officers and men of the American Fleet that during their stay in Sydney, though thousands landed daily and many were allowed over-night leave, no disturbances of any kind occurred, and to see any one of them the worse for drink was the exception.

Naturally, throughout the whole of the State of New South Wales, right to the very backblocks, there was an earnest wish on the part of the members of the New South Wales military forces to be in Sydney at the time of the fleet's visit. So I had arranged to hold the annual camp of Continuous Training at that period. The attendance in this camp almost beat the record of the one we had held at the time of Lord Kitchener's visit.

As usual the public were very anxious for a review to be held, and the matter was freely aired in the Press. The Government of New South Wales was only too glad to meet their wishes, and requested me to make the necessary arrangements. Here then was a repetition of what had occurred in Melbourne at the time of the visit of the Japanese Fleet. The same difficulty was in the way—that no troops of a foreign country were permitted to land under arms on British soil. I pointed this out to the Government, but drew their attention to the fact that a precedent had been established in the case of the Japanese Fleet at the time of their visit to Melbourne, and that an application to the Imperial Government to permit the Americans to do so would doubtless receive a favourable answer. The application was sent and approval given. I then put the arrangements for the review in hand. I had an interview with the American Commander-in-Chief, who informed me that he would land a contingent, representing the fleet, of somewhere between six and seven thousand men. Our own fleet was, of course, in Sydney Harbour at the time, and our admiral told me that he would land somewhere over three thousand ratings. My own troops mustered about some twelve thousand, with the typical and favourite arm of the service in Australia, the Mounted Rifles, in full strength.

The morning of the review arrived. Once again it was a glorious day. On all occasions throughout my many years of command when "functions," reviews, or camps of training took place, "Queen's weather" had always been my good fortune. The crowd that gathered at Centennial Park to witness the review rivalled that which had witnessed the arrival of the fleet. It was put down at some three hundred and fifty thousand people. The actual number of troops on parade was over twenty-one thousand, of which some four thousand were mounted troops. It was no easy task to manoeuvre this number of troops on the restricted space at Centennial Park, especially as I had arranged, much to the delight of the people, for the mounted troops to gallop past the saluting point as a final tour de force before the last advance in review order. However, with the assistance of an able staff and preliminary conferences with my commanding officers, the review passed off without the slightest hitch. Just as the presence of the Japanese sailors under arms at the review had established a record in Melbourne, so did that of the Americans establish one in Sydney, and, for the second time, I had the honour of commanding armed forces of a Foreign Nation on parade on British soil.

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