WA Dig­gers played key role in war

Kalgoorlie Miner - - REAL ESTATE -

al­lo­cated a quota of 1400 re­cruits.

“In fact, more than three times that num­ber came for­ward on the first day,” he wrote.

WA’s rate of re­cruit­ment was higher than the rest of Aus­tralia, which Bolton said was due to the State hav­ing more sin­gle males of mil­i­tary age than the Aus­tralian aver­age, more re­cent Bri­tish mi­grants and more farm­ers and ru­ral work­ers ex­pe­ri­enc­ing dif­fi­culty be­cause of a se­vere drought in 1914.

Al­most 10 per cent of the State’s to­tal pop­u­la­tion — 32,231 in all — were to en­list dur­ing World War I.

WA sent men mainly into the 10th Light Horse, and the 11th, 12th, 16th, 28th, 44th and 51st bat­tal­ions of the AIF and part of the 32nd and 48th.

As the last stop for most troop ships be­fore they sailed for the war, Al­bany played a key role in the An­zac story.

The WA-raised 11th Bat­tal­ion carved out a spe­cial place in the State’s his­tory when it was part of the first group to land at Gal­lipoli on April 25, 1915.

The 10th Light Horse Reg­i­ment was prom­i­nent in de­feat­ing the Turk­ish forces, en­ter­ing Da­m­as­cus in Oc­to­ber 1918, just be­fore Turkey sur­ren­dered.

And WA bat­tal­ions were heav­ily in­volved in the great Al­lied of­fen­sive launched on the West­ern Front in Au­gust 1918, which pushed Ger­many to­wards sign­ing the Ar­mistice on No­vem­ber 11 that year.

Aus­tralia’s of­fi­cial his­to­rian of the war, Charles Bean, wrote: “Tak­ing the record over the whole war, Aus­tralian lead­ers would prob­a­bly give first place to cer­tain units from WA and Queens­land, States that were colonies of colonies, largely pop­u­lated by en­er­getic el­e­ments from the other States.

“Dur­ing four years in which nearly the whole world was so tested, the peo­ple in Aus­tralia looked on from afar at 300,000 of their own na­tion strug­gling amongst mil­lions from the strong­est and most pro­gres­sive peo­ples of Eu­rope and Amer­ica.

“They saw their own men — those who had dwelt in the same street or been daily trav­ellers in the same rail­way trains — flash across the world’s con­scious­ness like a shoot­ing star.”

Bean wrote that the Dig­gers had set a tra­di­tion that “may work for cen­turies — in things seen daily from that first morn­ing un­til the strug­gle ended, on­look­ers had recog­nised in th­ese men qual­i­ties al­ways vi­tal to the hu­man race”.

“Aus­tralians watched the name of their coun­try rise high in the es­teem of the world’s old­est and great­est na­tions.

“Ev­ery Aus­tralian bears that name proudly abroad to­day — and by the daily do­ings, great and small . . . the Aus­tralian na­tion came to know it­self.”

In this 1964 photo, World War I Vic­to­ria Cross win­ners Jack Car­roll and Jack Ax­ford march to­gether for the first time at the head of the 16th Bat­tal­ion in Perth. Both men lived in the Gold­fields at the time of their en­list­ment.

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