18 Sep

The Fates of War and The Middle Parts of Fortune

 

We begin on the battlefield with Bourne, the sky above darkening, as a small group of soldiers struggle back towards their own lines in the wake of a failed attack. The soldiers, exhausted, “light-headed,” “almost exalted,”i stumble back across the shell-racked earth. The Middle Parts of Fortune begins thus, in the nerve shattered aftermath of a charge into the enemy trenches. The survivors, on returning to their own lines, slowly begin to face the challenge of piecing back together the torn remnants of their sanity. Immediately the reader is made aware that the subject of the book is to be an exploration of the psychology of the human mind and body at war.

02 Sep

WW1 Troop Ships: Journeys Across the Indian Ocean

 

With the entry of Australia and New Zealand into the Great War in 1914, it became necessary for the respective Governments of these nations to requisition ships for the transport of their soldiers across the Indian Ocean to emerging battlefields in Europe and The Middle East. However, instead of using their own fleet of coastal liners they chose instead to secure British liners and cargo ships and altogether, 28 Australian vessels were procured. Each ship was given the class HMAT which stood for His Majesty’s Australian Transport, and also a troopship number starting with the ship ‘Hymettus’ (named for the mountain range above Athens) which became A1. The majority of the ships then had to be fitted out to accommodate large numbers of troops. The others were employed as cargo ships. A number of ships were requisitioned solely as horse transports and often their holds were fitted out with extensive stabling for equine transport.
01 Sep

Conscription in Australia and the Referendum of 1916

 

In October 1916, two young friends, volunteers for the A.I.F, Jack Couzner and Hugh Foott were in Melbourne preparing to depart for France and the war. Their transport ship the “Euripides” left Melbourne on the 11th of September 1916 heading first to London, then on to The Western Front. Prior to their departure for the front, the soldiers had a brief period of leave in Melbourne where they witnessed scenes of great social division as the Nation prepared to vote on whether to enact conscription in Australia during WW1. Ten days after Jack & Hugh sailed for Egypt, the then Prime Minister, W.M “Billy” Hughes arrived in Melbourne to deliver a series of rousing speeches in favour of conscription. Hughes’ speeches saw large crowds turn out in favour of conscription, however in opposition there were strong social forces working to generate support for the ‘No’ vote.