A changing nation
After the war Australia could never be the same. The war was the cause
of great private grief and public mourning. Communities constructed war
memorials to mark their contributions and their losses. Adding to the
toll of war dead, the influenza epidemic caused 12,000 civilian deaths
The nation had also been tested in other fields. It had to discover the
maturity to handle internal division and conflict. Little had been resolved
in understanding the Aboriginal population's place; women's contributions
were still largely unacknowledged; religious and political sectarianism
was rife; and labour disputes could be bitter and brutal.
That a new age was about to begin was demonstrated in the field of aviation.
Previously Australia could be reached only by sea, but in 1919 two brothers,
Keith and Ross Smith, flew an aircraft from England to Australia. The
following year an airline company called Qantas (Qld & NT Aerial Services)
was formed, and in 1921 the Royal Australian Air Force was established.
As the world began to shrink, ties with Britain began to stretch and memories
of the colonial past began to fade.
Nothing's too good for the soldier
From The Bulletin 29 September 1921, pg 10. By permission of National
Library of Australia.
Between February and July 1919 the virulent strain of pneumonic influenza
which had been sweeping the world reached Australia and caused thousands
of deaths. Schools and public places closed and people wore face masks.
State governments had to recruit volunteers to assist in the care of the
sick and to prevent infection.
Public mourning and private grief.
In Australia women were issued with a brooch to show they had lost a son
or husband in the war. The loss of further sons was marked by extra silver
stars. Communities erected memorials to remember their war dead and images
of these even found a place on domestic ornaments.
A new nation writes its history.
In 1921 the first of the twelve volumes of the Official history of
Australia in the war of 1914-18 was published. In it C.E.W. Bean told
the story of the Gallipoli campaign. Bean also edited the entire series.
Behind the recital of historical facts was a purpose: to show, as he put
it, "how did the Australian people - and the Australian character,
if there is one - come through the test of this, their first great war?"
This photograph shows the first volume packed and ready for transport
from Canberra to the publishers in Sydney in December 1920. Bean is standing
at the centre.
The complex character of the Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne, Dr Daniel
Mannix, is demonstrated by his association with both Australian war heroes
and the gambling and sporting promoter John Wren. An Irish-nationalist,
Mannix was prominent among the opponents of conscription during the war.
In the face of mounting accusations of disloyalty, Wren arranged for 14
Victoria Cross winners riding white horses to lead the 1920 St Patrick's
Day parade. John Hamilton, VC received this presentation photograph to
acknowledge his participation.