[Editor: This article was published in in Aussie: The Cheerful Monthly (Sydney, NSW), 15 April 1920.]
Birdy and White.
Aussie has extended an enthusiastic glad-hand to smiling, good-natured Birdy. Everywhere he has been he has received genuine expressions of regard from Diggers who really known him, and a lot of flapdoodle, exaggeration and general nonsense and grovel from a lot of other people who don’t know him, but who have exuded large quantities of sickly language because they make a business of taking advantage of persons and circumstances that will enable them to do some self-advertising.
But Birdy is able to sort out the sincere sentiments of the Digger from the ridiculous flapdoodle of the self-advertisers — and he can absorb a lot of flapdoodle without being in the least affected.
Birdy’s chief claim to our respect and esteem lies in the fact that he was one of the few Tommy officers who tried to understand the Digger and to get a fair deal for him from G.H.Q. And although he was not as successful with G.H.Q. as was Monash, he certainly accomplished a great deal. Birdy was in a difficult position. Being an Imperial officer, he had to go very carefully. As a permanent soldier he had to look ahead, beyond the war. He dared not stand up to G.H.Q. and fight it on behalf of the Aussie Corps as Monash did when endeavouring to prevent the wholly unwarranted breaking-up of the battalions, his military career would have been “napoo.”
Birdy owes his success and popularity with Aussies to two causes — White and Birdy. And the greater of these is White.
White taught Birdy the Digger. And Birdy succeeded because, unlike most other Tommy officers, he was not too conservative, too bigoted, too self-centred, or too hopelessly foolish to learn.
White was the genius behind all Birdy’s actions. Birdy owes his knowledge of the Digger, and how to handle him, to the splendid, good-natured, generous, modest and wonderfully efficient Aussie soldier.
And having permitted himself to be taught the Digger, Birdy found that his virtues far outweighed his faults, and that there was virtue in his faults. They were faults brought about by qualities inseparable from the really efficient soldier — self-assertion, self-esteem, self-reliance, strength, of will and high spirits. And the more he learned of the Digger, the deeper became his regard for and pride in him. At one time this became so conspicuous that some men doubted its sincerity. Such phrases as “Don’t forget to write to your mothers, boys!” became things for men to hang jokes on. But although at times he overdid the helpful-hints-to-young-men stunt, most of us like to believe that there was more in it than mere eyewash. And many a Dag who indulged in levity after attending a parade in order to be told to “Write to your mothers, boys!” walked past the estaminets and went and wrote to his mother.
So give Birdy all the loud cheers and printer’s ink that can be gathered. But don’t forget the dinkum Aussie who taught him how to win it.
Aussie: The Cheerful Monthly (Sydney, NSW), 15 April 1920, p. 13
Aussie =  an Australian; something that is Australian in origin or style; of or relating to Australia or the Australian people
Aussie =  Australia
Birdy = William Riddell Birdwood (1865-1951), 1st Baron Birdwood, an officer in the British Army; in December 1914 he was made a Lieutenant General and put in charge of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) during the Gallipoli Campaign (February 1915 to January 1916), during the First World War (1914-1918); promoted to General in October 1917 and given command of the Australian Corps; in May 1918 he was put in charge of the British Fifth Army on the Western Front; promoted to the rank of Field Marshal in 1925
dag = a character, especially one who is humorous; an unconventional person, an eccentric person, especially one who is entertaining (the modern slang term “dag” refers: to someone whose clothing and/or character is unfashionable or considered to be socially backward; someone who doesn’t fit in with the crowd, a geek, a nerd)
eyewash = nonsense, hogwash; deceptive or misleading information or behaviour; flattery; pretentiousness
flapdoodle = a load of nonsense; an assertion or an idea which is considered stupid (can also refer to someone who is foolish, or who speaks nonsense)
G.H.Q. = General Headquarters
glad-hand = to extend a glad hand to someone (to offer a handshake when glad to meet someone); a warm welcome, an hearty greeting, an enthusiastic reception (can also refer to a warm welcome which is fake, or based upon ulterior motives, especially such a greeting which is given to strangers, e.g. a politician shaking hands with people in a crowd)
napoo = (First World War slang) all gone, gone away, no more; finished, dead; incapacitated, inoperative, ruined; nonexistent; no; finish, stop (derived from the French “il n’y en a plus”, meaning “there is no more”, which was the common explanation of French shopkeepers when they no longer had a particular item in stock)
Tommy = (a shortened version of “Tommy Atkins”) a British soldier, British infantryman, British fighting man; the term was popularised by the poem “Tommy”, by British poet Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)
White = Sir Cyril Brudenell Bingham White (1876-1940), an officer in the Australian Army; as a Brigadier General, during the First World War (1914-1918), he organised the Allied evacuation of Gallipoli at the end of the Gallipoli Campaign (February 1915 to January 1916); in France, he was promoted to Major General, assisting General Birdwood of the British Fifth Army on the Western Front; after the war he was put in charge of the Australian Army
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