[Editor: This article was published in Aussie: The Cheerful Monthly (Sydney, NSW), 15 April 1920.]
The rough spin the prophet gets in his own country.
As to the reason why this moment had been chosen by those in control of “The Times” to improve the service of news from Australia, he would say — though it was a platitude — that there was not the least doubt that Australia at this moment held in the eyes of the Empire and the wor1d a position almost inconceivable five years ago. This was the result of the service of the Australian army in Europe. — Mr. B. K. Long, Dominions editor of the London “Times.”
I say this, not in a spirit of fault-finding. but simply to supplement what may be lacking through the modesty of our own general officers. I think every fair-minded man will admit that the Australians effectually stopped the onward rush of the Germans in March, 1918. I do not think words can describe the depth of pride we should feel for the valour of our lads. It was difficult to accentuate these facts in England at the time, because it would appear as if we were decrying the merits of the British fighting forces. — Sir Charles Wade.
On his arrival Home the Digger has found that his own people know more about his largely imaginary misdeeds than of his achievements on the Battlefield. And he finds it difficult to understand.
The reason that he did not receive credit in England for his achievements was easy to understand. The English press had to counteract the belief which was firmly established on the Continent that the overseas troops were alone upholding the prestige of the British Army, and that one Enzed, Canuck or Aussie was worth a platoon of Tommies. At one time the English papers were inundated with letters from Englishmen complaining that the Aussies were receiving all the credit, and that the Tommy troops were not getting a fair deal. The reports that were appearing in the papers at the time were merely accounts of the work the Aussies were then doing. The Aussies treated the matter as a joke and went on fighting. Their spirit is shown by an incident which the writer encountered at the time in the Ypres Salient, after a series of successful stunts. A wounded Digger was making his way back to a Dressing Station. “How did the stunt go, Dig.?” called out an A.S.C. man. “We took all our objectives,” said the Pongo. “Cripes!” replied the other, “there’ll be more letters in the London papers after they publish that!”
Apparently in response to the public clamour, a great silence descended upon the English press regarding the work of the Aussies. Even the Official Communiques were worded in such a way that they amounted to gross misrepresentation.
For instance, the great Battle of August 8, 1918, which Ludendorf has said was the day the German Army was defeated was organised and principally carried out by the Aussie Corps. The attack was made by five Aussie Divisions, with three Canadian on the right and one Tommy on the left, and shortly after the commencement of the battle the Tommy Division was relieved by a composite Division of Canucks, Yanks and Aussies, under an Aussie commander. Yet the reports printed in England were so unfair to the Aussies that General Monash made a strong protest to G.H.Q.
But the Aussie didn’t care how he was misrepresented in England. He wasn’t fighting to impress the English public. What was thought of it at Home was what mattered. He was uplifted by the thought that he was winning the appreciation of those at Home and making tradition for his country.
And when he arrived Home he found that his own people did not recognise the magnitude of his achievement. In some quarters — and they are large-sized quarters — more is known about the lies told about his “lack of discipline.”
Aussie: The Cheerful Monthly (Sydney, NSW), 15 April 1920, p. 12
A.S.C. = Army Service Corps
Aussie = an Australian
Canuck = a Canadian person (may also refer to something that is Canadian in origin or style)
Dig. = abbreviation of “digger”
Dominion = (in the context of the British Empire) one of the British Dominions (Australia, Canada, the Irish Free State, Newfoundland, New Zealand, South Africa), being those countries of the British Empire which were self-governed
Enzed = NZ (New Zealand)
G.H.Q. = General Headquarters
Pongo = infantry; said to have derived from the line “where the infantry goes, the pong goes” (“pong” meaning “smell”)
stunt = a military action, a battle
Tommies = plural of “Tommy” [see: Tommy]
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)