‘Soldiers’ farewells‘, Shire at War, 18 February 2016
Another well-researched piece from Gippsland, this one analysing local newspaper reports on 30 farewells to local soldiers during 1915. Many more men enlisted than received farewells (which is interesting in itself) but the series of farewells were a way of cataloguing the progress of the war as seen from the Shire of Alberton. There is material also about planning of farewells and what was regarded as appropriate.
Common themes the author found were: the moral strength of the volunteer; the unique character and success of the AIF; the greatness of the Empire and Australia’s duty to support it; the evil of Germany and the dire threat it posed to the Empire and Australia; the mother’s sacrifice; the pioneer as soldier. There is also a list of speakers although the soldiers being farewelled tended to say little. Perhaps they had a lot on their minds. The article concludes with a poem read at one farewell which includes lines such as these:
Since you are made and fashioned in God’s image –
Go forth to fight; stamp out crime and sin.
Wash out, with your heroic blood, it may be,
All foulness and all perfidy within;
There are a number of posts on our site from Phil Cashen’s Shire at War blog. Search under ‘Cashen’.