Cashen, Phil: pressed to enlist, 1915

Cashen, Phil

Pressed to enlist in the first half of 1915‘, Shire at War, 1 July 2015

From the excellent Shire at War blog, out of Alberton, Gippsland, Victoria, comes this forensic examination of a war of letters to the editor of the Gippsland Standard and Alberton Shire Representative in April and May 1915. The protagonists are ‘Patriot’, ‘Mary Jane’ and some young men named O’Neill. The subject matter is the vexed one of who should be enlisting and with how much alacrity they should be doing so – and how much alacrity will satisfy those observing from the wings in a close-knit community.

It appears strange to me [wrote Mary Jane on 21 April] that so many able bodied young men are content to remain at home while the best and bravest of our boys have either gone or are going to fight for King and country in the battle fields of Europe. During a recent visit to Woodside I saw a tall, strong, active young man wearing in his button hole a badge displaying the historic words, “England expects every man to do his duty.” That young man is still in Woodside, and so far as he is concerned England stands a big chance of being disappointed. He is only one of many we meet every day. Their duty it appears lies at home; though late, very late at night, they may be heard riding home from the nearest hotel singing “Tipperary.”

All too soon, the urgings of the Mary Janes would need to be reinforced by official appeals.

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