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The Forum > Article Comments > An Anzac on England > Comments

An Anzac on England : Comments

By Brett Holman, published 15/1/2008

Sydney Melbourne, in 1940, described his impressions of the mother country in an article for the 'Spectator'.

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In one of the last letters to be sent to my grandmother in 1916 from my grandfather, before he was killed in France was to tell her about how he and his mates felt about the average English soldiers and their officer's.

It appears that many of our boys had more respect for the Germans soldier than they did for the average British officers and their troops. Many a time the Aussies were sent into a battle after British troops had run away leaving their wounded to their fate which the Australins could not understand.

My own grandfather and other Aussies had risked their own lives to enter enemy territiry to retrieve their mates which is how my grandfather lost his life.

His time in England before being sent to France was spent in street brawls usually over some racist remark made by some pommie soldiers about black people. ( this also happened to his sons in the second world war too )

My wife's grandfather who was in the lighthorse hated the beer and the lack of facilities to keep clean, he and his mates avoided the local girls because they always had lots of perfume on to cover the fact that they didn't wash.
Posted by Yindin, Tuesday, 15 January 2008 11:05:35 AM
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What a strange piece. I had thought that the practice of delving into the past and finding odd observations about "overseas" had long passed its use-by date.

Where the article quotes a pseudonymous Australian, presumably too important in his own mind to sign such superficial tripe as his own work, D H Lawrence was forthright in his opinion of Australia in 1922.

He wrote to his sister-in-law that

" could never make a novel out of these people, they haven't got any insides to them"

He also disliked "the hateful newness, the democratic conceit, every man a little pope of perfection"

This last dislike led to some interesting observations on the Australian character too:

"...every Australian is a little Pope all on his own, God's Vicar, 'There is nothing better than me on earth', he seems silently to proclaim, not with tongues of angels or tones of silver either: and not always silently."

(Actually, that one rings a bell.)

Of the Australian concept of democracy, he had this to say:

"This is the most democratic place I have ever been in. And the more I see of democracy, the more I dislike it"

... whose impact on the citizenry is to encourage an outlook that "just brings everything down to the mere vulgar level of wages and prices"

I might also mention that he thought Australia full of healthy but hollow people who were always "vaguely and meaninglessly on the go."

But of course, transcribing these impressions is an entirely pointless exercise, and a stunning waste of your time and mine.
Posted by Pericles, Tuesday, 15 January 2008 1:31:01 PM
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"Why is so much land that is obviously fertile lying idle in farms of 1,000 acres and even larger? Why are so many patches of scrub and useless bushes left uncleared? We [Australians] can respect good timber - that is always an asset - but stunted copses and brambles are an eyesore which no good farmer should tolerate a day longer than he can help. "

Today different - much of Australia's most fertile land is under asphalt and houses and car yards and showrooms and factories and car parks and malls.
Posted by JHS, Friday, 18 January 2008 5:20:19 PM
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