troops returned after the war the Government started a scheme called
the Soldier's Resettlement Scheme. Some were taught 'new' trades
like saddlery. Some were offered parcels of land, often reasonably
poor land or land well away from points of commerce. In some cases a
house was included. The above photo is of one such property.
house and land was not free, just bought with Government loan assistance.
Some of the former Diggers made a go of it. Some didn't. Many
Queensland Soldier's Settlement farms 'died' under the weight of the
great Prickly Pear Invasion. With the world rushing towards the
Great Depression many old Diggers found themselves out of work, out
of luck and out on the wallaby track.
Here is how one bloke saw the
- Bodies for sale and no buyers
- O, God, what have we done ?
- Doomed to the endless treadmill
- Under a blazing sun.
- Humping a hateful burden
- down a long unfriendly track
- On a road that leads to nowhere
- then to turn and hump it back.
- Farmer and Mason and Digger
- Miner and Parson and Clerk
- Each of them only asking
- for their right to live and work.
- To think that this youngest country
- This rich and smiling land
- Has been sold like a slave to bondage
- by the base Law Makers hand.
- And her sons and daughters suffer
- from East to Western Sea,
- But the day is quickly coming
- when they will, again, be free.
- When we rise and rout the traitors
- and smite them hip and thigh
- and write EMANCIPATION
- in blood, across the sky.
- And reduce our wretched forums
- To heaps of ash and stone,
- And build a Legislature
- strong enough to stand alone.
- With WORK for all who want it
- and payment for our toil.
- The Parson to his pulpit,
- The Farmer to his soil.
- The Miner and the Digger,
- Each will play his part
- When we cut this growing rot spot
- From out Australia's heart.
- "805" Chas HARRIS, Tambo Qld 26 Aug 1930
- formerly 805 Sgt C F W Harris MM, 42nd
- Harris had been wiped out, commercially,
in the Great Prickly Pear invasion which
took over his farm near Chinchilla, Qld. He
battled on, became a plumber, re-enlisted in
WW2 (unsuccessfully due to Reserved
Occupation status), married in 1947and your
humble webmaster is one of 2 sons. He died
in 1960 aged 64.
- For details of Prickly Pear
|The Prickly Pear re-appeared in the
story of the Australian Army in Viet Nam as shown in this picture of
Between the Wars for the
wording from the ARMY
The years between the wars were difficult for the Australian Army. The
publicís reactions to the immense cost of the War were exhaustion,
apathy and stagnation, compounded by national economic problems.
The AIF was disbanded after the War but, in 1921, the Citizen Forces
were reorganised on the same lines, adopting AIF unit titles, colour
patches and, in due course, inheriting AIF battle honours. A structure of
two cavalry and four infantry divisions, troops for local defence equating
to a fifth division, with supporting corps and army troops was planned.
However, in 1922, a reduction of the peacetime establishment to 37,000
meant that this goal was never achieved. Compulsory training was reduced
to cover the populous areas only and, in 1922, annual training camps were
cancelled due to lack of funds.
Strategic concerns regarding Japanese imperialist intentions were muted
during the war years but resurfaced in the 1920s, despite the limitations
placed on Japan by the 1921-22 Washington Naval Conference. These concerns contributed to Australiaís support for the establishment
of a British naval base at Singapore.
Australiaís own coastal
defences remained little touched since Kitchenerís recommendations of
1910 and various later attempts to improve them had failed. In fact,
little real improvement was achieved until the period 1934-37.
In the decade prior to 1929, opposition to compulsory training scheme
began to grow and the Labour Party, elected on a policy which included the
abolition of universal training, terminated the scheme in November 1929.
Henceforth, Australia was to have an all-volunteer, primarily part-time
35,000 strong Army. The part-time element was renamed the militia. The
Army's strength in fact fell within twelve months to 27,000.
In 1931, even though Japan invaded Manchuria and international tension
increased, unit strengths decreased even further.
In 1932, the newly-elected Government, due to severely restricted
financial resources, initiated few defence improvements.
While the defences of Darwin were strengthened, there was only very
limited upgrading of the Army overall. Most equipment was surplus AIF
stock and generally no modern equipment reached the hands of the militia
until the outbreak of the Second World War II.
Not until 1935 was any emphasis placed on defence improvement, when an
increase in militia strength was authorised.
In March 1933, Japan withdrew from the League of Nations because of its
disapproval of her attack on China. In October of that year, Germany also
By 1937 Italy had annexed Abyssinia and Hitler had repudiated the
Versailles Treaty. The Rome-Berlin Axis had been established and civil war
had broken out in Spain. Japan used the volatile situation in Europe to
defy world opinion and continue her undeclared war on China.
While the strategic situation in Europe continued to decline, the
improving economic situation in Australia allowed the continuation of a
three-year programme of expenditure on defence instituted in 1937. With
this, a recruiting campaign opened in 1938 had, by mid-1939, increased the
militia strength from 35,000 to 80,000.
In June 1938, Lieutenant General E.K. Squires, a British officer, was
appointed Inspector General of the Australian Military Forces. He
recommended, in a report, that a small regular army of 7,500 organised as
two brigades be formed, to bolster the militia in the event of war and to
assist in its peacetime training. Early in 1939, the Government agreed in
principle to this proposal, however following the death of Prime Minister
Lyons in April, Mr R.G. Menzies, the new leader, cancelled this agreement.
Menzies hoped that war might be avoided and was opposed to the permanent
nature of the proposed new force. The size of the Permanent Army was
increased by subterfuge through the raising of the Darwin Mobile Force (DMF).
Due to the restrictions of the Defence, only artillery could be enlisted
even though a significant portion of the 257 strong Force was trained to
fight as infantry.