Centenary of WWI in Orange update

Thank you for visiting the Centenary of World War I in Orange blog. Please note that contributions to this blog are no longer being made. For information about the district’s service personnel please visit the Orange Wiki.

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For The Fallen

For The Fallen by Robert Laurence Binyon

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children
England mourns for her dead across the sea,
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,
There is music in the midst of desolation
And glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow,
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again,
They sit no more at familiar tables of home,
They have no lot in our labour of the daytime,
They sleep beyond England’s foam.

But where our desires and hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the night.

As the stars shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain,
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

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Centenary of WWI in Orange update

Please be advised that the “daily updates” will not be appearing as regularly as they have been since we are directing our full attention to researching the district’s servicemen and women, particularly those whose names appear on the Honour Roll

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Exemption courts

In early October 1916 the Commonwealth Government proclaimed that all unmarried able-bodied men between the ages of 21 and 35 were to undertake military training leading to the possibility of service within the Commonwealth.

All men meeting these criteria were to proceed to enrolment centres where they were assessed for suitability. There was, however, a procedure whereby men classified as suitable could appeal and be granted exception from service. The Defence Act allowed exemption from military service on religious grounds, and war service regulations allowed exemption:

Local exemption courts were established to hear applications for exemption. Men who sought exemption from military training were to fill out a form in duplicate, deliver it to the military registrar and present their case at the exemption court. More than 87,000 men actively sought exemption from military service through the exemption courts.

An exemption court opened at Orange Courthouse on 19 October 1916 and was operational until November 1916. During this time Orange Police Magistrate Hugh Malone presided over more than 150 local appeals for exception from military service.


Further reading:
The establishment of local military exemption courts
Military exemption courts in 1916: a public hearing of private lives

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Military honours and decorations awarded during WWI

Prior to 1975 Australian military decorations and service medals were awarded through the British Imperial system. There were a number of awards that an individual might receive for a conspicuous and gallant act of valour whilst serving in the armed forces during WWI. Awards were also issued for distinguished and meritorious service.

This is a summary of the British honours and decorations awarded to officers, nurses and other ranks of the Australian Imperial Force during the First World War.

Victoria Cross (VC) – 64
The highest award for acts of bravery in wartime.

Order of the Bath – Knight Commander (KCB) – 8
Awarded to senior military officers for services in action.

Order of the Bath – Companion (CB) – 47

Order of St Michael and St George – Knight Grand Cross (GCMG) – 2
To acknowledge military exploits.

Order of St Michael and St George – Knight Commander (KCMG) – 11

Order of St Michael and St George – Companion (CMG) – 150

Order of the British Empire – Knight Commander (KBE) – 3
To reward service to the British Empire in the United Kingdom and abroad.

Order of the British Empire – Commander (CBE) – 35

Order of the British Empire – Officer (OBE) – 157

Order of the British Empire – Member (MBE) – 114

Distinguished Service Order (DSO) – 620
To reward military officers for distinguished services under fire or under conditions equivalent to service in actual combat with the enemy.

Distinguished Service Order (DSO) 1 Bar – 41

Distinguished Service Order (DSO) 2 Bars – 1

Royal Red Cross (RRC) – 43
For exceptional devotion or competency in performance of nursing duties with the Army in the field, or an exceptional act of bravery or devotion to the post of duty. This was an award exclusively for women.

Royal Red Cross (RRC) 1 Bar – 1

Royal Red Cross (ARRC) – 143

Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) – 2
Awarded to naval officers below the rank of Lieutenant Commander for gallantry at sea in the presence of the enemy.

Military Cross (MC) – 2,366
For lower ranking Army officers (Captain or less) and Warrant Officers for distinguished and meritorious services.

Military Cross (MC) 1 Bar – 170

Military Cross (MC) 2 Bars – 4

Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) – 59
Awarded to officers for acts of valour, courage or devotion to duty performed whilst flying in active operations against the enemy.

Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) 1 Bar – 5

Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) 2 Bars – 2

Air Force Cross (AFC) – 14
Awarded to officers for acts of valour, courage or devotion to duty performed whilst flying, though not in active operations against the enemy.

Air Force Cross (AFC) 1 Bar – 2

Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) – 1,767
Awarded to non-commissioned officers for distinguished conduct in action in the field.

Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) 1 Bar – 28

Military Medal (MM) – 9,926
Awarded to other ranks for acts of gallantry and devotion to duty under fire.

Military Medal (MM) 1 Bar – 472

Military Medal (MM) 2 Bars – 15

Military Medal (MM) 3 Bars – 1

Distinguished Service Medal (DSM) – 17
Awarded to ranks up to and including Chief Petty Officer.for bravery whilst on active service at sea.

Air Force Medal (AFM) 2
Awarded to for an act or acts of valour, courage or devotion to duty whilst flying though not in active operations against the enemy.

Air Force Medal (AFM) 1 Bar – 2

Meritorious Service Medal (MSM) – 1,237
For non-operational gallantry or meritorious service connected with the war effort.

Meritorious Service Medal (MSM) 1 Bar – 1

Mentioned in Despatches emblem – 5,798

With the diggers 1914-1918, 1933, Fourth Division AMC Association, Melbourne.
*  Williams, Reginald David 2000, Medals to Australia from 1858-1999, with valuations, Downie’s, Melbourne
Australian War Memorial Encyclopedia. Statistics – military

Further reading:
Imperial Awards
A Guide to British Awards for Gallantry or Meritorious Service in WW1

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WWI medals awarded to Australians

Australian service men and women who served during the First World War were eligible for the following medals:

British War Medal
The British War Medal was instituted to mark the end of the First World War. It was awarded to officers, men and women of the British and Imperial Forces who left their native shore to serve overseas between 5th August 1914 and 11th November 1918 inclusive. It was not imperative for the recipient to have entered a theatre of war. There were 338,000 British War Medals awarded to Australians.

Victory Medal
The Victory Medal commemorates the victory of the Allied Forces over the Central Powers. It was awarded to prescribed classes of persons who entered a theatre of war on duty between 5 August 1914 and 11 November 1918 inclusive. There were 336,000 Victory Medals awarded to Australians.

1914-15 Star
The 1914-15 Star was awarded to those who served in specified theatres of war between 5th August 1914 and 31st December 1915 inclusive. The 1914-15 Star was not awarded alone. The recipient had to have received the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. There were 82,000 1914-15 Stars issued to Australians, mostly to troops who served in New Guinea, Gallipoli and Egypt.

These three medals were sometimes referred to as Pip, Squeak and Wilfred, with Pip representing the 1914-15 Star, Squeak the British War Medal; and Wilfred the Victory Medal.

*  Williams, Reginald David 2000, Medals to Australia from 1858-1999, with valuations, Downie’s, Melbourne.

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Australian Imperial Force Statistics for WWI

Total enlistments:  416,809
Total embarkations:  331,946
Total deaths:   59,341
Killed in action:   39,908
Died of wounds:  13,601
Died of other causes:  5,832
Prisoners of war:  4,057
Wounded:   166,819
Total sick and wounded: 88,170
Gassed:   16,487
Died prior to embarkation: 936
Total casualties:  316,387

Wounded 7 times:  1
Wounded 6 times:  10
Wounded 5 times:  105
Wounded 4 times:  807
Wounded 3 times:  5,582

Total cost of the war to Australia: £464,000,000

With the diggers 1914-1918, 1933, Fourth Division AMC Association, Melbourne.

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Enlistment facts and figures

416,809 Australians enlisted for service in the First World War, representing 38.7% of the total male population aged between 18 and 44. At the outbreak of the First World War, the number of people volunteering to enlist for the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) was so high that recruitment officers were forced to turn people away. Approximately 33% of all volunteers were rejected during the first year of the war.

However, as the war went on, casualty rates increased and the number of volunteers declined, so that by 1916 the AIF faced a shortage of men. Despite opposition from his own party, Labor Prime Minister Billy Hughes decided to take the issue to the people in a referendum. The nation was asked to grant the government the power to compel citizens to serve overseas during the current war, ie. conscription. The referendum was held on 28 October 1916, provoking furious debate. It was narrowly defeated. Read the rest of this entry »

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Afflictions suffered by soldiers during WWI

Soldiers suffered from a variety of illnesses and injuries during the course of the war, and many soldiers were hospitalised on more than one occasion. Medical services were relatively primitive, and many of today’s life-saving antibiotics were yet to be discovered. Minor injuries, therefore, could prove lethal.

Vaccination in the early 20th century was not as prevalent as it is today, hence communicable diseases such as mumps, dysentery, typhus, and cholera were very common. The occurrence of such illnesses was exacerbated by poor sanitation in the trenches, and many more soldiers died of illness than of gunshot wounds, gas attacks or shell fire.

Respiratory diseases such as influenza, tuberculosis, pleurisy and pneumonia were rife, as were scabies, pediculosis (lice) and other parasites. Body lice caused trench fever, resulting in headaches, aching muscles, skin sores and a high fever. Read the rest of this entry »

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New recruits were required to record their occupation when completing attestation papers. The occupations recorded by service men from Orange are predominantly rural ones. They include Farmer, Drover, Grazier, Orchardist, Nurseryman, Stockman, Horse trainer, Stationhand, Jackaroo, Shearer and Fencer.

The Railway features prominently as an employer. Many men recorded occupations such as Railway worker, Railway employee, Engine driver, Shunter, Porter, Carter and Locomotive fireman.

Building and other trades are also popular, including Builder, Plasterer, Carpenter, Blind maker, Labourer, Blacksmith’s striker, Miner, Mechanic, Marine engineer, Rubber worker, Bootmaker and Book binder.

Retail trades include Butcher, Baker, Grocer, Shop assistant, Packer, Storeman, Boot buyer, Cordial maker, Bookkeeper, Clerk

Health professions include Medical Practitioner, Dentist, Chemist, Optician, Nurse and Masseuse.

Other professions mentioned are: Police constable, Fireman, Telegraphist, Draughtsman, Hairdresser, Motor driver, Jockey, School teacher, Singing teacher and Musician.

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