Monday, 2 April 2007

Chapter 3: Enlistment 1915

Date of Enlistment: 2 March 1915 (however, he arrived at Broadmeadows Camp 1 December 1914: there are letters from that time. )
Rank: Private
Regiment: 4th Light Horse
Regimental Number: 972
Place of Enlistment: Broadmeadows, Victoria.
Age: 23 years 6 months
Height: 5 feet 5 inches
Chest expansion: 33.5 to 38.5
Eyes: Blue
Hair: Fair
Religious Denomination: C of E

Considered fit for active service 2/3/15 Signed Geo S Cole Capt AAMC

From Smith, Men of Beersheba (1993) p 4:

"It is often asserted that the bulk of the light horse regiments found their recruits in rural areas this is not entirely true. Certainly many troopers had backgrounds on the land which suits the modern perception that light horsemen were tall, bronzed young men accustomed to life in the saddle on the outback plains of Australia. But an examination of recruiting sources for the 4th Light Horse Regiment reveals that this is not the case…of the original members of the regiment, about 20% were city dwellers from Melbourne."

From Bill Gammage The Broken Years: Australian soldiers in the Great War. Penguin, 1975. P. 7:

" Many volunteers were disappointed. The army wanted men 5 ft 6 inches and over, at least 34 inches about the chest, and between nineteen and thirty-eight years, but so many volunteers that these minimums or any defect - lack of military experience, unfilled teeth, flat feet, corns or bunions - often meant rejection. Doctors set artificial standards, so high that even in 1918 the survivors of the '1914 men' stood out clearly from other soldiers…Those who sailed against Turkey were the fittest, strongest, and most ardent in the land.

Most of that early avalanche of volunteers were roused by a sense of adventure. Great wars were rare, and short, and many eagerly seized a fleeting opportunity. They were the first Australians enabled to unsling the drums of the Empire's glory, they would engage in the splendour of the charge, and in some glorious moment of cut and thrust balance the chance to kill with the risk of death. And they would do this overseas, on horizons hitherto only the wisps of boyhood dreams."

"Some volunteers felt obliged to enlist….'I would never have been able to hold up my head & look any decent girl in the face' …Other volunteers …offered to do 'their bit', or 'their duty', or to 'answer the call"…Other men enlisted from hatred of Germany…There were in addition a thousand and particular and personal reasons for enlistment. Loneliness, family trouble, public opinion, and unemployment all contributed a measure" (pp 8-10)

1 comment:

Nathalie said...

What an excellent all-rounder view of the many reasons why men enlisted - not all glorious, but all understandable.