British Empire

At the beginning of the twentieth century the British Empire covered almost one quarter of the globe, with territories in all continents and major oceans. It was the largest empire the world had ever known. It included India, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, along with parts of Africa, Asia, and the West Indies. These territories were connected by the Royal Navy – the world’s largest, and a civilian merchant fleet serviced the industries of the ‘Mother Country’ that were supplied by the colonial markets. Many of the people from these territories were fiercely loyal to the British Crown and Empire, and were more than willing to join in a war. George V was crowned in 1910. The grandson of Queen Victoria, he was also a cousin of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany. Because of anti-German sentiment, he renamed the British Royal family the House of Windsor in 1917, changing it from the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.

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Franz Ferdinand

Franz Ferdinand (18 December 1863-28 June 1914) was the Heir-presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He was married to Sophie, the Duchess of Hohenberg and together they had three children. On Sunday, 28 June 1914, while observing military manoeuvres in Sarajevo, the capital of the Austro-Hungarian province of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Franz and his wife were shot dead. Their assassin was 19 year old Gavrilo Princip; a member of Young Bosnia which consisted of Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian men opposed to Austro-Hungarian rule over the south Slavic regions of the Empire. The assignation was organised by a secret military society formed by Serbian army officers called The Black Hand. It was hoped that this act of terror would free all southern Slavs from Austro-Hungarian rule. However, the assassination forced the Empire to demand, among other things, that Austro-Hungary be permitted to conduct their own investigation on Serbian soil. This became known as the July Ultimatum. Viewing this as a threat to their national sovereignty Serbia refused. As a result, having gained unconditional support from Germany, the Austro-Hungarian Empire declared war on Serbia. This set the European alliance system in motion splitting the major powers into two sides: The Central Powers; Germany, Austro-Hungary and the Triple Entente; France, Russia and, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

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Pre-war Alliance System

The pre-war alliance system in Europe was a major determining factor for the major power’s entering the war. Before the war, alliances were entered into as defensive agreements only. In October 1879 the Austria-Hungary Empire and Germany formed a formal alliance binding the two parties to assist each other, if either was attacked by Russia or another power. Three years later in 1882, Italy joined this alliance creating the ‘Triple Alliance. As a result of the Triple Alliance and Germany’s attempts at becoming a major world power, France, Russia And Britain worked together to form their own alliance system. France and Russia entered into a formal alliance in 1892 that stipulated that if Germany, or Italy supported by Germany, attacked either nation; the other would employ all of their available forces to attack Germany. While Britain had agreed to an alliance with France and Russia, forming the Triple Entente, it would not formally commit to a full military alliance naming Germany as the enemy. Britain did however, commit to an obligation to protect Belgium and her sovereignty. As war broke out and Germany invaded Belgium after implementing the Schlieffen plan, Britain was forced to join the Entente and declare was on Germany.

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Cooper, Ethel

Caroline Ethel Cooper (1871-1961) was something of an eccentric – for starters, she had a pet crocodile called Cheops which she kept in her apartment, and lived a very independent lifestyle. A proficient musician, she formed her own Women’s Orchestra in Adelaide before the outbreak of the war. A regular visitor to Germany, she was living in Leipzig when the war broke out. She remained in Germany for the duration of the war, writing a letter each week to her sister Emmie in Adelaide. Although these letters could not be posted during the war, the first 52 were smuggled to Switzerland and posted from Interlaken and the remainder were hidden and sent from England in 1918. Although her premises were often raided by police and she was forbidden from leaving several times during the war, she was not detained and had a pass that stated her presence was ‘agreeable to the military authorities’. She returned to Adelaide for a few years after the war, but returned to Europe where she participated in relief work. She settled in Adelaide in 1936, with her then-widowed sister.

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Terrell, Frederick Leopold

After working as an iron moulder, 25 year old Frederick Leopold (Leo) Terrell was frustrated by the lack of work in South Australia and, enlisted for service for the Royal Australian Naval Bridging Train at Keswick on 27 March, 1915. After several months of training, Terrell embarked from Australia on 3 June 1915 and served with the AIF at Gallipoli, landing at Suvla Bay. He later served with the 12th Field Artillery Battery on the Western front in Europe.

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The Advertiser was founded in 1858. Between 1893 and 1929,Sir John Langdon Bonython was its sole proprietor. He also held the post of editor for 45 years, and under his direction the Advertiser became a prominent Australian daily newspaper. It appealed to the growing middle class and was proudly South Australian, although Bonython was determined that its coverage should be as complete as possible. The newspaper prospered, partly thanks to the prominence given to small advertisements. Bonython had been an advocate for Federation, and promoted the cause through his newspaper. Indeed, he represented South Australia in the Federal Parliament for several years from 1901 as a Protectionist. Bonython was also a noted philanthropist, giving significant sums of money to educational institutions, and to the needy during hard times. He also gave a large sum of money towards the completion of Parliament House in Adelaide.

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Europe on the brink of war

On June 28, 1914 the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, was inspecting forces in Bosnia when he and his wife were assassinated by a Slavic nationalist, 19-year-old Gavrilo Princip. This was the second attempt on the Archduke’s life that day: a bomb thrown into the motorcade earlier in the day detonated, injuring one of the royal entourage, but leaving the Archduke unhurt. In an attempt to detour to the hospital to visit the injured man, the Archduke’s open-topped car stopped unexpectedly beside Princip, later in the day, and he took the opportunity to shoot them. Both died within the hour. This event is generally believed to have been a key trigger to outbreak of the First World War, although the causes of the tensions between the two opposed imperial powers, Britain and Germany/Austria, were much more complex and of long duration. Fearing Austrian retaliation against Serbia, the Russian monolith confirmed its support for Serbia. On 28 July, Austria declared war on Serbia, and Russian troops began to mobilise. An alliance existed between Austria and Germany. The Germans had been in a process of militarisation for several decades, and quickly declared war on Russia (1 August, 1914). The Russians were allied with France, and Germany made a pre-emptive declaration of war on France and began to move through Belgium on 4 August to attack France, hoping to end this part of the war quickly, so they could concentrate on the Russian front. However, Britain had already warned Germany that any invasion of neutral Belgium would trigger war, so when the German army entered Belgium, that is precisely what happened.

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Morphettville Camp

Australia did not have all the infrastructure required for the war, and some camps for enlisting soldiers were set up at racecourses. Morphettville Camp was one such camp, where soldiers trained and were housed before being deployed overseas. The land was donated by Richard MacDonnell Hawker (1865-1930), well-known sportsman and pastoralist of Bungaree Station near Clare.  He was also the owner of Morphettville Stud Farm, about 80 acres of land alongside the Morphettville Racecourse.  Following the outbreak of war, Hawker made ‘a splendidly patriotic offer to the military authorities … for the free use of encampment of the expeditionary force… ‘(The Register, 13 August 1914).

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Lady Galway

Lady Marie Carola Franciska Roselyne Galway (1876-1963) was the wife of South Australia’s 17th Governor Sir Henry Galway. Newly married in August 1913, they arrived in Adelaide to take up office the following April. Within four months war was declared. Lady Galway became a tireless and compassionate charity worker, travelling widely, writing numerous letters and raising over a million pounds during the First World War. As well as founding the South Australian division of the Red Cross, she also directed the Belgian Relief Fund and was the founding president of the League of Loyal Women, an organisation that supplied comforts for servicemen. She did much to raise the status of women in public life. Her husband’s opinions and often tactless remarks were sometimes controversial throughout his governorship but by contrast, Lady Galway was popularly received. Charming, well read and an excellent public speaker, she received many accolades from South Australians prior to her return to England in 1919. This is remarkable considering she was half German - her mother being a Bavarian countess, her father an Irish baronet – and also a Catholic living in what was then Australia’s most Protestant state.

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Red Cross

Australian branches of the Red Cross formed in 1914 within days of the outbreak of the war. They were all branches of the British Red Cross Society, reflecting the close bonds with the ‘Mother Country’. Lady Helen Munro Ferguson, the wife of Australia's Governor General, established the Red Cross in Melbourne, and encouraged state governors' wives to do the same. In South Australia, Lady Marie Carola Galway convened the inaugural meeting at Adelaide Town Hall on 14 August, 1914. Thousands of South Australians, predominantly women, joined the ranks of the Red Cross, raising funds to support the soldiers and putting traditional skills to use, knitting, sewing and baking for the war effort. Branches sprang up all around the state, based on suburbs, towns, religious congregations and workplaces. Later in the war the Red Cross opened an Information Bureau to help families search for missing soldiers.

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Arbor Day

Arbor Day originated in Nebraska, USA in 1872 and was initiated by Julius Sterling Morton, who hoped to embed tree planting into the everyday lives of Americans. On the first Arbor Day in America, on 10 April, 1872, an estimated one million trees were planted. On 20 June, 1889 Australia conducted its first formal Arbor Day in Adelaide, with the intention of teaching school children both how to plant trees, and to appreciate their role in the environment and landscape. Children paraded with their school bands from Victoria Square and planted trees in the Adelaide Park Lands, the intention was to give them 'a lesson on the value of arboriculture’ (The Register, 20 June 1889).

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Wattle Day

The first Wattle Day was held on 1 September, 1910 in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. Though plans to celebrate Wattle Day nationally were interrupted by the outbreak of the First World War, Wattle Day served as a strong symbol of patriotism during the war with the Red Cross using it as a focus for fundraising for the war effort. The Golden Wattle, flowering during late winter and early spring, grows around the country and is the national floral emblem. Unlike many other national celebrations at the time, Wattle Day was purely Australian, with no ties to Great Britain.

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