The australian naval institute



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The future

Well, I have told you about the present. The problems and some of the measures we are taking to improve matters, and so what of the future?

A survey commissioned in 1980 on com­munity attitudes to defence, indicates a healthy interest among the under 25 year old to joining the Sen/ices. This survey suggests that 65% of the population considers there could be an outside

threat to Australia, and about 50% of parents were in favour of their sons joining the Defence Force. I believe that any "Vietnam" hang-ups are largely gone

I think perhaps that we moved too rapidly to accommodate what we perceived as contempor­ary standards — the very liberal recognition of De facto" wives was one expression of this, which has been recently corrected to what I believe is a more sensible stance.

The young people coming into the Navy today, I believe, are coming not because they see it as just another job — they want adventure, challenge, a measure of security and they see the protection of Australia as worthwhile and neces­sary. They are more intelligent and they are looking for leadership.

They must see that defence policies are sus­tained — there is nothing more discouraging than changes of direction, or cut backs that affect operational efficiency or spares to keep equip­ment serviceable.

I believe we are reaching more consensus in Australia on defence, I know we have good people coming forward, and so I am very optimis­tic about the future.

Manpower means to us individual people and not just numbers.

In society of changing values, where costs of technology and wages are increasing rapidly, Navy is facing up to a stimulating challenge for the protection of Australia.



Journal ol the Australian Naval Institute Page 19



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Page 20 — Journal ol the Australian Naval Institute

A MUSEUM AS A MEMORIAL

The Australian War Memorial celebrated the 40th Anniversary of its opening on Remem­brance Day. 11 November 1981 This article on the building's origin and history was prepared by Margaret Browne and Jeffrey Williams of the History and Publications Section. Australian War Memorial

In November 1941. while Australian service­men and women were fighting in Europe and North Africa, preparations were being made in Canberra for the opening of a memorial to those who had fought and died in the first world war Seats for official guests were being placed in front of a huge sandstone structure in the then lakeless Australian capital. Canberra hotels were booked to capacity for the Remembrance Day opening of the newly completed War Memorial. A colonel had been seconded by the Department of the Army to ensure that the opening of the Memorial ran as if it were a military operation. The Minutes of the then Board of Management record: so perfectly had the ceremony been timed, and so smoothly did it run according to the schedule, that within three seconds of the final note of the Last Post" the chimes of the G.P.O. striking the eleventh hour in Sydney came in with dramatic effect.1 Officers of the Prime Minister's Department hastily sought a copy of the arrangements to be used as a future blueprint for similar opening ceremonies.2

The actual building of the Memorial had not. however, run so smoothly to plan. It had been twenty four years since the government of William Morris Hughes made the decision to establish a war museum under the direction of the Depart­ment of Defence.

The original idea for the museum had come from C.E.W. Bean. Australians official war correspondent and, later, official historian of the first world war. As a child in the 1890s, Bean had been fascinated by visits to the Waterloo battle­field and to the Hotel du Musee which housed relics of that campaign:

For us youngsters the Museum was fas­cinating — even far more so than the lunch, which is saying a great deal. In the half hour before lunch, and in stolen minutes after it. we used to steep ourselves in the contents of the glass cases and shakos or helmets and tunics of the Old Guard or the British infantry, some with the marks of battle on them — indeed there were a few skulls with holes from round shot or bullets and clear sabre-chips...3

At Gallipoli in 1915, Bean observed many Australian soldiers gathering items such as shell caps, shrapnel, bullets and rifle cartridge cases for souvenirs. He assumed that there would be a museum established in Australian after the war to house these relics, perhaps as the British had housed similar souvenirs at Whitehall. Early in 1916 Bean learned that the Canadian Max Aitken (later Lord Beaverbrook) had succeeded in ob­taining the war diaries of Canadian units from the War Office where, as the result of previous arrangements, all records of Dominion forces were sent. During 1916 Bean gave a good deal of thought to the future of records and memorabilia relating to the war, often sharing his ideas with Arthur Bazley. his batman, after the two had tramped the Pozieres battlefield visiting units in the line, aid posts and casualty clearing stations.*

Early in 1917. Bean submitted to Generals White and Birdwood a paper suggesting the establishment of a national museum. Birdwood recommended the proposal to the Australian government and in May received a telegram supporting the idea. At the same time the Australian government discussed with the British government the question of A.IF. records being transferred from the War Office to A.I.F. head­quarters in London. The War Office readily agreed to this suggestion, provided that copies of the diaries and appendices were made by the Australian authorities and handed over to the Historical Section of the Committee of Imperial Defence.5 A War Records Section of the A.I.F. was established in London, under the energetic and industrious Lieutenant J.L. Treloar, to take care of these records and to supervise the collec­tion of future war diaries and correspondence.

Birdwood also instructed corps commanaers to co-operate in the collection of relics. All manner of souvenirs poured into the collecting depot: car­tridge cases, machine guns, small amis, artillery pieces, graveyard memorabilia, a painting or two cut from their frames in French chateaux6 and wooden carvings which had been torn from buildings by diggers enthusiastic to obey orders. Even German prisoners had been labelled Captured to be consigned to the Australian War Museum'.'* Some of the more spectacular souvenirs were the Amiens gun. a German tank,

Journal of the Australian Naval Institute — Page 21

and the Shellal Mosaic which was torn up and packed into boxes in the space of two months There was some disagreement between the War Trophies Committee in London, the War Office and A.I.F. headquarters as to the future of the Mosaic but on 6 June 1918 permission was given to the Australian government to ship one of its most valuable war souvenirs home.8 Bean noted that at the time:

...the notion of its (the Shelal Mosaic) being shipped to Australia was strongly resisted by some British antiquarians who argued it should be left where it was. and that in any case it would be tragic for such a relic to be shipped to the antipodes. The issue seemed doubtful, but Treloar and I sat up one night con­cocting a letter with a pungent reference to the Elgin marbles from the Parthenon at Athens which had now for over 100 years been a treasure of the British Museum.9

Pictorial records — film, paintings and photo­graphs — were not neglected. Will Dyson, Daryl Lindsay, George Lambert, Arthur Streeton, Fred Leist. C Web Giblert, H. Steptimus Power, Louis McCubbin, Will Longstaff, George Bell, Frank Crazier and James Scott all turned their talents to capturing the experiences of Australians engaged on the battlefront. Bean also recruited Frank Hurley and Captain H. (later Sir Hubert) Wilkins to produce films of the activities of Australian soldiers. After a discussion in Bean's billet, one night in May 1918, it was decided that picture models or dioramas, executed by first class artists and sculptors, would be an ideal means of capturing the scenario and conditions of life on the battlefront. Bean marked on maps of the various campaigns the precise vista to be covered in each of the picture models (except those of Palestine, which Gullett was to choose). Web Gilbert, the sculptor, was set to study the ground and observe the troops and, after the signing ol the Armstice, Bean, with Lambert and Wilkins visited Gallipoli to insoect the field of battle and collect relics.'0

On the return journey to Australia Bean, witn the help of Bazley and John Balfour, put into written form his plans for the museum: for the preservation of records, relics, pictures and photographs and for their administration. On 31 July 1919 he presented an outline of his scheme to the Australian War Museum Committee which had been established by the government a year earlier. Bean envisaged the Australian War Museum as having two functions: (1) it has to receive, classify, describe and allocate to the different states or districts (and certain institutions, eg. RMC Duntroon and RAN College Jervis Bay) and to the Common­wealth collection of trophies and relics which is in the course of transport from England: and

(2) it has to establish (from a selection of (a) the Commonwealth's share of the trophies and relics (b) the battle models (c) the official pictures and photographs and (d) the historic documents, maps and airphotos (that) the Commonwealth War Museum will be Aus­tralia's National Memorial to the Australians who fell in the war."

Bean s idea that the museum should also be a memorial was reflected in his conception of the building, with its Roll of Honour:

My conception was that the Museum should be a classical building, something in the style of the Lincoln Memorial A great hall in the centre would be panelled with the inscribed names of all Australians who fell in that war. On each side of the hall would be a wing, the one to hold the relics and pictures, the other the written records. I strongly felt that in the great hall surrounded by the 80.000 names. Australians would feel almost the presence of their fallen...'2

The Committee approved Bean's conception of a museum as a memorial and in February 1922 Major General (later Sir William) Glasgow reported to the Committee that he had had an interview with the Treasurer (Earle Page) who would raise at the next Cabinet meeting the question of the War Museum as the National War Museum', and that the Committee s views would be placed before the Prime Minister (S.M. Bruce) prior to the Cabinet meeting. The Committee began for the first time to use the title (Australian) National War Memorial rather than Australian War Museum, primarily to give impetus to the idea that the national war memorial, as opposed to various state and local war memorials and shrines of remembrance, was to be located in Canberra, in the form of a museum — the permanent home of the national collections.'3 Bean drafted the statement on the nature of the memorial for Cabinet'

The Australian National War Memorial, comprising a monumental building con­taining the whole of the war record of the Australian Forces — archives, pictures and relics and the engraved names of every Australian who fell during the war, thus dedicating to their memory a temple to which for all time students and the people generally will resort in order to have knowledge of their deeds.'4 Thus the function of the Australian War Memorial was to be twofold, to commemorate the fallen and to house and exhibit the national collec­tion.

The Committee had hoped that Bean would become the first director of the Memorial as well as official historian, but it was evident to Bean that he could not undertake both tasks. Gullett was therefore asked to be Director, and Treloar

Page 22 Journal ol the Australian Naval Institute



hi mmhHb

Early days, the Australian War Memorial under construction (circa 1930)

Australian War Memorial



became his head of staff. When Gullett left to become Director of Immigration in 1920, Treloar took over as Director, a position which he held until his death in 1952. with the exception of the period he spent as Secretary to the Department of Information during the 1939-45 war. Gullett remained associated with the Memorial as a member of the Board of Management and. as Bean himself observed:

until Harry's (Gullett s) death, he. Treloar and myself formed virtually the trium­virate which mainly moulded the future of the Memorial. We worked in very close consultation.15

Pending the provision of a permanent home, the collections were exhibited in temporary accommodation at the Exhibition Building in Melbourne, from 1922-4, and in Sydney from early in 1925. The Melbourne exhibition was opened on Anzac Day 1922. and when it closed in 1924, 776,810 visitors had passed through the turnstiles, including one woman

...who stared for some time at a naval torpedo, and then tried to ascer­tain how the men got inside it before it was fired.16

The Sydney exhibition in Prince Alfred Park was opened on 3 April 1925 by the Governor-General, Lord Forster. Visitors were

...surprised to find in an incon­spicuous corner a stall devoted to the sale ol ornaments, ash-trays, sugar basins, and other souvenirs, made from German shell cases salved on the battlefields of France and Belgium.

From the small 77mm vase or sugar bowl, to the large 8 in howitzer case, converted into a handsome jardiniere, or the pedestal made from a combination of 5.9-inch gun shell case, with the 8-inch howitzer case a splendid array of beautiful and useful articles is presen­ted.17

The exhibition continued to be popular. By June 1927 one million visitors had passed through the turnstiles and. by July 1932, the number had risen to two million. The Sydney exhibition was closed on 31 January 1935 and the exhibits moved to Canberra.

Progress in Canberra towards erecting a permanent building for the collection had been slow. In spite of the enthusiasm of Bean and the rest of the Committee, the government did not pass the Australian War Memorial Act until 1925. In a spirit of optimism an international competition was then lauched to find a design but the result was disappointing. All of the sixty-nine designs submitted were held by the judges to have failed to carry out one or more of the conditions con­sidered to be essential. However, some of the designs were of great beauty and, as Bean com­mented,

...one competitor had substituted for the great hall an open courtyard surrounded by cloisters in which the names would be inscribed, with a hall or shrine at the end. It was a more beautiful conception than mine...18

Journal ot the Australian htaval Institute Page 23

This design which the adjudicators thought "...a very excellent and beautiful conception, embodying as it does Australian sentiment for gardens and sunlight"'9 was the work of a Sydney architect. John Crust. He was asked to collabor ate with another competitor, E.mil Sodersteen, also of Sydney, who had produced a beautiful, striking Byzantine desian.

On 16 February 1928, after allegations by Gullett that the government intended to postpone the building of the Memorial indefinitely, and in spite of complaints from some competitors that only two of the architects had been given a chance to amend their designs, Bruce announced that Cabinet had decided to commission the architects Sodersteen and Crust to prepare working drawings to submit to :he Public Works Committee Debate in the press indicated over­whelming support for building the Memorial, but poignant comments such as that of DC McGrath, M.P. for Ballarat. were indications of a changing mood. He believed that

if the money was to be spent it should be spent on living soldiers who were out of work, and who could not qet homes20 The foundation stone was finally unveiled in Canberra on Anzac Day 1929 and it must have seemed to those eager to see Ihe Memorial built that their dreams would soon be realised. But economic conditions were to dictate otherwise. After a heated debate in the Hcuse of Represen­tatives later in the year, the government decided to abandon building for the present. Prime Minister Scullin outlined his reasons in a letter to Mr G J.C. Dyett, Federal President of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers' imperial League: ...the present Government has no inten­tion whatever of departing from the decision of Federal Parliament to erect a war memorial at the national capital but...we are faced with financial disabil­ities of a serious character ..Before we make a start on a work of this kind, we want to feel assured that it can be completed...During the next fin­ancial year prospects may be brighter and we may feel (ustified in recommen­ding that the work be commenced2' Scuiiin had clearly uncorestimated the severity of the financial and economic depression which had engulfed Australia and the rest of the world. The next few years saw little progress; it was a time for tightening of belts. Bean, who had insisted that his salary be cut to conform with the reductions placed on other public servants, battled on in Sydney with the official history. And, while the construction site at the foot of Mt Amslie remained deserted, ex-solders on the dole who chanced to visit Sydney's Prince Alfred Park dawdled past the relics of campaigns they had fought in almost twenty years before.

As the country began to emerge from the forlorn soup kitchen days prospects for the building of the Memorial improved. On 1 June 1933 the Lyons Cabinet approved a proposal by the Minister of the Interior. J.A. Perkins, for the immediate erection of the first half of the Aus­tralian War Memorial. As the Prime Minister commented.

The undertaking of this work, which will cost about £80.000, has been made possible largely by the decision of the War Memorial Board to advance for the purpose the £24,000 contained in the War Memorial Trust Fund, the proceeds of the exhibition of A.I.F. Cinema Films, and the sale of A.I.F. Dublications.22 Later, on 1J August 1936, the Lyons govern­ment approved expenditure of £ 160.000 for com­pletion of the Memorial. This entailed the erection of the Hall of Memory, Cloisters to contain the Roll of Honour, and the facing of the whole building with stone

When the Memorial was finally opened on Armistice Day 1941, the world had been at war again for two years. Cabinet had decided in February that this second world war should also be represented in the Memorial and Treloar had gone off to the Middle East to arrange for the systematic collection of records and memorabilia He persuaded General Blarney that a Military History and Information Section should be formed to supervise the work of field teams attached to each division. The Section eventually established itself in Queens Road. Melbourne and from there directed the activities of its field teams and received the monthly war diaries which all units were obliged to submit. In July 1946 these records were transferred to the Memorial

The next two decaues were a period of con­solidation for the memorial. Much time was spent in the enormous tasks of organising the records, arranging and cataloguing the collections and adding to the thousands of names on the Roll of Honour. These tasks were made more onerous by the broadening of the provisions of the War Memorial Act in 1952 to include all wars in which Australian servicemen and women had partici­pated, from the Sudan War in 1885 to the con­temporary involvement in conflicts in south-east Asia. In 1973 a further broadening of the ACT allowed the commemoration of Australians who had died as a result of war. although not serving as members of the forces. Extensions to the building, originally authorised by Cabinet in 1947 in recognition of the need for the Memorial to commemorate the second world war as well as the first, were finally started in 1968 One wry observer commented:

Even with current delivery delays these extensions will hardly be in time to fulfil their purpose — to provide room to

Page 24 Journal of the Australian Naval Institute

house at least one of the F-111 aircraft now on order from the USA.23

When the extensions were opened on 31 March 1971 the need for further space was already being felt.

In 1936, the Director, J.L Treloar. had hastened to correct journalists who used to word museum' to describe the War Memorial. It might, he suggested, have been appropriate for the old corrugated iron building in Sydney, but was a misnomer when used in connection with the new Canberra building.''4 The 1970s, however, saw a new emphasis on the Memorials museum function. The engagement of professional staff, the upgrading of galleries and exhibitions and the improvement of conservation and storage facil­ities represented a more professional approach to the museum aspects of the Memorial.

The proclamation of the Australian War Memorial Act 1980 represented a watershed in the Memorial's history. It left unaltered the primary purpose of the Memorial, which is to preserve the memory of Australian servicemen and women who have died on or as a result of active service, but the Council, which replaced the Board of Trustees, was charged with additional responsi­bilities: to develop and maintain a national collec­tion of historical material, to encourage exhibition of historical material, to conduct and assist research into matters pertaining to Australian military history and to disseminate information about military history, the Memorial, its collection and its functions.

The Act allows the Memorial to collect and display material on events leading up to conflicts, their aftermath and the effects of war on the home front providing a wider understanding of the in­volvement of the nation as a whole. The Memorial is committed to further research and to disseminate information relating to Australian military history and to encourage the already con­siderable interest envinced by scholars and researchers in this subject.

For some time the Council has recognised the need to expand the role of the Memorial in education as it is the repository of a significant part of Australia's history. The number of Australians who have no direct experience of the nation's involvement in military conflicts will continue to grow, and it is essential that all should be aware of the nature of that involvement. The new Act gives the Council more specific powers in

the field of education and the Memorials Education Section has developed a programme of in-depth studies which involves teachers in classroom preparation and follow-up exercises after a visit to the Memorial. These studies and tours are designed to make each visit a worth­while learning experience rather than a jumble ot confused impressions. The greater emphasis on the educative role of the memorial reflects Bean's original conception of a place where children and adults unfamiliar with the reality of war might learn through observation something of the experience of earlier generations of Australians.

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