Australia's Foreign Wars: Origins, Costs, Future?!

Sir Ian Hamilton

General Sir Ian Hamilton, born 1853, commanded the failed and costly military attack on Gallipoli in 1915. As mentioned above, in 1904 he had attempted, unsuccessfully, to have Australia send 3-4,000 young men to fight with the Japanese against Russia in Manchuria. There he had been observing the First Japanese Army - and was mightily impressed by the unquestioning military spirit and performance of the young Japanese soldiers. Indeed, he was a great believer in having a similar military spirit inculcated into the youth of Britain and the Empire from a very early age. As he wrote of Japan's victory in the Russo-Japanese war, in his account, "A Staff Officer's Scrap-Book", (IH,12-3) "Providentially Japan is our ally, and not one, if I may presume to judge so early, who will prove ungrateful. England has time therefore - time to put her military affairs in order; time to implant and cherish the military ideal in the hearts of her children; time to prepare for a disturbed and anxious Twentieth Century. the young generations an ideal for which they would lay down their lives. ....From the nursery and its toys to the Sunday school and its cadet company, every influence and affection, loyalty, tradition, and education should be brought to bear on the next generation of British boys and girls, so as deeply to impress upon their young minds a feeling of reverence and admiration for the patriotic spirit of their ancestors." On the next page (IH,14) he quotes Ruskin on the necessity and virtues of war, contrasting those virtues with 'peace and selfishness', 'peace and death'. Clearly Imperialism and following a military 'manifest destiny' was, in his mind, the way for Britain to prosper and succeed during that 'disturbed and anxious' 20th Century!

And what a disastrous outcome it has been, not just for the rest of the world's peoples, but for the British people themselves. Until WWI, Britain had been the pre-eminent world power. But then, although it claimed to have prevailed, 'winning' the war against Germany and Austro-Hungary, the only possible winners were the United States and Japan - precisely because they had NOT invested the lives of their young, along with their treasure (causing extreme indebtedness) in such a truly self-defeating enterprise. Britain, which never recovered its old position, would have fared far better had it worked WITH Germany (its competitor, yet principal trading partner (JMK1,15)) towards a cooperative peaceful, Europe - rather than debilitating itself, along with Germany and so many other countries, in that terrible war - the war that then set the stage for WWII, an even more horrible war

Back to Chapter 4


Armed Forces | Art and Culture | Articles | Biographies | Colonies | Discussion | Glossary | Home | Library | Links | Map Room | Sources and Media | Science and Technology | Search | Student Zone | Timelines | TV & Film | Wargames |

by Stephen Luscombe