Home' The Canberra Times : See Canberra Autumn Contents In 1914, Australians heard the talk of
growing tensions between Britain and
Germany, but didn't take much notice as
they'd heard it all before. However this time,
despite their faith in the ability of statesmen
to resolve the turmoil, international disputes
were not settled peacefully.
On August 4, Germany invaded Belgium
to attack France and Britain declared war.
Australia's new government was eager to
establish its reputation among the nations
of the world.
Canberran Anthony Hill, the author
of Soldier Boy, wrote, "From all over the
country, men rushed to join the newly
created Australian Imperial Force: the
twelve infantry battalions of the 1st
Division, a brigade of Light Horse, artillery,
signallers and engineers. ey were men
who were responding to the call of the
Empire -- to the pledge that Australia would
'fight to the last man and the last shilling';
men who were afraid it would be over by
Christmas, and they'd miss the adventure. "
In 1915, Australian and New Zealand
soldiers formed part of the allied expedition
that set out to capture the Gallipoli
Peninsula in order to open the Dardanelles
to the allied navies. e Australian and
New Zealand forces landed on Gallipoli on
April 25, meeting fierce resistance from the
Ottoman Turkish defenders. At the end of
1915 the allied forces were evacuated, after
both sides had suffered heavy casualties
and endured great hardships. More than
8000 Australian soldiers had been killed,
including Private James Charles ( Jim)
Martin, the youngest Australian to have
died in active service at the age of 14.
Jim was born in the Melbourne suburb
of Hawthorn, on January 3, 1901, and was
the only brother to his five sisters. e
son of Charles and Amelia Martin, he
was fascinated with the war and just three
months after turning 14 confronted them
with his plan, which has been documented
in Soldier Boy.
"You can't!" his mother cried. "You're too
young...you're only a boy...tell him Charlie!"
As Australian men were sent to foreign
lands to play their part in the Great War,
young boys rushed to sign up and make
their nation proud. JONI SCANLON learnt
that these soldier boys have fast become an
integral part of the Anzac legend.
Share the city you live in ... Autumn
DUTY BOUND: Studio portrait of 1553 Private James (Jim) Martin,
1st Reinforcements, 21st Battalion, of Hawthorn, Vic.
Image supplied by the Australian War Memorial.
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