The First A.I.F.
Citations & Awards
Life in the Trenches
Bullecourt - Bert’s death
Stories from the Front
More Stories from the Front
Extracts from C.E.W. Bean
Extracts from H.R. Williams
"Red & White Diamond"
Capt. V.E. Smythe notes
Royal Australian Navy
Family who served our country
Letters, cards, papers
Conclusion - Post War
The Next Generations
These pages were written by Margaret Johnston with help from her family and friends.
Chapter 20: PEACE!
These snippets and photograph came from the 24th Battalion Red and White Diamond Journal/Magazine/Field Newspaper POST WAR. The promulgation of the Bar to Viv’s Military Cross had not notified at the time of printing of some of these excerpts and his photo in the March Edition. *
*We congratulate our C.O., Major E.V. Smythe on attaining
his temporary majority. We regret that the photo on
Page 3 was printed before the promotion was promulgated
and that we were unable to make the alteration.
Officers Dinner at Nalinnes Chateau Banquet Hall, Xmas Night 1918. January Edition
Toasts had been drunk to “The King”, “The Battalion” and to “The Fallen Comrades.” The latter had been drunk in silence.
---“Ain Folk” was proposed by Capt. E.V Smythe, M. C. “Moquet” (sic) surprised most of us by delivering a very sentimental and eloquent little speech, in which he handled the sacred toast as it has very seldom been handled in our mess.
‘A’ Company held their Christmas Dinner in the Communal Hall, Nalinnes, Belgium on 27th December 1918 – details in January Edition.
---After the toast to “The King” had been honored, Lieut. P. A. Jenkin, in a few words called on the company to honor the memory of “Our Fallen Comrades”. We all felt proud of those splendid heroes whose faces we so sadly missed.
The toast of “The 24th Battalion” was proposed by Capt. E.V Smythe, M. C. In a few well-chosen remarks Capt. Smythe referred in terms of high eulogy to the long and popular association of Lieut. Col. James with this unit and the record of the Battalion under his command.
NALINNES circa 1919
This postcard was made about 1910
Viv’s initials are on the top left of front of card and his autograph is
11th from the top on the back of card
Farewell Dinner held at Maison du Peuple, Marcinelle, Belgium, 3 March 1919 (N.B. this shows 3 April, 1919 and may have been for an later group.)
---After the last objective in the way of edibles had been captured and consolidated, the toast of “The King” was proposed by R.S.M. Williams, Major (recently promoted) E.V. Smythe, M.C. then proposed the toast of our “Guests.” He paid a tribute to the men who were about to depart and wished them a happy and speedy return their homes in Australia.
--- Capt. Sellick , M.C. put the toast of “C.O. and Regiment”. He spoke for awhile on Major Smythe’s fine record of service with the Battalion and then proceeded to outline the history of the Battalion . In responding, Major Smythe spoke of the toast as being amongst the most sacred that a man could honor.---
This card was sent to me by M. Bernard Lejeune. I do not know at this time if any Officers would have been invited to this function, BUT I believe it was strictly for the NCO’s and men. I am searching for a date and the venue. Officers would have given approval for events such as this one. All companies had their own Xmas Dinners according to the January Magazine and because of the small hall available these were conducted over a week.
The Teams Boxing Competition was won by the 5th Division, the 2nd Division fourth. The officers’ heavy weight competition provided a walk-over for Lieut. J. L. Scales )24th), Major Smyth (sic) M.C., and Lieut. Ellis, of the 24th came second in the officers’ light and welter weights respectively. The writer has heard it stated that there were only two entries in each of these events, but firmly refuses to repeat the rumor.
(The four brothers learnt boxing as self-defense before the war and Viv had his nose broken, during one of these bouts. This caused problems with allergies during the war.)
* * *
Farewell to Colonel James 28th February 1919 Hotel Siebertz, Charleroi, Belgium, February Edition.
---Capt. Smythe presided and the barrage left promptly at 6.30---
After the toast to “The King,” which was proposed by Lt. C Mitchell, D.C.M., C de G, the President took the floor. He referred to the objects of the gathering and the deep regret with which we all viewed the colonel’s departure. He spoke of the qualities by which the colonel had won such a warm place in the regard of all serving under him and mentioned his ability “to keep smiling” as not the least among these qualities. Capt. Smythe told of how once he met the colonel in a shell-hole at Warlencourt. “I could see the colonel had the wind up”, he said, “but he smiled, so I smiled too.”
At 9 p.m. on the 19th March 1919, Members of the Bn. orderly room staff, runners, pay staff, and the editor of the “Red and White Diamond” “stood to” for an impromptu “top-over” provided by the adjutant Capt. F.P. Sellick
M.C. The C.O. Capt E.V. Smythe, M.C. was in the chair. ---
Siebertz Hotel - the building is now commercial and no longer a hotel
FAREWELL PARADE FOR THE AUSTRALIANS IN BELGIUM – This page was sent to us by M. Bernard Lejeune, Nalinnes, Belgium.
This was printed in the Anzac Bulletin in Belgium in 1919.
Farewell Review of ‘Aussies’ in Belgium.
General Hobbs says “A Splendid Show.”
(From Mr. L. G. Short, Official Correspondent with the A.I..F.)
Australian Corps Headquarters, France, May 14th.
A farewell review held at Chatelet to-day by General Hobbs gave the people in the Charleroi district an opportunity to show their affection and appreciation for the Australian soldiers who have spent many months in Belgium. They responded gladly, lining the road and parade ground in thousands, in brilliant weather.
General Sir J. Talbot Hobbs accompanied by General Tivey, galloped on to the ground, taking a salute from General Martin as two thousand five hundred bayonets flashed to the present arms in the sunshine.
After inspection, the troops marched past in companies in line, while General Hobbs took the salute with prominent civilians of Charleroi beside him and the Australian flag floating in the rear. The men marched in battle order with three bands playing martial music.
Addressing the troops, General Hobbs said: “This is one of the saddest moments of my life, meeting you in a farewell parade. It means the breaking of comradeship and old associations made under the exceptional conditions of the battlefield. I can speak for you when saying how grateful we are to Charleroi and its people for many kindnesses and friendships during our happy stay. I am much impressed with to-day’s parade, with the steadiness, the turn-out and discipline. No matter what you do, it is always well done. It was a splendid show. Returning to Australia, we will be faced with many difficulties, but if they are met with the unity and courage shown on the battlefield, all will be well.
The Burgomaster of Charleroi spoke a few words through an interpreter, saying how grateful the Belgians were for all the Australians had done, and how much their stay was appreciated.
Replying, General Hobbs said he had many written evidences of affection between Australians and Belgium, which would be treasured in Australia for all time. Two silver cups for best marching discipline were won by composite companies of the 15th Brigade and amalgamated 9th and 10th Battalions. After chatting with visitors, General Hobbs left, and the troops marched home. The great day finished and will be long remembered by those present as the closing scene in the wonderful Australian history made in France and Belgium during the great European war.
Lieutenant General Sir J J Talbot Hobbs KCB VD, Australian Corps Commander, on horseback, in front of a group of Australian troops during their final inspection. A.W.M.
The Mayor of Charleroi, Emile Devreux, thanking, on behalf of the people of the municipality, Lieutenant General (Lt Gen) Sir J J Talbot Hobbs KCB VD, General Officer Commanding, Australian Corps Commander, for the part the Australians had played in the liberation of Belgium. Identified, left to right (foreground): Lieutenant (Lt) J E Murray, Aide-de-Camp to Corps Commander; Major General E Tivey; Colonel Richard Dowse; Lt Gen Sir Talbot Hobbs; Lt De Backer, Belgian Liaison Officer; M Giunotte, Burgomaster (mayor) of Chatelet; two unidentified members of the Charleroi Town Council. A.W.M.
AUSTRALIAN ARMY IN BELGIUM
FAREWELL REVIEW AT CHATELET
(The following account of the farewell of the Australian Troops at Chatelet, near Charleroi, is taken from the Charleroi “Journal” of May 13th . The clipping was forwarded by Private G A Hewson, and for the translation we are indebted to Mr. Emile Benda.)
This was printed in the Geraldton Guardian, Western Australia Thursday 21 July 1919. It varies in some ways to the report by the Official Correspondent about this ceremony and has some additional information.
Yesterday at Chatelet, a review was held of contingents of all Australian troops in Belgium. This ceremony was on the occasion of the approaching departure of our friends the Australians. An immense crowd was present on the parade ground, and the review started promptly. The spectacular effect was very impressive. The Australian officers, with Lieut-General Hobbs Commander of the Australian troops, took up their position near a magnificent flag.
At once the trumpets began to sound, the troops advanced towards the officers and formed a square. The bands played , the soldiers presented arms. The effect was marvellous.
At this juncture it was learned that the King, who had intended coming by aeroplane to be present at the review was unable to keep his engagement.
Lieut-General Hobbs, who was on horseback, addressed the troops as follows: “At this moment, before leaving for Australia, I fear many of you are sad, because you are thinking with regret that everything is finished for the moment, and also because you are leaving behind you a lot of people whom you have learned to love and appreciate and also for your courage you have shown throughout this terrible war.
Lieut.- Gen Hobbs also said he had recently returned from the headquarters were discussing where to erect a monument in honour of the brave soldiers who were killed. On that monument there would be inscribed in letters of gold the splendid deeds of the heroic Australians. In conclusion he again wished them a pleasant voyage to their own country.
Complimentary speeches were made by the Mayor and other public officials of Chatelet, and also a representative of the press.
The Mayor, in the course of his remarks, said they regretted the approaching departure of the Australian troops. The Belgiums would never forget the services rendered to the Allied cause by the Australian Army. It was largely due to them that they had won the victory. .
Lieut.-General Hobbs, before departing thanked the Press for their splendid loyalty during the war, and for the kindness always displayed to Australians. He remarked that out of 400,000 Australians who had volunteered over 50,000 were sleeping forever in the fields of France.
Le lendemain, La Gazette de Charleroi relatait bien évidemment l’événement:
Une grande revue - Depuis le début de la semaine le bruit courait avec persistance que le Roi de Belges venait mercredi courant à Châtelet pour passer en revue les troupes australiennes cantonnées dans les environs et pour décerner des décorations. Chacun en parlait et l’on affirmait même qu’il venait par la voie des airs et que la revue aurait lieu dans les prairies près du cimetière de Châtelet.
Hier, à 10h00 du matin, l’autorité communale n’avait reçu aucun avis officiel sauf les affirmations de soldats australiens qui se préparaient pour un nettoyage complet de leur tenue, à la fameuse revue. En ville, la visite royale faisait les frais de toutes les conversations et certains particuliers avaient hissé leurs drapeaux.
Pour ne pas être prise au dépourvu, l’autorité communale avait convoqué tous les membres de l’administration et ceux des œuvres de guerre. Mais à midi on était définitivement fixé sur le caractère de la fête militaire. Toujours est-il qu’après s’être renseigné à bonne source, on apprit qu’il s’agissait en réalité d’une revue des troupes australiennes par le général en chef.
A 1h. ½, comme il fallait s’y attendre, plus de 5000 curieux se trouvaient dans la plaine avoisinant le cimetière.
Un service d’ordre composé de policiers, gendarmes et soldats australiens dut être organisé. On peut évaluer l’effectif militaire à 1500 ou 2000 hommes. Peu après l’arrivée des soldats, un état-major, à la tête duquel se trouvait le général Hobbs, fait son apparition.
Aussitôt commence le défilé des troupes. Puis le général vient se placer à l’endroit où le drapeau australien flotte au sommet d’un mât. Alors commence la parade des troupes. Leur tenue est superbe et les mouvements d’ensemble sont parfaits. Pour une si jeune armée, c’est tout bonnement admirable.
Le général s’avance alors au milieu du carré et adresse aux troupes un discours. Après quoi, il descend de cheval et se rend auprès des autorités communales.
M. Giuanotte, bourgmestre, lui adresse un de ses vibrants discours dont il possède le secret.
Les troupes alors se reforment en colonnes puis, musique en tête, se dirigent chacune vers son cantonnement.
Dans le public, la déception fut considérable, il faut le reconnaître mais la vue de pareil déploiement militaire a consolé quelque peu les patriotes accourus pour acclamer le Roi.
De la confrontation de ces deux comptes rendus, il nous parut intéressant de noter qu’une rumeur persistante mais fausse avait circulé en ville concernant la présence du souverain Albert 1er. On sait qu’il n’en fut rien. Plus surprenante encore est la divergence d’information quant à la personnalité belge qui prit la parole en réponse au discours du général Talbot Hobbs. Le correspondant de guerre australien cite E. Devreux alors que celui de La Gazette donne le nom de H. Giuannotte. En vérité tous les deux pouvaient prétendre à cet honneur car nous savons que ce premier était devenu l’ami du général tandis que le second avait l’honneur de le recevoir sur ‘ses terres’. En l’état, nous ne pouvions trancher mais Le Journal de Charleroi confirmequ’en l’absence d’Emile Devreux, ce fut H. Giuannotte qui prit la parole.
Voici comment ce quotidien relate cet événement dans son édition du jeudi 15 mai 1919.
The next day, the Gazette de Charleroi obviously recounted the event:
A great review - Since the beginning of the week it was rumored persistently that the King of the Belgians came to power Wednesday Chatelet to review the Australian troops stationed in the area and to award decorations. Everyone was talking about and they even said that he came through the air and that the review would take place in the meadows near the cemetery of Chatelet.
Yesterday at 10:00 am, the local authority had received no official notice unless the claims of Australian soldiers who were preparing for a thorough cleaning of their holding in the famous magazine. In town, the royal visit was the cost of all conversations and some individuals had hoisted their flags. To avoid being caught off guard, the municipal authority had summoned all the members of the administration and those works of war. But at noon it was permanently fixed on the military character of the festival. Still, after making inquiries from a good source it was learned that this was actually a review of Australian troops by the commanding general.
1h. ½, as might be expected, more curious than 5000 were in the plain surrounding the cemetery..A service order composed of policemen, gendarmes and Australian soldiers had to be organized. We can evaluate the military in 1500 or 2000 men. Shortly after the soldiers arrived, a staff, at whose head was General Hobbs, appeared.
Immediately begins the parade of troops. Then the general is placed where the Australian flag flutters at the top of a mast. So begins the parade of troops. Their dress is gorgeous and movements are perfect together. For such a young army, it is simply wonderful. The general then advanced in the middle of the square and addresses the troops a speech. After that, he dismounted and went to the municipal authorities.
Mr. Giuanotte, Mayor, sent him one of his vibrant speech in which he holds the secret. The troops then re-form into columns and then, bands playing, each to his head quarters. In the audience, the disappointment was huge, but we must admit the sight of such military deployment was somewhat comforted the patriots rushed to cheer the King.
The confrontation of these two reports, it seemed interesting to note that false but persistent rumor has been circulating in town about the presence of the sovereign Albert 1er. We know it did not happen. Even more surprising is the difference of information about the personality Belgian who spoke in response to the speech by General Talbot Hobbs. The Australian war correspondent cites E. Devreux while that of The Gazette gives the name of H. Giuannotte. In truth both were eligible for this honor because we know that first became the friend of General while the second had the honor to receive it on 'their land'. As it stands, but we could not decide Journal Charleroi confirms that in the absence of Emile Devreux it was H. Giuannotte who spoke.
Here's how a paper relates this event in its edition of Thursday, May 15, 1919. This was at the bottom of a report from a Belgium Newspaper. Date unknown
Enfin, en souvenir de cette journée mémorable, le court récit qu’en donne dans un courrier le capitaine E.V. Smythe, du 24ème bataillon, à son épouse mérite également d’être repris puisqu’il était lui aussi présent à la parade.
Nous eûmes, écrit-il, une sorte de revue finale hier à Châtelet. Je m’en suis bien sorti et tous les garçons firent de leur mieux pour que ce soit une réussite. Il y avait environ 5 à 6.000 civils sur le terrain, tout comme le bourgmestre de Charleroi et ses édiles qui demeurèrent sous le soleil sans couvre-chef pendant une demi-heure, le temps que le Général Hobbs passe en revue les troupes….’
Finally, in remembrance of this memorable day, the short story that gives in a letter Captain EV Smythe, the 24th Battalion, to his wife also deserves to be taken over since it was also present at the parade. We had, he wrote, "a kind of final review yesterday at Châtelet. I am very out and all the boys did their best to make this a success. There were about 5 to 6,000 civilians on the ground, while as the mayor of Charleroi and its councilors who remained under them sun without any head covering for half an hour, the time that General Hobbs reviewed the troops..."
Viv’s actual words in his letter were -------
‘We had a sort of a final review at Chatelet yesterday. It went off well and all the boys tried their best to make it a success. There were about 5 or 6 thousand civilians out on the ground as well as the Mayor & Corporation of Charleroi who stood hatless in the sun for half and hour about while General Hobbs addressed the parade.’
CAPE TOWN ON THE WAY HOME – These pictures were at the end of the book “The Red and White Diamond” by Sgt. W. J Harvey M.M.