How WWI impacted Gympie

READ ALL ABOUT IT: The front page of The Gympie Times on Tuesday, August 4, 1914, reporting on the declaration of war in Europe.
READ ALL ABOUT IT: The front page of The Gympie Times on Tuesday, August 4, 1914, reporting on the declaration of war in Europe. Contributed

TALK of "inevitable" war marked the front page of The Gympie Times on July 28, 1914.

The six-page edition - at the cost of two pence - launched four years of local and international coverage on what would come to be known as the First World War.

"It is asserted that hostilities will begin tonight," page one read.

The coverage only snowballed as Australia followed the British Empire into war and Gympie identities announced their support.

On Thursday, August 6, The Gympie Times announced that local military authorities received instructions to take preparatory measures for mobilisation.

"This has put a heavy strain on the various staffs concerned and they were working up to a late hour on Tuesday," the paper said.

"The mayor (Peter Green) has opened a list at the Town Hall for the names, addresses and particulars of those who have previously served in the forces, and who would be willing to enlist in case of the mobilisation of the local troops."

By Sunday, August 9, support from the Gympie region was shown in a public way by a patriotic demonstration at Queen's Park.

The Gympie Times reported: "The response of the citizens to the call for a patriotic demonstration and church parade in Queen's Park on Sunday afternoon met with a very hearty recognition."

"A record crowd assembling in the Queen's Park to show the patriotism of Gympie, and support of the Empire in the present war," it continued.

"A procession was formed up at the Town Hall, and from there marched to Queen's Park.

"Large numbers of people viewing the marching troops and citizens from various points of vantage, and then following on to the Park.

"The Union Jack, Australian Flag and other national flags were flying from the flag poles and hanging from balconies.

"At the head of the procession marched Staff Sergeant-Major Cole just in front of the City Band, which played martial airs en route.

"Next in order came Major E Bytheway, VD, Major DE Reid, DSO, and Captain S Holloway, who were followed by 50 troopers of the C Squadron, Australian Light Horse, under command of Capt AW Nash and Lieutenant A Chisholm."

Also included in the march was the Monkland Band, the Boy Scouts, the Mayor and Aldermen as well as city officials and the Ambulance Brigade, members of the Royal Society of St George, the Caledonian Society and members of the public in vehicles.

"Upon arrival at the park, the troops formed in a hollow square round a lorry draped with the Union Jack, on which were seated the Reverends AT Craswell, JJ Gee, R Collins-Davis, J Prowse and Adjutant Watterson."

While the demonstration showed the local support of Britain's part in the war, it did not defend war.

"Rev J Prowse said he was very glad that there were times when they could rise above their creed boundaries and stand on a common platform to express their loyalty to their king, and their sympathy with the struggles of the nation.

"It ill became Christian Ministers to fan the spirit of the war, still, there were times when it was right for the church to encourage war for defensive purposes," The Times reported Rev Prowse saying about the "great national crisis".

Strong words, reflecting what would rapidly become a global crisis, were spoken in Queen's Park on that Sunday August 9 where the Gympie community was reminded that if Britain fell it would be "nothing short of a world-wide calamity".

Mayor Green said he admired the community gathering and the patriotism it showed.

"(T)hey might not all be born Britishers but they were all British citizens," the paper reported, before saying the war could be over as quickly as it was sprung upon Australians, many of whom gathered in similar demonstrations across the country.

Sadly the war would claim many thousands of Australian soldiers, including sons of Gympie, before its end in 1918.

Gympie Times

Topics:  centenary-milestone-series gympie world war one

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