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Thursday, 13 May 1915

Senator PEARCE (Western Aus tralia) (Minister of Defence) . - By leave, I move -

That the Senate congratulates the Military Forces of the Commonwealth on the soldierly qualities displayed at the Dardanelles.

A similar motion was moved yesterday in another place and carried unanimously, and as this is the first meeting of the Senate since then, I desire to give honorable senators an opportunity of expressing their admiration and appreciation of the gallant behaviour of the Australian Forces in the Gallipoli Peninsula. I think we can say that our troops have covered themselves with glory. They were put to a very severe trial in the very first encounter in which they were under fire, and earned the highest encomiums from the officer commanding the operations, who is in a position to judge of its danger and the resourcefulness necessary in order to carry it through successfully. The people of Australia, I am sure, had no doubt as to the calibre of the men who were sent forward. . They felt certain that the troops would acquit themselves well in any duty that might be cast upon them, but I think that few of us anticipated that they would be called upon to pass through such a severe- and fiery ordeal at the very outset of their career as fighting soldiers. I can think of no more severe trial than that which they were called upon to undergo. It is only a few months since these men were in Australia. A very large number of them were untrained to the use of arms, and the great majority of them had never seen warlike service. They were fellowcitizens following their various avocations, but after a few short months of training they were .brought up against regular troops, because the Turkish troops are regulars who are by no means to be despised as fighters, for on many occasions they have put up a splendid fight against the best European troops. Wo are in possession of information which leads us to believe that they are led by German officers. They had weeks in which to prepare their defences, because the interval which took place there disclosed to the Germans and the Turks that it was the intention of the Allies to make an attack on the Gallipoli Peninsula. We may depend upon it that every form of defence which human ingenuity could devise was prepared in order to prevent that landing, which afterwards was so successfully accomplished. I think, sir, the position allotted to our troops was a very great honour to Australia. When one looks at the map of the Peninsula and notices the place at which the Australians were landed, he will see that they were practically given the pride of place, the most important strategic point on which a landing has been made. Our information is that ' the lower portion of the Peninsula was held by a considerable force or Turks, against whom the British and French force, landed at the point of the Peninsula, are fighting. As the Australians were landed midway on the Peninsula, it means that not only have they to hold back the reinforcements from Constantinople and other portions of Turkey, but have to fight on two fronts and meet the attack of those who are being driven back by the Allied Forces from the point of the Peninsula. That the Australians have done well is obvious from the reports we have had. They have stirred our enthusiasm, and undoubtedly they have set a high standard for their fellows to emulate on the field. We deplore the fact that some of our best officers and a large number of men were killed or wounded in the sanguinary encounter, but I venture to» say that those men have made their mark in Australian history in a way which will live. They could have died no better' death than the one they died. Our sympathy goes out to the bereaved wives ; our sympathy goes out to the wounded soldiers, but we feel wire that in the suffering and the sorrow which comes to those who have been bereft, they will find consolation in the fact that the men have died in the cause of their country - of even a wider cause, and that is the cause of general human freedom, becausethere is no doubt that something wider than the mere desire of fighting for country animated these men in the cause they represented. It will be a proud thought to sustain many of those who have been widowed or rendered orphans that the wide world appreciates the fact that their fathers or brothers have fallen in the cause of human freedom, I desire now to read some messages which the Government have received in connexion with the operations. Eis Majesty the King, in a message dated Buckingham Palace, 19th April, 1915, cabled-

I heartily congratulate you upon the splendid conduct and bravery displayed by tha Australian troops in the operations at the Dardanelles, who have indeed proved themselves worthy sons of the Empire.

From the Secretary of State for the Colonies came this cablegram, dated London, 27th April, 1915-

His Majesty's Government desire me to offer you their warmest congratulations on the splendid gallantry and magnificent achievement of your contingent in the successful progress of the operations at the Dardanelles.

The First Lord of the Admiralty cabled on the 30th April -

On behalf of Board of Admiralty express our heartiest congratulations on the brilliant end memorable achievements of Australian and New Zealand troops at the Dardanelles. Admiral telegraphs that the Fleet is filled with intense admiration at the feat of arms accomplished by the Army.

The message of the Prime Minister of Canada, dated Ottawa, 8th May, was -

Canada congratulates the Commonwealth on the splendid action of her troops in the Dardanelles, which demonstrates alike the quality of British stock and of solidarity of the Empire.

The Governor of New Zealand in a message dated Auckland, 30th April, said -

I desire on behalf of New Zealand to convey to you the pride which this Dominion feels in being so closely associated with the Forces of the Commonwealth in the present great undertaking in the Dardanelles, and rejoices that the two Forces have so signally distinguished themselves.

Sir IanHamilton, the General Commanding the British Mediterranean Force, has sent the following cablegram, dated Ten©dos, 11th May -

May I, speaking out of a full heart, be permitted to say how gloriously the Australian and New Zealand Contingent have upheld the finest traditions of our race during this struggle still in progress, at first with audacity and dash, since then with sleepless valour and untiring resource they have already created for their countries an imperishable record of military virtue.

Iam sure that the last message is a particularly pleasing one, for the reason that only a year ago Sir Ian Hamilton had an opportunity of seeing our troops in training. He then expressed a very high opinion of the material; he has recently had an. opportunity of seeing the men in action, and it is indeed pleasing to find that, notwithstanding the good words he had to say of them in the past, he is able to say something even better of them after seeing them in war. I have much pleasure in submitting the motion and commending it to the Senate.

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