Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Thursday, 5 May 1921

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN (Western Australia) . - I do not know that, at this stage,I could contribute very much to the debate. It had been my intention not to speak to this clause at all, but reference has been made to an officer who served under me in France forover two years. The Jew, who subsequently got into the 14th Battalion, has been mentioned. Let me tell honorable senators a little about this man, so that they may have a proper appreciation of his qualities. It is true he was born in Russia. He came to Western Australia something over twenty years ago, and becoming a naturalized subject he joined our Military Forces. When war broke out he went on active service with the 16th Battalion.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - He was fighting for Australia; not against us.

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - He was. He went out as a subaltern, rose to the rank of major, and got the Distinguished Service Order for his services on Gallipoli. He was my second in command in France from the time I took command. I have never served with a more gallant gentleman. Perhaps it was unfortunate that subsequently he was sent to the command of the 14th Battalion, because it is quite true that his method of speech was not quite orthodox. But this "illiterate" Jew, as he has been termed, could not only speak English well though with a flight foreign accent, but he could also speak French, German, Russian. Hebrew, and the Arabic languages fluently.

Senator Henderson - He had a university education.

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - It is true that he was not understood by the 14th Battalion when he went to command them. It is likewise true that his characteristics were slightly different, and that he had personal peculiarities which are not general amongst Australians.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Personal peculiarities are present in this chamber, too.


Senator Elliott - Was he able to go into the line ?

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - I am coming to that. Just after he got command of the'' 14th, they went into the battle of Messines, and anybody acquainted with the Messines Ridge will know that it was so cut up that there was hardly a square inch that was not a hole or adjacent to a hole. When crossing the ridge Colonel Maragolan fell into one of the holes and sprained his knee, with the result that he was sent away to the hospital, and away from the 14th Battalion. Of course, he could not get up to the front line. How could he with his knee swollen to about four or five times its normal size ? I saw it myself. Subsequently he was invalided out of the Austraiian Imperial Force on account of the injury to his knee, but he did not want to go away while his battalion was still in Messines, as he was so anxious to make a success of his command. ' I know that Senator Elliott has not deliberately misinformed the Senate with regard to this matter. But he did not know all the facts. I do. I have no hesitation in saying that this " illiterate " Jew is very highly educated; he is a very gallant soldier, and a most loyal and conscientious' man. Subsequently, when his knee got better - it was never completely well, and is not now - the British Army authorities applied for him to take command of the Jewish Battalion that was raised in England, and he commanded the 39th, and subsequently the 38th Royal Fusiliers in the last year of the war. Moreover, the last time I heard from him - he writes to me occasionally - this "illiterate" Jew, as he has been termed to-night, was the Military Governor of Jerusalem. I am sorry to have to correct Senator Elliott's statements concerning this gentleman. He was loyal to Australia and loyal to me. I have the greatest admiration for him, and I should consider myself contemptible did I not stand up for him to-night.

SenatorVARDON (South Australia) [8.521. - Several times during the course of the debate I have been on the point of rising to speak, only to find that some other honorable senator has voiced my opinion on the clause. I cannot, however, allow it to pass without stating that I am opposed to it, because I know nothing whatever of the British Army Act beyond the opinions I have heard expressed by other honorable senators. I feel, therefore, that I cannot vote on this clause to apply to our Defence Forces an Act of which I know nothing. The Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) stated that several other of the Dominions had applied the Act to their local Forces, and I think it probable that members of those Legislatures either had an opportunity of studying the provisions of the Army Act, or else they were prepared to accept the view-point of their Ministers. That course would be wrong, in my judgment, and I cannot accept the Minister's suggestion that in connexion with some other measures, say the Navigation Act, we have incorporated legislation of the British Parliament.

Senator Pearce - As a matter of fact,, that Act makes reference to and incorporates certain sections of the Merchant Shipping Act.

Suggest corrections