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Wednesday, 11 May 1921

Senator PEARCE (Western Australia) (Minister for Defence) . - It is very interesting to me to hear Senator Elliott suggesting, defending, and advocating an appeal from the military officer per se to the Governor-General in Council in Australia, because I -recently had occasion to make some inquiries. I was asking that interesting question as to whether any of our soldiers had ever been -shot, or whether ever the threat to carry out that penalty was known to have been made. I was informed that it was an Australian officer who had once issued an order on the field for men to be shot in a certain eventuality. I had that order looked up, and have it here. We had to get a copy of it from the Australian War Museum, where these records are now kept. The document is as follows : -

Forwarded herewith are extracts from records regarding an order issued by an Australian Officer in France that troops hesitating to obey orders when being rallied and re-formed were to be shot. These, it will be noticed, are certified true copies of extracts from records held in the War Museum Library. (Sgd.) J. S. Treloar,

Director, Australian War Museum.

Extract from Report by Brigadier-General H. E. Elliott, of the 15th Brigade, on the 24th and 25th April, 1918.

At 12.45 p.m. (24th April), ' I received an order from the General Officer Commanding Division directing that the sentence in my B.M. 383 (which I had sent to him about 9.5 a.m.), beginning "All British troops," and ending with the word " shot," is to bo cancelled forthwith. It is to be noted that this order had been in full force for nearly four hours, had been acted upon with excellent results, and it had not been necessary to resort to extremes at all. . (Certified true copy,.11.5.21.) (Sgd.) A. W. Pretty,

Chief Librarian, A.W.M.

Extract from Diary of General Staff, 5th Division.

To Tools.

Sender's number, B.M. 383. Day of month, 24.

In reply to number AAA. 50 and 60 Battalions will move at once, in accordance with B.M. 368 and 369. The right of the 56th Battalion is at 0. 16 B. Enemy advancing from Warfuse Abancourt. Get into touch with troops on either flank. 57th Battalion will move as soon as possible, echeloned to right rear of 59th Battalion, and ultimately attack if required along railway to right of Villers Bretonneux, clearing it by an enveloping movement. Scouts in front as soon as past Aubigny line. All British troops to be rallied and re-formed as our troops marched through thence by selected officers, and on any hesitation to be shot.

From- Books.

Place and time,- 10.30 a.m. (Certified true copy, 11.5.21.) (Sgd.) A. W. Pretty,

Chief Librarian, A.W.M.

Senator Elliott - To save the Minister any trouble, I quite admit the issuing of the order.

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