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What If - Finland had been prepared for the Winter War.....

Discussion in 'What If - European Theater - Eastern Front & Balka' started by Cankiwi2, Sep 12, 2011.

  1. Cankiwi2

    Cankiwi2 Member

    Sep 12, 2011
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    My scenario in the Winter War is rather less. An initial Battalion of ANZAC volunteers from the UK (actually Kiwis, Aussies, South Africans and Rhodesians). Then later some more Aussies and a few more Kiwis - then Brits, South Africans, Canadians - the end result is a Commonwealth Division made up of a whole bunch of disparate volunteer units from across the Commonwealth. The "Division" stuff is from late in WW2 - 1944. And is tied in with Finland joining in on the Allied side and the strategic side of that - the Poles are heavily committed to supporting Finland for example - it's their one hope of getting into Poland before the Russians. The Brits and US send a couple of Divisions each, lip service on the part of the US, but Churchill was always fond of these peripheral theatres so I see a Brit contribution being feasible....

    I should also add that at the time of the Winter War, the manpower thing with Oz and NZ wasn't such a big deal. The weapons and equipment simply wasn't available and the UK initially didn't have the equipment available either. So in late 1939/early 1940 there was no real issue with a few thousand Aussie and Kiwi volunteers hiving off to Finland - with the right level of support to make it happen.

    I've also got a large section on Finnish PR and the press with its impact on international perception and support written up which I will cross-post. Explains things rather better in terms of this scenario.

    I have to get my a into g and add some of the posts in on that subject. Will post updated links here when I've hacked it out. Right now I am rather deeply into writing up a post on the Finnish Jaegers from WW1....so apologies for the "teasers"....... I'm finding WordPress takes a while to edit with the formating and the photos
  2. Karjala

    Karjala Don Quijote

    Feb 27, 2012
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    Pohojanmaa, Finland
    Two things worth considering in this what if scenario are the Finnish terrain and the climate. Simply surviving and living - not to mention fighting - in the forests / trenches in up (down?) to -40 C would have been quite a challenge for troops not used to nor trained for it. It was not easy for the Finns either - nor for the helping Swedish volunteers - and even less so for the soviets.

    Also basic military skills in Finland included skiing, ability to orientate and move in deep forests/swamps and ability to use knife and axe skillfully. The Germans in the beginning of the Continuation War (1941) were not even close up to it - a great disappointment for the Finns. Neither were the foreign volunteers in the Winter War (except the Swedes, the Norwegians and the pilots), who could not be used before training period, which was not finished until the War ended. Although thankful for the sympathy and PR-value the Finns didn't see much military value in them - unfortunately.

    In other words: all foreign troops in your scenario would need extensive training period in Finland before any proper use.
  3. green slime

    green slime Member

    Nov 18, 2010
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    "The weapons and equipment simply wasn't available and the UK initially didn't have the equipment available either. So in late 1939/early 1940 there was no real issue with a few thousand Aussie and Kiwi volunteers hiving off to Finland - with the right level of support to make it happen."

    Its got nothing to with the British.

    Its the Ozzies and Kiwis. They're independant countries, 16,000 km away. That alone, makes for it being extremely unlikely.

    Very few Finns of that generation spoke English. What on earth are they going to do? Force integration and co-operation are going to be nil. Furthermore, the Australians weren't happy operating under British command. Why do you think they'd be happier in 4 feet of snow? Aussies love to complain about the heat and flies, not the snow and wind-chill.

    In New Zealand, the situation was such that it could not possible to have a thousand+ young males disappearing to fight someone else's war. It wouldn't have been tolerated. New Zealand only had a population of 1.6 million. You are suggesting that almost 1 promille of the entire population are just going to get up and go fight in Finland?!? With the Japanese making nasty noises, and the Empire under threat? The manpower thing was huge in NZ, as well as Australia: A large chunk of the Australian army remained in Australia, for the duration of the war.

    Australia didn't even have the troops to defend all its threatened overseas territorities; Norfolk Island was defended during most of the war by N-Force, a NZ detachment.

    You've got a far better chance getting a division or more troops from Sweden, than 16,000 km away. They're more easy to transport them there, and most Finns spoke Swedish, as well as other culturál and historic bonds.

    If you can't sell the idea to the Swedes, you definitely not going to convince Farmhands in Australia.

    Even if, by some miracle, the UK found itself fighting the Soviets in Finland; it would be unlikely that the Australians and New Zealanders would be allowed to be transported to Scandinavia. Those troops would instead be used to relieve UK garrisons in the Middle East & SE Asia. Just as the HMNZS Canterbury was sent to the Armilla Patrol in the Persian Gulf during the Falklands War.
  4. Cankiwi2

    Cankiwi2 Member

    Sep 12, 2011
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    Just added a new Page - Boer Volunteers of the De La Rey Commando in the Winter War

    Re Kiwis and Aussies, I`ll add those pages next and provide links.It includes a lot of the justification. There`s also a page on the International Press that goes with it so I`ll see if I can get them all done at once and added in together. Also, there were Finns in Australia which I will cover in a lot of detail - more later

    Re Winter Conditions - in this scenario, the Finns hold out rather better, the foreign volunteers are largely coming in to play later on (Spring) or on the Isthmus in static positions.
  5. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

    Nov 13, 2008
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    Baton Rouge, Louisiana
    No matter what scenario you conjure up, eventually it the snow and ice will melt and the advantage passes to the Soviets. Game over come summertime.
  6. von_noobie

    von_noobie Member

    Jun 2, 2007
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    Green slime, Even though independent and 16,000km away they still thought it WWII in the NA, Med and European theaters. An extra couple thousand km's wouldn't have been the deciding factor as to if Australia and NZ committed troops to Finland. Even with Japanese rumblings in the Pacific Australia still sent several divisions of troops as well as the majority of there navy as well as thousands upon thousands of Aussies signing up to the RAF in a war that was so far away while Japan was so close, So distance was never the factor.

    I firmly believe had there been the equipment and the troops sitting there in England that the Aussies and Kiwi's would not have hesitated to go there, After all they would be fighting a possible enemy of the Allies (With the SU helping Germany over run Poland).

    Just because we were/are Independent didnt mean we didnt care for the 'mother country', We just didnt wish for our troops to be wasted by British Generals with out us having a say, They gave us our say in how our forces were used and everything was sweet again.
  7. green slime

    green slime Member

    Nov 18, 2010
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    In 1939, the Australian and New Zealand civilians soon-to-be-volunteer OHMS troops weren't sitting in England.

    it wasn't "thousands upon thousands" of Aussies that signed up for the RAF in 1939:

    When the war began, about 450 Australian pilots were serving in the RAF.

    Under the Empire Air Training Scheme (EATS), approx 37,000 aircrew were trained in Australia during the war, 1939–45.

    However, the flow of RAAF personnel to the European theatre was slowed: first, establishment of the massively expanded training process meant that first aircrews trained by the RAAF during the war did not graduate until November 1940; second, the Australian authorities placed great emphasis on a provision of EATS, that Dominion personnel should serve with units from their own air forces, wherever possible.

    RAAF Article XV fighter squadrons were not operational in Europe until mid-1941.

    32 Australians are recognised as having served in RAF Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain. Thirtytwo.

    No. 10 Squadron RAAF, a flying boat squadron was also based in Britain at the time, as part of Coastal Command.

    Distance was a factor, as was training, equipment, and the will of the Government.

    Why weren't Australians and New Zealanders fighting in France with the BEF or in Narvik? The Commonwealth had not yet mobilised enough shipping, nevermind training all those men and supply yet more men on the field in a timely manner, and keep England supplied.

    The New Zealand 2nd Expeditionary Force were all originally destined for Egypt, but some (a brigade) were diverted to Scotland, when Italy entered the war. They later rejoined the 2 NZEF in Egypt, in time for Greece.

    For Australia, conscripts were only for home defence.
    The Second Australian Imperial Force consisted of a sole division (the 6th), until the fall of France, when there was a surge in enlistments, and they could create three more whole divisions (7th, 8th, and 9th). The 6th was sent to Egypt.

    So by Spring 1940 we have what amounts to 2 divisions, 2NZEF, and 6th Div, 2AIF, enroute to Egypt, and they're barely ready by then. Public opinion, and governments, were not at that stage ready to commit more lives.

    If you are going to take those troops, should the UK leave Egypt undefended?

    Of course, events in Norway and France, are cause for some concern. Regardless of the dire straits of Britain, only a NZ brigade was diverted to Scotland... the rest was sent to Egypt and the Medditeranean theatre... and it wasn't to spend a luxury weekend soaking in the sights.

    But wait! Once Japan really got serious, what happened to the AIF 6th? It got thrown into CBI and PTO (Feb '42, which given the circumstances, is about as fast as you can go)!

    There just wasn't the numbers of volunteers in Australia that you are making out in time to affect the War in Finland.

    It takes time to recruit, train, equip, plan and ship an entire division. The Antipodean forces were only in place in the MTO from Spring 1940, only participated in the fighting after Spring '41. It's not because they were on Holiday. There was a lot to put in order and prepare.

    Logistics and supply gets more and more complicated, the longer the supply chain is made. There is a reason why the bulk of Expeditionary Antipodean forces were deployed in the MTO prior to Dec '41, and not in the "mother country", as you call it.

    Of course, when its not your letters home, and not your life risking those final 2000 km around the coastline of Europe in the face of Uboats, and not your constituents you have to answer to, nor your wounded that need to travel yet further to go back home, its pretty easy to say those last few thousands of kilometers don't really matter.

    Once again, given the narrow gap of the Skaggerak, you need the permission of the Swedes and Norwegians to allow foreign troops through their sovereign territory, if you can get that in 1939, you may as well get an alliance with them; the Swedes would've been able to provide far more troops, with far greater experience of the kind of terrain and climate with the commiserate skillsets (X-country skiing, basic survival skills, etc), with a 6 month mobilization frame, than Australia and New Zealand combined.

    8,000 Swedes volunteered, after all.
    CAC likes this.
  8. von_noobie

    von_noobie Member

    Jun 2, 2007
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    I think green slime that you and me have both had a mis understanding of each others view's so If i may try and clarify where we both are coming from?

    From your original post involving Oz and NZ I got the impression that you viewed that Oz and NZ would not go to fight in Finland because 1. NZ couldn't afford to send one which Ill concede to, Best from NZ would be a Brigade or so and that 2. "Australia wouldn't have done so", While logistically they couldn't have done so in short time the impression I got from that part of your statement is that even if they could logistically that you believe they wouldn't full stop, That is the point I am debating against.

    I believe that if they had the troops, equipment and capability to get there that the Aussies would do so especially if it set up a another nation that could conceivably oppose Germany.

    You stated that it had nothing to do with the British, That both Australia and new Zealand were/are independent countries. Yes Australia and NZ were/are independent but the claim that it had nothing to do with the British I believe is wrong. Australia and NZ was in the war to protect Britain, If that in the long run meant fighting in Finland then so be it. Location, equipment and timing would have been the reasons for them not going to fight in Finland but your unfounded claims that they wouldn't fight in Finland just because is a poor argument. Us Aussies love helping the little guy and little 'ol Finland fighting off the entire SU well if we had the chance i know more then a few would be there.
  9. green slime

    green slime Member

    Nov 18, 2010
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    Of the two countries, Australia & New Zealand, Australia was the more difficult partner for the UK. It placed greater demands upon where its personnel served, under whom, and under what conditions.

    New Zealand had more pilots serving with the RAF, and got their pilots involved quicker in the war, than their Australian colleagues, precisely because of Australian government policies.

    My point in my post preceeding this was;

    1) Australian volunteer recruitment fell off after the initial rush in September '39. Only a single division could be created, equipped and trained for overseas duty.
    2) It was not until the fall of France, that volunteers appeared to fill three more divisions.
    3) It takes time to train, equip, plan & ship a division; it took 7 months from the DoW to get the 6th Div 2AIF to Egypt. It's not going to get to Finland any faster.
    4) Australia has one division for overseas service in May 1940:

    Choose: Defense of Egypt or Defense of Finland. Gosh, that's right, the war in Finland is already over! Postponing the Winter War until later in 1940, only helps the Soviets! No Snow means the attempt to slice Finland in two probably succeeds, as the Finnish defenders no longer have the advantage of being ski-bound, which drastically reduces their ability to cover enormous distances with speed, giving the illusion that there are more defenders. Skiing 60 kms or more a day cross country is not difficult for a fit individual. Hiking that distance in swamp-ridden forests is.

    Prior to the collapse of France, Churchill tried repeatedly to support Finland with UK forces, but was prevented by both Norway & Sweden, which refused to allow the transit of Allied forces to Finland, which you should both be aware of. Not even Churchill would ask the RN to force the Skaggerak.

    The equipment is not lying around in Australia, nor in England. Australian equipment that existed at the start of the war was basically WW1 standard.

    By the time Australia could've sent anything meaningful to FInland, it would be too late.

    If the UK can't get troops to Finland in time, in co-operation with Sweden and Norway, Australia most definitely can not. Churchill was not offering Australians; he was offering French and UK units. Why? Because it would take too long to get them there, and because of the difficulties in dealing with the Australian govt. That's why the New Zealand Brigade was sent to Scotland after the collapse of France, and not an Australian unit.

    If Finland can't get the full support of Sweden, the good will of the entire Commonwealth is pointless.

    The number of troops that Australia and the UK could spare pales in comparison to what Sweden could've provided, had it been willing.

    The entire Winter war hinges on Sweden. This is why its betrayal is so total, although they tried to band aid over it, and pretend it didn't really happen.

    It really isn't about some kind of small-guy mateship, but about what is practical, feasible, and doable, as well as political. Why didn't those 45,000+ Australian volunteers volunteer already in Sept. 1939? Why wait until May 1940? Why was the 6th 2AIF sent to the Middle East, and not England, Norway, or France? Why did Sweden not allow transit?

    Somehow you are imagining that more volunteers step forward earlier, that more equipment is produced faster, that more shipping tonnage is made available for further distance, and that more diplomacy is applied more skillfully, but at no added cost (economical, political, or strategic) to Australia, the UK, Sweden or Finland.
  10. green slime

    green slime Member

    Nov 18, 2010
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    Not thousands in the RAF, not several divisions. 1 Division. Which got recalled to CBI & PTO as soon as the Japs got stroppy.
  11. green slime

    green slime Member

    Nov 18, 2010
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    But they didn't. They didn't have the troops you thought they had, they didn't have the equipment, and they didn't have the capability to get there. Not without Sweden giving permission to transit.

    Not only that, its not definite that the Australian Government would allow their use in Finland, and what their role was to be, and under whose command. Just that discussion could substantially delay their arrival.

  12. green slime

    green slime Member

    Nov 18, 2010
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    Just because "Aussies love helping the little guy" is a poor argument. Which ignores facts. Facts based on the capabilities and willingness of Australia of the time.

    I'm all tuckered out bursting bubbles, but Aussies don't really do much for the little guy, or it wouldn't treat asylum seekers the way it does. Nor treat Kiwis as second class citizens. but that's a topic for another thread.
  13. von_noobie

    von_noobie Member

    Jun 2, 2007
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    green slime, I have already agreed that Australia and NZ neither had the equipment or transportation to get there, My only contention is that your claim that the Aussies wouldn't fight there just because even if they had the said equipment.

    My argument is that had they had the troops, The equipment and have been in the position to get there in short order that there is no real reason why they wouldn't have gone, Just because there a farm hand doesn't mean they wouldn't go and fight in the snow if needed and given the opportunity.

    You have given good factual evidence for the logistics and manpower issue that i willingly concede to but have yet to state with out a doubt that they wouldn't go there if they could.

    But this at first glance appears to be one of those thread's that 2 will argue over till the cow's come home so agree to disagree and go have a nice cold beer? =)

    Cheers, v_n.
  14. green slime

    green slime Member

    Nov 18, 2010
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    Ok - if the Commonwealth agree to send troops to Finland, and it was possible, because of Swedish co-operation, why would it be the Australians, and not another UK outfit? The Black Watch, etc.

    Those last "few thousand miles" really do make a huge difference in logistics and supply.

    in the war each injured soldier would need replacing. Australian units remained Australian in all wars. New Zealand units the same. British, likewise.

    Shipping replacements across the Indian Ocean alone to the correct theatre (MTO), is far, far easier, than shipping them all the way to England, regardless of the route. Then consider, those same replacements would have to ship to Norway, then embark a train to Helsinki. At the same time, those British troops sent to fulfill the role the Australians were expected to fulfill in Egypt, would need their replacments going in the other direction. It creates a collosal logistic nightmare, that is completely unnecessary. UK sends British troops to Finland? Fine. Australia sends a division to the Middle East? Fine. But Australia sending to Finland? Under the original premise? Just no.

    If there was no threat to the Suez Canal, if the Palestinian territories could be ensured to remain calm, if the Pasha could behave, if the Vichy French forces in Syria could be trusted, if the British forces in the ME and MTO weren't already undermanned... and if Italy remained out of the war, and if Italy didn't invade Greece, and if....

    So, if there is no MTO, and no thus threat to British interests in the Indian Ocean or Middle East or Suez, then the 6th 2AIF could be sent to England, and under those conditions, further on to Finland. I'll grant you that.

    But that is no longer within the original premise.
  15. Cankiwi2

    Cankiwi2 Member

    Sep 12, 2011
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    Interview with Sir David Carol MacDonnell Mather, MC, 5th Battalion Scot's Guards

    David Carol MacDonnell Mather (3 January 1919 – 3 July 2006) was born in Adlington, Cheshire, the younger son of Loris Emerson Mather. His family owned Mather and Platt, an engineering company in Manchester, which was chaired by his father and later managed by his elder brother, William. His grandfather was Sir William Mather, MP for North Salford, Gorton and Rossendale for 19 years, from 1885 to 1904. Mather was educated at Amesbury, Harrow and then at Trinity College, Cambridge, after which he joined his elder brother at the family company as an apprentice for a short period. He enjoyed sketching in pen and ink, and painting in watercolours. He also took part in and outdoor pursuits, including skiing and fishing. He played polo and enjoyed fox hunting. He also rode, and won, point-to-point races.

    He joined the Welsh Guards at the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, and attended Sandhurst. In February 1940, before his officer training was completed, Mather volunteered to join the 5th Special Reserve Battalion, Scots Guards. The battalion was formed in anticipation of supporting Finland in the Winter War in 1939–1940. He fought with the Battalion in Finland through to the end of the Winter War in October 1940, returning to the UK where he immediately volunteered for training at the Irregular Warfare Training Centre in Lochailort. He joined No. 8 Commando and headed with the unit to North Africa in January 1941 as part of Layforce. After 8 Commando was disbanded on 1 August 1941, Mather joined "L Detachment", the nucleus of the future SAS headed by David Stirling, where he joined raids on enemy airfields. In October 1942, he was offered the opportunity to join his elder brother on the staff of General Montgomery. Montgomery was a family friend, through his wife, Betty. Rejoining Stirling's force for a last operation deep behind enemy lines, he was captured by the Italians in Tripolitania on 20 December 1942.

    He was transferred to Italy by submarine, and spent 9 months as a prisoner of war in Fontanellato in Northern Italy. He escaped in September 1943, shortly after the Italians agreed an armistice with the Allies, and walked 600 miles down the Apennines to the Allied lines near Campobasso, north-east of Naples. He returned to England in November 1943, where he rejoined Montgomery as a liaison officer in early 1944 to assist with preparations for D-Day. He landed on D+1, and remained with Montgomery through the operations in Northern France and Belgium, acting as Montgomery's eyes and ears on the front line. He was awarded the MC for a successful reconnaissance mission in Nijmegen on 18 September 1944, on the second day of Operation Market Garden, while it was still occupied by the German Army. On 9 January 1945, he survived being on an Auster that was shot down near Grave in the Netherlands: the pilot was killed, and another passenger, Major Richard Harden, took the controls and crash-landed while Mather deployed the flaps. Mather was hit by four bullets and badly injured, suffering 13 separate wounds and losing a kidney. He spent several months in hospital before rejoining Montgomery in July 1945 near Osnabruck.

    Mather joined the regular army in 1946, returning to his regiment, the Welsh Guards, in Palestine, where he remained until the independence of Israel in 1948. He married the Hon Philippa Bewicke-Copley, daughter of the 5th Baron Cromwell, in 1951 (she who survived him after 55 years of marriage. Together, they had one son and three daughters). He was Assistant Military Attaché in Athens from 1953 to 1956, served in Military Intelligence in the War Office from 1956 to 1961 and the Far East from 1961 to 1962, when he retired with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. He resigned his commission in 1962 to join the research department of the Conservative Party, working alongside Christopher Chataway and Anthony Meyer. He became a councillor on Eton Rural District Council in 1965.

    He stood for Parliament as the Conservative candidate for Leicester North West in the 1966 general election, losing to the incumbent Labour MP Barnett Janner by a wide margin. He then joined 250 other aspiring MPs (including colleagues from the research department) in competing to be selected as prospective Parliamentary candidate for Esher, a safe Conservative seat, in 1969. Elected in the 1970 general election, he disagreed almost immediately with Prime Minister Edward Heath's course of joining the European Economic Community. He remained a Eurosceptic throughout his political career. He also campaigned vigorously for the return of capital punishment; supported the suggestion in 1974 for the creation of a 10,000-strong "Citizen Volunteer Force" to support the police; supported the role of the Army in Northern Ireland, and Royal Ulster Constabulary; and campaigned against the M25 being driven through his constituency. His strongly held right-wing views gained him to appointments on various backbench committees, but did not endear him to the party leadership.

    Photo sourced from: http://cache4.asset-cache.net/gc/109714 ... KGqQ%3d%3d
    Sir David Carol MacDonnell Mather, conservative MP for Esther and Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury, 21 February 1973.

    He became less vocal in sharing his views when Margaret Thatcher appointed him as an opposition whip in 1975, soon after she became leader of the Conservatives. After James Callaghan's Labour government lost a motion of no confidence by one vote in 1979, orchestrated in part by Mather, he became a government whip after the Conservatives won the 1979 general election. He served as a Lord Commissioner of the Treasury from 1979 to 1981, as Vice-Chamberlain of the Household from 1981 to 1983, and finally as Comptroller of the Household from 1981 until 1987. He received a knighthood in the 1987 New Year's Honours List, and retired at the 1987 general election. In retirement, he wrote “Aftermath of War: Everyone Must Go Home”, published in 1992. A memoir of his duties in Germany in 1945, visiting camps holding Axis prisoners, including Cossacks and Yugoslavs who fought for the Germans and who were returned to face an “uncertain future” under Stalin and Tito, the book was also a defence of Harold Macmillan against allegations of treachery made by Nikolai Tolstoy. Mather also published a war memoir in 1997, “When the Grass Stops Growing”. He died in Lower Oddington, Gloucestershire on 3 July 2006

    Photo sourced from: http://images.borders.com.au/images/bau ... ld-war.jpg
    “When the Grass Stops Growing” by Carol Mather

    The following is the text of an interview with Carol Mather
    (for the original and genuine interview which I took, twisted and rewrote, see http://www.griffonmerlin.com/ww2_int.../carol-mather/)

    Interviewer: As a boy did you read adventure stories? Scott, Burton, Ryder Haggard?

    Carol Mather: Oh yes, but also my father was involved with Shackleton. After he’d come back from his expedition in 1916 – he continued to serve with the Navy through the first world war, but after that my father helped him to get a job in an engineering firm in Glasgow and the 2 boys Eddie and Ray, Eddie ended up as a Labour minister but Ray we knew best of all and my sister was supposed to marry him at one time, but it didn’t quite come off! In my youth I was a bit of an explorer. I had joined to expeditions, one to Lapland and one to Newfoundland, then I went on one of my own to the Yukon and Alaska.

    Interviewer:How old were you then?
    Carol Mather: I was at Cambridge; 19 or 20.
    Interviewer: I was going to ask you about you family background.

    Carol Mather: The family business was an engineering firm in Manchester called Mather and Platt and my elder brother eventually became head of the company. There wasn’t room for 2 anyway and I was in the army, so I stayed in the army til 1962 and then I went into politics. We lived in Cheshire, near Manchester and the firm started off making cotton spinning equipment. My great grandfather founded the firm in 1840 sometime. Then they made big pumps for ships, heavy engineering it was. It was going great guns until 1960, and heavy engineering disappeared and plastics came in, so that was the decline of the family fortune really. I did a short apprenticeship there on the shop floor before I went to Cambridge, then war broke out after I’d been at Cambridge for 2 years.

    Interviewer: Your family were very happy about you trekking off to the Yukon and places on your own?

    Carol Mather: Oh yes. My father went all over the place, on business really, but he went all over the world and was a member of the Royal Geographical Society and I joined it towards the end of the war. We sort of had it in the blood. My father was a great naturalist as well, so we were taught to observe thing s from a young age, birds and wildlife and so on.

    Interviewer: Did you read about Bagnold in the 30’s?

    Carol Mather: No, no-one knew about that except the people who lived out there. I was very influenced by a young chap called Gino Watkins who was an Arctic explorer. This was the Cambridge University Exploration Society and they went off to Greenland and were ostensibly planning a route, but mainly on the ice cap in Greenland. I was rather inspired by him and wanted to be an Arctic explorer, hence my joining the expeditions to Lapland and Newfoundland, in the sub arctic, and then war came and all that came to an end and I ended up in Finland and then in the desert.

    Interviewer: Yes, you spent some time in Finland didn’t you?
    Carol Mather: Oh yes, almost a year in fact.
    Interviewer: Let’s talk about that then, how did you come to go to Finland? And wasn’t that when you first met David Stirling? I was really interested in your description of Stirling – falling asleep on the boat to Petsamo all the time, a bit of a sloth.

    Carol Mather: Extraordinary figure. Before the war he wanted to climb Everest and went off to the Canadian Rockies to train. Then he joined the ski battalion in 1940, that’s when I first met him, there was some confusion at first as to what our task really was. We thought we were going to help the Finns but in fact it appears that we were aiming for the Swedish ball bearing steel mine at a place called Gallivarii in the middle of Sweden and that we were going to land in Norway and walk across it and then blow these mines up. But the Swedes and Norwegians got wind of that and then we ended up really going to Finland and fighting alongside the Finns against the Russians. It was quite an extraordinary war and not at all what we expected.

    Interviewer: In what way?

    Carol Mather: Well, the weather was one thing. We were expecting snow, we’d trained in skiing techniques at Chamonix for a couple of weeks. But it was extraordinarily cold when we got there, they unloaded as at Petsamo, this little port right up in the Arctic, packed with ships and total chaos but we played a rugby match against the Kiwis and the Aussies and the South Africans despite the temperature – and I believe there was a Rhodeasian team too. First Rugby International in Finland, probably the first above the Arctic Circle for that matter, all I remember it was bloody cold, even with the winter clothes the Finns fitted us out with. And then the other battalions that had arrived got trucked off south and for some reason we were kept back and then they threw all our specially designed skis away and gave us these Finnish Army skis, much better than ours as it turned out which was embarrassing for old Freddie Chapman who’d specially designed ours, and we skied south and the Finns trained us in winter fighting at the same time. And then they decided not to put us on the frontline but to attach us to one of their special units, we’d never heard of them before – in fact we didn’t really know anything about the Finnish Army at all – but this was their best unit, Osasto Nyrkki and they were very very good and they decided we had enough potential to join them.

    Interviewer? Osasto Nyrkki? Than means Fist Force doesn’t it?

    Carol Mather: Yes, and it was a real eye-opener for all of us. You can trace back almost all the British Army special forces, the Commandos, the Special Air Service, the Paratroopers, they all have their origins in the eight months or so we spent training and fighting with Osasto Nyrkki. Extraordinary bunch of chaps and they really knew how to fight. They did tremendous damage to the Red Army, taught us how to do it to. Taught us to paratroop, use gliders, attack the enemy where you were least expected, destroy their supply dumps and transport and headquarters. All behind the enemy lines, and you knew there would be no mercy if you were caught. And they had their extraordinary little four wheel drive cars that they’d bought from America, built by an auto firm over there called Bantam, which I believe was actually the US branch of Austin. Very similar to the jeeps we used later in the SAS in fact, but the Finns had them early in 1940. That was where Dave Stirling got the idea to use the Jeeps for the SAS in the desert came from, he took one look at them and remembered those little cars the Finns used, all decked out with machineguns and stuff.

    Interviewer: I believe you mention one raid where you used those Bantam cars?

    Carol Mather: Yes, yes it was towards the end of the war, late summer I believe and the Red Army launched a huge offensive against the Finns. Attacks all along the front, waves of tanks and aircraft attacking continuously. Tremendously hard fighting all along the front. The Finns were struggling and we were tasked with a rear area attack, one of those deep behind the lines raids, to take out aircraft before they could move them up to the front. They were actually down near the border with Poland I believe. We trained for a few days with the jeeps, I’ll call them jeeps for convenience and they were in fact very similar. It was a mixed-up unit, whoever was available, a bunch of us and a bunch of Finns from Oasasto Nyrkki but we all knew what we were doing and everyone in our team spoke enough Finnish to get by at that stage, terribly hard language to learn but we were forced to, there was no room for miscommunication. We loaded up the jeeps in these big two-engined transport aircraft that the Finns had that were actually more like gliders than aircraft, except they had engines, and we flew down south. Landed at midnight, those aircraft could land without their engines and we just whispered in to the middle of the airfield in the middle of the night. Unloaded the jeeps and just drove around the airfield shooting up the barracks and tents and blowing up and shooting up the aircraft. I think we destroyed about 300 aircraft just on that field. Of course after a while the Reds started shooting back.

    Interviewer: That would have made it a bit more dangerous..

    Carol Mather: Yes, but in those days it was all good fun. No worries, no cares and no sense of danger because you’d never experienced it before. Later in the war, after a couple more years, you became more jittery and more aware of what might happen. At the time of course, we just shot up or blew up everything. Some of the chaps loved demolitions, there was an Aussie chap on that mission, Rupert, Rupert Clarke, he loved blowing things up so we used to give him as many demo packages as he could carry, he’d run down a row of aircraft sticking them on and twisting the timer, he always set it as short as possible, said it gave him a real thrill to watch them go off, he cut it close a few times. Mad as a hatter that man was. Personally, I enjoyed shooting them up. My driver was this crazy Finn, he took us through a row of aircraft, bombers I think, they were lined up in neat rows, and I had my 20mm Hispano-Suiza cannon on a mount, I lit them up on the right and the other chap, another Finn, he had twin 12.7mm’s, he lit them up on the left. Tremendous fun.

    Interviewer: How did you get out of there?

    Carol Mather: Well, our transport aircraft were waiting off at one end of the airfield out of the way. Of course, we all had to be back right on time and we had to be careful not to shoot too high in that direction and fortunately none of us did or it would have been a long drive home. As it was, we drove back, blew up the jeeps, scrambled back into the aircraft and they took off right away. Very short take off run when they didn’t have much weight in them, amazing aircraft, wish we’d had some of them later in the war, the pilots flew all the way back to Finland at about 100 feet, just skimming the tops of the trees, that was the bit that worried us all, getting back, we all thought the Red Air force would be out looking for us but there was nothing and the Finnish fighters met us part way back and escorted us the rest of the way. We had a few killed, a few wounded on that mission but all in all, considering that our team and the other team that went in that night took out around 500 aircraft, killed quite a few hundred Russians, it was quite a good score overall.

    Interviewer: Was that the highlight of your time in Finland?

    Carol Mather: Yes, I’d have to say it was. We did a lot of raids, a lot of work behind the Russian lines, that raid had to be the highlight but it was quite nerve-wracking at times.

    Interviewer: That’s very apparent in your diary extracts; you start of quite gung ho then you say I’m quite nervous here.

    Carol Mather: Diaries were frowned upon as such and while I kept a diary, I usually wrote up these accounts pretty soon after the events, if there was a lull back at our base camp. I couldn’t have written the book without because I couldn’t have done it from memory and it gave a flavour of the times. It was very noticeable, the change in our attitude from when we first arrived in Finland. After a while, after you’d seen friends killed or wounded, you were much more cautious than for instance anyone who was brand new and hadn’t experienced anything like this before. So there was a period when you didn’t know what danger was really and you didn’t think you’d be a victim of anything until it happened. It was a very carefree existence really. Anyone with a bit of enterprise, they had a wonderful time really. And what we did, the behind the lines missions, we actually lost far fewer killed and wounded than the units that went and fought on the frontlines.

    Interviewer: I remember asking Lord Jellicoe if he got scared and he shrugged and said he didn’t think so, couldn’t remember feeling scared. Said he rather enjoyed the whole thing. There does seem to have been a very strong sense of camaraderie within the 5th Battalion - a band of young people all together doing something thrilling and daring.

    Carol Mather: Yes there was. It was very real camaraderie, we most of us came from very similar backgrounds, a lot of the Guardsman and NCO’s, almost all in fact were officers who’d dropped in rank to get into the Battalion, there were lots of us who had either still been at Sandhurst like George (Earl Jellicoe) or were second Lieutenants, and there were lots of those. A lot of us knew each other, either from School or Cambridge or from Sandhurst. And quite a few of the chaps had relatives in the unit, Shimi Fraser for example, he was related to Dave and Bill Stirling and to Gavin Maxwell, they’d all been at school together with Basil O’Brien and Mickey Rooney, everyone was very high-spirited but you knew that when it got serious, everyone would buckle down and pull their weight and they did.

    Interviewer: And what about communications? You mentioned that the Finns had very good communications earlier?

    Carol Mather: I did didn’t I. Yes, it was very impressive to us. I mean at the time, in the British Army then and for quite a while into the war, you have to remember that our wireless communications were pretty rudimentary. The Germans had better wireless communication than us, but even in the Desert with the SAS we had no real wireless communications. But with the Finns, it was something else. They had these amazing portable radios, some of them you could actually carry on your back, for the time it was revolutionary stuff and they issued them right down to companies and even platoons. All built by that Finnish company, Nokia, everyone’s hard of them now but back then they were unknown outside of Scandinavia. They told us later they’d tried to sell the radios to the British Army but they’d been turned down. Some idiot in the War Office no doubt! Us, we had no idea even how to use a radio then, we used field telephones or sent messages by runner. Later of course our radios got pretty good but in Finland it was a real eye-opener for us, like something out of those American popular mechanics science of the future magazines. Once we learned how to use them, we found them really useful. When we got back home, that was one of the things we all recommended that the Army develop, but of course the recommendations and all the reports we did just disappeared into the War Office. God knows what happened to them.

    Interviewer: Yes, I understand that some very detailed reports were prepared and sent in to the War Office on the lessons of the Winter War.

    Carol Mather: Yes, and it was a complete waste of time. Nothing we wrote up was ever acted on, the only things that were achieved were by men from the Battalion taking the initiative, and that mostly consisted of the units that were set up – the training school in Scotland that eventually resulted in Battle Training for most of the troops going in on D-Day, the Commandos, Dave Stirling setting up the Special Air Service, even Ian Fleming’s 30 Assault Unit was I think based on some Finnish unit we ran into, at least I understand that was where the idea came from.

    Interviewer: Can you recall some of the things you recommended?

    Carol Mather: I’ll try, but keep in mind that it was all fifty years ago and I may be mistaken. I know we all commented on the Finnish Nokia radios and on the Bantam Jeeps, I mean we all asked if Austin in the US could design and build something like that for this tiny little country, why in hell couldn’t they have done it for us. Then I know there were the transport aircraft and the gliders and parachuting. They were years ahead of us with that sort of thing, they were dropping paratroopers from DC3’s in 1940, told us they got the idea from the Russians, and none of us even knew the Russians were doing stuff like that either. Their national airline had bought DC3’s just before the war, and when the war started they just repainted them as Air Force planes, same crews and everything, and they knew how to fly alright. The Finns had some pretty good anti-tank guns too, just blew the Russian tanks to pieces, that was something we all wished for in the Desert. Close Air Support, that was another thing the Finns did really well that we didn’t get till years later. The Finns, they had it on tap right from the start and some of best aircraft they had were those old Hawker Henley’s, they’d picked up a lot of them from the RAF who were using them as target tugs. Blithering idiots! The Finns gave them 20mm cannon and bombs and we could talk to them on our radios and we’d call them up when we got into a spot of bother and they’d arrive and just line up and paste the Reds. It was half way through the Desert War before the RAF managed to get anything like that in place and it was only with a lot of pushing by the Army, the RAF just didn’t want to do that sort of support. The Finnish Air Force were completely different, they went all out to support the Army.

    Interviewer: You seem to have had a bit of contact with the Finnish Air Force?

    Carol Mather: Yes, we did. Quite often they flew us and dropped us off behind the Russian lines, picked us up afterwards. In summer they fitted their transport aircraft with floats and we flew in and out of lakes. They had lots of those little German Storch’s, they’d apparently bought a license to build them and we used them a lot to evacuate casualties. That was a real morale booster, you knew that if you were wounded, they’d fly in anywhere to pick you up, those little aircraft, they could land and takeoff from an outhouse roof, quite literally. That was something we missed in the Desert, those little Storch’s. It was quite soul-destroying to have to leave our wounded behind. I remember once one of the chaps, he had a broken back, we couldn’t take him with us and we left him behind in the desert with a bottle of water and a pistol. We never had to do that in Finland, we could always find somewhere that those Storch’s could get into and out of.

    Interviewer: What about the rest of the Finnish Air Force?

    Carol Mather: I can’t tell you much about them. I mentioned their close air support, we almost always had that on call when we were on behind the lines missions, but we never had much to do with their fighter or bomber boys. We knew that by the time we got there, they pretty much controlled the skies over the frontlines, but really, we didn’t have a lot to do with that part of the war. Although the Osasto Nyrkki boys, they used to like to say they destroyed more Russian aircraft than the air force ever did. Just a bit of friendly rivalry there I think.

    Interviewer: What about the fighting on the Isthmus and along the Syvari, did you have much to do with that?

    Carol Mather: Not a lot, we were lucky in a way in that right from the start, we were attached to Osasto Nyrkki and sent on raids behind the Red Army lines. I don’t think we ever actually fought as a Battalion. It was always small groups, I think the largest was a Company and that was pretty big for what we did. And the thing was, the war got very stagnant towards the end. The Finns fought far more skillfully than the Russians, but they were a very small Army and the Red’s could always throw those massive numbers of infantry and tanks and aircraft at them, and there was only so far the Finns could advance before they were too exposed. Once they reached that line along the Syvari and then across to the White Sea, all they could do was hold on and try and inflict such enormous losses on the Russians so that in the end they would say it wasn’t worth it. Which is of course what happened in the end but only after they’d killed Stalin and half the Politburo in their raid on the Kremlin. And that was a gamble, a complete gamble, but they took it and it paid off in the end. But I was saying that the war was stagnant for the most part, the main fighting line went backwards and forwards and there weren’t any major initiatives, and that’s what Osasto Nyrkki supplied really and therefore we were at the peak of events in the Winter War and we were winning the war, our war, and just hammering the Reds every way we could. If you look at a record of the number of planes that Osasto Nyrkki destroyed it was far greater than the number destroyed by the Ilmavoimat and that was just a window of opportunity that the Finns spotted. Of course, as time went on, the Russians would have become much more aware of what might happen and so airfields would have been more heavily guarded but the war ended before that happened. Really the last raid on airfields was that mass attack I mentioned, and of course we did the same things against the Germans in the desert war later.

    Interviewer: Were there other things you learned to use against the Germans later?

    Carol Mather: Yes, and funnily enough one of the main lessons was targeting transport and logistics deep in the enemy rear. A lot of these operations failed but it made the Russian High Command very jittery about their rear. They had very long lines of communication. They were highly vulnerable all along their line of communications and with these unexpected raids taking place almost anywhere along that line. Quite apart from the aeroplane score, I think creating uncertainty in the mind of the enemy was an important factor. And the distances in Russia were so vast, it’s hard to describe, but they couldn’t guard all their lines of communication so there were always areas where we could attack, we got very good at finding them. The one thing I didn’t like was that we killed an awful lot of horses. Everyone, the Russians and the Finns, used large numbers of horses and we would have to steel ourselves to kill them, it wasn’t like blowing up trucks or soldiers, with horses it was far more personal. Personally, that was the hardest thing for me to do but it had to be done so we did it. The other thing we did a lot was target Headquarters. Personally, I was on two missions where we wiped out a complete Divisional Headquarters and that was rewarding work, you cut the head off and the Division was just a headless beast, still fighting but with no brain. And the Finns were masters of psychological warfare, they would target the Divisional and Army commanders that they regarded as competent and leave the incompetent ones in place. That was how they got Timoshenko, I wasn’t on that mission, it was apparently pretty tough but they got him somewhere up near Lake Onega and with him gone, you could feel the whole battle change, the tempo of the fighting. It was like there was no intelligent control anymore, just pieces fighting by themselves and that helped the Finns tremendously in the last weeks of the war. Of course sometimes they used aircraft and just bombed the hell out of the HQ, but we took out our fair share.

    Interviewer: The mission to get Timoshenko, wasn’t that one of the inspirations for the mission to get Rommel in the Desert War?

    Carol Mather: Yes, in a way. The idea I think, but the ways the missions were carried out were completely different. I mean, Osasto Nyrkki were professionals, they’d trained and practiced this stuff for years and they really knew how to do it, I mean, they taught us but we were neophytes compared to some of those chaps. Our mission to get Rommel was pretty sloppy by comparison and it failed as well. If I can make a comparison looking back, I’d have to say Osasto Nyrkki were as professional back then as the Special Air Service became in the 1970’s, they were that far ahead of us. I mean, they even had lightweight body armour for goodness sake, and the Yanks were only experimenting with that right at the end of the war.

    Interviewer: That’s a new one to me.

    Carol Mather: (chuckles). It was new to us to, but it’s the reason we most of us survived. Yes, they had thus lightweight body armour they were issuing to everyone as fast as they could make it, as good as anything that was available up until the 1970’s or 80’s at least except they had it in 1940. And of course, they tried to sell it to us after the Winter War and some idiot in the War Office no doubt said no. Should have shot the chaps that turned all that Finnish stuff down! But it was light and it kept out grenades and shrapnel and ricochets, wouldn’t stop a bullet coming straight at you but it was good, gave you a sense of security, you ended up taking more risks, being more aggressive than if you didn’t have it and that gave us an edge too. Only found out a few years ago that it was made from steel, ceramics and wood fibre. Amazing stuff, I still think about some of the things the Finns had back then and shake my head. There was this tiny little country up in the Arctic and they’d come up with some amazing stuff, science fiction is what I’d call it looking back.

    Interviewer: What about the Suomi submachinegun, what did you think of them?

    Carol Mather: Superb. Just superb. I have to say that about all the Finnish Army equipment, it was in a class of its own. We turned up at Petsamo with our Lee-Enfield .303’s, good rifle but still, we didn’t have the sten guns that we got later and they were just rubbish compared to the Suomi, that was just a work of art. Indestructible, tough, great range, accurate, huge magazine, we all loved it. Mine saved my life half a dozen times. When there’s a horde of the enemy coming at you, there was nothing like it. But everyone forgets now that it wasn’t just the Suomi, they had a superb self-loading rifle, the Lahti-Salaranta SLR. It was based on, I forgot what exactly but I think it was an American gun that the Belgians made and the Finns took it and these two Finns redesigned it, made a superb self-loading rifle from it, looks a lot like the post-war Fabrique Nationale SLR that we used for years. Anyhow, that Finnish SLR, it was self-loading, had a twenty round mag, highly accurate, and about half the Finnish soldiers had those and the other half had the old Mosin-Nagants, not a bad rifle either, about on a par with our Lee-Enfield’s. And they had a machinegun designed by that Lahti chap, the Sampo they called it, it was every bit as good as that German machinegun we all hated. Then they had this thing like a big shotgun that fired grenades, single shot but you could fire it pretty quickly with practice and when you didn’t have artillery on call, it was pretty useful. They had some very nasty little flamethrowers as well, scared the hell out of me, hate those things, they even had one that could be fitted under a Suomi. Mind you, those flamethrowers, they terrified the Russians, they’d stand up for anything but shoot some flame at them and they’d run like rabbits. Don’t blame them either, I would have bolted too if I saw that stuff aimed at me. Overall, the Finns were surprisingly well-equipped, we hadn’t expected that, they had lots of artillery and mortars and they used those a lot, there was always artillery fire along the front and you could tell when the Russians were doing a big push because the firing picked up really quickly.

    Interviewer: Yes, the Finnish Army’s artillery was apparently very good.

    Carol Mather: You could say that. They had this artillery general, Nenonen, he was a genius. The way they controlled their artillery, I couldn’t tell you how they did it, but they had enormous numbers of guns and mortars, and they could concentrate the fire from hundreds of guns anywhere along the frontlines. They had artillery fire controllers with radios attached to almost all their infantry units, we had them attached to us. They had to be Finnish to talk to the Finnish artillery chaps on the guns, we couldn’t speak Finnish well enough for that, most amazing fire control I’ve ever seen. I remember one mission, the Russians had us trapped when we were on our way out of Russia towards our lines, we were OK during the day when we could get close air support but after it got dark we thought we were dead but the Finnish fire controllers with us, they called in their artillery and we sat their all night with this box of artillery around us. Didn’t get much sleep and it was scary as hell with all that stuff exploding all around you, but it worked. In the morning we could see bodies all around, swaths of them and then the close air support came back and we made it to a lake nearby and got picked up by floatplanes. That was a close call. Very close.

    Interviewer: Did you ever see the rocket artillery the Finnish Army used? See it in action I mean?

    Carol Mather: Only once and that was because of a mix-up. We were behind the Russian lines, supposed to attack a Red Army Artillery Regiment in the middle of the night but when we got to where the guns were supposed to be, we realized there was a huge Russian attack being prepared. There were hordes of infantry moving up, a few tanks, but mostly infantry. Thousands of them from what we could see. So we got on the Radio and let HQ know and after a few minutes they told us to leave as fast as we were able to. Just as we were preparing to move out, we heard this whining sound that grew louder and louder and then we saw flames in the sky moving fast. At first we thought it was aircraft that were crashing but then they flames disappeared and there were explosion in the midst of the Russians a few seconds later and then more and more, explosion after explosion. We started to withdraw really fast, our CO realized we’d better get out of the way fast. So we were withdrawing as fast as we could in the darkness and then we saw sheets of flame from the direction of the frontlines, just sheets of flame lighting up the sky, the flames shooting into the sky and an unearthly howling that just went on and on and on. The flames were roaring towards us and we thought we were seriously in trouble, and then the whole area behind us, it was suddenly blotted out with hundreds of explosions occurring simultaneously. Earth and trees and bushes and no doubt bodies were being flung up into the air and we could hear screaming and yelling. Then within what seemed like seconds there was another wave of explosions and then a third. After that we lost count, it seemed as if the whole sky was howling and raining missiles and it was nothing but noise and explosions and we were burrowed into the ground under any cover we could find and it just went on and on for an eternity. It frightened us and we were outside the impact zone. The CO, he was on the radio by then and then my mate, he tapped me on the shoulder and pointed and I could see what seemed like hundreds of Russians streaming to the rear and a lot of them had thrown their guns away and were screaming at the tops of their voices and throwing their equipment away so they could run faster. Then the Finns bought their conventional artillery into play, I think the CO and the Fire Controllers were talking the guns onto the targets because the poor devils who were running suddenly disappeared in a rain of explosions and smoke and whenever another group appeared, the artillery came down on them too. After we got back, they told us that the best part of a Soviet Rifle Division had been wiped out, just completely wiped out, all in less than an hour.

    Interviewer: What was it like, being behind the enemy lines a lot?

    Carol Mather: Very tense, very very intense. We were always carrying a heavy load, food, ammo, explosives, weapons, bedroll, you were very heavily loaded and a lot of the time you were on foot, I the forest. And it was thick forest, lots of swampy ground, lakes, rivers, sometimes it was pretty heavy going. And the Russians used to have patrols of their own out looking for us so you were always on edge, you had to be very careful about not leaving any traces, not making any noise, the one good thing is you were usually never short of water. But you were always short of sleep. We did have Benzedrine, and they were useful up to a point. One of our number once took a sleeping pill, Sandy Scratchley only to find he was immediately on an operation at night!

    Interviewer: Did you see any of the local people?

    Carol Mather: In Karelia yes, there were quite a few Karelians who’d ended up in the Sovuet Union that had survived the Purges and the Deportations that Stalin inflicted on them and we were on reasonably friendly terms with them. The NKVD had treated them vilely during what we referred to as “colonial times”, deported thousands of them, killed thousands as well. We found quite a few mass graves, especially down near the White Sea Canal, shocking stuff, really motivated us to fight harder. But when we got into areas where there were Russian settlers, the Russians were not friendly towards us or to the Finns. A lot of the Russian civilians had to be put into camps in the end, you couldn’t trust them and when the Red Army started to send soldiers behind our lines, they helped them, so the Finns had to put them in camps.

    Interviewer: Did you ever fight the Red Army troops, the partisans, behind the Finnish lines?

    Carol Mather: No, the Finns had their own units to do that, although I understand the South Africans and Rhodesians helped, they had some superb trackers in their units. There was a composite unit of Finns and South Africans they put together to track down partisan groups, quite small but very ruthless and very effective, never ran into them but one hears stories. Pähkinänsärkijä, I think they were called – and no, I have no idea if I pronounced that correctly, but I think it was partly a reference to how they got information on the partisans from the local Russians, the CO was a Boer, chap named Lawrence de Kock. Quite the operator but I don’t know anything much about them other than that, our role was different, we were behind the enemy lines all the time.

    Interviewer: Operating behind the Russian lines, the Maps were presumably useless?

    Carol Mather: Well, for Karelia they were almost blank. There were lakes, forests and swamps and a few roads. Further south, there were more roads, a bit more farmland but it was still mostly forest until you got further south and it all became grassland. But usually we were operating in the forests. The Finns knew there way round in the forest, they never seemed to get lost. It was harder for some of us, but Shimi Fraser now, he was in his element. We all learned a lot and funnily enough, we even passed on one or two things to the Finns. Shimi, he taught all of us, Finns included, how to make Ghillie suits for camouflage. Very useful bit of equipment when you want to hide. We had Russian patrols walk right by us and never see us thanks to those. Shimi used to stalk the Russian patrols with a knife, he’d come up behind them and knife them silently, one after the other, just stalking them until they realized someone was missing and then he’d disappear. It was something to see, pretty ruthless but he said deerstalking with a knife was harder. There was one of the Finnish chaps in Osasto Nyrkki, Lauri somebody (Interviewer: Lauri Torni?). Yes, that was him, he and Shimi used to have competitions, I mean, their personalities were completely different, Lauri, he was a young chap but hard as nails, but he and Shimi, they would just disappear into the forest with their knives and comeback and they wouldn’t talk about it, Shimi would just say “8” and Lauri would say “11” or the other way round and you knew that was how many Russians they’d killed that day. The other Finns did something similar, they’d crawl into a Red Army position and slide in with the sleepers and kill one or two of them, slit their throats and leave them there for the others to find when they woke up. That had to be pretty demoralizing. Shimi now, he would just go in and kill them all. Quite a few of the lads got good at it. The other thing the Finns excelled at were setting booby traps. They had a nasty sense of humour when it came to those, we picked it up from them pretty damn quickly. The booby traps kept them from chasing you too fast when you were rabbitting after we hit them, they never knew when something nasty would get them and it really slowed them down. But the maps, to start with they were blank, but towards the end of the war we started getting good ones. The Finnish Air Force had a mapping unit and they must have worked whenever there was daylight, because by the end of the war we would be tasked with a mission and we’d have brand new maps of the area well before we started. Good maps too. Very good.

    Interviewer: I believe in your book you mentioned you got very little leave? But you got to see Vera Lynn in Helsinki?

    Carol Mather: Actually, I only got one leave while we were in Finland, the fighting was heavy all the way to September and most of the time the only breaks we got were between missions, a couple of days while we rested and fixed up our equipment and then we’d be off on the next one. But the one time I did get a week’s leave, it was in July before the Reds started their big push, I went to Helsinki. One of the Finnish chaps told me that there was a lovely hotel in Helsinki called the Hotel Kämp. So that’s where we went. We drove up in a truck to Viipuri and then took the train from there to Helsinki. By then there wasn’t much risk of an attack by the Red Air Force so we went up in daylight and I must say, it was a beautiful trip, very scenic if you like pine and birch trees. Helsinki was a bit drab and quiet, not too many people, all the men and a lot of the women were in the Army, a lot of the children and old people were out in the countryside helping on the farms so there just weren’t that many people left. And we found the Hotel, it was quite nice, we had no difficulty getting rooms even though it turned out to be the centre for all the foreign journalists and photographers and whatnot. When we arrived that night, the Hotel seemed deserted and we were all so exhausted we just had dinner and a bath and then went straight to sleep but when we went downstairs the following morning the place was overflowing with a noisy conglomeration of people; there were Finnish soldiers, women volunteers, politicians, and foreign journalists and photographers of a dozen different nationalities. Most extraordinary were the Swedish women journalists. Every paper in Sweden seemed to have sent a "special correspondent" and there were dozens of them. They all had blonde hair, big blue eyes, and wore dainty coats and little white hats that tied under: their chins. They looked like the front row of a Cochran chorus. George (Earl Jellicoe that is), had breakfast with a table of them, God knows hw the man did it but we didn’t see him again until it was time to leave. He said he learnt a lot of Swedish in those few days. The man was incorrigible, never did change his ways, but he certainly knew how to enjoy himself. Helsinki seemed like quite a nice city, but it was empty. The Finns told us that the normal population was 300,000 but due to the war there were only 30,000 people left, everyone else was in the military or in the country or working in factories or for the war effort somewhere. It di limit one’s recreational possibilities somewhat. Whoever had dubbed it "The White City of the North" had a truly romantic soul, because it had a pretty bleak and dismal atmosphere. Granted, it was the war and the cars had been requisitioned for the military and most of the shops were boarded up and even in the middle of the day there were only a few people in the streets. And dancing was prohibited. So it wasn’t very exciting, except perhaps for George. But at least one could eat and drink. And yes, I got to see Vera Lynn. She came to Helsinki, stayed with the Ambassador, but she did a few small concerts at the Hotel Kämp and I got to see here there. Of course, when I did, we had one of the last bombing raids on Helsinki in the war that the Russians managed, and we all had to go down to the shelters for a while, but still, it was wonderful to hear her singing and meet her in person. But after a week in Helsinki we really wanted to get back to where the real action was. Even George. (chuckles).

    Vera Lynn concert, Hotel Kämp, Helsinki, July 1940

    Interviewer:And when things got bad in the fighting, you’d imagine life back in Helsinki?

    Carol Mather: After that of course, when things got rather bad where we were, we’d joke about how much worse it would be to be back in Helsinki and that would bring a few chuckles.

    Interviewer: Did you ever get ill on your missions?

    Carol Mather: Well, not so much ill, although carrying enough food was always an issue, but the worst thing was the mosquitoes, especially when you were close to a swamp or anywhere there was groundwater, and that was a lot of the time. They could drive you crazy and there wasn’t much you could do. You wrapped bandages around or a cloth or a handkerchief, anything you had - in the end we got these mosquito nets from the Finns but they didn;t have enough of them for everyone and it was a hile before they got issued to us and we all suffered. The other thing we got issued with was this pine pitch oil, pikiöljy is what the Finns called it, that you rubbed on your skin. Smelled a bit so sometimes you couldn't use it because the smell might give you away so you just gritted your teeth and got chewed to bits by the mozzies and the horseflies and blackflies. On a bad mission you'd come back streaming blood from all the bites and there was bugger all you could do about it, although covering yourself in mud sometimes helped.

    Interviewer: Looking back in time, what do you think of it all now?

    Carol Mather: It was an amazing time. A very strange war, one that none of us expected to fight in really, we were all geared up to fight the Germans and instead we spent almost a year fighting the Russians, who would go on to be our Allies against the Germans a couple of years later. And the Finns, fighting beside the Finns was very strange too. We had no idea what they were like when we went there, I guess the image most of us had was of something like Swedes, you know, blonde, not that smart but nice people who were bound to lose the war in the end and without much of a military and we would do our best to help them but it would be just another Poland. But it wasn’t like that at all, for one thing the Finns weren’t anything like the Swedes and they fought like the devil, incredibly stubborn people, didn’t know when to give up, when we passed through Viipuri on the way to the fighting at the start of the war we were amazed to see even schoolgirls and schoolboys, young kids, toting around rifles that were taller than they were and they all knew how to use them. That was when it really dawned on us that this would be a different war, that these people were like us and they had no intention of quitting. And I’ve already talked about their Army, the weapons and stuff they had, they were really prepared for a war with the Soviets and the Marski, Marshal Mannerheim, he was, well all I can say is that he’d spent fifteen years doing his best to make sure Finland was prepared as best he could make it to fight, and Finland fought and won, which just boggles the mind when you look at the disparities between the two countries. There was a lot of luck involved of course, the purges of the Soviet military that Stalin carried out gave the Finns a huge edge, and then killing Stalin towards the end of the war, that was a pure gamble, they threw the dice on that one and they landed the right way for Finland. But even without that, the Baku Raid might have won them more time, and of course by September 1940 they’d inflicted an enormous number of casualties on the Red Army, well over a million dead and more than that injured, there was almost nothing of the pre-1939 Red Army left, the Finns had killed most of the capable commanders, devastated the Red Air Force, there was almost nothing left of the Soviet Navy, just a few ships in the Black Sea. Even Stalin should have realized by then that he’d bitten of more than he could chew. And we all saw what the Finns did to the German Army in 1944 and 1945 – I mean, they even beat the Red Army into the center of Berlin. No-one expected that in late 1939 when the Winter War started.

    (Interview ends)
  16. Cankiwi2

    Cankiwi2 Member

    Sep 12, 2011
    Likes Received:
    LELAND STOWE Writes: “Twilight of the Swedes: They Played Safe”
    Leland Stowe of the Chicago Daily News

    Leland Stowe (November 10, 1899 - January 16, 1994) was born in Connecticut. After graduating from Wesleyan University in 1921, he started working as a journalist and became a foreign correspondent in Paris in 1926 for the New York Herald Tribune. He won a Pulitzer Prize in 1930 for his coverage of the Paris Reparations Conference. In the summer of 1933, Stowe visited Nazi Germany. Shocked by its militarism, he wrote a series of critical articles that were not published as the articles were seen as too alarmist. Stowe published the articles in a book, “Nazi Germany Means War”; it was, however, not a success. He also reported extensively on the Spanish Civil War.

    When World War II started in Europe in 1939, he left the Herald tribune and worked as a war correspondent for the Chicago Daily News and the New York Post. Stowe was a runner-up for a second Pulitzer Prize in 1940 for his coverage of the Russo-Finnish Winter War. In an article he wrote on the Red Army in 1943, he mentions the Winter War: “The Russian forces started in Finland in low gear, with inferior equipment and very spotty leadership. I saw the first Russian prisoners taken by the Finns on the Karelian Isthmus, and they were poorly-clad and ill-equipped. That condition did not continue. Only three weeks later at Tolvajaervi I saw hundreds of frozen corpses of an utterly different, first-class Russian division. From that time through the remainder of the Finnish war the caliber of Soviet troops was maintained at a high level. Officials in Helsinki believed that Soviet Russia, misled by the reports of their agents from inside Finland, had expected the Finnish Government to capitulate without a fight. Later in Moscow I saw indications that the Russians had counted on securing Finnish bases without actually going to war and had found themselves compelled to use force before they were completely prepared. That fact, I believe, chiefly explains the early setbacks of the Red Army in Finland -- plus, of course, the superb all-round quality of the Finnish officers and soldiers and the terrible cold of the winter of 1939-40….”

    Leland Stowe greatly admired the Finns and the fight that Finland put up against the USSR. His articles filed from Finland, and his many pleas for support for Finland reflected this, as did his later criticisms of Norway and Sweden (illustrated in the article below from 1941), especially when he compares them to Finland as he does in this article. (Note that I have modified this somewhat – for those interested, the link to the original and unmodified article herehttp://fultonhistory.com/newspaper%2011/New%20York%20Evening%20Post/New%20York%20NY%20Evening%20Post%201941%20Grayscal e/New%20York%20NY%20Evening%20Post%201941%20Grayscal e%20-%200930.pdf).

    LELAND STOWE Writes: “Twilight of the Swedes: They Played Safe”, New York Evening Post, early 1941

    “When I look at Sweden, I think of a people who put their trust in pacifism rather than preparedness, a people who had never been taught that if you want freedom you must be ready, first and foremost, to defend it yourself. When I think of Finland I think of the gallant three million. I think of a little people who have fought giants all down the centuries and are alive and free today because they have always known how to die. The Finns have always known there is only one road to freedom.

    These thoughts of mine are merely outgrowths of the record of events in these three northern countries, Norway, Sweden and Finland, since the European war began: the inevitable crystallization of what I have seen, heard and experienced there. They are not things of my own making, but rather things which have been done to me. That is why some of them are painful and sharp with disillusionment. Like most Americans, I had always regarded Norway and Sweden as the well-nigh perfect democracies. I had always admired their progressive social legislation, their cleanliness and industry, their enlightened relations between capital and labor—all these so much more advanced than in most other countries.

    In Oslo, last April, I saw Norway's capital occupied by 1,400 Nazi infantrymen without a hand being lifted or a boo being uttered among more than 30,000 Osloans, nearly half of them men of military age, who lined the streets, looking on. Everything we saw during the next four days was painful in the extreme. The people were dazed and bewildered. They seemed to forget that part of their army, still true to traditions of long ago, was fighting desperately and bravely only 60 miles to the northward. Certainly there were many courageous Norwegians, but there were many others who never dreamed of the necessity of fighting for anything. Like the Swedes, they had had more than 100 years uninterrupted peace. Their socialist governments had always belittled the idea of strong national defense forces. They had placed social security far above national security. More than that, they believed in the immunity of geography. When Norwegians talked about the North Sea they sounded as many Americans do today when they talk about the Atlantic Ocean being 3,000 miles wide which it was until a few decades ago. Now it is less than 24 hours wide. The Norwegians understand all about that now, after their own disaster and when it is too late.

    It is not difficult to comprehend the unhappy fate of Norway and the self-interested policies followed by Sweden if you take note of certain coincidences. Both these countries had had too much peace and too little hardship (perhaps too little danger is a more accurate expression) throughout several successive generations. Pacifism was their passion and so, too, was material well-being. The USA of 1926-1929 was very much the same. In regard to their frailties Americans and Scandinavians seem to have had a great deal in common. Wouldn’t it be ironical, a few years from now, if some editor should be asking for an article entitled "The American Twilight."

    Sourced from http://fultonhistory.com/newspaper%2011 ... 200930.pdf).
    SOMEWHERE IN FINLAND the defenders take shelter as Soviet planes appear, according to the censor of this war-time picture. "I think of a little people who have fought giants all down the centuries," writes Stowe, "and they are alive today because they have always known how to die."

    Nation Unprepared to Defend itself

    As an observer, watching the grim steamroller of war roll toward and over the Scandinavians, it seemed to me that these people were spiritually unprepared for the dangerous life which an era of revolution imposes, whether you like it or not. The dangerous life lay in their distant past. They had made a fetish of material progress, or a high standard of living, a la Calvin Coolidge and most Americans of his epoch. Even more than in the matter of weapons, they were psychologically unprepared for self-defense. This was why the Norwegians could not react swiftly, nor close up their ranks in time. Their peasants and sailors wanted to fight. Many of their white-collar class, at least in Oslo, did not seem to know how. Today there can be no question about what Norwegians of all classes would do and want to do. But today it is too late. Even so, the record stands that many Norwegians fought gallantly and so long as there was any possibility. They were those who were equipped to fight, those who were not betrayed, and those who understood the issue from the very beginning. These are the men who will lead the battle another day for Norwegian freedom.

    Looking out for Selves Swedes Chief Concern

    When I think of Sweden I can think of few things to make me happy. I think of Sweden and I understand Col. Lindbergh rather too well. I remember a conversation with a Swedish businessman, on a train, just after leaving Finland at the end of January, 1940, for a few days' leave from the war. With absolute solemnity, the Swedish business man assured me that America ought to save the Scandinavians by sending 400 airplanes to Sweden at once and 200 to Finland. The Finns had been fighting with their backs to the wall for two months and Sweden wasn't fighting at all. Nevertheless, my train companion really thought that the Swedes ought to get twice as many American planes as the Finns. I remember this remark so vividly because it became symbolic of so much else that one encountered in Sweden. The Swedes were always taking care of Number One, somehow rather too obviously and vociferously. They also contributed most generously to the Finns, in money and war materials—a natural thing when the Finns alone were keeping Bolshevism away from the Swedish frontier. But the national policy could be summed up in the phrase “No War – Not a drop of Swedish blood.” Maybe you have heard that expressed somewhere before.

    Well, the Swedes have got through so far without shedding any of their own blood, save that of a few thousand volunteers who went to Finland and died in magnificent protest against a national policy which they (the idealistic and the lion-hearted) felt was as short-sighted and blind as it was selfish. I know a few Swedes like that and I shall never forget them. Unfortunately, I met so many others who had gone flabby with peace and prosperity. It was a common thing in Stockholm, during the days when the best of the Norwegians were fighting a lost cause just over the mountains, to see Swedish males expand their chests and declare, "The Nazis will never touch us. They know what we'll do to them!" Once I took the wind completely out of a young officer by remarking, "If you Swedes are such great soldiers, why are you always talking about it. Look at the Finns, they’re fighting the Russians and they were still prepared to take on the Germans and protect the Finnmark in northern Norway." Suddenly he became thoughtful. It was a fact that these were the most panicky people I have ever met anywhere (although I must admit I wasn't able to visit Wall Street in 1929).

    With this much for background, consider how the Scandinavians tried to escape the war and what happened. Finland was bleeding, and needed soldiers more than anything else. Britain and France were ready to send them, but Norway and Sweden were being strictly neutral. They wouldn't let Allied troops through Narvik. Then Norway's turn came, and the Allied divisions—which might already have been in Scandinavia—couldn't get there in time. . . .United we stand. Divided we fall. Fortunately for Finland, she got some assistance through Petsamo, but not the Divisions that might have saved Norway.

    Sourced from http://fultonhistory.com/newspaper%2011 ... 200930.pdf
    DINNER TIME in a Swedish day nursery. The policy of neutrality at all costs has not saved Sweden, writes Stowe. The Swedes are completely under the heel of Hitler.

    Finland's Distress Call to Sweden: Send Two Divisions

    A month before the Soviets hit the main Finnish defensive positions, the Mannerheim line, Finland appealed to Sweden for two further army divisions in addition to the single Division of Volunteers that had come to fight for Finland of their own accord. Naturally the Swedes were afraid of Germany. Even so, had they been bold, they could have sent two divisions and called them "volunteers" just as the Nazis and Fascists had done in Spain. That was early in February 1940. It is doubtful whether the Nazis would have attacked then. They were not ready to strike until April. Two Swedish divisions would have been of great help to Finland at the height of the struggle.

    In Moscow, in May of this year (1941), my own convictions of the previous February were more than confirmed by observers who have lived in the Soviet Union for many years. They said that a decisive counter attack at that point in the Russo-Finnish war would have completely shattered Soviet communications and morale. Chaotic conditions would have paralyzed most of the country and Stalin's regime would have been shaken to its foundations. In any case, the Red Army and the Bolshevist system would have been so weakened they would have been removed as a menace for the duration of the European conflict. Two Swedish divisions would have paved the way for this, and perhaps even for a revolution against Stalinism in Russia. Had Norway and Sweden taken the bold course of Scandinavian unity the Bolshevist bugaboo would have been exploded, allied troops would have been located where Hitler could not have conquered Norway in a single blow—the blitzkrieg against Holland and Belgium would necessarily have been postponed—quite possibly France would remain unconquered today, and most of Scandinavia, in all probability, would still be free. Blood would have been shed in these countries, but their people would not now be enslaved or faced with slavery. Certainly the whole course of Europe's fight for freedom would have been changed. As it stands, Stalin is with us no more thanks to the Finns, but the Bolshevist system is still in place and Stalin has been replaced by men no less stained in blood, France has fallen and Britain fights on alone.

    A Whole Nation Had a Horror of Going to War

    In Sweden there were a great many, beginning with the royal family, who had a horror of combat above almost anything else. Most of those with influence insisted that Sweden must play safe: Swedes must never fight unless they were attacked. They must never fight, except on their own soil. They must not lose their heads over the sufferings of their next-door neighbors. So the Swedes kept their heads—and what have they gained? The policy of neutrality at all costs, of material aid and "everything short of war," has not saved Sweden. The luckless Swedes are now surrounded on three sides by armed Nazi divisions. Their country is shot through with Hitler agents, Nazi "businessmen" and Nazi Gestapo spies. No Swede can resist the demands of Nazi representatives and hope either to keep his position or to make any real business profits. Very few Swedes today can call their souls their own. They are completely under the heel of Hitler.

    Swedish "Independence" is a hollow sepulcher.

    Sweden will be swallowed up gradually, at the whims or convenience of the new masters of Europe. Latest information from Stockholm assures me there is a great bandwagon rush toward "realism" among Swedish leaders today. "Realism" means playing partners with Nazi gangsterism. It means compromise with terrorism, resignation to fear, abjection before brutality and a way of life based upon falsehoods, abdication to the lowest instincts and practices of human beings. Yet there now remains scarcely any other alternative for the Swedes—unless they want to he martyrs. If they had been made of that kind of stuff, how could they have waited so long?

    In brief outline this is the tragedy of the Scandinavian peoples. I have summarized it without emotion and with all the restraint that the facts will permit. The picture of Sweden is not a pleasant one, but I did not paint it. It has been painted by Swedish actions and words. You can understand how it happened. You can pity the Swedes but that sentiment is one of the saddest things on earth to be forced to feel toward any people. This is why I would rather not return there for a long time. It would be too unbearably sad.

    Fate of Swedes A Lesson for America

    Nevertheless, if there is a great and overwhelmingly important lesson for Americans anywhere in Europe today, it is to be found among the shades of the Vikings and in the torturing twilight of the Scandinavian countries. Some day they will have another dawn — provided they learn by bitter experience and provided they come to believe that dawn is something worth fighting for. Some day - provided Britain is not permitted to go down. But the Norwegians and the Swedes are not far away from the American people. They are very much like us in many respects. They honestly believed they could remain free, alone and all by themselves. They liked to think that their favorable geographic position had protected them from invasion for over 100 years, and therefore it would protect them just as adequately in an era when airplanes have made ponds out of both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

    Sourced from http://fultonhistory.com/newspaper%2011 ... 200930.pdf
    STOWE WRITES: "The Swedes have got through so far without shedding any of their own blood, save that of a few volunteers who went to Finland and died in magnificent protest against a national policy." Above is shown a ski troop composed of volunteers from Sweden and America.

    The Scandinavians believed wholeheartedly in material well being, in social insurance and sensible labor laws and public hygiene. They believed in clean bodies, and forgot about fighting hearts — or made them entirely secondary in their education. They watched Hitler's expert propagandists and foreign agents boring from within, using the oldest bolshevik technique, all over Europe and in their own lands. But they chose to believe, as one young Swede expressed it to me, that "no Swede would ever betray his country." He might as well have said that no Swede or no human being anywhere loves money. So long as there are greed and selfishness and overweening ambition, treason will remain a powerful political factor throughout the world. Hitler is intelligent, he knows that very well.

    Nation Being Conquered from Within

    Sweden possessed good weapons and quite a strong army for the size of her population, but she didn't use her army and now she is being conquered from within. You cannot keep "realism" or "being sensible" or "adjustment to the new era” out of any country regardless of its size, with 60-ton tanks— even a million of them. You cannot bar treason with 16 inch guns or with thousands of flying fortresses. Sweden's frontiers are still technically inviolate, yet she now has parliamentary government only by sufferance. One of these days that, too will disappear, falling, falling to earth with the empty shell of what was once Scandinavian freedom. The Swedes played it safe or did they play directly into the hands of the expert propagandist poisoners of Hitler, Goebbels and Hiinmler?

    The Scandinavians had a great and splendid idea, the idea o£ a progressive democracy. They showed what liberal parliamentary government could do for the material well-being of their citizens. But they got self-satisfied and somewhat fleshy! They were very human. They forgot that an idea, if it is great, must be worth living for and worth dying for. They forgot that until it was too late. That is why twilight has fallen over Scandinavia, as it may yet fall over America.

    What About The Finns?

    What about the Finns? They had the will to fight and to die when necessary, they won their war and they won a victory that will live forever. And now, unasked, of their own accord, they protect the Finnmark region of Norway and have pledged, unasked, that if Sweden is attacked, the entire might of the Finnish military will come to the assistance of Sweden, unconditionally. From a nation of three million who have fought the Red Army to a standstill and faced down the might of Nazi Germany in northern Norway (where the French and British were defeated) this pledge is more than mere words. Once more, the Finns are prepared to fight and in making this pledge, a pledge to fight for a neighbour which would not come to their assistance in their hour of greatest need, they illustrate one important point. There is no twilight in Finland. That’s all.”

    The above article was published in the New York Evening Post in early 1941, well before Pearl Harbor, while the USA was still a neutral bystander in WW2 and before the German attack on the USSR. At the time the article was written, Britain fought on alone against Germany, continental Europe was ruled or controlled by Germany, a neutral Sweden was cowed by the German Reich and Finland alone stood free and undefeated, having signed a peace agreement with the Soviet Union

    Photo sourced from: http://pictures.historicimages.net/pict ... 601018.jpg
    Reporter Leland Stowe in 1944

    He happened to be in Oslo on April 9, 1940 and therefore witnessed the German invasion, as well as the general confusion within the Norwegian forces, administration, and Allied Expeditionary Forces. Stowe "revealed the collaboration of Norwegian Vidkun Quisling in helping the Nazis seize Oslo without a shot." Stowe's critical reportage was claimed to be one of the influences that helped bring down Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain in the United Kingdom. His writings also gave the Norwegian government-in-exile considerable problems as they tried to organise the resistance after Norway had been occupied. In 1942 Stowe as a war correspondent visited Moscow and traveled to the front lines of the still retreating troops of the USSR. His travel companion and guide was Ilya Ehrenburg, a Russian-Jewish war journalist.

    Stowe's book “They Shall Not Sleep” gives a rare insider view of an American journalist with the Soviet Army, and the events of the war from the Soviet side of the front. Stowe kept on working as a correspondent during the war, covering 44 countries on four continents. In mid-1944, Leland Stowe would again return to Finland from where he would cover the Finnish/Polish/Allied invasion of Estonia and the progress of the combined forces down the Baltic peripheral and through northern Poland into Germany. The sights he saw as he accompanied the Allied Army through the Baltic States, the evidence of both Soviet and Nazi atrocities and terror visited on the hapless peoples of the Baltic States and Poland, would lead to his becoming a firm opponent of Communism as well as of the Nazi’s.

    Image sourced from: http://www.militarybookman.com/images/4832.jpg
    “They Shall Not Sleep” by Leland Stowe

    After the war, Stowe became the director of Radio Free Europe's News and Information Service. In 1955, he became a Professor of journalism at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. During his tenure, he alternated between teaching one semester each academic year and working as an editor and staff writer for Reader's Digest. He taught at the university until he retired in 1970, after which he was a Professor Emeritus of Journalism. He remained in Ann Arbor until his death. In addition to the Pulitzer Prize, Stowe also received the Legion d’Honneur. the Military Cross of Greece, and honorary degrees from Harvard University, Wesleyan, and Hobart College, amongst other honors.
  17. Cankiwi2

    Cankiwi2 Member

    Sep 12, 2011
    Likes Received:
    Australian Aid to Finland

    As we know, Australia sent two full Infantry Battalions of volunteers to Finland for the Winter War together with sufficient volunteers to form supporting units for what would become the Commonwealth Division, a Divisional-sized Field Hospital, Medical personnel and Ambulance Units sufficient to support three Brigades. Australia was also instrumental in sending the personnel for a composite New Zealand/Australian Field Regiment (of Artillery). Finally, Australia (with some limited contributions of personnel from New Zealand and South Africa) would also send sufficient military personnel to establish two Brigade Headquarters units (Canada provided personnel for a third) together with the personnel for the Headquarters units of the “Commonwealth Division” that Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Rhodesia and Canada would jointly agree to forming from the disparate collection of volunteer units dispatched to Finland from within the British Commonwealth. Australia would not forget Finland after the Winter War – as well as ongoing shipments throughout WW2 of larg quantities of grain, mutton, kangaroo tails and wool for uniforms (albeit on ships of the Finnish merchant marine). In 1944, Australia would send a full Infantry Division (as would New Zealand) to fight with the Finns against Germany. While herself short of military equipment and unable to provide weapons and munitions to Finland in the Winter War, Australia would, with New Zealand, also pay for a number of artillery pieces and shells from the UK to be sent to Finland. Australia would also ship a considerable number of Ford Trucks to Finland (paid for through the “Buy a Ford for Finland” fund-raising campaign that was wildly popular with the Australian public, as we will see).

    The interesting question one must ask is, why would a country on the far side of the world, with almost no connections with Finland, make such a major commitment to assist a small and almost unknown country in Scandinavia when Australia itself was only just beginning to expand its military for the war against Germany. In considering this question, we will first take a quick look at the state of the Australian armed forces in late 1939, at the same time delving a little into Australian politics and history, primarily World War One and the inter-war years and then take a quick look at the history of Finns in Australia. After that, we’ll look in rather more detail at how Australia reacted to the Winter War. What swayed Australian public and governmental opinion to the extent that the country made the contribution that it did to assist Finland and just what was the full extent of the assistance given by Australia (for it would not be just men to fight)? We’ll consider all of these questions in this Post.

    The state of the Australian armed forces in late 1939

    As with Canada and New Zealand, Australia at the end of World War One was in the possession of a well-honed and highly experienced military, blooded in battle in disparate fronts around the world. The AIF had grown through the war, eventually numbering five infantry divisions, two mounted divisions and a mixture of other units. When the war ended, there were 92,000 Australian soldiers in France, 60,000 in England and 17,000 in Egypt, Palestine and Syria. Overall, 421,809 Australians served in the military in WW1 with 331,781 serving overseas. Over 60,000 Australians lost their lives and 137,000 were wounded. As a percentage of forces committed, this was one of the highest casualty rates amongst the British Empire forces. fter the War ended, some Australians soldiers in Europe went on to serve in Northern Russia during the Russian Civil War, although officially the Australian government refused to contribute forces to the campaign. HMAS Yarra, Torrens, Swan and Parramatta served in the Black Sea during the same conflict. Elsewhere, in Egypt in early 1919, a number of Australian light horse units were used to quell a nationalist uprising while they were waiting for passage back to Australia. Despite shortages in shipping, the process of returning the soldiers to Australia was completed rapidly and by September 1919 there were only 10,000 men left in Britain waiting for repatriation. On 1 April 1921, the AIF was officially disbanded. Most of the men of the A .I .F. said good-bye to the army without regret, but there were enough who remained committed to the military to provide a strong cadre of officers for the re-formed Citizen Force, some of them because they liked the military lifestyle and some out of a conviction that the army they trained or its successor would be called upon to fight again.

    Gallipoli and the battles on the Western Front, in which Australian Troops took heavy casualties, made a lasting impression on the Australian psyche, one that has lasted down to the present day. Australian and New Zealand troops landed on the Aegean side of the Gallipoli peninsula near the end of April 1915, and fought there through December 1915, when the troops were evacuated. The Australians lost 8,500 men killed in those few months, New Zealand lost 2,700 – and both the Australians and the New Zealanders placed the blame for these (and the enormous casualties later suffered on the Western Front) firmly on the unthinking, callous and hidebound British Generals. For Australians and New Zealanders, the campaign has been seen as a key moment in a growing sense of national identity. In the context of the Great War, the Gallipoli campaign had little impact but for the men who were there, their families and countless New Zealand and Australian communities, the effects would last for generations, becoming a core part of the ANZAC mythos and permeating the national cultures of both countries.

    In the immediate aftermath of World War One, the dead were remembered with a considerable amount of sentimentality: Ray Kernaghan & “Suvla Bay”

    In order to advocate for the many thousands of returned servicemen and women many organisations for former servicemen sprang up, te most prominent of which was the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia (now the Returned Services Association, or RSA – an Australian and New Zealand icon, particularly in rural areas) which had been established in 1916. Following the war this organisations’ political influence grew along with its numbers, which by 1919 were estimated to be at around 150,000 members. Also in the immediate post-war period, a noticeable number of ex-soldiers entered the political arena in the Australian Parliament, mostly as MPs for the Nationalist Party (and only one as an MP for the Labour Party, which had successfully fought against Conscription in 1916 and 1916). These new MPs (and others in the Nationalist and Country Parties believed that Australian should maintain her links with Britain, and that the Australian military should be maintained at sufficient strength to preserve an effective nucleus for the Armed Forces in the event of another war.

    The Australian Labour party, on the other hand, had been reshaped during the war by two historic struggles which overshadowed any other conflicts the Labour movement had experienced. These were the successful campaigns against conscription for overseas service in 1916 and the strikes of 1917. The expulsion from the Labour Party of those members who supported conscription for foreign service had it with a hard core of uncompromising Labour leaders in whose eyes the vital struggle of their period was that between employers and workers – in their eyes the war that had just ended was merely a conflict between two "capitalist" groups . To some of them a khaki tunic was a symbol of "imperialism." Were not British soldiers in 1920 being employed against the newly-born socialist republic of Russia, against the nationalists of India and, closer still, against Irish patriots struggling for their independence (almost a third of the members of the Labour Party were Irish, or of Irish descent)?

    One the left, there was a long-lasting bitterness around the scale of the casualties and the loss of life in an “imperial” war. Eric Bogle’s “Green Fields of France”

    In 1920-21, the militia numbered 100,000 compulsorily enlisted men of the 1899, 1900 and 1901 classes, practically untrained, and was equipped with the weapons which the A.I .F. had brought home from Europe and the Middle East – and little else. There was a cadre of 3,150 permanent officers and men, which was about 150 more than there had been in 1914. In the defence debates of 1921, some Labour MP’s advocated going farther than mere reductions and entirely abolishing the army and navy ; others argued that the Australian did not need to begin military training until war began ; "if the war proved anything," said Mr D. C. McGrath (Labour) "it proved that young Australians many of whom had not previously known one end of a rifle from another were, after training for a month or two, equal to if not superior to any other troops" General Ryrie, the Assistant Minister for Defence at the time, disagreed.

    Image sourced from: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/c ... _ryrie.jpg
    Major General Sir Granville de Laune Ryrie KCMG, CB, VD (1 July 1865 – 2 October 1937), Assistant Minister for Defence from 1920 to 1922. Ryrie worked as a jackaroo (trainee farm manager), and eventually managed his own property. He was also a good heavyweight boxer. He served in the Boer War, where he reached the rank of Major. He was elected to Parliament in 1906 and again in 1911. At the start of WW1, he was promoted to Brigadier-General, and was given command of the 2nd Light Horse Brigade, part of the Anzac Mounted Division, with whom he took part in the famous charge of the Australian Light horse in the battle of Beersheba. After returning to Australia, Ryrie remained a Member of Parliament. In 1920, he was made an Assistant Minister for Defence. In 1927, when he was appointed the Australian High Commissioner in the UK, where he remained until 1932 when he returned to Australia. As Assistant Minister of Defence, Ryrie (who was among the few who believed another war to be possible within a generation) pressed the need for military training and the necessity for maintaining a cadre of skilled officers and men . "Germany", this veteran soldier said, "is only watching and waiting for the day when she can revenge herself".

    The Ministers who brought forward the modest defence plans of 1920 and 1921 were described by some Labour members as "militarists" and "war mongers". "We must carefully guard", said the newly-elected Mr Makin (Labour) "against the spreading in the body politic of the malignant cancer of militarism." To be fair, many conservatives also advocated reduced defence expenditure at the time. While the Washington Conference negotiating naval strengths was still in session, the Australian Prime Minister, Hughes, had promised Parliament that, if the naval reductions were agreed upon, the defence vote would be substantially reduced . In the following year, nearly half of the ships of the Australian Navy were put out of commission, and it was decided to reduce the permanent staff of the army to 1,600, to maintain the seven militia divisions (five of infantry and two of cavalry) at a strength of about 31,000 men—only 25 per cent of their war strength—and to reduce training to six days in camp and four days at the local centres a year. Seventy-two regular officers out of a meager total of some 300 would be retired. In the army the sharp edge of this axe was felt most keenly by two relatively small groups. The first was the small Officer corps - careful selection, thorough technical training and moulding of character by picked instructors, followed immediately by active service, had produced an officer corps which, though small, was of fine quality. Before and during the war of 1914-18 each young officer saw a brilliant career ahead of him if he survived. The reductions of 1922 dashed these hopes. It was unlikely that there would be any promotion for most of them for ten years at least. Until then they would wear the badges of rank and use the titles attained on active service, but would be paid as subalterns and fill appointments far junior to those that many of them had held for the last two or three years in France or Palestine .

    Even more rigorous had been the reduction in rank of the warrant officers, some of whom had become Lieutenant-Colonels and commanded battalions in the war . They were debarred from appointment to the officer corps — the Staff Corps as it was now named — entry to which was reserved to pre-war regular officers and graduates of Duntroon, and became, at the best, quartermasters, wearing without the corresponding pay and without hope of promotion the rank that they had won in the war. Australia’s defence now became tied to the proposed construction of a naval base the naval base at Singapore – not without opposition from the Labour Party As a consequence of the 1923 conference, the Bruce-Page Government decided to buy two 10,000-ton cruisers and two submarines at a cost of some £5,000,000, whereas, over a period of five years, only £1,000,000 would be spent on additional artillery, ammunition and antigas equipment for the army. In these five years expenditure on the navy aggregated £20,000,000; on the army, including the munitions factories, only £10,000,000; on the air force £2,400,000. The strength of the permanent military forces remained at approximately 1,750, whereas that of the navy rose, by 1928, to more than 5,000.

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    Stanley Melbourne Bruce, 1st Viscount Bruce of Melbourne, CH, MC, FRS, PC (15 April 1883 – 25 August 1967) was Prime Minister of Australia from February 1923 to 1929. Born in Melbourne, his father was a prominent businessman. He was educated at Glamorgan (now part of Geelong Grammar School), Melbourne Grammar School, and then at Cambridge University. After graduation he studied law in London and was called to the bar in 1907. He practised law in London, and also managed the London office of his father's importing business. When World War I broke out he joined the British Army, and was commissioned into the Worcestershire Regiment, seconded to the Royal Fusiliers. In 1917 he was severely wounded in France, winning the Military Cross and the Croix de Guerre. He was invalided home to Melbourne, and became involved in recruiting campaigns for the Army. His public speaking attracted the attention of the Nationalist Party, and in 1918 he was elected to the House of Representatives as MP for Flinders, near Melbourne. His background in business led to his being appointed Treasurer (Finance Minister) in 1921. The Nationalist Party lost its majority at the 1922 election, and could only stay in office with the support of the Country Party. However, the Country Party let it be known it would not serve under incumbent Prime Minister Billy Hughes. This gave the more conservative members of the Nationalist Party an excuse to force Hughes (whom they had only tolerated to keep the Australian Labor Party out of power) to resign. Bruce was chosen as Hughes's successor, after which a conservative coalition government was formed.

    With his aristocratic manners and dress – he drove a Rolls Royce and wore white spats – he was also the first genuinely "Tory" Prime Minister of Australia. Bruce formed an effective partnership with Page, exploiting public fears of Communism and militant trade unions to dominate Australian politics through the 1920s. Despite predictions that Australians would not accept such an aloof leader as Bruce, he won a smashing victory over a demoralised Labour Party at the 1925 election. Throughout his term of office, he pursued a policy of support for the British Empire, the League of Nations, and the White Australia Policy. His government was reelected, though with a significantly reduced majority, in 1928. Strikes of sugar mill workers in 1927, waterside workers in 1928, then of transport workers, timber industry workers and coal miners erupted in riots and lockouts in New South Wales in 1929. Bruce responded with a Maritime Industries Bill that was designed to do away with the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration and return arbitration powers to the States. On 10 September 1929, Hughes and five other Nationalist members joined Labor in voting against the Bill. The Bill was lost by 34 votes to 35 when the Speaker abstained, bringing down the Bruce–Page government and forcing the1929 election. Labor, now led by James Scullin, won a landslide victory, scoring an 18-seat swing—at the time, the second-worst defeat of a sitting government in Australian history. Bruce was defeated by Labor's candidate Jack Holloway in his electorate of Flinders, making him the first sitting prime minister to lose his seat.

    After his 1929 defeat, Bruce went to England for personal and business reasons, contesting the 1931 election from that country as a member of the United Australia Party (a merger of Bruce's Nationalists and Labor dissidents). He won his seat back and was named a Minister without portfolio in the government of Joseph Lyons. Lyons immediately dispatched Bruce back to England to represent the government there, following which he led the Australian delegation to the 1932 Ottawa Imperial Conference. When Bruce sailed for the UK and then Ottawa in June 1932, his career in politics was over. Well before his return, Lyons offered him the high commissionership in London and when Bruce endeavoured to defer his decision, Lyons forced the issue in September 1933. At Ottawa Bruce consolidated his reputation as a tough negotiator. From there he went to London to renegotiate Australia's debt. Blocked by a government embargo on the raising of new capital, Bruce used his old City contacts to break through. As Australian High Commissioner in London from 1933-45, Bruce secured a solid reputation as an international statesman, travelling between London and Geneva while crisis succeeded crisis and the League of Nations floundered. When Turkey sought revision of the Straits Convention in 1936 Bruce was accepted unanimously as president of the Montreux conference and his chairing of it was widely acclaimed.

    Meeting as an equal with British ministers in Geneva, it became easier in London to get access to senior ministers and to confidential information which enabled him to be accepted as an adviser to the British government in his own right, while also acting as the main adviser to the Australian government. His technique was to send a situation-appraisal to his Prime Minister with prior warning of the decision he might need to take, so that in most instances the decision when made was as Bruce advised. During the Abyssinian crisis Bruce was a reluctant supporter of sanctions and among the first to advise reconciliation with Italy after partial sanctions had failed to save Abyssinia. The key to peace in Europe he thought was to detach Italy from Germany. He urged the British to recognize this and to formulate clearly their intentions regarding Germany's claims. France, he repeatedly warned, would drag England into a European war: France would neither concede anything to Germany nor take effective action to block her, would not fight for Czechoslovakia, and could not assist Poland. An “unfulfillable guarantee” to Poland was of utmost danger. In the last days before the war Bruce desperately tried to avert that disaster.

    His concern throughout was for the repercussions on Australia of Britain's situation in Europe and her lack of policy on China: Bruce recognized that the real danger to Australia lay in a Pacific war coinciding with a European war. As early as 1933 he was warning Australian ministers that the Royal Navy might not be available when needed: nevertheless he continued seeking assurances that it would. In 1938 he began negotiations for large-scale aircraft production in the Dominions, seeking guaranteed orders and technical assistance from England to make an Australian plant viable. In December 1938 on his way to Australia and in May 1939 on his way back, Bruce had seen the American president. The conversations dealt with the likelihood of American support if Japan moved south, but the president regarded a public commitment as premature. When war started Bruce and Prime Minister (Sir Robert) Menzies were in complete agreement that Australia should not commit its forces to a European war while Japan's intentions were unclear. Foreseeing the rapidity with which Poland would be over run, Bruce had tried to mobilize support for a clear definition of peace aims, hoping thereby to avert the destruction of Europe. Meeting with little success, he had put his hopes on Churchill, only to find he had no aim but to smash Germany. Throughout the “phoney war” Bruce pursued this issue beyond the tolerance of erstwhile admirers in high circles.

    Bruce regarding the New Zealand High Commissioner’s support for an ANZAC volunteer unit to fight in Finland alongside the Finns as an unwelcome distraction and was not a supporter of the move – however, he did follow instructions from Menzies to assist New Zealand despite his own misgivings as to the policy being followed. He advocated strongly against any further Australian support being offered, but was over-ruled. The success of the Finns, and the considerable publicity accorded the successes of the Australian Volunteers in Finland led to a further reduction in Menzies’ reliance on Bruce. Nevertheless, Bruce continued on as High Commissioner, loyally serving every wartime Australian government. He joined the War Cabinet in 1942 but had little influence, to his chagrin he found he was invited only on selected occasions and in August 1945 his retirement was announced. In 1947 he became the first Australian created a hereditary peer when he was made Viscount Bruce of Melbourne. He was also the first Australian to take a seat in the House of Lords. Bruce divided the rest of his life between London and Melbourne. He represented Australia on various UN bodies, was the chairman of the World Food Council for five years and was appointed as the first Chancellor of the Australian National University, a position he held from 1951 until 1961. He died in London on 25 August 1967, aged 84.

    During this period the strength of the militia varied between 37,000 and 46,000 and it was a nucleus which did not possess the equipment nor receive the training "essential to the effective performance of its functions". It lacked necessary arms, including tanks and anti-aircraft guns and there was not a large enough rank and file with which to train leaders to replace those hitherto drawn from the old A .I .F.—a source of supply which had dried up . In the regular officer corps of 242 officers there was a "disparity of opportunity and stagnation in promotion, with retention in subordinate positions, cannot lead to the maintenance of the active, virile and efficient staff that the service demands". The only mobile regular unit for example was a section of field artillery consisting of fifty-nine men with two guns. In the long debates on the naval proposals of the Bruce-Page Government, the defence policy of the Labour Opposition was defined . Whereas the Government's policy was to emphasise naval expenditure, Labour 's proposal was to rely chiefly on air power and the extension of the munitions industry . However, the Labour party was to be in office for just over two years in the period between the wars. Consequently Australia's defence policy closely followed the principles set down in 1923 – these emphasised ultimate reliance on the British Navy to which Australia would contribute an independent squadron as strong as she considered she could afford, and a reliance on the base at Singapore, from which the British fleet would operate in defence of British Far Eastern and Pacific interests . At the same time a nucleus militia, air force, and munitions industry would be maintained.

    The army did not share in the comparatively small increases that were made in the defence vote each year from 1924 to 1928 . The effectiveness of the militia continued to decline while the tiny permanent force together with militia officers and men carried on staunchly despite discouragement and a lack of any material reward. However, the system whereby each young lieutenant spent a year with the British Army in the United Kingdom or India, and a number of more-senior officers were always overseas on exchange duty or attending courses at British schools helped to keep the officer corps from stagnation. Gains in equipment were microscopic: in 1926 the army obtained its first motor vehicles—five 30-cwt lorries, one for each military district except the Sixth (Tasmania), and eight tractors for the artillery; in 1927 four light tanks arrived. Nor could the army comfort itself with the reflection that, when the need arose, it could commandeer even enough horses, because, the breeding of working horses had so declined that Australia was not only losing her export trade in army horses but it was doubtful whether there were enough suitable animals in the continent to mobilise the seven divisions . To the militia officers these circumstances were equally discouraging, and the fact that they were willing to devote their spare time to so exacting a hobby—and a keen officer had to give all his leisure to it - was evidence of uncommon enthusiasm for soldiering and, in most instances, an impelling desire to perform a public service.

    By the late 1920s, the numbers of horses in Australia had seriously declined, such that not only was Australia losing her export trade in Army Horses (the famous Walers), it was highly doubtful that there were enough horses available to meet all the transport requirements of the mobilized seven divisions of the Australian Army. This contrast with the situation in WW1, where Australia exported hundreds of thousands of horses for use by the military in the Middle East, Africa and Europe. More horses than men died in WW1.

    Peace-time military service conferred little prestige - indeed, an Australian who made the militia a hobby was likely to be regarded by his acquaintances as a peculiar fellow with an eccentric taste for uniforms and the exercise of petty authority. Soldiers and soldiering were in particularly bad odour in the late 'twenties . From 1927 onwards for four or five years, a sudden revival of interest in the war that had ended ten years before produced a series of angry war novels and memoirs of which Remarque's “All Quiet on the Western Front”, Robert Graves' “Good-bye to All That” and Arnold Zweig's “The Case of Sergeant Grischa” were among the most popular. Whether this criticism was right or wrong, these books and the plays and moving pictures that accompanied them undoubtedly did much to mould the attitude of the people generally and particularly of the intelligentsia to war and soldiers, and produced rather widely a conviction that wars are always ineffectual, are brought about by military leaders and by the large engineering industries which profit by making weapons, and that if soldiers and armaments could be abolished wars would cease. It was, however, not so much a desire for disarmament, and for the peace which was widely believed to be the sequel to disarmament, but another factor that was to produce substantial and sudden reductions in the armies and navies of the world. In October 1929 share prices in New York began to collapse; soon the entire world was suffering an acute economic depression.

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    Australian Militia in the Inter-war years

    The Labour Party had taken office in Australia in October 1929 for the first time since the conscription crisis of 1917, and the day after the first sudden drop on the New York Stock Exchange. Before the full effects of the distant catastrophe were apparent, the new Ministers who, harking back to an old controversy, had promised the electors that if the Labour party was returned it would abolish compulsory training, ordered (on 1st November 1929) that conscription be suspended, and cancelled all military camps arranged for the current year . At the same time the new Prime Minister, Mr Scullin, instructed the Defence Committee to submit an alternative plan for an equally adequate defence. There would, he said, be no discharges of permanent staff . Accordingly the Defence Council submitted a plan, which was eventually adopted, to maintain a voluntary militia of 35,000 with 7,000 senior cadets. The reaction of Mr Roland Green (Country Party) who had lost a leg serving in the infantry in WW1 was an indication of the feelings that were aroused. Green made a bitter speech in the House of Representatives recalling that Scullin and other Labour leaders, including Messrs Makin, Holloway and Blackburn, had attended a Labour Party conference in Perth in June 1918 when a resolution was passed that if the Imperial authorities did not at once open negotiations for peace, the Australian divisions should be brought back to Australia, and calling on the organized workers of every country to take similar action . "As a result of that attitude", said Green, "Labour was out of office in the Commonwealth for thirteen years, largely because of the votes of the soldiers and their friends. During all that time the party nursed its hatred of the soldiers, and now it is seeking revenge"

    Gallipoli became a core part of the ANZAC mythos, permeating the national cultures of both countries. Part of that myth was the pervasive image of the British General’s as butchers – an image that would result in Australia (and New Zealand to a lesser extent) ensuring it’s Divisions could if necessary refuse to participate in British operations if an action was seen as against Australia’s interests – something that would occur a number of times in WW2: This image is perhaps best portrayed in popular Australasian culture in Eric Bogle’s “The Band Played Waltzing Matilda”

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    James Scullin, (18 September 1876 – 28 January 1953), Australian Labor politician and the ninth Prime Minister of Australia. Scullin joined the Labor Party in 1903 and became an organiser for the Australian Workers' Union. In 1913, he became editor of a Labor newspaper in Ballarat, the Evening Echo. Scullin stood for the House of Representatives in 1906 but lost. In 1910 he was elected to the House but was then defeated in 1913 and went back to editing the Evening Echo. He established a reputation as one of Labor's leading public speakers and experts on finance, and was a strong opponent of conscription. After World War I he came close to outright pacifism. In 1922 he won a by-election for the safe Labor seat of Yarra in inner Melbourne, and in 1928 he was elected Labor leader. He was Prime Minister of Australia from 1929 to December 1931, when his government was defeated in a landslide swing to the Opposition. He remained as leader of the Parliamentary Labour Party until 1934, after which he resigned but remained in Parliament as a backbencher until 1949.

    The abolition of compulsory military training resulted in the burden of carrying out the new government’s policies falling upon the same small and over-tried team of officers, both professional and amateur, who had tenaciously been maintaining the spirit and efficiency of the citizen army through nine lean years and now had even leaner ones to look forward to. They "rose to the occasion" and in the first four months of 1930 their recruiting efforts produced a new militia of 24,000, with an additional 5,300 in the volunteer senior cadets—a relic of the big, well-organised cadet force in which all boys of 14 to 17 had formerly been given elementary military training. The numbers increased gradually, between 1931 and 1936 the number of militiamen fluctuated between 26,000 and 29,000. This strength, however, was about 2,000 fewer than that of 1901 ; the permanent force too stood at about the same figure as it had twenty-nine years before. In 1901, when the population of Australia was 3,824,000, the permanent forces had been 1,544, the partly-paid militia and unpaid volunteers 27,400. In June 1930, when the population was 6,500,000, the permanent forces totaled 1,669 and the militia 25,785.

    The abolition of compulsory training had been based purely on political doctrine but within a few months the depression resulted in still more severe reductions in the three Services. Defence expenditure was reduced from £6,536,000 in 1928-29 to £3,859,000 in 1930-31 and hundreds of officers and men were discharged from all three services. Further discharges were avoided only by requiring officers and men to take up to eight weeks' annual leave without pay. A number of regular officers resigned, others transferred to the British or Indian Armies.

    However, before the world had emerged from the depression, signs of war appeared in Asia and Europe. In 1931, Japan had begun to occupy Manchuria, in 1933, Hitler’s National-Socialist movement gained power and Germany withdrew from the Disarmament Conference and the League of Nations. Before this critical year was over, the need for repairing the armed services was being canvassed by politicians and publicists in Australia . Brig-General McNicoll, one of a group of soldiers, professional and citizen, who had been elected to the Federal Parliament in 1931 when the Labour party was defeated, declared that "a wave of enthusiasm …. has passed over Australia about the need for effective defence". This was perhaps an exaggeration, but nevertheless, there was undoubtedly evidence of some alarm and of an increasing discussion of foreign affairs and their significance to Australia. The response of the United Australia Party, successor to the Nationalist party and now the Government, was cautious. The Government considered that its first responsibility was to bring about economic recovery. Between 1933 and 1935 the defence vote increased only gradually.

    The Government adopted its policy ready-made and with little amendment, from the Committee of Imperial Defence. A weakness of this body was that it contained no permanent representatives of the Dominions. Such representatives might be summoned to advise on business that closely affected their governments, and would attend during Imperial conferences, exchange of senior officers in all Services, and the attendance of Dominions' officers at the English staff colleges and the Imperial Defence College somewhat strengthened liaison and encouraged discussion of higher policy. But, if Australian and New Zealand officers at those colleges frequently expressed disagreement with British military policy towards the problem of Japan, for example, that fact was not likely to affect the plans of the Committee of Imperial Defence, whose permanent members, secretary, four assistant secretaries (one from each Service and one from India) were servants of the United Kingdom Government . The committee carried out continuous studies of Imperial war problems but without an influential contribution from the Dominions. It shaped a military policy which carried great weight with Dominion ministers ; yet in the eyes of Dominion soldiers the committee could justly be regarded as a somewhat parochial group, since it was possible that none of its members had ever been in a Dominion or in the Far East .

    Within Australia an outcome of dependence on advice from London and the consequent failure to develop a home-grown defence plan was that successive ministers failed also to work out a policy which, while integrated with the plans of the British Commonwealth as a whole, reconciled the differing viewpoints of the army and the navy. Always the ministers' aim seemed to be to make a compromise division of the allotted defence budget (invariably too small to be effective) among three competing services. Both Government and Labour defence theories were strongly criticised. The Government policy was attacked by some Government supporters as well as by the Labour Opposition on the ground that it disregarded that the British Navy did not, and could not spare a sufficient force to command Eastern seas, that Britain lacked the military and air power even to defend her own bases in the East, and therefore that Australia should take what measures she could to defend herself. Labour's policy was denounced because it left out of account that Australia's fate could and probably would be decided in distant seas or on distant battlefields. Gradually those members of the Labour party who had begun to inform themselves upon defence problems discovered that leaders of Australian military thought were able to go part of the way with them .

    In their ten-years-old argument against Naval doctrines and particularly against the Singapore thesis the Australian Army leaders had adopted a position not far removed from that which the Labour party was reaching. Thus, when Admiral Richmond, the senior British naval theorist of his day, attacked, in the British Army Quarterly, a theory of Australian defence that resembled the Labour party's in some respects, his argument was countered (in the same journal) by Colonel Lavarack, then Commandant of the Royal Military College, Duntroon. And when, in 1936, a lecture which had been given to a small group of officers sixteen months before by Colonel Wynter, the Director of Military Training, came into the hand of Mr Curtin, leader of the Parliamentary Labour Party, he read it, without betraying its authorship, as a speech in the House, presumably as an expression of the policy of his party. This incident and another similar occurrence in the same year added greatly to the resentment felt by the regular officer corps towards the right-wing political leaders. The copy of Wynter's lecture, which contained substantially the same argument as he had published in an English journal ten years before, had been handed to Curtin by a member of the Government party who, like others of that party, was critical of the Government's defence policy . Four months later Wynter was transferred to a very junior post. One month after Wynter 's demotion Lieut-Colonel Beavis, a highly-qualified equipment officer with long training and experience in England, who had been chosen to advise on and coordinate plans for manufacturing arms and equipment in Australia was similarly transferred to a relatively junior post after differences of opinion with a senior departmental official.

    Image sourced from: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/c ... Curtin.jpg
    John Joseph Curtin (8 January 1885 – 5 July 1945), Australian politician, served as the 14th Prime Minister of Australia. Labor under Curtin formed a minority government in 1941 after two independent MPs crossed the floor in the House of Representatives, bringing down the Coalition government of Robert Menzies, resulting in the September 1940 election. Curtin led federal Labor to its greatest win with two thirds of seats in the lower house and over 58 percent of the two-party preferred vote, and 55 percent of the primary vote and a majority of seats in the Senate at the 1943 election. Curtin led Australia when the Australian mainland came under direct military threat during the Japanese advance in World War II. He is widely regarded as one of the country's greatest Prime Ministers. General Douglas MacArthur said that Curtin was "one of the greatest of the wartime statesmen". Curtin died in 1945. It was Curtin’s decision that would see an Australian Division sent to fight alongside the Maavoimat in 1944 and 1945. It was an unpopular decision with many on the left wing of the Labour Party. Ben Chifley, who succeeded Curtin as Prime Minister and who led the Labour Party to victory in 1946, would later say about fighting alongside Finland “It was a decision that was not supported by the Left of the Party, but it was one that resonated with the people of Australian, who still remembered “plucky little Finland” and the part that Australians played in the Winter War - and it certainly helped the Labour Party in the elections of 1946 with the returned soldiers vote.”

    From 1935 onwards, defence was becoming a topic of major interest in the newspapers and reviews . More books and pamphlets on the subject were published between 1935 and 1939 than during the previous thirty-four years. Expenditure on defence was slightly increased year by year, and there was an awareness in political circles that there was a growing public opinion in favour of more rapid progress. For the army the three-year plan (for the years 1934-35 to 1936-37) included the purchase of motor vehicles on a limited scale, increased stocks of ammunition, and "an installment of modern technical equipment". The Army could not mobilise even a brigade without commandeering civil vehicles, and now had to base its plans on the assumption that it would be engaged, if war came, against armies (such as the German) whose weapons belonged to a new epoch.

    After the Imperial Conference of 1937, Australian Army leaders now pressed for accelerated expenditure on the equipment of the field army, even if it meant rearming the coast defences more slowly, arguing that coast defences might be taken in the rear if the field army was not converted into an effective force. As the threat of war became more apparent so the Labour party, under Curtin's leadership, based its defence policy, at the technical level, more and more definitely on the doctrines of those military and naval critics who contended that Australia first and foremost must prepare defence against invasion during a critical period when she might be isolated from Britain and the United States. The Government leaders however, stood firmly by the decisions of 1923—a "fair contribution" to an "essentially naval" scheme of Imperial defence. Defence expenditure continued to rise year by year, in 1935-36 it reached £7,583,822, which was the largest in any year since WW1. In the next year, the figure rose to £8,829,655. In 1938 (when taxation was increased for the first time since 1932) defence spending rose again.

    In 1935, for the first time since the depression, the Army’s budget was raised to approximately the sum that it had received in the mid 1920’s. A relatively young officer, Colonel Lavarack, was promoted over the heads of a number of his colleagues and made Chief of the General Staff . The army whose rebuilding he had to control consisted of 1,800 "permanent" officers and other ranks (compared with 3,000 in 1914) and 27,000 militiamen (compared with 42,000 in 1914). Its equipment had changed little since the A.I.F. had brought it home from France and Palestine ; and it was equipment only of the seven divisions, not for the many supporting units that are needed for an army based on seven divisions—such units had been provided in the war of 1914-18 by the British Army . It lacked mortars, anti-tank and anti-aircraft guns; it lacked tanks, armoured cars, and a variety of engineer and signal gear; it had inadequate reserves of ammunition. In recommending how the moderately-increased army vote be spent Lavarack's policy did not differ materially from that laid down fifteen years before by the Senior Officers' Conference of 1920; broadly it was for training of commanders and staff first, equipment next, and, lastly, the training (or semi-training, for that is all it could be) of more militiamen. Full mobilization would bring into the field the five infantry and two cavalry divisions, 200,000 men in all not allowing for reinforcements . To produce such a force would demand an exacting national effort; on the purely military level it would be necessary, for example, for each brigade of three nucleus battalions not only to bring itself to full strength but to produce a fourth battalion. (The army at that time was still planning on a basis of four battalion brigades). The leaders were thus faced with the problem of making plans for a full mobilisation which would entail expanding each so-called brigade of perhaps 900 partly-trained and poorly-equipped militia, without transport, into a full brigade of some 3,600 fully equipped and mobile infantrymen.

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    Australian 1930’s Militia Magazine - from 1937

    Plans for full mobilisation were based on the assumption that the enemy (Japan) would attack at a time when Australia was isolated from British or American naval aid and would seek a quick decision . The enemy, using carrier-borne aircraft, would, it was assumed, first attempt to destroy the defending air force and to impose a blockade . He would then occupy an advanced naval and air base somewhere outside the relatively well-defended Newcastle-Sydney-Port Kembla area. When his main force was ready he could move overland from this advanced base, whence his force would receive the protection of land-based aircraft, or he could make a new landing farther south . The Australian mobilisation plans provided for the concentration of the greater part of the army in the vital Newcastle-Port Kembla area; the army could not be strong everywhere. It was seen that the accomplishment of even such a modest plan of military defence would take years to achieve despite the larger funds that the Government was then allotting . The sum of £1,811,000 was spent on the army in 1935-36, £2,232,000 in 1936-37, £2,182,000 in 1937-38 ; but one battery of 9.2-inch coast defence guns with its essential equipment cost £300,000, a battery of anti-aircraft guns with its gear and ammunition cost £150,000 . In fact, until the crises of 1938, the army received only enough to repair some of the deficiencies it had suffered under since 1918. The army leaders, in whom the years of parsimony had produced a distrust of politicians, were resolved to spend such funds as they received on something that the politician could not take away from them if the crisis seemed to have passed and the army's income could be cut again . Thus there was this additional reason for giving priority to guns and concrete rather than men and training: that if the vote was again reduced, the guns and concrete would remain.

    In the first two months of 1938, events in Europe and China began to move too rapidly to permit leisurely rearmament. Evidence of the alarm that was felt by the Australian Government was provided a month later when the Government announced that it proposed to spend £43,000,000 on the fighting Services and munitions over the next three years. This was more than twice what had been spent in the previous three years. The army would receive £11,500,000, the air force £ 12,500,000 and the navy £15,000,000. Since 1920 the navy had year by year received more money than the army; now, for the first time, the air force too was promised a larger appropriation than the army's. Compared with the sum it had been receiving before, the army's new income, though the least of the three Services’, was astronomical. In December 1938, after the Munich crisis the newly appointed Minister for Defence announced that the total of £43,000,000 for defence would be increased by an additional £19,504,000 to be spent during the three years which would end in 1941. As a result of a recruiting campaign directed by Major-General Sir Thomas Blarney, the militia was increased in numbers from 35,000 in September to 43,000 at the end of 1938 and 70,000, which was the objective, in March 1939 - 22,000 more than the conscripted militia of 1929.

    Image sourced from: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/c ... ng_WWI.jpg
    Men in Melbourne collecting recruitment papers

    The promise of funds, the successful recruiting campaign and later, the taking of a national register (which was vehemently resisted by trade union organisations as being a step towards military and industrial conscription) sufficed to give citizens the impression that something was being done . It was too late, however, to achieve before war broke out what was far more important than these parades and promises, namely adequate equipment. Machines and weapons which the Australian Army, like the air force, had ordered four years before had not been delivered from British factories, which were fully employed in a last-minute effort to equip the British Armed Forces.

    What had been achieved by twenty years of militia training? There were in 1914 and again in 1939 three kinds of armies. The long service volunteer regular armies of Great Britain and the United States were able to attain a high degree of unit efficiency, though this was offset by the higher commanders' lack of experience in handling large formations. Next in order of efficiency came the large conscript armies of which, in Europe, the German had for generations been the model. With an expert general staff and, in each formation, a strong cadre of professional officers and NCOs, and a rank and file trained for periods ranging up to two or three years, these immense armies were able to move and fight at short notice. In a third category fell the militia armies maintained by nations influenced by a desire for economy or a belief, real or imaginary, in their relative security. Some of these nations—the Swiss for example—managed to create relatively effective militias by insisting on a period of initial training long enough to bring the recruits to a moderate standard of individual efficiency . But in the Australian militia (the British Territorial Army, New Zealand Territorial Army, the Canadian Militia and the United States National Guard fell into much the same category) the recruit lacked this basic training and had to acquire his skill as best he could during evening or one-day parades and brief periods in camp. In Australia, in spite of the brevity of the annual training given to the enthusiastic volunteer militiamen, they were made to undertake complicated and arduous exercises. It was decided that to spend one camp after another vainly trying to reach a good standard of individual training was likely to destroy the keenness of young recruits and was of small value to the leaders.

    However, so far as the aim of the Australian system had been to produce an army ready to advance against an enemy or even to offer effective opposition to an invader at short notice it had failed. At no time, either under the compulsory or the voluntary system, had the militia been sufficiently well trained to meet on equal terms an army of the European type based on two or three years of conscript service, and experience was to prove that perhaps six months of additional training with full equipment would be needed to reach such a standard . However, it would be wrong to conclude that the system had not achieved valuable results, and that the devoted effort of the officers and men who had given years of spare-time service had been wasted. The militia had not and could not make efficient private soldiers, but it did produce both a nucleus of officers who were capable of successfully commanding platoons, companies and battalions in action, and a body of useful NCOs. These men were fortunate to have been trained by highly-qualified professional and citizen soldiers who had seen hard regimental service in the war of 1914-18 and were able to hand down to them the traditions of the outstanding force in which they had been schooled (to that extent the militia owed its effectiveness more to the old A .I.F. than to its own system).

    And it should not be imagined that, because units were trained for only a week or two a year, the militia officers received no more experience than that. They generally gave much additional time to week-end and evening classes, to tactical exercises without troops and to reading, and the keenest among them attained a thorough knowledge of military fundamentals. A large proportion (but not always large enough, particularly in some city infantry units) were men of good education, and leaders in their professions. Genuine enthusiasm for soldiering was demanded of them, and there were few who did not suffer disadvantages in their civilian work because of their military service. Indeed, an important factor in the small attendances of other ranks at camps was the frequent inability of men to obtain leave from unpatriotic employers (and they were in a majority) except on prejudicial terms such as curtailment of annual vacations and delay in promotion and an efficient officer had to give to military work much time that he could otherwise have spent profitably on his civilian business.

    The larger question of what had the Australian Government done between the wars to enable the military to carry out its responsibilities can be summarized briefly? In the inter-war period Australia had become a fully-independent nation, an enhancement of status in which she took some pride. Her population had increased by nearly two million people and her industrial equipment had been vastly elaborated. There had been a corresponding increase in her responsibilities as a member of the British Commonwealth; and the military leaders of the UK had declared that in a major war the immediate help of trained, equipped forces from the Dominions would be needed. Yet in 1939 Australia possessed an army little different in essentials from that of 1914. It was fundamentally a defensive force intended if war broke out to go to its stations or man the coastal forts and await the arrival of an invader. History had proved and was to prove again the futility of such a military policy. The measures that had been taken in the few years of "re-armament" were insignificant in the face of the threat offered by two aggressive Powers, one of which desired to master Europe, the other East Asia.

    Next Post: Australian Enters WW2
  18. Cankiwi2

    Cankiwi2 Member

    Sep 12, 2011
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    Australia Enters WW2

    Unlike Canada and South Africa, Australia entered WW2 on the 3rd of September 1939 with no debate. At 9.15 p.m. the voice of the Australian Prime Minister, Robert Menzies, was heard by listeners throughout Australia . "It is my melancholy duty", he said, "to inform you officially that, in consequence of a persistence by Germany, in her invasion of Poland, Great Britain has declared war upon her and that, as a result, Australia is also at war. " Australia asked London to notify Germany that Australia was an associate of the United Kingdom. This position received almost universal public support, though there was little enthusiasm for war. On the 5th of September, after the formal declaration of war, it was announced that militiamen would be called up 10,000 at a time for sixteen days to provide relays of guards on "vulnerable points.” Since there seemed to be no sign of attack by Japan, the eyes of most Australians were fixed on a war in which they might have to shoulder their rifles and defend the status quo against Germany. When the Federal Parliament met on 6th September Opposition members offered no criticism of the Government's action in entering the war; it was soon evident that the burning question was whether or not Australia would send forces overseas—the problem which had coloured every debate on defence in Parliament for more than twenty years.

    Meanwhile, the Australian Government waited on advice from the British Government as to what form of assistance was needed. The Australian Government was warned that there must be preparation for a long war. "We therefore hope," the cablegram continued, "that Australia will exert her full national effort including preparation of her forces with a view to the dispatch of an expeditionary force." The policy of the United Kingdom Government, the cablegram stated, was to avoid a rush of volunteers, but she would nevertheless welcome at once, for enlistment in United Kingdom units, technical personnel, such as fitters, electricians, mechanics, instrument mechanics, motor vehicle drivers and "officers with similar qualifications and medical officers ." If Japan gave no evidence of a friendly attitude, it might be thought unwise for Australia to dispatch an expeditionary force overseas but the Commonwealth Government could assist by holding formations ready at short notice for reinforcement of Singapore, New Zealand, or British and French islands in the Western Pacific. Uncertainty about Japanese policy was not the only reason for the British Government's hesitation to request military aid in the main theatre of war and the somewhat cautious tone of the communication. Britain lacked military equipment, and knew that the Dominions could not fully arm their own expeditionary forces; indeed that Australia, for example, was still awaiting the delivery of modest orders from Britain that had been lodged four years before. This general shortage had already set up in Britain a struggle for resources between the fighting Services.

    Until the Munich crisis Britain had been planning "a war of limited liability" in which only five regular divisions would be prepared for service on the Continent. After Munich, however, Britain reached an agreement with France whereby she would have thirty-two divisions (including six of regulars) ready for oversea service within a year after the outbreak of a war. This entailed doubling the Territorial Army yet the equipment of the unexpanded Territorial Army was then no better than that of the Australian militia. After war broke out the British Government decided to prepare to equip fifty-five divisions (her own thirty-two and twenty-three from the Dominions, India and "prospective Allies). This estimate was evidently based on an estimate that contingents from the Dominions would be on the scale of 1918, when there were six Australian divisions (including one mounted), four Canadian divisions, one "Anzac" mounted division and one New Zealand division in the field. It was already evident that it would be impossible for Australia to be at war and Australians to stand aloof. If no expeditionary force was raised no regulation could prevent Australians from finding their way to other Allied countries to enlist and the British Government had already asked that professional men and technicians be allowed to volunteer for service in the British forces.

    Within a day after the declaration of war by Britain and France the Japanese Government shed a little light on its policy by informing the belligerents of its intention to remain not "neutral" but "independent." Thus, while fear that Japan would take advantage of the preoccupation of Britain and France in Europe had always to be taken into account, it appeared that, for the present, either she was too heavily committed in China—and Manchuria where a minor war against Russian frontier troops was in progress—or she intended to wait and see how affairs developed in Europe. Nevertheless plans for sending Australian expeditionary forces abroad had to take into account the possibility of both of Germany's allies, Italy and Japan, being at war. In that event Britain and France would be outnumbered at sea and, unaided, could not command the oceans both in the West and the East. Moreover, the British and French Air Forces were perceived as inferior both in Europe and the East to those of their enemies or potential enemies.

    In addition to fear of Japan, lack of equipment, and the opposition of the Labour party (for the Labour Party remained strongly opposed to sending an expeditionary force overseas), there were other brakes on the sending abroad of a military force. One of these was the widespread conviction that, in the coming war, armies would play a far less important part than in the past. It had become apparent between the wars that the air forces would inflict greater damage in a future struggle than in 1914-18 and also that the increasing elaboration of the equipment of each of the fighting Services would require that a greater proportion of a belligerent s’ manpower than hitherto would be needed in the factories and in the maintenance units of the forces. Enthusiasts had expounded these points with such extravagant eloquence that the impression had become fairly general that armies, and in particular, infantry would play a minor part in the coming war, an impression which air force leaders and industrialists had done much to encourage. An additional brake on a full-scale war effort was the opinion not noised abroad but nevertheless widely entertained at the time by leaders in politics and industry in Australia as in England—and Germany—that an uneasy peace would be negotiated leaving Germany holding her gains in eastern and central Europe.

    However, a chain of events had been set in motion. War had been declared, Britain was in danger. Australians should be there. To probably a majority of Australians the problem was seen in as simple terms as that. And on 9th September the New Zealand Government, which faced a similar situation, announced that it had decided to raise a "special military force" for service in or beyond New Zealand, and as a first step 6,600 volunteers were to be enlisted. In Australia most of the newspapers had from the beginning urged that an expeditionary force be formed, and as days passed and no decision was announced, their demands became more vehement. "The outward complacency of a Federal Government actually engaged in carrying on a war," declared the Sydney Morning Herald on 14th September, "is beginning to arouse more than astonishment among the Australian public." Finally, on the 15th, Menzies, in a regular Friday night broadcast, announced that a force of one division and auxiliary units would be created—20,000 men in all—for service either at home or abroad "as circumstances permit." The new infantry division, he said, would consist of one brigade group from New South Wales, one from Victoria and one from the smaller States (as had the 1st Division of the A.I.F. of 1914) . Privates and NCOs must be over 20 and under 35, subalterns under 30, captains under 35, majors under 40 and lieut-colonels under 45, and preference would be given to single men not in "essential civil jobs."

    Image sourced from: http://medalsgonemissing.com/military-m ... -Enlis.jpg
    Early WW2 AIF Recruiting Poster

    In a broadcast address a week later he said "that Great Britain did not want Australia to send a large force of men abroad" and expressed the opinion that "any active help that Australia gave would be in the air." "Every step we take," he added, "must be well considered, and we must not bustle around in all directions as if we were just trying to create an illusion of activity. We must see that every step is a step forward." At the same time as it was announced that the militia would be called up 10,000 at a time to continue training and to guard vulnerable points it was also announced that “experts" would cull out militiamen in reserved or exempted occupations based on an occupational list. This list provided, for example, that tradesmen such as shearers and carpenters would not be accepted if they were over 30, foremen if over 25, brewing leading hands over 25, there was a complete ban on the enlistment of engineers holding degrees or diplomas. On 10th October 1939 the War Cabinet decided not to fill gaps in the militia caused by enlistment in the A.I.F. and discharges to reserved occupations - and married men were to transfer to the reserve after one month's training. These decisions threatened to reduce the strength of the militia by half, since 10,000 vacancies in the AIF. had been allotted to it, more than 6,000 men had been lost to the reserved occupations in the first few weeks of the war, and an additional 16,000 men of the force were married.

    In September 1939 the militia had a strength of about 80,000 men - about 40 per cent of the full mobilisation strength of the four infantry and two cavalry divisions, the independent brigades and ancillary units. Considerably more than half the citizen soldiers of September 1939 had been in the force less than a year. All divisional and brigade commanders and most unit commanders had served as regimental officers in the war of 1914-18 and the junior officers had been trained under these experienced leaders, but the strength in veteran leaders in the senior ranks was offset by an extreme shortage of regular officers to fill key staff posts. A divisional commander was fortunate if he had two Staff Corps officers on his own staff, four as brigade majors and four or five as adjutants. The force was armed with the weapons which the A.I.F. had brought back in 1919, the infantry with the Lee-Enfield 303 rifles and Lewis and Vickers machine-guns, the artillery regiments with 18-pounder field guns and 4.5-inch howitzers. Most of the signal and engineer equipment was obsolete, nor was there enough equipment to meet active service conditions. Obsolescence and deficiency are relative terms, there were armies in Europe which were not as well equipped as the Australian militia, but the Australians judged their force by the standard of the British regular army. There were not enough anti-tank and modern anti-aircraft guns in Australia to fully equip one unit. The tank corps consisted only of a small training section with a few out-dated tanks. The only weapons that the Australian factories were capable of manufacturing for the army were anti-aircraft guns of an out-dated type, rifles and Vickers machine-guns, though it was hoped to soon be producing Bren light machine-guns to replace the Lewis guns which were already decrepit and would soon be quite worn out. Machine-gun carriers and 3-inch mortars had been ordered but were not yet being produced. If the militia were to be armed from Australian sources it would be necessary to manufacture up to date field, anti-aircraft and anti-tank guns, mortars, pistols, grenades, armoured fighting vehicles, a wide variety of other technical gear, and thousands of trucks. To meet these requirements would demand expenditure on factories and war material on a far higher scale than Australian Governments had hitherto contemplated.

    On 29th September the Minister for Supply and Development submitted to the War Cabinet a proposal for capital expenditure on new munitions projects amounting to £2,755,000 "to bring munitions production up to a condition whereby the war may be prosecuted effectively." The largest item but one was £750,000 to build a second explosives filling factory, because the existence of only one such factory which a single air attack or a single accident might put out of action had long been an anxiety . This was agreed to but the largest item, £855,000, to extend the Commonwealth's only gun factory and its ammunition and explosives factories so that they could produce 25-pounder field guns and ammunition, was not approved. A few weeks later a proposal to buy 2,860 motor vehicles, including 664 motor cycles, for the militia and 784, including 180 motor cycles, for the new division was approved. Those numbers, however, would not equip either force for war, but only for training, the vehicles on the war establishment of one infantry division at that time being about 3,000. In this way plans for adequately equipping the army in general and the A.I .F. in particular were allowed to proceed at a cautious pace. Treasury officials seemed resolved that the war should not be an excuse for undue extravagance on the part of the Services. Fortunately the proposal to make 25-pounder guns was approved, with Cabinet assent to the expenditure of £400,000 (less than half the original sum) to provide for the manufacture of 25-pounder field guns and 2-pounder anti-tank guns. There had then, however, been a delay of four months in initiating the manufacture of modern field guns, in spite of the fact that at the outset, in September, the War Cabinet had been told that the guns with which the militia was equipped were "obsolete" although "quite effective for local defence" – a somewhat optimistic description of them.

    Thus far, the Government had called for volunteers for an expeditionary force, but on a minimum scale, and had approved a plan of militia training, but one which would take only 40,000 men at a time away from fields and factories. By 15th September 1939 it had approved expenditure on the fighting Services and munitions amounting to £40,000,000—as much, as Menzies pointed out, as Australia had spent in 1915-16 "with the war in full blast and large forces overseas"—and the Services were asking for more and more. Relative to pre-war military expenditure it was indeed a huge sum, but, in relation to the demands that would be made if full mobilisation became necessary, it was small indeed and was in any event based on an assumption that the greater part of the equipment the Australian forces needed could be bought from Britain. Throughout October 1939 a decision about the future of the Second A.I.F., as the new force was named, was deferred. The danger of attack by Japan was a constant concern - if Japan was hostile, no troops could be sent out of Australia except to reinforce Far Eastern garrisons and localities. The War Cabinet decided, on 25th October, to inform the Dominions Office that the period needed to train the Second A.I.F. even up to the stage where it might be possible to send units abroad for garrison duty and further training would "afford a further opportunity for the international position to clarify itself as to the possibility of the dispatch of an expeditionary force from Australia." Meanwhile the staffing and organisation of that force proceeded. It was named the 6th Division.

    This brings us up to the early November 1939 timeframe, the arrival of the Finnish Valtioneuvoston Tiedotuskeskus Team in Sydney and the start of the Finnish “information war” in Australia. But before we move to looking at the activities of the Valtioneuvoston Tiedotuskeskus Team in Sydney and the interaction of these with regard to the groundswell in support for Finland, we’ll take a quick look at pre-WW2 Finnish immigration to Australia and the participation of Australian-Finns in WW1 with the Australian Army – for this was a facet of Finnish life in Australia that the Valtioneuvoston Tiedotuskeskus Team in Sydney would be quick to grasp and utilize to advantage.

    Early Finnish immigration to Australia prior to WW1 and Australian-Finns in WW1

    Finnish immigration to Australia began in Australia’s early days. Even before 1900, Finns had been arriving in Australia in small numbers, generally sailors deserting from sailing ships or small groups of young women immigrants. The young women were usually familiar with a Finn already in Australia and were met on arrival at their destination. Early Finns in Australia remembered as many as a hundred men, but the number of Finnish girls could be counted on the fingers of two hands. The outbreak of WW1 resulted in the immediate enlistment of volunteers, a number of whom were Finnish. These “Australian-Finns” belonged to two main categories – Finns who were resident in Australia, generally labourers or sailors who lived in the cities – primarily Sydney and Melbourne, and a smaller group of second-generation immigrants who had grown up as adults in Australia. So far, some 246 Finns have been identified in the Australian armed forces in WW1, based on source material in the Australian National Archives.

    Toisen polven australiansuomalainen Arthur Nikolai Ronnlund kuului vuonna 1917 Australian joukkoihin Ranskassa ja joutui saksalaisten vangiksi. Kuva Siirtolaisinstituutti, Turku / Second-generation Australian-Finn Arthur Nikolai Rönnlund with the Australian troops in France in 1917. He was captured by the Germans. Picture from the Migration Institute, Turku, Finland

    The first major fighting the Australian forces were involved in was in the Middle East against the Turks. With the invasion at Gallipoli and the ANZAC landings on April 25th, 1915, fierce fighting took place as the Turks tried to drive the invaders into the sea. Australian losses were 8,587 killed and 19,367 wounded while the new Zealand Army lost 431 killed and 5,140 wounded. Two Australian-Finns are known to have been killed at Gallipoli – Thomas Lind, killed in action on 26 April 1915 (i.e. during the actual landing), and Jacob L. Jofs (Jåfs), whose date of death was 18 November 1915.

    The photo shows Australian-Finn Carl V. Suominen at a military camp near Melbourne in 1916. (Kuva, Siirtolaisinstituutti, Turku, Finland)

    The Australian Imperial Camel Corps Brigade was formed in December 1916 and took part in fighting in the Sinai and Palestine. Australian-Finns also served in the Camel Troops, Wilhelm Konsten was killed at Jerusalem 19 April 1917.

    After the withdrawal from Gallipoli, the AIF was reorganized in Egypt and gradually transferred to France from March 1916 onwards. Australian Mounted Rifle units remained in the Middle East fighting the Turks, and the majority of the “British” troops in the Camel Corps were also Australian. These units advanced across the Sinai and battled the Turks in Palestine. At least one Australian-Finn is known to have died fighting with the Camel Corps. He was Wilhelm Konsten, born in Rauma in 1895. Konstens fell in battle in Jerusalem in 19 April 1917, aged 22 years. He already had been awarded two medals for bravery. Australian losses in the Middle East were minor compared to those that would be experienced on the Western Front. At the Somme, the Australians lost 5,500 men in one day. By the end of 1916, 42,000 Australians had been killed or wounded on the Western Front and many Australian-Finns are recorded as having died at Ypres. Overall, current information is that about 250 Australian-Finns fought in the ranks of the Australian military and of these 53 are known to have been killed. It is believed that all but three died on the Western Front. While throughout the Australian armed forces, the average death rate was 17.9%, the Australian-Finn death rate was 21.2%. One of the causes of the proportionally higher mortality rate was that the Australian-Finns were generally found in the forefront of the battle.

    Pihlajaveteläinen Niilo Kara osallistui vapaaehtoisena ensimmäiseen maailmansotaan Australian joukoissa haavoittuen rintamalla. Toivuttuaan hän palasi Australiaan ja toimi jonkin aikaa farmarina. Kuva Siirtolaisinstituutti, Turku / Niilo Kara fought in the First World War as a volunteer in the Australian Army, where he was wounded at the front. After recovering, he returned to Australia and was for some time a station hand (a “station” in the Aussie and Kiwi vernacular is a very large sheep or cattle farm). Following the outbreak of the Winter War, Niilo Kara would speak frequently around New South Wales at fund-raising events in support of Finland. Picture from the Migration Institute, Turku, Finland

    Prior to 1921, the Australian census recorded Finns as Russians, so numbers can only be estimated. But according to the 1921 census, there were 1,358 persons born in Finland then living in Australia. Of these, 1,227, or 90%, were men. The largest age group were 25-30 year olds. During WW1, a number of young Finnish men left Australia to avoid having to join the Army. And in 1917, after Finland gained independence, a number of Finns returned to Finland from Australia via Siberia. As, in 1921, new immigration from Finland to Australia had not really started up, it can be estimated that at the time of the start of WW1 there were about 1,500 Finns in Australia. In addition, there were also a number of children born to Finnish parents resident in Australia. Given these numbers, it is estimated that about a fifth of the Finns in Australia joined the Australian armed forces and of these, one in five died.

    What made so many Finns take up arms for a foreign country? The Finns who joined the Australian Army were usually young men, and very often sailors, who had been left ashore in a port. During the war, cargo ships could not go on as before, and for unemployed seamen, joining the army was often one of the few options available. The armed forces also offered something new, interesting and exciting and the adventure probably overweighed the economic factors as a reason to join the military. For second-generation Finnish-Australians, the main motivation to join the Army was usually, as with almost all the volunteers, a strong sense of Australian identity and a sense of duty to the country and the Empire.

    And this was something that Valtioneuvoston Tiedotuskeskus would constantly highlight – that Finns had fought and died for Australia in WW1 out of selfless patriotism and loyalty to their adopted country. And now, when Finland was in need, Finnish Australians were rallying to support their old homeland, and asking for the support of all Australians to help their country remain free from Soviet tyranny – and the Soviet Union was the ally and friend of Nazi Germany, with whom Australia was now at war. Stalin and Hitler were but two faces of the same totalitarian enemy whom free peoples around the world were fighting.

    Appendix: (identified) Finnish-Australian troops killed over 1914-18

    - Jofs, Jacob L., Vöyri, sotilas, kuoli 18.11.1915;
    - (SSSP: Jåfs, Johan Gustaf, kaatunut Egyptissä 18.11.1915)
    - Lind, Thomas, killed in action 26.4.1915.

    - Konsten, Alli Wilhelm, s. 1895, Rauma, merimies, sotilas, kuoli taistelussa 19.4.1917, 22 v. Imperial Camel Corps, Jerusalem, Palestiina, BWM, VM.

    Ranska (France)
    - Alenius, Edward E. , Helsinki, kuoli taistelussa 3.8.1916 Ranska, BWM, VM.
    - Asplond (Asplund/Haapaniemi), Hugo, Vaasa, kuoli haavoihin 15.10.1917 Belgia, BWM, VM.
    - Backman, Onnie, Yarkup(?) , Finland, kuoli taistelussa 29.7.1917 Pozieres, Ranska, BWM, VM.
    - Backman Evert I., Kristiinankaupunki, kuoli haavoihin 25.9.1917 Belgia, 37 v.MWM, VM.
    - Borg, Charles Leonard kuoli taistelussa 13.4. 1918.
    - Broström, John kuoli taistelussa 8.8.1916; (SSSP: Broström, Johan Ferdinand, s. 11.3.1894, Mustio, Karjaa, merimies, kaatunut Ranskassa 8.8.1916)
    - Carlson (Vesala), Victor Köyliö, kuoli taistelussa 14.11. 1916 Somme, Ranska, 1914–15 Star, BWM, VM.
    - Edman, Alfonso E., Helsinki, kuoli taistelussa 28.12. 1916 Lesboefs,Ranska, BWM, VM; (SSSP: Idman, Alfons Eugén, s. 23.11.18888, Helsinki, kaivertaja, kaatui Ranskassa 28.12.1916)
    - Ek Emil, Turku, kuoli taistelussa 20.9. 1917 Zillebeke, Belgia, 1914–15 Star, BWM, VM.
    - Ekland, Adolf, Hanko, kuoli taistelussa 1.9.1916 Villiers-Bretonneux, BWM, VM.
    - Falk, Paul Richard Eugene Napoleon Nicholas, s. 5.4.1893, Helsinki (Hanko), aliupseeri, kuoli taistelussa 25.9.1918 Star, BWM, VM; (SSSP: Falk, Paul Richard, Eugen, s. 5.4.1893, Helsinki, aliupseeri, kaatunut Ranskassa syyskuussa 1918, haudattu Tincourtin sotilashautausmaalle 25.9.1918)
    - Graubin, John G., s. 6.12.1881, kuoli taistelussa 26.9.1917 Ypres, länsirintama, BWM, VM; (SSSP: Granlin, Johan Gustaf, s. 6.12.1881, Helsingfors, kaatui Ranskassa 26.9.1917)
    - Halona, Mikael (isä Helsingissä), kuoli taistelussa 14.8.1917 Belgia, BWM, VM.
    - Hanson, Hugo, kaatunut taistelussa 8.8.1918; (SSSP: Hansson, Johan Hugo, s. 22.1.1894, Pernaja, kaatunut Ranskassa 1918)
    - Henderson, John, kuoli taistelussa 21.3.1918.
    - Hendrickson, John, kuoli Ranskassa 18.12.1916.
    - Holmen (Vastamaa), Kustaa Victor, Kullaa, kuoli haavoihin 5.7.1918 Ranska, 29 v. BWM, VM.
    - Johanson, Gustaf, kuoli taistelussa 4.7.1918.
    - Johnson, Karl Johannes, kuoli taistelussa 3.9.1916.
    - Jorgensen, Carl, kuoli Englannissa 6.11.1918.
    - Kalson (Karlson?), Alfred, Finland, sotilas, kuoli taistelussa 2.5.1917 Ranska, BWM, VM.

    Australian sotajoukkojen Lontoon toimisto ilmoittaa kirjeessään 2.6.1917 Venäjän Lontoon konsulaatille sotamies Alfred Karlssonin kaatuneen kuukautta aikaisemmin Ranskassa. Konsulaatti lähetti kirjeen omaisille. Kirje kuvaa havainnollisesti dokumentaatio-ongelmia, sillä sekä kaatuneen että hänen siskonsa nimet, kuten kotipaikkakuntakin ovat vääntyneet kirjoitustavaltaan, samalla kun seurakunnallisia tietoja ei ole löytynyt / The London Office of the Australian Imperial Force sent this letter dated 2nd June 1917 to the Imperial Russian Consulate in London requesting them to advise the family of Alfred Karlsson advising of his death in action. The letter illustrates graphically the communication problems in advising next of kin in Finland.

    - Karllström, Gunnar, kuoli haavoihin 11.1.1917.
    - Knappsberg, Oscar Bruno, kuoli haavoihin 7.5.1917; (SSSP: Knappsberg, Oskar Bruno, s. 29.12.1889, Mustio, Karjaa, tehtaantyömiehen poika, kaatunut Ranskassa 18.5.1917)
    - Kortman, Ernst H., Helsinki, kuoli haavoihin 22.8.1917 Belgia, 1914–15 Star, WM, VM; (SSSP: Kortman, Ernst Hjalmar, s. 15.4.1879, Helsinki, merimies, kuollut Ranskan rintamalla ilmeisesti 1918 joskin todellista kuolinajankohtaa ei tiedetä)
    - Kotkamaa Johannes, kuoli taistelussa 19.8.1917.
    - Kärnä, Alfred, Kankaanpää, kuoli taistelussa 3.5.1917 Ranska.
    - Lauren, Karl Walter, kuoli haavoihin 12.7.1918.
    - Lehtonen, Johan Alfred s. 1891 Helsinki, merimies, kuoli taistelussa 3.1.1917.
    - Liljestrand, Erik Arvid, s. 1884, Kirkkonummi, merimies, naimaton, sotilas, kuoli Englannissa 9.6.1918, 34 v.; (SSSP: Liljestran, Erik Arvid, s. 5.1.1884, merimies, Australia, kuoli sodan aiheuttamaan haavaan 9.6.1918)
    - Lindholm, John, kuoli taistelussa 1.10.1918.
    - Ljung, Karl R., Helsinki, kuoli taistelussa 2.4.1917 Ranska, 1914–15 Star, BWM, VM.
    - Nelson Eric William, kuoli taistelussa 10.4.1917.
    - Olin, Axel Alexand, kuoli taistelussa 21.2.1918.
    - Pennanen, Alfred H. , Viipuri, kuoli taistelussa 17.7.1916 Ranska, 1914–15 Star, BWM, VM.
    - Petersen, Charles, Finland, kuoli taistelussa 14.1.1918 Belgia, BWM, VM.
    - Peterson, Mat H. ( äiti Tippo (Jeppossa?) kuoli haavoihin 5.7.1916 Ranska, BWM, VM.
    - Petterssan, August S. , (isä Kiskasta, Orijärveltä) kuoli taistelussa 4.10.1917, Ypres, Belgia, BWM, VM.
    - Piukkula, (Puikkula), Otto Valfrid Bruno, s. 1891, Turku , kuoli Sommen taistelussa 11.4.1918.
    - Ravoline (Ravolaine, Ravolainen ( = Savolainen?)), David Sylvester , Mikkeli (Viipourin mlk), korpraali, kuoli taistelussa 24.7.1916, BWM, VM.
    - Saarijärvi, Adolf, kuoli Englannissa 28.10.1918.
    - Salonen Usko Leonard, s. 23.9.1889, Turku, korpraali, kuoli taistelussa 8.6.1917 Belgia (kaatunut 8.7,1917), BWM, VM.
    - Savolainen, Arthur John, kuoli taistelussa 20.7.1916.
    - Somero, Daniel, Yli-Kitka, kuoli taistelussa 4.10.1917 Ypres Belgia BWM, VM.
    - Talava (Jalava), Ansselmi, (isä Turussa), kuoli taistelussa 23.8.1918 Ranska, BWM, VM.
    - Tornroos (Törnoroos), Arvo Malakias, s. 1891, Rauma, merimies, naimaton, sotilas, kuoli taistelussa 5.10.1918, Ranska.
    - Troyle (Turja?, mikä oli äidin nimi), Kontrat J., Turku, kuoli sotavankina 13.10.1918, Berliini, BWM, VM.
    - Weckman, Walter Alen, kuoli Englannissa 9.11.1918.
    - White, John H. , Viipuri, kuoli taistelussa 12.10.1917 Ypres, Belgia, BWM, VM.
    - Wikström, Karl, Turku, kuoli haavoihin 17.8.1917 länsirintama Ranska, BWM, VM.
    - Winter, Frank, kuoli Australiassa 12.9.1916.
    - Wirta, Tobias Oscar, kuoli taistelussa 12.9.1916.

    (Note on sources: The above information is summarized from an article (AUSTRALIAN JOUKOISSA SURMANSA SAANEET SUOMALAISET VUOSINA 1914–18 by Olavi Koivukangas) in “SUOMALAISET ENSIMMÄISESSÄ MAAILMANSODASSA - Venäjän, Saksan, Ison-Britannian, Ranskan, Australian, Uuden Seelannin, Etelä-Afrikan, Yhdysvaltain, Kanadan ja Neuvosto-Venäjän armeijoissa vuosina 1914–22 menehtyneet suomalaiset sekä sotaoloissa surmansa saaneet merimiehet” Lars Westerlund (toim.). ISBN 952-5354-48-2, Published by Edita Prima Oy, Helsinki 2004. Photos included in the text above are from the same source).

    Next: Post WW1 Finns in Australia and the outbreak of the Winter War
  19. Cankiwi2

    Cankiwi2 Member

    Sep 12, 2011
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    Finns in Australia – the Inter-war Years

    A note on sources for this Post: There’s a book about the first 50 years of the Finnish Society in Sydney (Australia), published in 1979 - "Finnish Society of Sydney - 50 vuotta Värikästä Toimintaa" written by Satu Beverley. (For information, seehttp://finnsinsydney.org.au/). It’s available as a downloadable PDF file (Finnish language only, just in case you’re not Finnish) for anyone interested. This is the source used for much of the information below (although I have tweaked the Winter War Aid “a bit” in my alternative history), while a paper from the Journal of Baltic Studies, Volume 9, Issue 1, 1978, pages 66-72 entitled "Australian aid to Finland and the Winter War" by A.R.G. Griffiths (Flinders University of South Australia) forms the foundation for much of the political aspects of Aid to Finland by Australia (and many thanks to the Toronto Reference Library for having available this rather obscure Journal in all it’s issues and for copying the requested articles for me and providing them free of charge through the inter-library loan system. Gotta love libraries that keep all this obscure stuff and make it available at no cost – getting something tangible back for the taxes one pays is a real benefit).

    Most of the Finns in Australia at the time of the Winter War had arrived in the 1920’s in the period after emigration to the United States became more difficult. As with North America, the majority of the Finnish immigrants to Australia came from the region of Ostrobothnia. One of the early arrivals was a Pastor Boijer, who arrived as a priest in Australia during World War I. He founded the Finnish Seamen's Home and a Finnish Reading Room in a small apartment on Hamer Street in the Woolloomooloo district. This became a popular gathering place, especially since there it was possible to read Finnish newspapers.

    In 1918, immediately after independence and the establishment of the Finnish Republic, Finland had established a consulate in Sydney. The first Finnish Consul in Sydney (and for Australia as a whole) was Kaarlo J Naukler. However, his term as Consul was short-lived as he died in 1921 (the inquest on his death was reported on May 21st, 1921 in an Australian newspaper, The Northern Advocate where it was disclosed that he had committed suicide. A doctor gave evidence that the deceased had come to him and said he had injected morphia into his leg because he was upset over his wife leaving him and asked if the Doctor could save him. The remedies tried proved unavailing. According to other evidence, Naukler had been overworking and was suffering from mental strain. The verdict was that death was caused by morphine willfully self-administered). A news report in the Sydney Morning Herald of 12 May 1921 reported that the body of Mr. Naukler was to be removed to Melbourne to be cremated, with the ashes to be brought back to Sydney, and afterwards be sent to Finland. The deceased had expressed a desire that his body should he cremated, and his widow was reported as observing his wishes. A Funeral Service was held at the parlours of Messrs. Wood Cofill Limited, George Street with the Rev. O. Schenk, of the Evangellical Lutheran Church, officiating. The service was attended by representatives of the Government, Military Forces, and Consular services. The Rev. Mr. Schenk delivered a short address, paying a tribute to Mr. Naukler's public usefulness and private worth. There were present a full representation of the consular body and many representative citizens. During Naukler’s term, he apparently set up some sort of sports club for Finnish men.

    His successor was Consul Harold Tanner, who in 1926 founded a local Finnish magazine. In those early years, the Finnish Consulate, apart from providing consular services, also played the role of a social club for the Australian Finnish community. In May of 1929, the Finnish Society of Sydney was founded by three women (Inga Lindblom, Aino Potinkara and Helvi Larsson) who were meeting in a coffee shop when one of them suggested founding a Finnish Society. The others agreed and they invited 10 more women to join in and a sewing circle was founded with membership consisting of the previously named women together with Elmi Lammi, Mimmi Tuomi, Martha Aflect, Helena Wirsu, Elmi Peltonen, Marja Koski, Margaret Klemola, Lyyli Muje and Ella Tanner, the wife of the consular representative. The number of members quickly grew to 19 and in November that same year men joined also and the Sydney Finnish Society was well underway. Gathering took place in the early days at home every other Friday. The presidents were all men from 1929 up to until 1983 when the first woman was chosen to be the president.

    The Rev. Kalervo Kurkiala

    In 1922, the same year as Consul Harold Tanner arrived, a new priest, the Rev. Kalervo Kurkiala, arrived to minister to the Finnish community in Sydney. The Rev. Kurkiala would go on to play an important role with the Australian Volunteer Force for Finland. Kurkiala was born on 16 November 1894 to Karl Johan Gabriel Groundstroem and Aina Fredrika Widbom (like many Swedish-Finns, he had changed his surname to a Finnish name). His brother was Jaeger (light infantry) Captain Ensio Groundstroem. In 1913 Kalervo Groundstroem graduated from the Helsinki Normal school, after which he studied at the Theological Faculty of the University of Helsinki from 1913 to 1915, gaining his degree. In the midst of WW1, Kurkiala left his theological studies and joined the 27th Jäger Battalion as a volunteer on 29 December 1915 where he was made a lieutenant. He fought in battles on the German Eastern Front on the Misa River, the Gulf of Riga and the Gauja. He married Elisabeth Rolfsin, a German woman, in 1918.

    Kurkiala was influenced by a militarism that he thought beneficial to young men, including "country boys" as well as "bookworms and spoilt, sloppy idlers". In his view, military training, besides preparing a person for the future, built muscle and character. In 1919 he wrote that military service can build an unshakable sense of duty in the individual. The barracks life, where many conscripts live close together, removes pettiness, selfishness and vanity. In another tract, however, he warns recruits of the dangers of barracks life. After the Finnish Civil War broke out, Kurkiala travelled to Vaasa, the White headquarters, and on 25 February 1918 was appointed Lieutenant. In March 1918 he was appointed a battalion commander in the White forces, taking part in the battles at Tampere, Lahti, Lyykylä, Mannikkala and Tali, where he was slightly wounded. He served with the General Staff from 3 June 1918 until he resigned from the army on 26 June 1919. He then resumed his theological studies and was ordained a minister in 1919. On 1 August 1919 he was ordered to take the post of pastor with the Central Finland Regiment and Häme cavalry regiment. He resigned from the Army again on 1 April 1920, and then studied philosophy and theology at the University of Greifswald in Germany from 1920 to 1921. On 1 August 1921 he was appointed pastor of the Jaeger Artillery Regiment. He held this position until 15 April 1922, at which time he again resigned and traveled to Australia, where he worked as chaplain at the Finnish Seamen’s Mission until 1926. It was at this time that he changed his surname from Groundstroem to the more Finnish-sounding Kurkiala.

    Image sourced from: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/c ... alervo.jpg
    The Rev. Kalervo Kurkiala in 1927, immediately following his return to Finland from Australia

    Returning to Finland at the end of 1926, he was appointed Deputy Secretary of the Finnish Seamen's Mission. In 1938 he was appointed secretary of the Finnish general ecclesiastical committee, a position he held until 1931. On 1 May 1931 he was appointed chaplain of Ikaalinen, and also worked as an English teacher in the Ikaalinen school from 1931 to 1938. He obtained a degree in doctrinal education in 1932 and was a member of the local military organization from 1934 to 1938. As an enthusiastic member of the Suojeluskuntas, he was among the first to take up the rapidly developing Finnish military martial art of KKT, and by 1938 was both a black belt, a sensei and a frequent writer on the subject of KKT in Finnish magazines and newspapers. On 1 May 1938 he was appointed Vicar of Hattula. As the threat from the USSR heightened in 1939, Kurkiala was asked to return to Australia with the Valtioneuvoston Tiedotuskeskus Team travelling to Sydney. He accepted immediately and on arrival in Sydney, immediately commenced renewing old ties. Fluent in English as well as German, Swedish and Finnish, he spoke at many Church gatherings around New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia as well as at numerous meetings organized by the Australian Finland Assistance Organization, a group jointly chaired by Dr. Lewis W. Nott (more on Dr. Nott later) and Colonel Eric Campbell.

    The success of this group and others in influencing the Australian Government to permit and support the raising of Volunteer Units to be sent to Finland owed much to Kurkialas’ speeches. He was a popular speaker and much admired for his ability to sum up the issues clearly and succinctly, as well as for his oft-stated intention of returning to Finland to fight alongside the Australian Volunteers. He would in fact accompany the Australian Volunteers on board ship to Finland. Appointed Liaison Officer to the Australian Volunteers, he spent his time en-route to Finland with the volunteers training Australian Officers and NCOs on the Finnish military, conducting lectures to the men on Finland and holding Sunday services. No stranger to combat himself, he also introduced the Australians to the Finnish martial art of KKT, of which he was both an enthusiastic practitioner and sensei. Extremely popular with the Australians and a strong believer in martial Christianity, he would remain with the Commonwealth Division and fight with the Australians for the duration of the Winter War, taking part in the battles on the Karelian Isthmus and later on the Syvari Front. The Commonwealth Divisional CO would appoint Kurkiala a Lieutenant-Colonel in the Australian Army.

    Image sourced from: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/c ... topuhe.jpg
    Finnish Liaison Officer to the Commonwealth Division and Military Chaplain, Lieutenant-Colonel Kalervo Kurkiala making a memorial speech to fallen Australian brothers-in-arms in late 1940

    Kurkiala would remain with the Australians after the end of the Winter War, volunteering to accompany the Volunteers to the Middle East where he retained his rank in the Australian Army and was appointed Military Chaplain with the Australian 17th Brigade, commanded by Brigadier Stanley Savige, one of the two Australian Brigade Commanders in Finland. With the Australians in the Middle East, he would continue to promote KKT enthusiastically, passing in his skills to many Australian soldiers. He would return to Finland in early 1944 as Finnish Liaison Officer with the Australian Division that would fight with the Maavoimat for the remainder of WW2.

    Image sourced from: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/c ... alervo.jpg
    Lieutenant-Colonel Kalervo Kukiala with an unknown Australian Army Officer in Finnish uniform, Summer of 1944.

    After the war Kurkiala and his family immigrated to Australia, where he worked as a primary school teacher until 1947, when he became a teacher of religion and philosophy at Knox Grammar School, NSW. In 1950 he was appointed Vicar of St John’s Estonian and Finnish Lutheran Parish of Sydney, a position he held until he retired in 1964. Also in 1950, he was elected Chairman of the Australian Winter War Veterans Association, a position he held until 1960, after which he stood down. Kalervo Kukkiala died on 26 December 1966. He was buried in Sydney, Australia. Iivari Rämä's biography of Kalervo Kurkiala, “Jääkäripapin Pitkä Marssi” (The Jäger Priest’s Long March) was published in 1994.

    Returning to the Finnish Community in Sydney

    Another Finn in Sydney, Karl Selvinen rented an old house at 48 Arthur Street, Surry Hills, part of the city, and in 1929, established a boarding house called "Suomi Koti” (Finland Home), mainly for mariners. The reading room at the Consulate was transferred to Suomu Koti, as was a library from the Consulate. For Finns in Sydney, Suomi Koti now became Sydney's general place of assembly. The Finnish Society met there from 15 November 1929. The gatherings also came to include men such as Karl Selvinen, James Aalto, August Lammi and Lillqvist. The Finnish Society of Sydney had now begun. Rules for the Society were drawn up and with the assistance of a Finnish sailor, printed in Melbourne. These Rules stayed in effect for more than 20 years, until 1964 when the club changed its name to the Sydney Finnish Club.

    Photo sourced from: "Finnish Society of Sydney - 50 vuotta Värikästä Toimintaa" written by Satu Beverley
    "Suomi Koti" and the official opening of the Independence Day of December 1929. The presence of about 70 people, including. Wirsu, Laukka, Consul Tanner, his wife, Mrs. and Mr. Lammi, Hill, Selvinen, Raninen, Walton, Muje, Lillqvist, Pohjanpalo, Huhtala, Mrs. and Mr. Tuomi, Orava, Mr. and Mrs. Tulander, Aalto, Laherholm, Westburke. This photo was published in the Sydney Daily Telegraph 9 December 1929

    Photo sourced from: "Finnish Society of Sydney - 50 vuotta Värikästä Toimintaa" written by Satu Beverley
    The founding meeting of the Sydney Finnish Society of 15 November 1929. Approximately 80 people were present, among them. Consul Harald Tanner and his wife Ella, Potinkara, Snellman, Toppinen, Loukola, Väisänen, the Hoipon brothers, Lagerholm, Walton, "Helsingin Oskari” (Helsinki Oscar), Aalto, Wallie, Peltomaa, Adamson, Halonen, Gustavson, and Selvinen.

    The Finnish Society benefited greatly from the warm-hearted support of the Consul H. Tanner and his wife. Mr. Jorma Pohjanpalon was a regular presence at the Society’s meetings, always sitting at the piano and playing folk songs, polkas and waltzes, etc. A number of the other men also played Finnish music, including Josef Kaartinen on the saxophone, Eric Bergen on his hanurinsoittaja (piano accordion) and Bruno Emelaeus with his violin. Just when the club was getting a good start, the financial depression began to have an effect. Industrial plants were closed down, construction work came to an end and Finnish men began to seek out of town employment, many of them in the Gosford region, which later became a very Finnish community. One of the first Finns in the Gosford region was August Lammi Kauhava, whose Apple Orchard was in 1980 the largest Finnish-owned farm in the locality. Men and women gradually moved out to the country and in the city were left only a few families, women working as maids and a few more or less unemployed young men. All of this adversely affected the club’s activities and also the business of Suomi Koti.

    Jorma Pohjanpalo was born in Ylivieska, in Ostrobothnia. After completing business school, where he studied economics, he was Secretary at the Finnish Consulate in Sydney from 1927-31. During this period he acquired what would be a lifelong interest in Finnish migration. Following his return to Finland he published a book based on his experiences entit;ed “Australia by Pen and Camera.” He would return to Australia in October 1939 to work as part of the Valtioneuvoston Tiedotuskeskus team in Sydney.

    Post WW2, Professor Pohjanpalo served on many committees and was for many years on the Executive Board of Suomi-Seura. When the Institute of Migration was established in 1974, Jorma Pohjanpalo as appointed as the Suomi-Seura delegate on the Institute’s Council and was elected as the first council chairman. Having served in this capacity from 1974-1984, Professor Pohjanpalo was then elected as the Institute’s first Honorary President. He supported the Institute’s work in many different ways, on his journey’s to different parts of the world, and by donating materials linked to migration, including writings, photographes, etc., to the Institute’s Archives. (Photo taken on his 80th birthday on 12.12.1985). He published several books on shipping and plastics.

    When at last the economic situation started to improve, Karl Selvinen, handed over the lease for Suomen Koti to two Finnish ladies, Inga Lindblom and May Mclntosh. When both of these ladies married a couple of years later, the home ceased to be a gathering place for Finns. From then on, the Club had no permanent meeting place. When the new Consul, Paavo Simelius and his wife arrived from Finland in 1935, their spacious home became the new gathering place. Many festive occasions were held there and Society meetings were often held at the Finnish Consulate’s reading room on Saturdays, hosted by the new Consul.Many good memories remained of these events. The Finnish Society of Sydney's founding members, James Aalto, and Mimmi Tuomi, later reminisced about those early days. Jormi Pohjanpalon was a lunatic on the piano, Josef Kaasalainen was a professional saxophone player and Sylvia Aalto often sang solo songs. On social occasions, members performed their own events, and no paid performers were ever needed. The atmosphere was intimate, as the number of Finns in Sydney was small and all knew each other well.

    Many of the events were attended by 70-100 members even before World War II with guests coming from all over – including from Newcastle, Albion Park, Wollongong and the Gosford area. Alcohol was not drunk at the public meetings – in the old Finnish tradition, members brought alcohol with them and stashed it "just around the corner" to drink. For dances, the entrance fee included a cup of coffee and sandwiches, which the hostesses brought to the table. All members, including officers, paid the entrance fee. This remained unchanged until the late 1950s. The Society intended only to cover the running costs and not make money.

    From the beginning, activities included meetings, dances and picnics. The first picnic was held the day after the inaugural event. Popular picnic spots were the beaches, especially at Dee Why beach, which was then a totally uninhabited beach. Centennial Park and Maroubra were also popular. James Aalto also remembers with joy the dances. These were held in the house over the liquor cellars, where a "fishing line" was dropped into the cellar and the "catch" was hauled up. In the early days life was good. Politics and religion did not intrude into the activities of the Society. Mrs. Ida Niemi remembers how in the opening ceremony of the Society it was very clearly said that we are all Finnish and class differences among immigrants do not exist. All members eagerly participated in the club and were prepared to assist in dances, gatherings and performances. The needy were also assisted. Times were tougher back then and while help was forthcoming from the government, it was not much – and the Finnish people were strangers in Australian society, which in its own way was rather insular. Under these circumstances, the club activities were of great importance to the small group of Finnish immigrants in Australia.

    Next: The Winter War, Australia and Finnish-Australians
  20. Cankiwi2

    Cankiwi2 Member

    Sep 12, 2011
    Likes Received:
    Australian Finns outside of Sydney

    Note on Sources: Some of the below is sourced from an article, “Suomalaiset Australiassa” by Olavi Koivukangas, Professori, Siirtolaisuusinstituutin Migrationsinstitutet, Turku – Åbo 2005. More detailed information on Finns in Queensland is sourced fromhttp://freepages.history.rootsweb.ances ... he%20Finns while information on Nestori Karhula is sourced from Wikipedia.fi (photographs from http://www.migrationinstitute.fi ) for providing the initial information that led me to include this. Almost all of the photos in this post are sourced from the Finnish Migration Institute - http://www.migrationinstitute.fi – which has a great collection of photos on Finns in Australia. I’ve also referred to chapters in a book entitled “Tyranny of Distance: Finns in Australia before the second World War”, also by Olavi Koivukangas.

    We’ve already covered some information on Finns in Sydney and Finnish Australians in WW1 – but Finnish connections to Australia extend far into the past. When Captain James Cook, the British explorer who mapped Australia for the Royal Navy, landed at Botany Bay in Sydney around, a native of Turku, Herman Spöring was part of the scientific group on the Endeavour. Spöring died of fever in the Java Sea in January 1771 as the Endeavor was returning to Britain and was buried at sea, but many of Spöring’s illustrations remain in the British Museum in London. Captain Cook had earlier shown his appreciation of Spöring’s work by naming an island in New Zealand after him (Spöring, or Pourewa, Island - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pourewa_Island). Cook was also apparently grateful to Spöring for repairing a quadrant that some Tahitians had stolen and broken. Canberra (the capital of Australia) has a street named after Spöring and in 1990 a memorial was erected in Turku ((Åbo), Spöring’s birthplace. The memorial includes a rock taken from Pourewa (Spöring) Island, commemorating the first Finn to set foot in New Zealand in 1769. The Finnish Federation of Australia Association has also set up the Spöring Fund, which supports Finnish-Australian
    cultural exchanges.

    After the United States and Canada, Australia has been the next most popular destination for Finnish migrants. The Finnish emigration of some 361,000 persons to the United States and Canada over the last half of the nineteenth century and the early decades of the twentieth was part of the enormous migratory movement in which over 55 million Europeans left their homelands for overseas countries between the Napoleonic wars and about 1930. In this mass migration, Australia was not a popular choice. Travelling the vast distance between far northern Finland and the antipodean world of the Southern Seas in a period when a voyage around Africa or South America took months, was costly, and often dangerous. The strongest brake on Australia's population growth was its distance from Europe. When European overseas mass emigration started in the first half of the nineteenth century, a working family in Britain was not easily attracted to Australia. The sea voyage was much shorter, safer and three or four times cheaper to New York than to Sydney. Moreover, during the long voyage to Australia, a working man was compulsorily unemployed for months. And if he eventually decided to return from Australia, he had only a faint prospect of being able to pay his passage back to Europe. The disadvantages of isolation eliminated Australia as a goal for most emigrants who had to pay their own fare.

    While Australia attracted few working men until the late 1820s, it could attract men of capital by offering free land and convict labourers. The problem of attracting working people to Australia was therefore crucial. A way of paying the fares had to be found. In line with the ideas advanced by Edward G. Wakefield, a bounty system was introduced in the 1830s allowing private employers to select migrants and to receive a government bounty for each approved person landed. Others came through direct government assistance. The source of money was the vast expanses of land owned by the crown. Discovery of gold in eastern Australia in 1851 brought a large influx of immigrants, including Germans, Scandinavians, Chinese and Americans. By 1860, the Australian population had grown to 1,145,000, three-quarters from immigration. About 40 per cent of the immigrants were assisted. Owing to the gold and free labour, the transportation of convicts ended. By the end of the 1880s, assisted immigration had been virtually abandoned by all the colonies except Queensland and Western Australia. Around 1900 a policy of virtual exclusion of non-European migrants was adopted—this policy remaining essentially unchanged until after the Second World War. In the years preceding World War One, Australia experienced extensive immigration, especially after 1906, and this continued until the war halted immigration. About 187,000 assisted settlers arrived in this period.

    There is no record of the first Finn to settle in Australia, but more than likely he was a sailor who jumped ship from one of the thousands of sailing ships that visited Australia. In 1874 for example, there were likely to be at any one time 4 to 5 Finnish ships in Sydney. Even up until WW2, Finnish sailing ships from the Åland-based Gustaf Erikson line transporting wheat from Australia to Europe were often to be found (as we have covered in an earlier post) in Australian ports. In 1851, news of the rich gold discoveries in Australia spread quickly and sailors and miners from the California gold fields were the first to respond. It is estimated that about 200 Finns tried their luck in the Victorian and New South Wales gold fields. Some of them stayed permanently in Australia, others continued the search for gold in New Zealand and some returned to Finland.


    Getting the "Sorry, but you have posted more images than you are allowed to" message so guess I will have to wait a while to post more.........

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