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24 Apr, 2015 02:00 AM
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Justice Triumphs over Barbarism

THE Land of November 15, 1918, summed up the end of the Great War with the headline on its editorial, "Justice Triumphs over Barbarism".

That "triumph" had cost the lives of many thousands of young NSW men and caused unimaginable loss and grief to their families and friends.

While The Land made little mention of the impact on the people back home of this horrific human loss and misery, the lists it published of the dead and injured provided an almost weekly reminder during the war of the gruesome toll.

Communications from the battlefront were slow and heavily censored and readers had to wait until July 2, 1915, for the first pictures from Gallipoli and another month until they saw the first image of the landing site at Gaba Tepe (now Anzac Cove).

The newspaper was a supporter of efforts to attract fresh recruits to replenish the ranks of the Australian Imperial Force (AIF), which suffered heavy losses from the day of the landing at Gallipoli on April 25, 1915, until the end of the fighting on the Western Front at the end of 1918.

Its editorials supported the referendum in 1916 to extend conscription to overseas service.

That referendum and another one at the end of 1917 failed.

The Land's patriotic fervour hit a peak with its lively coverage of the Great Strike in August and early September, 1917, when wharfies and workers from many industries including the railways and abattoirs walked off the job.

Supplies of food and equipment to our soldiers in the trenches were threatened by striking workers who were seen by The Land and its owners at the NSW Farmers and Settlers Association (FSA) as greedy and lazy traitors.

At the height of the six-week strike about 5000 mainly farmer volunteers were camped at the Sydney Cricket Ground under the supervision of The Land chairman and FSA president, Arthur Trethowan, whose three sons served in the AIF.

Trethowan was supported in running the camp by other FSA leaders, including Thomas Irving Campbell who had helped establish The Land in 1911, George Gilmour who had a farm near Gilgandra and was an original director of the newspaper, and Alfred Hunt, a grazier and politician from Nevertire, who became a director of The Land in 1921.

During the strike Hunt heard the news that his son, Second Lieutenant Alfred Stanley Hunt, a member of the Royal Flying Corps, had been killed in an aeroplane accident in England.

The young airman had helped bury his younger brother, Bruce, who was killed at Pozieres, France, in early August, 1916, when they were both members of the AIF 17th battalion.

George Gilmour was a strong supporter of the Coo-ee recruiting march that began on October 10, 1915, when 26 men set off from Gilgandra and by the time they marched into Sydney a month later their ranks had swelled to 263.

Gilmour raised funds to buy each one of them a sheepskin vest to ward off the chills of France and Belgium.

The Coo-ee march sparked a number of other recruiting drives including the Kangaroos which started from Wagga Wagga.

A picture of the Kangaroos marching along a bush road with Robert Patten, who chaired the first meeting of The Land board, at the head of the column was published on December 31, 1915.

Patten was then the federal Member for Hume.

His veterinarian son, Robert, served in Egypt and on the Western Front.

Robert junior later became head of Sydney's Taronga Zoo.

Another early director of The Land, Fred Pinkstone had five sons serve in the AIF, including Captain Sidney Pinkstone who landed at Gallipoli on April 25, 1915, and later won the Military Medal in France in 1918.

Another son, Victor, was killed at Gallipoli in August, 1915, and was buried at Lone Pine.

Bernard Cartwright, the son of William Cartwright, who was elected to The Land board in July, 1913, was so eager to join the fighting at Gallipoli that he stowed away on a troopship and drowned when the vessel was sunk by a torpedo.

Sir Michael Bruxner, one of the founders of the NSW Country Party and a legendary colonel in the Australian Light Horse who served with distinction at Gallipoli and in Egypt and Palestine, was appointed The Land's stud beef consultant and horse correspondent in March, 1962.

He produced The Land's first preview to Sydney's big Easter yearling sales and introduced the Sires of the Season section which is still a feature of The Land's Thoroughbred coverage.

Bill Cameron, who also served in the Light Horse during the war, joined The Land in 1931 and wrote a humorous weekly column.

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TheLand
Vernon Graham

Vernon Graham

is the group editor of Fairfax Agricultural Media

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