Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Coburg cadets

After Field Marshall Viscount Kitchener visited Australia in 1909, Australia introduced compulsory military training. By January 1911 the system was in place. There were three levels of training. The first, the junior cadets for boys aged 12 to 14, was administered by schools, where military drill had already been introduced. The second, the senior cadets, was for boys aged 14 to 18. The third, the Commonwealth Military Forces, was for young men aged 18 to 26.

Field Marshall Viscount Kitchener at the time of the Boer War

Exemptions were given to those who lived more than five miles [eight kilometres] from the nearest training site, those passed medically unfit, to resident aliens and theological students. Those who failed to register for military training were punished with fines or jail sentences. Many boys did not register for their military training, and between 1911 and 1915 there were 34,000 prosecutions, with 7,000 jail sentences imposed.  

I have written previously about exemption courts in Coburg here, here, here and here

The scheme did not meet with universal approval. Those on the political right tended to support the scheme and those on the left were largely against it. Those who were presented as ‘shirkers’ in the press cited many reasons for failing to report for drill: it was a long way from their workplace; there was no nearby training centre; it was very inconvenient to get to; it was very tiring; it was intrusive; it went against religious principles.

The following article from page 1 of the Coburg Leader28 February 1913, gives an idea of what happened to those who were deemed 'shirkers'. 

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