THE WAR MUSEUM.
(BY BRIG.- GENERAL A. T. ANDERSON, C.M.G.)
I have just paid my first, but certainly not my last, visit to the Australian War Memorial Museum. Sydney abounds in places of attraction to the sightseer, but she has nothing better worth seeing than this. I do not think that I have ever been to an exhibition of more enthralling interest, and I can imagine no class of Australian who would not profit by a visit to it. Those who had relatives at the war will get here a clearer idea of the sort of experiences the soldiers went through than by reading all the books on the war ever written; men who fought in the war will be able to fight their
battles over again-without toil or fear-and
to revive many memories, of which some may perhaps be sad, but all will be trium- phant; pacifists (and I hope we are all pacidfists in the uncontroversial sense of the word) will find here convincing object lessons of the folly and beastliness of war; patriots will feel a quickened glow whan they view these concrete reminders of the courage and fortitude of Australian men and women; to the young, the exhibition will be an incentive to duty and to self denial, to the old. a proof in what are so often the years of doubt and disillusion, that the essential virtues still find vigorous growth in the hearts
of their countrymen.
A great deal of thought has been given to the grouping or the exhibits, with the result that the general arrangement of the museum is about as good as it could be. Each phase of the war has its own section, Gallipoli, the Somme, Flanders, the Holy Land; the Navy and the Army Medical Corps, too, have their separate sections. These are arranged along the walls of the hall, while the centre is occupied by the huge aeroplane in which Sir Ross and Sir Keith Smith made their famous flight to Australia, and by a number of showcases and miscellaneous exhibits. On the walls are hung portraits of the leading Australian soldiers, and
numerous war pictures.
On entering one is reminded of Madam Tussaud's. The waxwork figures of Aus- tralian soldiers are very good, and that one which represents a raider is of especial in- terest, as the uniform on the figure was actually worn by a soldier in a raid, and is still caked with the mud of the battle- field. But why is the Australian in full marching order shown in such an untidy and slovenly turn out? It is the more marked as the figure of the British Tommy in an adjoining case is as spick and span as the man himself would have been on an inspec- tion parade. A showcase close by con- tains a fascinating collection of German make- shifts to counteract the effects of the British blockade. The ingenuity with which paper has been made to supply almost oievery need commands one's admiration. There are paper bootlaces, paper trousers, paper buckets, paper sandbags, paper shrouds: then there is, if not paper, wood pulp, for the adultera- tion of flour, rather on the principle of the man who put green spectacles on his horse and then fed it with wood shavings; and there are ropes made of strips of wood.
To describe the different courts would fill a large volume, and I shall only mention a few of my first impressions. Most inter- esting of all to me were the wonderful models of the Somme and the Flanders battlefields. Here the returned soldier can see and recog- nise the very roads he used to hurry along, never knowing whether the next shell would be a bull's-eye or not; the trench lines he helped to hold or take; the village, and even, he may fancy, the very house in which he had his Ob Pip; the spot, perhaps, where he was wounded. I imagine that there will be great centres of interest, and that many thrilling yarns and recollections will be ex-
changed around them.
The old notice boards have a great fascina- tion. The name board of V.C. corner from the Fromelles area was an old acquaintance, but I was amused to read here for the first time the origin of the name. I had always believed it to have been given as a sugges- tion that anyone who lingered there deserved the V.C, but it appears that it was in fact named in honour of one, O'Leary, the first Irish Guardsman to win the cross. His exploit was to capture a machine-gun single- handed at this spot, killing five and taking prisoner two of the detachment. When asked by his C.O. how he managed to defeat so many Huns single-handed he answered, "Faith, sir, I surrounded them." Another interesting exhibit is a rough wooden cross, with the inscription in English, "An Unknown Tommy," and under, "Hier liegt ein tapfere Englischer Krieger" (Here lies a brave English soldier). It was found over an Australian soldier's grave, and is a pleasant proof that our enemies were sometimes capable of chivalry. Another example of this better spirit is the bag, containing a box of cigarettes, dropped by the German Lieutenant Felmy from an aeroplane in Palestine, with the inscription, "For my dear Murray Jones.-Felmy."
THE TANK AUSTRALIAN.
Few people know that the tank was originally an Australian invention, but there is to be seen in the exhibition the model of a tank submitted to the War Office by Mr. L. E. de Mole, an Australian, so long ago as 1912. It is astonishingly like the first tanks used in the war, but was not regarded as a practicable machine in those pre-war days. It is disappointing to learn that the inventor got no share of the rewards for inventions distributed after the war. Some regulation, it appeared, stood in the way, but one would think that an exception might well have been
made in such a deserving case.
The head of General Bridges's favourite charger. Sandy, is to be seen mounted in a showcase, the only Australian horse brought back from the war. There is, too, an excel- lent portrait of his master, who commanded the Australian division at the outbreak of the war, and died on May 20, 1915. In the short account of this great soldier, placed below his portrait, it is stated that he was not popular. This may be so, but it seems a pity to record it. The late Sir William Bridges had a strong sense of duty. He never spared himself, and he oould be very stern with any who fell short of his high ideals, but I know him to have been a just and, at heart, a kind man. I first met him on a gunnery course in Eng- land 34 years ago, and even then his manner was so grave and earnest and his attitude towards his professional duties and life is general so serious that he went among us by the nickname of "The Ancient." But, as most nicknames are, it was an affectionate one, and he was popular in the best sense of
the word, liked and respected by all.
Enough has perhaps been said to give some indication of the extraordinary interest of this collection of relics. In the guide book we are told that no fewer than 770,810 people visited the Museum while it was in Melbourne, and there is no reason to suppose that Sydney will fall short of Melbourne in her apprecia- tion. As befits a great national institution,
admission is free.