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REVIEWS 01? BOOKS.
THE BIETH OF THE AUSTRALIAN - NAVY. ..... ...
'Flagships Three ' by C. -E. W. Bean; Alston Eivers,. Limited, London.^-lt is balf ' a dozen years since the Commbn (fealth first realized that the maintenance
of her policy of a White Australia was dependent upon immigration and defence, ^tteriy she is learning that defence comes irst, and— narrowing the situation still farther— that it is to naval defence that she must look for protection against the possible protests of those countries whom sha has denoted, as alien. With even an inferior fleet to oppose her, an enemy could transport only comparatively small numbers at great risk into the continent. Distance would count at enormous odds, and Australians nearest probable enemy is 4,000 miles away. Again,' only from the sea can this country receive outside help and communication. Aircraft must be developed tremendously before flying can reduce the value of the sea as a defence to Australia in her position of isolation. A navy, then, is her best means of defence, and her only means pi attack. ? These points are the chief in Mr. Bean's ex tremely interesting argument for the for mation of the Australian Navy; It took Australia, many ' years to develop her policy, or to give practical demonstrations of the policy which she held at various times. The Russian war scare of- 1878, and the increasing influx of, Chinese, at hat time, first seriously, aroused political feeling. At a conference o£- the Premiers in 1881 the desire was expressed that the British squadron in Australia should : be permanently increased, and Sir W. Mor gan—of South Australia— was the only re -resentative who then maintained that lalf the additional expenses should be. con tributed here. At the First Colonial Con ference rin 1887 it was decided that Aus tralia and ? New Zealand should pay £126.000 annually towards the ;cost of a special auxiliary; and the same agreement was maintained at the second.' When the third conference met, Australia was fede rated. Under a fresh system Great Bri tain arranged to keep a certain fleet in the Australian station, granting, in addi tion, privileges which aroused little in terest in this country. Great- Britain ailed in her part of the agreement, and at the conference of 1907 Mr. 'Deakin ex ploited the first real idea for an. Australian Kayy. His idea has passed through many vicissitudes, but with. Mr. Hughes and Mr. ?earce he will always be associated as the founder of Australian national defence. The. conference of 1909 decided on the do^ minions forming a fleet unit. Since then the Commonwealth has obtained a distinct policy. ' The Australian Fleet, is to be a part of the Pacific Fleet of the Empire, 'bearing the same proportion to the popu lation as the British Navy bears to. the population of the old country.' The scheme drawn up by Admiral Henderson provides for the building, before the end of 1933, of eight battle cruisers, 10 pro tected cruisers, 18 . destroyers,' 12 sub marines, three depot ships,\and one fleet repair ship. This fleet will eventually need 15,000 officers and men, and the coat of the ships will, be, roughly, over £23,000,000, with' an annual outlay of £4,000,000. Sydney and Fremantle will pe turned into great naval ports as bases for the eastern and western squadrons; se condary bases' will be Thursday Island and Darwin, and destroyer or submarine bases Brisbane, Port Western, Port' Stephens, Port Iincoln, TownsviHe, and Hobart. There is great sacrifice involved.- But— 'not for. a tripod nor for the- hide of an ox is. it that we run, but for the place which. Anglo-Saxon men and Anglo-Saxon ideas shall take and keep in the Pacific;'' ror the safety of a Western or an Eastern ife. ? - ? ? , - '?
. — Manning the Ships. — It was said that Australia was attempt ing the impossible, not so much on account of building the ships as of obtaining and training the men. It was argued that even if they came forward they would not be amenable to discipline. Mr. Bean proudly discounts the prophecies of alarmists. Aus tralia 'has succeeded beyond all- expecta tions.. She has already raised 200 more men than she- promised the Admiralty to raise within the time.' As for the caJibre of the seamen, one British officer among several who endorsed his estimate, ' re marked to the writer that 'The Australian seamen have been found wonderfully quick to learn. 'They are better educated [than the British men] to start with; and the result is that it does not take so long to train them into skilled' and responsible work as it does with the average man in the Royal Navy. ; .- . The Australians I have come across, if they have a fault, suffer from over-keenness. . . . I mean ;hat a man is apt to think as soon as he baa passed an examination and qualified, that he ought to be promoted at once. They ire very quick in getting through the theory, and the Australian doesn't seem to believe in the value of experience. . ..I do not think in discipline the Australian seaman show3 any fault at all. So long as an officer knows his job, and shows thai he knows it, he will have no' tronble at all in the matter of discipline.' Once -the Australian people became convinced that the navy offered a definite career the chief, foreseen difficulty of the service was over come; iiTthe past year the number of ap plicants outnumbered. the vacancies for na val officers b'jr. 6 to 1. The Commonwealth Government is taking an original etep: The country is searched for tie most suit able boys, and having chosen them it pays the whole of their expenses thenceforward. .These cadets (or, as they are called, in -order to distinguish' them from those under the compulsory service system, 'cadets midshipmen') are given exactly— or as nearly as possible— the same training as the Admiralty provides for it3 boys. The method of selection too, is almost identical. 'Tie Government realizes ?the all-importance of keeping the Austra lian training as minutely, as possible upon the British/lines^and1 in ''every way.iip'to the British standard.' In order 'to avoid the danger of parents entering their boys for the sake of the free education, and with drawing them at 'the '.end of ..the term, -a written declaration by the parents pro mises that the cadet will adopt the navy as a profession unless the board requests his withdrawal. Should the boy be withdrawn for any other wish than that of the board the parent is liable to a penalty oi £75 for each year's training received. At the end of four years at the Naval CoDege— w'hich will eventually be at Captain's Point, Jervis Bay, where the railway from Canberra'; will come down to theTsea — the cadet will go. to sea for six months' training in' the cruiser; and at the end will pass as a midshipman into the ships of the fleet. The scheme covers a great experiment, the wisdom of which the future only can shdnC 1 —The Three '?Hagships.^ ? - * Of the three flagships, which give the book its name, the first is a ship of the Viking, -which was excavated some years ago by the Antiquarian Society of Norway near Ohristiania— a ship of the time of A] fred the Great in England. As the English are the descendants of the Danes and Norse and Frisians and Jutes, and the Australians are descendants of the English, so the au thor pictures the old Norse galley as the ancestor of the Royal Australian Navy^ which gave the Powerful as the flagship of the British Squadron in AujstrJSian waters. Mr. Bean sailed on ihe Powerfu to meet the American Fleet in Auckland in 1903, and the articles which he then wrote for The Sydney Morning Herald are reprinted here. The new battle cruiser Aus tralia—now on her outward voyage—is 'tine third flagship,' of whose building am launching the author has been a privileged witness. A considerable part of the book is devoted to life in the Roval Navy; ite training on land and at sea; descriptions of the ships and their inner workings in de lightfully untechnical language; and, in short, an engrossing picture of the Royal Navy in 1908 particularly in relation to. the squadron defending Australia in. the last years of the supply of that squadron by Great Britain. The work is at once an en tertainment and an education. Mr. Bean brought the 'curiosity of a comparatively uninformed mind to his cruise on the Powerful. The incidents of the every-day life of n flagship came to him ' with the shock of novelty, end be presents them to the reader in his own light as an interested observer. For instance, many people may have noticed, as Mr. Bean did, that every man coming aboard a war boat salutes the quarter deck; but how many 'have dis covered the reason? Back in. the ases. 'a
wooden Virgin and ' Child, or a crucifix, looked down upon the ship from there. And the poop became, wtiat it still is, the sacred quarter of the ship.' How many people know, too, that the admiration of George II. for the Duchess of Bedford in a riding habit oi blue and white decided the choice of the uniform, 'which the British Navy still. wears? The impression made on th» mind of as Australian by the nightly toasting in the wardroom of The King!1' is worth reading in full, but a quotation only is possible. 'VVhen tint silence fell . . . one realized in -a flash what very shallow thinkers we are. Here in this won derful service are men ... all Irving by one simple, quiet, unswerving faith. ... It is not. an abstract idea. . It ia a conviction, which has become character. If it ever came to a fight, the Trades Hall man would see'bome power he could not understand carrying that man through and over everything— over things far worse than death. . . . That loyalty to a life's Jideal, .±he=±mMur--£-liis- ship, -and of-ii»
service, and of his country,, would make him the most -terrible enemy— the enemy that nothing oan stop whilst he lives; and it would carry hhn on and over one who lacked it.' But these are mere, glimpses of a hook, which Australians who are inte rested in their country, should not only read, but buy and keep. '..-?.?