Labour History: A Journal of Labour and Social History

Job Skill, Manliness and Working Relationships in the Australian Imperial Force during World War I

Labour History: A Journal of Labour and Social History (2014), 106, (1), 99–122.

Abstract

Historical analyses of soldiers in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) during World War I have focused overwhelmingly on combat experiences, the environment of the trenches, and the sense of “mateship” that developed between soldiers. In recent years, labour and cultural historians have begun to approach this environment in new ways, and their work is uncovering a hitherto unseen side of the Australian experience of war. This article continues this recent trend by considering the army as a workplace, and exploring the link between job skill, perceptions of manliness, and workplace relationships in the AIF during World War I. In particular, it will explore two common beliefs that linked work and manliness together in different ways, and consider how those beliefs contributed towards tension and conflict between soldiers of the AIF during World War I.

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Footnotes

2.See for exampleJane Ross, The Myth of the Digger: The Australian Solder in Two World Wars(:Hale and Iremonger, 1985), 72–85;Graham Seal, Inventing Anzac: The Digger and National Mythology(:University of Queensland Press, 2004), 77–82;Alistair Thomson, Anzac Memories: Living with the Legend(:Oxford University Press, 1996), 49–50; andLinda Wade, “‘By Diggers Defended, By Victorians Mended’: Mateship at Villers-Bretonneux,” Eras, no. 8 (November2006), accessed March 2014,http://www.arts.monash.edu.au/publications/eras/edition-8/pdf/wadearticle.pdf. Google Scholar

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8.For recent examples seeErik-Jan Zürcher, ed., Fighting for a Living: A Comparative Study of Military Labour 1500–2000(:Amsterdam University Press, 2013);Peter Way, “Memoirs of an Invalid: James Miller and the Making of the British-American Empire in the Seven Years’ War,”inRethinking U.S. Labour History: Essays on the Working-Class Experience, 1756–2009, ed.D. T. Haverty-StackeandD. J. Walkowitz(:Continuum, 2010), 25–53;Peter Way, “Class and the Common Soldier in the Seven Years’ War,” Labor History 44, no. 4(2003):455–81;Peter Way, “Rebellion of the Regulars: Working Soldiers and the Mutiny of 1763–4,” The William and Mary Quarterly 57, no. 4(October2000):761–92;J. S. K. Watson, Fighting Different Wars: Experience, Memory, and World War I in Britain(:Cambridge University Press, 2004);Helen B. McCartney, Citizen Soldiers: The Liverpool Territorials in World War I(:Cambridge University Press, 2005). Google Scholar

9.Paul Fussell, Wartime: Understanding and Behaviour in the Second World War(:Oxford University Press, 1989), 291. Google Scholar

10.Some soldiers even directly addressed their family members in their diary entries, or dedicated their diaries to a particular family member. For a more detailed analysis of this, seeNathan Wise, “A Working Man’s Hell: Working Class Men’s Experiences with Work in the Australian Imperial Force during the Great War”(PhD diss.,University of New South Wales, 2008), 74–76. Google Scholar

11.This is explored in more detail inWise, “A Working Man’s Hell,” 48–50. Google Scholar

12.Richard White, “The Soldier as Tourist: The Australian Experience of the Great War,” War and Society 5, no. 1(May1987), esp. 68–69. Google Scholar

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14.Tosh argued that public affirmation was central to masculine status.John Tosh, “What Should Historians do with Masculinity? Reflections on Nineteenth-Century Britain,” History Workshop, no. 38 (1994):184. Google Scholar

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16.Ibid. Tosh notes that the three social environments where manliness was demonstrated were “home, work and all-male associations.” Google Scholar

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21.C. E. W. Bean, The Official History of Australia in the War of 1914–1918: Volume 1: The Story of Anzac: From the Outbreak of War to the End of the First Phase of the Gallipoli Campaign, May 4, 1915(:Angus and Robertson, 1941), 46. Google Scholar

22.SeeMartin Crotty, Making the Australian Male: Middle-Class Masculinity 1870–1920(:Melbourne University Press, 2001), 25. For a recent similar analysis of the situation in New Zealand, where soldiers were held up as the archetypal man during World War I, seeSteven Loveridge, “‘Soldiers and Shirkers’: Modernity and New Zealand Masculinity During the Great War,” New Zealand Journal of History 46, no. 1(April2013):59–79; for a British comparison, seeMeg Albrinck, “Humanitarians and He-Men: Recruitment Posters and the Masculine Ideal,”inPicture This: World War I Posters and Visual Culture, ed.Pearl James(:University of Nebraska Press, 2010), 312–39. Google Scholar

23.Wise, “A Working Man’s Hell,” 166–67. Google Scholar

24.See for exampleNathan Wise, “‘Dig, Dig, Dig, until You are Safe’: Constructing the Australian Trenches on Gallipoli,” First World War Studies 2, no. 1(2012):51–64. Google Scholar

25.Wise “The Lost Labour Force,” 165–67. Google Scholar

26.See for exampleJohn McQuilton, “A Shire at War: Yackandandah, 1914–1918,” Journal of the Australian War Memorial, no. 11 (October1987):28. Google Scholar

29. Ibid., see diary entries dated 5 March 1917 and 24 November 1917. Google Scholar

30. Ibid., see diary entry dated 18 September 1917. Google Scholar

32. Ibid., diary entries as dated. The RHA was the Royal Horse Artillery, and the RFA was the Royal Field Artillery. Google Scholar

33. Ibid., diary entries as dated. Google Scholar

37.Eric J. Leed, No Man’s Land: Combat and Identity in World War I(:Cambridge University Press, 1979), 93. Google Scholar

39.C. E. W. Bean, The Official History of Australia in the War of 1914–1918: Volume 2: The Story of Anzac: From 4 May, 1915 to the Evacuation of the Gallipoli Peninsula(:Angus and Robertson, 1941), 254. Google Scholar

40. Ibid., 270n. Google Scholar

41. Ibid. Google Scholar

42. Ibid. Google Scholar

43.SeeC. E. W. Bean, The Official History of Australia in the War of 1914–1918, Volume 6: The Australian Imperial Force in France, during the Allied Offensive, 1918(:Angus and Robertson, 1942). See in particular chapter 2, “‘Peaceful Penetration’ Begins,” 32–61; chapter 10, “‘Peaceful Penetration’: Its Climax on the Somme,” 336–82; and chapter 11, “‘Peaceful Penetration’: Its Climax at Hazebrouck,” 382–41. See also Bean’s definition of the term “Peaceful Penetration,” 42. Whilst having its origins in Germany’s “peaceful penetration” of their trade empire into British territory prior to the war, in 1918 it applied to attempts to advance the Allied front lines through the use of minimal violence. Google Scholar

44. Ibid., 43. Google Scholar

45. Ibid., 47. Google Scholar

46.Tosh, “What Should Historians do with Masculinity?” 186. Google Scholar

47.Frances, The Politics of Work, 67. Google Scholar

48. Ibid., 2. Google Scholar

49.Rosemary Deem, Work, Unemployment, and Leisure(:Routledge, 1988), 15. Google Scholar

50.Stanley Parker, Leisure and Work(:George Allen and Unwin, 1983), 23. Google Scholar

51.Goodwin, diary entry dated 13 December 1917. Google Scholar

52.Harry Braverman, Labor and Monopoly Capital: The Degradation of Work in the Twentieth Century(:Monthly Review Press, 1974), esp. 443–47. Google Scholar

53.Maddison, “The Skillful Unskilled Labourer,” 73. Google Scholar

54.Goodwin, diary entry dated 4 October 1915. Google Scholar

55. Ibid. Google Scholar

56. Ibid., diary entry dated 1 November 1915. Google Scholar

57.Frances, The Politics of Work, 2. Google Scholar

58.Wise, “In Military Parlance”;Nathan Wise, “Fighting a Different Enemy: Social Protests against Authority in the Australian Imperial Force during World War I,” International Review of Social History 52, supp. 15 (December2007):225–41. Google Scholar

59.Parker, Leisure and Work, 30. Google Scholar

60.Stanley, Bad Characters, 66–69. Google Scholar

61.Seal, Inventing Anzac, 3. Google Scholar

62.Wise, “Fighting a Different Enemy,” 234–36. Google Scholar

63.Bruce, diary entries as dated. Google Scholar

64.There were exceptions, particularly in the latter months of 1918 when the German Army was on the verge of collapse. See for exampleWise, “‘In Military Parlance,” 167–71. Google Scholar

65.Goodwin, diary entry as dated. Google Scholar

66. Ibid., diary entry dated 4 October 1915. Google Scholar

68.Mike NoonandPaul Blyton, The Realities of Work(:Palgrave, 2002), 88. Google Scholar

69.An example of this was at The Nek on 7 August 1915, where it has been argued that the artillery fire stopped too early, giving the Turkish defenders ample time to man the parapets and suitably prepare for the defence of the trenches, at a minimum only 20 metres away from the Australian lines, at a maximum only 65 metres away. See for example,John Hamilton, Goodbye Cobber, God Bless You: The Fatal Charge of the Light Horse, Gallipoli, August 7th 1915(:Macmillan Press, 2004), 270–76. Google Scholar

70.Bill Gammage, The Broken Years: Australian Soldiers in the Great War(:Penguin Books, 1987), 214. In the more organised cases of “Peaceful Penetration” tanks and artillery support were used. The purpose of this, as Bean records, was sometimes to destroy specific enemy posts, and at other times to distract the enemy or to drown out the noise from a raid in some other section of the line. For an example of artillery support seeBean, Official History: Volume 6, 46, and for evidence of the use of tanks in the larger raids seeibid., 338–64. Google Scholar

71.Gammage, The Broken Years, 214. Google Scholar

72.Barry Clissold, “Peaceful Penetration: 1918,” Sabretache 43(December2002), 42. Google Scholar

73.Bean, Official History: Volume 6, 39. Google Scholar

74.Gordon Rose, The Working Class(:Longmans, 1968), 25. Google Scholar

75.Parker, Leisure and Work, 23. Google Scholar

76.Fox andLake, Australians at Work, 11. Google Scholar

77.Bean, Official History: Volume 6, 45. Google Scholar

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Wise, Nathan