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Saturday, September 15, 2007

Morant VIII

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In 1905, the heroes reception for Commander Harry 'Breaker' Harbord Morant with brother officers Lieutenants Handcock, Witton at the Hotel Australia was over. The Morant Affair was now the most debated topic in Australia, having the most profound consequences for future of the the British Empire.
Lord Kitchener was the British commanding officer instructed to bring the Boer War to a speedy conclusion at any cost. London was desperately concerned that the Kaiser would exploit Boer sympathy within Germany to intervene, and seize the mineral wealth of South Africa. The Australian's governments objections prevented the execution of the officers as Scapegoats of Empire and the Boer's tore up the draft of the Treaty of Vereeniging due to be signed in May 1902.

This was when the real trouble started as the regional conflict in South African blossomed into a Great War. Westminister recalled Kitchener to London where he received a new appointed as War Minister. A recruitment poster of "Britain needs you" with the hate figure of Kitchener was of course an insult to the people of Australia.

Kitchener played an integral part in the planning of the catastrophic Gallipoli campaign. Westminister requested the assisstance of Anzac troops. The major anti-British backlash as a result of the Morant Affair prevented the Governments of Australia and New Zealand from acquiesing. The spectre of thousands of Australian and New Zealand troops being needlessly slaughtered was simply to much. Largely as a result of the Morant case, the Australian army never again accepted British Army justice, or any other nation's justice, in cases involving its soldiers and citizens.
~ variant entry by Steve Payne

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