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  #1  
Old 26-11-14, 03:09 AM
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Default Conscription Buttons

Hi Guys,

Another interest of mine are the 1916 and 1917 conscription referendums in Australia during World War 1.

Attached are various YES and NO buttons worn by the various supporters.

I'm always looking for more buttons or conscription referendum ephemera - please PM me if you happen to have any for trade/sale.

From the AWM...

Australian voters were asked in October 1916, and again in December 1917, to vote on the issue of conscription. Universal military training for Australian men aged 18 to 60 had been compulsory since 1911. The referendums, if carried, would have extended this requirement to service overseas.

The 1916 referendum

Australian troops fighting overseas in World War I enlisted voluntarily. As the enormity of Australian casualties on the Western Front became known in Australia and no quick end to the war seemed likely the number of men volunteering fell steadily. There was sustained British pressure on the Australian Government to ensure that its divisions were not depleted: in 1916 it was argued that Australia needed to provide reinforcements of 5500 men per month to maintain its forces overseas at operational level. With advertising campaigns not achieving recruiting targets, Prime Minister Hughes decided to ask the people in a referendum if they would agree to a proposal requiring men undergoing compulsory training to serve overseas. The referendum of 28 October 1916 asked Australians:

Are you in favour of the Government having, in this grave emergency, the same compulsory powers over citizens in regard to requiring their military service, for the term of this War, outside the Commonwealth, as it now has in regard to military service within the Commonwealth?

The referendum was defeated with 1,087,557 in favour and 1,160,033 against.

The 1917 referendum

In 1917 Britain sought a sixth Australian division for active service. Australia had to provide 7000 men per month to meet this request. Volunteer recruitment continued to lag and on 20 December 1917 Prime Minister Hughes put a second referendum to the Australian people. The referendum asked:

Are you in favour of the proposal of the Commonwealth Government for reinforcing the Commonwealth Forces overseas?'

Hughes’ proposal was that voluntary enlistment should continue, but that any shortfall would be met by compulsory reinforcements of single men, widowers, and divorcees without dependants between 20 and 44 years, who would be called up by ballot. The referendum was defeated with 1,015,159 in favour and 1,181,747 against.

The conscription referenda were divisive politically, socially and within religious circles. Newspapers and magazines of the time demonstrate the concerns, arguments, and the passion of Australians in debating this issue. The decisive defeat of the second referendum closed the issue of conscription for the remainder of the war.

Mick
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File Type: jpg CIMG9463.jpg (71.2 KB, 103 views)
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  #2  
Old 26-11-14, 11:33 AM
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An interesting subject and a nice little collection. Well done, Mick!


I Man
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  #3  
Old 26-11-14, 08:22 PM
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Thanks mate.

It certainly was the huge issue on the home front in 1916 and 1917.

Mick
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Old 27-10-16, 08:22 PM
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Just thought I'd bump this as today is the centenary of the First Conscription Referendum - 28th October, 1916.

Mick
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  #5  
Old 27-10-16, 08:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slick_mick View Post
Thanks mate.

It certainly was the huge issue on the home front in 1916 and 1917.

Mick
Not only on the home front.

Members of the British No-Conscription Fellowship leafletted members of the AIF.

I came across a reference to the N-CF leafletting Australian soldiers in Horseferry Road, London, but I expect it also happened in other places. The N-CF was a nationwide organisation.
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Old 14-03-18, 03:22 AM
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Here's my updated collection of WW1 Conscription debate buttons.

Enjoy!

Mick
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File Type: jpg conscription-buttons.jpg (90.2 KB, 27 views)
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Old 14-03-18, 05:41 AM
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Thanks Mick, very interesting collection. I can see these are very collectable, good job getting them together.Do you know how many there were? Is there a reference for them?

Thanks for showing

Cheers, Tim
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  #8  
Old 14-03-18, 06:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Chipper View Post
Thanks Mick, very interesting collection. I can see these are very collectable, good job getting them together.Do you know how many there were? Is there a reference for them?

Thanks for showing

Cheers, Tim
I've never seen any reference for them but there are quite a few. I think way more Yes than No buttons.

The YES ones with the Battalion colours are really hard to find and I think (ballpark guess) 100 or so different ones of those exist.

Mick
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Old 14-03-18, 02:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slick_mick View Post
Here's my updated collection of WW1 Conscription debate buttons.

Enjoy!

Mick
It was Interesting to see the name of Adela Pankhurst on the leaflet.

Adela Pankhurst was the lesser known daughter of Emmeline Pankhurst of the Womens Social and Political Union (WSPU), better known as the "Suffragettes".

Like her sisters, Christabel and Sylvia, Adela also took part in the miltant fight for "Votes for Women" in Britain before the war. However, she was "sent" to Australia.

Post 1914 Christabel was handing out white feathers to men not in uniform. She then became editor of a really right wing pro war newspaper called "Britannia", actually the re-named Suffragette newspaper.

This paper was anti German, anti foreign, and anti conscientious objector. So right wing it would have been called Fascist a few years later. So much so that her side kick & co-editor Norah Elam actually became a member of the British Union of Fascists. Under her married name of Mrs Dacre-Fox she was Mosleys candidate for one of the Brighton seats, and was interned under Regulation 18b in 1940.

Sylvia, leader of the "ELFS" (East London Federation of Suffragettes) was speaking against the war and against conscription and got in a lot of trouble over her stand. For example, he was pelted with rotten fruit etc at Horsham in the summer of 1916. The police had to link arms to hold back the crowd then get her to the railway station and out of town pdq.

Like her sister Christabel, Adela also travelled to the right. She was interned in Australia in WW2 for being pro Japanese.

https://www.theguardian.com/australi...ustralian-life
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Last edited by BWEF; 14-03-18 at 02:51 PM.
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  #10  
Old 14-03-18, 07:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BWEF View Post
It was Interesting to see the name of Adela Pankhurst on the leaflet.

Adela Pankhurst was the lesser known daughter of Emmeline Pankhurst of the Womens Social and Political Union (WSPU), better known as the "Suffragettes".

Like her sisters, Christabel and Sylvia, Adela also took part in the miltant fight for "Votes for Women" in Britain before the war. However, she was "sent" to Australia.

Post 1914 Christabel was handing out white feathers to men not in uniform. She then became editor of a really right wing pro war newspaper called "Britannia", actually the re-named Suffragette newspaper.

This paper was anti German, anti foreign, and anti conscientious objector. So right wing it would have been called Fascist a few years later. So much so that her side kick & co-editor Norah Elam actually became a member of the British Union of Fascists. Under her married name of Mrs Dacre-Fox she was Mosleys candidate for one of the Brighton seats, and was interned under Regulation 18b in 1940.

Sylvia, leader of the "ELFS" (East London Federation of Suffragettes) was speaking against the war and against conscription and got in a lot of trouble over her stand. For example, he was pelted with rotten fruit etc at Horsham in the summer of 1916. The police had to link arms to hold back the crowd then get her to the railway station and out of town pdq.

Like her sister Christabel, Adela also travelled to the right. She was interned in Australia in WW2 for being pro Japanese.

https://www.theguardian.com/australi...ustralian-life
Great info - thanks for that. I was wondering who she was.

Mick
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  #11  
Old 21-03-18, 11:25 PM
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Here's my updated collection of conscription buttons with a few new additions.

Its interesting how there was a huge Vote Yes campaign by the AIF as seen by the number of various Vote Yes buttons yet the Vote No campaign won at the end of the day.

Am also interested in conscription flyers if anyone has any spares.

Mick
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