Following Britain’s declaration of war on Germany on 4th August 1914, Australia and the other members of the British Empire became automatically involved. Prime Minister Joseph Cook stated August 4th, 1914 …”when the Empire is at war, so also is Australia”.
It is perhaps surprising that the first round fired by any Army of the British Empire, including Great Britain, in World War I was by the gunners of Fort Nepean. Situated at the entrance to Port Phillip Bay, Victoria, the Fort fired one round from its 6 inch Mark VII to stop the German freighter Pfalz escaping from Port Phillip a few hours after the declaration of war.
Herbert Ryan ( our great grandfather ),who was the editor of the Walhalla Chronicle stated the following in an editorial 7th August, 1914.
“The feelings of every man who thinks and who is capable of realising what a European war means under modern conditions of fighting, must have been thrilled during the past few days, as the declaration of war by one nation against another was announced in natural sequence, culminating in the news that the British Empire had been forced to join in the general eruption. The dreadful possibilities involved have temporarily paralysed the great nations of this earth, and business and commerce, even in Australia, on the remotest confines of the Empire, are soon likely to be seriously affected. It is an appalling condemnation of our boasted civilisation, that in this 20th century we cannot find means of allaying the passions of men, and of setting our national misunderstandings, on the basis of equity and peace.”
( note, Herbert Ryan was on the Hospital board as Secretary as well as being editor of the Chronicle).
The Argus 13/7/1915:
“Walhalla: Councillor Hannan ) shire president, and Mr. H. Hartrick J.P. ( captain of the rifle club), conducted recruiting meetings at Erica on Saturday night, and Walhalla on Sunday afternoon, and were assisted by several other speakers at both places. .. Five stepped on the platform at Walhalla and two others enlisted earlier in the week including Mr. H.H. Ryan, the editor of the Walhalla Chronicle”.
It is of interest that Herbert Ryan, along with his brothers James Cue and Harold all volunteered for the war . All, thankfully came home alive. Their father James Ryan had died by this time, but their mother Susan was still alive in Maffra. Kathleen, our grandmother,Herbert’s daughter, also saw her brother Dermot go to war.( Her other brother was too young and signed up for the light horsemen in 1928). And so, a father, and a brother of Kathleen Ryan went abroad to fight. It is amazing that out of this crew,all came back safely, (as well as Kathleen’s husband to be, 10 years later), Philip Rollason, our grandfather. It is commendable that so many went to war for their country. Although, as the editorial indicates, not all were “for it”, however they volunteered anyways. I wonder what the conversations were like beforehand ?(The only volunteer who did not come back was Robert Jacomb , on the Philip Rollason side. )
I think that with this effort and patriotism we should be very proud.