War Memoir of Robert Ellwood

Ellwood: Just before we landed we arrived at Lemnos before going Gallipoli and we must have in a barge if I remember right but the Aragon was the flagship of the whole of the forces and that was where our headquarters, the headquarters of the whole of the undertaking was, on the Aragon and it was made up of well, what we saw, was beautifully dressed monocled English officers with red tabs all over them. I can remember quite distinctly, we were down below, we must have been in barges or something, but there were two of these, they were parading around the deck of the Aragon and two of these fellas stopped and leant on the rails of the Aragon and looked down at us and of course they were chattering and carrying on with one thing and another and they were passing remarks to themselves about us and one fellow, he said “My good fellows”, he said, “where did you kangaroos” – see we were kangaroos -“where did you kangaroos learn to speak the English language?” And one of our fellows, a wit at the time, he simply shouted up back to them that… “Oh”, he said, “I learnt that in my mother’s pouch in Queen Street”. I can remember that as plainly as I’m sitting here today. That was how ignorant they were of the Australians. They thought we were Kangaroos. They didn’t even know what a kangaroo was. It was just like calling the New Zealanders – Kiwis, you know, we were Kangaroos an they didn’t know what a Kangaroo was and that actually took place and they were the type of people who were controlling our destiny.

Turnbull: So you very much thought of yourself as Australian?

Ellwood:Oh, yes, very definitely.

Turnbull: Did that cause any problems though with your allegiance to King and Empire?

Ellwood: No, we just had a feeling of tolerance, I suppose you’d call it. Admiration and recognition of the values, but a little bit of probably looking down on somebody who wasn’t as well-versed as we are. But as far as the British soldier was concerned, we didn’t see the best of them. I could say we saw about the third grade man in our part of the world…well at Suvla Bay they were a very poor type. I suppose only thirty percent trained to begin with and they were all ages and all. By that time they were getting down to the bottom of the bucket and, no, we looked upon them with tolerance I suppose and a good deal of amusement and superiority, that’s probably true, you know.