AUSTRALIAN COMPULSORY MILITARY TRAINING-.
[To TUE EDITOR OF THE "SPECTATOR.") SIE,—I am well aware what interest you have taken in military training in England, so I thought it would be useful to you if as a citizen of Hobart, Tasmania, within the Commonwealth of Australia, I were to give you some idea of what is going on here under our eyes. I enclose a para- graph from the Hobart Mercury's London correspondent, which you may print or not as you please. It tells what is said in certain quarters in England about our system of com- pulsory training, and my remarks given now will to some extent deal with them. To begin, let me state that recently under the command of Major Gurney nine hundred cadets marched through the streets of Hobart, to the delight of the citizens. This city has a population of some thirty thousand. If the United Kingdom, upon a given day, could turn out a like proportion of cadets fit for duty, the number would be one million. I was out of town and did not see the parade. I frequently cross the drill ground in the
Barrack Square. The lads are not mere children. I saw more than a hundred being drilled lately. They were fine youths from fifteen to eighteen years of age, in uniform, and performing their evolutions well. The discipline is good: Quite recently I saw in the same place some three hundred cadets sitting at ease resting against a wall. I stood and looked on for some time; there was no noise, no horse-play, no unseemly conduct at all; the lads were quietly conversing. I frequently pass down street to the Post Office after dark and come into contact with scores of cadets going to or from drill. I have never observed any rowdyism, heard any bad language, or witnessed any misconduct whatever. Yesterday, in the middle of the day, for some purpose or other, a number of cadets in uniform were walking about the principal street of the city. Their conduct was in every way decorous. There are faults in our system. The uniforms are hideous—they should be red ; the boys' holidays are interfered with, and games are not got up for the younger lads; but there is a fine spirit amongst the bulk of these young soldiers. I might, in closing, express the opinion that if, here and in England, votes were allowed only to those who qualified to defend their country the gain would be immense.—I am, Sir, &c., WILLIAM CROOKE. Hobart, November 1st, 1912.