Smalls Auctions

Description: Very Early & Rare

  • Notes: In August 1908, Australia hosted a visit by the ‘Great White Fleet’ - the sixteen white-painted battleships of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. Embarrassingly, for a nation with 25,760 kilometres of coastline, Australia did not have the necessary vessels to provide a naval escort and, so in early 1909 the Labor Prime Minister Andrew Fisher ordered three destroyers from Britain’s shipyards to lay the foundations of the Royal Australian Navy. Fisher was replaced by Alfred Deakin of the Commonwealth Liberal Party who wanted the ‘new’ Australia’s Navy to be commanded as a unit of the Royal Navy’s Eastern Fleet, but with Fisher’s return to power in 1910, the Royal Australian Navy’s independent future was secured with the combined fleet entering Sydney Harbour under his Prime Ministership for the first time on the 4th October, 1913. Since Federation, Australia had already witnessed the defeat of the Russians by the Japanese in 1905 and with a well-established German colony in New Guinea on its doorstep, it had introduced compulsory part-time naval and military cadet training for boys to feed the necessary manpower for its new forces. As an island nation, the Navy was regarded as the senior defence force and so had first pick of the new cadets usually choosing boys who lived close to its facilities. Thus, it was that Norman Lambert Joyner a Blacksmith’s apprentice from the harbour-side suburb of Paddington was picked for the Naval Cadets. He was obviously an extremely able lad as in 1913 - 1914 he was awarded a gold prize fob for “greatest general proficiency in (the) interstate competitions.” This was a very impressive win as the ranks of Naval cadets had swollen from 748 in 1911 to 3,332 cadets in training at the outbreak of World War I in 1914. From the safety of their lofty office, politicians in times of war can afford to make ‘brave’ decisions usually at the expense of the young and, so it was that during the Great War that those in power tried twice to introduce adult conscription for overseas war service. Not that there was any shortage of freshly minted ‘adult’ eighteen-year-olds, who encouraged by jingoistic war posters signed up to take on the ‘Hun,’ resulting in over 333,000 enlisted men serving overseas with shockingly two out of three either killed or injured. The Navy chose Joyner, but he did not choose the Navy and, anxious for action, on his eighteenth birthday on the 20th August 1916 he joined up for overseas service to fight in the Trench Mortar Batteries of the A(ustralia) I(mperial) F(orces). Joyner was one of the lucky ones who survived the War, marrying in 1924 and working as a fitter and turner well into his seventies. Not so the ‘lost generation’ who were irreparably maimed or who perished for the Empire on foreign soil.
  • Provenance: World War I
  • Dimensions: Weight 12.36gms
  • Exhibited: Collectibles
  • Literature: 637
  • Medium: Military & Wartime

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September 22, 2019, 12:00 PM AEST

Paddington, Sydney, Australia

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