Cooee - Wobblies framed for treason

December 10, 2016

In Britain on December 7, 1916, Herbert Asquith finally resigned as British Prime Minister after days of scheming by Lloyd George

In Britain on December 7, 1916, Herbert Asquith finally resigned as British Prime Minister after days of scheming by Lloyd George.

The newspapers had blamed Asquith for the farce on Gallipoli, the revival of Irish Nationalism after the Easter Rising and for Britain’s losses on the Somme.

Even draconian censorship could not hide the consequences of these events or Asquith’s failures as a war leader.

Lloyd George, previously an effective Minister of Munitions and a brilliant orator, replaced him.

George would immediately begin to organise Britain for total war.

Joseph Joffre, the French Commander, was also dismissed this week wasting troops on the Somme.

Robert Nivelle, promising complete victory in 1917, became French Commander-in-Chief.

However, there would be no quick victory, just the usual slaughter.

Nivelle would hold the post for only six months before being removed.

On December 2, 1916, 12 Wobblies were convicted of treason, sedition, arson and forgery in Sydney.

Their convictions had relied on national hysteria about the Industrial Workers of the World, a non-existent connection between the 12 and two Wobblies convicted of murder and concocted evidence given by the main witness at the trial of the 12.

All 12 were given sentences of 15 years.

In 1918, Mr Justice Street, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of NSW, acting as a Royal Commissioner, would find that the trial was problematic, at best.

He recommended the release of the 12.

They would be released in 1920 after a further judicial inquiry came to the same conclusion.

Meanwhile, 18-year-old Grace Ewart of Tungamah became the first lady bank clerk in the Benalla area.

She took up her appointment as a bank clerk with the Bank of Australasia in Yarrawonga this week.

This week, too, Benalla’s Albert Hall was referred to the Shire Engineer with a view to recommending any alterations necessary to make it suitable for moving picture shows.

Previously, such shows had been held in the Town Hall.

This week, council ordered temporary repairs to Lower Taminick Rd to enable wheat to be carted.

At the moment, there were two really bad places on the road where cars had remained bogged for six weeks.

Shepparton Council had been besieged for years with complaints about the state of the Benalla-Shepparton Rd.

This week, that council decided to lay gravel down to improve the road’s surface.

The Wangaratta inspectorate of schools, responsible for 42 schools, was closed.

Its duties would now be split between the Benalla inspectorate and that of Beechworth.

Devenish held an All Nations Fair in its Hibernian Hall this week to raise money for the local Patriotic Fund.

Benalla’s Shire president opened the fair.

— John Barry, Anzac Commemorative Working Party. Coo-ee — Honouring our WWI Heroes

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