chapter  3
5 Pages

White and coloured Englishmen

No sooner was Great Britain at war than the white dominions of the Empire pledged their devotion to the imperial cause. Canada, Australia and New Zealand were not then always regarded as fully independent nations. In 1913, W.H. Hughes, then attorney general of Australia, maintained that ‘Technically, Australia is as much a component part of the British Isles as Ireland or Scotland’. When the war began, neutrality for Canada, Australia and New Zealand was unthinkable. As one Australian leader put it,

With the Empire at war, Australia is at war. For even were we to stand out, the enemies of the Empire would not respect our neutrality. As we stand with the Empire while it stands and are upheld by its strength, so must we fall with it if it has to fall.