The ANZACs fought for a White Australia

Mr. G. W. Holland, Victorian state president of the Returned Services League of Australia held a remarkable meeting at Anzac house in Melbourne in July 1933; Met by significant applause and cheering he said to the audience. “Australia should remain for all time the purest British country in the world, a “White Australia” is one of the planks of our league’s platform.”

It is not commonly understood in this debauched modern age, that the soldiers of Australia were entirely united in their voice for the continuation and defence of the White Australia Policy.  Major General Sir Granville de Laune Ryrie was quoted saying “At all hazards, we ought to preserve our ideal of a White Australia – even if we have to fight and die for that ideal – unless we are content to disappear. ”

General Ryrie fought in Gallipoli, where he was wounded twice – he proceeded to join the battle in the Sinai and Palestine campaign, He was involved in the famous charge of the light horse at the third battle of Gaza in which Australian forces captured Beersheba. 1919 saw General Ryrie placed in charge of the whole Australian Imperial Force.

Australia had another heroic, almost mythical character come from our shores. Colonel Burford Sampson, the native to Launceston, Tasmania who went off to fight for Australia in the Boer war, staying behind in Rhodesia in their mountain force – returning to Australia to join the Australian Army and fight in Gallipoli and the Western Front – commanding both the 12th and the 15th Battalion in his time in leadership.

Colonel Sampson, who later went to the senate said fervently “White Australia is not a mere policy as far as Australia is concerned: It is a religion.

15th Battalion Rugby Team, Colonel Sampson in the middle ( bottom row )

The Advertiser recalls that in 1924 the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League declared that all branches will support the integrity and maintenance of a ‘White Australia” too did they advance “An adequate defence force, a vigorous immigration system with necessary safeguards to ensure suitable migrants being obtained, unification of railway gauges, nationalisation of main roads, systematic immigration of industries, reforestation, public health and trade within the empire.’  This tradition was firmly held by the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League for its entire life; reflecting the attitudes of multiple generations of Australian soldiers who had fought for the life and honour of Australia.

In 1937 Mr Sherrington of the Returned Soldiers league in Queensland said that they wish to maintain the integrity of a White Australia and that “The German immigrant was an excellent pioneer in Australia and that the war records show that their sons fought for Australia.” once again showing the Australian sentiment on pan-European racial fraternity.

The Returned Service League of Australia was the artery of Australian soldiers following war and during war.

Toowoomba, Queensland, 1950 saw the Returned Servicemen’s League declare before the Nation that  “The White Australia Policy must be kept inviolate and the Returned Service League must not allow ANY “watering down” of its attitude.”  The League’s South-Eastern District president C. H. Harburg said:

Australia was a white country and we must keep it White. Thousands of slaves had been allowed to remain in the United States after the abolition of slavery and the United States is now faced with grave racial problems which we do not want. We do not want slum areas like Harlem, New York here in Australia.

The Returned Service League has subscribed to the White Australia Policy for more than 30 years and must take strong exception to those sections of the community who from time-to-time attacked the policy.”

Mr N. L. Williams of the Returned Service League ( North Queensland ) said: “We do not want to suggest to coloured peoples that Australia held them in disregard,  but we want to tell them quite forcibly that we want to run our own country and keep our own manner of living.


The Returned Service League Congress of 1952

1952 saw Mr I. Cameron stand before the 37th annual state Congress of the R.S.S.A.I.L.A which opened in the Brisbane Memorial Hall declaring that “We should stick hard and fast to the White Australia policy and let the whole world know it. Not one Asiatic country would ever be our ally”

Not an ally in the true sense anyway; for it was the Labor minister for Western Sydney Jack Beasley who said.

“It is possible to live on the highest terms of mutual respect with ones neighbour whilst recognising that it would be destructive of all harmony to invite him to become a permanent resident in ones household.”

The Australian Soldiers were clear, right until the end of the policy that White Australia is the chief aim and desire of the Australian nation and the men who spilled their blood to defend it. We dishonour our ancestors, and spit on their graves with every new coloured arrival to this sacred soil, drenched in the blood of our founders.


Nativist Herald