Librarian Augustine said:
not to insult any Aussies, but I have letters that my uncle wrote during WW1. Allegedly the Aussies were claimed to be poor fighters and poor moral. They killed some of their officers running away. However I am sure that it could have easily been just a bad squad or someting giving the rest a bad name.
Regardless Diggums Hammer covered our military
Yeah every description of Aussies by Brits, Americans or what have you I've seen here at work basically says that Australians are excellent troops but will not take orders from anyone but other Australians. There are many many cases of insubordination of Australian troops against British officers. I've seen several records here where British and/or US officers have brought charges against Aussie troops from WWI right up until Vietnam for refusing to salute them or to follow orders.
On the other hand I have seen several statements (in translation) from experienced Viet Cong, Japanese and Boer soldiers saying that the Australians were the allied troops they were most afraid of fighting.
So yeah, whether or not "Iron discipline" is one of our doctrines depends I guess on who's leading us... :tongue:
Just on a different note, I've also seen documents from WWII where Aussie and American troops were in fights when on leave because the "Australian troops took exception to perceived American arrogance." Unfortunately these fights often ended in fatalities as the Australian troops were prone to fist fights (after all, we're allies. It's just a friendly bust up!) but the American troops would treat every fight as a fight to the death and pull out knives, guns, clubs etc.
This gave Americans a reputation among Aussie soldiers for dishonour, but to the GI's they were doing what Americans do when in a fight, ie they dont fight to prove a point they fight to win. Cultural differences eh? The respective officers had to take some pretty serious action to remedy the situation.
EDIT: Sorry for the long post but this is interesting to me. I've talked to a few people at work about your uncle's letters Ausgustine and they seem to be in agreement with me. Most likely your uncle is referring to an Australian unit under the command of a British officer, which at that stage in the war was not uncommon and was a source of huge disciplinary problems.
The British army is (still now, but not so much) based on aristocratic officers trained to lead and working class soldiers and NCOs. The Australian army has always been based solely on merit and if an Australian soldier thinks he has a better idea than his officer he expects the officer to listen to him and treat him as an equal. This is not so in the British army, or at least wasn't during WWI and earlier. The Brits are big on following orders, that is a large part of their concept of military honour. The Australians on the other hand value an officer who downplays his authority and expects his men to be creative and show initiative. Before Monash took over the command of the Oz forces towards the end of the war and placed Aussies in command of Aussies, many Australian units were plagued with low morale as they were led by English officers who expected to be obeyed solely because of their title.
The old US army saying that you "salute the stripes not the man" is not traditionally adhered to by Australians in war zones. We always salute the man and ignore the stripes if we feel he doesn't measure up. This means Australian troops commanded by Australian officers (who must prove themselves first like everyone else) are creative, brave and eager soldiers capable of innovative battle even when cut off from orders, which explains our ability to meet guerillas on their own terms.
Australian troops under the command of their allies are sullen, insubordinate and behave poorly, sadly sometimes even to the point of murdering their officers and leaving the battlefield if they feel their lives are being expended needlessly.
In our defence though the folks here at work say such behaviour was rife among all forces during WWI due to the general inability of the commanders to understand what the soldiers were going through. It just happened less amongst the British due to their tradition of discipline and their attitude of "he must know best, after all he's an officer."
After you take all of these things into account it is easy to see how an aristocratic englishman could have easily been "fragged" (to use a 'nam term) by his Aussie troops. Your uncle probably only saw an officer, and didn't realize that the Australian troops saw a pompous foreigner with no "real" authority (to them) stupidly ordering them to thier deaths.
War is a sad state of affairs indeed.