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From the pool to the battelfield…

It could perhaps be difficult to understand why a man, having Cecil Healy ' s stature, joined the Australian Imperial Forces. Whereas his reputation is made, as his future sounds like well- planned in Australia, he made the choice to enter the army on September 15th, 1915. If it seems obvious, according to views of the various anecdotes peppering his short life, Cecil Healy has got a very high sense of justice and bravery, an article he wrote and published in the Sunday Times 'The peace of Europe' allows to approach more closely the mind state of the athlete. First of all, we should note that Healy has got a good knowledge of the european continent, resulting from his two long stayings there, after Olympics of 1906 and 1912 . He travels through Europe,thanks to the competitions that take place there. So he was given a visit in Germany as well as in France or Great Britain and ties relationships with the inhabitants of those countries. Thus, he could see and understand particular evolutions in these countries during the transition period 1906-1913 . Being back in his country, he published on February 1913 this famous Chronicle entitled 'The Peace of Europe' in which he displays his feelings concerning the situation of the old continent.So, he gets inspired through his experiences, speeches and anecdotes and through which he has built a thought process and ends up at a terrible conclusion : war in Europe seemed unavoidable to him. As a citizen of a Commonwealth country, he draws up a very critical check up both toward Germany highly militarized during this period, coupled with the material issue, change on behaviour and awareness, but toward the British side too where the missing of standing back on the situation,added with the dilapidated state of the society appear to be extremely worrying to him . It 's therefore with his sportive point of view, he made us visit and understand Europe of the year 1912. He thus brought us to athletes dinner which happened in the stadium of Stockholm, through which the Prince of Sweden delivered a heavy speech, emphasizing the function of games. He makes us share a little singular endling competition in Germany at the Kaiser Cup where the Kaiser exalts the crowd and made it clear to his people that their future lies on waters. Finally, he brought us in the German shipyards or in the english bars too... This article is not a call to war, he does not attempt anymore to accuse one of the future belligerents but in impressing with his foresight he tries to explain why the outcome seems unfortunately unavoidable. Finally, he wishes to point out that it 's his duty to prevent his country from the imminence of conflict in Europe: "I think that it is the duty of everyone dependant on the Union Jack for liberty, [...] to help a little towards an awakening of the fact ". Cecil Healy seems then moulded of principles on duty, freedom, justice or courage. It is the series of his principles that will lead him to engage himself under the banner of the Union Jack. Being also guided by his convictions and his sense of duty, he will put into advantage his image in the conception of a display calling for conscription. On this poster, we could see a young man, standing with smile, strong and in a cool appearance. He is slightly aside, sit down, with spread legs and crossed hands. The jacket is not totally closed, the kepi badly adjusted. He is wearing a military uniform and poses on a white background, totally with refinement . A slight overexposure creates a blur, a halo of light around the soldier. This soldier, that everyone knows in Australia, tainted of loyalty, courage and well-respected, seems to be at hand. He is staring at us, sounds like calling. Wouldn't he be trying to encourage us to join him ?

By Bertrand FARENEAU,
Déc.2013

crédit photo:

- AWM : Australian War Memorial



Sommaire du dossier Cecil Healy...

Cecil Healy before the war

Preface by David WILSON

Who was really Cecil Healy ?

Cecil Healy and the Crawl Stroke

Cecil Healy at the Olympic Games

Cecil Healy, the lifesaver

Cecil Healy, the brave

The Soldier

From the pool to the battlefield

Healy came in France

The school officer

The False Death

The Drama

♦ Cecil HEALY map ♦