‘Up the aussies’

The new trackbed for the Horndean Light Railway looking south across the bridge over Southwick Hill Road, Cosham, about 1903.

NOSTALGIA: Ready and waiting, the shiny new tracks climbing Portsdown Hill

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On this day in 1926 a riot happened in Commercial Road, Portsmouth, involving Australian sailors and police armed with batons.

Ten sailors from HMS Melbourne subsequently appeared in court charged with being drunk and disorderly, assaulting the police and using obscene language and of inciting their comrades to resist arrest.

According to the evidence of PC Sainsbury, who was kicked and bitten in the fight, the trouble started by the Albert Hall when the crowd of Australians emerged ‘like mad’, shouting the Australian ‘war whoop’, ‘Up the Aussies’.

They then proceeded to assert their national identity and pride in a physical manner, a fight ensured and a crowd of 500 people gathered to watch the melee.

The magistrates expressed regret that they had to fine four of the defendants and caution six others, saying that ‘everyone wished to make the Australians welcome in England’ – from John Sadden’s The Portsmouth Book of Days.