Nicholas Shakespeare

Oddfellows by Nicholas Shakespeare

March 2015, no. 369

Two aggrieved Islamic men follow a foreign cause and wage jihad on their fellow Australians. Shouting Allahu akbar, they stage an ambush, raise a home-made flag and open fire on hundreds of men, women and children. They escape and die in a final shoot-out. They leave four dead and seven wounded.

It could be ripped from today’s headlines – except it happened a hundred years ago. On New Year’s Day in 1915, Gul Mehmet and Molla Abdullah, denizens of Ghantown, the despised Afghan settlement on the outskirts of Broken Hill, took up arms against the town’s citizens as they rode the train to the annual Oddfellows picnic. They did so in the name of the Turkish Sultan, who was calling for resistance to the Anzac invaders in their home territory.

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