New Guard

The New Guard was a militaristic fascist movement active during the Interwar Period. It was founded in 1931 as a right wing former military veterans organisation, headed by Eric Campbell, the would be fuhrer of Australia. It was formed as an anti communist group, who felt that Marxism had entered Australian politics, and threatened individualism and Australia’s allegiance to the British monarchy. It engaged pro democratic, leftist and communist activists in violent street clashes on a daily basis.

The New Guard flourished due to the popular dissatisfaction with the NSW Labour government. Thousands flocked to the group during the Great Depression who felt the Guard would act as a counter revolutionary vigilante movement and suppress a socialist revolution. It was supported strongly by the upper classes, sponsored by Australian big businesses such as the Bank of NSW, Coles, BP and Myers and had a high number of aristocratic members. It was similar in nature to the British Union of Fascists in England. The group achieved national and historical notoriety when one of its members, Francis De Groot, rode on horseback across the harbour bridge during its opening ceremony and cut the opening ribbon with a sword before the Premier had the chance to.

There was also a large contingent of its membership that felt the Guard would gain enough momentum to take power via a military coup. Due to its well-organised military structure, the New Guard had the numbers and the possibility of achieving their goals. The group had a particularly interesting plan to kidnap their nemesis, Labour premier Jack Lang. They lost their momentum when the Labour government was dismissed and popular dissatisfaction was levelled through the governor general. They continued to exist until the beginning of WW2, before the organisation became utterly useless. Famous members included Charles Kingsford Smith, the famous pilot who Sydney’s international Airport was named after and Lyall Howard, the father of conservative former Prime Minister John Howard. 

Prominent Figures

Eric Campbell

Francis De Groot


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