The Range of Ben Strange

Like many other cartoonists, I first noticed Ben Strange’s work while trawling through old Australian newspapers online for snippets of family history.

Ben Strange was born in Ireland and emigrated to Perth, Australia at 17 years of age. He became known for cartoons in the Perth  newspaper, the Western Mail.

….an Imperial patriot, he turned his sharpest thrusts against radicals and Labor politicians. His most celebrated cartoon, ‘East is East, and West is West’, appeared after the rejection of conscription at the 1916 referendum: his outline map of Australia showed Western Australia as a British lion and the ‘No’-voting eastern States as a timid rabbit.




2 Responses

  1. Pops says:

    Ben Strange was my Grandfather’s uncle. When Ben Strange died, my Grandfather inherited Ben Strange’s possessions. amongst them was a plain gold watch and chain. In the back of the watch are around 15 or so ‘pawnbroker’ marks.
    During the 2nd World War, my father was being evacuated from Greece as the Allied Forces were being driven out by the Nazis. My father drove lorries and had been separated from his unit in the chaos. He was driving up and down the beach looking for them so that he could get on board ship. No other British unit would let him join them and so he was effectively stranded, Eventually he came across some Australian soldiers who were about to get off the beach. They asked him what he was doing and he explained. To which he was told ‘no worries mate, you’re now in the Australian Army’ and they allowed him to embark on board their ship with them. They almost certainly saved his life as the ship he was supposed to be on was bombed with all lives lost. Whilst standing shoulder to shoulder, packed in like sardines, my father started talking to one of the Australian soldiers standing next to him. When this chap said that he was from Perth, my father explained that he had a relative in Perth named Ben Strange. The soldier expressed surprise and went on to say that his father knew Ben Strange and that Ben Strange was a ‘drinking buddy’ of his father. He went on to say how that Ben Strange and his father, probably along with others, would go out into the bush on a drinking and gambling benders which could last sometimes a week or more. We like to think that the pawnbroker marks in the back of the watch are related to these gambling sessions and that it may have been pawned repeatedly to fund them!

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