My grandfather, Sir George Houstoun Reid KC, who had been Premier of NSW, Prime Minister of Australia, our first High Commissioner to Britain and was also voted into the House of Commons.
He is known by many in Australia as the true Father of Federation. However he was always very concerned for the indigenous people, as was his wife Dame Flora Anne Reid (after whom I was named).
She would often talk about this to me when I was a child, hence my book ‘Shadows of Our Dreaming” dedicated to the indigenous people of our country, who had lived in harmony with nature for over sixty thousand years, and should always be recognised on Australia Day.
The Rev John Reid, George Reid’s father, was the Moderator of the first Scot’s Church in Australia, was also very concerned about the Aboriginal people and believed they would call the British arrival here Invasion Day.
For Australia, the First World War remains the costliest conflict in terms of deaths and casualties. From a population of fewer than five million, 416,809 men enlisted, of whom more than 60,000 were killed and 156,000 wounded, gassed, or taken prisoner.
Germany, in support of Austria-Hungary, invaded neutral Belgium and Luxembourg and advanced on France, prompting Britain to declare war against the Germans on August 4, 1914.
As part of the British Empire, Australia sent a message to the British government on August 4, 1914, offering “20,000 men of any suggested composition.”
In Europe the Australian troops fought bravely in the First Battle of Bullecourt, the Second Battle of Bullecourt, the Battle of Messines, the Third Battle of Ypres.
Sir George Reid was Prime minister of Australia from 1904 to 1905. Upon his first knighthood in 1909, his wife became Lady Reid he had further knighthoods in 1911 and 1916.
Born as Florence Ann Brumby in Longford, Tasmania, she moved to Sydney, where she married George Reid in 1891. He was 46 years old, she 23 years old.
They had three children. My father Clive was his younger son. She became a member of the Women’s Federal League, but otherwise focused on raising her family. She accompanied her husband to London in 1910 on his appointment as the first Australian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom.
For her work in assisting Australian soldiers recuperating in London during World War I, she was appointed a Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire ( in August 1917, being in the first list of appointments to the order, which had been created only in June 1917.