Category Archives: Miscellaneous

From Six Bob Tourist to Souvenir

This is the third year I have posted for the Trans Tasman Anzac Day Blog Challenge.  For 2013, I share the story of Leslie Herbert Combridge.

When Billy Hughes spoke to the people of Australia on January 21, 1915, something must have stirred inside Les Combridge.  It may have been pride, anger, guilt or simply his sense of adventure.

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"WE WANT MORE MEN". (1915, January 22). The Ballarat Courier (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 3 Edition: DAILY.. Retrieved April 23, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article73915492

“WE WANT MORE MEN”. (1915, January 22). The Ballarat Courier (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 3 Edition: DAILY.. Retrieved April 23, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article73915492

On February 2, he travelled the 40 kilometres from Grantville to Wonthaggi and enlisted in the Australian Infantry Forces.  He had nothing to lose.  He was 18½ and working on a farm in a rural area so the chance to get out and be paid to see the world must have been some incentive.  Why wouldn’t it be an adventure?  The papers were full of stories of soldiers enjoying the sights of Egypt, the Great Pyramids and the market places.  Besides, it probably would be all over by the time he got there.

WANTED—100,000 MEN.—STILL THEY COME. (1915, January 6). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956), p. 7. Retrieved April 20, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article1488026

WANTED—100,000 MEN.—STILL THEY COME. (1915, January 6). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 7. Retrieved April 20, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article1488026

After enlisting with his father’s consent, Les was assigned to the newly formed 21st Battalion.  After training at  Broadmeadows, the Battalion left Port Melbourne on May 10, 1915 aboard the HMAT Ulssyss.

This article from the Euroa Advertiser by “One Who Witnessed It” describes the arrival of the troops at the dock, boarding and departure.

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DEPARTURE OF A TROOP-SHIP. (1915, May 14). Euroa Advertiser (Vic. : 1884 - 1920), p. 2. Retrieved April 20, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article70371657

DEPARTURE OF A TROOP-SHIP. (1915, May 14). Euroa Advertiser (Vic. : 1884 – 1920), p. 2. Retrieved April 20, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article70371657

That account was a little different to that of A.M McNeil in his book The Story of the 21st He writes

“Embarkation was quietly carried out.  There was no fanfare of trumpets, and that night we slipped from the pier, down the bay…” (p. 7)

HMAT Ulysses  Image Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial ID NO: PS0154. Photographer Schuler, Phillip Frederick Edward  http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/PS0154/

HMAT ULYSSES. Image Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial ID NO: PS0154. Photographer
Schuler, Phillip Frederick Edward http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/PS0154/

A.R McNeil  described the voyage as “smooth” and a highlight was the arrival at the Suez Canal.

“…glorious trip through Suez Canal in daylight.  Here we saw troops on active service for the first time, as the “line” was then right on the Canal bank (p8).

Egypt lived up to the reports back home

“Our first stay in Egypt is one of our happiest memories,  In spite of the heat, and the not too good tucker, we enjoyed our time off thoroughly”  “Cairo 20 minutes by electric tram and the sights, sounds and smells of our new surroundings interested us”. (p.8)

HINDMASH PATRIOTIC FUND. (1915, January 23). The Mail (Adelaide, SA : 1912 - 1954), p. 9. Retrieved April 23, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59302494

HINDMASH PATRIOTIC FUND. (1915, January 23). The Mail (Adelaide, SA : 1912 – 1954), p. 9. Retrieved April 23, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59302494

Private Dusting of Portland, with the 21st, wrote home of the sights he had seen at Columbo, Port Said and Cairo.  Like others, he was keen to get to the Dardanelles.

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Soldier's Letter. (1915, August 18). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved April 23, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63974309

Soldier’s Letter. (1915, August 18). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved April 23, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63974309

Bugler G.  Barett wrote of the training the 21st Battalion were carrying out before they moved on to Anzac Cove.  The food was good too, and a 8 pence a day allowance allowed for extras like tinned fruit and pickles.

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Our Men at the Front. (1915, August 21). Brighton Southern Cross (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 3. Retrieved April 23, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article75045296

Our Men at the Front. (1915, August 21). Brighton Southern Cross (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 3. Retrieved April 23, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article75045296

It was during this time that the term “Six Bob a Day Tourists” evolved to describe the Australian diggers.  They could earn six bob a day and see the World.

"SIX BOB A DAY TOURISTS.". (1915, June 7). The Daily News (Perth, WA : 1882 - 1950), p. 3 Edition: THIRD EDITION. Retrieved April 25, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article81003870

“SIX BOB A DAY TOURISTS.”. (1915, June 7). The Daily News (Perth, WA : 1882 – 1950), p. 3 Edition: THIRD EDITION. Retrieved April 25, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article81003870

Despite the sightseeing, the boys were keen to get into action and on August 30, the 21st boarded the Southland bound for Anzac Cove.  On September 2, 1915, the troops of the 21st Battalion, including Les Combridge, got their first taste of the reality of war.  A German submarine torpedoed the cruiser and the call came to abandon ship.  Men rushed to life boats, some spent hours in the water while others drowned and they would be noted in history as the victims of the first Australian ship struck by a torpedo.  There were 14 casualties in total.

Men of 11 Platton 21st Battalion C Company IMAGE COURTESy of the Australian War Memorial.  ID No. A00746 http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/A00746/

Men of 11 Platton 21st Battalion C Company IMAGE COURTESy of the Australian War Memorial. ID No. A00746 http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/A00746/

The Southland after the torpedo attack.

The Troopship Soutland.  Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial Id No.A00737http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/A00737/

The Troopship Soutland. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial Id No.A00737http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/A00737/

Neil C. Smith in the Red & Black Diamond: the History of the 21st Battalion mentions letters home were censored after the event and the story was not officially released until two months later.  This article from November 15, 1915 was one of the first reports of the attack.

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THE GENERAL'S PRAISE. (1915, November 21). Sunday Times (Perth, WA : 1902 - 1954), p. 1 Section: First Section. Retrieved April 23, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article57829146

THE GENERAL’S PRAISE. (1915, November 21). Sunday Times (Perth, WA : 1902 – 1954), p. 1 Section: First Section. Retrieved April 23, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article57829146

After their rescue, the 21st Battalion spent a couple of days at Lemnos Island in the Aegean Sea.   They then resumed their journey to Anzac Cove and their next big adventure began.

21st BATTALION AFTER ARRIVAL AT GALLIPOLI, MARCHING UP MONASH GULLY.  Image courtesy of Australian War Memorial ID No: A000742 http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/A00742/

21st BATTALION AFTER ARRIVAL AT GALLIPOLI, MARCHING UP MONASH GULLY. Image courtesy of Australian War Memorial ID No: A000742 http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/A00742/

Letters home described the rough terrain and the risk of Turkish snipers. At some of the posts, ropes raised soldiers up and down the steep embankments.

Our Boys at Gallipoli. (1915, December 14). Port Pirie Recorder and North Western Mail (SA : 1898 - 1918), p. 1. Retrieved April 23, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article95346962

Our Boys at Gallipoli. (1915, December 14). Port Pirie Recorder and North Western Mail (SA : 1898 – 1918), p. 1. Retrieved April 23, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article95346962

Private Fred Ware of East Gippsland also wrote home of the terrain and gave an account of the trip on the Southland.

SOLDIERS' LETTERS. (1915, December 24). Gippsland Mercury (Sale, Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 3 Edition: morning. Retrieved April 23, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article89277160

SOLDIERS’ LETTERS. (1915, December 24). Gippsland Mercury (Sale, Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 3 Edition: morning. Retrieved April 23, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article89277160

Les Combridge, with C Company, found himself stationed at Steele Post.  He  would stay in the trenches for weeks.  Steele Post looks as though it was one of the posts where ropes were necessary.

STEELES POST, GALLIPOLI 1915.  Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial ID No:  P01580.015 http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/P01580.015

STEELES POST, GALLIPOLI 1915. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial ID No: P01580.015 http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/P01580.015

Conditions were harsh.  From the 21st Battalion Unit Diary on September 13, 1915 -

“Trenches infected with vermin, fleas and lice…Sanitary arrangements with regard to this Section need particular care and every endeavour is being made to perfect same”

This was no holiday.

On September 21, Les was charged with disobeying am NCO, the first of several charges during  his years of service.

On September 30 the Unit Diary recorded that,

A large percentage of the men are suffering from diarrhea of dysentery …This Battalion has been in the trenches for 23 days...”

On that day, Les was charged for being absent from his place of duty.  Maybe he was making use of the limited sanitary arrangements available to him, given the diary entry for that day.

Another charge for Les came on October 18 of sleeping at his post while sentinel, but he was found not guilty.

During December 1915,  as blizzards began to hit the coastline, the 21st Battalion was evacuated from Gallipoli with the other Australian troops and they began to make their way back to Alexandria.  They spent some time at Imbros Island and Christmas and New Year at Lemnos Island where Christmas billies from home were enjoyed.

On January 4, 1916 they began the last leg to Alexandria.

When the 21st returned to Egypt, they spent time on the banks of the Suez Canal but when the 2nd Pioneer Battalion was raised soon after, Les joined their ranks on March 16, 1916.  They sailed for Marseilles, France and began to make their way to the north of France, by train and foot.

After arriving in Morbecque, France on March 31, 1916,  the Pioneers received a demonstration about Poison gas and Weeping gas as recorded in the  2nd Pioneer Unit Diary.  They were now at the Somme, preparing to do the work the Pioneers were formed for, while still fending off the perils of war.

The Chief Engineer of the Australian Pioneers wrote of the work the 2nd Pioneers did near Ypres. He mentions the Battalion had suffered heavy losses.

The Chronicle. (1918, July 20). Williamstown Chronicle (Vic. : 1856 - 1954), p. 2. Retrieved April 24, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article69681288

The Chronicle. (1918, July 20). Williamstown Chronicle (Vic. : 1856 – 1954), p. 2. Retrieved April 24, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article69681288

Colonel E.J.H. Nicholson wrote of the Pioneers in 1919.

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Nicholson had the greatest respect for the pioneers and considered the 2nd Pioneers “the most respectable, steady, well conducted battalion…”

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AUSTRALIAN ENGINEERS AND PIONEERS. (1919, May 16). The Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901 - 1929), p. 7. Retrieved April 24, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article62198709

AUSTRALIAN ENGINEERS AND PIONEERS. (1919, May 16). The Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901 – 1929), p. 7. Retrieved April 24, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article62198709

2nd Pioneer Battalion near Bapaume.  Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial ID No:  E00343 http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/E00343/

2nd Pioneer Battalion near Bapaume. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial ID No: E00343 http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/E00343/

The work of the Pioneer Battalion was described in the Williamstown Chronicle.    The Pioneers were give the nickname “Souvenirs” while the Engineers were “Ginger Beers”.  The “Souvenirs” not only had to do  hard labouring work but were prepared to fight if need be.  They often worked with gun fire and bombing going on around them and as a result there were often casualties.

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A PIONEER BATTALION. (1918, July 13). Williamstown Chronicle (Vic. : 1856 - 1954), p. 3. Retrieved April 24, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article69681256

A PIONEER BATTALION. (1918, July 13). Williamstown Chronicle (Vic. : 1856 – 1954), p. 3. Retrieved April 24, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article69681256

On July 14, 1916, Les was transferred to the newly formed 2nd Tunnelling Company.   On July 19, near Fromelles, the 2nd Tunnellers detonated a mine, the largest in its’ operational history, designed to shield the 32nd Battalion as they moved across No Man’s Land.

NEWS OF THE DAY. (1916, July 22). The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954), p. 6. Retrieved April 25, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article1023967

NEWS OF THE DAY. (1916, July 22). The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 – 1954), p. 6. Retrieved April 25, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article1023967

Les only had to endure digging underground for two months because on September 30 he moved back to the Pioneers, then at  Le Torquet, to continue digging above the ground.

On October 18, Les racked up another offence, charged with drunkenness.  As a result he lost two day’s pay.

On January 27, 1917  Les took sick and was transferred to hospital by the 13th Field Ambulance.  They took him to Allonville and the 39 Casualty Clearing Station.  He was then transferred on to the No 14 Stationary Hospital at Boulogne where he recovered from mumps.

Out of hospital, Les marched into the 2nd Australian Divisional Base at  Estaples on February 24, 1917, marching out again on February 27, 1917 to re-join the 2nd Pioneer Battalion on March 3.

From June 9, 1917 Les spent some time training with the 5th Army Musketry School and on August 4 he was promoted to Lance Corporal.

The 2nd Pioneers moved on to Ypres in October, 1917.  The following photo shows the 2nd Pioneer doing what they did best.  During the months of October and November, 1917 at Ypres the Battalion built water channels, stables and constructed a plank road as seen below at Chateau Wood.

2nd Pioneer building plank road at Chateau Wood, Ypres, Sept 26, 1917 Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial ID NOl P08577.002  http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/P08577.002

2nd Pioneer building plank road at Chateau Wood, Ypres, Sept 26, 1917 Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial ID NOl P08577.002 http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/P08577.002

An article in the Cairns Post on December 29, 1917 included stories from the front.  One of those mentioned was of a Sergeant from one of the Pioneer Battalions, lying injured in hospital.  The Sergeant described the work his Battalion were doing on the roads near Ypres.

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BATTLE STORIES FROM THE WEST FRONT. (1917, December 29). Cairns Post (Qld. : 1909 - 1954), p. 8. Retrieved April 24, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article40273100

BATTLE STORIES FROM THE WEST FRONT. (1917, December 29). Cairns Post (Qld. : 1909 – 1954), p. 8. Retrieved April 24, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article40273100

In July 21, 1919 the work of the Australian Pioneer Battalion was remembered in this article from the West Australian.

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ENGINEERS, PIONEERS, AND TUNNELLERS. (1919, July 21). The West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879 - 1954), p. 9. Retrieved April 24, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article27611735

ENGINEERS, PIONEERS, AND TUNNELLERS. (1919, July 21). The West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879 – 1954), p. 9. Retrieved April 24, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article27611735

On  November 2, 1917, Les was wounded, receiving a bullet to his right elbow.  The injury was described as severe.   The 3rd Australian Field Ambulance,  then stationed in Wippenhoek, took him to the 3rd Casualty Clearance Station.  The 2nd Pioneer Unit Diary states that one “OR” was wounded on that day.

The following day, Les was transferred to the 5th General Hospital at Rouen France, but it was necessary to move him to England and he arrived at the 5th South General Hospital at Portsmouth on November 8.

On Februay 8, 1918 Les  was  transferred to 3rd Auxiliary Hospital at Dartford for just under a week.  Patients with war related nervous conditions were treated there.  Then on to Weymouth, Dorset to convalesce until his departure on April 10, 1918

So Les was on a ship home.  But what was going on at home, who had he left and who had arrived?

ON THE HOMEFRONT

Les Combridge was the son of Herbert John Combridge and Jane Wyatt.  Jane passed away in 1909 at Grantville,  presumablyas a result of childbirth leaving Les, aged 12 and Horace Claude (known as Claude), aged two,  the only children remaining from five pregnancies.

In 1913,  Herbert married widow Sarah Hade (nee Jackson), already a mother of a large family.  In February 1914, Herbert and Sarah welcomed Verena May.  When Les left Australia 12 months later, Sarah was pregnant again and in July 1916 Harold Herbert was born.

Herbert had given his son his consent, maybe with even a hint of envy.  In 1916, after the age for enlistment was raised, the then 43-year-old Herbert himself enlisted.  After a short time at Royal Park, he was discharged due to a weak heart.

It seems that in each story I write for Anzac Day, rumours made their way home about the welfare of a soldier abroad.  The Combridges had their own taste of this, leading to Herbert writing to the  Army requesting information about Les.

On August 30, 1915, Herbert penned a letter to Colonel Hawker.  At the same time, in Egypt, Les was three days away from boarding the Southland to Gallopoli.

“…I have had one letter from him since he arrived in Egypt and since then I have not heard there is two other families around here had sons went away at the same time and they have sent letters home stating that my son lost the use of his legs since he landed and then contracted pneumonia and was to be invalided home and as I have not heard from him I thought you may be able to give me some information about him as I am anxious and if he is unable I think some one ought to let us know I have only him and a lad of 7 years out of 5 from my first marriage losing 3 and his mother in a few years so trusting you will do me the kindness of letting me know what you can about him…”

Herbert writes with little punctuation but the worry he was feeling is not lost.  He mentioned the children and wife he lost and the thought of losing another after such a short time must have been excruciating.

On September 7, 1915, a Lieutenant H Mackintosh, officer from Base  Records, responded to Herbert to ease his mind  somewhat.  He advised Herbert that no official notification had come through about Les, but if Herbert was to send any evidence he may have to the contrary with the full details of the informant etc etc.  A typical government letter.

Herbert replied, to let Lieutenant Mackintsh know that Les had since written and all was well.  He had been in hospital with pleurisy and bronchitis but had returned to his Company.  He went on to thank Mackintosh and apologised for the trouble he may have caused.  He explained:

“..,it was sent to two different parties about him and I thought if he was to be sent back I ought have heard…”

On November 16 1917, two weeks after it occured, Herbert received the notification he had expected two years earlier.  Les had been wounded.  It was two weeks later, on December 1, that he learned that Les had been shot and was in the 5th Southern General Hospital at Portsmouth.  Almost two weeks later he heard that Les was improving.  It was looking like Christmas 1917 would be a little happier than was thought at the beginning of the month.

Herbert’s next official notification of Les’ health was mid March 1918.  Les was “progressing favourably”.

When Les returned home in May 1918, he reunited with his father and Claude and met his two-year old brother for the first time.  His step mother was pregnant again with a third child to Herbert.

POST WAR

In September 1919, Les married local Grantville girl Myrtle Rose White, daughter of Culmer Thomas White and Alice Elizabeth Hunt.  On November 12, 1920 their first child, daughter Mavis Ayleen was born at Wonthaggi.  Over the next 16 years, they would have a further three girls and a son.

Les farmed first at Grantville and  later took up a property “Hazelbrook” at nearby Alumurta .  He became involved with the Blackwood Forest Football Club.

COUNTRY NEWS. (1926, April 21). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 26. Retrieved April 24, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article3746499

COUNTRY NEWS. (1926, April 21). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 26. Retrieved April 24, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article3746499

By 1937, and almost 20 years after his return from Europe, it seem that Les had got on with his life.  But on June 28, Les died suddenly at Wonthaggi from heart failure.  He was only 40 years old.

' OTHER DISTRICTS. (1937, July 3). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 21. Retrieved April 24, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article11115412

‘ OTHER DISTRICTS. (1937, July 3). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 21. Retrieved April 24, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article11115412

The loss of Les at such a young age must have hit hard.  Myrtle had the five children, aged from two to 17 and a farm.  Also Herbert was faced with the death of yet another child.

How do I know about Leslie Herbert Combridge.  He was my great-grandfather.  His eldest daughter Mavis was my Grandma and never in the 39 years I knew her, did I realise how much his death had an effect on her.  Not until I started reading newspapers at Trove, that is.  Then I found  “In Memoriam” notices she had submitted, right up until 1947, 10 years after his death,  herself then married and raising a family, living hours away from her beloved Bass Valley.

(1943, June 28). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 10. Retrieved April 25, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page625813

(1943, June 28). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 10. Retrieved April 25, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page625813

(1944, June 28). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 12. Retrieved April 25, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page628551

(1944, June 28). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 12. Retrieved April 25, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page628551

Family Notices. (1947, June 28). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 11. Retrieved April 25, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article22436539

Family Notices. (1947, June 28). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 11. Retrieved April 25, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article22436539

I can’t say how much WW1 played a part in the premature death of Les Combridge, but given the work he did, particularly with the Pioneers and the exposure to gas in France and the overall wear  the conditions must have had on a body, it cannot be dismissed.  Although with Herbert’s weak heart, hereditary factors were also at play, but Herbert, who didn’t serve, lived to 66, dying 18 months after Les, in 1939.

The places Les went read like a Contiki itinerary, but the hard working Pioneer was no tourist and for the most time, the sights he saw would be unforgettable but for all the wrong reasons.  His time spent collecting his nerves at Dartford before his return to Australia giveing some clue to the mind-set he was in but how much this continued to be a part of his life is not know.  If it was still there he must have kept it deep inside .

The early death of Les robbed him of time with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  He gave so much of his heart to Australia, there was little left for his family.

LEST WE FORGET

SOURCES

Australian War Memorial

Finlayson, Damien (2010). Crumps and camouflets : Australian tunnelling companies on the Western Front. Big Sky Publishing, Newport, N.S.W

MacNeil, A. R & 21st Battalion (A.I.F.) Association (Melbourne, Vic.) (1971). The Story of the twenty-first : being the official history of the 21st Battalion, A.I.F. 21st Battalion Association, Melbourne

National Archives of Australia

Smith, Neil C (1997). The red and black diamond : the history of the 21st Battalion 1915-18 (1st ed). Mostly Unsung Military History Research and Publications, Gardenvale, Vic

Trove Australia


Two Today

It’s my blogiversary!

 

Considering I’ve had  plenty of other stuff going on in my life and limited time, it has sometimes been difficult to keep up with posts.   But remarkably I wrote 110 in the last 12 months and I really don’t know how I managed it.

It could have had something to do with  the genesis of Trove Tuesday thanks to Amy Houston of Branches, Leaves and Pollen.  I have prepared a post for every Trove Tuesday, a total of 33.  With so many quirky, cute and downright outrageous (thinking George Gladstone April 2  ) articles tagged at Trove, the weekly post has been reasonably easy to come up with.  Particularly so  in those weeks when I was totally lacking in inspiration.

Was it my biggest thrill for the year, having Western District Families named as one of Inside History Magazine’s Top 50 Genealogy Blogs?  This was a wonderful endorsement of the work I have put in and has inspired me to keep writing.  Thank you once again Jill Ball and Inside History Magazine.

Or maybe it was the simple fact that the history of the Western District of Victoria is full of interesting people, places and events.

I would have to say it was all the above.

TOP OF THE POPS – The Top 5 Most Viewed Posts:

Fastest Ship in the World – Holding the number place  two years running,  this post is about the clipper ship Marco Polo, often mistaken for Marco Polo the explorer.

Old Portland Cemetery – Part 1 – The interesting thing about this post is that it had over 250 more views than Old Portland Cemetery – Part 2, the forgotten chapter.

Alfred Winslow Harman – Stepping Out of the Shadows – The youngest son of Joseph and Sarah Harman not only stepped out of the shadows after his post, he stood in the spotlight.

Left Behind – Joseph and Sarah Harman left children in Cambridgshire, both living and dead, when they came to Australia.  Research for this post lead to one of my favourites for the year, Everybody Happy.

Passing of the Pioneers - It was pleasing to see one of the Passing of the Pioneers posts in the Top 5.  April 2012 Passing of the Pioneers contained obituaries of some prominent gentleman of the Western District.  There was James Dawson, the Protector of Aborigines in Victoria, pastoralist James Thomson of Monivae, near Hamilton and James Kirby of Mt Koroite station, near Casterton.  His obituary inspired me to write another of my favourite posts, A Western District Melbourne Cup.

MY FAVS:

Each of my favourite posts required more research than the rest, particularly at Trove.  There is something relaxing about Troving and a regular need to relax led to posts such as:

Everybody Happy – My 2nd cousin 3 x removed Rupert Hazell was a vaudeville and broadcasting star.  This was such an enjoyable post to write and I loved hearing from relatives of his wife Elsie Day and their memories of the couple.

On the ALG Trail - A tour of  landmarks in the South East of South Australia and Western Victoria frequented by Adam Lindsay Gordon.

Alice Hawthorne – The Western Mare- The small grey mare that won races for the Chirnsides in the 1870s and raced in a match race that would lead to the first running of the Melbourne Cup, had previously been a work horse at Mt. William station when my ggg grandfather James Mortimer worked there.

A Western District Melbourne Cup – The story of 1911 Melbourne Cup winner, The Parisian was a chance to indulge in my interest in the history of Victorian horse racing.

My regular need to Trove also resulted in seasonal fashion posts, Spring, Summer and Autumn.  Hasn’t it been fun to see what our female ancestors wore through the decades?  I look forward to the Winter post in June.

Passing of the Pioneers has grown and I have now shared over 300 Western District pioneer obituaries.  I just love the stories I find, especially of the ordinary people and those that time has forgotten.

A goal I set for myself when I started Western District Families was to post twice a week.  I have achieved that in the past year but in doing so I have often broken one of the rules I set for myself, to respond to comments promptly.  Sorry if you have posted a comment and I haven’t got back yet.   I have set today aside as “comment” day and I am going to get back to each of you.  Thank you so much for your comments, I do appreciate them.   Special thanks to Anne.  Your regular comments are encouraging, informative and fun.

Thank you to the 65 followers of Western District Families.  This time last year I couldn’t  have imagined  that the blog’s followers would more than double from 29.

The question I now ask myself is can I keep up the pace?  Despite being about to embark on a Diploma of Family Historical Studies, I can see some light at the end of the tunnel time wise.  So while I  continue to find stories about our Western District Families, I will give it my best shot.


Australia Day Blog Challenge – The Drover’s Wife

Helen V. Smith’s brief  for the 2013 Australia Day Blog Challenge – Tell the story of your first Australian ancestor.

Easy –  Ellen Barry arrived in 1840 on the Orient.  But you have heard enough about Ellen and her husband Thomas Gamble, another early arrival (and possible convict).   Most of my other ancestors were 1850s Assisted Immigrants.  Maybe I could go with a hunch.

My ggg grandparents James Bishop and Sarah Hughes have been difficult to research.  I eventually discovered they married in Adelaide in 1852.  A few years ago, on the passenger list of the Lysander an 1840 arrival to Adelaide, I found Robert Hughes, his wife and four daughters.

Shipping Report. (1840, September 8). Southern Australian (Adelaide, SA : 1838 - 1844), p. 3. Retrieved January 26, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71619943

Shipping Report. (1840, September 8). Southern Australian (Adelaide, SA : 1838 – 1844), p. 3. Retrieved January 26, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71619943

As Sarah’s father was Robert,  I’ve kept the Lysander filed away in my mind (yes, there are probably better places), occasionally having a search around the records hoping for something new.

For this post, I decided to try to find, the arrival date of  either Sarah or James, but I had to choose.  Firstly, I would need to cough up, pay $20 for a digital image of a Death Certificate simply because I was short of clues. This was still cheaper and faster than ordering a hard copy of their South Australian Marriage Certificate.

I’ve posted about James before and I know something of him but nothing of Sarah except she gave birth to 11 children, but I did want to know more.  Also, as Sarah passed away before her husband, the informant would most likely have been James and, if he was still of sane mind, information would be more accurate than that on his own certificate.   He  died 10 years later in 1895 and his informant may not have known the detail I was after.

Based on that reasoning , Sarah it would be.  So I begrudgingly  happily paid $20 and waited, with fingers crossed for the digital image to appear. More often than not when I order a certificate, I end up disappointed.  I was, on this occasion, pleasantly surprised.  The column I was most interested in was “How long in the Australian colony”.  It read, “14 years in South Australia”, in Victoria…almost illegible but it looks like 34 years.  What do you think?

sh

 

It does not prove that Sarah came on the Lysander but it does qualify her as an early arrival, so let the story begin.

I have told much of the Bishop family story in the post Jim’s Gone A-droving but what of Sarah’s story?  I know so little about her but with help from Henry Lawson’s “The Drover’s Wife” one can  wonder and imagine what  life was like for her.  While I don’t believe that she felt the isolation experienced by Lawson’s “wife” she must have felt the same loneliness.

Sarah Hughes was born in Brighton, East Sussex, England in 1834 to Robert Hughes and Mary Godfer.  Robert was a sailor according to Sarah’s Death Certificate.  As a child, Sarah arrived in Adelaide.  By 1852, aged 18, she had met and married James Bishop from Dorset, nine years her senior.  They lived at Thebarton an  Adelaide suburb.  Eight days short of their nine month anniversary, Sarah and Jim welcomed a daughter, Mary Elizabeth, named after her two grandmothers.

For most of his working life, Jim was a drover.  The following article describes a James  Bishop, working as a shepherd near Gawler, South Australia in 1853.

jb

This could well be my Jim, off working early in the marriage.  I have often wondered why only one child was born during the  Adelaide days from 1852-1855/6, considering the speed of conception of the first child and frequency of the later children. Maybe Jim was away working?   Could the gaps between the eleven children be a  measure of Jim’s absences?

Baby Mary passed away in 1855 and this may have been a catalyst for a move.

Family Notices. (1855, March 26). South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 - 1900), p. 2. Retrieved January 24, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article49308047

Family Notices. (1855, March 26). South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 – 1900), p. 2. Retrieved January 24, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article49308047

Or was it gold?  Jim and Sarah next turned up in Ararat where a new lead was found in early 1856.

ARARAT. (1856, June 27). Bendigo Advertiser (Vic. : 1855 - 1918), p. 2. Retrieved January 25, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88050962

ARARAT. (1856, June 27). Bendigo Advertiser (Vic. : 1855 – 1918), p. 2. Retrieved January 25, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88050962

Would life as a miner’s wife be any different to a shepherd’s wife?  The goldfields were harsh for women, in the minority and left alone while their husband’s sought to change their fortunes.  There was the cold (and Ararat  can get very cold), the mud, the heat and dust.   Home was either a tent or  hut.  Settled in Ararat,  Sarah gave birth to three children in four years, including my gg grandmother Elizabeth, and at best, if lucky, a midwife assisted or another miner’s wife.  Disease lurked on the goldfields, a constant worry for a mother with young children.

Seemingly luckless, the Bishops moved to Mount Gambier.  Jim would have turned to droving by this time.   While they were in Mount Gambier,  Harriet was born in 1860 and Ellen in 1862.

dw

By 1865, the family had  moved to the Macarthur/Byaduk area and in the same year, after a break of three years, Sarah gave birth to a daughter.  She called her Mary after the child she lost 10 years before.

dw2During Jim’s absences, he often took cattle to the Adelaide markets, Sarah would have faced the harshness of the land on her own.  By 1870, she had eight children from a newborn to 14.  That year,  Jim selected 16 acres at Warrabkook, out of Macarthur.  At least the older boys could have helped her with daily farm tasks and Elizabeth, 13 and Harriett, 10, with the babies.

dw3dw4

dw5

dw6

dw7

dw8

Sarah’s relationship with James is something I wonder about.  Nine years younger than him and only a girl when they married.  Drovers were stereotypically hard-drinking men adapted to long periods alone.  Margaret Kiddle in her book, Men of Yesterday, A Social History of the Western District of Victoria  described drovers as “…hardbitten, sunburnt and blasphemous.”(page 411) How did Jim adjust back at home?  The peace of life on the road with a mob of cattle would be very different to a home full of children.  Did Sarah do as Lawsons’ drover’s wife and not make a fuss?

dw9 In 1878, one of Sarah’s boys committed an act that would break any mother’s heart.  Second son  George and two other young men were charged with the rape of Mary Ann McDonald, an incident that rocked the district.  That charge was later dropped, however George was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment on a charge of indecent assault.

TELEGRAPHIC DESPATCHES. (1878, May 11). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956), p. 7. Retrieved January 25, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article5932114

TELEGRAPHIC DESPATCHES. (1878, May 11). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 7. Retrieved January 25, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article5932114

As Lawson’s “Drover’s Wife” killed a snake that terrorised the family in their home, her eldest son, with some sense of her emptiness, declared “Mother, I won’t go drovin’, blast me if I do”.

dw11For Sarah this was not the case.  Eldest son Charles worked as a drover.

PASTORAL INTELLIGENCE. (1890, January 15). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956), p. 6. Retrieved January 25, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article8583931

PASTORAL INTELLIGENCE. (1890, January 15). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 6. Retrieved January 25, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article8583931

Third son Robert worked as a drover.

rb

The droving blood ran deep.  The 1913 Electoral Roll lists Sarah’s grandson Hubert Nathaniel Gurney Bishop, with the unmistakable name and son of Charles, as living in Longreach, Queensland.  I  believe this his him.

PASTORAL NOTES. (1913, December 15). Townsville Daily Bulletin (Qld. : 1885 - 1954), p. 5. Retrieved January 25, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article60386074

PASTORAL NOTES. (1913, December 15). Townsville Daily Bulletin (Qld. : 1885 – 1954), p. 5. Retrieved January 25, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article60386074

Sarah died on May 15, 1885 at Byaduk from pulmonary tuberculosis.  Buried at only 51 at  the Macarthur cemetery.  The Wesleyan minister presided.  On Sarah’s death certificate her profession was not home duties, or wife or even mother.  It was a role that was all of those and more…drover’s wife.

 

sb

After I wrote this post I watched Australian country singer Luke O’Shea ‘s take on The Drover’s Wife.  Pass the tissues please.

SOURCES:

Excerpts of Henry Lawson’s short story “The Drover’s Wife” from Queensland Country Life – EPICS OF THE BUSH. (1936, June 11). Queensland Country Life (Qld. : 1900 – 1954), p. 7. Retrieved January 26, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article97158517 and Henry Lawson’s Stories of the Bush. (1936, June 18). Queensland Country Life (Qld. : 1900 – 1954), p. 7. Retrieved January 26, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article97158597

A full version of “The Drover’s Wife” is available at this link – http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/l/lawson/henry/while_the_billy_boils/book2.1.html

Bound For South Australia

 

 

 


Last Word

Blog of the Year Award 3 star jpeg

There has been some negative spin about Blogging awards over the past few days, however I felt that it would be remiss of me if I did not acknowledge my third nomination for the Blog of the Year 2012.

Aillin for Australian Genealogy journeys nominated Western District Families.  Aillin wrote:

“Many of Merron’s quality posts are obviously the result of many hours research on her own and other families of the Western District of Victoria, Australia”

Thank you so much Aillin.  To be nominated by you along with some highly respected blogs was a thrill.

Regardless of what others may think are the negatives of blogging awards, I appreciate every nomination I received and greatly admire the blogs I in turn nominated.  It is great to be recognised by one’s peers and, hey, it means I’m doing something right.

That’s enough about awards from for now,  I’ve got a Trove Tuesday post to write.


Wow! Another Nomination

Blog of the Year Award 2 star jpeg

Maybe it was excitement from Pauline s Blog of the Year 2012 nomination or maybe it was the incessant cries of MUUUM! that distracted me, but I somehow managed to overlook a Blog of the Year 2012  nomination from Catherine Crout-Habel from the blog Seeking Susan – Meeting Marie-Finding Family.  Last night when she drew my attention to my nomination, once again excitement set in.  Two nominations for Blog of the Year 2012.  Who would have thought?

Catherine wrote in my comments – “I want to thank you for the information you provide and the pleasure I get from your thorough research. Your Trove searches are brilliant. It therefore gives me great pleasure to nominate you for the “Blog of the Year 2012 Award”…”

Why thank you Catherine, I feel humbled by your kind words.  But of course I couldn’t have done it alone.  Trove, the resource, many of us know and love, plays a large part in my research and it is the information there , that is so easily accessible and searchable, that makes blogging so much easier and fun.

When I considered who would be my next nominees, I thought I would go for two Trovites.  My nominations are:

Branches, Leaves and Pollen   – Amy Houston – Since the end of August, Amy has sent many of us scrambling to Trove each week to find a special treasure for our Trove Tuesday  posts.  Thanks to Amy and her Trove Tuesday idea, I have been able to regularly share some of my Trove treasures.  Also Amy has a knack of finding some great treasures and her blog is testament to that.  Thank you and well done Amy.

Small History – Chloe Okoli – Thanks to Amy, I found Chloe and her blog Small History.  Chloe has also been a regular contributor to Trove Tuesday and her well researched posts and her ability to write about history in a refreshing way, make it a pleasure to read.  And she has big things planned for Small History in 2013.  Well done Chloe.

Apologies to Catherine again for missing your comment and thank you for your nomination of Western District Families.

THE RULES

1 Select the blog(s) you think deserve the ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award

2 Write a blog post and tell us about the blog(s) you have chosen – there’s no minimum or maximum number of blogs required – and ‘present’ them with their award.

3 Please include a link back to this page ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award – http://thethoughtpalette.co.uk/our-awards/blog-of-the-year-2012-award/   and include these ‘rules’ in your post (please don’t alter the rules or the badges!)

4 Let the blog(s) you have chosen know that you have given them this award and share the ‘rules’ with them

5 You can now also join our Facebook group – click ‘like’ on this page ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award Facebook group and then you can share your blog with an even wider audience

6 As a winner of the award – please add a link back to the blog that presented you with the award – and then proudly display the award on your blog and sidebar … and start collecting stars…


Blog of the Year Award 2012

Blog of the Year Award 1 star jpeg

What a thrill it was to learn of my nomination for Blog of the Year 2012, particularly as the nomination came from a blogger I greatly admire, Pauline Cass.  Pauline has been a great supporter of Western District Families, often leaving positive and encouraging comments.  In fact, she is second only to my other wonderful commenter Ann in the number of comments she has posted.  Pauline is also something of a mentor as she is one of the geneabloggers that shows me how its done.

On her blog, Pauline wrote my nomination was for…commitment to documenting the pioneers from the western districts of Victoria, Australia, not just her own families” and  I am grateful for that recognition.  When I dreamt up this blog it was to be entitled “My Western District Families”, hence the URL, however I thought that was too narrow, considering the many other interesting Western District families with fascinating stories to tell.   It has been great to hear from readers, not related to me, who have found a reference to their ancestor on my blog.

Since the latter half of 2012 I have been extremely time poor and I have unfortunately had to curtail my blog reading, but there are several blogs I read when I do get a moment.   I have narrowed those down to three blogs that I would like to nominate for Blog of the Year 2012:

FAMILY HISTORY 4 YOU – Sharn White – Sharn’s blog is quality.  She is an excellent researcher and her posts are informative and thought-provoking.

GENIAUS – Jill Ball – Like Pauline, Jill has been a great mentor to myself and other Australian geneabloggers.  She travelled a lot in 2012 and there were times I missed her daily presence in my life via her blog and social media, but she is back for now and for that I am glad.  Whether it be a review,  a family story or a geneameme, Jill inspires so many of us.

GOULD GENEALOGY & HISTORY NEWS – Gould Genealogy –  When time is short, the Gould Genealogy blog, which I have on a RSS feed, keeps me updated with the latest in the genealogy world.  In 2012 there was also the Family History Through the Alphabet challenge  which kept me and many others inspired, writing or reading some of the great contributions.

THE RULES

1 Select the blog(s) you think deserve the ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award

2 Write a blog post and tell us about the blog(s) you have chosen – there’s no minimum or maximum number of blogs required – and ‘present’ them with their award.

3 Please include a link back to this page ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award – http://thethoughtpalette.co.uk/our-awards/blog-of-the-year-2012-award/   and include these ‘rules’ in your post (please don’t alter the rules or the badges!)

4 Let the blog(s) you have chosen know that you have given them this award and share the ‘rules’ with them

5 You can now also join our Facebook group – click ‘like’ on this page ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award Facebook group and then you can share your blog with an even wider audience

6 As a winner of the award – please add a link back to the blog that presented you with the award – and then proudly display the award on your blog and sidebar … and start collecting stars…


Thinking of the Far S.W.

Today I planned to write a post about our trip to Nelson in the far south-west of Victoria, that we have just returned from.   We drove down last Wednesday, through towns such as Digby, Dartmoor and Drik Drik, tiny communities which feature in my blog particularity the Passing of the Pioneers posts.  As we turned into the Winnap/Nelson Road and entered the Lower Glenelg National Park, the beauty of the area was obvious.  I was particularly taken by the number of wild flowers on the side of the roads, pink, white and yellow .

THE GLENELG RIVER

THE GLENELG RIVER

I also made a note of the Drik Drik cemetery which I hoped to visit on our way home.  Ian Marr on his Cemeteries of  S.W. Victoria site describes the cemetery -

The most notable feature is the rather impressive entrance. On each side of the gates are honour rolls for both World Wars. The graves are mostly centred in one area, with a small grouping in the far right, front corner. 

Drik Drik cemetery is the resting place of many of the pioneers I have written about.  They include  William Mullen and his wife Emma Holmes, Robert Arthur Lightbody, Mary Hedditch and her husband James Malseed and the McLeans.  Descendants of these families still live in the area.

The temperature quickly reached 43 degrees Celsius Friday leading to an itinerary shuffle.  Friday afternoon, while at Nelson we received a CFA text message warning us that fire was 18 kilometres east of Nelson at Kentbruk.

On Saturday, the fire was still out of control and as we hadn’t made our planned trip to Mt. Gambier, rather than head back toward the fire we would go home via nearby Mt Gambier.

Today, four days after it started, as I sit here at home, smoke from the fire is beginning to become visible to the south.  The fire is still out of control and threatening the community of Drik Drik and the town of Dartmoor.  You may remember Dartmoor and the fantastic Avenue of Honour I posted on back in April.  Again we were going to stop on the way home and take some photos.  Also the road that led us into the area, the Winnap/Nelson road is now closed

Instead of posting about our holiday, I would like to wish everyone living in the area well and hope that soon life can return to normal.  While they are no strangers to bushfire that never makes it easier to deal with.   But they are from hardy stock down that way, it’s in the blood.  My thoughts  are also with the wonderful firefighters working hard in difficult terrain.

In these times, I also think of the wildlife which is abundant and diverse through the Lower Glenelg National Park and the adjacent Cobboboonee National Park.  May serenity soon return to their lives and they can graze again among the wildflowers, pink, white and yellow.

Postscript:  Since I started this post, a fire is now burning out of control at Chepstowe and Carngham around 20 kilometres from home.  There are reports of homes lost including an unconfirmed report that the historic Carngham Station homestead has been destroyed.  I will keep you posted.

Further Update on Carngham Station: Tonight it was confirmed that the homestead at Carngham Station was lost in today’s fire.  A photo released on Twitter tonight reveals the devastation.  .


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