Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Sister Muriel Instone - Army Nurse

Sister Muriel Instone enlisted on May 5, 1915 as an Army Nurse and embarked on the Mooltan on May 18, 1915. She served in hospitals in England and France throughout the War and returned to Australia on the Konigen Luise in January 1920. Table Talk, a weekly Melbourne newspaper at the time, had a full page feature on Nurses who have recently left for the Front in their May 27 1915 issue, so we are lucky to have  a photograph of Muriel.

Table Talk May 27, 1915

Muriel's Embarkation record, from the Australian War Memorial,  is reproduced below. As you can see, her address at the date of her enrolment was Pakenham.  

 Australian War Memorial (click on image to enlarge it) 

To find out where she lived in Pakenham I went to the Electoral Rolls, available through the Ancestry Family History database. In 1914 Sister Instone was living at IYU, a large property at Pakenham. 

This is the entry for Muriel Instone from the 1914 Federal Electoral roll.
Source: Ancestry Family History database

The IYU run  in Pakenham was taken up in 1839 by Dr W. K. Jamieson. It was originally nearly 13,000 acres (about 5, 200 hectares).  In 1849, William Waddell took over the pastoral lease and after his death his widow, Annie purchased the pre-emptive right section plus other land. Mrs Waddell built a large brick house, pictured below,  on the property in 1858 and this would have been where Muriel was living when she was on the property. The property at that time was around 4,800 acres and some subsequent owners were George Watson, Steven and Samuel Staughton and  John Kitchin, who operated what is thought to be Australia's largest dairy farm on the property.

This is the IYU  Homestead. It was built in 1859 and destroyed by fire around 1929.
Photograph from: In the wake of the pack tracks, published by the Berwick Pakenham Historical Society.

According to the Shire of Berwick rate books, Robert and Constance Staughton took over IYU in 1913, which by then  was a mere 2,000 acres. I believe Robert was the son of former owner, Stephen Staughton. The Electoral Rolls indicate that  Muriel was in Melbourne until about 1914, so I am surmising that she took a job with the Staughtons - they had  four children between three and ten to look after and in March 1915 the entire family came down with ptomaine poisoning or food poisoning and needed medical assistance, so they were fortunate they had  an experienced nurse on hand. 

Dandenong Advertiser March 4, 1915

Muriel Instone was born in Riverton, New Zealand in 1878 to Matthew and Emily (nee Brodrick) Instone, so she was 36 when she enlisted in 1915. Muriel was in Victoria in 1903 as she is listed in the Electoral rolls at the Homeopathic Hospital in South Melbourne. The Homeopathic Hospital was renamed Prince Henry's Hospital in 1934. Muriel's service record at the National Archives www.naa.gov.au  also indicates that she had experience at the Women's Hospital, that she had her midwifery certificate,  as well as experience in private hospitals and private nursing.  In 1909, Muriel and Daphne Instone were listed as living at 16 William Street, South Yarra. I am not sure of the relationship between Muriel and Daphne, but she was also a nurse. As I said before Muriel returned to Melbourne in 1920 but I cannot find any trace of her after that until her death on October 11, 1932 aged 54.

I was interested to find that when Muriel was still in England and still with the Australian Army Nursing Service that she undertook a three month motor driving and workshop course at Mansions Motor Training Garage in London and she made good progress and passed satisfactorily.  Many of our Army nurses were single women who had to support themselves and make their own way in the world and this training just supports this idea, so that when Muriel returned to Melbourne she could drive her own car and have a basic knowledge of the mechanics of it.

From Muriel's service record at the National Archives of Australia www.naa.gov.au

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Langwarrin Military Reserve

Before Federation each Colony was responsible for its own defence. The Victorian Volunteer Act 1854 allowed for the establishment of volunteer units. From 1860 many towns had their own Volunteer unit , including Dandenong which was the head quarters of the local volunteers.   From 1884, the Volunteer Forces were replaced by the Victorian Militia Force. The Militia forces were part-time like the Volunteers but they were paid.and they were obligated to attend a certain amount of training each year in the form of annual camps.

The Volunteers and the Militia  trained at various locations in Victoria, such as Werribee and Queenscliffe, but it became apparent that a permanent training ground needed to be established by the Victorian Government and,  in 1886, land at Langwarrin was set aside for this purpose. The land had gentle slopes, natural water supplies and  a variety of vegetation. The reserve eventually consisted of 549 acres or 222 hectares.

Encampment Langwarrin 1887
State Library of Victoria Image H90.90/77

The first Langwarrin camp was held at Easter  in  1887.  The first buildings at the Reserve were stores for the Commissariat Corp; other buildings included caretakers quarters and  stables. Roads, Parade Grounds, and a  rifle range were other structures erected.  Numbers at some camps were large - in the 1890s some camps had over 3, 500 men, plus hundreds of horses. Langwarrin was used to train contingents of Victorians who went to the Boer war (1899-1902).

This is part of an article about the first camp held at Langwarrin
Australasian April 9 1887  

Originally, access to the Reserve was by trains which stopped at Frankston - after that troops, all supplies , horses etc had to be carted or travel down bush tracks to get to the Reserve.  An extension of the Frankston line was established and this reached the Reserve, with the station being called Langwarrin,  in October 1888.

Langwarrin Camp Ground 1897

There was, for  a short time, a School on the Reserve. It was the Langwarrin Railway Station School. No. 3023. This had opened in 1890 in the Presbyterian Hall and then moved to  a purpose built school in 1895 on  the south-west corner of the Reserve, near the corner of McClelland Drive and Robinsons Road. This School burnt down, around 1905 and children then attended the Mornington Junction  School which was built on the corner of McClelland and Golf Links Road , near the railway line. In 1919, the name changed to Baxter and it moved to its present location on the six cross roads in 1954. To be more precise, some children attended the Mornington Junction School, other children did not go to school, as this article from the Mornington  Standard tells us. The parents said that they are more than three miles from the school and thus not required to send their children to school,  unless they take  a short-cut through the Military Reserve, which is a bit dangerous on the days when rifle practice is carried out!

Mornington Standard December 16, 1905

The Reserve was handed over to the Commonwealth Government in March 1901 and various training camps were held  intermittently  and in declining frequency until World War One. The Reserve was not used to train men in World War One but it was used to house prisoners of war or internees i.e. German, Austrian and Turkish nationals that were in Australia after war was declared, and the crew of any German ships.  The Internment camp was first occupied at the end of 1914  Huts were built, a gaol was built for those that were deemed to need it. Most of these internees were removed to Liverpool in New South Wales in August 1915.

Victorian Infantrymen in camp at Langwarrin

Langwarrin was then used to as a hospital for men infected with venereal diseases, as this was a problem amongst soldiers. At one stage, over 800 men were housed at the Langwarrin Reserve. The Hospital complex had an operating theatre, a dispensary, kitchen, engine house, dental surgery amongst other buildings.  The Langwarrin Camp was closed in February 1921. It was used occasionally for grazing, some training exercises during World War Two, the Frankston small bore rifle club had the lease of some of the land from 1960;  various sub-division proposals came and went and were never acted upon. In 1980 the Victorian Ministry for Conservation took over about 207 hectares of the land, in 1982 the remaining land was purchased and on December 11, 1985 the land became the Langwarrin Flora and Fauna Reserve.

The location of the Langwarrin Military Reserve can be seen on 1938 map, prepared by the grandly named Australian Section Imperial General Staff.

Most of the information in this post comes from the book Australian Aldershot: Langwarrin Miltary Reserve Victoria 1886-1980 by Winty Calder (Jimaringle Publications, 1987)  The Library no longer has a lending copy of this book, we only have  a  reference copy in the Local History collection, which can be accessed by appointment

Hastings Western Port Historical Society has  copies for sale, if you wish to acquire your own copy of this interesting book.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The patriotic Mr Rowe, baker, of Narre Warren

This is an interesting article from the Berwick Shire News of November 10, 1915 and illustrates  the fact that the whole community had to make sacrifices during the Great War. As the article says Mr D.H. Rowe, a baker, of Narre Warren,  has been considerably inconvenienced by the quick changes in his staff but he has shown his patriotism in recognising that the needs of the Empire should have consideration before his personal requirements. Donald Hartley Rowe is listed in the Shire of Berwick Rate books from 1912 to 1922. His shop was owned by Sidney Webb

Berwick Shire News November 10, 1915

Here is the list of Mr Rowe's eight employees who enlisted and their Service Number (SN), if I could find it. As you can see I have only (fairly confidently) identified five of the eight (based on address or the occupation of baker)

Chitts, Vic. (SN possibly 1715) You would think with such a distinctive name that Mr Chitts would be easy to identify, but not so. There was a Clarence, a Hector and a Russell Chitts who enlisted - Russell was a painter from New South Wales; Clarence was a Dairyman from Sandringham and I have found him and his wife Alice in the Electoral Roll both before and after the War and there is no local connection. That leaves Hector Rudolph Chitts as the most likely, so maybe he was known as Vic. Hector  was nearly 20 when he enlisted on March 7, 1916, his next of kin was listed as his sister, Mrs Downs of East Malvern. His occupation was a farm hand. He Returned to Australia on February 2, 1919.

Currie, Reg (SN 1840)  Reg was the son of Donald Currie of Reserve Street in Berwick and he enlisted on November 6, 1915. His occupation was Horse Driver. He Returned to Australia April 13, 1919.

Forrester, George (SN 4810)  George was born in Shepparton and he was from Taradale. His occupation was baker. George enlisted on November 6, 1915, the same day as Reg Currie. He Returned to Australia July 24, 1919.

Johnstone, Harold

Lewis, Fred.  There is a an F. Lewis in a list of Berwick Football Club players who joined up. Are they the same man?

Lyons, Jack (Charles Jack)  (SN 1394) Jack enlisted on September 14, 1914. He was born in South Melbourne and enlisted in Tasmania, but his occupation was baker, so this is why I assume that he was Mr Rowe's employee. He Returned to Australia on May 12, 1918.

McGuire, Harry

Rooney, Alfred George (SN 481) Alf was born at Ballarat and enlisted at Ballarat on October 15, 1914.  I came across an article about Alf in the Berwick Shire News of March 28, 1917 and he was awarded the Military Medal for having carried ammunition and water under heavy fire in the desert fighting of August 9, 1916.  The article goes onto to mention that he was employed by Mr Rowe when he enlisted. He Returned to Australia on January 2, 1919.

Berwick Shire News of March 28, 1917