Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Welcome home for Tom Williams of Cranbourne

I  received an email from Marilyn Williams who has kindly provided these photographs of the welcome home  for Tom Williams. Tom was born in 1897 and registered with the surname Bregazzi. His uncle,Tom Bregazzi, had  a farm in Cranbourne. The  photographs were taken in Duff Street Cranbourne, possibly at the farm.  There is a Bregazzi Reserve situated on the area where the farm was once located. It was divided into an estate in  late 1970s, after Tom Bregazzi died, aged  97.

Tom, whose Service Number was 657, enlisted on August 12 1915 at the age of 18. He was three years into an apprenticeship as a wood worker (cabinet maker). His next of kin was his mother, Mrs Madeline Deer, whose address was Cranbourne Post Office. His mother and step father, Henry Deer, signed the consent form. His employer, Mr Griffiths, also signed a form releasing Tom from his employ so he could serve in the 'Imperial Force'. Tom Returned to Australia July 22, 1919.
Tom Williams is standing to the right of the photograph

Some of the young ones standing are Tom & Florence Bregazzi's children :-Tom, Glad, Win, Ron...Keith and Chas yet to be born. 

Tom is seated in the car, just above the lady sitting on the running board of the car.

Marilyn also tells us that  after the War, Tom Williams emigrated to New Zealand, and was the father of Yvette Williams who was the first Olympic Gold Medalist for New Zealand in 1952, when she won the long jump at the Helsinki Games. Yvette had won the gold medal in the same event at the 1950 Empire Games, held in Auckland.  She was named Otago's Sportswoman of the Century in 2000. 

In addition, Tom Williams' son (and therefore Yvette's brother) Roy competed in many sports in New Zealand  and was a Commonwealth decathlon champion. In 2014 Roy wrote a book titled Sports Crazy, describing his career in Sport and later as a Sports Journalist. Included in the book, is a photo of Madeline Bregazzi, the mother of Tom Williams (therefore grandmother of Yvette & Roy) and sister to Tom Bregazzi. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

A message from the Sea

I came across this article in the Lang Lang Guardian of April 19 1916 about the chance discovery of a bottle containing a note, which was tossed overboard by  a couple of soldiers. It has a local connection, in that the bottle was discovered by  Mr Ward of Koo-Wee- Rup but it doesn't concern a local soldier. It does, however,  make you wonder whether any of our local  boys tossed a bottle overboard when they were leaving Melbourne to fight overseas and if so, whether anyone found it.

One of the writers was John Walter Feehan (Service Number 1592) who enlisted in July 28 1915 at the age of 18.  His occupation was Station Manager.  He was part of the Australian Army Service Corps Mechanical Transport and Returned to Australia on August 8 1918. I don't know  who his friend, J M'Pherson was, even having done  a search on the 15th Battalion, 1st to 23rd  reinforcements - there are seven McPhersons, none of whom have a first name beginning with J. The other mystery is, who is Mrs Brown of 170 Albert Street, Newton Sydney?

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Beaconsfield Avenue of Honour: Servicemen remembered

The Beaconsfield Progress Association have published a book, Beaconsfield Avenue of Honour: Servicemen remembered commemorating the 65 men who were honoured with trees in the Beaconsfield/Berwick Avenue of Honour which runs along High Street/Princes Highway, from the top of the hill down to the Cardinia Creek. 

Funds for the Avenue were donated by Miss Ada Armytage of Holm Park in Beaconsfield. Ada was one of the Armytage family who owned Como House. You can read about Miss Armytage here The trees were planted in 1929 and there were also metal plaques that were made at the time, but never displayed. They went missing for a while and they were located by the late Tony Rushton at the  City of Casey depot, which is where the Avenue is, however Beaconsfield, where most of the soldiers came from is part of the Cardinia Shire. New plaques listing the soldiers names were made and installed in Beaconsfield Park March 13, 2015 - there are three plaques listing the 65 names. How proud Tony Rushton would have been to see this finished project as he did a lot of work on researching and commemorating the Beaconsfield soldiers and was responsible for initiating this project, but he was sadly killed in a car accident at Easter time in 2007.

One of the new plaques installed in Beaconsfield Park in 2015
Photograph courtesy of  Casey Cardinia Remembers website.

The book lists the names, service number and a short biography of each soldier. The research on the soldiers was undertaken by Penny Harris Jennings. It's a a great publication honouring the men who served in the Great War from the Beaconsfield area. Click here to access Library copies of the book.

These are some of the original plaques, taken by Tony Rushton at the City of Casey Depot.