Monday, February 15, 2021

Hallam War Workers' Association

In November 1939, the Hallam community formed the Hallam War Workers' Association. The object of the organization was to raise money for the Red Cross and other patriotic causes. One of their early functions, held on Saturday, November 11 1939 was a successful and profitable euchre party and dance (1). 

Formation of the Hallam War Workers Association
Dandenong Journal November 8, 1939

By the end of their first year of operation they had raised £76/14/3 - Dances, euchres, and concerts have been held, and members also make regular monthly contributions. Not only did they raise money but since July 22nd [1940], the following goods have been made by the industrious workers: 110 prs sox, 4 prs spiral sox, 4 pullovers, 5 scarves, 15 caps, 17 prs mittens, 16 helmets, 4 prs bed sox and 2 hot-water bottle covers (2).  

Advertisement for the Hallam War Workers' Grand Ball
Dandenong Journal November 22, 1944

A report of a Hallam War Workers' Association Fancy Ball, which attracted over 200 people, who were entertained by Miss Cheeseman's Rythym Rascals.
Dandenong Journal January 24, 1945

The Group also undertook other fundraising including the quintessential country activity of catering at clearing sales.

Clearing sale for Mr Murphy of Gunns's Road, Hallam who is retiring from the dairying. 
Luncheon was provided by the Hallam War Workers' Committee.

The War Workers' also fundraised in tandem with other groups such as the Hallam Yonger Set - a small group of, I would presume, people in their twenties; as well as the Mothers' Club and the Hallam Hall Committee (3). The money the Association raised went to a number of local and International causes such as the Red Cross, the British Empire Bombing Victims fund, the Blinded Soldiers Appeal and the  Red Cross comforts fund (4).

The Association also arranged send-offs to local boys. As the Dandenong Journal reported all local soldiers received a hand some gift on embarkation, and canteen orders and sox have also been sent overseas to them (5). They also arranged welcome-homes for their returning locals (6). 

Report of a send off to local man, Jack Poulton (7).
Dandenong Journal March 4, 1942

The Hallam War Workers' Association held their last meeting on May 20, 1946 - It was a grand climax to the activities of a small band of people, who, under the title of “The Hallam War-Workers’’ worked throughout the war years and raised hundreds of pounds for patriotic purposes and the welfare of their servicemen and women (8). The Association had raised over £600 in the six years they were together. At their last meeting a balance of approximately £l2 was voted toward the cost of an honor roll to be erected in the hall as soon as possible (9). I have no information as to whether the honor roll was ever installed and if it was, where it is now.

The small band of people who made up the Hallam War Workers' Association included Frank Kirkham, who was the President of the Association during the six years of its existance. Vice Presidents included Mr Kinrade, Mr A. Fraser, Mr Reedy and Mr G. Gatter. The role of the Secretary was filled by Mr Ehms and later Mr A. Fraser. The Treasurers were Miss Wallace and then Mrs Blackley. Mrs Kinrade and Mrs Kirkham are also mentioned in reports. 

I have checked the Electoral Rolls and other sources to find out more information about these tireless community workers.
Mrs Blackley - Elsie Mary Blackley, married to Daniel, a farmer. Their address was Kay's Road, Grassmere, an old name for the Doveton / Hallam region.

Mr O. Ehms - There is an Otto Ehms, a jeweller at 16 Dorothy Avenue, Glenhuntly in the Electoral Rolls at this time, seems unlikely to be him and I can't find a connection between him and Hallam. Mr Ehms resigned from the Association in 1943 owing to business ties (10). In 1950, there was a report of  a robbery at the Hallam Hotel where three employees were bashed, including an Otto Ehms (11) so I assume this is our Mr Ehms.

Mr A. Fraser - not sure who this is.

Mr Gatter - There is a George Francis Gatter and a James George Gatter in the Electoral Roll at Berwick Road, Hallam. They were both listed as gardeners. 

Mr & Mrs Kinrade -Alfred John and Clara Alice, of The Oaks, Hallam Road, Lysterfield. He was a market gardener.

Frank Kirkham - a man whose interest in all matters of local community welfare commands the respect of all (12). Frank was also the President of the Hallam Progress Association for 26 years (13) The Kirkham name is synonymous with the Hallam area and you can read about the Kirkham family, here.

G. Reedy - George Reedy was from another well known local family from the Hallam / Hampton Park area. You can read about the family, here. Mr Reedy died in June 1948, and you can read his obituary, here.  

Miss Wallace - Florence Emma Wallace, a school teacher at Hallam State School and the inaugural Treasurer, who resigned during 1942, as she was transferred to Hopetoun. She married Allan John 'Jack' Guthrie in 1943 (14). They are listed in the Electoral Rolls at Princes Highway, Dandenong in 1949.

We will finish this post with the tribute to the Hallam War Workers' Association from the Dandenong Journal.

The Dandenong Journal tribute to the Hallam War Workers' Association
Dandenong Journal June 5, 1946

Trove list - I have created a  list of articles on the Hallam War Workers' Association on Trove, access it here

(1) Dandenong Journal, November 15, 1939, see here.
(2) Dandenong Journal, December 18, 1940, see here.
(3) Dandenong Journal, December 2, 1942, see here.
(4) The Argus, May 30, 1941, see here; The Age, March 3, 1944, see here; Dandenong Journal, July 29, 1942, see here are some reports of their fund raising destinations.
(5) Dandenong Journal, December 18, 1940, see here.
(6) Dandenong Journal, June 5, 1946, see here.
(7) Jack Poulton - This is, I believe, John O'Loughlin Poulton, listed in the 1942 Electoral Road at Back Road, Hallam. Born in 1914 at Hopetoun. He was discharged January 25, 1946. The Dandenong Journal of March 8, 1944 published a letter that he had sent to his mother from Italy, read it here.  
(8) Dandenong Journal, June 5, 1946, see here.
(9) Dandenong Journal, June 5, 1946, see here.
(10) Dandenong Journal, August 11, 1943, see here.
(11) Weekly Times, September 13, 1950, see here.
(12) Dandenong Journal, August 5, 1942, see here.
(13) Dandenong Journal, April 13, 1949, see here.
(14) A report of Miss Wallace's impending wedding can be read in the Dandenong Journal of May 19, 1942, here

Thursday, February 4, 2021

The McDonald Brothers of Yannathan

As part of our series, Brothers who enlisted, we look at the four McDonald brothers of Yannathan, who enlisted. They were the sons of Charles Stuart McDonald and Margaret Matheson who had married in 1876 and had fourteen children (that I can trace) - Donald Alexander (1877 - 1945), Charles Stuart Black (1879 - 1957), Lachlan John (1881 - 1918), Ann Euphemia (1883 - 1960), Violet Ida Helen (1883 - ?), Norman Victor (1885 - 1968), Neil Lamont (1886 - 1917), Lionel Munro Matheson (1888 - 1963), Malcolm McLean (1890 - 1890, died aged one month), Eliza (1891 -1891, died at 2 days old), Hector Rodney (1892 - 1952), Hugh Carr (1895 - 1971) and Duncan McLean (1897 - 1963).

The births were registered at Mooroopna, but the children were born at Ardmona. The family moved to Yannathan sometime after Duncan was born but before November 1901 when Charles placed the following advertisement for the sale of a stripper and winnower in good working for order

Charles McDonald's advertisement
Euroa Advertiser November 1, 1901

Charles died in 1919, aged 69 and Margaret died in 1925 aged 73. The only other thing I could find out about Charles was that he had an unfortunate incident due to one of the many floods on the Koo Wee Rup Swamp, this one was in 1915, when three feet of water covered the road. The No. 6 drain, the location of the incident, runs besides the Bayles-Modella Road.

Mr McDonald's unfortunate incident
Lang Lang Guardian, November 17, 1915

Here are the details of the four McDonald boys, of whom two sadly died whilst serving their country. I have included their service number (SN) so you can look at their full record on the National Archives website,

McDonald, Lachlan John. Lachlan enlisted in the Royal Flying Corp and was killed in a flying accident on January 19, 1918. The Dookie and Katamatite Recorder of February 14, 1918 had the following tribute to Lachlan.

Our Heroes.
Died, in the service of his country, Lachlan J. McDonald, horticulturist, attached to the staff of the Dookie Agricultural College, and well known to residents of this and surrounding districts. The late Mr McDonald ("Mac" to all his numerous friends) spent his early days in the Mooroopna district, and received special training at the orchard and school of horticulture of Mr John West, of Ardmona. Further experience was gained at the well-known Nobelius Nurseries at Gembrook, and lands-scape gardening on station homesteads in the Western district contributed its share towards putting a finish on an education which was to be used, at a later period, in imparting a first-class knowledge of horticultural work to the numerous students who came under his care.
During the years of his connection with the College, Mr McDonald contributed a great number of articles on subjects connected with his work to various agricultural journals and papers, and was a splendid lecturer and teacher. He was an enthusiast in all matters pertaining to his particular branch, and had the faculty of being able to enthuse others. Mr McDonald joined the College staff in
1907, and left for England in October 1915, where he received a commission as Lieutenant in the Royal Flying Corps, became Instructor in Aviation, and, as the result of an accident when flying, met his death at Stockbridge, Hants, England, on the 19th January of this year.
A good public-spirited citizen, and one whose loss will be regretted by all classes in the community. We offer his relatives our heartfelt sympathy. "Vale!"
Dookie and Katamatite Recorder of February 14, 1918 (see here

McDonald, Norman Victor (SN 934) Norman enlisted on February 8, 1916, same day as his brother, Neil. He was a 31 year old labourer. Norman Returned to Australia July 4, 1919. Norman was  granted a Soldier Settlement farm at Catani, read his file on the Battle to Farm website, here. He married Florence Mary Jackson in 1925 and he lived the rest of his life in Catani and after his death, on October 18, 1968, he was cremated at Springvale Necropolis.

Norman McDonald was involved with the R.S.L.
Dandenong Journal, June 20, 1945

McDonald,  Neil Lamont (SN 2060) Neil was a 29 year old labourer when he enlisted on February 8, 1916, the same day as Norman, His father was his next of kin, but this was later changed to his wife Matilda (nee McFarlane), whom he married between his enlistment and his embarkation. Her address was listed as Modella, Longwarry.  Lance Corporal McDonald Died of Wounds on May 14, 1917 received whilst fighting in France.

Marriage notice of Neil McDonald to Matilda McFarlane, which took place on March 4, 1916.
The Age April 10, 1916

McDonald, Hector Rodney (SN 3425) Hector enlisted on January 1, 1917. He  was 25 year old farmer and his father was his next of kin. Hector Returned to Australia July 24, 1919. Hector was also granted a Soldier Settlement farm at Catani, read his file on the Battle to Farm website, here. Hector was listed  in the Electoral rolls at Catani, until his death, which took place on February 10, 1952, when he was aged 60.

Hector's death notice 1952

Sunday, January 24, 2021

War Trophy Committee

In late 1919 the War Trophies Committee was established and its role was to distribute 'war trophies' which had been captured during the War. A meeting was held on October 16, 1919 and the report of this meeting tells us how the guns would be distributed and it also has an insight in to how the Australian War Museum collection was started -   lt was agreed that all trophies captured by units of the six States should be handed over as soon as possible, and that an immediate distribution should be made of one gun to each of thc C.M.F. (1) units with, which A.I.F. (2)  units have been affiliated. This will absorb only a relatively small portion of the trophies due to the States, and it was thought fitting that the first trophies allocated should go to the A.I.F. battalions and regiments which were responsible for the capture of the trophies as a whole. A first selection will be made from the trophies for the purpose of establishing at a date to be decided upon a National Australian War Museum. This would be the Commonwealth share of the material, and it would include a complete representation of all trophies and relics, as well as a collection of war pictures by Australian artists, some of which have already been painted. Another part of the Commonwealth museum would be a magnificent set of official war photographs, numbering about 12,000, and ultimately all the war diaries and other official papers in connectionwith the various campaigns would be assembled in this Commonwealth museum (3).

A War Trophy Committee was established in each State and they determined how the guns would be distributed. I have found the following references to local distributions in the Shires of Berwick, Cranbourne, Dandenong and Fern Tree Gully. I can only find one photo of a local gun and I do not know how many were actually installed or where or what happened to any of them.

Shire of Dandenong
Correspondence to the Dandenong Shire Council May 1920 - From Victorian State Trophy committee, advising of the distribution of the following war trophies to the Shire of Dandenong: One machine gun, Dandenong; one machine gun, Carrum ; one machine gun, Aspendale. It was decided to also apply for a machine gun for Springvale (4).

Shire of Fern Tree Gully
Correspondence to the Fern Tree Gully Shire June 1920 - From Victorian Trophy committee, notifying that in allotment of war trophies, one machine gun each had been allotted to Fern Tree Gully, Bayswater, Emerald and Belgrave.—The secretary stated that three trustees would have to be nominated for each place, and the guns would have to be mounted.—Cr. Chandler moved that a
public meeting be convened at each centre to elect trustees, which must include a member of the A.I.F. in each instance.—Seconded by Cr. Butcher, and carried (5). 

Report June 1920 - Fern Tree Gully is very fortunate in the allotment of war trophies. Belgrave, Emerald and Bayswatcr are each to have a gun which was captured by the Australian troops. Three trustees are to be appointed in each place—two Councillors and a member of the A.I.F.—to take charge of the implements of destruction, which will be erected in suitable places. The Council decides that in each of the towns named public meetings be held, at which trustees are to be appointed. The Council was pleased at being so highly favored (6).

Shire of Berwick
Correspondence to the Berwick Shire Council June 1920 - From Victorian State Trophy committee, re distribution of war trophies to townships within the shire, the following towns to receive one machine gun each:—Gembrook, Bunyip, lona, Berwick, Beaconsfield, Pakenham, Narnargoon.—The President moved that councillors have meetings so as to decide what should be done with guns in respective ridings.--Cr Anderson seconded.--Cr Anderson moved that an extra gun be secured for Beaconsfield riding.-Cr Walsh thought they should have one for Cora Lynn (7).

The Council received further correspondence in December 1920 saying that only five guns were allocated - From Victorian State Trophy committee, soliciting co-operation. Also stating that five machine guns had been allotted to the shire (8).

Shire of Cranbourne
Report September 1920 - On Tuesday evening next, a public meeting will be held in the Cranbourne Shire hall, when trustees will be elected for accepting a machine gun, from the Defence authorities, as a war trophy for Cranbourne (9).

Report December 1920 - The war trophy, assigned to Cranbourne, has arrived. It is a machine gun, captured at Mount St. Quentin. The trustees have the matter of its erection in hand. There may also be a public gathering to receive it in an official manner (10).

This is a very grainy photo of the Shire of Cranbourne Offices, which shows the War Memorial (unveiled in 1939) and what appears to be a gun next to it, see photo below.

Is that the gun to the right of the Memorial? 
It actually looks more like a cannon, but it is the best I can find.

Report December 1920 - At a meeting of the Clyde branch R.S.A (11) held at North Clyde hall on Wednesday evening, December 1st....agreed that the president (Mr Marriott) be appointed trustee for R.S.A., for the machine gun, donated to Clyde (12).

Report December 1920 - A machine gun has been allotted to Clyde by the War Trophies committee. At a public meeting held on December 8, it was decided to receive same, and have it erected in the Clyde State school, Mr G. Ridgway, Mr. C. Crosskell and Mr W. Marriott being elected trustees. As Clyde is the smallest town in the State that has been honored by the presentation of a captured gun, those who agitated for its possession are to be commended for their enterprise (13).

This report of the unveilling of the German machine gun at Clyde was in the 
Koo Wee Rup Sun, April 14, 1921.

This is a transcription of the report of the unveiling of the German machine gun at Clyde on April 8, 1921.
One of the most successful functions held in Clyde took place on Friday afternoon, the 8th inst., when the German machine gun presented by the War Trophy Committee was unveiled and handed over to the Trustees. The official portion of the ceremony was performed by Mr F. Groves, M.L.A. Mr Croskell, one of the Trustees occupied the chair. Other well known men present on the platform were Crs Hill and Hardy, Messrs W. Marriott (president of the Cranbourne branch of the R.S.S.I.L.A. (14), and trustee of the gun), T. Ridgway (trustee), E. Vinge (chairman of the school committee), G. Hook, V. Peters (head teacher Clyde North school). L. Edwards (head teacher Clyde school). Apologies were received by Crs Mills and Brunt, and the Rev. Matthews. The musical portion of the ceremony was arranged by Miss I. Hunter and Mrs Peters, who deserve great praise for the select programme provided. Speeches were delivered by Mr Groves, who presented the gun, which was accepted by Mr Croskell on behalf of the trustees, Cr Hardy, Cr Hill and  Mr W. Weatherly Marriott on behalf of the soldiers. Votes of thanks to Mr Groves, Crs Hill and Hardy, and the performers, also the chairman, bought a most enjoyable afternoon to a close. The children were then issued lollies, the ladies disposing refreshements to the adults.

Trove List
I have created a short list of articles on Trove regarding the War Trophy Committee and local Casey Cardinia references, access it here.

(1) C.M.F - The history of the Australian Army has 2 distinct phases. Pre-1947 the army was divided into 'Regular Army' and Citizens Military Force (CMF). The CMF had the most members, as it was formed from the colonial militia groups post-Federation. As both groups were unable to serve overseas, a volunteer force was created for both the First and Second World Wars, called the 'Australian Imperial Force'. After 1947, a standing peacetime infantry was formed and the CMF (which was renamed in 1980 to Army Reserve) started to declined in importance. Source: Australian War Memorial
(2) A. I. F - see footnote 1. 
(3) The Argus, October 17 1919, see here.
(4) South Bourke & Mornington Journal, June 3 1920, see here.
(5) Box Hill Reporter, June 4, 1920, see here.
(6) Lilyday Express, June 4, 1920, see here.
(7) South Bourke & Mornington Journal, June 10 1920, see here.
(8) South Bourke & Mornington Journal, December 23, 1920 see here
(9) South Bourke & Mornington Journal, September 30, 1920 see here.
(10) South Bourke & Mornington Journal, December 9, 1920 see here.
(11) R. S. A - Returned Soldiers Association. It was established around September 1915 (The Argus, September 25, 1915see here) See also footnote 12.
(12) South Bourke & Mornington Journal, December 9, 1920, see here.
(13) South Bourke & Mornington Journal, December 23, 1920 see here.
(14) R.S.S.I.L.A - Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia. Established July 1916 at a conference of delegates of the various returned soldiers' associations of Australia (The Herald, July 5, 1916 see here.)

Monday, January 4, 2021

Streets in Berwick sub-division named for World War One soldiers

There is a pocket of streets in Berwick between Centre Road and Homestead Road named after local World War One soldiers. It is part of the Alira Estate developed around 2017 by the Moremac Property Group. So often developers select names for streets which have no connection to the history of the area, so it is a wonderful thing that local soldiers are being honoured in this way. The streets are Imer Crescent, Knox Street, Tulk Street, Freer Way, Shanks Drive, Ladd Place, Warmbrunn Crescent, Seeley Walk and McNaughton Crescent. 

As an example of very recent history the following two images are from my 2017 and 2019 Melway Street Directories. The subdivision was not in my 2015 Melway, so that gives you an idea of when the streets came into being being. 

From page 130 of the 2017 Melway Greater Melbourne Street Directory.

From page 130 of the 2019 Melway Greater Melbourne Street Directory.

We will have a look at the men behind the names. I have included their service numbers (SN) so you can look up their full record on the National Archives of Australia, Some of the following information also comes from The AIF Project,  and from Residents of Upper Beaconsfield, researched by Marianne Rocke,

Imer Crescent 
Louis James Imer (SN 3655). Louis enlisted at the age of 19 on February 1, 1918. He was a boot machinest, having done a three year apprenticeship with the Marshall Shoe Company of Richmond. His next of kin was his father, George Imer, of Beaconsfield Upper. A notation on his record says that his mother, Catherine (nee Wheeler) died in August 1916. Louis Returned to Australia on July 22, 1919. He married Violet Bailey in 1922 and he died in 1969. 

Knox Street
George Hodges Knox. George Knox enlisted April 2, 1915, as a Captain.  He was a 29 year old orchardist of Beaconsfield Upper and his wife, Kathleen (nee McPherson) was his  next of kin. He Returned to Australia on May 2, 1918. He had a sterling military career, was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and Mentioned in Despatches. You can read more about his life and career in his Australian Dictionary of Biography entry, here. The City of Knox is named after Sir George Knox. 

Tulk Street
Richard Stephen Tulk (SN 2175).  Richard was 19 when he enlisted on April 21, 1915. He was an engineer and his next of kin was his mother, Caroline Tulk, of the Cardinia Park Hotel in Beaconsfield.  He was wounded twice - shell wound to the left arm and later another one to the right arm. He Returned to Australia July 6, 1919.  Richard married Mabel Ridgway in 1921 and he died in 1964 in Queensland. 

Fleer Way 
There were two Fleer Brothers who enlisted - Harold Edward Fleer (SN 3112) and Cyril August Fleer (SN 6263). They were the sons of Edward and Martha (nee Povey) Fleer of Harkaway, and they were both farmers.  Harold enlisted at the age of 18 on July 12, 1915, and Returned to Australia April 13, 1919. Harold married Esther Penfold in 1926 and died in 1943 at only 46 years of age. Cyril was also 18 when he enlisted on May 5, 1916. He Returned to Australia April 5, 1918. Cyril married Margaret Barr in 1922 and died in 1966.  The Fleers were one of the German Lutheran families who settled at Harkaway from the 1840s, you can read about them here.

Death notices for Harold Fleer.

Shanks Drive
Charles George Shanks (SN 5091). Charles was a 21 year orchardist of  Beaconsfield Upper, when he enlisted on December 27, 1915. He was the son of John and Mary (nee Spivey) Shanks also of  Beaconsfield Upper. He was sadly Killed in Action in France on May 3, 1915. 

Death notice of George Shanks.
The Argus February 6, 1918

Ladd Place 
Edward Wildes Holyaok Ladd (SN 5094). Edward enlisted on November 9, 1914 at the age of 25. He was an engineer. He Died of Wounds (gun shot wound, lower extremities) on April 7, 1917, whilst serving in France. Edward was the son of Charles and Emily (nee Holyoak) Ladd of Beaconsfield Upper. 

Death notice of Edward Ladd.

Warmbrunn Crescent
Alfred Ernest Warmbrunn (SN 2014). Alfred's address was Tarlita, Beaconsfield and he was a 31 year old gardener when he enlisted on March 7, 1916. His mother,  of the same address was his next of kin. Alfred Returned to Australia February 19, 1919. Alfred was the son of Ernest and Catherine (nee Stevens) Warmbrunn. He died in 1966 aged 81. The Warmbrunns were another Harkaway Lutheran family, see here

Seeley Walk
Albert Seeley (SN 4321).  Albert was born in England and his next of kin was father, who also lived in England. He enlisted in July 15, 1915. He was a 23 year old gardener and his address was Hilton in Berwick. Albert Returned to Australia March 8, 1919. He married Fanny Elizabeth Sims in 1930 and died in 1941 aged 48. Hilton was the home of Alexander Buchanan Pearson and his wife Mary Jane (nee Wishart). His occupation in the Electoral Rolls was 'independent means,' wealthy enough to employ a live-in gardener; he was, I believe, the son of William Pearson of Kilmany Park in Gippsland.

Albert's death notice

McNaughton Crescent
Hugn McNaughton (SN 3869B). Hugh enlisted on August 2, 1915, aged 31. He was a labourer and his next of kin was his mother, Mary McNaughton, of Beaconsfield. He was wounded (gun shot wounds to the head and arm; the head wound was severe) and Returned to Australia January 30, 1918. He died the same year on May 15, whilst being operated on at the Military Hospital in Caulfield. 

Tribute to Hugh McNaughton.
Dandenong Advertiser May 30, 1918

Monday, December 21, 2020

Letter from Cairo from Bruce Forsyth, 1915

On April 15, 1915 Bruce Forsyth, of Iona, wrote a letter from Cairo to his parents. Robert Bruce Forsyth (SN 203) was a 23 year farmer when he enlisted on August 18, 1914. Captain Forsyth was twice Mentioned in Despatches and was also awarded the Military Cross. He Returned to Australia November 6, 1918. Bruce had a Soldier Settler farm near Alexandra, you can read his file on the Battle to Farm website, here. He married Amy Williams in 1920 and died in 1980, aged 88.

The Bunyip Free Press of May 27 1915, published Bruce's letter.
Letter from a Bunyip Soldier.
The following letter has just been received by Mr. and Mrs. W. Forsyth, of Iona, from their son Bruce, who is in Egypt with the First Expeditionary Force: -

Mena Camp, Cairo, 
15th April, 1915.
Dear Mother and Father,—
I received your over-welcome letters yesterday, dated 16th March, and was glad to hear you were all well. You said you heard the first contingent had left Egypt. Well, the infantry and one squad of light horse have gone but we don't know where to. There are only A and B squadrons of the light horse left here now. We are, unluckily, the last ones to shift.

Last Tuesday my mate and I took a trip to the Citadel and also went all through the Mosques, they are marvellous places. We had a guide to show us through them. There are several Mosques around the Citadel all fixed up inside as places of worship. The brother, sister and parents of the present Sultan, also the man who built the Mosque, are buried in them, and they have lovely tombs. We had to put on a pair of slippers they gave us before we were allowed to enter, as they say it is holy ground. 

There were natives kneeling around every where, rubbing their noses on the ground; and going through all kinds of forms. There are large fountains inside where the people have to wash three times before they pray. It was here Napoleon fired on those mosques from the citadel, and there are great lumps of masonry knocked out of the walls, and also one big cannon ball still wedged in the wall where it struck. There are also holes in the door going up to the citadel. One door in one of these places cost half a million pounds, and is made of gold and silver. 

The Citadel in Cairo, as Bruce would have seen it.
Image dated c. 1914-1918. State Library of Victoria Image H99.166/305

The Citadel is full of wounded Indian soldiers from the front. We went in and saw them. Now that the others are gone we get a very easy time of it, mostly just exercising our horses, and we are getting quite lazy. 

All the chaplains have gone with the infantry, so our Colonel holds the service on Sunday mornings. He is a good speaker and is well liked. Well, I think I've told you all the news for this time. Remember me to all my friends. I was very sorry to hear of "Bill " Sullivan's death."

Your ever affectionate son,

The letter is edited, you can read the original, here

Letter from Egypt from Charles Ware, 1915

The Lang Lang Guardian of March 15, 1915 published the following letter from Charles Ware of Yallock.

Soldier's Letter
The following are interesting extracts from letters received by his people from Pte. Chas. Ware, late of Yallock, dated from Egypt, Jan 24: 
Do not worry about me, as I will be all right. I've got my chance to take like the rest, but I hope to get home again safe. I don't think any one could die for a better cause, and l'm willing to do my little bit as soon as they want me. I hear the boys in Australia are enlisting well. There are a lot of new lots coming forward. We are here just six weeks tomorrow, so we are used to the place now. The sand is crook, though, for drill, I have not done any drill now for a month, as I've been on light duties owing to having my stay in the hospital.

I've written nearly fifty letters since I've been here, so I am expecting a big mail. I was as pleased as if I were home when I got your letter last night, but I hope this time next year to be back again with you all. If you have any papers send them along, as we never get anything here to write about. I went in to Heliopolis on Saturday night and had my photo taken in a group. I had three of my old mates with me. I sent you five of my p.c. in my last letter. You can see I'm not looking to bad on it. I think I put in most of my time writing letters.

Heliopolis, where Charles had his photo taken in January 1915.
Heliopolis - Avenue des Pyramides, c. 1915. State Library of Victoria Image H99.166/308

I am sick of Cairo. I don't go out much of week nights. I hope we get a shift before long, as this is very little good here as far as the safety of the soldier is concerned, as Cairo is the worst place on earth. I had a walk about yesterday, and went over to see the Virgin Tree and the Holy Well. It was lovely to see. First of all I went to the R.C. Church, which is supposed to be the first Church the Virgin Mary went into, after leaving Jerusalem, I am also sending you the piece of wood I cut off the tree.

I saw young Bob Gray from Lang Lang. He is camped in with Frank McGrath. He's a big fellow, too. I've met dozens of the boys here. They do a lot of heavy drill now, with full packs up and our rifle too. It weighs about 60lbs, and it's pretty crook carrying it all day. (
Lang Lang Guardian March 15, 1915 see here)

Charles William Francis Ware (SN 3285a)  enlisted at the age of 23 on July 27, 1915. He was employed on the Railways. He suffered a severe gun shot wound to his right buttock and Returned to Australia on March 17, 1917 and was discharged for medical reasons on July 9, 1917. He was born at Nyora, and his next of kin was his mother Mrs Christina Wilson Ware who lived at Kongwak.   His father was Charles Joseph Ware. After the War, Charles took up a Soldier Settler farm at Kernot. You can read about this on the Battle to Farm website, here. Charles married Elsie Priest in a pretty wedding at St Mary's Ararat on March 4, 1919. Elsie wore ivory silk, trimmed with silk lace. They honeymooned in Lakes Entrance. You can read a lovely report of the wedding in The Advocate of March 15, 1919, here. Charles is listed on the Yallock Honor Roll, see here and he died in 1944, aged 61. 

Charles mentions 'Bob Gray from Lang Lang' - this is Robert John Gray (SN 1478). Robert enlisted at the age of 18 on August 14, 1915. He survived the War and Returned to Australia June 15, 1919. The Frank McGrath mentioned is possibly Francis Edmund McGrath (SN 1178), born in Poowong and who lived at Woodleigh.  Frank enlisted at the age of 20 on June 8, 1915. He died of wounds at Beersheba on October 30, 1917, a long way from Gippsland. 

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Tommy Atkins Fund

Late in 1899, during the time of the Boer or South African War, people in Australia began raising money for the Tommy Atkins Fund. Tommy Atkins was generic name for the brave British soldier. There is an interesting account of the origin of the term, which is said to have been suggested by the Duke of Wellington, here on the Historic UK website. The Fund was for the relief of the wives and children of the British soldiers killed in the War. 

Australians took up the fund raising with gusto and partiotic concerts were held in towns and local Councils also contributed. The Shire of Berwick was especially enthusiastic. At their meeting held on Janaury 13, 1900 they had a whip around and raised eighteen shillings. At a Council meeting on February 10 the President, Cr. Vieusseux, moved and Cr. Barr seconded, "That a sum of £37 based on 6d. per assessment throughout the shire, be voted towards the funds now being collected, in the following proportions: Patriotic Fund, £15; the Bushmen's Corps, £15; and the Tommy Atkins Fund, £7 14/." The motion was carried with the utmost enthusiasm, the councillors rising from their seats and calling for three cheers for the Queen and the Empire. The president initiated a local subscription for the Patriotic fund, and the sum of £10 3/ was subscribed by the officers and the councillors. It is intended to hold a public meeting in Berwick on Friday evening next to further augment the subscription lists (1).

The Patriotic Fund was to support  dependents of soldiers from Australia who may fall or be wounded during the South African campaign (2). The Bushmen's Corps or Fund was to raise money to send a contingent of troops or bushmen from Australia to South Africa (3).

The Shire of Berwick also organised a concert to raise money for these causes, to be held on February 16, 1900 at the Rechabite Hall in High Street, Berwick.

Advertisement for the Patriotic concert
South Bourke & Mornington Journal February 14, 1900

As you can see by the advertisment the Tommy Atkins Fund was to help the home that Tommy's left behind. This was a line from a song by Rudyard Kipling, The Absent-Minded Beggar. It was set to music by Sir Arthur Sullivan (the Sullivan of Gilbert and Sullivan fame). The song is very 'nationalistic' or patriotic but it is a product of it's time. It really is a tribute to the British soldier, Tommy Atkins, who volunteers to fight for his country and the need to support his family left behind. You can read story of the song and see the full lyrics here on the Gilbert and Sullivan Archive website, but here is one verse to give you an idea of the song -

There are families by the thousands, far too proud to beg or speak:
And they'll put their sticks and bedding up the spout,
And they'll live on half o' nothing paid 'em punctual once a week,
'Cause the man that earned the wage is ordered out.
He's an absent-minded beggar, but he heard his country's call,
And his reg'ment didn't need to send to find him;
He chucked his job and joined it - so the task before us all
Is to help the home that Tommy's left behind him!

The Berwick concert was a most brilliant success (4) and altogether a total of above £37 was raised, a very creditable sum....During the singing of "The Absent minded Beggar" by Mr. T Bergin the sum of £4/19/7 was collected. At the close of the entertainment Mr. F Barr offered a donation of £5., conditionally that another £5 be collected. The condition was fulfilled almost immediately (5).

Mr Bergin repeated his performance of The Absent Minded Beggar at a concert held at Pakenham on February 23, 1900. A sum of £27/10 was raised, £7 of which was contributed during Mr Bergin's song. You can read a full report of the concert, here (6). The Absent Minded Beggar song would have been familiar to most of the concert goers, with the lyrics well circulated. At a concert at Upper Beaconsfield held on February 10, copies of this song, provided by the Cameo Cigarette Company, were distributed, and the chorus was taken up enthusiastically by the audience (7)

Another concert at Berwick was held on Friday, March 2 1900. The locals knew what to expect as nearly all the artists from the first concert were scheduled to appear again - Miss Perry, Miss L. Perry, Miss Mauger, Miss Rankine, Miss E. Taylor, Miss Searle, Miss G. Taylor, Miss A. Hands, Mr. Bergin, Mr. Latta, Mr. Robt. Young, Mr. H. Perry, Mr. G. Perry, Mr. Colvin, and Mr. Edgar Latta. As the South Bourke & Mornington Journal said they were truly a great combination of talent (8).

Over all the Shire raised over £200 for these three causes. The South Bourke & Mornington Journal reported the district must be well satisfied at the result achieved. Over £200 is an amount worthy the reputation of the shire, and, if the adjacent municipalities subscribe similar of amounts, it will draw attention to this portion of the colony for its loyalty and generosity. In addition to the following list, the outlying portions of the shire did their part towards swelling the grand total; Beaconsfield contributing £20 and Gembrook £11 11s. 6d.; whilst nearer home. Pakenham raised £24, and Narre Warren £19 (9). The bulk of the money went to the Patriotic Fund, £17 to the Bushmens Fund and over £13 to the Tommy Atkins Fund. You can read the full break-up of the amounts raised here.

Other reports of local concerts to held to raise money for the Tommy Atkins fund where The Absent Minded Beggar was sung were held at Cranbourne, Lang Lang and Lyndhurst.

Concerts at Cranbourne and Lang Lang.


Patriotic Concert held at Lyndhurst, where Miss Connie Martyn 
sung The Absent Minded Beggar.

Trove list
I have created a list of articles relating to find raising for the Tommy Atkins Fund in the Casey Cardinia region, access it here. All articles referred to here are on the list.

(1) The Age February 13, 1900, see here.
(2) The Argus, January 3, 1900, see here. There is also a good overview of the Tommy Atkins Fund in The Age, December 20, 1899, see here.
(3) The Age January 4, 1900, see here and The Age, January 6, 1900, see here.
(4) South Bourke & Mornington Journal, February 28, 1900, see here.
(5) The Argus February 19, 1900, see here.
(6) South Bourke & Mornington Journal, March 7, 1900 see here.
(7) South Bourke & Mornington Journal, February 14, 1900, see here.
(8) South Bourke & Mornington Journal, February 28, 1900, see here.
(9) South Bourke & Mornington Journal, March 14, 1900, see here.