More Soldiers, More Sorrow




Writing the profiles of the Hamilton WW1 soldiers has highlighted the month of August of 1915, 1916 and 1918 as particularly sad times for the town’s residents.  There was heaving fighting at Gallipoli during August 1915 with the battle of Lone Pine, the Charge at the Nek and the attack on Hill 971 and Hill 60.  During July and August 1916 there was heavy fighting at the Somme, France with the battles at Fromelles, Pozieres, and Moquet Farm.  During August 1918, there was the Battle of Amiens.  Many Hamilton men lost their lives during those months.

You can now read forty profiles of Hamilton’s WW1 soldiers from the tab at the top of the page “Hamilton’s WW1“.





Currently, I’m working to finish the profiles of the men who died during August, particularly those for whom it is now 100 years since they made the ultimate sacrifice.

The stories of Albert Sheehan, Arthur Lewis and Claude “Dot” Douglas are particularly sad considering they watched the occupancy in their tent diminish. Thirteen men occupied their tent at the start of their Gallipoli campaign.  By the beginning of August, only the three Hamilton mates were alive.  As the month passed, one by one, Albert, Arthur, and Claude did not return.  By the end of August 2015, their tent was empty.


Image Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial. Image no. P00649.004

Image Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial. Image no. P00649.004


There is also the story of Lieutenant Edward “Ted” Henty of the 8th Light Horse Regiment (8th LHR), grandson of Stephen George Henty.  Before departing overseas, he married his sweetheart at Hamilton’s Christ Church. Ted was killed during the charge at the Nek.  A son he would never know was born in the months after his death.  Also killed at the Nek and with the 8th LHR was William Hind, who at the time of his enlistment was beginning his career in the printing industry with the Hamilton Spectator.  One man, an officer from an esteemed Victorian family, the other a private of working class blood, but each with so much more to offer.  They bravely gave their lives in what was one of the most futile battles of WW1.


"DISTRICT HONOUR ROLL." Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 - 1918) 23 Sep 1915: 6. Web. .

“DISTRICT HONOUR ROLL.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 23 Sep 1915: 6. Web. .


With each profile, I attempt to uncover how the enlistment affected the family and the town’s residents and how each lost man was remembered.  In some cases, the shock of the loss of a son saw the death of a parent soon after, as was the case with the father of Arthur Lewis.  Other men had wives and children. I’m writing the profile of William John Clyde Kirkwood, a man who sits on the edge of my family tree with a Kirkwood link through marriage. The effect of his death on his children reverberated for well over a decade.  Parents and wives had exhausting ongoing correspondence with the Defence Department, often for years, sorting out pensions, medals and personal effects.  Some had to get around administrative challenges of incorrect names given at enlistment or the death of the listed next of kin.  There were also the men who returned home, like William Brake and Albert Davies (below) who never fully recovered from their war experiences.



STANLEY & ALBERT DAVIES. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial. Image no. DA15721


It is a privilege to research the stories of the Hamilton’s soldiers.  It’s easy to feel an attachment to them and in a small way feel the sorrow of their families, in the reading of their service records, letters published in the Hamilton Spectator, and looking at photographs of young, fresh faced men with innocence in their eyes.  One such soldier was Stan Niddrie (below) a quiet country lad, at home on his horse with his dogs bringing up a flock of sheep. He also shared his thoughts in letters home to his sister.  Nineteen at the time of his enlistment in September 1915 and just 5’4″, Stan would stand six feet tall during his service, working his way through the ranks, reaching Sergeant just before he was killed near Villers-Bretonneux in August 1918, only months from going home.  Stan’s eyes would have seen much during his three years of service, their innocence taken away.


STANLEY ROY NIDDRIE. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial. Image no. DASEY1899

STANLEY ROY NIDDRIE. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial. Image no. DASEY1899


The stories of the men, each from different backgrounds, with different war experiences, and different fates, all end the same.  There were no winners from The Great War and we really don’t understand what those that lived it endured.  Albert Lewis, writing home after the Gallipoli landing so rightly said, “I am certain there is not a single person in Australia who can near realise what their boys went through”.




Passing of the Pioneers

A small band of Pioneers come together for August Passing of the Pioneers. They include the first Mayor of the Borough of Portland and a crew member of William Dutton’s whale boat.

William McLEAN: Died 28 August 1888 at Port Fairy. At the time of his death, William McLean had resided at the Port Fairy Benevolent Asylum for ten years and was known to all as “Old Billy”. In 1887, he spoke about his life from his time in his birthplace of Scotland. William was born around 1790 and when around twenty, he joined the navy and was a crewman on the HMS Warspite which brought him to Sydney while escorting convicts in 1822.  After meeting some whalers, he decided to jump ship and join them. The whaling ship belonged to William Dutton, one of the first whalers to Portland Bay and William was with him.

Image Coutesy of the State Library of Victoria.  Image no.  PN05/05/77/00

Image Coutesy of the State Library of Victoria. Image no. PN05/05/77/00

When asked who was the first to Portland Bay, William Dutton or the Hentys, William replied that Dutton and his crew were there long before the Hentys. Later, William spent time whaling at Port Fairy where he settled.

Mary GRIERSON: Died August 1914 at Port Fairy. Mary Grierson was born in Scotland in 1827 and arrived in Victoria with her parents in 1839. They had sailed aboard the David Clark with Port Fairy’s Captain Mills at the helm.  Mary married David Thomas in 1846 and they settled at Rosebrook, near Port Fairy. They had a family of twelve, six girls and six boys. Mary was a member of the Presbyterian church and her goodwill was known throughout the district.

Thomas BEVAN: Died August 1915 at Colac. Born in Devonshire, England in 1829, Thomas Bevan arrived in Geelong in 1851. He moved to Beeac and became a local preacher for the Methodist Church. Thomas worked hard to build the community and had a strong involvement in all aspects of public affairs. He was also a musician, with violin and flute his instruments both learnt while still in England.

George HAYNES: Died 18 August 1916 at Port Fairy. The Port Fairy Town Hall flag flew at half mast the day George Haynes passed away. George was one of Port Fairy’s earliest residents and the first Mayor of the Borough. George was born in Staffordshire in 1826 and at the local grammar school. In 1854, he and his wife travelled to Australia, landing at Melbourne where they remained for around a year. George then moved on to Port Fairy where he settled and established a merchant business, Haynes and Young. Married twice, George had seven children from his first marriage.

Advertising. (1915, February 1). Port Fairy Gazette (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 4 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved August 30, 2014, from

Advertising. (1915, February 1). Port Fairy Gazette (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 4 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved August 30, 2014, from

Joseph LEWIS: Died 27 August 1916 at Port Fairy. Joseph Lewis was born in Staffordshire around 1824 and travelled to Australia aboard the Royal Saxon, landing at Williamstown in 1841Also on board was a relative of Charles Dickens.  After some time working at Little River Joseph travelled to the Grampians with a Mr Dwyer and they attempted to run cattle.  Unsuccessful, Joseph moved on to Port Fairy and purchased the property Glenview, residing there until old age when he moved into the Port Fairy town. Joseph left a widow, four sons, four daughters, thirty-two grandchildren and eighteen great-grandchildren.

Denis BERMINGHAM: Died 17 August 1917 at Port Fairy. Denis Bermingham was from Ireland and arrived in Port Fairy aboard the Chance during the 1850s. Spending time at Koroit and then Woodlands, Denis worked on the land. After moving to Port Fairy the 1880s, he worked for a few years on the harbour. Denis and his wife had thirteen children, nine of whom were still living at the time of Denis’ death.

Robert LEISHMAN: Died 28 August 1917 at Port Fairy. Robert Leishman was born in Scotland around 1830 and arrived in Victoria as a boy in the 1850s. After some time spent at Woodford, he settled at Crossley and for many years ran the farm Cockpen. He had also spent some time working on Korongah Station, then owned by Messrs. Knight and Lydiard.  It was there, during the 1870s that Robert’s wife passed away. During their time together they had a family of five. In the last years of Robert’s life, he moved to Rosebrook and then Bank Street, Port Fairy.

Passing of the Pioneers

This is the fourth “Passing of the Pioneers” and includes a chess champion who lived in Merino and plenty of Irish influence.  They highlight some of the pioneers of Victoria’s Western District by way of their obituaries as published in the Portland Guardian.  If you would like to read the full obituary, just click on the pioneer’s name.

Mrs Emma HAY: Died  4 October 1888 at Portland. This obituary demonstrates the tone of many at the time.

OBITUARY. (1888, October 5). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING.. Retrieved October 26, 2011, from

George BEVAN: Died  17 October 1888 at Portland. George owned and died at the London Hotel in Portland.  His family notice shows he was born in Somerset, England and was fifty-nine at the time of death.  George had been in Portland since the early 1860s and was a keen sportsman and former Town Councillor.

Mary ROGERS: Died October 1912 at Greenwald.  Mary Rogers was eighty-six at the time of her death and had lived in Victoria for sixty years.  She originally went to Tasmania from Ireland with her parents as a small child.  Mary married Francis Egan who had passed away thirty years earlier.

William Sudgen Price LEWIS: Died 4 October 1915 at Hamilton. William Sudgen Price Lewis was the stepson of Richard Lewis, a former owner of Rifle Downs at Digby.  Born in Tasmania in 1835, William and his brother came to live with Richard Lewis when Richard and their mother married in 1841. In adult life, William leased Hilgay station for a time, bred fine livestock and was a member of several racing clubs. He later retired to Hamilton.

John H. ROW: Died 27 October 1926 at Portland. John Row was a Portland jeweller.

Advertising. (1879, March 27). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 Edition: MORNINGS.. Retrieved October 27, 2011, from

John McDONNELL: Died 17 October 1930 at Moree. Mr McDonnell was originally from Ireland and arrived in Australia in 1863 via Liverpool. He was considered one of the oldest people in the district. He married Catherine FAHEY and they selected land at Moree in 1865.

Catherine Bridget SAMPEY: Died October 1933 at Melbourne. Catherine Sampey arrived in Melbourne from Ireland aboard the Red Jacket in 1852. She travelled on to Chetwynd with her brother James Sampey and she later married Patrick WHITE of Casterton.

Elizabeth MONOHAN: Died 12 October 1933 at Casterton. Elizabeth Monohan was 100 when she died. Arriving from Ireland aboard the Frances Henty at age twenty-one, seventy-nine years before, she was still able to converse in Welsh and Gaelic in her later years. In 1859, she married John Glover at Sandford House.

Julia Teresa DOYLE: Died October 1934 at Portland. Born in Tipperary, Ireland but remembered as “a true type of a fine old English lady”, Julia Doyle arrived in Australia as a six-year-old in the mid-1850s. She married Frances SUTTON in 1874 and together they had six daughters and two sons.

Ernest John SEALEY: Died 25 October 1935 at Casterton. In his younger years, Ernest Sealey worked as a bullock driver transporting wool. In later worked on Portland’s deep-water pier, hauling logs from the forests to the pier.

Charles PRATT: Died 26 October 1935 at Birchip.

Obituary. (1935, November 4). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING.. Retrieved October 27, 2011, from

And so begins the obituary of Charles Pratt.  Charles or Charley has he was widely known, was born at Mumbannar in 1870.  In 1891, he went to Beulah in the Mallee and worked with his step-brother and later selected his own land near Watchupga.  He married Annie LAVERY in 1914 and they had three sons.

Thomas Denton CLARKE: Died 5 October 1937 at Hamilton. Thomas, born around 1847 at Liverpool, was the son on Captain Thomas H. Clarke who was a trader in Portland.  Thomas jnr was a champion chess player and a composer of chess problems.  He won many competitions for both pursuits.  Composing problems up until his death, it was considered probable, according to the obituary, that he was the world’s oldest composer.

James McCLUSKEY: Died October 1942 at Koroit. James McCluskey was born at Portland in 1857, not long after the arrival of his parents on the ship, British Empire. Soon after, the family travelled by bullock wagon to Kirkstall near Warrnambool.  In his early working life, James drove pigs to Port Fairy in order to load them on the steamer Casino to go to market in Melbourne.

Mary PRATT: Died 7 October 1942 at Greenwald. Mary, the widow of George COWLAND, was eighty-seven at the time or her death.  There were twelve children in their family.  Her obituary recalled her pioneering traits.

OBITUARY. (1942, October 26). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved October 27, 2011, from

Passing of the Pioneers

The September “Passing of the Pioneers” in the Portland Guardian saw several prominent Western Victorian residents pass away and two of my own relatives.

Richard LEWIS: Died September 1890 at Digby.  Richard owned some well-known stations in the Western District including Rifle Downs and Hilgay.  An excellent biography of Richard Lewis is on the Ballarat Genealogical Society website. Richard died as a result of Bright’s disease.

Samuel CROSSDied  4 September 1901 at Hamilton. Samuel was seventy-nine at the time of his death and had been in Australia since 1849 after travelling from Sussex, England. He worked in and owned, department stores including the Beehive Store in Hamilton.  In his later years, he was a librarian at the Hamilton Mechanics Institute.

Jacob THEISINGER: Died  13 September 1901 at Portland. Jacob, also a sufferer of Bright’s Disease, had been in the colony since around 1854.  He was a popular person around town and was a member of the Portland German Band.

Robert Edwin Windsor Sandys STAPYLTON-BREE: Died 17 September 1907 at Hamilton. Robert Edwin Windsor Sandys Stapylton-Bree was a Hamilton stock and station agent and well know identity not only in Hamilton, but also Portland.  He married the daughter of Stephen HENTY, Annie Maria.  His funeral was well attended with Dean Parkyn presiding over the service.  He and Archdeacon Hayman had motored the 119 mile trip from Ballarat in five hours.

Christina STEWART: Died September 1921 at Hamilton. Christina STEWART was born in Kingussie, Scotland in around 1825 and travelled with her husband, Duncan McPherson, to Australia in 1851 on board the Hooghlly.  While Duncan went off to the goldfields, Christina waited in Melbourne until they journeyed to Portland.  For a time, she and her husband ran the Dartmoor Hotel.  She was a mother of eight children.

Elizabeth GLADSTONE: Died 18 September 1925 at Millicent, South Australia.  Elizabeth Gladstone grew up near Portland and the Guardian noted she rode eighty miles each day to school.  I am assuming this was a round trip, or it was a short school day.  Elizabeth married George Plunkett in 1862 at Penola, South Australia.

May ROBERTSON: Died September 1925 at Gringalgona.  May Robertson arrived in Sydney with her family in 1847 from Scotland.  They travelled to the Coleraine district by bullock wagon.

Margaret Emily McDONALD:  Died  5 September 1928 at Nokomai, New Zealand.  Margaret McDonald’s parents were early pioneers and she spent time around Portland and Hamilton as a child with one of her early memories being that of Adam Lindsay Gordon and his riding feats.  In 1863, Margaret married Donald Cameron in Melbourne and they moved to New Zealand and raised twelve children.

Margaret BEST: Died 7 September 1933,  Hamilton. Margaret was born in County Caven, Ireland in 1853 to Mr and Mrs William Best.  They arrived at Portland on board the General Hewitt in 1856.  After time in Portland, the Bests moved to Heywood when Margaret was nine. She married James Henry BELL and remained in the Heywood area.

Ada Catherine HAYMAN: Died September 1934 at Portland.  Ada was born in Axminster, Devon, England in about 1858.  She arrived at Portland with her parents and siblings in the 1860s.  This is an interesting family.  Ada’s father was a doctor and practiced in Harrow, Edenhope and Ararat.  One of her brothers was a doctor, another Archdeacon Hayman presided over R. Stapylton-Bree’s funeral (above).  Another brother W.R. Hayman was one of those who organised the  Aboriginal cricketers’ tour of England in 1868.  The biography of one of the players, Johnny Mullagh, describes the part Hayman played.

Finlay McPherson PATON: Died September 1936 at Tarrayoukyan. Finlay Paton was born at Sterlingshire, Scotland and after landing at Portland, took on the job of ringing the church bell and did so for 15 years. This could have been just one of the reasons for his “magnificent physique”.  Maybe it was because he claimed that he was one of those that carted stones to build Mac’s Hotel in Portland.  Or was it lifting four bushel bags of wheat from the ground to a wagon, with little trouble.  He really must have been a fine specimen. As were his team of horses used for his carrying business. Bred by Finlay they were the “admiration of the district”

William DIWELL: – Died September 1939 at Jeparit. William was my ggg uncle.  His obituary mentioned his work as a builder and the several buildings in Portland remaining, at the time of his death, as memorials to his work.  It does mention he was a native of Portland, however, he was born at Merino.  It correctly states his wife Frances was a native of Portland.

Thomas Haliburton LAIDLAWDied September 1941 at Hamilton. Over 500 people were reportedly at the funeral of Thomas Laidlaw, a Hamilton stock and station agent.  Thomas was the son of pioneers, Thomas and Grace Laidlaw.   The obituary offers a great description of the early days of Thomas Laidlaw senior in the colony with his four brothers.  Thomas junior, along with building his successful stock and station business was at one time a Shire of Dundas Councillor, president of the Hamilton Racing Club and chairman of directors of the Hamilton and Western District College, today Hamilton and Alexandra College.  Laidlaw is one of the names that if I hear it, I think of Hamilton.

Henry MORTIMER: Died  6 September 1948 at Portland.  Another ggg uncle of mine, Henry was the son of James Mortimer and Rosanna Buckland.  He was born in Cavendish and was eighty at the time of his death at Portland.  He is best known at this blog as Mr Mortimer of Mr Mortimer’s Daughters.  This was an informative notice as it listed Henry’s children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.