Armistice Day 1918 in the Western District

Today is the centenary of the signing of the Armistice which brought an end to the fighting of WW1.  News arrived in the Western District between 8.30pm and 9.30pm on Monday 11 November 1918 while for other towns, it was the following morning.  Everyone knew it was coming, the question was when. Hopes were high after the surrender of Austria and Turkey but there was still uncertainty and an unwillingness to celebrate until the official word came through.

“AUSTRIA’S SURRENDER.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 5 November 1918: 4. Web. 8 Nov 2018 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119508007

Most towns had put in some preparation organising bands and ensuring bunting was at hand ready to decorate the streets.  Early on 8 November, rumours spread around Hamilton, Coleraine and other Western District towns that the signing had taken place.  But they were just rumours.

“PEACE RUMOURS.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 9 November 1918: 4. Web. 8 Nov 2018 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119508174

 

“PREMATURE EXCITEMENT” Coleraine Albion and Western Advertiser (Vic. : 1902; 1914 – 1918) 11 November 1918: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119615782

Let’s do a fly around the Western District and see how each town reacted.  In most cases, the reaction was like nothing seen before.

In Ararat, official news came through at 8.30pm on 11 November.  Bells started to ring and the two local brass bands swung into action.

Celebrations continued on into the morning of Tuesday 12 November.

“TO-DAY’S RE[?]OICINGS.” Ararat Chronicle and Willaura and Lake Bolac Districts Recorder (Vic. : 1914 – 1918) 12 November 1918 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article154297182

Then into Tuesday evening with an open-air concert at Alexandra Park.

“PEACE CELEBRATIONS.” Ararat Chronicle and Willaura and Lake Bolac Districts Recorder (Vic. : 1914 – 1918) 15 November 1918: 2. Web. 7 Nov 2018 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article154298902

In Penshurst, church bells rang and the Penshurst Brass Band played.

“ARMISTICE SIGNED” Penshurst Free Press (Vic. : 1901 – 1918) 16 November 1918: 3. Web. 7 Nov 2018 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119565333

Just before 9pm, the Hamilton Spectator received a cable and immediately told those waiting in front of the offices in Gray Street. Bells rang, the bands played and people flooded into the streets.  The Hamilton Brass Band was taken by motor car to Tarrington to tell residents there.

“JUBILATION IN HAMILTON” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 12 November 1918: 6. Web. 5 Nov 2018 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119508265

After a false start to celebrations, Coleraine took no time took to get in the spirit.  On 12 November the children marched along the streets of the town.

“OUTDOOR DEMONSTRATION.” Coleraine Albion and Western Advertiser (Vic. : 1902; 1914 – 1918) 14 November 1918: 3. Web. 7 Nov 2018 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119615803

At Casterton, the townsfolk were “delirious with joy”.  There was fireworks, bands and dancing.

“Peace! Glorious Peace!” Casterton Free Press and Glenelg Shire Advertiser (Vic. : 1915 – 1918) 14 November 1918: 3. Web. 7 Nov 2018 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article152657300

Tuesday 12 November was a holiday in Casterton as it was in most places.

“Peace Celebrations.” The Casterton News and the Merino and Sandford Record (Vic. : 1914 – 1918) 14 November 1918: 3 (Bi-Weekly.). Web. 7 Nov 2018 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74222633

Some towns like Sandford and Merino waited until official word was received the following morning. At Sandford, in a prearranged manoeuvre, the sight of the flag going up the pole of the Post Office signalled the end of the war.

“Sandford Celebrations.” The Casterton News and the Merino and Sandford Record (Vic. : 1914 – 1918) 14 November 1918: 3 (Bi-Weekly.). Web. 7 Nov 2018 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74222628

At Merino, bells rang and guns fired.

“Merino Celebrations.” The Casterton News and the Merino and Sandford Record (Vic. : 1914 – 1918) 14 November 1918: 3 (Bi-Weekly.). Web. 7 Nov 2018 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74222625

Heywood held off with celebrations until official word came after 9am on Tuesday 12 November. Preparations were then quickly underway for a large demonstration at 3pm

“Heywood.” Portland Observer and Normanby Advertiser (Vic. : 1914 – 1918) 14 November 1918: 2. Web. 7 Nov 2018 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88196524

At Portland, the Observer received an urgent wire from Reuters around 9.30pm on 11 November with the news and the celebrations began.  People got out of the beds and rushed into the streets.

“LOCAL CELEBRATIONS.” Portland Observer and Normanby Advertiser (Vic. : 1914 – 1918) 14 November 1918: 3. Web. 7 Nov 2018 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88196546

At Orford, a public picnic was planned for the following Friday.

“CELEBRATIONS AT ORFORD.” Port Fairy Gazette (Vic. : 1914 – 1918) 14 November 1918: 2 (EVENING). http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article91987686

At Port Fairy, there were a couple of hiccups but that did suppress the euphoria.

“ORDERLY CELEBRATIONS.” Port Fairy Gazette (Vic. : 1914 – 1918) 14 November 1918: 2 (EVENING). Web. 7 Nov 2018 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article91987660

The official message arrived about 9pm on 11 November and the news spread around the town like wildfire.

“Advertising” Port Fairy Gazette (Vic. : 1914 – 1918) 14 November 1918: 2 (EVENING). https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/page/8499675

Tuesday was a holiday and just as well because no one would have turned up for work anyway. Port Fairy’s celebrations continued all Tuesday and into Wednesday.

“TUESDAY MORNING.” Port Fairy Gazette (Vic. : 1914 – 1918) 14 November 1918: 2 (EVENING). http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article91987687

“AFTERNOON DEMONSTRATION” Port Fairy Gazette (Vic. : 1914 – 1918) 14 November 1918: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article91987687

At Koroit the shops and school closed Tuesday and Wednesday.  A large bonfire was built and on Tuesday night after a parade, it was lit.

“CELEBRATION AT KOROIT” Warrnambool Standard (Vic. : 1914 – 1918) 14 November 1918: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74039937

In Warrnambool, people waited outside the Standard office for the news on the evening of 11 November.  Fire bells started ringing as soon as the news was read out.

“PEACE AT LAST!” Warrnambool Standard (Vic. : 1914 – 1918) 12 November 1918: 3 (DAILY.). Web. 5 Nov 2018 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74039813

A torchlight parade was organised for Tuesday night with a massed tin-can band.

“STATEMENT BY MR. WATT.” Warrnambool Standard (Vic. : 1914 – 1918) 12 November 1918: 3 (DAILY.). Web. 5 Nov 2018 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74039792

Buildings and streets across Warrnambool were decorated with flags and bunting.

“THE CELEBRATIONS IN WARRNAMBOOL.” Warrnambool Standard (Vic. : 1914 – 1918) 14 November 1918 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74039829

Camperdown residents rushed into Manifold Street.

“General Rejoicing.” Camperdown Chronicle (Vic. : 1877 – 1954) 12 November 1918: 2. Web. 10 Nov 2018 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article32180700

Cobden celebrated too.

“PEACE AT LAST.” Cobden Times (Vic. : 1918) 13 November 1918 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119543664

In Colac, they went “wild”.

“Local Rejoicings” Colac Reformer (Vic. : 1914 – 1918) 12 November 1918: 3. Web. 7 Nov 2018 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article154137089

 

“PEACE CELEBRATION.” The Colac Herald (Vic. : 1875 – 1918) 13 November 1918: 3. Web. 5 Nov 2018 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74474856

A torchlight parade took place on Tuesday night.

“COLAC AT NIGHT.” The Colac Herald (Vic. : 1875 – 1918) 13 November 1918: 3. Web. 7 Nov 2018 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74474852

A TIN CAN BAND READY FOR COLAC’S TORCHLIGHT PARADE ON 12 NOVEMBER 1918. Image courtesy of the Museums Victoria Collections https://collections.museumvictoria.com.au/items/771371

 

“CELEBRATIONS IN COLAC” Colac Reformer (Vic. : 1914 – 1918) 14 November 1918: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article154135561

.Despite all the celebrations, the underlying feeling was summed up by the Warrnambool Standard.

 

BIRDS OF PEACE! (1918, November 14). Warrnambool Standard (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 3 (DAILY.). Retrieved November 7, 2018, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74039924

Hamilton’s WW1…A Reflection

Four years, two months and twenty-two days after Privates Maurice Tilley, William Niven, William Turner, Ernest Huggins and Harry Caple left Hamilton by train on the evening of Tuesday 18 August 1914 the first official troops from the district, the guns fell silent.  The people of Hamilton, although somewhat buoyant after the surrender of Turkey and Austria in the days before, were wary about getting too swept up. That was until around 9pm on Monday 11 November when the news of the Armistice reached Hamilton. As those waiting outside the Hamilton Spectator were given the news, jubilation erupted and soon people flooded the streets.  The boys were coming home…but not all.

Just as William Niven, one of the first five men to leave Hamilton, did not return, around one in five of the total number of men with Hamilton ties who enlisted, also never made it back to Hamilton.  Of the 693 men I have identified as having Hamilton connections, 169 died before Armistice Day as a direct result of the war.

HAMILTON WAR MEMORIAL c1930-1954. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria Image no. H32492/2728 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/63654

Since early 2015, I’ve been compiling names and writing stories of the men and women of Hamilton’s WW1 and since late 2015, I’ve been posting snippets of each edition of the Hamilton Spectator from 100 years before on the Hamilton’s WW1 Facebook page.  The aim was to gain an understanding of the effects of the war on a town such as Hamilton, the mood of the people and their response, and of course, the stories of the men and women who enlisted and their families.  Over the next three posts, I will tell you something of my project, what I’ve discovered, and where it’s going.

The first man with Hamilton connections killed in action was Joseph Alan Cordner, a Collingwood footballer, former Hamilton College student and a player in the Hamilton Cricket team.  Joseph, better known as Alan, was the first Victorian Football League player to enlist and among the first VFL players killed.  His death came in the hours after the landing at Gallipoli.  Initially, he was reported as missing and it was almost a year before his death on 25 April 1915 was made official.

JOSEPH ALAN CORDNER. Image Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial. Image no. P03483.009 https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/P03483.009/

The first the Hamilton people heard of a man with a local connection to have fallen was the news of the death of Harold Johnson of Maldon.  Harold was well-known in Hamilton having worked at department store J.Thomson & Co.  He was wounded in the days after the landing and died in hospital in Alexandria on 2 May 1915.  However, it was 24 May 1915 when the reality of war really hit Hamilton.  The Hamilton Spectator wrote on 24 May 1915, “The youth of the town have had their first piercing illustration of what war means in the last resort when they realise that one of their number will never associate with them.  Private William Henry Waters, a Hamilton State School boy, between nineteen and twenty years of age, has died at the front whilst fighting with the Australian forces at Gallipoli. He is the first Hamilton soldier to fall.”

Of those I’ve researched, William Norman was the youngest to enlist at seventeen years and eleven months.  The eldest of eight children, William was eighteen years and five months when he arrived at Gallipoli.  He went on to serve in France and Belgium and was killed on 8 October 1917, near Broodseinde Ridge, Belgium. He was buried where he fell, his body never recovered.  William was twenty.  His five younger brothers all enlisted for WW2.

WILLIAM LESLIE NORMAN. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/P10789.004/

The youngest to die was Robert Taylor, born in Hamilton and a former student of the state school.  He was eighteen years and one month when he enlisted on 24 January 1916.  He was dead just seven months and fifteen days later, killed at Pozieres, France. Like Joseph Cordner and William Norman, Robert’s body was never recovered.

ROBERT TAYLOR. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/P10789.005/

The last Hamilton man to die before the Armistice was James Smyth of the 9th Light Horse Regiment.  After James and another man captured a German officer with eighty-five Turkish soldiers on 2 October 1918 near Khan Ayash in Syria, James was nominated for a Distinguished Conduct Medal  (DCM) for conspicuous gallantry, initiative and devotion to duty.  Fifteen days later he was sick with malaria and died on 25 October 1918.  His DCM was awarded posthumously.

Many families had multiple enlistments which for some brought added grief like that experienced by the Joyce family. Brothers Matthew and Thomas were killed just two months apart, Matthew on 11 April 1917 at Bullecourt, France and Thomas on 1 June 1917 at Warloy-Baillon, France. 

There was also the two sons of Charlotte Lance.  Her eldest son Alexander Scott (below) was killed on 26 August 1916 at Mouquet Farm, France but Charlotte was not notified he was even missing.  After the death of her younger son George Lance, she wrote to the Defence Department asking after Alexander as she had not heard from him since the year before.  He was dead, came the reply.  Two boys lost a year apart but the news of both coming within months. Charlotte didn’t even want George to go, refusing the nineteen-year-old her permission. Determined to enlist, George went to Adelaide, enlisted under a false name, then wrote to his mother and told her what he had done.  She didn’t even get to say goodbye.

ALEXANDER WILLIAM SCOTT. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/DA11399/

Then there were the Stevenson brothers  Alexander and Edgar. Only a few years apart in age, they spent a lot of time together before enlistment. The worked together at the family bakery in Coleraine Road, were both members of the Independent Order of Rechabites, and sung together at the local Baptist Church.  The also went to war together both serving with the 39th Battalion.  Alexander known as Lex was there when Edgar was killed on 4 October 1917.  He helped dig the grave and placed a cross upon it.  A week later, Lex was shot near Passchendaele, Belgium and died on 15 October from his wounds.  William and Euphemia Stevenson received the news of their sons six days apart.

James Lodge of Clarke Street, Hamilton sent four boys to war. Remaining at home was eighteen-year-old Frederick who was keen to join his brothers but instead worked with his father, a stonemason. James and Frederick were building the Catholic presbytery at Casterton when Frederick developed double pneumonia and died on 20 June 1918.  While James’ mind was with his four sons overseas, it was the son under his own watchful eye who died.  Despite his grief, James continued working but he too contracted pneumonia and died on 31 July.  Since it was James’ idea to plant trees along Clarke Street to form an Avenue of Honour for those in the street who enlisted, at the official planting on 24 August 1918, the first tree planted was in James’ honour and positioned in front of the Lodge home. The Lodge boys all returned to Australia, two highly decorated, and they went on to secure the contract of the construction of the Shrine of Remembrance.

James’ death before the war’s end was very common among parents of those serving.  William Sugden Price Lewis passed away within two weeks of hearing of his adopted son Arthur’s fate.  After waiting for eight months for news of his missing son Joseph only to learn he was dead, William Sloan felt he could live no longer.  Grief and anxiety were often compounded by the often necessary dealings with the Defence Department.  I’ve read dozens of letters to Base Records from desperate parents and siblings.  You can sense the frustration and anguish of Isiah Cordner in his letters seeking information about his missing son Alan.  He wrote to the Defence Department, the Red Cross and sought out men from Alan’s battalion for help. It was 364 days after Alan’s death when Isiah finally had official confirmation.

The family of John Taylor killed on 29 July 1916 at Pozieres experienced similar pain.  John’s mother Eliza tried to get news of her son, writing letters to the Defence Department and asking relatives to write.  The reply came that he was killed on 28/29 July 1916 but no more details of his death or burial were available.  The first inquiry into John’s death was held on 22 June 1917 finding there was no trace of him.  Letters were still being sent from the family in 1919 requesting more information.  They just wanted to know where he was buried and maybe get a photo of his headstone something available to parents of sons who did get a formal burial.

It was Abraham Tredrea father of Francis Tredrea who summed up the feelings of all parents when he wrote a letter to the Collie fanciers of Victoria by way of the Leader newspaper’s “Kennel Notes” published in September 1917. Abraham had waited thirteen months for news of his missing son. “I received word on Friday last re my son, F. S. Tredrea, saying he was killed in action on the 19th of July, 1916. You will remember he was then reported missing. I miss him very much. He was a very smart boy in the fancy, both in dogs and poultry. He was known by the Collie fanciers of Melbourne, and I am sure his friends in the fancy will be sorry to read the sad news.” Those words…I miss him very much.

FRANCIS STANLEY TREDREA. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial https://mywdfamilies.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/tredrea.jpg

Like Francis, a number of the men were married with children. His wife Ada spent the thirteen months Francis was classed as missing, writing letters and advertising in newspapers for information about her husband.  When she finally received the official confirmation, she placed the following notice in The Argus,

“After months of hopeful waiting
The sad cable it came through
Saying he nobly did his duty
As onlloyal Australians do”

Arthur Emmett had the largest family of all the married men. When he enlisted in July 1915, Arthur and his wife Evangeline had four children with twins born after Arthur’s enlistment. Arthur was killed on 26 July 1916 at Pozieres, France but was reported missing.  When Evangeline heard the news, she began a year of letter writing to the Red Cross asking for help in finding Arthur.  It was not until 4 August 1917 when Arthur’s death was officially confirmed. It was a double blow for the Emmett family with Arthur’s younger brother Alfred Emmett killed only weeks after they heard of Arthur’s fate.

With such a large number of men from the district overseas, there was always an opportunity to catch up with someone from Hamilton. The talk would invariably turn to news from home and the Hamilton Spectator sent by relatives was highly sought after.  Horace Westgarth (below) wrote home after the evacuation at Gallipoli, telling his mother, “…half of Hamilton seem to be with us now.”  By the time Horace left Egypt for France, just having transferred to the 58th Battalion, he had met up with fellow Hamiltonian Terence Finnegan. It was an unlikely friendship, which may not have come about if they were back in Hamilton.  Terence went to the Convent School and Horace went to the state school.  Terence worked as a tailor at J.Thomson & Co., while Horace was a carpenter.  But so far from home that didn’t matter and the common thread of being from Hamilton bound their friendship.  Terence and Horace were on rations fatigue around 9pm on 12 May 1917 as the second Battle of Bullecourt drew to an end. A shell killed Terence and Horace in an area known as Death Valley. They were buried where they fell and the two Hamilton men still lie there together today.

HORACE LEONARD WESTGARTH. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C1298989

Claude Douglas and Albert Sheehan were both twenty and Arthur Lewis aged twenty-four when the trio from Hamilton found themselves together in D Company of 14th Battalion.  At Gallipoli, they shared a tent behind the frontline.  Thirteen men slept in the tent in the beginning, but by the start of August 1915, there were only three still occupying the tent, the three Hamiltonians.  Three weeks later the tent was empty.  Albert was missing after the attack on Hill 971 on 8 August, Arthur died of wounds on 13 August and finally on 21 August, Claude was killed.

Ken Toleman of Mortlake and Englishman Reg Briant, were “out of towners”, electricians with the Hamilton Electric Co. when they enlisted.  They left Australia together on 17 June 1915 with the 14th Battalion 6th Reinforcements.  Kenneth and Reg arrived at Gallipoli on 1 August 1915.  It was a bad time to get there with heavy fighting and great loss of life throughout the month.  The day of 22 August was a particularly dark day. The battalion took part in the attack on Hill 60 and Reg was killed. Ken went on to France and then Belgium and was an acting Captain when wounded near La Clytte on 13 October 1916.  He died soon after. Ken had never stopped thinking about Reg.

It was Ken and Reg’s friendship which brought about one of the more heart-warming moments I came across.  In July 1916, Ken was granted leave to England for eight days and took the opportunity to meet with Reg Briant’s sister Dorothy. He also accepted the invitation of Reg’s schoolmaster and paid a visit to the school at Lymington, Hampshire. He was taken on a tour and was the first Australian soldier the children had seen.  He was given three cheers in all the classrooms.  When he next wrote home he described it as a holiday he would never forget. Ken’s grandmother Sarah in Mortlake received a reassuring letter from Dorothy Briant who said Ken was “well and strong”.

That wasn’t the only school visit.  Walter Filmer of Byaduk and a teacher at the Hamilton State School for three years, visited the  Hamilton Academy in Hamilton, Scotland.  The Hamilton State School and the Academy had exchanged flags while Walter was at the state school.  He found the Hamilton State School flag proudly displayed at the Hamilton Academy.  The children were excited to meet a representative from the school on the other side of the world, and Walter passed on his regards from the committee, staff and pupils of Hamilton State School.

WALTER STEPHEN FILMER. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C73149

The letters to loved ones have been a highlight.  Men and women wrote letters home and in turn, some parents passed the letters on to the local paper for publication.  How thankful I am to those parents who did so. The letters share news of friends or relatives also serving, they describe the conditions and the countryside and give something of the letter writer’s personality.  Some were written during a quiet moment in the trenches while others were written from hospital while reflecting on why they were there.

One of the more entertaining letter writers was plucky William Lovell.  His self-assurance belied his age of nineteen years but it was likely that self-assurance saw him become part of “Jacka’s Mob”, the famous 5th platoon of the 14th Battalion led by Albert Jacka VC.  William lost his life near the Hindenburg Line on the 11 April 1917 aged twenty.  His body still lies in the fields of northern France.

WILLIAM LESLIE LOVELL. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/DA09468/

Frank Kendall wrote a long letter home to his father describing his time in London.  So long it was published in two parts in the newspaper.  Ivan Morieson, a son of a teacher wrote a lovely letter home to his mother describing his time in Egypt, “There is nothing I should like better than to travel over Egypt at my leisure. A man properly interested could spend a lifetime here, and if ever I get the chance I shall do my best to have a proper look at the place”.  Although he described himself as a man, he was just a boy.  Only eighteen at the time of his letter and twenty when he was shot through the heart while acting as company runner near Polygon Wood, Belgium.

IVAN FRANCIS MORIESON. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C2073040

The nurses from Hamilton have also been part of my research. They were not immune to the horrors of the war working under horrendous conditions and broken bodies.  The mental images would haunt them.  At least two of the Hamilton nurses spent time under psychiatric care within ten years of the end of the war. 

I have posted three stories of the Hamilton nurses so far,  one of those the story of Hamilton born Edith Malcolm.  She nursed at Salonika, Greece where living conditions were poor, some even thought worse than France. There was very little fresh food and they lived off soldiers’ rations. For a boost of iron, a weekly ration of bully beef and biscuits was issued.  Winters were freezing and the summers were hot with malaria a constant risk. The nurses covered themselves from head to toe to protect themselves from mosquitos. Edith was diagnosed with anaemia in July 1918 and invalided home.

Once back on Australian soil, Edith (below far right) found her brother Norman had returned home in the months before and her sister Stella and younger brother Eric returned in the months following allowing the Malcolm siblings to come together for the first time in three years for this beautiful photo.

THE MALCOLM FAMILY. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C390054

There have been many inspiring stories of bravery.  Several came from stretcher bearers who often found themselves in exposed positions as they removed the wounded from the battlefields.  They were often members of the battalion band like Arthur Underwood of Mill Road, Hamilton, a member of the 23rd Battalion band. He was awarded a Military Medal after his actions led to at least a dozen wounded men saved from No Man’s Land in broad daylight at Pozieres, France on 29 and 30 July 1916.

ARTHUR BELL PERCY UNDERWOOD. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/DA10497/

Then there was Edwin Smith of 22nd Battalion, not afraid to volunteer for raiding parties.  On 29 June 1916, he volunteered for a raid which saw the man they called “Fatty” crawl on his stomach through No Man’s Land with around sixty other men, before they jumped in the German trenches, taking the enemy by surprise. He didn’t receive a medal for that occasion but was awarded a Military Medal for his service as one of the last remaining men on Gallipoli after the evacuation on the 20 December 1915.  The 22nd Battalion was positioned near Johnstone’s Jolly and as the battalion began its evacuation, Edwin and several other men kept up steady gunfire for over two hours so the enemy would believe everything was normal.

On the morning of 26 August 1916, as Edwin Smith passed through the village of Pozieres to relieve a crew on the front line, a shell hit his company. Edwin was killed instantly and buried where he fell. He was later exhumed and his body placed in the Pozieres British Cemetery.

EDWIN RICHARDSON SMITH. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/DA08695/

Frank  Lodge (below)was one of the four enlisted sons of James Lodge. On 29 July 1916, the 2nd Pioneers were in Pozieres and had commenced working on a communications trench known as “Centre Way” running to Pozieres Wood.  Their work was not helped by the enemy as the Germans bombarded the area.  Overnight on 4 August, with their section almost complete, Frank stood in the open above the trench not only giving directions to his men but urging them on.  He was awarded a Military Medal. 

On 31 August 1918, near Peronne Frank went forward to assess sites for bridges to aid with the advance…

…he got over the main canal and examined an old German bridge which had been partially destroyed.  Finding a gap of about fourteen feet, he pushed a spar over the gap and attempted to cross but disturbed a German sentry on the opposite bank who opened fire, and ran toward the village.  As Lieutenant Lodge was fired at by machine guns. from the south side of Halle he returned.  The information gained by this reconnaissance was of great value.  That night he got material carried to the site and proceeded to reconstruct a demolished road bridge and remained in charge of the work until completion the next evening, although immediate vicinity was heavily shelled all day. Later he did further valuable reconnaissance work and rapid bridging (Australian War Memorial, Honours and Awards https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/R1622549/ )

His actions saw him awarded a Military Cross.  His brother Augustine Bernard Lodge was awarded a Distinguished Service Order for his actions at Pozieres in 1916.

“BROTHERS WIN MILITARY HONORS” The Herald (Melbourne, Vic. : 1861 – 1954) 11 November 1916: 6. Web. 19 Jun 2018.

Look out for Part 2 coming soon when I’ll share some of the stories of Hamilton’s WW1 which have had the greatest effect on me. 

‘HAMILTON BOYS’ c 30 April 1915. Photo Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial. Image no. DAOD1060 https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/DAOD1060/

Four Long Years

It’s hard to believe it’s almost four years since commemorations marking the centenary of the beginning of WW1.  In November this year, it will be the centenary of the Armistice.  Time has flown but going back a century, four years of war seemed an eternity and with no end in sight.  One hundred years ago this month, the enlisted men and women in France and Belgium were just weeks away from the end of the European winter.  And while the battlefields were quieter in the winter months, the trade-off was snow, mud, water-filled trenches and the all too common trench feet.

LIFE IN THE TRENCHES DURING A EUROPEAN WINTER. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/E00146/

Those who had endured the previous two European winters knew too well, as the snow thawed and spring arrived, the fighting would again escalate.  In February 1918, little did they know it was the beginning of the end.  There was much in store for the Australian troops, the German Spring Offensive, fighting alongside U.S. troops for the first time, the Battle of Amiens and finally, victory to the allies and Armistice on 11 November 1918.

It’s also four years since I started writing the biographies of Hamilton’s enlisted men. A work in progress, there are now 125 published biographies at Hamilton’s WW1.  For fifteen of those men, the year 1918 would be their last.  Most of those fifteen first landed in Europe in 1916, but James Smyth was in the Middle East from 1915 including time at Gallipoli. Enlisting at just eighteen years and one month, James spent more than three in years in the desert as a signaller with the 9th Light Horse Regiment. In a matter of three weeks in October 1918, his life turned from a day when his bravery saw him awarded a Distinguished Conduct Medal, to his death from malaria in Damascus.

CAMP OF THE 9th LIGHT HORSE REGIMENT IN PALESTINE DURING MAY 1918. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/B00021/

Spare a thought for William Austin, also part of the Gallipoli campaign. There he received a gunshot wound to his shoulder region with damage to his lungs. He returned to the front in 1916 in France but struggled with bronchitis and other related illnesses until influenza claimed is life on 11 October 1918 in England, so close to the end.

With the 10th Infantry Brigade Headquarters, Frank Morrissey was part of the final push to break through the Hindenburg Line in the Battle of St Quentin Canal.  He was killed on 29 September 1918 aged twenty-two. Also Frank’s age was young boundary rider Stan Niddrie who enlisted in 1915 but was not overseas until 1916. Reaching the rank of Sergeant, he was killed at Villers-Bretonnuex on 6 August 1918.

GRAVE OF STAN NIDDRIE AT VILLERS-BRETONNEUX CEMETERY. Image courtesy of Melinda Hestehauge.

Former V.F.L. (Victorian Football League) footballer and Hamilton teacher, Leslie Primrose (below) an airman with the Australian Flying Corps, crashed his plane during a training exercise near Amiens and killed as a result on 4 June 1918. He’d only been in France three months.

LESLIE JOHN PRIMROSE. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/DACS0594/

Leslie Sangster (below), a Hamilton High School science teacher and sports master enlisted in January 1917.  On 18 August 1918, he was killed at Harbonnieres, France a month short of his twenty-second birthday and three months short of war’s end.

LESLIE FAIRBURN SANGSTER. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/P05248.117/

During James Black’s two years overseas, he was disciplined many times and served six months incarceration in a military prison. He struggled with army life, the horrors of war and alcohol. James was killed on 24 April 1918 near Villers-Bretonneux. His body was never found. Also killed in April 1918 was George Herlihy (below). Mentioned in dispatches in 1916, he was killed by a shell on 11 April 1918 at Amiens, France.

GEORGE HERLIHY. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C1237087

Just three months after his discharge from a military prison for desertion, John Whitehead was awarded a Military Medal (M.M.) for his “marked gallantry and devotion to duty” during the Battle of Amiens on 9 August 1918.  Three weeks later he was dead, hit by a shell at St Martins Wood, France.  Also a M.M. recipient, John Fenton (below) was at Ribemont, France on 31 May 1918 when a mustard gas shell burst at his feet.  He died in hospital three weeks later.

JOHN WILFRED FENTON (M.M). Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial

Brave Charles Stewart (below) lost his life to sniper fire while bandaging the wounds of a fellow soldier during the Battle of Amiens on 9 August 1918.  Correspondence from the battalion to Charles’ mother revealed he “…never knew what fear was, and every man in the company says the same”.

CHARLES HERBERT STEWART. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/P06958.001/

For some, the war was over but the fight wasn’t. From April to September 1918, Walter Boxer displayed extreme bravery many times as a stretcher bearer. As a result, he was awarded a M.M., a bar for his M.M. and a Distinguished Conduct Medal (D.C.M) and four other nominations for a D.C.M. He was on his way home at the end of 1918 with severe injuries but recovered to secure a job, marry and see the birth of a son. In 1927, tuberculosis cut his life short at the age of thirty-four.

Fred Waring was overseas from the end of 1915, fighting in many major campaigns with the 4th Field Artillery Brigade. By war’s end, he was in London with the Postal Corps but never returned home. Suffering lung-related illnesses during 1919, septicemia claimed his life in a London hospital.

Albert Davies (below right) returned to Australia in 1919, suffering symptoms similar to anxiety. Illness in England saw that Albert did not reach the battlefields but his brother Stanley (below left) was killed at Ypres in 1917. On his return to Hamilton Albert found his mother bedridden, her death imminent. By 1935, Albert was unemployed with little to his name.  While riding his bike in Richmond that year, he was hit by a car and killed at the age of thirty-seven.

STANLEY and ALBERT DAVIES. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/DA15721/

William Brake (below) served in the Middle East and Europe and returned to Australia in 1919.  By 1922, he was dead from tuberculosis aged twenty-nine.

WILLIAM BRAKE. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C1286963

William was buried at the Hamilton Old Cemetery.

GRAVE OF WILLIAM BRAKE AT HAMILTON (OLD) CEMETERY

For those at home, by 1918 it seemed like an age since the first news of Australia at war.  Those of you who have followed the regular “100 years ago in the Hamilton Spectator” posts at Hamilton’s WW1 Facebook page have seen how the district adjusted to war.  New and distant place names such as the Dardanelles, Syria, and the Somme became part of regular conversation. The four years saw thousands of socks, scarves, and pyjamas made just in the Hamilton district alone, thousands of pounds raised for various war funds,  and many tears shed. By February 1918, men were returning at a steady rate but they had changed from the men the Hamilton people had bid farewell to at the railway station in the years earlier.

The war barely left a home in Hamilton untouched. It even knocked on the door of the Hamilton Mayor. In the role since August 1917, Robert McLuckie comforted numerous grieving families, presided over many send-offs and welcome home celebrations. On 17 July 1918, his son John McLuckie sailed for England.  John fell sick on the voyage and died from pneumonia on 17 October 1918 in England, leaving a widow and four sons. When Armistice came in November 1918, one could only imagine the McLuckie’s sadness knowing if only John’s departure was delayed by a few months, he’d still be safe at home. Robert McLuckie died suddenly in 1922 while still in office with grief and stress from organising Hamilton’s war effort taking a toll.

Hamilton cab proprietor William Sloan also succumbed to the weight of his grief.  William and his wife Sarah endured eight months not knowing if son Joseph Sloan was alive or dead.  After official confirmation in December 1917 of Joseph’s death, along with the death of William’s mother in January 1918, William sank into deep depression.  Sarah didn’t like leaving him alone but one day in August 1918, with errands to run and William seeming happier, she stole herself away. William was dead when she returned.

There were others at home who thought their sons still alive come 11 November 1918 only to find out in the following days, weeks or months their sons were never coming home. Like Richard Hicks‘ mum Janet.  Richard embarked in 1915 and was killed on 17 October 1918 less than four weeks from the end of the war.  Six weeks after the Armistice, Janet Hicks found out Richard (below) was missing and it was the middle of 1919 before it was officially confirmed he would not return.

RICHARD ERNEST HICKS. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/DA11301/

My WW1 research will continue up to and beyond 11 November 2018.  In time, more of the biographies will be of returned men and their adjustment to post-war life. Unfortunately, the Hamilton Spectators are only digitised until December 1918 at Trove. Therefore the “100 years ago in the Hamilton Spectator” posts on the Hamilton’s WW1 Facebook page will come to an end this year. Last year, the posts went from six times per week to three coinciding with a paper shortage 100 years ago and the Spectator halving the number of publication days.  Hopefully, it won’t be too long before we see Hamilton Spectator‘s at Trove for 1919 and beyond to help better understand how the people of Hamilton and district re-adjusted to life after WW1.

You can find more about Hamilton’s WW1 on the link – Hamilton’s WW1.   To read the biographies published to date, click on the links to the following Hamilton WW1 Memorials – Hamilton War MemorialAnzac AvenueClarke Street Memorial Avenue – or from the pages of enlistments on the link – Hamilton’s WW1 Enlistments.  In each case, clicking on underlined names will take you to the enlisted man’s biography.  The same applies to the names in this post.

 

100 Anzac Heroes

My side project, “Hamilton’s WW1” has reached a major milestone with 100 published stories of Hamilton men who enlisted to serve. Just as the group of “Hamilton Boys” photographed below were a diverse bunch, so are their stories.

'HAMILTON BOYS' c 30 April 1915. Photo Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial. Image no.DAOD1060 https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/DAOD1060/

‘HAMILTON BOYS’ c 30 April 1915. Photo Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial.  https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/DAOD1060/

WHY THEY ENLISTED…

Early on most Hamilton men enlisted for adventure and to answer the call to serve their King and country. As time went on, it was a duty to brothers and friends who went before and made the ultimate sacrifice.  There was still the adventure factor, but mostly among the younger men desperate to follow their older brothers to war. They didn’t know the reality, shielded by censorship and urged on by propaganda.  So keen was nineteen-year-old George Basil Lance to enlist in 1916 and unable to obtain his mother’s permission, he crossed the border and enlisted in Adelaide as twenty-four-year-old Lance Basille  For other men, enlistment was an escape from sadness, grief or societies glare.

WHO THEY WERE…

The lives the men were leaving behind varied greatly too.  Some were husbands, fathers, and widowers already experienced in life’s hardships such as George McQueen (below).  

GEORGE WILLIAM McQUEEN. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial

GEORGE WILLIAM McQUEEN. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial

Others were mere children. Ivan Shaw (below) eighteen at enlistment thankfully did return home but any of his boyish innocence was stolen away during three years of service.

Ivan Thomas Shaw. Image Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial. Image no.

IVAN THOMAS SHAW. Image Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial. Image no.

They came from loving homes and broken homes while others were born out of wedlock and raised by grandparents. They were rabbiters and drovers, teachers and law clerks.  There were the privileged and well-educated having attended Victoria’s leading private schools.  And those less fortunate for whom an education beyond the local state school was not an option.

 

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AT WAR…

Just as their lives at home were different, so were their war-time experiences.  Some served from Gallipoli through to the last days of the war and were lucky to see the shores of Australia again but most were broken physically and mentally and early deaths were common.  There were those killed in the first month at Gallipoli and others during the last throes of the war when hopes were rising they would see home again.  There were others who died in Melbourne or England before reaching the battlefields.  

Some were killed instantly, while others lingered with wounds or succumbed to common illnesses such as pneumonia or the more exotic malaria.  Others were killed during the first action they faced, their eyes still wide from the horrors unlike those hardened from a string of battles. Those men suffered too. Pozieres proved even the most dedicated man could lose his sense of purpose, question officialdom and maybe begin to buck the system. They were buried in France and England, Syria and at sea. Many of their bodies were never recovered and the only evidence they lie on foreign soil are their names on memorials at Lone Pine, Villers-Bretonneux and the Menin Gate. 

THEIR STORIES…

Hamilton’s WW1 offers a snapshot of life in all towns and cities across Australia during those war years and the men are indicative of all Australian men who enlisted. You can read the stories of the Hamilton men on the link-Hamilton’s WW1 or via the “Hamilton’s WW1” tab at the top of this page. There you will find a link to all names of enlisted men with Hamilton connections. Click on those underlined to read their WW1 story. Visiting the Hamilton WW1 Memorial page will take you to various Hamilton war memorials.  Again, any of the underlined names are those with a completed story.

Hamilton’s WW1 Facebook page offers a daily article from the Hamilton Spectator from 100 years before and the stories of the men are posted on significant anniversaries during their service.

Even though I’ve reached this milestone, it’s not time to stop.  There are still over two hundred men from Hamilton, just as deserving to have their stories told.  I also cannot forget Hamilton’s WW1 nurses and I will begin adding their stories soon.

Not Just Hamilton’s Soldiers

One of the features of Western District Families is Hamilton’s WW1 now with sixty-six profiles of enlisted men with Hamilton links.

'HAMILTON BOYS' c 30 April 1915. Photo Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial. Image no.DAOD1060 https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/DAOD1060/

‘HAMILTON BOYS’ c 30 April 1915. Photo Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial. Image no. DAOD1060 https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/DAOD1060/

I’ve set a target, possibly an over ambitious one, of 100 profiles by Anzac Day but I’ll give it a go. There are some good stories about Hamilton nurses that I would like to share before 25 April 2016 too. But first something I’ve noticed…well it’s one of many things I’ve observed during the course of my research, but let’s start with memorials…well, one of the things I’ve noticed about memorials…

If you visit the Hamilton War Memorial and look at the names, you could be excused for thinking those men listed lived in Hamilton for a significant part of their lives or, at the very least, were born there. But that’s not the case, they were from all over with a few men having only a fleeting connection with Hamilton.  

Some of the men had fathers who moved often with work.  Clifford Williams, who was unlikely to have even visited Hamilton, was a son of a teacher while William Thompson was the son of a railway worker who often moved his family.  Both are on the Hamilton War Memorial (below).  Others went to Hamilton as adults for work and were only there a short time before enlisting, such as Edwin Smith who arrived in Hamilton around 1913 to work at the Union Bank.  Reginald Briant was born in Hampshire, England and spent a few years in Melbourne before working for the Hamilton Electric Supply Company before his enlistment.

388

 

When searching for a family member on memorials and honour boards, clues from Electoral Rolls, Trove newspapers and the solider’s Attestation papers can help you find them.  Even if your soldier’s family just “passed through” a particular town, it’s worth following up. Soldiers were often memorialised in several towns.  As well as the Hamilton War Memorial, Clifford Williams and Percy Osborne had trees planted along Bacchus Marsh’s Avenue Honour.  And don’t overlook workplaces and churches.  Percy Osborne has a memorial window at Hamilton’s Christ Church Cathedral (below) and is on the Union Bank Honour Roll in Melbourne.

MEMORIAL WINDOW FOR PERCY OSBORNE BEAUMONT, HAMILTON CHRIST CHURCH CATHEDRAL.

MEMORIAL WINDOW FOR PERCY BEAUMONT OSBORNE, HAMILTON CHRIST CHURCH CATHEDRAL.

If you are wondering if Hamilton commemorated your WW1 soldier’s service, all Hamilton’s outdoor WW1 War Memorials including names are at Hamilton’s WW1.  Eventually, I will add Hamilton’s honour boards. The Victorian War Heritage Inventory is a useful resource for locating memorials across Victoria. You can search by the name or a place.

A quick reminder…to delve into the daily events of Hamilton 100 years ago, “like” the Hamilton WW1 Facebook page.  Along with new profiles, six days a week I post an article from the Hamilton Spectator from 100 years before.  It’s been interesting to read how Hamilton, just like other towns, continued on while so many were away fighting and how the subject of war managed to creep into most aspects of daily life.

The names of the sixty-six soldiers profiled at Hamilton’s WW1 are below. I’ve included their place of birth and other towns they had connections to. Most never returned to Australia. For some of those who did, life was never the same.  Lest We Forget.

AUSTIN, Glenister Burton  Hamilton

AUSTIN, William John  Hamilton, Adelaide

BARR, Gordon  Hotspur, Strathkellar, Warrnambool

BRAKE, William  Horsham, Hamilton, Mont Albert

BRIANT, Reginald Stuart  Hampshire (ENG), East Melbourne, Hamilton.

BURGESS, Ebenezer  Benalla, Mildura, Numurkah, Wonthaggi, Stratford

CAMERON, Archibald Douglas  Branxholme, Hamilton

CAMERON, Sidney Joseph  Hamilton

CAMERON, Thomas Waddell  Port Fairy, Hamilton, Kyabram

COULTER, Robert James  Hamilton

DAVIES, Albert  Hamilton

DAVIES, Stanley Walton  Hamilton, Lubeck

DOUGLAS, Claude Campbell Telford  Euroa, Hamilton

DUNN, Daniel Joseph  Heidelberg, Carlton

ELDER, Frank Reginald  Charlton, Jurek, Hamilton

FENTON, John Wilfred  Hamilton

FOLEY, Cornelius Thomas  Coleraine, Hamilton

GIBSON. Sydney Walter  Moe, Casterton, Hamilton, Bendigo

HARRIS, Leslie Duncan  Fremantle (WA), Hamilton, Coleraine

HENTY, Edward Ellis  Portland, Hamilton

HERILHY, George Joseph David  Balmoral, Hamilton

HERRMANN, Bernard  Hamilton, Hochkirch (Tarrington)

HIND, William Arthur  Mooroopna, Hamilton, Heyfield

ILES, Cyril Thomas Brackley  Hamilton, Windsor

JAFFRAY, Alfred John  Hamilton

KINGHORN, Walter Rodney  Byaduk

KIRKWOOD, Willliam John Clyde  Hamilton, Colac, Port Fairy

KNIGHT, James Alfred  Hamilton, Malvern

LANCE, George Basil  Casterton, Hamilton

LEWIS, Arthur Harold  Hamilton, St. Arnaud, Heywood

LIEBE, Sydney August  Hamilton

LINDSAY, Charles Henry  Heywood, Ballarat, Wallacedale, Hamilton

McPHEE, Norman Edward  Hamilton

MORISON, John Archibald McFarlane  Hamilton, Maroona

MULLANE, Leslie Alexander  Branxholme, Wallacedale, Hamilton

NIDDRIE, Stanley Roy  Hamilton

NIVEN, William David  Harrow, Merino Downs, Hamilton

NORMAN, William Leslie  Hamilton, Warracknabeal

OSBORNE, Percy Beaumont  Bacchus Marsh, Maryborough, Hamilton, Ballarat

PORTER, George Richard  Hamilton

PORTER, Norman Leslie James  Hamilton, Wallacedale, Broken Hill, Tasmania

RHOOK, Archibald Alfred  Tyrendarra, Hamilton

RHOOK, Henry Joseph William  Hamilton, Beaufort

RICHIE, George  Katunga, Willaura, Hamilton

RIGBY, Frederick Roland Angus  Coleraine, Hamilton

SALTER, Herbert Ernest  Naracoorte, Dunkeld, Hamilton

SCOTT, Alexander William  Portland, Hamilton, Donald

SHARROCK, Charles  Terang, Mt. Napier, Penshurst

SHAW, Ivan Thomas  Coleraine, Hamilton

SHEEHAN, Albert Edward  Macarthur, Hamilton

SMITH, Edwin Richardson  Mooroopna, Shepparton, Morwell, Kyabram, Hamilton

STAGOLL, Robert Leslie  Hamilton

STEVENSON, Alexander John  Hamilton, Portland

STEVENSON, Edgar Richmond  Hamilton, Portland

STEWART, Charles Herbert  Byaduk, Hamilton, Western Australia

THOMPSON, William Norton  Horsham, Ararat, Hamilton, Hopetoun

TREDREA, Francis Stanley  Hamilton, Stawell

TRIGGER, Samuel Wilfred  Macarthur, Hamilton, Murray Bridge (SA)

UNDERWOOD, Arthur Bell Percy  Dunkeld, Bendigo, Hamilton

WATERS, William Henry  Edenhope, Hamilton

WESTGARTH, Horace Leonard  Hamilton

WHITE, John Francis Raymond  Hamilton, Cosgrave

WILLIAMS, Clifford Davis  Tarnagulla, Bacchus Marsh, Melbourne

WILLIAMS, Lancelot Hamilton  Hamilton

WOMERSLEY. Edgar  Dunkeld

YOUNG, Clarence Everard  Hamilton

**Postscript – Since writing this post, I have added a further forty stories of Hamilton’s enlisted men.  You can read them at Hamilton’s WW1