Hamilton’s WW1 on Facebook

The “Hamilton’s WW1” side of Western District Families is growing all the time, although it mightn’t be obvious if you rely on a subscribers email or your RSS feed to notify you of a new post. As Hamilton’s WW1 and the Pioneer Obituary Index are set up a little differently than the main part of the blog, new content on those pages does not trigger an email or listing on your RSS feed, or show in the timeline you are reading this post from.

Until now, finding new soldier profiles meant you had to keep checking back at the site and then go through the lists of names on the “Hamilton’s WW1” tab at the top of this page.  Nobody wants to have to do that. To overcome the problem, somewhat, I have set up a Hamilton’s WW1 Facebook page to post soldier profiles as I write them.

I did consider posting new profiles to my Facebook group I’ve Lived in Hamilton, Victoria but not all members have an interest in military or family history.  Or I could have posted new profiles to my Western District Families page, but as the name suggest it covers the Western District and I didn’t want to have an overload of Hamilton content.

 

hww

An added extra for those who “like” the page is a daily “100 years ago in the Hamilton Spectator…” post to give us a feel of how life was in Hamilton and district during the war years.  The Hamilton Spectator was published six days a week during WW1, so on the seventh day I will  post other content relevant to Hamilton’s WW1.

After around three weeks, there is already a lot of content and thirty-eight “likes”, not too bad in a short space of time.  However, with Facebook’s mysterious algorithms used to decide how many people actually see each post, thirty-eight “likes” is not enough to ensure the stories of  Hamilton’s WW1 soldiers are not forgotten.

You can find Hamilton’s WW1 Facebook page here, or look for the link in the right-hand sidebar of this page.

 

More Soldiers, More Sorrow

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HAMILTON WAR MEMORIAL

 

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 Mouquet 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“.

 

 

menu

 

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 https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/P00649.004/

Image Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial. Image no. P00649.004 https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/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.

 

alb

STANLEY & ALBERT DAVIES. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial. Image no. DA15721 https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/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 https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/DASEY1899/

STANLEY ROY NIDDRIE. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial. Image no. DASEY1899 https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/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”.

 

LEST WE FORGET

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Trove Tuesday – Spec-tacular

Since late last year, myself and many others have followed the progress of the digitisation of the Hamilton Spectator, from the poll conducted by the Australian National Library and Inside History Magazine through to yesterday when we were able to read the first digitised issues of the Hamilton Spectator from 1870-1873. But we had an extra surprise when we discovered that not only was the Hamilton Spectator (1870-1873)  digitised but also the Hamilton Spectator and Grange District Advertiser (1860-1870).

From a quick search, I have already found some treasures in the two papers.  For example, an article about the opening of the Byaduk Wesleyan Church at which my ggg grandfather and Methodist local preacher, James Harman was present.  Also an article about an inquest at Cavendish where another two ggg grandfathers Charles Hadden and James Mortimer were jurors. And in another article, a report of the opening of the Presbyterian Church at Casterton, built by yet another ggg grandfather William Diwell and his partner George Northcott.

The most precious pieces of Trove treasure from the two Specs have been the following articles from the Hamilton Spectator about an accident that ultimately claimed the life of William Diwell in 1871.

diwell1

“MERINO.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1873; 1914 – 1918) 22 Mar 1871 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article196304000&gt;.

 

William was just forty-six when he died in the days after his accident.  His wife, Margaret Turner, died in 1869 aged forty-five.  Their early departures left a family of eight, the youngest just seven.  It was interesting to read of William’s funeral and learn he was a Forester.

"MERINO." Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 - 1873; 1914 - 1918) 29 Mar 1871.

“MERINO.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1873; 1914 – 1918) 29 Mar 1871<http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article196304508&gt;.

Thank you National Library of Australia, Inside History Magazine, Hamiltonians past and present and history lovers everywhere who saw the value of having the Hamilton Spectator digitised.

To track the Hamilton Spectator’s path to Trove glory, these are the posts I’ve written along the way.

Vote 1 – Hamilton Spectator

And the winner is…Hamilton Spectator

Make a Pledge for the ‘Spec’

 

 

Launching Hamilton’s WW1

It was time I considered how Western District Families could commemorate the centenary of WW1. A project was selected and work began, however another idea presented itself. A list of names in two editions of the Hamilton Spectator from 1917 and 1918 and some potted histories of Hamilton soldiers I wrote for the I’ve Lived in Hamilton Facebook group saw “Hamilton’s WW1” come to fruition.  The first installment of “Hamilton’s WW1”  is now available, the story of Hamilton’s Anzac Avenue and the men commemorated at a now all but forgotten landmark in Hamilton.

Each of the faces in the photo below have a story to tell. They are some of the early Hamilton enlistments and immediately I recognise twenty-two year-old Hamilton College and Geelong College educated John “Paddy” Fenton (back row, 3rd from right) and George McQueen (centre, 2nd row from front) a thirty-five year-old widower, both killed in France. Others among them were also killed, some wounded and others suffered psychologically but as they gathered at Broadmeadows in 1915, none could imagine the path ahead. What was in store for them or the man beside them. But they were “Hamilton Boys” and they would give it their all and they did.

LEST WE FORGET  

'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/

And the winner is…Hamilton Spectator

"[No heading]." Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1914 - 1918) 6 Jan 1914: .

“[No heading].” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1914 – 1918) 6 Jan 1914: .

In 1951, the residents of Hamilton banded together in one of the greatest community efforts the town has ever seen.  From 6am to 10pm on a Saturday in December, a team of people met to dig a 165 feet by 50 feet Olympic size swimming pool.  Over the next two years, the volunteers continued their working bees building change rooms and a filtration plant until the pool opened for the summer of 1952/53.  The pool still serves the community today and it’s where many children have learnt to swim, including me.

"One way to build an Olympic pool." The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) 21 Jul 1953: 20. .

“One way to build an Olympic pool.” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 21 Jul 1953: 20. <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article23257036&gt;.

Hamilton’s pool was the talk of Victoria and leaders of country towns met trying to emulate Hamilton’s efforts.  The Horsham Times of December 18,1951 published the comments of Mr Powell, the headmaster of the Hamilton and Western District College.  He said the efforts of the volunteers “marked a re-awakening of civic pride in Hamilton.”  Continuing, he said the town needed a pool and “a community effort was the best way of attaining it”.

While it in no way rivals the efforts of the people of Hamilton over 60 years ago,  recent activities prove the same community spirit is not dead.  For a week, Hamilton people past and present banded together to make sure the Hamilton Spectator moved a step closer to digitisation at Trove.  And it did, achieving 59% of the vote.

The ‘Spec’ hit the lead early and as the week progressed, the stand out rival was the Gympie Times.  The Gympie supporters were giving it a real push and by last Saturday, the Gympie Times had hit the lead. But Hamilton supporters rallied and by the close of voting on November 30, from a total of 31, 658, the Hamilton Spectator received 18,836 votes and the Gympie Times 10, 139. Coming in third was the Laura Standard with 1082 votes.

The I’ve Lived in Hamilton, Victoria Facebook group was abuzz with excitement, especially over the last weekend.  Former residents from interstate and as far away as The Hague and Texas joined the voting.   The Hamilton community spirit shone through,  seeking a win not just for the ‘Spec’, but also Hamilton.  It’s not surprising. Many group members are descendants of the residents who worked hard to give Hamilton a great community asset back in 1951.

Along with the Hamilton voters, there was also many Western Victorian family and local historians who voted, aware of the benefits the ‘Spec’ will bring to their research.  From the Victoria Genealogy Facebook group to the Rootsweb Western District mailing list, the word was out – “Vote for the Spec”.

So thank you Inside History Magazine and the National Library of Australia for giving us the chance to decide on a newspaper.  We look forward to the next stage of the ‘Spec’s’ path to digitisation,  a crowd-funding project.  I will keep you posted with news of that as it comes to hand.

 

Trove Tuesday – Yellow Cake

Hamilton has always grappled with its identity, from “education town” and “cathedral city” to the most enduring (and endearing) tag “Wool Capital of the World”.  But  Mayor Cr. William Ferrier Hewett’s vision in 1955, published in The Argus of June 10,  really takes the cake…

tt

"THE STATE of VICTORIA: Home town news from everywhere." The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) 10 Jun 1955: 6. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71887433>.

“THE STATE of VICTORIA: Home town news from everywhere.” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 10 Jun 1955: 6. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71887433&gt;.

Trove Tuesday – Hamilton’s Hero Herbalist

Well, it’s Tuesday and that could only mean one thing…Trove Tuesday. It’s been too long.  I’ve read a lot of the Table Talk newspaper lately, a recent addition to the wonderful collection of Trove Digitised Newspapers.  Because Table Talk (1885-1939) was a social newspaper, I have enjoyed the comings and goings of Western District folk from those times, spending their holidays with friends or living it up in the “big smoke” as guests of Melbourne’s best hotels.  Alas, my Western District families were not in the same class of people who graced the social pages, but I still enjoy the photos of those from a higher station in life enjoying tennis and golf tournaments and fox hunts all in the finest fashions.

One feature of Table Talk is wedding photos.  I have found several  Hamilton brides, and have admired their beautiful gowns and bridesmaids’ dresses while following the changing trends in wedding attire.  One particular photo caught my eye, mainly because I didn’t recognise the Hamilton family names as those that regularly graced the Table Talk pages. It was from the marriage of  Caleb Shang and Annie Kassene, celebrated at the home of Mr J. Quing Yen of Brown Street, Hamilton.  The bridal party consisted of members of the Shang, Kassene and Quing Yen families.

shang

TOILET ECONOMY. (1923, May 24). Table Talk (Melbourne, Vic. : 1885 – 1939), p. 12. Retrieved June 22, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article146570075

I searched Trove for Caleb Shang and was immediately met with headlines of “War Hero”.  I then Googled his name and there were entries from the Australian Dictionary of  Biography, Wikipedia, the Australian War Memorial and various newspaper articles.  I checked with those sites and the same Caleb Shang married Annie Kassene, but considering Caleb was from Cairns, I was left wondering why he was in Hamilton?

As it turns out,  Caleb served with the 47th Battalion during WW1 and after a battle at Messines Ridge in 1916, he received a Distinguished Conduct Medal(DCM).  In 1918, while still with the 47th, his brave actions at the Somme saw him awarded a Military Medal and a bar was added to his D.C.M, thus becoming the highest decorated Australian soldier of Chinese descent. In August 1918, he was shot in the leg and returned to Australia where he was given a hero’s welcome by the people of Cairns.

Sometime after his return, Caleb worked as a herbalist and moved to Victoria to practice.  To be precise, he moved to Hamilton, joining another herbalist John Quing Yen who married Maud Elizabeth Wah Shang in Queensland in 1910.  Presumably, Maud was Caleb’s sister.  As a herbalist,  Caleb not only serviced the people of Hamilton but also travelled to Mt Gambier offering consultations at a local boarding house, as seen in this advertisement from the Border Watch of September 22, 1922, eight months before his marriage.

Advertising. (1922, September 22). Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 - 1954), p. 2. Retrieved June 22, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article77677775

Advertising. (1922, September 22). Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 – 1954), p. 2. Retrieved June 22, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article77677775

After the wedding,  Caleb and Annie did not remain in Hamilton long, returning to Cairns. After a long illness,  Caleb passed away in 1953.

I thought it necessary to find out a little about the bride Anna (Annie) Louise Kassene,  born at Hamilton in 1900.  She was the daughter of bootmaker Gustav Kassene and Hulda Grambau of Hochkirch (Tarrington).  Hulda died in 1901 after the birth of her third child at barely 20 years of age and Gustav died in 1915.  The two Kassene men in the wedding photo are possibly Annie’s two siblings.  Annie died in Cairns in 1955.

Sources

Australian Dictionary of Biography

Australian War Memorial

Herald Sun