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…
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.
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.
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.
“Each regiment formed upon a squadron frontage in three lines from 300 to 500 yards apart, and every man was restless, excited, and resolute for victory.
At 4.30 the two regiments moved off at a trot. Surprise and speed were their one chance, so no time was lost in breaking into a gallop. For what seemed to be a space of minutes the Turkish fire ceased, as if the garrison was wondering what the approaching horsemen had in mind. Then swiftly realising that they were out for business, the whole line burst into a flame of fire.
But the Australians were not to be denied, much less were their glorious chargers in the mood to hesitate. As if entering into the spirit of the great game, with ears pricked and manes flashing back, they headed in a wild scamper into the setting sun.
As they reached the Turkish front line trenches, the leading troopers dug in their spurs and their mounts cleared the obstacle in their stride”
P.Goldensted. (November 11, 1933). The Sydney Morning Herald, p11 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article17023181.
The outcome, achieved in just under 60 minutes of wild riding,sheer bravery and maybe a touch of madness, saw the 4th Light Horse Brigade, consisting of the 4th and 12th Light Horse Regiments, capture Beersheba in one of the most important offensives of WW1.
Eight hundred Australian Light Horsemen waited on a ridge about six kilometres from the town of Beersheba, hidden from the Turkish troops. At 4.30pm on October 31, 1917, under the orders of Lieutenant General Harry Chauvel, they moved forward, first at a walk, then a trot, gradually quickening until the order of “CHARGE” was given, and 800 horsemen urged their horses, tired and thirsty from travelling overnight, into a gallop.
The Turks, expecting the Australians to dismount and fight one on one at the first trench, watched with surprise as horsemen, with only bayonets in hand, rode resolutely with no intention of stopping. They cleared the first trench, then the second. As the first squadron approached the third trench and dismounted, gun fire raining upon them, a bullet hit a 28-year-old farmer from Byaduk in the Western District and he died where he fell.
Walter Rodney Kinghorn, the youngest child in a family of 12, was born in Byaduk in 1888 to Francis Kinghorn and Elizabeth White. Britain declared war on Germany on August 4, 1914 and 20 days later at Broadmeadows, 26-year-old Walter Kinghorn enlisted, one of the first from the Hamilton district to do so. Prior to that, life for unmarried Walter consisted of farm work at Byaduk, like his father and brothers before him. His future had looked mapped out for him, but with no wife or children, the offer to see the world was all too enticing.
On August 22 1914, the people of Hamilton demonstrated the patriotic feelings that abounded as they bid farewell to what they then thought was the remaining quota of Hamilton district volunteers preparing for departure overseas. Those in the streets that day described the scene as “stirring”.
It was not just men leaving Hamilton. Fourteen horses, donated by prominent local breeders, including James Learmonth of Melville Forest, also said goodbye to their breeding grounds and like the men, were oblivious to what lay ahead of them.
The mood was buoyant and locals provided gifts for the men including cigarettes and a box of cigars, from Mr Short, brother-in-law of Private Maurice Tilley. The parade moved along the streets of Hamilton to the Town Hall, accompanied by the Hamilton Pipe Band.
Walter spent time training at the Broadmeadows Camp until October 19, 1914 when the men and horses of the 4th Light Horse sailed aboard the steamer HMAT Wiltshire bound for Egypt. With him were Tom Henderson, Maurice Tilley and William Niven of Hamilton and John Francis of Yulecart.
They arrived at Port Said, Egypt on December 10, 1914 and work began to unload the horses and set up camp.
Walter Kinghorn’s service record gives no clue to his whereabouts from the time the steamer docked in December 1914 until January 2, 1916 when he was recorded as being in Heliopolis. The only other listing was that he was a driver with 4th Light Horse Transport from the time of his enlistment until July 5, 1916.
If Walter remained with the 4th Light Horse after their arrival, he would have travelled with them to Gallipoli during May 1915, minus the horses, as infantry reinforcements. The regiment spent six months in the trenches at ANZAC Cove before returning to Egypt to discover the regiment would be split up. Horses had limitations in the desert with water supplies an ongoing concern. Two squadrons left for France, while the rest remained around the Suez Canal.
Walter spent time at the 4th Light Horse Regiment Headquarters at Heliopolis before falling ill late in May, 1916. He spent a few weeks in hospital before joining the 1st Light Horse for a month at Tel-El-Kebir. Then on to the 1st Double Squadron at Serapeum, Egypt in July, where he remained for four months.
There was still reshuffling among the Light Horse regiments and the 4th Light Horse joined with the Imperial Camel Corps to form the 3rd Camel Regiment at El Ferdan, Egypt in November 1916. Walter was with the camel regiment for three months. On December 27, 1916, Henry Langtip wrote in his diary “Got camels issued today. I don’t like them at all but I suppose one will get used to them“, but the following day…”On camels for the first time today and it was great fun as several fell off”.
With further reorganization to the mounted brigades in early March 1917, Walter returned to his role as a driver with the 4th Light Horse Transport, then camped at Ferry Post on the Suez Canal. He was also promoted to Lance Corporal. For some reason, at his own request, Walter reverted from driver to trooper on May 26, 1917 while in Tel El Fara, Palestine. That decision may have sealed his fate.
In the months leading up to the attack on Beersheba, on two occasions the Allies had unsuccessfully tried to take Gaza but a different tack was in the planning. The Light Horse would come from a another direction, the East.
Harry Langtip wrote on Sunday October 28, 1917, “We are ready to move out to attack Beersheba at a moments notice. We have had a lecture from the Colonel and he tells us that we are going 30 miles tonight and 30 miles again the next night” (p37 of transcript).
On October 31 he wrote “We rode all night to get right around Beersheba, 32 miles in all…Our horses ready to go into the line to attack within the next few minutes. It was a terrible ride in heavy dust all the way. The horses have still got the saddles on and I don’t know when they will get them off…”
Soon they were on the move as the charge began. Aloysius Cotter of the 4th Light Horse, wrote home to his sister in Gippsland about the charge. He recounted burying his head in his horse’s mane as they galloped directly into the barrage.
Thomas Hoskisson, of the 12th Light Horse Regiment wrote home to his brother in N.S.W. about his experience.
Walter Kinghorn was one of the brave troopers at the head of the charge. His father Francis received a letter from Major James Lawson, a hotel keeper from Rupanyup prior to the war, describing Walter’s last ride.
As members of the 4th Light Horse dismounted and fought the Turkish soldiers in the trenches, the 12th Light Horse passed them by and continued on to Beersheba clearing the way for the remaining squadrons to move forward, resulting in the capture of the town. Horses wasted no time drinking from the wells, another advantage of taking Beersheba. Some horses that had survived the grueling gallop, dropped dead from exhaustion after drinking. Behind them, on the path they had travelled lay fallen horses, taken down from underneath their riders. Considering the number of troops involved and the risk taken, the casualties were considered light with 31 men killed and 36 wounded. The loss of horses was higher, with 70 killed and at least 70 wounded.
Seven other men died at the same trench as Walter from Troopers to Officers , and they were buried close to where they fell. Eight white crosses marked their graves.
The 4th Light Horse Quarter Master Sergeant James French managed to craft a memorial plaque for the grave site, using scrap metal, the debris of war. During the 1920s, the plaque was donated to the Australian War Memorial, but not before approval was given by the eight families.
He may have been thousands of miles from home when he died, but a touch of Byaduk, family and friends was not far away from Walter. Also in Palestine was the No. 1 Squadron of the Australian Flying Corp (A.F.C.) and among the ranks was Charles Harman, Walter’s brother-in-law.
The A.F.C.’s role in Palestine was mainly surveillance, taking photos of the war front and military objectives, such as this photo above Beersheba.
Charles Harman, 10 years older than Walter, married Walter’s eldest sister Catherine in 1905, but he would have known Walter all of his life. After all, Charles’s grandfather James Harman and the Kinghorns had neighboring properties and in 1907, James and Jonathan Harman stood with Frank and Elizabeth Kinghorn for a photograph with other Byaduk pioneers. The two families had known each other for 50 years. Even while they were overseas, letters to Walter and Charles would have told them the news of the marriage of Walter’s brother David Kinghorn to Charles’ cousin, Charlotte Harman in 1915.
Charles Harman was a Sergeant with the A.F.C. No. 1 Squadron mechanics. The mechanics made a memorial plaque and Charles erected it on Walter’s grave. A touching gesture and most likely one of the most difficult times of Charles’ war service. During the 1920s, the plaque was returned to the Kinghorn family after Walter and the other men were exhumed and buried at the Beersheba War Cemetery.
In contrast to the deserts of Palestine, back at home in Western Victoria, the spring grass was abundant, lambs were fattening and the local P&A Agricultural show season was underway. News of Walter’s death, however, began to reverberate from Byaduk by mid November, 1917. His death was felt as far away Trawalla, west of Ballarat, home to Walter’s sister Flora. Reports appeared in both the Ballarat Courier and the Ripponshire Advocate.
In the Hamilton Spectator, Frank Kinghorn gave thanks to all those who had paid tribute to his youngest son.
When Major Lawson corresponded with Frank Kinghorn the following year, he too paid tribute to Walter and reassured Frank that Walter had played a part in the “finest charge in the annals of modern warfare”. Little consolation for Frank, then in his 80s. He died in 1919.
Byaduk suffered the loss of 14 men during WW1 and the community moved to remember them. Described as a historic day for Byaduk, on June 28, 1918, the families of the local men that served, planted trees for an Avenue of Honor. Those who had paid the supreme sacrifice carried a laurel wreath on their plaques. One of Walter’s sisters, most likely Fanny, planted his tree. Mrs Hilda Harman, aunt of Charles Harman planted one for him, while Charles’ sisters Julia and Alice planted trees for the other Harman brothers to serve, Reuben Edward and William Loud.
A cousin of Charles Harman, Isabella Harman had two brothers-in-law serve, Denis and Michael Bunworth. Denis was killed only a month earlier in France. As Isabella’s husband, Jonathan Bunworth planted a tree for his brother Michael, he could never imagine that within two weeks, Micheal’s plaque too would bear the telling laurel wreath. Michael was killed on August 1, 1918 in France. The deaths of the two Bunworth boys was also felt by the Kinghorns as Walter’s brother Frank jnr. married Denis and Michael’s sister, Johanna. Three families intertwined through marriage and united in grief.
In 1922, a War Memorial was officially unveiled at Byaduk to remember the fallen. A fitting tribute to the men from Byaduk who served and died.
In nearby Hamilton, the brave ride of the Light Horsemen at Beersheba was also remembered, with a row of 14 Aleppo palms planted along Alexandra Parade in 1920 as a tribute.
Unveiled in 1995, a memorial stone close to the palms completes the Beersheba memorial. Water Kinghorn’s name is beside Dunkeld boy, Edward Womersley, who died of his wounds in the days after the charge.
To the horses of the Australian Light Horse, especially those from the Western District that never returned to rolling green pastures, but instead only knew sand, dust, flies, heat and death, their bravery and endurance should never be forgotten.
While in no way can the adrenaline, fear and the scale of the charge at Beersheba be recreated, the Australian film “The Lighthorsemen” does go some way to depict the events of October 31, 1917.
But nothing can go past recollections of those that were at Bersheeba such as the following poem by Trooper Arthur Beatty of Sassafras written in 1918 remembering those buried in a “Bedouin camping place”
This post was written for the 2014 Trans-Tasman ANZAC Day Blog Challenge. Click on the link to read some great ANZAC day tributes from other bloggers. To read my previous ANZAC Day posts, click on this link…Trans-Tasman ANZAC Day Blog Challenge – 2011-2013.
A week on and it is New Year’s Eve, so let’s go back to the towns of the Western District to see what was happening as year’s end, thanks to Trove.
A Warrnambool is a popular New Year’s Eve destination today and a little livelier than 1915. After a tragic year, there was hope for better things in 1916. Now we know that they did not come. Sorry, this article is a little difficult to read in parts.
Just as Warrnambool had the local brass band playing, so did Coleraine.
Hamilton residents had an evening of outdoor silent films to enjoy on New Year’s Eve, 1915. There were also many activities to look forward to the following day, including several race meetings, with trains running from Hamilton.
Those who attended enjoyed New Year’s Eve pictures enjoyed the humorous “Josie’s Legacy”, the dramatic “Winthrop Diamonds” and an offering from Pathe’s Gazette. Mr. and Mrs. H.A. Palmer accompanied the films with incidental music.
The grassy hill within the Hamilton Botanic Gardens is a perfect place for an outdoor picture theatre.
Despite having a late night, Hamiltonians were up early on New Year’s Day to take part in the many activities available, such as the Winslow races, sports days and day trips to coastal towns.
As 2013 draws to a close, may 2014 be a good year for you. Happy New Year.
What could I share for a Christmas Eve Trove Tuesday? Something Christmassy of course. With many new Western District newspapers now at Trove, I thought I would see what was happening on Christmas Eve in the towns that missed out on a mention in the Christmas posts from the previous two years. The year was 1915 and country was suffering with WW1 and drought .
Coleraine put on the usual Christmas Eve of last minute shopping and the Coleraine Brass Band.
Business was brisk at Casterton and the Casterton Times took the opportunity to rib the pessimists of the district, who I can only imagine had predicted doom for Christmas trading given the events of the time.
Because of electricity restrictions due to the war, some of the shop displays could not be highlighted as well as earlier years.
You would be hard pressed to find most of these goods in a shop in Penshurst these days, but in 1915, Chesswas’ had it all.
For those in Hamilton, if a buggy shaft broke or a horse lost a shoe over Christmas, shanks’ pony would have had to suffice until January 3rd when the coachbuilders, farriers and blacksmiths of the town resumed after their well earned Christmas break.
To finish this Christmas Eve Trove Tuesday post, may I say Merry Christmas to all of you, I greatly appreciated your continued support.
Unfortunately for those hoping to read about poor afflicted Nellie Bligh with the eyes of a dog, I’m sorry, this post is not about Nellie, but my cryptic title will become more obvious as you read on. This post is actually about Hamilton and the wonderful Facebook group, “I’ve Lived in Hamilton, Victoria” that has flourished over the past few months.
You may remember my post, A Pleasant Distraction, about the group I had started. At that time there were 1100 members. Today we have 1930 members with 2000 achievable by the end of the year. There are now over 1200 photos and countless posts and comments.
In my earlier post I mentioned we had brought together a post-WW2 social history of Hamilton, but two months later, the time range has gone back, and we now have history from the 19th century also. A favourite series of photos was of the many beautiful homes and homesteads in and around Hamilton today. It was amazing the number of stories that came out about those properties and I intend to write a future post about just that.
At times we have despaired at what has been lost, accepting that in some cases progress marches on but in other cases, questioned the rationale of earlier city leaders.
The group has posts on everything from the Fire Brigade to Brass, Pipe and Rock Bands, businesses and transport, schools and sport from hockey to horse racing. We have ventured out to the towns surrounding Hamilton such as Casterton, Cavendish and Dunkeld. There are members that have lived in these places but attended school in Hamilton, while those that lived in Hamilton are familiar with the towns, because of family, friends or sport.
Photos definitely help get the discussion going. An example is this photo of the Hamilton pool during the height of summer. It evoked many memories because anyone who went to the pool during the 1960s and ’70s, and to a lesser extent the 1980s (the diving boards were removed by then), would remember it exactly as the photo depicts. The stories flowed and there are now 175 comments and 267 “likes” to date. Thank you to Judy Forrest for allowing me to share this classic photo.
But, it’s a humble pie that has been most popular. Actually, it was a photo of a tray of pies from Kings Bakery, Hamilton. Established in 1916. Kings still operate in Hamilton. Many ex-Hamiltonians had mentioned how much they would like a Kings pie again. Those still in Hamilton responded, and have almost daily, posted photos of the said pies. “Pie Wars” is on. From my point of view photos of cream cakes entering the battle was pleasing and a King’s cream bun will be a must next time I’m in Hamilton. (Photos will ensue)
The ongoing pie discussions takes nothing away from the group as it is the mix of history, memories and casual banter between members, that has created a wonderful place for Hamilton people, past and present, to come together and I am proud that the group has evolved in such a way.
On a personal note, the group’s popularity has brought some attention my way, resulting in an appearance in a regular column in the Hamilton Spectator, “Where Are They Now”. Having read many of these columns over the years, I find it hard to place myself among the well-known former Hamiltonians that have graced the column before me. Also, I continue to find people with links to my family which is great and like others I have rekindled old acquaintances and made many new ones.
Early next year a reunion has been arranged in Brisbane and will be a great event as many former Hamilton residents now live in Queensland. The logistics of getting King’s pies to Brisbane is already being considered. We also hope to see a “Back to Hamilton” sometime in the next few years.
Because of the group’s growth, I now have two co-administrators to keep an eye on things when I can’t. Tim and Tony have contributed greatly to the group and I really must thank them for the time they have put in. And a big thank you to all the group members who have embraced it and have made such positive contributions. The many photos that people have so willingly shared has been overwhelming, especially the many treasured family photos. I may have started the group, but Hamiltonians near and far have made it what it is now.
Now, have you worked out the title yet?
The Hamilton Brass Band has played a big part in lives of some of my family members, especially the Diwell and Gamble families, and there are still descendants of those families in the band today. Another family member, Frederick Hughes the husband of my ggg aunt Martha Harman was a long-standing leader of the Hamilton Brass Band.
With Christmas just around the corner, I thought I would share this little snippet found at Trove, from the Hamilton Spectator of December 22, 1917. An annual tradition for the band, was to play on “Kennan’s corner”, (the corner of Gray and Thompson Street) on Christmas Eve. Freddie Hughes, a Hamilton jeweller, was band leader. Interesting not a Christmas Carol in sight on the program.
Band music is my blood, so I just had to find a rendition of one of the pieces on the play list, “Sunshine of Your Smile”, to take me to Kennan’s Corner, Christmas Eve, 1917.