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.

 

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.

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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

 

 

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“.

 

 

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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.

 

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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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Passing of the Pioneers

Collecting the obituaries for August Passing of the Pioneers, I discovered that many of the pioneers had either worked for or had a father who for the Henty brothers. Hannah Spiken and Elizabeth Stevenson were both born at the time their fathers worked for the Hentys, with Elizabeth born at Munthum Station.  Harriet Tate was also at Munthum Station where she worked as a nursemaid.

There is also the story of John Bodey who lived to 106 and Mary Finn who’s husband’s family operated the Glenelg Inn, around which the town of Casterton grew. The hotel still operates today. Also included are two of the wealthier pioneers of the Western District, Alexander Davidson and James Whyte.

Alexander DAVIDSON: Died 17 August 1874 at Portland. Western Victorian squatter, Alexander Davidson was born in Inverness, Scotland in 1801. He acquired his wealth during his time as co-owner of Satimer station at Wando Vale. In later life, he built the Portland home, Wando Villa and contributed extensively to the Portland Wesleyan Church. The Glenelg and Wannon Settlers website has further information on Alexander Davidson on the Wando Vale settlers page.

James WHYTE: Died August 1882 at Hobart, Tasmania. James Whyte and his brothers were pioneers of Coleraine, with the main street named in their honour. Born in Scotland in 1820, Whyte arrived in Tasmania with his family in 1832. In 1837, James and his brothers William, George, Pringle and John arrived in Port Phillip settling at Konowootong near Coleraine.

James then moved to Clunes taking co-ownership of a large station where gold was later discovered. In 1853, he returned to Tasmania, a much richer man and ran for the seat of Brighton during the 1854 election. He was unsuccessful, but ran again in 1856 and won a seat in the Legislative Council of Tasmania.  In 1863, he became Premier, holding the post until 1866.

Despite their name held in perpetuum at Coleraine and with a state leader among them, the Whyte Brothers are part of the darker history of the Western District. In 1840, the brothers massacred at least one hundred aboriginals at The Hummocks near Wando Vale on two separate occasions. More information about what is known as the Fighting Waterholes Massacre and Fighting Hills Massacre can be found on the link to an ABC article.

Joseph COUCH:  Died 30 August 1911 at Portland. Joseph Couch, born in Cornwall, arrived in Victoria aboard the Mary Ann in 1856.  He spent 17 years working for Edward Henty before taking up the role of curator of the Portland Botanic Gardens.  Joseph was the curator for twenty-six years demonstrating a great knowledge of plants and a passion for the gardens.  Joseph’s memory continues with his name on a plaque on the curator’s cottage at the gardens.

Mary FINN:  Died 15 August 1913 at Kew. Mary Finn was born in Ireland and arrived on the ship Susan in 1839 with her family. In 1852, Mary married Edmund Kirby, one of Casterton’s earliest settlers.  The marriage took place at the Glenelg Inn built on a part of Springbank station run by the Edmund Kirby, his brother James and sister Mary. The Kirby’s later took on the ownership of the hotel, previously operated by Mary’s late husband, and the town of Casterton grew around it. The Glenelg Inn still operates today.  One of her sons was John Finn Kirby, owner of 1911 Melbourne Cup winner, The Parisian.  More information on the Kirby family is on the Glenelg and Wannon settlers website.

John BODEY:  Died 21 August 1916 at Camperdown. Ireland native, John Bodey was born in 1810 making him 106 at the time of his death.  He lived through the reign of six British monarchs. This article appeared on his 100th birthday and outlines some of the events which occurred during John’s long life:

Centenarian’s Recollections. (1910, May 24). The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 – 1954), p. 1. Retrieved August 23, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article73125828

Having a keen interest in politics, John voted in a by-election at Warrnambool not long before his death. Upon John’s 105th birthday, his son George talked about his father’s longevity and independence.

INTERESTING CENTENARIAN. (1915, July 3). Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 – 1954), p. 4. Retrieved August 23, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article77776418

Edwin Clough DERMER: Died 26 August 1917 at Ballarat. Edwin Dermer was born in London and worked as a clerk for the Bank of England where his father was a departmental manager.  At eighteen, Edwin headed to Australia where he became a gold buyer at Melbourne, before heading for the goldfields of Ballarat. After around twenty years on the diggings, Edwin moved into retail, first as a manager of a crockery shop and then manager of a drapery business.  He then opened a grocery business in Mair Street.

Work aside, Edwin was a founding member of the Druids Lodge, a member of the Orion Masonic Lodge and president of the United Friendly Societies Dispensaries.  He had a keen interest in state and federal elections and served as a deputy returning officer for the electorate of Ballarat West.  In fifty years, he never missed a game of cricket in Ballarat.  One interesting point of interest in Edwin’s life was his wife was born in the same street in London and attended the same school, however, they did not meet until they came to Victoria.

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PASSING OF THE PIONEERS. (1920, August 24). The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 – 1954), p. 4. Retrieved August 20, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article73177733

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Annie DONNELLY:  Died August 1933 at Warrnambool.  Annie Donnelly of Irish descent married James Percy Skeyhill.  They spent time at Terang where their son Thomas John Skeyhill was born in 1895. The family moved to Hamilton with Thomas educated at St Mary’s Convent School.  Thomas enlisted for WW1 and it changed his life. While at Gallipoli, a shell blinded Thomas and upon his return, he published his war poetry and travelled overseas on lecture tours.

The Sydney Morning Herald published an example of his poetry at the time of his death in 1932, as a result of an aeroplane accident in the United States.  The full obituary is here and another from a local perspective was in the Camperdown Chronicle published May 26, 1932

TOM SKEYHILL. (1932, May 25). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), p. 16. Retrieved August 24, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article16866051

Annie and husband Thomas moved to Warrnambool where Thomas operated the Warrnambool Cordial Co. until his death in 1932, just a year before his wife.

Harriet TATE: Died August 1935 at Portland. Harriet Tate arrived in Australia from Ireland as a seven-year old.  At just eighteen, she married William Jackman, an early Wimmera pioneer.  In her early years, Harriet worked for Edward Henty at Munthum Station.  William and Harriet moved to Portland in their later life, with Harriet spending the last twenty-five years of her life in the town.

Hannah SPIKEN:  Died 3 August1936 at Portland. Born in Portland around 1864 Hannah was the daughter of John and Hannah Spiken. John worked for the Hentys and Hannah was said to have followed behind the plough, planting potatoes.  At eighteen, she married Walter Dennis Pitts a union which lasted fifty-four years.

Elizabeth STEVENSON: Died 3 August 1938 at Coburg.  Elizabeth was born at Merino Downs around 1863, the daughter of Joseph and Mary Stevenson. Joseph was working for the Hentys at Munthum station at the time of her birth, but the family later moved to Portland.  Elizabeth married William James Dunne of Ararat and they spent some time in Portland before moving to Ballarat.

John NIDDRIE:  Died August 1939 at Hamilton. John Niddrie was born at Cherrymount near Glenthompson around 1865.  John and his four brothers spent much time in the bush as children and as a result, all became accomplished bushmen.  They also were able to climb tall trees, a skill they learnt from local aboriginals.  John married Florence James of Hamilton.

Henry Dyer RUNDELL:  Died August 1941 at Hamilton. Henry Rundell was a long time resident of Condah, the son of John and Mathilda Rundell.  John was from Cornwall and Mathilda from Somerset. Henry married Annie Dawkins and they celebrated their Golden Wedding anniversary only months before Henry’s death. Henry was a dairy farmer at his property Swamp View near Condah and he was a parishioner of the Church of England.