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Remembered Today:

Australian Stories

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An Australian in the Royal Flying Corps – Gordon ROSS-SODEN

Gordon was born on the 31st of May 1888 in St Kilda, Victoria.  He was the youngest son of John Ross SODEN and Isabella Mary HALTON, who married in Vic in 1881. His father, John, died in 1892, aged 44, and was buried in the St Kilda Cemetery. Isabella, a beneficiary of the James Tyson millions, who became associated with all kinds of charitable and philanthropic work, died on the 21/11/1924 in London following an operation.  Her remains were brought back to Australia and buried with he

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Mary Elizabeth Maude CHOMLEY, O.B.E.

Mary Elizabeth Maude CHOMLEY, O.B.E. Australian Red Cross, Prisoners of War Department, London     [Note: In some sources Miss Chomley is referred to as Elizabeth Chomley, but as most of the information available on her in the newspapers uses her first name of Mary, I have chosen to stay with that.  Photo courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.]     LONDON 1918: “Miss Mary Chomley, a daughter of the late Judge Chomley, of Melbourne, and head of the Prisoners

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Australia's Boys - Hector Deslandes and mates

"AN ANZAC'S FAIR."   Have I been a soldier long sir?  Aye, it             seems like twenty years Since we sailed away from Melbourne             to the time we took Pozieres. We lobbed at dirty Suez and entrained             for Mena Camp, Right underneath the Pyramids, where             we soon got something damp. We marched around the desert until our             feet were sore, But soon took a jer

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Gone But Not Forgotten - Sister Hilda Mary Knox

“She was endowed with a beautiful disposition, and was in every way suited for the noble profession she adopted.” [Rev P.J. Edwards, Benalla]   Hilda was born at her parent’s home at Benalla in country Victoria on the 29th December 1883. Her father James Baldock KNOX was born in London, but had migrated to NZ, then to Australia, where he had been appointed Shire Secretary at Benalla in 1878.  In 1882 he married Hilda’s mother Mary Isabella BARLOW, and they lost their first c

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Death by accident...

With war comes death – the ultimate understatement!  Yet saturated by the carnage of man killing man, and of course the inevitable illness and disease that runs rife under such deplorable conditions – there is another form of death that can somehow appear fascinating – the accidental death.     What initially sparked this strange fascination in myself, many, many years ago, was while researching my Grandad’s war-mates, I came across the death notice of Alwyn Blake in 1922 – ‘resul

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Message in a Bottle

AWM Photo E02607: Officers of 5th Brigade HQ, near Amiens June 1918 – Harry Blunt standing back row, third from left.   The Great Australian Bight’s “Bottle Post” may be slower than the air mail but it is mighty interesting. [Western Mail, 2/6/1938]   Mighty interesting indeed! What an amazing tale; washed upon the shore of life over two decades after it began. 30th of October 1915, two young lads embarking on the big adventure, pen a final word to their sweethearts, seal the

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Gallipoli Diary of Frederick Heatley Symonds, 5th Bn

Photo of Fred’s brother, Edgar   On his 32nd Birthday Fred Symonds (533) volunteered for active service with the 1st AIF – it was the 8th of August 1914, and that same day he began a diary which he kept until his birthday the following year. Ten days later he passed the medical in Bendigo, Victoria, and on the 21st of August he left his hometown of Inglewood for Melbourne, where he went into camp at Broadmeadows. Three days after his arrival, he was surprised to find his young brother

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Gallipoli Diary of Fred Symonds (Continued)

July 1st – Go on duty at 2p.m. 2nd – Quiet day. Went to beach for water after being relieved. Only doing 24 hours on at a time now; reinforcements make a difference, and a lot of them are arriving lately. Major Lockhart [sic – Flockart] brought me some cigarettes to-day; he was wounded, and has just returned; cigarettes are very acceptable. Very heavy firing at Cape this afternoon, they must be advancing. 3rd – Hear that Turks attacked in vast numbers at Cape on 30th and 1st, and were

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Adventures of an Australian Nurse....

.....from the Western Front in 1914 to the Balkans in 1915 to the High Seas 1916 to 1919 – Edith Amy Trebilcock – AVH, BRC, QAIMNSR, AANS   Although born in England in 1875, Edith migrated to Australia with her family late 1880, early 1881, and this was to be the first of her many sea voyages. After receiving her early education in Ballarat, she trained as a nurse at the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne for 3 years between 1899 and 1902. Her training over, she left the Alfred and went into

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A ship's life - The Kanowna Story

She was ‘said to mark a new era in the Australian coastal trade’, a magnificent steamer with ‘superb accommodation for 270 passengers, and having a cargo-carrying capacity equal to 7,000 tons weight and measurement’. The SS Kanowna, built in 1902, was a sister ship to the SS Kyarra (1903); both having been built by Messrs W. Denny & Co of Dumbarton, for the A.U.S.N. Co, and both became popular, plying their trade along Australia’s coast in the decade to follow. Visiting Melbourne on the 15th

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Ada Maria Hogg - Voluntary Aid Worker, Red Cross

When war erupted across the world in August 1914, many Australian women visiting England, found they could ‘do their bit’ by joining the various aid organizations. Mrs Ada Hogg was one of these, although she was actually en-route to Paris as the news broke. Having been widowed the previous year, Ada had joined a round-the-world tourist party in May 1914, and parted from her tour group in Milan on the 1st of August to attend the International Esperanto Congress in Paris. Arriving to a city in tur

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Our Darling Boy - Frank Yorath

Although born and breed in the small Victorian country town of Rheola, Frank was living in the Melbourne suburb of Prahran when war broke out. Employed as a carrier and coach painter, in his leisure time he honed his skills with the Prahran Rifle Club and served as a Sergeant in the 78th Infantry. Eager to be a part of it all, Frank was amongst the first to front up at the Prahran Drill Hall on the 17th August to sign up with the 5th Infantry Battalion. Two days later the men from Prahran s

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Heroine of the First World War, Victim of the Second - Eileen King (MM)

One of only eight Australian nurses to be awarded the Military Medal in the First World War, Sister Eileen King stood alone in the fact that she wasn’t serving with the Australian Army Nursing Service (AANS). In early 1915, a request had come through from the Imperial Government for nurses to be sent to England to join Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service Reserve (QAIMNSR). Eileen was one of those selected by the Australian Department of Defence, and together with 28 other volunte

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The Macumber Brothers

[Photo of Bill Macumber]   Inglewood in central Victoria sprung into existence during the gold rush in 1859 as the surrounding district provided rich pickings for many a determined prospector. The Macumber brothers, Bill and Sam were born in the area long after the gold had petered out, but that didn’t deter them from trying their luck. They also worked as timber-cutters, which probably supplemented their meager earnings from prospecting. Four years separated them in age, Bill being th

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The Girl with the Flags

To many an Australian soldier she was simply ‘the girl with the flags’, but Miss Ethel Campbell was also known as the ‘Angel of Durban’, and by various other monikers. She was born in Scotland in 1886 but was living with her family in South Africa during the war years. After her fiancé was killed in the war, she devoted herself to caring for the troops who visited her city.   Working with the Y.M.C.A., Ethel, an expert signaler, began signaling to the troopships in 1915 as they arrived

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An 'Around the World Cruise' - for Fifteen Minutes in the Firing Line

The following is a snippet from ‘A DIGGER’S DIARY’ – a column in the Western Mail (Perth) – Conducted by “Non-Com” – which published brief accounts and reminisces from ex-service men:   Thur 1 Nov 1934: Brevity of Service Dear “Non-Com” – I left W.A. on October 9, 1917, having just turned 19 years of age the day before. Went over to Broadmeadows, Victoria, was there two weeks, embarked again and went via Panama Canal to England. Trained at Codford until the beginning of April

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Pte AJ Mather and Christmas at Prowse Point Cemetery

Among my list of things to see and do on the 2010 FFFAIF Tour of the Western Front, was to make sure I sighted and photographed the name of Alan James MATHER on the Menin Gate. A little sad that we’d be so close, and yet so far, and wouldn’t be able to attend his reburial on the 22nd of July – I whispered ‘welcome in from the cold’ to the eventually to be erased inscription.   Private Mather’s remains had been discovered at St Yvon (St Ives) in August 2008, during one of the ‘Plugstree

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The Invisible Scars of War

YOUNG MAN TAKES HIS LIFE The quiet, old-fashioned home of Mr Daniel Woodfield, nestling snugly in a picturesque and fertile valley among the hills to the north of Rheola, was the scene of a distressing tragedy on Friday night, when the second-eldest son of the family, Andrew, took his own life without apparent cause or reason.   It was mid 1920 and Andrew Woodfield had just turned 30. A year had passed since his return from the war, and although he had not been his ‘old self’ sinc

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The Malcolm Quartet

Even when trawling through the death, destruction, and overwhelming sadness that was the Great War – occasionally you touch on something that brings a smile to your face and lightens your heart. This photo did this for me. Immediately I wanted to know more about this happy foursome, and even though I read in the photo caption on the AWM website that they all returned safely home, I felt compelled to delve further. The Malcolm siblings were four of five. The eldest being Norman (left of photo

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Cycling and War

Memorial to Francois Faber, inside the Basilica, Notre-Dame de Lorette   [Originally written early 2010 before my journey, the following has been slightly reworded today.]   July 2010 saw two European Tours that held great importance for me. Both began their journey in the Netherlands, traveling down through Belgium and France, where they culminated in the city of Paris. The first began in Rotterdam on the 3rd July and was initially watched closely by myself, late at nig

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Lewis Yelland Andrews, OBE

Hornsby Memorial photo taken by Scott (aka Waddell - GWF)   I first came across Lewis Yelland ANDREWS while researching Capt Gerald MASSON (9th LH), who had married AANS Staff Nurse Jessie ANDREWS in Egypt in March 1919. Gerald & Jessie had stayed behind in Palestine after the war and in 1921 while working with the Palestine Civil Service, Gerald inquired after his medals, mentioning that co-worker L.E. Andrews [sic] had received his 1914-15 Star that morning. Being curious, I wond

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An accident in Rotten Row: Violet Ann Robertson (VAD)

Many soldiers traveled half way around the world to do their bit for the war effort and then died in silly accidents. Violet Ann Robertson wasn’t a soldier of course – but she was a soldier’s widow, and her death in England in 1917, was as much a tragedy as her husband’s had been 2 years earlier at Gallipoli.   Violet’s parents Frances & Harry Chapman had both hailed originally from England, but had married in Australia in 1867. One of ten surviving children, Violet, who was also k

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A most unusual death

Photo of J.H. Davies grave kindly supplied by Matt Smith, Australian War Graves Photographic Archive   John Henry DAVIES was born in Camberwell, London on the 10 December 1882. At the age of 29, mid-way through 1911 he married Louisa Constance BEAVAN, in the parish of West Ham. Louisa had been born and raised in the area, and there she remained, pregnant, in 1913 when John made the trip out to Australia. Joining the Royal Australian Navy on the 2nd last day of that year, John served as

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The Southland - the first Australian Troopship to be torpedoed

“My God – a torpedo!” was the shout from a sentry. “We watched the line of death getting nearer until it crashed, and the whole ship reeled. Then the order was given, ‘The ship is sinking – abandon ship.’” A subaltern on board the Southland went on to say, “Without a cry or sign of fear, or more hurrying than on a brisk march, and singing ‘Australia Will Be There,’ the order was carried out.”   It was about 9.45 on the morning of the 2nd of September 1915, and the Southland had just en

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A Determined Young Man

On the 8th January 1916 Ernest John JEFFRIES filled out his attestation papers in Melbourne to join the AIF. He declared that he was only 18 years and 4 months old, but could not produce his parents consent because they were both dead and he had no guardian – in fact he also stated that he had no next of kin and no friends. A farmer, born in Bairnsdale, Victoria, he was only a little man, standing 5feet 2½ inches tall and weighing in at 115 pounds. By this time Gallipoli had taken its toll on Au

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