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

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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 her husband.

 

Siblings (3):

1. John Leslie (Jack) b.1/11/1882 Kyneton – Doctor – WW1: Capt, AAMC, AIF – marr (Dr) Margaret H.U. ROBERTSON 12/2/1920 Vic – d.7/12/1930 Elmhurst, Middle Brighton;

2. Alfred Bentley b.1/8/1884 – Grazier – marr Nell BRIGGS 1925 UK – WW2: Pte V395409, 17th Bn, VDC – d.1/3/1982 Vic;

3. Henry (Harry) b.17/5/1886 St Kilda – Member of rowing (8) team 1912 Olympics – Solicitor – WW1: Lieut, MG Corps, AIF – marr. Anne QUIGLEY 25/9/1920 Vic – d.29/6/1944 Greyholm, Sandringham;

 

Religion: Church of England

Educated at Melbourne Grammar School

Military training in the Melbourne Grammar School Cadets

Mechanical Engineering course (3 years)

Played one seniors game with Essendon Football Club in 1906

Captain of the Melbourne Grammar football team 1907

 

From 1910 he was a Grazier, in partnership with his brother Alf on their New Park station, Morunda, near Narrandera, NSW

 

WW1 Service:

With the intention of enlisting in the Royal Flying Corps (RFC), Gordon embarked in Melbourne on the RMS Persia 10/8/1915 for England, arriving in London 17/9/1915.

On his arrival he found that the RFC weren’t accepting any more recruits for six months, so on the 1/10/1915 he enlisted as a Private in the Army Service Corps (ASC), and was stationed at the Main Supply Depot in Reading.

On the 8/11/1915 he wrote:  “I have been teaching about twelve officers to drive a motor, and last week they had to go through a military test, which they all passed except one.  I had the job of driving Lord Kitchener all round London the other day.  I had taken the Lord Mayor to the War Office, and Lord Kitchener’s car had a puncture and no spare wheel, so I had to take him round.”

 

It was noted in a Melbourne paper early in December 1915 that while he was:  “walking on the bank of the Thames, he saw a man struggling in the water.  Flinging his coat on the ground and himself into the river, the young Victorian swam to the rescue.  He brought the drowning man to the bank and applied first-aid methods.  Long before the man opened his eyes Ross-Soden was “famous” with the crowd that had gathered.  The whisper got around that he was an Australian.  “Bravo, Australia!” cried the crowd until they were hoarse.”

For his efforts he received a medal from the Royal Humane Society.

 

Eventually on the 13/5/1916 he received a commission in the Royal Flying Corps as a Temporary 2nd Lieutenant, General List, and began his training at Christ Church, Oxford.

On the 8/6/1916 he wrote from Catterick, York:  “I am quite able to fly without an instructor, and expect to be moved in a few days to a more advanced school.”  ……..

“It only takes about an hour to teach a man of ordinary ability to fly, but the landing is the hardest part.  …………..  When we leave here we are given a machine and sent off to find our way about England by air to get used to map reading, which is rather sport.”

 

Later he wrote: “I am up at Montrose in Scotland now, and we fly in all sorts of weather; in fact, yesterday the wind was so strong that it blew me back as I was rising, and I found it darned hard to get back to the drome.  It’s a great life, and I wouldn’t have missed it for worlds.  They are a dare-devil crowd in this corps, as all the others get weeded out very soon.  Flying soon finds them out.  I have looped the loop twice alone, and come down from 15,000 feet with my engine shut off just to see if I could do it.  It is fiendishly cold work, and it’s quite usual to come down with a piece of ice clinging to your top lip.”

 

Appointed Flying Officer 18/7/1916

Received instruction at the Grahame-White School, Hendon July, Aug, Sept 1916

Appointed Wing Instructor, Aerial Gunnery, Hythe, Kent 14/9/1916

29/12/1916 Temporary Captain, General List, Flying Officer, relinquishes the appointment of Wing Instructor in Gunnery (graded as a Flight-Com.), and reverts to the rank of Temp. 2nd Lieut

[7th Wing, then 25th Wing]

 

Serving with 56th Squadron when he was wounded on the 9/8/1917 over France:

“The weather turned bad again for the next three days, but patrols were resumed on 9 August.  Gordon Ross-Soden was wounded during the last flight of the day, having been set upon by an Albatross.  Barlow successfully drove off the enemy scout, but not before Ross-Soden had been hit in the knee.  He managed to return to Estree Blanche, from where he was rushed off to hospital.”

[Source: No.56 Sqn RFC/RAF, Alex Revell]

 

Before hitting his knee, the bullet had also cut a Bowden wire on his machine which threaded through his leg like a needle, and cut an artery.

Following an operation in France, he was evacuated to England and admitted to the Acheson Hospital for Officers, London, where he wrote his version of events:

“With three others I was on an offensive patrol, about 50 miles over the lines.  Two of my comrades dropped out owing to engine trouble, leaving the leader and myself.  After about two hours we saw two Hun machines slightly below us and at once attacked them.  But before I had fired more than 20 shots eight German aeroplanes dived from a cloud about 200 feet above.  They saw only my machine and soon the air about me was thick with tracer bullets.  A bullet went through the side of my machine, cutting the wires to one of my guns, cutting one of my flying wires and going through my leg.  When the bullet struck me my leg shot out like a bar of iron and jammed my rudder.  I managed to get my foot off the rudder and then saw the Huns were preparing another dive.  I had to do some fancy work to get away, for the leg that had been hit was useless and I had to work my rudder with one foot.  However, I had the satisfaction of bringing down a Hun machine with one of my parting shots.

“I then decided that it was time to go home.  How I managed this, I do not know, but they tell me that I made a perfect landing and then went off into a silly faint owing to loss of blood.  It took me three-quarters of an hour to fly home after being hit and in that time I must have bled a good deal to cause me to faint.  Two hours after having been shot I was operated on and within 48 hours I was in England.”

 

His wounding put an end to 9 months of fighting the Hun, and following his recuperation he was appointed Chief Test Pilot at the Brooklands Aircraft Acceptance Park (No.10), Surrey on the 20/10/1917.

Appointed Temp Lieutenant 16/11/1917

 

One day while testing an aeroplane, with his brother Harry watching on, the machine crashed to the ground, upside down, pinning him underneath.  Luckily he escaped with minor cuts and bruises and of course, shock.

 

10/1/1918 No.15 Aircraft Acceptance Park at Manchester

 

In early 1918 a visitor wrote:

“We went to X.Y.Z., where there were seventy new machines to be tested.  Gordon had to do all these himself, as the other test pilot had hurt his knee the previous Saturday, and will be laid up for a fortnight.  Gordon was too busy to take me up for another flight, but he did some exhibition flying in one of the machines he was testing.  I thought I had seen some good tricks done in the air with aeroplanes during my time in England, but I discovered then that I had not.  His machine was just like an autumn leaf, blown about in the wind, rolling, tumbling, twisting, shooting up and down, chasing his own tail, spinning over and over and round and round in a most marvellous manner.  I did not think such things were possible; but now I believe he could make an aeroplane do anything he liked – even to going up by itself and coming back when he called it.  No wonder his brother-officers call him a demon, and admire him tremendously!”

 

Appointed Temporary Captain 4/8/1918

During his time in the RFC he flew in 60 types of machines, and served 7 months as an instructor in Aerial Gunnery.

Apparently he “established a record at Weybridge Park by testing and passing 130 aeroplanes in a month.”

 

In July 1918 Gordon cabled his mother in regard to his marriage to Dorothy George.  The papers reported the ceremony had taken place on the 15th of June, however the couple didn’t actually marry until 1919.  Perhaps it was the engagement that had taken place on that date.

 

Gordon married Dorothy Ida STREET (widow, nee GEORGE) on the 18th of February 1919 in Devonport, England [she had been doing ambulance work in London, driving a car between Charing Cross and Paddington]

 

The couple returned to Australia together on the Norman, departing Devonport on the 5/7/1919 and arriving on the 18/8/1919

 

They returned to his New Park property before moving to Sydney at the end of 1923

Bankrupted 1926 (he blamed his wife’s spending)

Divorced in 1927 after his wife left him – he was selling advertising space for a living and residing at the Wembley Hotel

Associated with Mr R. Parer's aerial service, New Guinea at time of death

 

Gordon died of Black Water Fever on the 20th of March 1931 in Salamoa, New Guinea, aged 42

[Buried in the Outside Riverina Cemetery, Griffith, NSW]

 

 

*************************

 

 

Leader (Melb, Vic), Sat 9 Dec 1905 (p.18):

ATHLETICS

The Melbourne Grammar School sports were, as usual, a great success, and some fine performances were made.  G. Ross-Soden put up an exceptional performance in throwing the cricket ball 115 yds. 4 in. – a school record…………….

 

Punch (Melb, Vic), Thur Thur 20 Jun 1907 (p.24):

Fact and Rumour

Mrs Ross-Soden has bought “Grong-Grong,” on Toorak-road, where she contemplates building a house.

 

Table Talk (Melb, Vic), Thur 16 Nov 1911 (p.30):

SOCIAL

Mr and Mrs Cecil Levien, late of Acland-street, St Kilda, have left for their station home, New Park, Morundah, New South Wales.  Mr G. Ross-Soden is a partner in the new venture.

 

The Age (Melb, Vic), Wed 17 Apr 1912 (p.12):

MOTOR PROSECUTIONS

Gordon Ross-Soden, of “Grong Grong,” Toorak-road, Toorak, was charged with having driven a motor on 18th ult. along St Kilda-road at a speed dangerous to the public.

 

Punch (Melb, Vic), Thur 13 Mar 1913 (p.43):

MOTOR NOTES

On Friday last Mr Douglas Campbell left Melbourne for Sydney upon the Vinot car with which he will endeavour to break the Sydney-Melbourne record.  Mr Gordon Ross-Soden accompanies Mr Campbell on the run.

 

Table Talk (Melb, Vic), Thur 1 Jan 1914 (p.29):

SOCIAL

Mrs Ross Soden left early this month to spend a few weeks with her sons, Alf and Gordon Ross-Soden, at their property in the Riverina.

 

Table Talk (Melb, Vic), Thur 17 Jun 1915 (p.30):

SOCIAL

Mr Gordon Ross-Soden has made arrangements to leave his property in the Riverina, and come to Melbourne prior to sailing for England, where he will enlist.  Mr Ross-Soden had a military training in the Melbourne Grammar School Cadets.

 

The Australasian (Melb, Vic), Sat 26 Jun 1915 (p.38):

AT HOME AT GRONG GRONG

At the present time many of our well-known people are having their family circles contracted owing to their sons having volunteered for active service, and among them is Mrs Ross Soden, as her eldest son, Dr. J. Ross Sodden, will leave shortly, and he will be followed by her youngest son, Gordon.  Knowing that many of her friends are similarly situated, Mrs Ross Soden gave an afternoon party on Wednesday, June 24, with the object of bringing about a few hours of brightness.  The guests, who numbered 80, were welcomed in the drawing room, ……………………………..

She intends leaving Melbourne next week, in order to spend a week or so with her sons on their station property, New Park, N.S.W.

 

Table Talk (Melb, Vic), Thur 19 Aug 1915 (p.30):

SOCIAL

Mr Gordon Ross-Soden, youngest son of Mrs Ross-Soden, “Grong Grong” Toorak, left on August 10 for London with the intention of enlisting for service.

 

Table Talk (Melb, Vic), Thur 9 Dec 1915 (p.6):

PERSONAL

Gordon Ross-Soden, scion of a well-known Toorak family, secured a fresh leaf for his country’s laurel crown before reaching the firing line.  He was waiting in London his call to the front when, walking on the bank of the Thames, he saw a man struggling in the water.  Flinging his coat on the ground and himself into the river, the young Victorian swam to the rescue.  He brought the drowning man to the bank and applied first-aid methods.  Long before the man opened his eyes Ross-Soden was “famous” with the crowd that had gathered.  The whisper got around that he was an Australian.  “Bravo, Australia!” cried the crowd until they were hoarse.

 

The Sun (Syd, NSW), Wed 26 Jan 1916 (p.3):

IN SOCIETY AND OUT

Lieutenant Gordon Ross-Soden son of Mr Ross-Soden, of Melbourne, drives Lord Kitchener’s car when he travels by motor.  The young officer is provided with a whistle, and when he blows it all traffic stops to allow the car to pass without delay.

 

Tweed Daily (Murwillumbah, NSW), Mon 28 Feb 1916 (p.2):

Lord Kitchener’s special chauffeur is one of the wealthy young Australians who enlisted early in the war – Gordon Ross Soden, a grand-nephew of the late multi-millionaire Tyson, formerly of Queensland.  He was given a commission in London in the R.A.M.C., and proved himself by obtaining a medal of the Royal Humane Society for saving a drowning man.

 

Punch (Melb, Vic), Thur 13 Apr 1916 (p.28):

Fact and Rumour

Mr Gordon Ross-Soden, who left here to join the Aviation Corps in England, found, on his arrival, that no more could be taken for six months.  He has, therefore, joined the motor transport unit at Reading, from whence he was summoned to London, to “chauffeur” for Lord Kitchener.  Motor driving in London is no joke, as everyone is only allowed a small green lamp.

 

War Services Old Melburnians 1914-18, 10th May 1916 (p.155):

Letters from O.M.’s

GORDON ROSS-SODDEN, who recently gained the Royal Humane Society’s medal in England, writes thus from Army Service Corps, Main Supply Depot, Reading, on November 8: “I am still at the above address, and quite well and happy.  There are a good few Australian wounded round about here.  The people are awfully kind to the Australians; they can’t do enough for them.  I have been teaching about twelve officers to drive a motor, and last week they had to go through a military test, which they all passed except one.  I had the job of driving Lord Kitchener all round London the other day.  I had taken the Lord Mayor to the War Office, and Lord Kitchener’s car had a puncture and no spare wheel, so I had to take him round.  It’s pretty solid driving in London in the night now, as there’s not a light anywhere.  It makes your eyes bulge some.  Still, it’s a great life.  I’ve got a beautiful 60 Vauxhall car, six bob per day, and no responsibility but to get there in time.  I am supplied with a whistle, and if in a hurry I only have to blow it and all traffic is stopped to let me pass.  I’m on the go day and night, but get plenty of time to sleep, and am supplied with enough clothes for two men.  Remember me to all my pals.”

 

Punch (Melb, Vic), Thur 11 May 1916 (p.28):

SOCIETY

Mrs Ross-Soden, of “Grong Grong,” Toorak, has received a cable from her son, Gordon, saying he has received a commission in the Royal Naval Flying Corps.  Hearing there were so many hundreds of names in front of his when he first applied some time ago, he has been working with the Motor Transport Corps at Reading.  His work there was so satisfactory that he has been granted his desire.

 

Flight, May 25, 1916 (p.434):

The British Air Services

Royal Flying Corps (Military Wing)

Privates to be Temporary Second Lieutenants for duty with the R.F.C.: ………..; G. Ross-Soden, from A.S.C.; May 13th.

 

War Services Old Melburnians 1914-18, 23rd Aug 1916 (p.159):

Letters from O.M.’s

GORDON ROSS SODEN, who was at Christ Church, Oxford, in May, writes thus from Royal Flying Corps, Catterick, York, on 8th June: “I am quite able to fly without an instructor, and expect to be moved in a few days to a more advanced school.  It is very interesting work.  We had no flying last week at all, as the weather was so bad, but last night I was up over an hour by myself.  It only takes about an hour to teach a man of ordinary ability to fly, but the landing is the hardest part….  I’m feeling fit as a fiddle; hope to remain so.  When we leave here we are given a machine and sent off to find our way about England by air to get used to map reading, which is rather sport.  This place is like a drove of bees let loose in your hat; sometimes about 30 of us flying about at all heights.  How the people who live hereabouts must curse us at 4 o’clock every morning.  The other day I was about 40 miles from camp, and seeing a nice paddock to land in near a big house, I just called in for breakfast to vary the monotony.  We often drop in for real treats this way.  They have just sent an orderly to inform me that I am to go up again, so I must float off.”  Later he writes: “I am up at Montrose in Scotland now, and we fly in all sorts of weather; in fact, yesterday the wind was so strong that it blew me back as I was rising, and I found it darned hard to get back to the drome.  It’s a great life, and I wouldn’t have missed it for worlds.  They are a dare-devil crowd in this corps, as all the others get weeded out very soon.  Flying soon finds them out.  I have looped the loop twice alone, and come down from 15,000 feet with my engine shut off just to see if I could do it.  It is fiendishly cold work, and it’s quite usual to come down with a piece of ice clinging to your top lip.”

 

Punch (Melb, Vic), Thur 12 Oct 1916 (p.28):

SOCIETY

Mr Gordon Ross-Soden, son of Mrs Ross-Soden, has attained the rank of Flight-Commander, and is permanent Instructor for Flying.  Under his instructions at present are one or two boys from the Church of England Grammar School.  Flight-Commander G. Ross-Soden has been up 15,000 feet and looped the loop three times, coming down with his engine shut off.

 

The Argus (Melb, Vic), Thur 2 Nov 1916 (p.9):

PROMOTIONS ABROAD

News has been received that Flight-Commander Gordon Ross Soden, son of Mrs Ross Soden, of Grong Grong, Toorak, has been promoted in England to be wing instructor in aerial gunnery with the rank of captain.  He will be in charge of a flight, and his duties will include training in gunnery and the institution of new methods of practice.

 

Punch (Melb, Vic), Thur 9 Nov 1916 (p.26):

Fact and Rumour

Mr Gordon Ross Soden, son of Mrs Ross Soden, has been recently promoted in England.  He is now a Wing Instructor of Aerial Gunnery, and a Captain in charge of a Flight.  His new duties will include seeing that aerial gunnery is properly carried out, and also instituting new methods of practice.  He is a present at Hythe, in Kent, where “Zepps” pay hurried visits occasionally.

 

Flight, Mar 29, 1917 (p.306):

Flying Officers – ………………………; Temp. Capt. G. Ross-Soden, Gen. List, a Flying Officer, relinquishes the appointment of Wing Instructor in Gunnery (graded as a Flight-Com.), and reverts to the rank of Temp. 2nd Lieut.; Dec 29th.

 

Table Talk (Melb, Vic), Thur 23 Aug 1917 (p.30):

SOCIAL

Flight Lieutenant Gordon Ross-Soden, who has been testing new airship guns at the French front, has been wounded in action, a leg having been injured.  His elder brother, Captain J. Ross Soden, of the Australian Army Medical Corps, sent his mother a cable saying he had been granted special leave to cross the Channel to see his wounded brother, and that he found the patient doing well.  Mrs Ross-Soden has also been informed that Sergeant Harry Ross-Soden has been transferred from the Infantry to the Artillery, where he will train for a commission.

 

Graphic of Australia (Melb, Vic), Fri 2 Nov 1917 (p.14):

Purely Personal

Mrs Ross Soden is leaving town early this month to spend a fortnight in the Riverina with her second son, Alfred, after which the latter will come to Melbourne to take charge of his mother’s residence, “Grong Grong,” Toorak, when she will pay a three weeks’ visit to friends in Sydney.  Her youngest son, Flight Lieutenant Gordon, is still in hospital in France.

 

Graphic of Australia (Melb, Vic), Fri 7 Dec 1917 (p.8):

MAINLY ABOUT PEOPLE

Mrs Ross Soden has laid down her patriotic work for a spell and gone to the Riverina to cheer her second son, Alfred’s lonliness.  The latter, who can’t get a medical pass for the trenches, misses his three brothers, all in khaki, and at the front.  Flight Lieut. Gordon has just acquired the art of walking on crutches, after being shrapnelled in a running fight with six enemy airships.

 

The Herald (Melb, Vic), Sat 5 Jan 1918 (p.5):

AVIATOR LANDS SAFELY THOUGH WOUNDED IN LEG

PARTING SHOT HITS MARK

Writing from the Acheson Hospital for Officers, London, Lieutenant Gordon Ross Soden, Australian Imperial Forces, gives a description of a thrilling aerial encounter in which he sustained a wound in the calf of the leg.

“With three others I was on an offensive patrol, about 50 miles over the lines,” writes Lieutenant Soden.  “Two of my comrades dropped out owing to engine trouble, leaving the leader and myself.  After about two hours we saw two Hun machines slightly below us and at once attacked them.  But before I had fired more than 20 shots eight German aeroplanes dived from a cloud about 200 feet above.  They saw only my machine and soon the air about me was thick with tracer bullets.  A bullet went through the side of my machine, cutting the wires to one of my guns, cutting one of my flying wires and going through my leg.  When the bullet struck me my leg shot out like a bar of iron and jammed my rudder.  I managed to get my foot off the rudder and then saw the Huns were preparing another dive.  I had to do some fancy work to get away, for the leg that had been hit was useless and I had to work my rudder with one foot.  However, I had the satisfaction of bringing down a Hun machine with one of my parting shots.

“I then decided that it was time to go home.  How I managed this, I do not know, but they tell me that I made a perfect landing and then went off into a silly faint owing to loss of blood.  It took me three-quarters of an hour to fly home after being hit and in that time I must have bled a good deal to cause me to faint.  Two hours after having been shot I was operated on and within 48 hours I was in England.”

 

Flight, Jan 17, 1918 (p.80):

Schools of Technical Training

General List: ……………………….; G.R. Soden; Nov 13th 1917.  ……………………………..

 

Graphic of Australia (Melb, Vic), Fri 22 Mar 1918 (p.20):

MEN

Australia is coming to the fore in every direction.  Last month some of the illustrated British weeklies published pictures representing Flight Lieutenant Gordon Ross-Soden’s running air fight with several Hun machines.  Last year the same journals featured the famous cloud battle, in which Flight Major Vivian De Crespigny, another Melbourne boy – earned his Military Medal.  Mr Gordon Ross-Soden had been promoted to crutches when he last wrote, and hopes to get back to the skies to take part in the 1918 struggle.

 

The Australasian (Melb, Vic), Sat 20 Apr 1918 (p.33):

SOCIAL NOTES

Second Lieutenant Harry Ross –Soden is now at Grantham doing a machine-gun course.  Flight Lieutenant Gordon Ross-Soden had an accident at Brooklands while his brother was visiting him on leave.  His machine dived into the ground and fell upside down, pinning him underneath.  Luckily, however, he escaped with some cuts, bruises, and a severe shaking.

 

Graphic of Australia (Melb, Vic), Fri 3 May 1918 (p.7):

MAINLY ABOUT PEOPLE

Lieut Gordon Ross Soden narrowly escaped being listed with killed last month, when testing aeroplanes in Blighty.  The machine, being defective, crashed to the ground, after rising a considerable height in the air.  Fortunately the young aviator escaped with no more serious result than shock and minor injuries.  His brother, Lieut Harry Ross sodden, who was on the eve of his return to the front, was witness of the accident.  Medical Captain Jack, the eldest of the khakied trio, has sent along a message saying “All’s well,” after being twice blown out of the Aussie trenches.

 

The Bulletin Vo.39 No.1995, 9 May 1918 (p.20):

Flight-Lieut Gordon Ross-Soden had hardly hopped back to khaki after recovering from war injuries when he was put on to the sick list again by a defective plane.  Young Gordon had been given a machine-testing job as light employment suitable for a flying convalescent.  When the last mail left he was still too sore to go aloft.

 

War Services Old Melburnians 1914-18, 16th May 1918 (p.204):

Letters from O.M.’s

GORDON ROSS SODEN writes: “I have now got a nice job testing at the Brooklands Aircraft Aeroplane [sic - Acceptance] Park; in fact I am in charge of the testing.  I spent nine months ‘straffing’ the wily Hun, but he got me at last.  I tried to be too clever and took on eight, but one of them got me through the knee.  I had the satisfaction of bringing him down immediately after, but had to beetle off from the other seven, as I was about 50 miles over their lines.  On my way home I ran into another six, but evaded them.  I don’t remember crossing the lines, but I got back to my own aerodrome, on which I must have landed, for when I woke up they were pumping salt water into me to take the place of the blood I had lost.  The peculiar part was the bullet had cut a Bowden wire which it threaded through my leg like a needle, and cut an artery.  Since I came out of hospital I ran into HAROLD LUXTON and his wife in London.  He had a crash flying, and cut his face very badly.  He had been some months with the R.F.C.  I have met HARRY several times in town; he is now doing some course at Cambridge.  Jack has gone to France as M.O. to one of the Australian base depots.  Met A. COLE in the Regent’s Palace the other day, also JIM STEWART, who has one hand useless, which is bad luck.  Best wishes to the old School.”

 

Punch (Melb, Vic), Thur 16 May 1918 (p.11):

MOTOR NOTES

Amongst the young Australians distinguishing themselves abroad is Commander Gordon Ross-Soden, R.F.C.  He has charge of the testing of all new machines, and another Melbourne boy has written, “We went to X.Y.Z., where there were seventy new machines to be tested.  Gordon had to do all these himself, as the other test pilot had hurt his knee the previous Saturday, and will be laid up for a fortnight.  Gordon was too busy to take me up for another flight, but he did some exhibition flying in one of the machines he was testing.  I thought I had seen some good tricks done in the air with aeroplanes during my time in England, but I discovered then that I had not.  His machine was just like a n autumn leaf, blown about in the wind, rolling, tumbling, twisting, shooting up and down, chasing his own tail, spinning over and over and round and round in a most marvellous manner.  I did not think such things were possible; but now I believe he could make an aeroplane do anything he liked – even to going up by itself and coming back when he called it.  No wonder his brother-officers call him a demon, and admire him tremendously!”

 

Punch (Melb, Vic), Thur 13 Jun 1918 (p.28):

Fact and Rumour

Flight-Commander Gordon Ross-Soden, second son of Mrs Ross-Soden, of “Grong Grong,” Toorak, has established a record at Weybridge Park by testing and passing 130 aeroplanes in a month.  This he did alone, as his assistant was in hospital with an injured leg.  It meant that the young Australian spent nearly the whole day in the air.  His brother, Dr. J. Ross-Sodden, is in the middle of the big offensive, working nearly twenty-four hours a day.

 

Punch (Melb, Vic), Thur 4 Jul 1918 (p.26):

Fact and Rumour

A cable has just been received by Mrs Ross Soden of “Grong Grong,” Toorak, announcing the marriage of her fourth son, Captain Gordon Ross Soden, to Miss Dorothy George.  The ceremony was celebrated on 15th June, in London.  The bride comes of a very old family.  Her mother resides in Glasgow, and her father was, when alive, a Civil Engineer in the British Navy.  Her brothers, British Naval Officers, are all on active service, and she is a niece of Admiral Saunders, also on active service.  The bride has been doing war work in London since the beginning of the war.  They have been engaged for some time.

 

Graphic of Australia (Melb, Vic), Thur 11 Jul 1918 (p.6):

MAINLY ABOUT PEOPLE

Mrs Ross Soden is in the seventh heaven of delight over her newly-established dignity as a mother-in-law.  Last mail her youngest son, Flight-Lieut Gordon Ross Soden, wrote saying he proposed to add a wife to the family tree, a Scottish girl, Miss Dorothy George, whose late father was a civil engineer to the Royal Navy.  The ceremony happened on June 15, and Mrs Ross Soden coo-eed back joyous congratulations.  Last week a cable drifted in saying the knot had been tied in Blighty, where the bride had been war-working when she met her fate in the Anglo-Australian officer.

 

Table Talk (Melb, Vic), Thur 18 Jul 1918 (p.34):

SYDNEY WEEK BY WEEK

Mrs Ross Soden, of Toorak, Melbourne, who is a frequent visitor to Sydney, recently received news of the marriage of her son, Captain Gordon Ross Soden, to Miss Dorothy George, a daughter of Mrs George, of Glasgow.  The bridegroom is a flight commander in the Royal Corps, and while on furlough in Scotland claimed his bride.

 

Flight, Aug 22, 1918 (p.949):

The Royal Air Force

Flying Branch

Lieuts., to be Temp. Capts. whilst employed as Capts: ……………; G. Ross-Soden, ………; Aug 4th.

 

War Services Old Melburnians 1914-18, (p.364):

War Service Particulars

G. ROSS-SODEN went to England and joined R.A.S.C. on 1st October 1915.  After service in England he transferred to R.F.C. in which he obtained his commission.  He arrived in France on 7th November 1916 and served there till August 1917 being promoted to Captain on 8th February 1917.  On 2nd August 1917 he was wounded in left leg and was invalided to hospital in England for 10 weeks.  On 20th October 1917 he was appointed Chief Test Pilot at Brooklands until 10th January 1918 when he formed Acceptance Park at Manchester.  He was demobilised and returned to Australia on 25th October 1919.

 

The Australasian (Melb, Vic), Sat 8 Feb 1919 (p.32):

SOCIAL NOTES

Mrs Ross Soden, Grong Grong, Toorak, has received a cable message from her youngest son (Captain Gordon Ross Soden, of the Royal Flying Corps) stating that he and his English bride intend leaving this month for Australia.  Captain J. Ross Soden, A.A.M.C., expects to remain in England until after demobalisation.  Mr Harry Ross Soden, A.I.F., is with the army of occupation.

 

The Australasian (Melb, Vic), Sat 23 Aug 1919 (p.43):

SOCIAL NOTES

Mrs Ross Soden returned to Grong Grong, Toorak, last week, after having spent five months with her son Alfred, at New Park, Morumbah, N.S.W.  Mr A. Ross Soden accompanied her home, so that he might meet his brother, who with his English bride arrived on August 18 by the Norman.  Captain Flight-Commander Gordon Ross Soden, R.F.C., was away for nearly five years, and did some record flying.  He left for New Park on the following day with his brother, in order to be there for the shearing season.  So that some of their friends might meet Captain and Mrs Gordon Ross Soden, his mother gave a small impromptu dance and musicale at her home on the evening of their arrival.  The guests included…..

 

The Australasian (Melb, Vic), Sat 15 Nov 1919 (p.43):

BALL AT GRONG GRONG

A delightful ball was given by Mrs Ross Soden at her home in Toorak on November 10, as a welcome home to two (Captain Gordon Ross Soden and Lieut. Harry Ross Soden) of her three sons who were on active service, and to meet Mrs Gordon Ross Soden, an English bride.  The hostess, with the assistance of her daughter-in-law, received in the central hall.  The ballroom presented a novel effect, gained by balloons of every hue resting against the handsome white ceiling, from each one hanging a long white thread.  By the end of the second dance they were all fastened to wrists or shoulder-straps.  Refreshments were served in the billiard-room, and supper in the dining-room, where the long table was beautifully ornamented with high groupings of exquisite pink roses.  For the first part of the evening a string band provided capital music, and shortly before midnight there arrived a “jazz” band, the members of which not only played their strange instruments but sang the music.

Mr A. Ross Soden had come from his station in New South Wales, and with his brothers seconded their mother’s efforts.  Mrs Ross Soden wore a gown of pale saxe blue Liberty satin, ………………….

Also present were…………………………………, General and Mrs Edward Tivey, Brigadier-General and Mrs H. Lloyd, …………………………………………

https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/140249790

 

Table Talk (Melb, Vic), Thur 12 Feb 1920 (p.31):

Captain and Mrs Gordon Ross-Soden are in Sydney.  Mrs Ross-Sodden is in a private hospital, having recently undergone two operations.  Captain Ross-Soden is still under treatment for the knee that was injured by shrapnel.

 

Narandera Argus and Riverina Advertiser (NSW), Tue 21 Aug 1923 (p.2):

LOCAL AND GENERAL

New Park Estate Subdivision – Persons in search of land in this district will be interested to learn that the Land Settlement Board and the Government Savings Bank (Rural Bank Department) have approved of New Park estate as being suitable for closer settlement purposes.  The Bank has issued certificates, and is prepared to advance amounts ranging from £2,250 to £3,000.  Any difference between the purchase prices and the bank’s advances will require to be paid in cash or arranged for by the purchaser with the vendor, Mr G. Ross Soden.

Six farms on this estate are to be made available, the areas ranging from 708 acres to 1,603 acres.  New Park is situated about 17 miles from Narandera.  The railway from Narandera to Tocumwal runs through the property, which is 1½ to 3½ miles from Morundah siding.  The advances range from 66 per cent to 80 per cent of the bank’s valuation of the property.

 

The Herald (Melb, Vic), Wed 26 Dec 1923 (p.10):

Says and Hearsays

Mr Gordon Ross Soden has sold his Riverina property “New Park,” and, with his wife, will settle for a time in Sydney.

 

Albury Banner and Wodonga Express (NSW), Fri 18 Jan 1924 (p.6):

MORUNDAH

A clearing sale was held at New Park on the 5th December, by Messrs Lloyd Bros., on account of Mr G Ross Soden, who has left this part for Sydney, where he intends to make his residence.

 

Table Talk (Melb, Vic), Thur 27 Nov 1924 (p.35):

LADIES’ LETTER

The news of Mrs Ross Soden’s death, which has saddened her many friends here, recalls a romance of the last century, which proved how true unpretentious worth will triumph over difficulties.  Mrs Ross Soden was one of the nearest kin discovered when claimants to the Tyson’s millions were hunted for.  She arrived in Melbourne after establishing her claim, quite unknown socially, and with her young sons, and soon began to make her way into society.  She neither tried to push her way in, nor made any pretentions of any kind, but her quiet, unassuming manner soon won her many friends, and she was welcomed by the most representative of Melbourne society people.  She lived at Mandeville Hall for some time, and entertained lavishly, after which she built “Grong Grong,” Toorak, and her hospitality became more lavish.  The war years brought a cessation of private entertaining, but Mrs Ross Soden lent her lovely home for patriotic activities, and gave many entertainments in aid of the various patriotic funds.  In recent years she has not done so much entertaining, and some time ago she sold “Grong Grong,” the house that was built to her own plans.

 

Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate (NSW), Fri 25 Sept 1925 (p.8):

AN IDLE WOMAN’S DIARY

Mrs Gordon Ross Soden is Navy right through.  Being Dorothy Genge [sic], the youngest daughter of Admiral Genge, she married the youngest son of Mrs Ross Soden, of Toorak, Melbourne, in London, just before the armistice in the war.  Mrs Ross Soden’s four sons served in the war.  Gordon was a Captain in the Royal Flying Corps.  His brothers are Dr John, Harry, who has a station near Deniliquin, and Alfred (also a squatter), who has just gone home to be married.  Mrs Gordon did ambulance work during the war, driving a car between Charing Cross and Paddington.  She now works for St Margaret’s Hospital.  She and her husband are living in a house they have lately bought at Cremorne.  Mrs Ross Soden hopes to return to England in February to see her people, including her sisters, who have all married into the Navy.

 

Daily Mercury (Mackay, Qld), Sat 12 Dec 1925 (p.10):

STRUGGLE WITH BURGLARS

There was a sensational occurrence at Cremorne (Sydney) early on Sunday morning.  Gordon Ross Soden, upon approaching his home, saw a man lurking suspiciously in front of the house.  Upon going to the rear he saw two men attempting to secure the key of the back door with a piece of wire.  The intruders attacked Soden, and a desperate struggle ensued, lasting for some minutes, during which Soden used a piece of iron piping with good effect.  Eventually the three men made off.

 

Smith’s Weekly (Sydney, NSW), Sat 20 Mar 1926 (p.9):

GOING THE PACE WITH £20,000

Fortune Vanishes – HECTIC YEAR, THEN BANKRUPTCY

Last week, Gordon Ross-Soden, of Cremorne, filed his schedule in bankruptcy.  He was a beneficiary under the will of a well-known N.S.W. pastoralist millionaire.  Ross-Soden served with distinction as an aviator in the war, and married an English woman of good family.

On her arrival in Sydney, Dorothy Ross-Soden entered into social affairs, and made a great hit in the best circles by reason of the glittering functions which she organised.

Lavish as was his wife’s mode of entertaining, the husband footed the bills.

Enormous bills they were in Sydney’s luxury trade – exclusive business houses and hosteiries.

Early in 1925 the husband inherited from the estate of his mother almost £20,000.

He began to realise that the financial tide would ebb if a change of programme was not soon operating.

The crash, however, was not averted.  It duly came, and many of the expensive furnishings of “Norrit,” the beautiful home at Cremorne, were sold.  Last December the house was sold to a well-known lawyer, and realised £6250.

A luxurious apartment at Elizabeth Bay followed suit, and the pair took up residence in a Darlinghurst flat.

The statement of unsecured creditors filed in the Bankruptcy Court shows that Ross-Soden owes dressmakers and milliners the sum of £1095, jewellers £1590, and for entertaining at one of Sydney’s high-class cafes, £50.

His own tailor’s bill amounts to only £30!

In addition, there is an overdraft of £5000 on a Melbourne bank.

The unsecured credits total £9420 18/-

Mrs Ross-Soden is now running a soda-fountain at Coogee.

 

The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW), Tue 20 Apr 1926 (p.6):

GORDON ROSS-SODEN

BANKRUPTCY EXAMINATION – WIFE’S PURCHASES

Examined by Mr C.F.W. Lloyd, official assignee, before the Registrar in Bankruptcy yesterday, Gordon Ross-Soden, of Elizabeth Bay-road, Sydney, whose estate was compulsorily sequestrated on February 26 last, stated that he was a beneficiary in the estate of his mother, who died in 1924, his share being about £7000.  He believed there was a little more to come.  From 1910 till 1922 he was a grazier in partnership with his brother in a property in Riverina.  He went to the war in 1914, and returned in 1919.  During the past two years he had been looking round to see what he could do in Sydney.  He had never been bankrupt before, nor assigned his estate.  In his statement of affairs he showed unsecured creditors to the amount of £9420, but that was inclusive of all his wife’s debts.  Of the amount mentioned, £5000 was owing to the Royal Bank of Australia in respect of an advance on a station property known as Newpark, at Narrandera, where he was in partnership with his brother.  The bank held the deeds of two blocks of the Newpark station property.  The cause of his bankruptcy was, principally, debts incurred by his wife without his authority or knowledge.  If it had not been for the debts incurred in that way by his wife he would have had sufficient assets to pay his liabilities.  Out of the £9420 shown in his statement of affairs roughly £3000 worth were contracted by her.  The debt of £1300 to Hardy Bros., jewellers, was contracted by her; also Farmer’s, £279; Pauline et Cie, £239 for dresses, and £273 to Pelliers for dresses.  He had a list of the debts contracted by his wife, which included: Mrs Mates, £61/19/; Poullar’s, £22/8/2; Scott and Ahern, £118; Electrolux, £17; Jacqueline, £307; David Jones, £283; Beard, Watson, £60; Marcelle, £97; Buckley and Nunn, Melbourne, £63; Lassetters, £23/1/3.  He showed Hardy Brothers at £1300 in his statement of affairs, and they had proved for £42/1/.  The balance they took as owing by his wife.

In reply to the Registrar, the bankrupt said his wife had independent means apart from him, which brought her an income of from £150 to £200 a year from shares.  She was interested in the Coogee Casino, and at the outside her income was not more than £200 a year.

To the Registrar:  There were about 6000 acres of the station property not secured to the bank; it was Freehold land, absolutely paid for, and was worth from £4/10/ to £5 an acre.  He had a half-share in that land with his brother.  Portion of the land had been sold, and his share of what remained would be about £7500.

In further reply to the official assignee, bankrupt said that after the bank was paid off its £5000 his interest in the purchase money of Newpark would be about £2500.  “I say,” continued Ross-Soden, “that my bankruptcy has been brought on by my wife’s extravagance in living, not my own.  I again honestly say that I did not know what my wife was doing.  She never consulted me in any of her dealings, but worked on the name.  She instructed people not to bother me with accounts.  Bills came in by post, and were torn up by her, and I never saw them.  She then received summonses, which she tore up, and I knew nothing about them.”

Continuing, bankrupt said that the diamond ring purchased from William Farmer and Co. in December, 1924, for £225, was a present he gave his wife before he knew she was contracting debts elsewhere.  In Hardy Brothers’ claim for £42 there was a gold cigar case for £37.  That was not for him.  His wife gave it away to someone else.  The item of the Ambassadors’ entertaining in September, 1925, for £52/8/6/ was his own.  He entertained at the Ambassadors for some months – they would give one credit for two years if necessary.  If he had been called on to pay his debts six or nine months ago he certainly could have paid them out of his share from his mother’s estate, which had since been spent.  Since November, 1924, he had had approximately £7000 from his mother’s estate.  During the last two years he had lost about £350 at the very outside on racing or betting.

 

Narandera Argus and Riverina Advertiser (NSW), Tue 24 Aug 1926 (p.4):

IN BANKRUPTCY

Mrs Ross-Soden’s Story

Dorothy Ida Ross-Soden, wife of Gordon Ross-Sodden, was last week examined in the Bankruptcy Court before the Registrar (Mr N.C. Lockhart).

In answer to Mr C.F.W. Lloyd, official assignee, she said she owed about £1518, and of that amount £1293 was for diamond rings and other expensive jewellery and art objects purchased on credit at Hardy Bros., Ltd., Sydney.

In February last she bought her husband’s half-interest in the Coogee Casino for £300 cash, and ran the place in partnership till April last.

“I pledged a diamond ring for £400, which I bought from Hardy Bros. for £550,” said Mrs Ross-Soden.

“There was another diamond ring, which cost £750.

“My husband bought me a fur coat for £140 guineas.

“In the last two years I’ve lost between £200 and £500 playing cards.

“At the races, during the same period, I lost about £1000.

“I never missed a meeting, and backed horses myself, but my biggest bets would be £10 to £20.”

“My own extravagance,” added Mrs Ross-Soden, “would be a cause of my bankruptcy.”

The cause of her bankruptcy, she said, was bad luck at the Coogee Casino.

Mrs Ross-Soden also said that her estate was compulsorily sequestrated on the petition of Hardy Bros., Ltd., to whom she owed £1293.

 

The Sun (Sydney, NSW), Thur 11 Nov 1926 (p.13):

HIS MEDALS – MAJOR GETS THEM BACK

ONE GOOD TURN – A FATEFUL POPPY DAY

By a kindly little action Mr G. Ross Soden recovered his general service and victory medals to-day.

Some time ago Mr Ross Soden, who was a major in the Royal Flying Corps, suffered a reversal of fortune, and among the articles parted with was a chest of drawers which, he discovered later, contained his war medals.

He had given up all hope of tracing the medals.  As he was walking along William-street to-day he saw a Digger playing a mouth organ on the street corner.

Your Medals, Sir!

Because it was “Poppy Day” he spoke to the Digger, asked how he was, and gave him his card.

The Digger, who had had both legs amputated, glanced at the card and said, “Why, I’ve got a couple of your medals here, sir!  I saw them in a pawnbroker’s window in Newtown.

“I went in and took them, telling the pawnbroker that he should not sell military medals, and I saw your name on them.”

Mr Ross Soden pocketed the medals gratefully, and the Digger has promised to go back to the pawnshop (he has forgotten the name of it) to look for the rest of the medals.

 

The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW), Wed 30 Mar 1927 (p.12):

IN DIVORCE

ROSS-SODEN v ROSS-SODEN

In this suit Gordon Ross-Soden petitioned for a divorce from Dorothy Ida Ross-Soden (formerly George) on the ground of her adultery with one Walter Edwards (who was joined as co-respondent) between January 1, 1926, and October 20, 1926, at Kellett-street, Darlinghurst.  The marriage took place on February 18, 1919, at Plymouth, England, according to the rites of the Church of England.  A decree nisi, returnable in six months, was granted in favour of petitioner, for whom Mr S. Bloomfield appeared.  There was no appearance on behalf of respondent or co-respondent.

 

Truth (Sydney, NSW), Sun 3 Apr 1927 (p.14):

“WITH ALL MY HEART”

Dorothy Soden Confesses Her Love for Dancing-teacher Edwards

ROSS SODEN SECURES QUICK DIVORCE

…………………………………………………….

Last week in the Divorce Court he asked Mr Justice Davidson to shear asunder the marriage tie which has bound him since 1919 to Dorothy Ida Soden.

She had misconducted herself with a dancing teacher, Walter Edwards, he said, and he was there to tell his story to the judge.

Gordon Ross Soden, the man who has travelled the world over, seen dawns and sunsets in far lands, lived in a Toorak mansion, the best hotel in Sydney, and lorded it in a stately homestead at Narrandera, said that he was now selling advertising space for a living and residing at the Wembley Hotel.

His story to the court was a simple one.  There were no allusions to what he had been in the past, no reference to the state of affairs of which he had spoken in the Bankruptcy Court.

He merely said that he and his wife lived happily enough until March 23, 1926, when she left him.

“Three times I wrote to her asking her to return,” he said, “and three times she refused, and then she asked me to stop annoying her.”

In August Soden said he received the following letter from his wife: –

“Dear Gordon, – I really don’t see what use it is answering your letter as there is nothing to be said at all, except that I do not wish to come back to you ever.  You say you have proof of my infidelity to you with Bill (Edwards) so what is there for me to do but admit it.  You know there was never anyone else till I met him and he appealed to me and has meant more to me than anyone else ever could do.  I love him with all my heart and soul.  Gordon, feeling as I do I just couldn’t live with you again as I know only too well my feelings will never alter as long as he wants me.  I will never give him up.  I am sorry, Gordon, it has come to this but try and forget me.  Time heals everything, you know. – Dorothy.”

……………………………………………………………………..

https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/168680816

 

 

The Argus (Melb, Vic), Wed 25 Mar 1931 (p.1):

DEATHS

ROSS-SODEN – On the 20th March (from black water fever), at Salamoa, New Guinea, Gordon, youngest son of the late Mrs I.M. Ross-Soden, of Grong Grong, Toorak.

 

The Australasian (Melb, Vic), Sat 28 Mar 1931 (p.9):

PERSONAL

Relatives in Melbourne have been advised of the death of Mr Gordon Ross-Soden, which occurred at Salamoa, New Guinea, on March 20.  Mr Ross-Soden, who was aged 42 years, was the youngest son of the late Mrs I.M. Ross-Soden, of Grong Grong, Toorak.  After having left Melbourne Grammar School he engaged in farming at Narrandera (N.S.W.).  Shortly after the outbreak of the Great War he was in England and he joined the Royal Flying Corps.  He returned to Australia after the Armistice and resumed farming at Narrandera.  Later he went to New Guinea, and for some time he was associated with Mr R. Parer’s aerial service there.

 

 

ROSS-SODEN FAMILY - Isabella and sons 1904:

 

ross soden family 1904.jpg

 

 

Brothers in the A.I.F.:

John: https://discoveringanzacs.naa.gov.au/browse/person/300790

Harry: https://discoveringanzacs.naa.gov.au/browse/person/300789

 

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