Saturday, December 3, 2016

The young Sergeant Young

Sergeant Alfred Thomas Young, courtesy of Liz Clarke.
Alfred Thomas Young, born in Moonee Ponds, was the son of a well-known local businessman and Essendon Councillor, A E Young. Aged 21, he was with the first volunteers who enlisted at the first Essendon Rifles Drill Hall.  He embarked as a Corporal with the first convoy of troops, and landed at Gallipoli on 25 April in the second wave of boats with the 7th Infantry Battalion.  Five days later he was promoted to Sergeant.

A severe wound to his arm took him off Gallipoli initially to Malta and later to England recover.  He rejoined his battalion in May 1916.  Rod Martin, in another well-told account goes on to describe what happened to Sergeant Young and the 7th Battalion as they became approached Pozieres.  You can read that account here.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

A Wartime Wedding, 1914

Bill Tytler & Lillian Andrewartha's wedding,  21/11/1914.  Left to right: Hilary Watson, Stanley TytlerIna Tytler,  Bill Tytler (seated),  Richard Andrewartha, Lillian Andrewartha, Fred White, Nellie Andrewartha.    Courtesy of Heather Tytler.

In December 1914 Australian troops had already departed in two large convoys, and British troops were fighting in France.  The debacle at Gallipoli was still months away.  This pretty wedding was not overshadowed by imminent departures.  The situation changed dramatically after the Australian public became aware of the devastating losses in Gallipoli.  A groomsman, Richard Andrewartha, a law clerk from Newmarket, enlisted as a private on 26 July 1915.  His brother-in-law Stanley Tytler, a salesman of McCracken St, Kensington, enlisted a few days before the first anniversary of the Landings at Gallipoli in 1916.

Stanley served in the 22 Infantry Battalion, and returned from the war as a Sergeant with a Military Medal.  Richard served with the 8 Infantry Battalion, and returned as a Lieutenant with a Military Cross, and twice Mentioned in Despatches.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Snapshots of the Home Front: the Mountain family and the Essendon Red Cross

This photo shows the ballroom at Federal Government House, Melbourne, turned over to Red Cross sorting and packing of goods to send to men in the trenches, hospitals, training camps and prisoner of war camps.  Not only 'comforts', but essential items of clothing like underpants, socks, pyjamas and more.  It was a vast operation to keep the army in the field taken on by volunteers.
Just who were the volunteers who kept this huge supply operation going?  Marilyn Kenny has made a study of one family's role in the Red Cross.  The Mountain family of Essendon made a huge commitment to help prosecute the war, from William John Mountain, the father, who also served as the Mayor of Essendon, his wife, Julia Mountain, who became a joint secretary of the Red Cross for the duration of the war, their  three daughters, Hilda, Marjorie and Doris, who served on various patriotic committees, to their son, William John Mountain junior who joined the AIF.

Although the Mountains, as leading figures in the local community, were perhaps not typical of the general population, their prominent position produced ample newspaper reporting to be able to produce a detailed study of their war activities.  You can read Marilyn's excellent account here:
Snapshots from the Home Front: the Mountain family and the Essendon Red Cross.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Westgarthtown & World War 1

Click on the link below to go to the film, not on the image above.

In the comments section of the last post Liz Pidgeon, the Local and Family History Librarian at Yarra Plenty Regional Library, drew my attention to a short film about the people of German descent at Westgarthtown near Epping in Victoria.  It encapsulates the problems caused by xenophobia during WW1.  It is narrated by Adam Zwar.  It runs for 16 minutes and is well worth the time spent.  Westgarthtown & World War 1.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

What happens if you are an Australian Officer with a German name?

On the left is Leonard Seymour, and on the right is Henry Kaufman, winter 1916-17.
Henry Kaufman was born in Box Hill in 1884, the son of a naturalised German farmer and an English mother.  He served in the South African War with the 2nd Scottish Horse in the South African War, and on returning to Australian joined the Citizens Military Forces. He spent 8 years in the Royal Australian  Artillery, 2 years on the Instructional Staff, and 2 years as a Military Clerk before enlisting in the AIF in mid 1916 with the 3rd Divisional Ammunition Column. 

Henry arrived in France in time to suffer the extreme cold of the winter of 1916-1917, becoming ill in February and returning to England for a few months.  In June 1917 he returned to France and was engaged with his battalion in and out of front line duty for the next six months until he became seriously ill with pulmonary tuberculosis and Bronchitis. He returned to England, and then to Australia where he was discharged in April 1918.  Henry then resumed his previous job as a Military Staff Clerk.

But somewhere in darkest Queensland a Labor MP raised the question of enemies of birth or descent being employed in the Defence Department.   Henry got caught up in this net of suspicion.  You can read the full story on The Empire Called and I Answered website.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

5th Battery 2nd Field Artillery Brigade at Gallipoli

Group portrait of 5th Battery, 2nd Field Artillery Brigade, in old gun pit, Gallipoli. Caption on rear: "This is a snap shot of some of our battery gunners in an old gun pit.  Notice some have no shirts on". Courtesy of the John Oxley Library, State Library of  Queensland Neg No:  OM65-30/50
A number of snaps taken by, or acquired by, Lance Corporal Burdeu of Mascoma St Ascot Vale, have been donated to the John Oxley Collection, State Library of Queensland.  The photos show him and his friends in camp at Mena, on excursions to Alexandria, Cairo and elsewhere in Egypt, and later some scenes at Gallipoli.  Cyril died after only 16 days at Gallipoli, though it may have seemed like a lifetime to him.

Cyril served in the 5th Battery, 2nd Field Artillery Brigade, and if you have any relatives who served in the 5th Battery (check the AWM Embarkation Roll to see the names of those who embarked with the 5th Battery) you might see them in some of the snaps.

You might also like to read the article on Driver Douglas Gibbs Baker, by Rod Martin, who served in the 6th Battery, 2 FAB at Gallipoli.  

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Bert McDonald and a sprig of Wattle

A delightful cache of photos has come my way, courtesy of the kindness of the McDonald Family.  Pictured above is Bert McDonald, who enlisted in December 1917, but was discharged for medical reasons prior to embarkation.  Bert was a member of the Moonee Ponds Methodist Church, and photos of the groups associated with the Moonee Ponds Methodists, such as the Wattle Club and the Cricket Club, feature other young men who joined up.   Bert's particular friends were Alec Hosking, Arthur Hutchison and Bill Heathershaw    who appear in several of the photos.

If a relative is mentioned on the Honour Roll of the Church, he may be pictured in the McDonald photos.