Thursday, November 15, 2018

This memorial plaque for Pte David Fiddes of the 58 Inf Battalion (formerly 60 Inf Bn) was sent to his father, Andrew Fiddes, of 80 Gower St, Kensington.

The plaque was later donated to the Flemington & Kensington Returned and Services League.  The RSL now has a grant to frame some of their memorabilia of the Great War, and this plaque will be among those items.

Remembrance Day at the Flemington & Kensington Memorial, 
Racecourse Rd, 2018.  Photo: LenoreFrost

Friday, October 12, 2018

Private Wren Teale of Moonee Ponds

The above newspaper photograph which includes Hugh Lindsay (Wren) Teale was spotted in Winner  by Cheryl Griffin, who is doing a mighty job for Coburg at the Fighting the Kaiser blogspot.  Cheryl looked for "Wren Leale" on the Coburg Cycling Club Honour Board and realised he would be W Teale on the board.     Wren, from McPherson St, Moonee Ponds,  is seated front left in the photo.  He served with the 38 Inf Bn, and was killed in action on 19 Nov 1917.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Gunner Thomas Hogg, the mature recruit

With his usual precision, Rod Martin follows the military career of the mature recruit, Thomas Bell Hogg, a railway employee of Ascot Vale.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Mud and Blood


At the Clocktower Centre, Moonee Ponds, 

31 Aug at  12pm and 8pm

Local hero General 'Pompey' Elliott led the Essendon Rifles and took most with him to WWI after a farewell at Essendon Town Hall..

This compelling play by Moonee Ponds writer, Meg McNena, is directed powerfully by Alice Bishop. Set 1914-1921, in battle and at home, Pompey inspires as husband, father, brother, general, Anzac, veteran, leader. He and a soldier's mother deal with his vow to look after his boys in war as if they were his own. Women's contribution and their struggles also drive the drama. Potent themes of family, duty, loyalty, trauma, betrayal, legacy and grief vividly unfold during world-changing times.

The matinee performance will be followed by a Q&A and then by a talk by Ross McMullin, an award winning historian, biographer and author of two books on Pompey Elliott.

The matinee running times (approx):
Performance: 12.00 - 13.20
Q&A: 13.20 - 13.35
Break: 13.35 - 13.45
WWI Talk: 13.45 - 14.30
Questions: 14.30 - 14.45

Duration: approximately 80 minutes,no interval. Note: 12pm performance is followed by a Q&A and interval (approximately 160 minutes in total).
Adult $40
Children (17 and under) $25
Student (FT) $25
Concession (Age Pensioner) $28
Concession (Health Care) $28
Family (2 Adult / 2 Child) $110

Book tickets

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Sergeant George of the Railways Unit

British light rail engine, as used on the Western Front      (AWM H01948)

In late 1916, at the request of the British government, Australia advertised for experienced men to join a new railway operations division.  By the end of January 1917, the Victorian section was filled by ‘a very fine body of men’ from the Victorian Railways. Among these  was thirty-two-year-old engine driver, Alfred George of 37 Hardiman Street, Kensington.

Rod Martin describes the experiences of Sergeant Alfred Thomas George in Number 2 Section, Australian Railways Operations Division.  

Peter Stanley in his book Bad Characters, talked of the AIF being civilians in uniform:  

"In broad terms the AIF resembled the factories, workshops or shearing sheds that many of its members had known in civilian life.  Privates were the workers; non-commissioned officers (NCOs) were foremen, gangers or overseers; officers were the proprietors, managers or supervisors.  Soldiers saw them in these terms....  Australian soldiers often applied their civilian principles to their military experience."  (p37)

 This applied particularly to the trades unionists among them, and the railway soldiers were probably among the most heavily unionised soldiers of the AIF.   This becomes apparent in Rod's story telling of the reactions of the Number 2 Railway Unit when faced with unacceptable directions from their officers.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Putting Imperial into the AIF

Griffiths family grave in Krugersdorp, South Africa, courtesy of Jena Griffiths.

To underscore the imperial nature of the AIF, here is the gravestone of the Griffiths family, originally of Llanelly, Glamorgan Shire, South Wales, but more recently settled in Krugersdorp, Transvaal, South Africa.  Emlyn Griffiths left South Africa for Melbourne, where he lived in Ascot Vale for a period before war was declared in 1914.  He was one of the earliest recruits, signing on 19th August 1914 at the Essendon Drill Hall, joining many other locals in the 7th Infantry Battalion.

The gravestone is in Krugersdorp, commemorating the deaths of two young men of the family, one in 1910 (cause not known), and Emlyn at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Female Relatives Badges

Female Relatives Badge, WW1

Female Relatives Badge, WW2
I have known for a while that the National Archives of Australia held the Registers for these badges, but only tonight have I had another look for them and found them digitised, which is a huge plus.  Unfortunately it will be a bit hit and miss as to whether you are likely to locate the recipient of a badge by the number on the back, in the sense that the coverage of these registers in this collection is incomplete. 

If you look under Series number MT1384/2 Registers of Issued Medals and Badges 1939/45 War - 1914/18 War  and click on "Items in this Series on Record Search" you will find a long list of records, not all of which are Registers of Female Relatives Badges.   It appears that the majority of available registers are from the WW2 period, with fewer available for WW1.  States have separate registers, and it was my impression that there were fewer registers for Victoria than other states, but that might be my natural bias.

I could not locate an appropriate register for the WW1 badge at the top, which was among my mother's things.  This is frustrating because I don't know any relative whom it might have represented.   The only close relative to my mother who served was her uncle Jim, but he was in the Royal Navy, and the Australian Defence Department would not have handed out badges men who did not serve in the Australian Forces.  In addition, the Naval version has an anchor in the centre, where AIF is shown in this one.  Unless some more registers come to light (could there be some in another series?) it will remain a mystery for now.

I was able to find a register entry for the WW2 badge using the registered number on the back.  I bought this badge on eBay many years ago, so it was not issued to our family, but I had the thought that as none came to light amongst my paternal grandmother's effects, I would like one to recognise HER sacrifice. There are stories of her distress when my father was called into service with the CMF when he was 18, and sent to New Britain with the AIF when he was 19 or 20.  It occurred to me only today that perhaps she never applied for a badge. (You had to fill in a form to get one).  She was Catholic, which may have influenced her thinking on patriotic display.  She was a young woman during WW1 when Archbishop Mannix spoke out against conscription.

I had a look at Ancestry to see if I could see the original recipient's family, but it is a little too recent for anything to appear.  I will bide my time and check back from time to time.

The Registers record the name and address of the applicant, and the relationship to the member.  It also gives the name, rank and unit (I found the VX number rather than a unit), the number of the application form, and a few other details, not necessarily the same as the column heading would suggest.