The very beautiful Roll of Honour at St Thomas's Church of England, Mt Alexander Rd, Moonee Ponds, is an example of what is called 'optus sectile', which is a work in tiles. A series of tiles contain the names of the members of the church who volunteered for the Great War. At the top of the list are those who died.
The list is strangely personal, in that it does not list ranks, but first names, unlike many which give initials only.
It is a beautiful piece of art, and well worth a look if you are in the vicinity of the church.
The full list of names on this Roll of Honour has been placed on the Empire Called website, and I am working through linking each name to a personal record.
Other examples of opus sectile were discussed earlier on this blog.
The award was instituted by Leslie Ann Ballou of the Ancestors Live Here blog, who asks winners of the Award to
List ten things you have learned about any of your ancestors that has surprised, humbled, or enlightened you; and
Pass it along to ten other bloggers who you feel are doing their ancestors proud".
The Awards do cause one to pause and reflect on one's own work and interests, and also to think about those blogs that I get a lot from myself, and those where the content is diverse and interesting. So I have made a rambling list of the things that have occurred to me since I began my research project on the Volunteers of Essendon and Flemington, and the blogs that I have enjoyed along the way - thank you for your efforts, and thank you again to Aillin and Ruth for your nominations.
I am humbled to find how generous people are in sharing their photos, letters and stories about their relatives who served in the Great War.
I am surprised and humbled to find how each volunteer’s story is so individual, despite many common experiences.
I was surprised to discover how useful and interesting the records of volunteer Munitions workers are when I followed up a great-uncle of my own who went to England during the Great War.
I was surprised in that record to discover that he had been a “Reject” for military service because of a “stiff finger”. I can only conclude this was his trigger finger.
In examining many, many records of the local volunteers, I was surprised to find how small many of them were, including a great number under 5 feet 6 inches.
I was surprised at the graphic detail in which friends and comrades would write to a deceased soldier’s family, including such things as having two legs blown off above the knee, or “he had a terrible hole in his head”. If I was one of those boy’s mothers, I think I’d rather hear that it was a single bullet to the heart, something swift, painless, and not so body-shattering. The people of the time of the Great War were far more direct than we are now.
Through my work in examining the effect of the war on one community, I am enlightened as to the way in which no-one in the community was untouched.
I was positively astonished to learn about one family in my database who had sent 11 brothers and cousins from Essendon and Flemington alone, not including their relatives from other Melbourne suburbs.
I was enlightened to learn of the military and patriotic influences brought to bear on this small community, with so many young men and boys involved in compulsory military training, and also the voluntary militia.
Although I’ve always considered my relatives to be very much not involved in Australia’s military adventures, I’ve now discovered three volunteers in the family, and wonder if there are others. Of the three of whom I know, the one in the Royal Navy missed his boat in England and was given the option of gaol with hard labour or serving on a mine-sweeper for the duration (he chose the mine-sweeper); the second whom I mentioned earlier was rejected for military service, but volunteered for Munitions work; and the third one volunteered in Melbourne, was found to have VD before he left for overseas, and after spending a few months languishing in the Langwarrin Camp, deserted.
I have nominated the following blogs for their consistent effort and interesting content:
Bert Manderson (front left) of the 6th Infantry Battalion, and his brother Ernie Manderson (front right) of the 14th Infantry Battalion, photographed with their pals in Zeitoun in February 1916. It is thought that their cousin Arthur Soutter, 14th Bn, is in the photo, possibly at the back on the left. The fellow behind Ernie on the right appears to be wearing a 14th Bn colour patch. Can anyone identify the others in this photo?
This detail shows Bert Manderson with 'ESSENDON' written on the puggaree around his hat. It is not properly discernable in this image, but can be seen on the original.
In the 1970s the Holy Trinity church building was sold. The Honour Board disappeared around this time and probably won't be seen again. Does anyone have access to any photos or lists of names from that Honour Board? Please get in touch if you know anything.
UPDATE: I am compiling a list of volunteers known to have been associated with Holy Trinity.
I have created a number of local history projects for which you will find links on this blog. I am a community historian (ie, not paid) living in Essendon. The content of my Empire Called database (see the link to the PBWorks website) is the result of nearly 25 years' research. I began collecting material for the database of local WW1 volunteers in the early 1990s, beginning with hand transcriptions of Honour Boards in local schools, churches, clubs and so on. It was after this that the National Archives of Australia began making digitised service records available online, followed by the Australian War Memorial uploading Embarkation Rolls of the Australian Imperial Force. The Empire Called blog is a companion for the PBWorks website of the same name.
Time Travellers in Essendon and Flemington is set up in the same way, with a website and a blog to report additions to the website. The website is a vehicle to publish longer pieces of research that are too long for newsletters. It also includes various indexes I have worked on for many years, plus photos from various sources which I date and describe in greater detail. You may find something of use for your research.