This blog is a companion to the Database of Volunteers of Essendon and Flemington

Friday, March 29, 2013

Lieutenant G G Paterson, MM, MC

George Gibson Paterson as a Cadet officer, in England, 1918, standing at the back, second from the right.
How did George Gibson Paterson of Nicholson St, Essendon come to be posted as a deserter?  Rod Martin investigates the circumstances in his new story.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Sister Rachael Pratt, MM

While looking for an image of Sister Louisa Cumming Pratt in the AWM collection, I noticed there was another Sister Pratt - Rachael - probably no relation.  While checking both of the Pratt service records to see if one or both had served in the 1 Australian Auxiliary Hospital (and therefore which one was the "Sister Pratt" pictured there), I was astonished to find that Rachael Pratt had received a gunshot wound, and later a Military Medal.

The AWM says of Sister Pratt, " she was awarded her Military Medal for "bravery in the field" on 19 October 1917, one of seven nurses to receive this award during the First World War."

In returning to the NAA website to discover more about her, by just putting her name in the search engine it brought up a citation for her Military Medal, and several Repatriation Department files which had been digitised.  These revealed that returned nurses suffered very similar problems as the soldiers.  

I have been unaware of Repatriation Files being included in the NAA catalogue - probably Rachael Pratt's records were digitised on request - there certainly aren't huge numbers digitised that I can see, but I can see it is worth revisiting the NAA catalogue to see if further files will come up in search results for your particular soldier or nurse.

Sister Louisa Pratt of Ascot Vale was awarded the Associate Royal Red Cross (2nd class) and later the Royal Red Cross (1st class.).

Monday, March 25, 2013

Bonds of Sacrifice

A Flickr account has been set up by the National Archives of Australia to provide access to photos of Australian servicemen contained in the Imperial War Museum, London. 

"We are delighted the National Archives is able to share digital images of Australian World War I servicemen received from the Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA) in 2011.

The digital images include photographs taken in London studios while servicemen were on leave and occasional newspaper clippings.

These images were identified by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) staff member Courtney Page-Allen, a recipient of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Fellowship. To find them, she spent 18 months searching through the 16,000 World War I images held in the Bonds of Sacrifice collection of the Imperial War Museum, London".

This is a quite extraordinary collection of photos.

Link updated 15/11/2018.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Commissioned in the Royal Flying Corps

Francis Cooper Penny was a tram conductor living in Ascot Vale when he enlisted in March 1917. He embarked with the 38 Inf Bn, and by April 1917 when he was discharged from the AIF in England, he was a Lance Corporal.  The next day he joined the Royal Flying Corps, Commissioned as  a 2nd Lieutenant.  The above image is from the Royal Aero Club Aviators' Certificate.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Herbert Skehan endures a brutal winter

Icy conditions on the Somme.  AWM E00171
Private Thomas Herbert Skehan of the 29 Inf Bn endured conditions like these on the Somme in the winter of 1916-17.  He survived the battle of Polygon Wood, but was killed in a shell attack between 26 and 27 September 1917.  Read Rod Martin's account of the military service of Herbert Skehan.

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Captain and his war bride

Reg Jones of Shaftesbury St, Essendon left Australia with the AIF as a Corporal with the 14 Inf Bn, and returned home as a Captain with a pretty bride he met while convalescing in England.  Kathleen Norah Kenney was a Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) worker during the war.    The photo below shows Kitty in her uniform and engagement ring.

The couple married in England on New Year's Eve, 1917.

These photos and other photos and letters can be found on the Empire Called website,  courtesy of Brenda Noonan, granddaughter of Reginald Jones.    You can see more letters and photos here.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Gunner George Creese of Kensington

Gibbs, Philip: From Bapaume to Passchendaele, London, William Heinemann, 1918

George Henry Creese left the comparative safety of the Cordite Factory in Maribyrnong to join the AIF in France.  He was assigned to a Light Mortar Battery.  Unlike heavier artillery, the trench mortar batteries were located close to the front line, dangerous work when the enemy artillery was seeking you out.  Read Rod Martin's story of Gunner Creese.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Courtney of Courtney's Post

Colonel Courtney on the right relaxing in a deck chair at Heliopolis during AIF training in Egypt, 1915.
Until now, Colonel Richard Courtney has mainly been remembered in the Gallipoli landmark Courtney's Post, but now the Office of Australian War Graves has recommended that Courtney's name be added to the Debt of Honour Register by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, and that the OAWG be responsible for the maintenance of his grave, which is at Coburg Cemetery.

Courtney was CO of the 14th Bn from 26 April until 30th May when he was invalided off the Peninsula with heart strain.  He was 45 at this time, and died back in Melbourne in 1919 aged 49.  It has now been rcognised that his death was war-related, and thus he will take his place in the Debt of Honour Register.   Thanks is due to researcher Marilyn Kenny who identified this oversight.

Courtney's medal group has been acquired by the Maryborough Military Museum in Queensland, along with other papers relating to his long military career.