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

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Heartiest of Christmas Greetings from France, 1918

Courtesy of Janine Beamish.

Gordon Anderson sent his heartiest greetings to friends and family at Christmas, 1918.  Gordon still had another eleven months in uniform before being discharged in Melbourne on 25 November 1919.

Have a safe and happy Christmas, everyone.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

How Private Young saved himself

3 Battalion men boarding the train for Alexandria, 4 April 1915  (AWM P02282.007)
A sixteen year-old boy was amongst this group of men who were preparing to leave Egypt and storm the Gallipoli shore.  Rod Martin tells the story of how Pte Douglas Hector Young of Ascot Vale survived the terrifying storm of bullets with a self-inflicted wound, but who went on to redeem himself after this military crime. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Venereal Disease and the Great War - UPATED

Paris, France September 1918. Soldiers from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa with Ettie Rout of the New Zealand Volunteer Service relaxing on leave during a card game. AWM H03654.
Ettie Rout was born in Australia and later moved to New Zealand with her family.  She was a reformer with strong convictions about the health of the British Race, but unlike many of her contemporaries, did not believe that moral purity was a strong enough tool to use in the fight against the epidemic of venereal disease that beset the army during the war.  Ettie believed in preventative measures, or at least cleansing after the act, and also encouraged the troops to visit regulated establishments.

Ettie raised the ire of many in the British, New Zealand and Australian communities, and after the war their outrage led them to continue the fight against Ettie, as shown in this file at the National Archives of Australia relating to Ettie Rout - Question of Admission to Australia in 1920.   

The file amply illustrates the ambivalence at higher levels about controlling VD in the troops, on the one hand  Surgeon-General Sir Neville Howse, VC, KCB accused Ettie Rout as peddling "pernicious propaganda", and he considered her "mentally unhinged".  On the other hand, the Department of Home and Territories handled Howse's complaints, and that of others, with the simple expedient of "no action".

Atlee Hunt, the Department Secretary, wrote to Howse saying that "The Minister has decided to take no action in the way of preventing her from landing.  Thanking you for favouring us with your views on this case".

The General Secretary of the YMCA, Percival J L Kenny also wrote to the Department to attempt to stop a visit by Ettie Rout - representing himself as "one of the thousands engaged in trying to uplift manhood and boyhood".   He claimed that ..."Miss Rout's actions in France not only made "Sexual intercourse" on the part of the troops easy, but strongly encouraged it by suggesting it to the men as soon as they arrived in Paris on leave". (p 8) 

The Women's Reform League of NSW  was likewise enraged at the thought of Ettie visiting Australia.  But despite the nasty letter-writing campaign no reason was found to stop her visit.

Mark Harrison, in his  detailed article about The British Army and the Problem of Venereal in France and Egypt during the First World War  mentioned that many of the purity campaigners with the army - the Chaplains for example - were also not immune to the temptations of the flesh - much to the amusement of the men when they ended up in the same hospitals for treatment.

Shaming was one of the forms of punishment used, though Officers were less likely to have VD noted on their record of service - but if they were in a hospital at Bulford in England, that may well have been the cause.

Ettie continued her campaign against venereal disease, and letters from her appeared in Australian newspapers towards the end of 1920: 

PREVENTION OF VENEREAL DISEASE. (1920, December 17). The Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901 - 1929), p. 8.

It was possible to cure VD in this period before penicillin, but it was a long process, and troops could be hospitalised from 30 to 50 days while going through the cure.  This was not a good outcome for Army officials, but they were divided about how to handle the problem - moral purity as opposed to a more pragmatic approach to prevention.

In 1906, August Paul von Wassermann, a German bacteriologist developed a complement fixation serum antibody test for syphilis – the “Wasserman reaction”.  This test is mentioned in many B2455 records. 

Also in 1906 Paul Ehrlich, a German histological chemist, began experimenting with arsenic compounds in treating syphilis in rabbits.  "His experiments were not very successful as most of the earlier arsenicals he experimented with were too toxic,  but in 1909  he and his assistant Sahachiro Hata, a Japanese bacteriologist, finally found success with the compound dioxy-diamino-arsenobenzol-dihydrochloride which they  called drug “606”.  This led in 1910 to the manufacture of arsphenamine, which subsequently became known as Salvarsan, or the “magic bullet”, and later in 1912, neoarsphenamine, Neo-salvarsan, or drug “914” In 1908 Ehrlich was awarded the Nobel Prize for his discovery". (see Syphilis – Its early history and Treatment until Penicillin and the Debate on its Origins  )

Further useful links on this subject are from The Encyclopaedia of New Zealand and from the Australian Light Horse Association forum.


A new book on the subject is: The Secrets of the Anzacs: the untold story of venereal disease in the Australian army,1914–1919 by Raden Dunbar.  An article about this book can be read in The Canberra Times.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Sister Emily Clare of Kensington died on Active Service

Sister Emily Clare, AANS, AIF
Trained nurse Emily Clare joined the Australian Army Nursing Service in November 1917, and was appointed a Staff Nurse.  Her training had consisted of 3 years at the Stawell Hospital.  There is insufficient evidence available at present to say whether she had begun her training before the war in 1914, or whether the war had been the impetus for her training. 

Staff Nurse Clare embarked on the SS Canberra from Sydney on 16 November 1918 - nine days after joining the AIF.  She was posted to the Victoria War Hospital in Bombay, India, where she nursed Turkish and German prisoners of war.   She was later transferred to the 34th (Welsh) Hospital in Deolali where she succumbed to pneumonia after catching influenza.  Her death occurred on 17 October 1918, less than a month before the end of the war.
Further details of Emily Clare's service can be seen here.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

2nd Lt Henry Campbell Brady NOT awarded the Albert Medal

Originally the Albert Medal was created to recognise life saving at sea, but a number of mine disasters led to a medal for life saving on land, as shown above.    It was not a military medal, but during the Great War a number of awards of the Albert Medal were made to soldiers who risked life and limb to save others.  A common reason for awarding an Albert Medal during the war was for what was described as a "grenade incident".  The Long, Long Trail: The British Army in the Great War of 1914-1918  webpage describes Albert Medals awarded to soldiers and sailors during the war, including three Australians.

2nd Lieutenant Henry Campbell Brady of the 29 Inf Bn was recommended for the award  in late 1917.  The recommendation read:

At DEVRES on 29th December 1917, Lieut BRADY WAS superintending live bombing practice.  Snow was on the ground, and men waiting for their turn to throw got very cold in the hands. As a result of this, men on three occasions, after extracting the safety pin dropped their grenades in the trench from which they were throwing.  On each occasion Lieut BRADY coolly picked the grenades up and, with only a couple of seconds to spare threw them out of the trench.  By his quick action and coolness he undoubtedly saved several lives. 

 By the end of 1917 grenade incidents had been ridiculously common, and in this case Brady was not awarded the medal.  The fact that no-one died, and the rescuer was not injured may have played a part.

Whether anyone in authority was criticised for allowing men in very cold conditions to practise with live bombs is unknown.  No medals earned there for common sense.

You can learn a little more about 2/Lt Brady here.  

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Sydney Buckley, Harrier and Army Chaplain

Reverend Captain S L Buckley, chaplain.
A recent enquiry about the founder of the Ivanhoe Harriers had me hunting around for an image of the Rev. Sydney Buckley, who had also been a member of the St Thomas' Harriers while living in Moonee Ponds.  The above portrait turned up on the website of Ivanhoe Grammar School, as Buckley was also a founder of that institution. The webpage is no longer on the school website (3/10/16).

Sydney Buckley, harrier.

The Ivanhoe Grammar website also has this image of Buckley with pupils, taken in the 1920s.   He is wearing his Returned from Active Service badge on his lapel.

National Anzac Centre and Pat Dooley

Norval 'Pat' Dooley from the National Anzac Centre story on Sister Olive Haynes.
While having yet another look around for an image of Pat Dooley who married the Anzac Girl Olive Haynes, an interesting website unknown turned up an image of him, along with a story and immages illustrating the service of Olive Haynes.   The National Anzac Centre is based in Albany, the departure point for the First Convoy in 1914, but the stories are from other states of Australia and New Zealand.   

I have to conclude, after having found that photo of Pat, that he is not pictured in the photo of the St Thomas' Harriers.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

100 Stories from Monash University

One Hundred Stories
The One Hundred Stories remember not just the men and women who lost their lives but also those who returned to Australia, the gassed, the crippled, the insane, all those irreparably damaged by war. The Great War shaped the world as well as the nation. Its memory belongs to us all.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Memories Dear - Stanley Vaughan

Private Stanley Paul Vaughan's memorial stone, Shrapnel Valley Cemetery, Gallipoli.  Courtesy of Kim Phillips, The Spiritis of Gallipoli website. 

Stanley Vaughan, 6 Inf Bn, was lost at German Officers Trench in one of the several badly planned attacks at Gallipoli.  Rod Martin tells the story.    

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Applications to Enlist in the AIF MT1486/1

An example of an application to re-enlist in the AIF, in this case ruled unfit.
NAA series  MT1486/1 includes Applications to Enlist.  Some of these forms are for men rejected on health grounds, some appear to have been accepted, and some appear to be from men who had not chance whatever of being accepted because of their health, but very likely wanted to qualify for a badge to show that they had tried to enlist.

In the case of Ru Jacobsohn, above, he had served in the Middle East, and on Gallipoli, with the 7th Infantry Battalion, and the above form reveals that he had been discharged with a gastric ulcer, though his B2455 also shows a wound to the shoulder and dysentery.  He attempted to re-enlist in 1916 and was found to be unfit for the AIF, but fit for Home Service. 

Not many of these applications have been digitised at the moment - the ones that are there may have been requested by researchers, perhaps.  Search them at the National Australian Archives. 

Melbourne Cup Day

Nursing sisters at 3 Australian General Hospital, Abbassia, lining up for a donkey race at a sports meeting,. 

 Good luck with your pick for today's Cup. Let's hope it isn't a donkey!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The YMCA at the front line

It's wonderful what you can find at the local fete.  Last week I picked up a little cloth-covered book called A Rough Y.M. Bloke by Frank Grose, without any idea of what it was likely to be about. I discovered an interesting tale by Grose who embarked as a YMCA representative with the honorary rank of 2nd Lieutenant on the Marathon on 9 May 1917.    Above is an illustration for the book by Daryl Lindsay, depicting the proximity to the front line of the YMCA support services.

This further drawing used in the book depicts Frank Grose pushing up to the Field Artillery emplacements fully laden with cigarettes, matches and newspapers to keep up the morale of the troops.  The bad roads made pedalling very hard work.    Supporting the troops with warm drinks as they came out of the trenches was much appreciated by them.  YMCA canteens could also be found in Paris and France for troops on leave to get a drink, read a newspaper, or write letters home.  James Anderson wrote a letter to his little daughter on YMCA notepaper.

The little book by Grose gives a useful account of the sort of work done by YMCA blokes both close to the front line, and behind the lines in France and England, particularly after the Armistice.

The book also contains a roll of honour of the Officers, NCOs and men of the 1st Divisional Artillery AIF who fell in the war, but it appears to include only enlistees from New South Wales.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Leo Pathe with the 3 Light Horse Brigade

Leo Pathe, a young coppersmith from Glass Street, Essendon enlisted on 9 September 1914 and was assigned to the 3rd Light Horse Brigade, then in camp at Broadmeadows.  Greg Milne tells Leo's story.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Researching your Australian WW1 relatives

Photographic Records and Classification Subsection of the Australian War Records Section, June 1919, London

To be presented by Lenore Frost.  This talk will give you an expert overview of resources held at the RHSV and elsewhere to help you research your WW1 relatives.  Participants will gain insights and techniques at finding information and evidence of WW1 servicemen and women.

At the Royal Historical Society of Victoria, 239 A Beckett St, Melbourne 
2 pm on Wednesday 22 October.  

Members Free, Non members $10.

Bookings essential on 9326 9288  or email  

9326 9288  or email
To be presented by Lenore Frost.  This talk will give you an expert overview of resources held at the RHSV and elsewhere to help you research your WW1 relatives.  Participants will gain insights and techniques at finding information and evidence of WW1 servicemen and women. - See more at:
To be presented by Lenore Frost.  This talk will give you an expert overview of resources held at the RHSV and elsewhere to help you research your WW1 relatives.  Participants will gain insights and techniques at finding information and evidence of WW1 servicemen and women. - See more at:

Departure of the first Victorian convoy, 1914

Infantry boarding the Hororata  at Prince's Pier, October 1914.
Tomorrow, 19 October 2014, is the centenary of the day that the first troops from Essendon and Flemington of the 6th and 7th Battalions departed Port Melbourne  on the Hororata to join the first convoy assembling in Albany, WA.    It was one of 17 troop ships that left Victoria in october 1914.

A commemoration will be held tomorrow at Prince's Pier.  You can see the program, which commences at 4 pm,  at the Anzac Commemoration website.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Stories from the Supreme Court of Victoria Memorial Board

In the entrance to the Supreme Court in William Street Melbourne, there is a memorial board commemorating 158 lawyers and solicitors who served in the Great War.  In a commemorative project, the stories of those men have been put together in an online memorial.  The names are from right round Victoria as well as metropolitan Melbourne.  It includes, for instance,  Hugh Gordon Morrow of Ballarat and an old school friend Lt Col Harold  E Elliott.

Not many Essendonians are included, but one local on the board is  William Thomas Snowden.

There are many well-known names on the board, and a browse through them may be rewarding.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Sgt James Grant Anderson's war

Driver Rupert Clive Jones, left, and Lance Corporal James Grant Anderson at the Alexandria Military Cemetery,  c 1915.

James Grant Anderson, on the right, a farmer of Essendon and Keilor, married Elsie Dixon in October 1913.  In September 1914 James stepped forward to do what he considered to be his duty as a citizen, and in October 1914 he left his expectant bride to do his earnest best in service of the Empire for the next four years.

Lovingly kept in the family, Jim's photos, letters, telegrams and souvenirs tell the story of his service, of his eventual longing to be home, and his attempts to be a father to the daughter he had yet to meet.   Three of Jim's brothers were also on active service.  Gordon Anderson's photo albums were posted about a few weeks ago.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Lance Sergeant Fish, 2nd Field Ambulance

Souvenir in the Australian War Memorial Collection REL31249

This souvenir was carried by one of three people, brothers Lance Sergeant George Melrose and Private Charles Vivian Fish or their brother-in-law Private Walter Harold Brentnall. All three, from Melbourne, Victoria, served in 2 Field Ambulance, AIF. Brentnall returned to Australia in 1917 after he was wounded. The brothers, however, both died of wounds, George on 24 July 1916 and Charles on 17 April 1918. Their effects were sent home to their family. .... it is thought that this matchbox may have been picked up on Gallipoli and filled with pebbles and a shell from Anzac Cove......(Australian War Memorial)

Pte Charles Fish's personal effects were lost in the sinking of the Barunga while being returned to Australia.  Brentnall served on Gallipoli, and George Fish on Lemnos. This and other mementos were together with an identity disc belonging to G M Fish, and may well have been shells and stones George picked up at Lemnos.

George had been a 23 year old salesmen living in Mackay St, Essendon, when he enlisted in 1914.

Rod Martin brings us George Fish's story.

Friday, October 3, 2014

RSL Virtual War Memorial

Here's an interesting new website from the South Australian Branch of the RSL.

Amongst other features is what appears to be nominal rolls for the different battalions (not only South Australian), for instance here is  one for the previously mentioned 58th Infantry Battalion:

The list does not include the men who transferred in from the 6th Inf Bn, because it would take too long to go through individual files to work out who transferred.   It would have been compiled from Embarkation Nominal Rolls.

You can also search for individuals, and upload details of your relatives.

58th Infantry Battalion AIF Memorial Book

Detail from image in the Moonee Valley Leader 24 Sep 2014. The Memorial Book is on permanent loan to the Essendon Historical Society.
There has been some confusion between the 58th Infantry Battalion AIF, which created the Memorial Book, and the local 58th Infantry (Essendon Rifles), a Citizens Military Force which did not serve overseas, though many of its members did when they joined AIF battalions.

The 58th Infantry Bn AIF was formed in Egypt in 1916, after the Gallipoli campaign. The AWM website says that it was formed in part from fresh recruits from Australia, and veterans from the 6th Infantry Bn which had served on Gallipoli.

Some Essendon/Flemington men served in the 6th Battalion and probably transferred to the 58th Infantry Bn in 1916, but it is not clear how many, nor how many subsequently died. There is not likely to be a very large number of local men included in the Memorial Book.

The 58th Infantry (Essendon Rifles) CMF provided many recruits for the 7th Infantry Battalion AIF which did serve in Gallipoli, and suffered grievous losses. After troops were evacuated to Egypt, half of the 7th Infantry Battalion were transferred to the new 59th Infantry Battalion AIF, not the 58th.

My research into the local AIF volunteers shows that only 32 locals joined the 58th Infantry AIF directly from Australia, though others will have transferred from the 6th Infantry Battalion in Egypt. The numbers would not have been very large, as only 100 locals embarked with the 6th Inf Bn in time to be involved in the transfers in 1916 – and not all of those would have transferred.

The association of the 58th Infantry Bn AIF with Essendon occurred after the war when the Citizen Military Forces were re-organised.

The book memorializes men from all over Victoria.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Victorian Veterans Virtual Museum

Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria Collection, H99.166/74

I went back to an earlier post in this blog to locate the link for the Victorian Veterans Virtual Museum, and of course it has been moved.  No longer in the Department of Planning and Development, but in the Department of Premier and Cabinet.

So here is the new link to the Victorian Veterans Virtual Museum.

One of the links it had in the old days which I found so useful (and perhaps it is still there somewhere), was to the list of Unit war histories at the State Library of Victoria.  The SLV now has a nice link for that.

World War 1 Unit Histories

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Gordon Anderson 1917 albums, 10th ASC


I have just loaded up two albums of photos taken by Gordon Roy Anderson of Buckley Park, Essendon.  At that time Buckley Park referred to a farm on the west side of Hoffmans Rd, Essendon, in an area that is now Niddrie.   Gordon arrived in England at the end of 1916 and was probably claimed by his older brother, James Grant Anderson, to serve with him in the 10th Army Service Corps.  A third brother, Donald Clarke Anderson, was also in this unit, though is not included in these albums.  During 1917 Gordon and Jim were in training camps on the Salisbury Plains, the photos being mainly taken at Codford and Windmill Hill.  If your relative served with 10th ASC in 1917, you might find him in one of the photos.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Norval Dooley and St Thomas' Harriers

St Thomas' Harriers pre 1914
Following up the many sportsmen from the Essendon area in Winners, as mentioned in the previous post, I had a look to see if Norval (Pat) Dooley who features in the ABC Drama Anzac Girls, had a mention.  And he did!  It turns out Pat was a notable walker with the Melbourne University Athletics Club, and he was also a member of St Thomas' Harriers of Moonee Ponds.  I wonder if Pat is in the photo above, which probably dates to 1913?  Pat Dooley of course went on to marry the Anzac Girl Sister Olive Haynes.

Trove is a Winner!

I'm loving a new entry into the digitised newspapers on Trove - a Melbourne-based sports newspaper called Winner.  I have never heard of it before, but it turns out to be a treasure trove indeed of material about enlisted sportsman.  For example, Lieutenant Alfred John May, of the Essendon Harriers, who appears to have been running Essendon's war handed single-handedly until his enlistment in 1916. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Mentioned in Top 50 Blogs for 2014

From Inside History Magazine

"The list was judged on a number of criteria: such as originality, quality of content, historical accuracy, use of photographs, useability, interaction with audience and sheer passion. They are presented in alphabetical order, rather than in terms of merit".

'The Empire Called and I Answered' is listed at 42, which as everyone knows is the Meaning of Life!  


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Francis Williams, underage soldier

2005 Pte Francis Williams, 46 Inf Bn.

What is the Army's duty when a clearly underage boy presents for enlistment?  Rod Martin examines the lack of process when Francis Williams, aged 16, enlisted in 1916.

Bita Paka Commemoration 11 September

Staff of the Royal Australian Naval Brigade, Australian Navy and Military Expeditionary Force (AN&MEF), after the operations against the Germans, September 1914. AWM A04003.

The Battle of Bita Paka, the first engagement of the Great War, will be commemorated in Papua New Guinea on Thursday 11 September, and the ABC TV will broadcast the ceremony live from PNG at 8 am (AEST).

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

New Zealand Service Records online

Archives New Zealand and the National Library have made available individual WW1 records of their servicemen and women.  A centenary website gives you all the links to the relevant records. 

A handful of men from Essendon and Flemington joined the NZEF, and you can find them using the tage NZEF on the Empire Called website.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Williams Brother Album again.

 In the above photo, the stretcher-bearer in the front row, far right, has been identified by John McKenzie as his grandfather, 6381 Pte Joseph Rhodes, MM, of Fairfield, who joined the 6 Field Ambulance on 8 March 1916.  Gordon Williams transferred to the 12 Field Ambulance on 27 Oct 1916, so the photo would date to some time between March and October 1916.
 This shows Joseph Rhodes with children circa 1926.  Courtesy of John McKenzie.

Some while ago I managed to track down some relatives of Cec Dixon  who provided the bottom photo, which looks very much like an older version of Cec.
 Cecil Dixon on the left of this photo.

In the above photo, Cec Dixon is probably the man top left. He joined the 12 Field Ambulance on 20 Apr 1916, was wounded on 18 Oct 1917 and did not return to active service.

Cecil Dixon in later years, courtesy of Robyn Bray and Merle Wong.
See the whole Gordon Brothers' Album.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

British Army Officer Records
Group photo of army officers (Catalogue reference: AIR 1/725/100/2). The National Archives.

Following three years' of work by volunteers, the data of nearly 140,000 surviving paper records of officers who served in the First World War, have been listed by the National Archives.   Many of the records were unfortunately destroyed or badly damaged.

Start with this Guide to searching the records, because it looks like being a maze. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Anzac girl

Sister Olive Haynes, featured in last night's ABC drama Anzac Girls, is commemorated on the Roll of Honour at Christ Church, Essendon.   Although from South Australia before the war, Olive married Norval (Pat) Dooley in England in  1917.  Norval and Olive Dooley lived at 1 Thomson St, Essendon after the war, and their names were recorded on the Christ Church Roll of Honour.   The Dooley family had lived in Moonee Ponds prior to the war, but had moved to Ivanhoe just before the war. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

"Permanently unfit for general Service", and yet...

Gunner Gaudie is lying in the bed at the far end, right side, in an Australian Auxiliary Hospital in 1919.
Despite being an unpromising soldier at his physical examination in 1916, Gunner Charles Hugh Gaudie was accepted into the AIF and sent off to England.  After a period of severe illness in England, he was found to be 'permanently unfit for general Service'  and yet he was still sent to France where he managed to survive the ardous conditions, only to die upon his return to Australia.  Rod Martin explores the apparent neglect of its own regulations by the AIF.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Australian Naval & Military Expeditionary Force Commemoration

Flinders Street Station, advertising the 7th War Loan Bond.  Australian War Memorial Collection H02355.

The Victorian Government invites you
to the following free event:

Flinders Street Station departure of Australian
Naval and Military Expeditionary Force
(AN&MEF) Commemoration

When: 11am, Sunday 17 August 2014
Where: Flinders Street Station
Registration: Not required

More than one hundred naval officers and sailors departed Flinders Street Station by steam train in August 1914 on their way to Sydney before ultimately departing for German New Guinea where they were the first Australian servicemen to see action in the war. Among the AN&MEF troops was a young Victorian, Able Seaman Billy Williams, who was the first member of the Australian forces to be killed in World War One.

See also: The Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force - First to Fight, 1914  Royal Australian Navy

Monday, August 4, 2014


Crowds outside The Argus newspaper office, waiting for a Special 
Supplement  Melbourne, 5 August 1914.  Australian War Memorial 
Collection H11612.

Whatever the statement of Britain's intentions made by Sir Edward Grey in the House of Commons may mean- whether it may be regarded as an ultimatum or a polite hint- the general feeling in the city yesterday was that it was tantamount to a declaration of war. The news of the speech was upon the streets at a quarter past 7 o'clock, when a special edition of "The Argus" gave the text of the Cabinet's decision. The papers were eagerly bought up by the business people as they came into town.  And after the news was out no body spoke of anything else. Strategists examined how the German fleet, bottled up in the Baltic, would never dare to come out into the Channel to face the might of England. The general opinion was that Britain had inevitably cast in her lot with France and Russia.

As the day wore on excitement grew. At about 1 o'clock the crowds began to gather in front of "The Argus" office, where a second special edition was announced to be in the press. The printers were besieged by hundreds of boys who fought each other for places and by the citizens as well, who wanted their single copies of the special edition. Each batch, as it came from the presses, melted like snow and the boys ran through the city crying the news. There had never perhaps been such excitement about a special edition of any Melbourne paper. Later on these editions penetrated into the suburbs where the boys carried them from house to house.  

At lunch time the people poured up Collins street and crowded the block, reading the special editions, and discussing the war. Everybody, though convinced that within a very short period of time Britain  would be at war, kept calm. There seemed   to be a general feeling that the fleet would   come through any ordeal with credit. The banks reported no special rush of business in the way of withdrawals. 
The excitement in the city became more intense as the night wore on and to keep the large crowd within bounds troopers and extra foot constables were called out. It was necessary for the police to take stern measures to suppress the exuberance of gangs of youths, whose conduct at times threatened to cause trouble. Dense crowds remained in Collins street in front of the newspaper office until long after midnight, cheering and singing the National Anthem. 

A loyal demonstration spontaneously breaking out at the Vienna Cafe showed how full were the minds of all of the news from Britain. During the lunch hour, when the cafe was crowded, the band played "Rule Britannia" and at the end of this patriotic piece the guests cheered. The band went on to play a verse of the National Anthem, which was sung by all assembled and this was followed by three hearty cheers for the British navy. 
The special editions ceased during the afternoon and the news, posted outside the newspaper offices, kept an interested crowd about the boards. When at about 5 o'clock the crowd of city workers made for home they walked slowly and lingeringly down Swanston street and Elizabeth street for further war editions.

Evening brought them in again to stand before the newspaper offices in greater crowds than during the hours of daylight. To enliven the time between the successive postings of news the boys sang patriotic songs. One of them waved a British flag, amid cheers for England and groans for Germany. Then they formed up and marched up and down Collins street singing "Sons of the Sea" and other martial songs. The arrival of the Senior Cadets at the Town Hall for the ceremony of drifting into the Citizen Forces was the signal for immense excitement.

WAR NEWS IN THE CITY. (1914, August 5). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 8. Retrieved August 4, 2014, from

Monday, July 21, 2014

St George's Anglican Church, Travancore WW1 commemoration

I saw this on the Flemington-Kensington News Facebook:

"In commemoration of the centenary of the First World War, St George's Anglican Church, Travancore will read the Roll of Honour of the parish participants in the conflicts of 1914 - 1918 during the 9.30am service on 3 August 2014. Family members of combatants whose names appear on the Honour Roll are invited to attend and stay for morning tea after the service".  
 The original St George's Church, at the time of the war, was located in Manningham St, Parkville, so the parishioners on the Roll of Honour include men (and one woman) from Carlton, Parkville, Flemington, Kensington, and North Melbourne.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

John Goldsworthy, Mayor of Essendon, 1914

The Colours and Emblems of the 58 Infantry (Essendon Rifles) Regiment, designed by Councillor John Goldsworthy, the Mayor of Essendon, featured on a Patriotic Concert Program from 1914.
Marilyn Kenny has prepared an overview of the role of Councillor John Goldsworthy, who became  the youngest Mayor of Essendon when he was elected to that position in 1914.  Goldsworthy  set a cracking pace supporting patriotic activities within the City of Melbourne.   A graphic artist, his design for the emblems and colours of the 58 Inf Regt was accepted by the Commonwealth.  It was Goldsworthy who created the first Honour Boards in the Essendon Town Hall.  You can read the full story here.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Essendon 1914: local impact of WW1

Melbourne High School Roll of Honour

The Melbourne High Rifle Team in 1910.  Many of these boys would have joined up a few years later.
Many of the local volunteers didn't appear on any of the local school Honour Boards.  About 30 of them had attended Melbourne High School, a selective government school in South Yarra. 

The Roll of Honour for this school appears in The Story of Melbourne High School, 1905-1921:  Jubilee Year of State Education in Victoria.  J Hocking, B.A, Principal.   Specialty Press: Melbourne, 1922. 

The Book has been digitised and can be found on the State Library of Victoria website at this URL:

 The school magazine, called "Ours", throughout the war carried news and letters as well as photos of the ex-students and teachers.  Copies of the magazine are available at the State Library of Victoria, either in hard copy or inicroform.  The school has also loaded up three 1915 issues onto their school library website.

An extracted list of the local lads included in the Melbourne High School Roll of Honour can be seen here

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Flemington-Kensington Presbyterian Church

Courtesy of The Reverend Phillip Court, St Stephens Presbyterian Church, Flemington.
A very lucky find is a photograph of the Honour Boards installed in the Flemington-Kensington Presbyterian Church in 1917.  Follow the link to discover who these young men were.