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

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