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

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Where is this War Memorial?

Does anyone know the location of this war memorial - most likely in France, or possibly Belgium.  There is a member of the 12th Field Ambulance standing behind it.  The album in which it was included was sent home to Australia in 1917, so the photo was taken no later than that.

Where is this WW1 tank?

There are those who would like to know where and when this tank was photographed.  The men having a good look around it are most likely from the 12th Field Ambulance Corps.  It is mostly likely in winter in early 1917.  The tank is No 746, and the crew is C17.  I have looked at the Unit War Diary of the 12th Field Ambulance and am none the wiser.  Does anyone know when there was a little bit of snow on the ground in France?  The 12th Field Ambulance seems to have been around Becordel, Bernafay, N. Flers, Decauville, Deauville, Longueval and  Mametz Wood in January 1917.  Does anyone have any further information about it?

Sunday, June 14, 2015

More on the Williams Brothers' Album

I have lately been given access to a small collection of photos owned by 4755 Private Patrick Heneberry O'Callaghan of the 12th Field Ambulance, with captions. Several of these were also found in the Williams Brothers Album which I loaded onto the Empire Called website some time ago.  Amongst the duplicated photos was this one:

The caption from Pte O'Callaghan reads:

"12 Field Ambulance Stretcher bearers carrying through Poziere wood, the one at the back was killed later carrying with me, we had only just changed ends.  Better born lucky than rich in France."

Trawling through the AWM collection for photos relating to the 12th Field Ambulance, I found the above photo, of which I have a different copy on the Empire Called website.  The AWM description reads in part: 

3219 Corporal George Lloyd MM (right) and two other unidentified stretcher bearers, one believed to be 3373 Private (Pte) Norman Henry Sadler MM (position unknown), of the 12th Field Ambulance carrying a wounded man.

It was recorded in 3373 Norman Henry Sadler's B2455 record that he had been killed on 28 August 1916. Reference to the Australian Red Cross Correspondence turned up a report of Sadler's death, and included a statement from Patrick O'Callaghan, confirming the caption on the photo:

12 Field Ambulance AIF

Killed 20-8-16

Witness states that he was with Sadler when the latter was killed.  They were carrying a stretcher with patient on it.  A few yards before casualty happened, they changed ends.  States that a shell burst in front of them when crossing a sap about 100 yards from Pozieres Cemetery.  Piece of shell went through Sadler's helmet in front and came out at back of head.  He was unconscious.  Took him back to dressing station, where he died.  Did not regain consciousness.  Next morning SADLER was buried by witness and others at Casualty Coral by Protestant Minister.  There is a cross on grave with his name and name of unit on it.
Cert:  by: - O'Callaghan, P A 4755, 12 FA
3rd Aux Austr Hosp, Dartford.

Corporal George Lloyd 3219 was in charge of a party of four, which included O'Callaghan, Charlie Watson and Norman Sadler.

Lloyd's description of having dark complexion, brown eyes and dark hair accords with the AWM caption that George Lloyd is the man on the right.  Sadler's description recorded fair complexion, blue eyes and light brown hair. 

This helps greatly with dating and placing some of the photos, and identifying a couple more of the faces.

Friday, June 12, 2015

AIF stripes,chevrons, patches, badges etc

I have just noticed an extremely useful article on the Australian War Memorial website by Dianne Rutherford explaining the stripes, chevrons, patches, buttons, titles and badges

Sunday, June 7, 2015

ASC Football Team AIF England 1917-18

This was another of the photos in Sgt James Anderson's wallet when he was wounded by a bomb fragment which went through the wallet first.  Jim is not in the photo, but he was in the ASC and may have known some of the players.  James served with both the 10th ASC and the 31st ASC in 1917.  Any identifications welcome.  The photo was taken by a photographer from Sutton Veny in the winter of 1917-18.  You can see a larger version of the photo on this page

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Jim Anderson's wallet saves the day

 Jim Anderson's wallet, above, was crammed with his notebook, letters and photographs when it slowed the entry of a bomb fragment on its way to send him to oblivion.  The fragment passed through his folded up tunic, wallet and contents and still fractured Jim's jaw and cut a blood vessel, in July 1918. Evacuated to England, his recovery was long enough to prevent him re-entering the war, and he returned to Australia on Special Leave for 1914 men in December 1918.

”[Jim] received his wound whilst asleep early in the morning.  A bomb dropped from an aircraft exploded near his tent.  A piece of metal cut through his wallet which in his tunic pocket was acting as a pillow.  The wallet and contents – photos, cards, letters etc was nearly 2 inches thick and it was pierced right through slowing the metal,  stopping it in his neck. He stood up – had lost his hearing and put his hand to his neck to discover blood squirting  out.“

Jim carried a recent photo of his wife Elsie and daughter Margaret in his wallet - Elsie received a wound to the chest!

You can see more of the contents of Jim's wallet on the Empire Called website.  Jim served with 10 ASC and later 31 ASC, landing at Gallipoli, and later in France.

Soul of the Battalion: the role of brass bands in the Great War

An illustrated lecture by Jillian Durance

Grainger Museum, 28th Jun 2015 3:00pm
Royal Parade, near Gate 13
The University of Melbourne

Free admission. Please book ahead as numbers are limited
Contact the Grainger Museum at or telephone 8344 5270.
  Using selected items in the Grainger Museum's current exhibition, Pack up your troubles: Music and the Great War, as well as items in Herbert Godber's own personal collection, Jillian Durance will explore the experiences of the battalion bandsmen, both at home in the training camps and overseas, on the battlefront and behind the lines. Through photographs, diary entries and memoir, Jillian will look at the origins of the bandsmen as well as their musical backgrounds. In particular, she will tell the story of her grandfather's role as a bandsman of the 21st Battalion. This lecture will touch on the lives of all those bandsmen who played to enliven the spirits of others, to provide solace to the wounded, to lend dignity to ceremonial occasions and to provide a vital cultural link between those fighting at the front and those waiting at home for their return.

Jillian is the author of the book Still Going Strong: the story of the Moyarra Honour Roll.

Pack up your troubles: Music and the Great War

Grainger Museum
24 April 2015 - 20 December 2015 
The Grainger Museum's contribution to the Centenary of ANZAC is the exhibition Pack up your troubles: Music and the Great War. With a focus on Australia, the exhibition explores the powerful and varied role of music and musicians during World War I and why music resonated so strongly across a broad spectrum of domestic, civic and military life.
On display are popular songs, printed as sheet music with striking covers, which chart the entire course of the war, from those first months through to Armistice and beyond. Other features of the exhibition include posters, artworks, photographs and musical instruments: those that went to war – or were made there.

The University of Melbourne's own collection items are complemented with loans from a number of public institutions notably the Australian War Memorial, the National Film and Sound Archive and the Performing Arts Museum, and generous private lenders.
For the first time at the Grainger Museum, iPods can be borrowed by visitors in order to hear music associated with items on display. Hear band music, songs and even Nellie Melba or Percy Grainger performing to raise money for the war effort. There is also a short silent movie of Australian archival footage from the National Film and Sound Archive which, with vivid immediacy, illustrates a rich diversity of musical experience from a century ago.

While preparing this exhibition, note was taken of the photos on the 3rd Pioneer Battalion Band page, and some of those photos may feature in the exhibition.

Thanks to Liz Pidgeon for the reminder!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Australian Nurses in World War 1

Sister Elizabeth Gertrude Fleming,  The Penleigh Magazine 1919, p.24. Circa 1896. 
Courtesy of Penleigh and Essendon Grammar School Archives.

Another tip from Vicki's blog Exploring Military History is contained in a post on Locating a World War 1 Nurse.    This article contained a reference to the website Australian Nurses in World War 1, which provides an annotated, and sometimes illustrated list, not only of Australian Army Nursing Service women, but also Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service.

Another piece of good news is that the website has a search engine and you can search by place as well as name. 

Monday, June 1, 2015

A Great War Reading List

A recent post on the Exploring Military History blog on "World War 1: selection of non-fiction books" which included a list of junior non-fiction, and a previous post on "World War 1 through children's fiction", I thought worth passing on. 

One of the books mentioned by Vicki on her blog was the one above, "And the Band Played On: how music lifted the Anzac spirit in the battlefields of the First World War" by Robert Holden.  This is a book I have read recently, and can also thoroughly recommend.

There is a booklist contained on the Empire Called and I Answered website, called "Sources", which covers all the material I have looked at for any mention of the local volunteers.   This list doesn't have as much current material as Vicki's list, but may suggest some less well-known material published a bit closer to the war which may be useful for research.

And just for fun, I keep a Pinterest group of covers of   WW1 Australian history books.