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

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Private Langham and the South Australian Red Cross

Private Langham taken at Broadmeadows in 1915, from the Australian War Memorial Collection.

Having another look at the South Australian Red Cross Information Bureau files, I decided to do a search based on military units, so tried the 7th Infantry Battalion as a unit closely associated with the local area. Doing this I came upon a file mentioning Joseph Oswill Langham, a horse-trainer who gave his Next of Kin as his sister in Grafton New South Wales, and no particular address for himself.  However, his presence on the Essendon Town Hall Roll of Honour and various other local references made it clear that he was resident in the local area prior to the war.

Some small items of correspondence in the files for a Sergeant Pyke Evans of Adelaide gave some shape to Langham's pre-war activities.   He and Evans, a jockey,  had enlisted in the 7th Infantry Battalion together, having previously known each other at Scobie's Stables in Ascot Vale Rd, Flemington. They went into camp together at Seymour.  Evans had originally come from Adelaide, and Langham was attempting to discover Evans' mother's address as he wanted to write to her.  This caused a file to be raised in the South Australian branch of the Australian Red Cross.

We also learn from the letters that Langham was a 'cot case' on returning to Australia, that in June 1917 he was in the Caulfield Hospital, and that his mail address was care of G Jobson, Charles St, Ascot Vale.  George Jobson of Doncaster St, Ascot Vale was a horsetrainer.  No Jobson had a street address of Charles St in the Electoral Rolls during the war, but to throw another address into the confusion, a George Jobson was listed in the 1917 Sands & Mcdougall Directories in Morphett St, Ascot Vale and another at Charles St, Footscray.

Langham's informant of Evans' death was Mrs Power of 4 Newtown Pde, Moonee Ponds.  In the 1915 Electoral Roll Jeanie Power lived at 4 Newtown Parade.   The another resident at the address was Charles Power, jockey.

The Red Cross files from South Australia together with the Electoral Rolls, Victorian marriage index and the Sands & McDougall directories have enabled me to give a broader picture of Langham's life before and after the war, though there is no doubt plenty more to learn.

Another couple of men associate with the racing industry in Flemington also mentioned James Scobie in their records.  These can be found by clicking on the tags in Langham's pbworks file.

Friday, August 26, 2016

South Australian Red Cross Information Bureau, 1916-1919

 While browsing through the B2455 file of Harry Nightingale Kersey of Moonee Ponds, I noticed a note written at Broadmeadows to the effect that Kersey had married the day before, and another Attestation had been made up showing his new next of kin.  I noticed that the day of the marriage, 16 July 1915, was the day before Harry embarked on the Orsova with the AAMC Hospital Transport service on 17 July 1915.  

I idly wondered whether the last minute marriage had lasted the distance, and went to Ancestry for a quick result.  Of course there is never a quick result.  All of the available trees listed a different, presumably second wife, not the Eva Evelyn mentioned in the B2455.  I went to the online index of BDM for Victoria and found that Harry Nightingale Kersey had married Eva Evelyn Swindells in 1915.  By the same means I discovered Eva had died in 1931.   Turning to Trove with the intention of seeing whether there had been children of the marriage, I found that the death notices and 'In Memoriam's' indicated there had been no children.  But I did find that Harry had been a devoted husband.

KERSEY. — In loving memory of my dear wife,
Eva Evelyn, who passed away on 30th No
vember, 1931. Sadly missed.
— Inserted by her loving husband, H. N.

KERSEY.— In loving memory of my dear
auntie, who passed away on the 30th No
vember, 1931. Peacefully sleeping.
—Inserted by her loving niece, Florrie.

KERSEY. — Our loved and devoted friend,
Eva E., dear Auntie Birdie to Jean and
Gwenda, who passed away after long suf
fering on 30th November, 1931.
Sadly missed.
With love to-day and through the long to
We will remember you.
— Inserted by Mrs. Williams and family, 22
Orlando-street, Hampton.

Family Notices (1932, November 30). The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954), p. 1. Retrieved August 26, 2016, from

Harry put an In Memoriam in the paper in the next two years.  In 1936, five years after Eva's death,  he remarried.

Thinking I would like a photo of him, I did a general Google on his name, and to my surprise up popped the website at the top of this post, the South Australian Red Cross Information Bureau, 1916-1919.

This came up because Harry had made a witness statement about a South Australian comrade in the 5th Field Ambulance unit who had been killed by shellfire.   The witness statement was contained in the usual Australian Red Cross Wounded and Missing Enquiries Bureau Correspondence available through the Australian War Memorial website. The South Australian Information Bureau has a different set of documentation held at the State Library of South Australia, and the volunteers who prepared and digitised the records also indexed the other names, particularly witness statements.  Otherwise I would never have found Harry's witness statement.

So while the records pertain particularly to South Australian soldiers, there is the chance that a soldier from another state was a witness for an enquiry made on behalf of South Australians, and would be worth a look.   Witness statements are a useful eye-witness account of the conditions at the time, and may be the only contemporary information you will find.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Mont Park Military Hospital photo collection

Patients playing cards, 16th Australian General Hospital, Mont Park ca 1918 (Alice E. Broadhurst Collection, Yarra Plenty Regional Library)

The Yarra Plenty Regional Library has announced the acquisition of a unique set of photographs taken by Red Cross Nurse Alice Elizabeth Broadhurst from 1918 to 1920, probably while working with the Voluntary Aid Detachment at Mont Park Hospital, McLeod.

The photos have been digitised and can be accessed at Yarra Plenty Local History Flickr and via Trove Pictures.

The Yarra Plenty Local History Flickr also includes other albums with WW1 photos and postcards, and well worth a visit.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

'A sharp attack was made by the enemy....'

A lighthorseman with his mount.
Following on from his story about Charles Murray Bloomfield who died at Pozieres, Rod Martin brings us the preceding awful news for the Bloomfield family - the death of their eldest son, Walter. He had been a South African War veteran, having served there with the Australian Commonwealth Horse.  He continued in WW1 as a mounted trooper with the 8 Light Horse Regiment in the gruelling Sinai campaign, which Rod outlines for us in the story of Walter Bloomfield.

The Bloomfields gave their eldest and youngest sons to the cause of the Empire within a few short months.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Probably A Company, 37th Battalion, 1915

Photo courtesy of Yvonne Macvean.

This photo is thought to include Private Albert Edmond Hickson who had grown up and gone to school in Essendon.  Albert joined the AIF in July 1915 and embarked on the Wandilla in November 1915.  He was one of the 'Fair Dinkums' who enlisted in full knowledge of the disaster at Gallipoli, and went to help their mates.  The two officers in the centre are probably 2 Lt William Sharp to the left with a swagger stick, and Captain Charles Mills on the right.  This company were involved in the disaster at Fromelles in 1916.  Sharp received a gunshot wound to the hip, and Mills, also wounded, was taken prisoner of war.  If you can identify any of the soldiers, please get in touch.  See a larger copy of the photo on Albert Hickson's webpage.

Darge tent at Seymour camp, c 1915

This is interesting - I guess we are all familiar with the Darge photos of soldiers, but I came upon this by accident searching for something else at the Seymour Camp.  The photo also shows other facilities laid on for the recruits - the YMCA tent and a Dentist.   From the AWM Collection, DAODS00043.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Beloved by all who knew him

Ceramic leaving Port Melbourne, 23 November 1915  (AWM PB0284A)
Charles Murray Bloomfield, the son of a former Councillor of Essendon, was only 19, as the song goes, when he embarked with the 12th reinforcements of the 6th Infantry Battalion.  They left on the Ceramic in November 1915.  His was not the only loss suffered by the Bloomfield family.   Rod Martin tells the story of this young soldier.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Wedding of a munitions worker, 1918

Photo courtesy of Trevor Wilson.

The wedding was that of George Stanley Smail (standing, right) and Olive Ella Davey (seated right) which took place in London on 15 December 1918.     The soldier on the left is George's brother Ernest Smail.  George had been discharged as 'not fit for general service'  from the AIF in London in 1917 to take up work in the Munitions industry.  The workforce had been greatly depleted after the Battle of the Somme in 1916 and British Munitions workers had been moved to fill the ranks of the army.   The date of the wedding might have been brought forward to allow George and Olive to take advantage of a free passage home to Australia. You can read more of George's story by clicking here