Monday, 18 September 2017

Barwise Carr Wilson


A grand niece of Barwise Carr Wilson has kindly supplied photographs of him as a soldier.


Barwise Wilson at the back of house at Avoca 1914




I have previously written about Barwise Wilson.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Private Robert Hart known as the "Avoca Giant"



AVOCA GIANT. (1917, February 27). Avoca Mail (Vic. : 1863 - 1900; 1915 - 1918), p. 2. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article152146834
Robert Charles Hart, service number 4129, was born in 1883 at Barkly, a locality 37 kilometres north-west of Avoca.

Robert Hart enlisted at Melbourne on 7 January 1916. He was 32 years old, a farmer living at Barkly, unmarried. His next of kin was his father, Benjamin Hart, also of Barkly.

At the time of his enlistment his height was noted as 6 foot 7 inches. Some  newspapers reported that he was even taller, 6 feet 8 1/2 inches tall..

AUSTRALIA'S HEROES. (1916, January 12). Avoca Free Press and Farmers' and Miners' Journal (Vic. : 1900; 1914 - 1918), p. 2. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article151685246
No title (1916, July 18). Avoca Mail (Vic. : 1863 - 1900; 1915 - 1918), p. 2. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article151724133

Hart served with the 21st Battalion. Wounded in the battle of Pozières in August 1916, he he was invalided back to Australia and discharged the following year.


Hart was one of three brothers who served.

Australia's Heroes. (1917, July 18). Avoca Free Press and Farmers' and Miners' Journal (Vic. : 1900; 1914 - 1918), p. 2. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article151688538

He was welcomed home in the Barkly Hall on 13 July 1916.

WELCOME HOME TO PRIVATE ROBERT C. HART. (1917, July 24). Avoca Mail (Vic. : 1863 - 1900; 1915 - 1918), p. 2. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article152146244 (click to enlarge)
Robert's brother Norman was wounded at Bullecourt and his leg was amputated below the knee. Norman was welcomed home in 1918. At that time Robert was reported to be farming at Nyah, 250 kilometres north of Avoca near Swan Hill.

BARKLY. (1918, March 22). Avoca Mail (Vic. : 1863 - 1900; 1915 - 1918), p. 2. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article152146709

Robert Charles Hart died on 30 August 1948, aged 64 at St Arnaud, Victoria.

The tallest man in the Australian Army was reported to be Private Patrick O'Connor who was7 feet 4 inches tall. This would appear to be O'CONNOR Patrick : Service Number - 2721 : Place of Birth - Tipperary Ireland : Place of Enlistment - Goulburn NSW : Next of Kin - (Wife) O'CONNOR Annie. His attestation papers record he was 7 feet tall.

An Australian giant at Weymouth camp. This soldier's height is 7 feet 4 inches and he is seen standing between two other soldiers of average height. Photograph in the collection of the Australian War Memorial. ID number C04418. This is probably a photograph of Patrick O'Connor.




References

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Billzac

In December the word of the month from Oxford Australia is Billzac, a term for a typical Australian soldier. It was formed from Billjim and Anzac and first appeared in the newspapers in 1916.

Billjim, first recorded in 1898, was a term for typical man in the street. I have found an early use of the word through Trove digitised newspapers in the North Queensland Register of 13 March 1899.

The earliest mention of ANZAC I have found in a Trove search is 7 June 1915, when the Adelaide Register and other newspapers reproduced the text of a cable from Major-General Sir Ian Hamilton to the Minister for Defence, Mr Pearce:  "I received information from Anzac that enemy reinforcements had been seen advancing from Maidos towards Krithia. Consequently Gen. Birdwood arranged to attack the trenches in front of the Ginn's post at 10 p.m."

In Avoca, the term Anzac was used by the Avoca Mail in December 1915 in an advertisement for the programme of the Navarre annual races:
Advertisement for Navarre Annual Races appearing in the Avoca Mail of 21 December 1915.
The patriotically inspired names for the races in the programme for the Navarre meeting helped to distinguish it from a race meeting to be held at Lexton only  a few days before hand. Both meetings advertised that they would donate the proceeds to patriotic funds.

In November 1915 the Avoca Mail reported on hospitals at Anzac: at that time the term Anzac meant the place, not the soldier. The first reference in the Avoca press to Anzac as a term for a soldier was not until January 1916, in the Avoca Mail.

The word 'Billjim' appears only once in the Avoca Free Press in 1918. I have found no matches for 'Billzac'. Neither term shows up in a search of the Avoca Mail.


The Avoca Mail does not appear to use the term digger for soldier in the issues that have been digitised (all issues for 1915 through to the end of 1918). The term was used by Corporal Bob Harrowfield in a letter published by the Avoca Free Press on 28 September 1918:
We marched (?) leisurely along, and passed thousands of American troops. They are fine lads, very enthusiastic, and gave us a hearty greeting. There, is a very friendly feeling between us, despite chaffing by both sides. The American dislikes "Sammy, '' so we call him "Teddy," and he knows that "Digger" will always do us.


Sunday, 4 January 2015

Letter from Mr Reg. Johnson

Reginald Campbell Johnson (1895-1984), known as Reg or Rege, enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 18 August 1914. He was a farrier, aged 19. On 19 October 1914 he sailed with F Company of the 8th Infantry Battalion on HMAT Benalla. A number of other men from Avoca were in the same Company and also on board the Benalla.

The camp at Mena near Cairo, Egypt, photographed 1915. Photograph in the collection of the Australian War Memorial ID A02741.

On 30 January 1915 the Avoca Free Press published a letter from Reg to his parents  dated 13 December 1914. In his letter Johnson mentions:
  • Watty, probably his brother Walter Henry Clarence Johnson (1888-1953), who enlisted at the same time and was also serving with the 8th Battalion
  • Dave, probably Dave Summers (1893-1916), who had played with Johnson in the Avoca Brass Band.
  • Billy French's accident to his knee; French was repatriated early in 1915 because of it.
  • camping near Cairo only about half a mile from the great pyramids pyramids at Giza. Johnson mentions the Sphinx, an Indian wounded by Arabs, two New Zealanders being stabbed, and two men who died falling from the pyramids.


THE EXPEDITIONARY FORCE. (1915, January 30). Avoca Free Press and Farmers' and Miners' Journal (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 2. Retrieved January 4, 2015, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article151623763

Johnson fought at Gallipoli and was wounded on 25 April 1915 with gunshot injuries to his face. He spent five months in a Manchester hospital and returned to Australia later in 1915. (National Archives of Australia: Australian Imperial Force, Base Records Office; B2455, First Australian Imperial Force Personnel Dossiers, 1914-1920; Johnson Reginald Campbell : SERN 679 : POB Avoca VIC : POE Surrey Hills VIC : NOK Johnson Henry, page 12)

Related posts:

Friday, 26 December 2014

The Great War during December 1914 from an Avoca perspective

No men from the Avoca had been killed or wounded yet and the war seemed a long way away. Might the conflict actually bring the district some good? Wine growers thought so. The annual report of the Viticultural Society of Victoria pointed out that though exports had been held up by the first mobilisations, causing a glut of dry reds and whites on the local market, the 1914--15 French and German vintages would be greatly reduced. The British navy guarded the seas, and with space on steamers bound for Europe, there would be no difficulty meeting what would be a strong demand for Australian wines. Moreover, brandy imports had been interrupted by the war and this would increase local demand for the Australian product.

THE WINE INDUSTRY. (1914, December 5). Avoca Free Press and Farmers' and Miners' Journal (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 3. Retrieved December 26, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article151624841
The war had been underway for four months and the slaughter in the trenches had begun, but the news from France seemed not to affect Avoca. Even so, the pupils of Avoca State School and their friends continued to help with with the war effort by making clothing for the soldiers.

No title. (1914, December 12). Avoca Free Press and Farmers' and Miners' Journal (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 2. Retrieved December 26, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article151624280
 On Wednesday 16 December the students of the Avoca State School held a successful concert in aid of the Patriotic Fund. (No title. (1914, December 19). Avoca Free Press and Farmers' and Miners' Journal (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 2. Retrieved December 26, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article151622756)

The Warrenmang correspondent of the Avoca Free Press reported on 19 December 1914 that Percy Tuck, formerly of the Avoca district but now with the Sydney Fire Brigade had enlisted. Percy Tuck enlisted on 26 November 1914. He had been born at Warrenmang and was 24 years old. He served with the 4th Battalion and on 1 May 1915 died of wounds received in action on Gallipoli. His death was reported in the Avoca Free Press on 26 June 1915:
Our Fallen Heroes. (1915, June 26). Avoca Free Press and Farmers' and Miners' Journal (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 2. Retrieved December 26, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article151625228
No title. (1915, August 18). Sydney Mail (NSW : 1912 - 1938), p. 25. Retrieved December 26, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article162494674
Further reading:

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Norman Alfred Frean

Norman Alfred Frean is remembered on the Australian Natives' Association soldiers' honor board which was unveiled at the Avoca Shire hall on 21 September 1920. (Avoca Free Press 25 September 1920)

Frean enlisted at South Melbourne on 19 August 1914. He was 22 years old, unmarried, and his occupation was bicycle builder. He had been born in South Melbourne. He married on 3 September 1914.

Frean served as a sapper with the 1st Signal Troop (1st Light Horse Brigade). He sailed on 20 October 1914 aboard the HMAT Karroo A10.

Troops on board HMAT Karroo (A10) prior to departure with well-wishers on the wharf holding paper streamers connecting them to men on the ship. 18 September 1916. Australian War Memorial ID PB0507

On 31 May 1915 Frean was wounded by shrapnel at Gaba Tepe, Gallipoli. He was wounded again in June and repatriated to Melbourne. He was discharged from the AIF in early 1916.

It is not clear from his dossier held by the National Archives of Australia what his connection to Avoca was. (National Archives of Australia: Australian Imperial Force, Base Records Office; B2455, First Australian Imperial Force Personnel Dossiers, 1914-1920; Frean Norman Alfred : SERN 26 : POB Melbourne VIC : POE Melbourne VIC : NOK Frean Mrs E A)

There are also no clues in the digitised newspaper collection at Trove.nla.gov.au.  However, on the 1919 electoral roll Norman Alfred Frean, mechanic, was recorded as living at Bealiba, a town 38 kilometres north of Avoca. His post-war connection to the Avoca community meant that he was remembered on the A. N. A. soldiers' honor board.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

William Randall

On 29 September 1914 Will Randall, born in Avoca, enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force. He was  a labourer, thirty-two years old, and unmarried. Will Randall gave his next of kin as his father Edward, also of Avoca. (National Archives of Australia: Australian Imperial Force, Base Records Office; B2455, First Australian Imperial Force Personnel Dossiers, 1914-1920; RANDALL William : Service Number - 532 : Place of Birth - Avoca VIC : Place of Enlistment - Avoca VIC : Next of Kin - (Father) RANDALL Edward )

Randall wrote to his father and the Avoca Free Press reproduced his letter on 28 November 1914.

No title. (1914, November 28). Avoca Free Press and Farmers' and Miners' Journal (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 2. Retrieved November 11, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article151624198

Randall was assigned to the 14th Battalion with the regimental number 532. He sailed on 22 December 1914 with the 14th Battalion on HMAT Ulysses A38.

LETTERS FROM OUR SOLDIERS. (1915, March 10). Avoca Free Press and Farmers' and Miners' Journal (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 3. Retrieved November 11, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article151624557

No title. (1915, April 17). Avoca Free Press and Farmers' and Miners' Journal (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 2. Retrieved November 11, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article151622087

On 28 April 1915 Will Randall was wounded in the arm by shrapnel at Gallipoli. He wrote a report of his experiences to his father.

LANDING AT THE DARDANELLES. (1915, June 30). Avoca Free Press and Farmers' and Miners' Journal (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 3. Retrieved November 11, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article151622559


Gallipoli Peninsula, Turkey. October 1915. Ground where men of 14th and 15th Battalions were driven to shelter from shrapnel on Anzac on 25 April to 26 April 1915. Photograph by CEW Bean. AWM ID G00925A


On 8 August 1915, Will Randall was reported missing after the Battle of Sari Bair, the last major engagement of the Gallipoli campaign. Three officers of the 14th Battalion and 33 other ranks were killed and 3 officers and 126 other ranks missing. Randall, who served with D company, was one of the 129 missing.  The Battalion's strength before the battle had been 14 officers and 560 other ranks


Roll call of B Company, 14th Battalion after the unsuccessful offensive on 8 August 1915. AWM ID A01225

On 6 October 1915 the Ottoman Red Crescent Society reported that Randall was a prisoner of the Turkish.

Letter to Edward Randall, father of Will Randall, April 1916. Folio 45 of NAA B2455, Randall W. 

For the Empire. (1916, December 2). Avoca Free Press and Farmers' and Miners' Journal (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 2. Retrieved November 11, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article151685143
Thought to be Belemedick Railway Construction employees and prisoner of war huts. Australian PoWs in Turkey were employed for quite a time on the Taurus Mountains Railway. AWM ID H19397




From
From the Australian War Memorial: Australian Red Cross Wounded and Missing Enquiry Bureau/Box 224/Wallet 2 / 532 Private Randall, William

Letter from Edward Randall, father of Will Randall, March 1918. Folio 34 of NAA B2455, Randall W.

Letter from Edward Randall, father of Will Randall, March 1918. Folio 26 of NAA B2455, Randall W.
 The turn-around of letters was slow but correspondence did get through.

For the Empire. (1918, October 23). Avoca Free Press and Farmers' and Miners' Journal (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 2. Retrieved November 11, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article151682955

In December 1918, after being a prisoner for three years three months, Will Randall returned to Egypt and from there to Australia. He was discharged from the army on 9 April 1919.