Saturday, March 28, 2015

"Emden beached and done for!" 1914

We've already established that I had an early interest in military history.   In further exploring my Grade 6 exercise book, it is interesting to note that in the 1960s school children were still being propagandised about the British Empire as part of daily lessons.  It is also further evidence that my drawing skills were non-existent, and not surprising that in secondary school I managed to fail Art.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Farewell to Dave Hunter, citizen and soldier of Australia

Well-wishers, some holding paper streamers connecting them to men on the ship, on the wharf prior to the departure of HMAT Anchises.
For some, the streamers connecting the troops on the Anchises with their friends and family on the dock at Port Melbourne would be their last link with home.  Gus Stelling, en route to Gallipoli two months later, told his parents that they had not yet received any letters from Australia.  Gus died within days of arriving at Gallipoli in October 1915.  His friend Dave Hunter, who left by the same ship, survived two months on the peninsula, returned to Egypt for further training, and then travelled on to France with 22 Infantry Battalion.  Rod Martin tells the story of David Hunter, a woolclasser from Kensington, in his usual compelling fashion.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Gus Stelling - a short life

Gus as a member of the Essendon Rifles, 1915.
Gus Stelling was a young man of great promise.  He was a lively boy who enjoyed life - he joined the Boy Scouts, did Universal Training with the Senior Cadets and the Essendon Rifles, and was a skilled artist. He was employed prior to enlistement as a process engraver with a company in Melbourne.  Gus literally gave his life for others at Gallipoli.  Thanks to the kindness of the Dusek family we are able to catch a glimpse of  the life of a young man who paid the great sacrifice.  He died aged 20.  See Gus's story here.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Lieutenant Arthur Le Patourel of the 13th Hussars

13th Hussars in Mesopotamia, 1917.  Source:  British Empire.


Arthur MacGregor Le Patourel was a grazier with substantial land and stock holdings when war was declared.  It took nearly 12 months after that declaration to sell his land and stock so that he could enlist.

Why he chose to travel under his own steam from Australia to enlist with the 13th Hussars in the British Army remains a mystery at this stage.   He had served as a private in the 3rd Victorian Bushmen Contingent during the South African War.  As a man of substance and prior campaign experience, and aged 36, he would have received a commission in the AIF as readily as the British Army, though a British Army commission had more prestige.  He may have responded to an invitation from a friend or relative.

After the war Arthur returned to Essendon,  in time moving from Essendon to Sunbury.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Lost Grave of Robert Thomson Barbour

Thiepval Anglo-French Cemetery, Authuille.  Source:  Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

In view of the fact that 100 years after the Great War that bodies of soldiers are still being identified and buried with a stone bearing their names, it should not be surprising that it might take fifteen years for the body of Private Robert Thomson Barbour to be located on the battlefields of France.   And while in present times it is a relief to members of families  of lost soldiers to be located and reburied, for families at the time it was an agony not to know the last resting place of their husbands and sons, as evidenced by the persistent inquiries made by members of Robert Barbour's family during those fifteen years.

Rod Martin tells the story of Robert Barbour's short months on the battlefield, and how he was buried, lost, and found again.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Out of the Firing Line ......

Albert 'Berty' Olley, a butcher from Ascot Vale, was one of thousands who answered the call in July 1915.  Rod Martin recounts Berty's part in the conflict - out of the Firing Line and into the Fire.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Chenhall family members at 27 Byron Street, Moonee Ponds, early 1916.   Back row from left: Gordon McRae (Elsie’s fiancĂ©), Elsie, Ida Chenhall nee Morell, Sergeant Cecil Chenhall, Ethel, Ruby Chenhall, Charles Clayton. Front row, seated: Leura, Mrs Morrell, Mary with Bob on her knee, Ruby, Howard Trathan, Clarence Clayton Chenhall (son of Ethel and Charles).  Ruby married Howard Trathan.  Photo courtesy of the Chenhall family collection.

Cecil Chenhall, a 21 year old salesman, had trained with the 58 Infantry (Essendon Rifles).  In January 1916 he enlisted in the AIF and embarked as a Sergeant with the 39 Infantry Battalion.  This interesting photo shows the family gathered, possibly to farewell the soldier.  Cecil embarked on 27 May 1916, and on the same day, Gordon McRae, picture above at the far right, enlisted.  Howard Trathan, sitting cross-legged on the right, enlisted later in October 1916.  One of the three did not return.