133. Menin Road, Sept. 1917: G E Withinshaw, F W Butler, J Kennedy, C Saal & J D McLennan

Menin Road

The battle of Menin Road – the road itself ran between Menin and Gheluvelt, just outside of Ypres – was launched at 5.40 on the morning of 20 September 1917 and ran through to the following day. There were 11 divisions involved – 9 British and 2 Australian. The 2 Australian divisions – 1 and 2 – were positioned near Westhoek. It was the first time 2 Australian divisions had attacked side by side.

The military rated the operation a success. The planning was detailed, highly technical and strategic, and the men well prepared. All objectives were achieved.

The British politicians were far less impressed: the objectives themselves were limited and the casualty levels were unacceptable. Overall there were 21,000 casualties – including 4,000 for the AIF – and the ground gained was just over 5 square miles.  Success on these terms was unsustainable, particularly for the AIF.

The allied troops were not sent to attack the conventional line of trenches but rather a system of apparently haphazard outposts, reinforced pill boxes and machine gun emplacements which became denser and more effective the further the attacking troops penetrated. The German plan was that such a defensive system would first slow and then absorb the attack, at which point they could counter-attack.

The British counter strategy was to use artillery to protect and support the attacking infantry. This was to be done in the most direct and scientific way. The men would attack, in a closely orchestrated progression, behind the protective cover or ‘curtain’ of a barrage that gradually moved across the entire width of the chosen battlefield – to 1,000 yards and further – and was then sustained after the objectives had been achieved to break up any German counter attack.

Menin Road was rated as a triumph of allied artillery. It was the use of artillery that defined the success of the battle. Bean wrote about the success of the artillery in such ‘step-by-step tactics’:

The battle of September 20th (Menin Road), like those that succeeded it, is easily described inasmuch as it went almost precisely in accordance with plan. The advancing barrage won the ground; the infantry merely occupied it, pouncing on any points at which resistance survived. Whereas the artillery was generally spoken of as supporting the infantry, in this battle the infantry were little more than a necessary adjunct to the artillery’s effort. The barrage was the densest that had ever yet covered Australian troops. “Excellent-the best ever put up,” “as near to perfect as possible,” “magnificent in accuracy and volume,” were descriptions applied to it afterwards by Australian officers. Nevertheless it may fairly be claimed that infantry such as the Australian gave the artillery the best prospect of success. Provided the going was good, the difficulty was, never, to keep Australians up to the barrage, but, almost always, to keep them out of it. With guns so concentrated, a fair proportion of shells inevitably burst short of the rest, making a fringe to the barrage, and in this fringe the Australian infantry worked. (p 761)

However there were problems. Bean himself alludes to one: keeping the troops out of the barrage. For a whole range of reasons the attacking troops could be hit by their own artillery. Sometimes, not surprisingly, the close coordination required between the movement of the barrage and the troops on the battlefield broke down. Also, artillery shells could fall short and, given the closeness of the fighting, these ‘shorts’ often fell among the British and Australian troops.

That such ‘friendly fire’ was a real problem at Menin Road is revealed in the war diary of 5 Battalion. On the one hand the diary noted how effective, overall, the barrage had been. It stated that The barrage put down by our artillery was excellent. But it then went on to note how the … inevitable “shorts” fell amongst our men and made casualties. It also lamented that the men were too eager to move forward and some of them …  got into the barrage. Summing up, it noted:

Perhaps as many as 100 casualties were caused by our own barrage and “shorts”.

The significance of the figure of 100 is that total casualties for 5 Battalion at Menin Road were 70 killed, 189 wounded and 12 missing. Overall, potentially nearly 40% of the total casualties were caused by friendly fire.

It also important to note that in the final stages before the attack, as the men were assembling in the jumping off areas, German artillery put down a heavy barrage that claimed many casualties. In some cases, this barrage was so heavy, concentrated and deadly in its effect that the men, to escape it, launched the attack several minutes in advance of the scheduled start time.

Again, to give some indication of the intensity of the artillery used at Menin Road, 3.5 million shells were used over the period that covered the week leading up to the attack and the first day of the attack.  Many German troops surrendered, shell-shocked and demoralised.

In his account, Bean also described how some German troops who thought they had surrendered or who tried to surrender were killed. Most of these deaths appear to have occurred when the troops were overpowering the German pill boxes. In at least one case, it took the intervention of officers to stop the killing (p 772). In another case Bean described how German troops tried to surrender … but the excited troops “filled the place with bombs” until, growing tired of killing, they allowed a remnant – an officer and 40 men – to go to the rear as prisoners. (p. 764)

After the ‘success’ of Menin Road, planning for Polygon Wood continued with new enthusiasm.

It is worth noting that of the 5 men linked to the Shire of Alberton who died at Menin Road, and whose accounts appear below, not one of them has a known grave. All are simply remembered on the Menin Gate Memorial. Arguably, the lack of graves also points to the way the artillery of both sides churned up and obliterated the battlefield.

References

Bean, CEW 1941, Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918, Volume IV – The Australian Imperial Force in France, 1917, 11th Edition 1941

Chapter XVIII Step By Step. (1) The Menin Road

For a general background on Menin Road see,

Beaumont, J 2013, Broken Nation: Australians in the Great War, Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest NSW. [p 335 ff]

Carlyon, L 2006, The Great War, Pan Macmillan, Sydney NSW
[Chapter 29]

 

George Edgar WITHINSHAW (3456)
23 B KiA 19/9/17

The name of George Edgar Withinshaw is not included on either the Shire of Alberton Roll of Honor or the Alberton Shire Soldiers’ Memorial, but he was definitely a local of the Shire of Alberton. He was yet another another young English immigrant. He was born in Burslem, Staffordshire. When he enlisted in November 1916, he was 22 yo – nearly 23 yo – and the information supplied by his father – Harry Withinshaw – for the (National) Roll of Honour indicates that, at the time, he would have been in Australia for between 12 and 18 months. He must have arrived sometime in 1915, as a 21 yo.

On his enlistment forms he gave his occupation as ‘butcher’ and it appears he had completed several years apprenticeship in England before he came to Australia. However, in the local area it is most likely that he was working as a farm labourer. He gave his address as c/o C J Stockwell, Yarram. Charles John Stockwell was a prominent local grazier with at least 240 acres near Yarram. The father listed the same Charles J Stockwell Esq. on the (National) Roll of Honour form as someone … to whom reference could be made… for further information. The father also gave Yarram as the place with which his son was ‘chiefly connected’.

While he had not been in the local area for long before he enlisted, there is no doubt that George Edgar Withinshaw was a local. Indeed, there is even a record of him being fined for being on the premises of the Yarram Hotel ‘during prohibited hours’. The Gippsland Standard and Alberton Shire Representative on 6/10/16, just a months before he enlisted, reported on the prosecution of 4 locals – James Mitchell, George Withinshaw, Joseph Mills and Edgar Mitchell – who had been apprehended by Constable Herkes at 11.55 PM in the ‘bar parlour’ of the Yarram Hotel on the night of Saturday, 26 August. All 4 were found guilty and fined between 10/- and 15/- with costs (another 6/- to 10/-). Interestingly, on his enlistment papers, George Withinshaw wrote that he ‘had not been convicted’. Further, he enlisted at Warragul. Perhaps he chose to enlist outside the local area so as not to draw attention to his recent brush with the law.

Private Withinshaw was single and he gave his religion as Church of England when he enlisted on 10/11/16. He was taken on as reinforcements for 2 Pioneer Battalion and he embarked from Melbourne on 16/12/16, which was just over one month after he had enlisted.

In training in the UK in March 1917 he was hospitalised for 2 weeks with influenza and then in September he spent another week in hospital with a serious ear infection.

He transferred from 2 Pioneer Battalion to 23 Battalion in July 1917 and he proceeded overseas to join 23 Battalion in late August 1917. He was killed in action on 19/9/17 which meant that his service lasted just 10 months and, in fact, he survived less than one month at the front.

There is no Red Cross file and the details on the death of private Withinshaw are sparse. In fact, while the official date of his death is given as 19/9/17, records in his file suggest that, initially, the date was given as 22/9/17. Significantly, the date of 22/9/17 is more credible. There is nothing in the war diary of 23 Battalion that suggests any casualties for 19/9/17 but 22/9/17, on the other hand, was one of the 2 days over which 23 Battalion was involved in the battle of Menin Road. For 23 Battalion, the casualties for 21-23 September were 13 killed, 77 wounded and 6 missing. The body of Private Withinshaw was never recovered – another reason to support 22/9/17 as the date of death – and his name is recorded on the Menin Gate Memorial at Ypres.

The father in England was advised by cable dated 8/10/17. It appears that personal kit was returned to the father, then at Tottenham in London, at the end of December 1917 but there is no list of the actual items.

There is no personal or family correspondence in the file. However, presumably, George Withinshaw would have reunited with his family when he was in training in the UK.

Private George Ernest Withinshaw would have been another of the young English immigrant workers who were pressed by the locals to enlist and return to fight for the mother country. There is now little, if any, memory of his time in the AIF and his death in service.

References

Gippsland Standard and Alberton Shire Representative

National Archives file for WITHINSHAW George Edgar 3456
Roll of Honour: George Edgar Withinshaw
First World War Embarkation Rolls: George Edgar Withinshaw

 

Frederick William BUTLER (814)
5B KiA 20/09/17

Frederick Butler was born in South Melbourne. The family must have moved into the local area not long after because he attended Womerah SS. His father – William Butler – was dead by the time he enlisted so, presumably, the family moved to the Shire of Alberton when the mother – Maria Butler – remarried. She married Charles Ethelbert Retford, a contractor of Jack River.

The mother was listed as next-of-kin on his enlistment papers and her address was Jack River via Yarram. When she completed the particulars for the (National) Roll of Honour she gave Yarram as the place with which her son was ‘chiefly connected’. His name is recorded on both the Shire of Alberton Roll of Honor and the Alberton Shire Soldiers’ Memorial.

Prior to enlistment Frederick Butler had served two years in the fledgling Royal Australian Navy. His date of enlistment in the AIF was very early – 24 August 1914 – nearly a month before the first large group from Yarram. He enlisted at South Melbourne. He was 23 yo at the time and he gave his occupation as labourer. He was Church of England.

He joined the newly formed 5 Battalion and left for the Middle East in October 1914. He was wounded – gunshot, right thigh – at the start of the Gallipoli campaign and hospitalised.

At this point he was recommended to be discharged from the AIF on medical grounds and was in fact returned to Australia. The report of the medical board from the time (27/5/15) reveals that he had previously suffered a serious knee injury in the RAN and there had been more injury to the same knee when he was serving with 5 Battalion in Egypt, prior to Gallipoli. Then when he had been shot in the thigh, the knee injury had been further exacerbated. The report made it clear that the injury had been sustained on active service. There was a definite recommendation that he be discharged as permanently unfit. He arrived back in Australia in July 1915.

However, on his return to Australia he was not medically discharged. Instead, after spending 3 weeks in hospital he was attached to a unit involved in recruiting and it looks like he continued in this role until another medical board (14/3/16) determined that he was again medically fit for active service. The board found that he was … quite free from any pain or inconvenience; although it did also note that Private Butler himself complained of … weakness in R knee. Ironically, recruitment levels were falling by this point and there was growing pressure to toughen the standards for soldiers being found to be medically unfit.

When Private Butler returned to Australia he was given a welcome home at Yaram as a ‘returned soldier’. Earlier – 12/5/15 – the local paper had reported when he had been wounded at Gallipoli as one of ‘Our Gallant Gippslanders’.

Private Butler returned to duty in June 1916 and reached France in September (2/9/16). He finally rejoined 5 Battalion in the field at the start of October 1916, nearly 18 months after being taken off the Gallipoli Peninsula.

Then in late October he was hospitalised with some injury to his spine. He rejoined his unit in the middle of November 1916. There was a further period of hospitalisation in February-March 1917.

Six months later he was killed on the first day of the fighting at Menin Road (20/9/17). There is no Red Cross report and so there are no witness accounts of his death. There is a handwritten note in his file that records a location for his grave – …100 yards east of Glencorse Wood – but presumably this was a battlefield burial and the grave was subsequently lost. There is no official grave and his name is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial.

The battalion war diary reveals that over the two days of fighting – the battalion was relieved very late the next day (21/9/17) – there were 273 casualties, with private Butler one of the 70 killed. The war diary specifically referred to the number of deaths casue by artillery ‘shorts’.

The mother as next-of-kin was notified of her son’s death by cable dated 15/10/17, 3 weeks later. She received a pension of 20/- per fortnight from 17/12/17. The official report of death was dated 19/1/18.

The following in memoriam appeared in the Gippsland Standard and Alberton Shire Representative on 20/9/18, the first anniversary of his death:

BUTLER – Sacred to the memory of my darling boy, Fred. W. Butler, 5th Battalion. Killed in the Battle of Menin Road on September 20th, 1917, aged 23 years and 9 months.
The midnight stars are shining
O’er the grave I cannot see;
Where sleeping without dreaming
Lies my boy so dear to me.
A hero and a man.
Inserted by his mother, step father, sisters and brothers – Lizzie, Lily and Ivy, and Charlie and Jack.

In December 1917, BP Johnson – solicitor, Yarram –  wrote on behalf of Private Butler’s mother asking for details of deferred pay and also for his personal effects. Nearly two years later (28/7/19) Mrs Retford herself, now living at Tara Valley via Traralgon, wrote requesting again her son’s personal effects. She also wanted to know why she had not received the formal badge made available to mothers who had lost sons in the War. There is a sense of frustration – if not outright anger – evident in the letter:

I am writing to know what has become of my boys property. He has been dead nearly two years now and I have never received one thing back. My boy done as much as any other boy over there and I think it is not right that I am to be left out altogether.
Would you kindly see to this. His address was No 834 Pte F. W. Butler 5th Batn.
I have also written 3 times about a broach I am entitled to. I see everyone about here with one, but I have none. Is there no way I can get anything.

The reply that came from Base Records on 1/8/19 was rather terse. The detail could also have come as a shock to the mother:

In reply to your communication of 28th ultimo, I have to state two packages of personal effects of your son, the late No. 814 (not 834 as quoted by you) Private F. W. Butler, 5th Battalion, were returned to this office and forwarded to Miss Ada Thomson, 119 Miller Street, North Fitzroy, who is shown as the sole legatee under his will.
That portion of your letter with reference to badge has been referred to the Assistant Adjutant general, Victoria Barracks, Melbourne, for attention and reply direct to you.
Your change of address has been noted.

The issue of the personal kit was complicated. In fact, it appears that one lot – 2 religious Books, 2 post cards, 2 Photos – was returned to Miss Ada Thompson of North Firzroy and a second lot – Post cards, Photos, Gift tin, Cigarette case, Note book, New Testament, 3 Brushes, Bag handle. – was returned to the mother, Mrs C Retford, Jack River P.O. via Yarram.

There is a copy of Private Butler’s will, dated 9/1/17, and taken from his pay book that describes Miss Ada Thomson of North Fitzroy as his sole beneficiary. She is described as his fiancée. Presumably, he met her when he working in the recruitment unit after his return to Australia. Whether his mother knew of her son’s engagement before she received this letter from Base Records is not known. However if she did there was obviously not much in the way of communication between the two women.

The mother did receive all her son’s war medals and the memorial scroll and plaque.

More than 2 years after the War, the local paper (14/5/20), reporting on the welcome home to another Womerah local – Private H Lawson – made special mention of Priave Butler and his mother:

Later in the evening a presentation of a gold medal was also made to Mrs Redford in memory of her son, Pte. Fred Butler, who fell in France. Pte. Butler was wounded at the landing in Gallipoli, was invalided home. Recovering, he went again to the front, where he was killed by a shell in an attack on the enemy lines.

References

Gippsland Standard and Alberton Shire Representative

National Archives file for BUTLER Frederick William 814
Roll of Honour: Frederick William Butler
First World War Embarkation Rolls: Frederick William Butler

Private F W Butler, courtesy of Australian War Memorial

 

John Kennedy (309B)
5B KiA 20/9/17

John Kennedy’s name is not recorded on either the Shire of Alberton Roll of Honor or the Alberton Shire Soldiers’ memorial. Yet there was a connection to the local area. His name is recorded on the honor roll for Darriman SS and also on the roll for the local Presbyterian Charge.

On his enlistment papers he gave Woodside as the place where he was born. He was the second of 4 children of Robert and Catherine (nee Regan) Kennedy. His parents had lived in the district and in fact there is a record of his father enlisting for the war in South Africa in 1900 as a rifleman from Darriman. The previous generation had also lived in the district and it appears that, for some period at least, John’s grandfather – Farquhar Kennedy – had held land at Darriman. Both John’s parents were dead at the time he enlisted. The father had died at Yarram in 1905 and had been buried at Sale, and the mother had died in 1907.

John had 3 sisters and the oldest – Kathleen – was given as his next-of-kin. Presumably, she also gave permission for him to enlist as he was only 18 yo at the time. This oldest sister – Mrs Kathleen Jean Hobson – lived at Rosedale. Another sister lived near Sale. At the time he enlisted John gave his address as Mossiface, near Bairnsdale, and he enlisted at Sale. He gave his occupation as labourer. It would appear that at the time he enlisted he was not living and working in the Shire of Alberton but certainly the family did have strong links to the shire. Also, the fact that his name appears on the local Presbyterian Charge – he gave his religion as Presbyterian – suggests that the links to the Shire of Alberton had lasted till very recently.

Private Kennedy enlisted as reinforcements for 5 Battalion on 5/2/16. He left Melbourne on 3/6/16 and eventually joined 5 Battalion in France in early October 1916. He was hospitalised with mumps for 3 weeks in March 1917. There was also a minor charge for AWL in May 1917.

It appears that Private kennedy was killed in action early in the morning of 20/9/17. The following witness statement – Pte A. J. O’Connor 65561 – in his Red Cross file is very definite:

Knew [him] very well, he was in same platoon as myself. … On Sept 20th about 7 a.m. in front of Dickebusch I was walking with him after we had gone over when he was hit at the back of the head with a shrapnel pellet- it was no bigger than a marble and I noticed then hole in his tin helmet. He dropped down beside me and never uttered a sound and I feel positive was killed. I had to continue but we gained our objective and held the ground. At the time he was hit he was talking to me and we were trying to locate some of our fellows. At the moment he appeared to be in very good spirits.

Similarly, the second one from W. J Canning 2127 describes the death and its random nature. It literally did come down to where you were standing at any point.

I knew casualty. … I was in the same advance. He was in my section. An H. E. shell exploded near casualty killing him instantly. I was 3 yards away at the time the shell exploded, and I saw his body immediately afterwards. He was about 200 yards from our objective at the time he was killed. He was most severely wounded in the head. I do not know if he was buried.

Private Kennedy’s body was never recovered and his name is included with the others on the Menin Gate Memorial. In his file, there is in fact a reference to where he was buried – Verbick Farm 100 yds of Glencorse Wood E of Ypres – but if this was accurate the grave must have been subsequently lost. As part of this general confusion, he was initially reported as wounded. The sister at Rosedale was in fact advised on 13/10/17 that he had been wounded, but no details were given. Then 12 days later, on 25/10/17, she received word that he had been killed.

A very small amount of personal kit – 2 Note Books, Tobacco Pouch, 2 Pipes – was returned to the sister in May 1918.

References

Gippsland Standard and Alberton Shire Representative

National Archives file for KENNEDY John 309B
Roll of Honour: John Kennedy
First World War Embarkation Rolls: John Kennedy
Red Cross Wounded and Missing file: John Kennedy

O’Callaghan G (Comp) 2006, Clonmel to Federation: Guide to people in the Port Albert area 1841-1901, Vol 2, The Alberton Project

 

Christopher SAAL (6151)
26B KiA 20/9/17

Christopher Saal’s link to the Shire of Alberton was that he attended Binginwarri SS and his name – C Saal – is recorded on the school’s honor roll. Beyond this one definite link, the background story of this young man is unclear.

The surname is most unusual and in fact it appears that there only ever 3 with the Saal family name who served. In addition to Christopher, it appears there were 2 cousins – 2 brothers – who came from Clifton, near Toowoomba, in Queensland: Henry Nelson Saal and Sidney Lane Saal. Christopher himself was born in Toowoomba and he enlisted from there. It appears that his 3 sisters and parents were also living in Toowoomba, or nearby, at the point he enlisted.

Overall, there was only ever one C Saal in the AIF and he was killed on active service. At the time he enlisted he was obviously living in Queensland; but this C Saal has to be the person on the Binginwarri roll of honor.

There is a slight complication in relation to the honor roll because C Saal on the Binginwarri roll is not marked as ‘killed’. However, the explanation appears to be that after it was unveiled on 24/8/17, the honor roll at Binginwarri SS was not updated – or at least not fully or correctly updated – and so the status of C Saal, who was still alive at the time the roll was unveiled, was never adjusted. Ironically, C Staal was killed just one month after the unveiling.

Fortunately, there is one additional piece of evidence that ties Christopher Saal to the Shire of Alberton. He was killed on 20/9/17. Exactly one year later, in the Gippsland Standard and Alberton Shire Representative on 20/9/18, the following in memoriam appeared:

SAAL. – In loving memory of my dear friend, Chris Saal, who was killed in action in France on Sept. 20th, 1917.
“His duty nobly done.”
– Inserted by his true friend, Victoria Hiho, Hedley.

Exactly what the connection between these 2 people was is unknown. Perhaps it was nothing more than that the 2 of them had been to school together. The Hiho family, incidentally, was a very prominent one in the local area. Whatever the explanation, it is clear that the Christopher Saal killed at Menin Road on 20/9/17 had at the very least attended Binginwarri SS as a child and that there were still some locals who remembered him.

Private Saal enlisted in Toowoomba on 12/7/16.He was single and 19 yo. He gave his occupation as turner. His religion was Church of England and he gave his sister – Miss Eva Saal – as his next-of-kin.

He joined as reinforcements for 26 Battalion and embarked for overseas on 27/10/16. After further training in the United Kingdom he proceeded to France in June and finally joined 26 Battalion in early July 1917. In the UK he had been hospitalised with mumps for nearly 3 weeks in February 1917.

Unfortunately, the information form for the (National) Roll of Honour was not completed by the family. Nor was there a Red Cross report. Consequently, there is little detail on Private Saal’s service and death. The cable advising of his death was dated 29/9/17. There was no grave and, instead, his name is recorded on the Menin Gate Memorial.

The war diary for 26 Battalion suggests that the battalion was in a support role over 20-21 September. The casualties were not as high as other battalions: 18 killed, 102 wounded and 8 missing.

The personal kit – 2 Wallets, Photos, Enamel bangle, Metal wrist watch guard and strap, cards, 2 Coins. – reached the family in May 1918.

References

Gippsland Standard and Alberton Shire Representative

National Archives file for SAAL Christopher 6151
Roll of Honour: Christopher Saal
First World War Embarkation Rolls: Christopher Saal

 

John Donald McLENNAN (6811)
6B KiA 21/9/17

John Donald McLennan was born at Lyonville in 1886. Two younger brothers were born at Welshpool. By the outbreak of war in 1914 the family was living at Hedley. When the father – Alexander C McLennan – came to complete the particulars for the (National) Roll of Honour, he listed Hedley as the town with which his son was ‘chiefly connected’.

John McLennan grew up in the local district. His name is included on the honor rolls for both the state school at Alberton and the one at Welshpool. Similarly, his name is included on both the Shire of Alberton Roll of Honor and the Alberton Shire Soldiers’ Memorial as well as the equivalent memorials in Welshpool.

Hedley, while not within the boundary of the Shire of Alberton, and closer to Welshpool than Alberton, was still regarded as sufficiently ‘local’ at the time. Moreover, the McLennan farm – approx. 300 acres – was at Alberton West. Overall, at least to the point that John McLennan enlisted – he was the third and last of the 3 sons to enlist – the McLennan family was closely associated with the local area. After he enlisted it appears that the parents moved to Avenel, near Seymour.

On the enlistment papers John McLennan gave his occupation as ‘farm labourer’ but he must have been helping his father on the family farm. His father described his son’s work as ‘farming and dairying pursuits’. More than one year earlier, on 27/5/15, his two younger brothers had enlisted together in 13 light Horse Regiment. Alexander Christopher McLennan was not quite 21 yo and needed his parents’ consent and the other brother, George Trail McLennan was 23 yo. The 2 younger brothers survived the War and both were decorated, with, respectively, the Distinguished Conduct Medal and the Military Medal.

Most likely, all 3 brothers were helping their father with the family farm at the outbreak of war. possibly there was tension over who was to enlist and when. It appears that John, as the eldest brother, held land in his own right, and, possibly, he was persuaded by his parents to hold off enlisting when his two younger brothers joined.  But in the end he too enlisted. There is some sense of this scenario in the comments written by his father on the form for recording information for the (National) Roll of Honour:

His conduct was always exemplary – and as soon as circumstances would permit he determined to do his duty by enlisting and would not be restrained, although his two (only) brothers had enlisted and were abroad for nearly a year.

Similarly, the report of his death in the Gippsland Standard and Alberton Shire Representative of 24/10/17 noted how the younger brothers were the first to enlist:

It will be remembered that George and Alex McLennan enlisted from Hedley shortly after the war began, leaving Jack, the only other son at home. The brothers fought through Gallipoli, and are so far safe. About 18 months ago Jack enlisted, and after training at Salisbury Plains, went to France. Last Friday word came that he had been killed in the service of his country, and to the family we extend our sincere sympathy.

When John (Jack) McLennan enlisted in September 1916 (8/9/16) in Melbourne, he was 30 yo and single. He gave his religion as Presbyterian. He joined as reinforcements for 6 Battalion.

Private McLennan left Melbourne in October 1916 (25/10/16) and reached England at the very end of 1916 (28/12/16). He spent another 3 months with 2 Training Brigade in England before being taken on the strength of 6 Battalion in France at the start of April 1917. He was killed in action 6 months later on the second day of the Battle of Menin Road (21/9/17).

According to its war diary, casualties for 6 Battalion for the 20-21 September were approximately 260 (10 officers and 247 other ranks) although there is no breakdown given for deaths, wounded etc. Again, as for 5 Battalion, the diary makes it clear that at least some of the casualties were from ‘friendly fire’,

At zero 0540 our barrage fell and the whole Bn moved forward. Almost immediately a few casualties were caused by our own shells falling short which they did throughout the whole advance, a few batteries for about an hour firing about 500 yards short of the barrage.

Specific details of Private McLennan’s death are not included in his file. There is no reference to any grave and his name is recorded on the Menin Gate Memorial. The cable informing the father, as next-of-kin, of the death was dated 13/10/17 and the formal report on the death was completed on 21/12/17.

Personal kit – Wallet, Diary, Bible, Photos, Letter and Tie, 2 testaments, Military Book – were returned to the parents in May 1918.

A letter to Base Records written by Private McLennan’s father in May 1918 suggests that he knew little of the circumstances of his son’s death and that he was desperate for any information.

Can you supply any more details of the passing of my Son? I have been patiently awaiting for months for more particulars from your Dept but as yet none have been given. If you can supply anything further I will be grateful.

The reply merely reiterated that he was killed in action in Belgium on 21/9/17; although the letter did promise to provide more particulars if they became available.

What is interesting in this particular case is that there was an offer from the Red Cross to follow up the death of Private McLennan but this was turned down, by one of his brothers.

In November 1917 (23/11/17) the Red Cross wrote to Private McLennan’s two brothers – both were then serving in France – extending sympathy on their loss and also offering to conduct the usual enquiry. The Red Cross offered to … do our best to get full particulars [on the brother’s death] which we shall at once send to you.

However, in a reply to the Red Cross written some 6 months before the father’s plea for additional information, one of the brothers (AC McLennan) revealed that he had already made his own enquiries to 6 Battalion and had …learned all there is to be known. Basically, he thanked the Red Cross for the expression of sympathy and the offer of help but indicated that his brother’s name did not need to go on the enquiry list. Obviously, whatever this brother had been able to find out about the death was not relayed back to the father in Australia, or at least had not been relayed by the time the father wrote to Base Records requesting information on his son’s death. Presumably, at the very least, the family learned of the circumstances surrounding the death when the two surviving brothers returned to Australia in 1919.

An in memoriam was placed in the Gippsland Standard and Alberton Shire Representative on 20/9/18, one year after the death :

McLENNAN – In loving memory of our dear son and brother, Private J. D McLennan (Jack), killed in action at “Polygon Wood” (sic) in France on the 20th of September, 1917
Fondly remembered.
-Inserted by parents and sister.

References

Gippsland Standard and Alberton Shire Representative

National Archives file for McLENNAN John Donald 6811
Roll of Honour: John Donald McLennan
First World War Embarkation Rolls: John Donald McLennan
Red Cross Wounded and Missing file: John Donald McLennan

O’Callaghan G (Comp) 2006, Clonmel to Federation: Guide to people in the Port Albert area 1841-1901, Vol 2, The Alberton Project

 

 

 

132. The Great Strike, August 1917

Throughout August 1917, a series of strikes spread along the eastern seaboard. The initial strike involved railway workshop employees in Sydney who went out over attempts to introduce a US style card system, based on Taylorism, intended to speed up work. This first action was on 2 August. However, virtually from the very next day, strike action began to spread to an ever increasing range of industries. In NSW, the strike spread across the railways, collieries and then the wharves. Initially, it took in the full range of workers in the railways, and then miners, wharf labourers and seamen. By mid August, strike action spread to Victoria where the key workers involved were the wharf labourers and seamen. On a lesser scale, other industries and specific enterprises became involved and the unrest spread to other centres including Broken Hill. All the various actions are usually described, collectively, as the ‘Great Strike’ of 1917.

The end to the NSW railway strike on 9 September is taken as the end of the Great Strike, even though some workers continued their action for some time after. For example, the Melbourne wharf workers did not vote to return until 4 December.

The Great Strike of 1917 was a conflict that went beyond industrial action, as large scale as this was. It is possible to see it more as a wider working-class revolt than a series of strikes. Certainly by 1917 there was considerable disaffection in the working class. There was ‘war weariness’ but the War had also eroded real wages. Price rises had been extreme. There was also war profiteering. Above all, there was widespread concern that hard-won, pre-War industrial conditions were being eroded under the cover of patriotism. Opposition to the Yes vote in the recent conscription referendum had been strengthened by the fear that conscription was to be used to weaken organised labour. As pointed out in Post 105 even soldiers on the front line shared this concern that conscription would be used to undermine the working conditions and job security of Australian workers. The sense that the hard-won industrial conditions of the (white) working class were under attack was very strong.

Another interesting feature of the Great Strike was the degree to which the traditional power brokers in organised labor – the union hierarchy and the ALP itself, as the political wing of the movement – were by-passed by more rank-and-file leadership and agitation. The organisation was entrusted to an ad hoc ‘Defence Committee’. Also, in many instances the traditional power brokers were opposed to the specifics of the industrial action. In several key instances, unions voted to strike, against the advice of the union leadership.

Importantly, the industrial unrest was not restricted to just the act of striking. There were very large public demonstrations and marches – portrayed as unruly, mob-like and dangerous by the popular press – in Melbourne and Sydney. The role of women in these highly visible activities was striking. In Melbourne through August there were almost daily demonstrations in locations such as Treasury Gardens, Exhibition Gardens and Yarra Bank. Extra police were brought in from rural areas to maintain public order. To some extent, the month long strife was more an expression of the ‘direct action’ promoted by radical worker groups like the IWW than the conventional strike. Not surprisingly, the press was keen to push the claim that this radicalisation of the workers was the handiwork of the IWW and other extremist labor or socialist groups. There was speculation that the massive social dislocation in Russia could even play out in some form in Australia.

Another important feature of the action was the so-called ‘black doctrine’. According to this doctrine, no unionist could work alongside a ’scab’ worker or handle or have anything to do with goods or services provided by scab labour. The speed with which this doctrine prompted other unions to strike and the way it acted as a rallying call – often against the direct advice of the union hierarchy – suggests that the ever-expanding wave of strikes represented not just specific industrial grievances but also a declaration about the fundamental beliefs of the union movement. Specifically, the focus was on the very definition of the union notion of ‘mateship’. This ties in with the argument that after 3 years of War, and ongoing attacks on the union movement, the working class itself pushed back with the equivalent of a public manifesto of what it stood for and what it would never tolerate.

Ironically, the ‘black doctrine’ was arguably the main reason for the failure of the Great Strike. Essentially it meant that the strikes went too wide, too quick and too shallow. While many industries across state boundaries became involved very quickly there were important segments in these industries, and other whole sectors of the economy, where production and business continued unaffected. From the beginning, union organisers had sensed the inherent weakness of the campaign but, it appears, workers generally were not in the mood to listen to their leadership. Indeed, even when the various strikes collapsed and the workers were forced back under very punitive conditions, many workers believed, unrealistically, that they had been on the point of victory and saw the return to work as a ‘sell-out’. This sense of betrayal was heightened by the severity of the conditions surrounding their return to work; and in many cases they were never taken back.

In a real sense the Hughes Government was always going to win. To begin with, after the split over conscription, the ALP was in a weak position. Further, it was clear that the union movement itself was divided over the strikes. Also, the popular press lined up behind the government. The government also had the very powerful War Precautions legislation to employ as required. Finally, Hughes set up the National Service Bureau which in effect recruited volunteers to act as strike breakers. The large number of such volunteers and the efficient organisation of the scheme were enough to break the strike.

When the strikes collapsed, the workers, if they were re-employed at all, had to accept reduced conditions. In many cases their positions were taken by those who had volunteered for Hughes’ scheme of ‘national service’. The strikers were defeated and a brief period of working-class solidarity and direct action, built round idealistic notions of ‘industrial mateship’, came to a bitter end. At the same time, the victory against the strikers virtually made it inevitable that any second vote on conscription would fail. Arguments that conscription was by its very nature an attack on the working class designed to break the unions and reduce wages and working conditions – as well as open the country to cheap non-White labour – were obviously set to have more appeal. Equally, those who argued that the War was nothing but a sordid trade war were going to attract considerably more attention. For many, the War was turning into a war on the Australian working class.

It is interesting to consider the attention that the strikes over August attracted in the local media in the Shire of Alberton. Overall, the ongoing, daily accounts of the strikes were left to the metropolitan dailies. At the same time, the Gippsland Standard and Alberon Shire Representative did highlight how serious the national situation was. The following appeared on 17/8/17:

Industrial Australia is now engaged in the greatest upheaval known in the nation. Emanating from the strike of the railway men in New South Wales it has extended in the past few days to numerous industries in which labor is concerned, and present indications are that serious trouble will ensue before a settlement is effected. The Federal Government is taking a firm stand in the matter, and appears determined to fight the Unions and those who have attempted to disturb and upset railway and shipping facilities. Gradually the strike mania is being extended by the originators to centres of industry which, prior to the outbreak, had no cause for complaint, but are drawn into the trouble by the influence of their fellow workers.

As usual, the local paper lined up behind the Hughes Government. It was keen to support the call for volunteers to break the strikes. There was not as much call in Victoria for volunteers from the country as there was in NSW. In Melbourne there were ample volunteers from the metropolitan area, including students from the University of Melbourne and private boys’ colleges. The following appeared in the Gippsland Standard and Alberon Shire Representative on 24/8/17:

The Government is now receiving offers from country volunteers, and many have taken up the work in Sydney. An individual, a former sailor, walked into our offices [Yarram] yesterday and offered to go and help the Government wherever his services might be of any assistance. We believe a number of others have volunteered from this district.

The paper also reported on the Shire Council’s resolve to support the Government. The following resolution appeared on 31/8/17:

That this Council grant all possible assistance to the Government in the matter of providing labor during present strikes and that the [Shire] secretary be instructed to accept applications from volunteers.

And on 29/8/17 it noted the strong support from at least one local branch of the Victorian Farmers’ Union:

Alberton branch of Victorian Farmers’ Union … resolved that, in the event of it [strikes] becoming more serious, the Alberton branch pledged itself to endeavor to obtain volunteer workers to assist the Government.

The paper also reported (24/8/17) when the local police constable was called to Melbourne … to do duty should trouble arise.

The following article appeared on 29/8/17:

Serious Extension of the Strike Trouble to Womerah. Ferns Declared “Black” – “Trouble never comes alone” was demonstrated at the office of a leading grazier in this district last week. The overseer was waited upon by a deputation of three at “Smoko” requesting a substantial increase in wages, or ferns would be declared “black.” The increase was at once acceded to, pending official confirmation. The official presented the objects of the deputation under threat of dismissal. The strike was of short duration, extending from forenoon “Smoko” on Friday, 17th and terminating on Saturday, 18th when at 5 p.m. the spokesman was dismissed, and one of his senior colleagues resenting such treatment left in sympathy. The dismissed agitator when last seen, was making his way toward Morwell Shire seeking ”White Ferns” and “Pastures New.” We are pleased to state that the strike is ended, as it was causing much concern amongst local employers. The call for volunteer labor was quickly answered by one recruit, who has accepted the agitator’s place without the right of spokesman.

Presumably the article is meant to be a parody – albeit a very clumsy one – of the situation in Melbourne and Sydney. Country employers know how to handle unionists. There does not have to be any workplace bargaining, the boss just gets rid of those who cause ‘trouble’. And there are plenty of other workers who will take up the positions of those dismissed.

The article does at least serve to remind that organised labour was very weak in country areas. This was particularly so in areas like the Shire of Alberton, where the nature of settlement and ongoing development had meant that there was little, if any, history of organised labor. With the exception of the timber industry and state-wide industries like the railways, there was no large concentration of workers in the one economic activity or location. Instead, the stronger history of labour in the Shire was that of the struggling selector and the family-based farm.

The history of selection was one characterised by the lack of capital, equipment, technology, and services, including transport. There were major environmental challenges – drought, flood, fire – and the endless struggle to ‘clear the land’. In this  world, the sense of ‘labour’ was the diametric opposite to that which had grown up in the late 19C in the large urban centres of Melbourne and Sydney. In the rural setting, the focus took in, on the one hand, self-help and rugged individualism, with the family as the basic economic unit, and on the other hand a commitment to a form of agrarian communalism. Only by coming together at this second level were ‘settlers’ able to establish schools, community halls and services such as the bush nurse. Their understanding of ‘mateship’ was one of looking out for their own interests and being self-reliant but at the same time supporting the neighbouring farms in times of crisis or against common threats. Local farming families had to rely on each other to establish the necessary social, economic and even political infrastructure for the community survive.

Not surprisingly, in this environment there was an inherent fear of and antagonism to the idea of ‘organised labour’ and the threat of the strike. Moreover, even when casual labour was taken on – for example, the large number of young, single, immigrant English farm workers – the nature of the work, the isolation of the workplace and the living arrangements of the workers – commonly they lived on the farmer’s property – meant that there was a completely different master-worker relationship to the one that existed in the metropolitan factory.

For a more detailed analysis of prevailing attitudes to the unionisation of rural workers in the local area see Post 10.

One industrial action that caused great angst in the rural community was the strike on the railways or at the ports that held up the transport and/or export of their primary produce. It was unconscionable that their livelihood could be threatened by secondary industrial action that had nothing to do with them. They saw their interests exploited by organised labour in an industrial conflict that was not of their making. The appeal in August 1917 to go tho the city and stand in as volunteer wharf labourers was a very powerful and natural call to arms in farming communities.

It is also important to acknowledge that the rural communities also viewed the Great Strike as a direct threat to the War effort. As they saw it, the union movement was undermining the nation’s ability to prosecute the War. At the very least, the series of strikes was a major distraction and drag on the Hughes’ Government’s ability to proceed with its singular focus on maintaining Australia’s commitment to the Empire. At their worst, according to the official narrative, the strikes were intended to cripple the Hughes’ Government and pull Australia out of the War. The strikes were overlaid with accusations of treachery, if not treason. The hand of the mythically powerful and omnipresent Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) was said to be behind it all. For its part, the Government was keen to retaliate by employing the considerable force of the War Precautions Act to defeat the strikes.

Even though they have faded from the nation’s memory, the events of August 1917 in Australia were highly significant at the time. The speed with which the strikes spread and the number of industries affected caused considerable anxiety. With only limited support from the union hierarchy – and even less from the demoralised and broken ALP – the workers themselves fashioned the strikes into the radical defence of their hard-won conditions and the commitment to fundamental union principles and values. The strikes were symptomatic of deep and divisive concerns about the true cost of the War and the future of the working class. The strikes became an expression of class solidarity and class conflict. But the strikes were also destined to fail and the Hughes Government was keen to settle scores. For all these reasons the “Great Strike’ of August 1917 was a unique chapter in our history. And at the time, the events of August virtually guaranteed that any second referendum on conscription would be defeated. As the workers saw it, the impact of the War was now being carried disproportionately by the urban working class.

References

Gippsland Standard and Alberon Shire Representative

For general background on the Great Strike see:

Beaumont, J 2013, Broken Nation: Australians in the Great War, Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest NSW. [pp 329-335]

Bollard, R 2013, In the Shadow of Gallipoli: The hidden history of Australia in World War I, New South Publishing, UNSW, Sydney NSW [Chapter 6]

 

 

 

 

131. E J Appleyard

Edgar John APPLEYARD (609)
8 LHR   DoW 3/8/1917

Edgar John Appleyard was born in Alberton in 1888 and grew up in the district. He attended the Alberton State School. He was a cousin of the six Appleyard brothers, also from Alberton, who enlisted. Two of these cousins (Gordon William Appleyard and Charles Courtney Appleyard) like Edgar, died on active service. Edgar Appleyard had 2 brothers, one of whom – Frank Appleyard – also enlisted, and survived the War.

Edgar Appleyard’s father – Arthur Horatio “Crib” Appleyard – had been the Shire Engineer for the Shire of Alberton. He had died in 1898. The mother – Mary Ann Appleyard – was listed as next-of-kin on the enlistment forms. When her son enlisted her address was given as Alberton but she changed address several times from that point and, at the time of his death, she was living at Windsor in Melbourne.

Edgar was nearly 24 yo when he enlisted and he gave his occupation as ‘labourer’. The father had held land in the local area but there is no indication that, after the father’s death, the wife or sons held land and were farming. Presumably, Edgar was working on other local properties as a farm labourer.

He enlisted in Melbourne, early in the War, on 20/10/14. He was single and he gave his religion as Church of England. It appears he nearly failed the medical because of poor teeth. He was taken on in the newly formed 8 Light Horse Regiment.

His unit left for Egypt in February 1915 and was involved in the fighting at Gallipoli from mid May. 8 LHR was involved in the disastrous attack on the Nek on 7 August 1915. At the end of October Trooper Appleyard was hospitalised for a week. He was returned to duty but after only a few days was hospitalised gain. This time he was taken off the peninsula, transported to Alexandria and admitted to hospital in Heliopolis with ‘debility’. By the time he rejoined the unit in mid December the Gallipoli campaign was effectively over.

On 19 April 1917, 2 years after arriving in the Middle East, Trooper Appleyard was wounded in action. The wounds were serious and he subsequently died of them in early August (3/8/17).
The action in which Trooper Appleyard was wounded was the second unsuccessful attack on Gaza. The war diary of the 8 LHR recorded 6 killed and 67 wounded in the action on that day (19/4/17). The diary also made a point of explaining how the use of two armoured cars in the operation increased the number of casualties. The 2 armoured cars were driven to an advanced position in the Australian lines and, not surprisingly, drew intense enemy fire thereby increasing the number of casualties. The diary was dismissive of the overall value of the armoured cars, both of which were easily put out of action by the enemy, but not before one of them had run over and seriously injured an Australian trooper.

There is an additional reference in the diary that might be highly relevant to trooper Appleyard’s fate. Essentially, the diary notes that the regiment was at that time using the new ‘H. K. Auto Rifles’ – Hotchkiss M1909 – and while this light machine gun had proved ‘invaluable’ it had also been responsible for deaths and injuries amongst the Australians themselves. Poor training in its use had meant that in some cases it was being fired from the shoulder, with deadly consequences for those nearby. There is the possibility that Trooper Appleyard, whose wound was described as a gunshot wound to the back, was in fact the victim of ‘friendly fire’.

Trooper Appleyard was transferred to hospital in Cairo via various casualty posts. He reached there on 24/4/17, 5 days after he had been wounded. It appears that his mother back in Australia learnt of his serious injury by cable on the 26 April. He was described as ‘dangerously ill’. He lived for more than 3 months and over this period there were at least 10 further cables back to Australia to advise that he remained on the ‘dangerously ill list’. There was one cable early on (5/5/17) that advised that he was ‘out of danger’ but this was definitely the exception. The following letter makes it clear that from the start there was no chance of survival. It was written in September 1917 by the Registrar of the hospital in which Trooper Appleyard was nursed and died (14 Australian General Hospital, Cairo). It was written in response to a Red Cross appeal for information on Trooper Appleyard’s death and, presumably, the contents, in some form or other, would have been forwarded to the mother.

I have to state that this soldier [Trooper E J Appleyard, 609] was wounded on the 19th April at Gaza by a rifle bullet which entered the spine and injured the spinal cord, causing complete paralysis of the lower limbs immediately.

He was admitted to this hospital on the 24th April in a paralysed condition and his general condition was naturally serious from the start. The damage to his spinal cord was irreparable, and there was never any prospect of his recovering or of his being sufficiently strong to travel to Australia on a hospital transport.

He lived until the 3rd of August growing progressively weaker all the time. During these months he was always cheerful, was a great reader and wrote a large number of letters. He was entirely free from pain and never made any complaint, and his death was a gradual and very easy one….

Trooper Appleyard’s file contains extensive medical notes, including a post mortem report, which make for graphic reading. In a sense, this material is the medically objective – and far more confronting – version of the letter written by the Registrar, who was presumably trying to give some sort of comfort and our modern day sense of ‘closure’ to the family. The post mortem gives as the cause of death … GS wound of spinal cord – myelitis and Septic cystitis & extensive bed sores. The bed sores were described as … large deep excavating bed sores on buttocks extending to the sacrum. There were similar lesions on the heels. The medical notes reveal the ongoing, but ultimately unsuccessful, attempts to control infection in the bladder. They also indicate that the patient was being treated on a water bed.

The mother was advised by cable within two days of her son’s death. His funeral service was conducted by Chaplain Captain E Warren Tompkins and he was buried in the British Military Cemetery, Cairo. Uncharacteristically, there is no record of any personal kit being returned to the mother.

Death notices appeared in the Gippsland Standard and Alberton Shire Representative on 15/8/17:

APPLEYARD – Died of wounds 3rd August, at 14th A.G. Hospital, Cairo, Gunner Edgar John, fourth son of the late Arthur H. Appleyard, of Alberton, South Gippsland, and dearly loved brother of Alice, Annie, Harriet, Fred, Frank (on active service), and Muriel, aged 28 1/2 years.

A call to duty, ’twas nobly done,
In doing his duty a crown he won:
No fear for self, in trying to save
The lives of others his life he gave.
For him, our gallant hero,
We breathe a silent prayer:
We love and honour his noble name,
We know he is in God’s care.

APPLEYARD. – Died of wounds on 3rd Aug. at 14th A. G. Hospital, Cairo, Gunner Edgar John, 4th son of the late Arthur H. (formerly shire engineer) and Mary Ann Appleyard, of Alberton, Sth. Gippsland, and brother of Alice, Annie, Harriet, Fred, Frank (on active service) and Muriel, aged 28 1/2 years.

Though Thou hast called me to resign
What most I prized, it ne’er was
mine,
I have but yielded what was Thine:
Thy will be done.

Ironically, these notices of his death appeared just 2 weeks after the local paper had encouraged locals to write to Trooper Appleyard in hospital in Egypt. The mother by this point was living in Melbourne and it appears that it had taken time before people in the district knew that he had been wounded and that his condition was so serious. The information appeared in a short article on 1/8/17, just 2 days before he died and, obviously, far too late for his benefit:

Mrs. Appleyard, Windsor, has received word from the Australian Red Cross Information bureau that her son, Private Edgar Appleyard, of the 8th Light Horse, is in the 14th Australian General Hospital at Heliopolis. His legs are paralysed and his condition is regarded as dangerous. Those of his friends in this district who would like to write to him, should address letters No. 609, Private E. Appleyard, !4th Australian General Hospital, Heliopolis, c/o Officer Commanding Australian Section Base, Cairo, Egypt.

On 7/9/17 the local paper published another article on the death of Trooper Appleyard. It is worth reproducing in full because it shows the incredible paths that information on serving soldiers could take to reach the family back in Australia. The episode also shows the power of the local paper to present the narrative of the War, at the immediate level of individual soldiers, including those who as locals had until recently lived among them. The lessons from this particular section of the narrative are all about kindness, compassion and courage:

Tribute To A Brave Soldier
Mrs M. A. Appleyard, Windsor, has received the following letter from Private T. P. Payne, Melbourne, referring to the death of her son: –
Dear Mrs. Appleyard. – You will please pardon me intruding upon you at this time, but you will understand my reasons when I tell you that it is my great admiration for a gallant gentleman and sympathy for his loved ones that impels me to write you. By the last mail from Egypt I received a letter from my brother who is attached to the staff of the 14th A.G.H. In it he states: “I am now engaged in attending a very serious case. It is a laddie named Appleyard, who comes from Albertan, near the Lakes. He was wounded on 19th April at Gaza, and since that time has been partially paralysed from hips down. The injuries are most serious, and it takes us an hour each day to dress them. “Appy” is the gamest boy I have ever seen, and although his case is helpless he is always laughing and joking whilst we are dressing him; never a word of complaint escapes his lips. Just as I am writing (2.15 a.m.) he is sitting up in bed as happy as can be puffing a cigarette. His chief thought is of his home.” I might tell you my brother was very fond of him, and I’m sure nothing that his mind could suggest would be omitted to comfort and cheer your boy. Jim used to go to Cairo every chance to get sweets, etc for him. In another letter he described the bed upon which your lad was, and it will surely interest and somewhat console you to know that all that science and goodness could produce was at his disposal. Jim says: “In bad cases water beds are used – that is an india-rubber mattress is filled with water; his hips are on an air cushion, and he is packed up up in the most convenient way with pillows.” It is indeed a very sad duty to write you in this way, but I felt it would be somewhat of a comfort to hear from a stranger of the wonderful courage of your son. I do trust that you are bearing your sorrow with a spirit as brave as that of your boy. I am sure that you all are, and you in particular. If you should care to correspond with to my brother I am enclosing his address, and I am sure he will be as happy to serve you as he was proud to assist your gallant soldier son. Once again I ask your pardon for intruding myself.

Trooper Appleyard’s name is included on the Alberton Shire Soldiers’ Memorial in the main street of Yarram. His name is also included on the Shire of Alberton Roll of Honor, but, inexplicably, the entry does not mark his death on active service.

Trooper Edgar John Appleyard, courtesy Yarram and District Historical Society.

References

Gippsland Standard and Alberton Shire Representative

O’Callaghan G (Comp) 2006, Clonmel to Federation: Guide to people in the Port Albert area 1841-1901, Vol 1, The Alberton Project

National Archives file for APPLEYARD Edgar John 609
Roll of Honour: Edgar John Appleyard
First World War Embarkation Rolls: Edgar John Appleyard
Red Cross Wounded and Missing file: Edgar John Appleyard

 

130. W Browney

William BROWNEY (1071)
5 Divisional Ammunition Column KiA 28/7/1917

Wllliam Browney was born in Ipswich, Queensland. The details of his background are sketchy. In his file there is extensive correspondence about the distribution of his medals. This was because before the AIF was prepared to give them to his foster mother they needed to be sure that there were no surviving male family members who, in terms of the legislation, had a more substantial claim. Correspondence from the foster mother – Susan Adelaide Beadmore – offers a brief account of the boy’s childhood:

I took W Browney 15 [this was subsequently corrected to 25] years ago he was then 7 years old. His mother was dead & I have not heard of any living relations since infact I dont think he had any bros or sisters I was the only one that had anything to do with him & he looked to me as a mother. 3/1/1921

The foster mother resided at Korumburra and William Browney – also known as William Beadmore – attended the local state school there. When he enlisted, he did so at Foster and he gave his address as that of his foster mother at Korumburra. She also recorded on the (National) Roll of Honour that the place with which he was ‘chiefly connected’ was Korumburra.

At the same time, William Browney had a definite connection to the Shire of Alberton. His death – 28/7/17 – was written up in the Gippsland Standard and Alberton Shire Representative on 17/8/17:

We learn with much regret that Driver W. Browney, of Wonyip, was killed in action in Flanders, France on 31st July [sic]. He was one of the oldest residents in that district, the adopted son of Mrs. Beadmore. When he enlisted 19 months ago [it would have been closer to 30 months earlier] the residents gave him a send-off at Ryton Hall.

The reference to William Browney being one of the ‘oldest residents’ points to the fact that Wonyip was not really opened up for settlement until the turn of the century. William must have gone there for work after he finished his schooling.

Even though he was working and living in the Wonyip district he was not identified as someone from the Shire of Alberton. His name is not recorded on either the Roll of Honor or the Soldiers’ Memorial. It appears that his connection to the Shire of South Gippsland was seen as stronger. As indicated, his foster mother linked him to Korumburra and his name is recorded on the roll of honor for the South Gippsland Shire.

William Browney enlisted as a 27 yo on 7/1/15. He was single and he gave his occupation as labourer. His religion was listed as Church of England. He left Australia as reinforcements for 9 Light Horse Regiment. However, in Egypt in May 1916 he transferred to the artillery and joined 5 Divisional Ammunition Column. He left the Middle East in August 1916.

Not long after he reached France he was hospitalised with influenza for 2 weeks, in September 1916. Then in November 1916 he was hospitalised again, with ‘cattarh’.  It appears that this general condition was subsequently re-diagnosed as another bout of influenza, and also asthma, and he was transferred to hospital in England in December 1916. It appears that there was further illness, again influenza, in February 1917. His general health was clearly problematic. He did not return to the front line in France until the end of June 1917. He was killed in action one month later on 28/7/17.

There is no Red Cross file for Driver Browney but there is some information in the war diary of the 5th Australia Divisional Ammunition Column. At the time, the unit was working in the Poperinghe area, just over the border with Belgium, near Ypres. The main work appeared to be the rebuilding of ammunition dumps which had been destroyed by enemy shell fire. For example, 3 days before the death of Driver Browney, the diary records:

Forward Dump in Cambridge Road destroyed by enemy shell fire. 2 Officers and 100 Other Ranks sent out to re-establish dump, which was completed by dawn on 26.7.17.

Then for 28/7/17 the entry reads:

Another Forward Battery Dump destroyed. The working party despatched to re-establish same reported work complete by dawn 29.7.17

and, for the same day:

1 Other Rank Killed and 1 O.R Wounded by explosion of enemy bomb dropped from aeroplane.

Driver Browney was of the very few members of the AIF killed by enemy aerial bombing.

The body was recovered and Driver Browney was buried in the nearby Vlamertinghe New Military Cemetery, Vlamertinghe, Flanders.

His mother was advised by cable dated 2/8/17, less than a week after he had been killed.

In April 1918 his meagre personal kit – 2 Wallets, Photos, Cards, Blank disc, 2 Religious books – was returned to his foster mother at Korumburra.

Apart from the correspondence in the file to do with the issuing of the medals there is nothing else that throws light on this man’s story. It appears that it was inevitable that his personal history would fade, and certainly the recognition of his presence in the Shire of Alberton did not last, even to the end of the War. Others from Wonyip were remembered and celebrated but William Browney, also known as William Beadmore, was not.

Driver William Browney, also known as William Beadmore, Wonyip. Courtesy of Australian War Memorial

References

Gippsland Standard and Alberton Shire Representative

National Archives file for BROWNEY William 1071
Roll of Honour: William Browney
First World War Embarkation Rolls: William Browney

 

 

128. Enlistments in the first half of 1917: background characteristics Part 2 – religion, units and service history

This post continues the analysis of

Post 23: Enlistments to the end of 1914: background characteristics Part 2 – religion, units and service history

Post 57:  Enlistments in the first half of 1915: background characteristics Part 2 – religion, units and service history

Post 63: Enlistments in the second half of 1915: background characteristics Part 2 – religion, units and service history

Post 83: Enlistments in the first half of 1916: background characteristics Part 2 – religion, units and service history

Post 103: Enlistments in the second half of 1916: background characteristics Part 2 – religion, units and service history

It continues the ongoing work to describe and interpret the essential character of all those associated with the Shire of Alberton who enlisted in WW1.

Religion

The table below gives the religious affiliation of all those enlisting from the Shire over the period August 1914 to the end of June 1917. It also shows the equivalent figures for males in the 1911 Census for the county of Buln Buln.

The numbers are small and variations of 1 or 2 can have a dramatic impact on the percentages.With only 3 of the cohort of 31 recorded as Roman Catholic it is arguable that the level of enlistments from this group was in decline. At the same time, with so few enlistments taking place, the local population would have noted, against an increasing level of anti-Catholic sentiment, that at least some Roman Catholics were still coming forward to enlist.

Units

Most of this cohort of enlistments went to reinforce the infantry. There was a small group of enlistments who never made it out of camp:  2 men were discharged as medically unfit and another deserted. Of the men – and one woman –  who did embark, 55% went to reinforce the infantry battalions. As before, there was a small group of light horse reinforcements and the rest of the enlistments were spread across specialist units, including the Australian Army Nursing Service and the Australian Army Veterinary Hospital.  The largest single group of enlistments (22%) went to 7 Battalion. This figure reflected the efforts of Lt Crowe and other recruiting officers in the district in May 1917 when they organised specific recruiting demonstrations calling for volunteers to join the “Sportsmen’s 1000” or “Sportsmen’s Unit

It is worth recalling that while at the time the success of Lt Crowe was widely publicised and celebrated in the local area, the reality was that for every 3 men he managed to ‘recruit’, only 1 went on to become a successful enlistment. The other 2 failed the medical – either in Yarram itself with Dr Rutter or at the follow-up medical in Melbourne – or their parents would not give consent.

Service History

Again, the size of this cohort is far smaller than the previous ones and the percentages more problematic. This is strikingly obvious with the death rate. Only one of this cohort – Frank Harrison DoW 19/5/18 – died on active service. Yet the figure of 3% could hardly represent the death rate across the entire cohort of enlistments in the AIF in this specific period (the first half of 1917). As we will see, there was still a considerable loss of life to come, in the second half of 1917 and well into 1918.

Where the death rate for each of these successive cohorts of enlistments appears to be falling, the rate of medical discharge appears to have settled round 40%. Conceivably, after such horrific casualty levels in 1916, military commanders had become less reckless with the lives of their men and improved strategies, tactics and training were reducing the overall levels of casualties. Also, presumably, improved medical services and training were reducing the overall death-in-combat levels. However, while this line of argument could explain the declining death rate it hardly accounts for the observation that there does not appear to have been an equivalent decline in the rate of men being discharged as medically unfit.

It is obviously a complex area. However, it is worth re-visiting an observation raised in Post 103. There the point was made that, increasingly, men were accepted in the AIF even though their overall health and fitness were questionable. This, inevitably, led to more men being discharged on health grounds. As already indicated, some were discharged on medical grounds in camp in Australia, before they even left for overseas service. Others were discharged in the UK in training before they were sent to France. Overs saw service in France but their overall poor health was exacerbated by their service at the front and they had to be repatriated to the UK and thence to  Australia where they were discharged as medically unfit. Moreover, the general health of men who had enlisted, earlier in the War, was bound to deteriorate the more they were exposed to battle, even if they managed to escape being wounded. In other words, ‘medical discharge’ did not relate solely to those wounded in battle. So it is conceivable that even if battle field casualties – gunshot and shrapnel wounds, being gassed, trench fever, shell shock – declined, even if only slightly, the overall level of medical discharges stayed high because the general health of all those in the AIF, including especially those who would not previously been accepted, continued to deteriorate.

Some of the men in this group of enlistments illustrate the general argument. E B Skinner, the solicitor from Foster, enlisted in January 1917. He had had hearing problems before he enlisted but he managed to pass the medical. He never left Australia. After a series of ear infections he was eventually discharged as ‘medically unfit’ in October 1917. George Trusler, the 20 year-old motor driver, managed to pass the medical at Yarram with Dr Rutter. However, he had already been rejected – ‘varicocele – a year earlier. He too never left Australia. He had hernia problems in camp but refused to give his permission for an operation and in the end was discharged as medically unfit in April 1918. Frederick Godfrey enlisted as a 39 yo in April 1917. He passed the medical, even though it was noted that he required ‘extensive dental treatment’. He made it to the UK but then, after hospitalisation there,  had to be repatriated to Australia in September 1918 and discharged with ‘chronic bronchitis’. Lastly, the case of Arthur Forder, the married 25 yo from Blackwarry, is rather remarkable. Initially he was rejected because of his teeth. Then in September 1915 he managed to pass the medical and enlisted. He served overseas but then had to repatriated to Australia in May 1916 with ‘pulmonry TB’ and was discharged as medically unfit. Incredibly, he was able to re-enlist in February 1917. Again he went overseas. He embarked on 11/5/16 but was hospitalised with influenza from 17/6/17, at the very end of the voyage. He managed to come through the influenza and must have made it to the front at some point because his record shows him wounded: gsw rt knee. He was returned to Australia (3/3/18) and then discharged for the second time on 25/4/18 as medically unfit.

All the cases point to the complexities associated with men’s health in the AIF. Health issues went beyond wounds received in battle.

It is also worth pointing out again that the measure of men discharged as medically unfit – in this cohort is was 42 % – does not accurately reflect the true level of all those whose health was compromised by their service. In this cohort, irrespective of whether they were or were not discharged as ‘medically unfit’, 15 (54%) of the 28 who went overseas on active service were wounded and 22 (71%) of the full cohort were hospitalised, at least once, in Australia or overseas. The implications of these levels were to be played out after the War.

It is difficult to explain but another distinctive feature of this particular cohort appears to be the number of men who were ‘gassed’. In all 9 (32%) of the 28 who saw active service were reported to have been ‘gassed’. At some point, it will be necessary to consider this figure in relation to those for previous cohorts. Presumably it has something to do with the fact that those who enlisted later in the War had more chance of experiencing battle in the corresponding later stages of the War, when gas became a more common weapon.

Overall

As with the previous cohort – the 6 months to the end of 1916 – the most distinctive features of this group are the ever-reducing number and the continuing decline in overall levels of fitness and health

 

129. E N Lear

Eric Nightingale LEAR (10966)
3 Divisional Train  DoW 24/7/1917

Eric Nightingale Lear’s name appears on the honor roll for Won Wron SS. However, it does not appear on either the Shire of Alberton Roll of Honor or the Alberton Shire Soldiers’ Memorial. His link to the shire is complex and hard to uncover.

Eric Nightingale Lear was born in Fryerstown in 1891. It appears that his father – D’Arcy Connor Lear – who had been a teacher at Tarraville, shifted to Fryerstown, near Castlemaine, in 1890. The father had been born in the district (Tarraville, 1862) and was a prominent local. He held many civic offices – Secretary, South Gippsland Rifle Club; Treasurer, Tarraville Mechanics’ Institute … – and was even said to have been one of the organisers behind the development of the local football association. He was also the convenor of the local union of state school teachers. He married Florence Mary Nightingale in 1890, the same year he shifted to Fryerstown. Florence Nightingale was also definitely local. Her family was also from Tarraville. Her younger brother, Charles Frederick Nightingale, would in time become one of the local councillors for the Shire of Alberton. When the local paper – Gippsland Standard and Alberton Shire Representative – reported (10/8/17) the death of Sergeant Eric Lear, it made the connection between the 2 local families:

Yesterday, Cr. Nightingale received word that his nephew, Sergeant Eric N. Lear, son of Mr. D’Arcy Lear, had died of wounds. … Mr. Lear has lost his oldest son.

As well as the connection to his mother’s family (Nightingale) in the local district, Eric Lear had many cousins in the wider Lear family in the Shire of Alberton.

Notwithstanding the obvious sets of family connections to the Shire of Alberton from his parents’ generation, it is difficult to uncover the precise links to the district that Eric Lear had. As indicated, he attended the state school at Won Wron but, surprisingly, it does not appear that his family was in the district at the time. It appears that the parents and other 5 younger children were in Fryerstown. Possibly, for some reason or other, he was sent to live with his uncle – Charles Frederick Nightingale – and during this period he attended the school at Won Wron. It remains a mystery but the reality is that there was only one E N Lear who enlisted in the AIF and that person was Eric Nightingale Lear who was born at Fryerstown in 1891 and whose name appears – as killed – on the honor roll of Won Wron SS.

Eric Lear enlisted on 17/5/16. Prior to enlistment he was serving with the senior cadets at Carlton and according to his enlistment papers he held a commission in his unit. There are also forms in his file indicating that prior to enlistment he applied and was recommended for a commission in the AIF. This was in February 1916. However, he left Australia (3/6/16) with rank of driver, in the  3rd Divisional Train and was not promoted to the rank of sergeant until June 1917.

When he enlisted in Melbourne, Driver Lear was 24 yo and single. However, he married – Annie Lear – before he embarked for overseas. His wife’s address was South Yarra. His occupation was given as clerk in the Federal Public Service. He gave his religion as Church of England. There are other references in his file which show that he had been a student at Wesley College and that he had been a ‘scholarship’ student. His family also spoke of his sporting – cricket and rowing – prowess.

As indicated, Eric Lear married just before embarking for overseas service. In his file there is a communication written on behalf of his wife which highlights the way that such women had to come to terms with the real possibility that the husband would be killed. The letter was written by Rev J T Lawton, the Presbyterian clergyman at South Yarra, the church where the wife worshipped.

Mrs. Lear, a member of my congregation, desires me to request that you will be good enough to notify me in case of death of her husband

No. 10966 E. N. Lear
1st Co
22 A.S.C
3rd Div. Train

and to prevent any mistake such instruction might be inserted on his attestation sheet.

The letter also pointed out that the husband had probably given his religion as Church of England [he had]. Hence the need to adjust the record to reflect the wife’s wishes. The requested changes were made.

Driver Lear reached England in July 1917 and after further training eventually proceeded overseas to France in February 1917. By this time he held the rank of sergeant. In France, the 3rd Divisional Train was responsible for ensuring the movement of supplies to the front line. At the time the 2 basic modes of transport were the ‘trench tramways’ and ‘pack transport’, with mules. The latter was a more dangerous proposition because the mules were used to carry the essential supplies closer to the front line. There is no Red Cross report for Sgt. Lear but the relevant unit diary – Supplies & Transport, 3rd Australian Divisional Train – indicates that on 15/7/17 Sgt. Lear was detached to serve with pack transport. This was in the general area of Messines. The same diary records his death over the period 23-25 July:

No. 10966, Sgt. Lear, E. N., admitted to No. 2 A.C.C.S., 24-7-17, suffering from G.S.W

and

No. 10966, Sgt. Lear, E.N., died of wounds at No. 2 A.C.C.S., 24-7-17, and struck off N.C.O’s., supernumerary strength.

Another record describes the wounds as: GSW. R. Axilla, arm, thigh, buttock, knee, calf.

From the same unit diary, it appears that the supplies Sgt. Lear was transporting to the front line at the time he was wounded included 60 duckboards, 4,000 sand bags and 60 small A-frames. The diary also gave a breakdown of casualties – including the mules – for the month of July: 4 mules killed and 4 wounded and 5 men killed and 15 wounded.

The cable advising those back home of the death was dated 31/7/17. Presumably, the information was delivered by Rev. J T Lawton.

Interestingly, the amount of personal kit returned was considerable. It came in 3 lots.

April 1918: 2 Discs, Knife, Cigarette Holder, Pencil, Pipe, Match Box Cover, 6 Coins, Card, Photos, Lanyard, Whistle, Post Office receipts, French Book, Note-Case, Pocket Book, metal Cigarette Case, Wallet, Gospel, Metal Watch.

April 1918: 1 Suit Case, 2 Keys, Tunic, Mirror (damaged), Pipe Rack, Cigarette Case, Badges & Shoulder Titles, Tie Pin, Razor strop, piece Cobblers Wax, Wallet, Shaving Paper Case, Canvas Bag, Letters, Unit Colors, Cards, Photos, 3 Brushes, pr. Spurs, Photo Wallet, London Guide, Suit Pyjamas, Pipe, Burnisher, 2 Kt bag Handles, Note Book refills, Testament, 3 Handkerchiefs, 2 Collars, 2 Neck Ties, Razor Hone, Notebook, Pin, 2 pencils, 2 match Box Covers, book (Novel), Sam Browne Belt.

May 1918: 2 Pipes, Pouch, Razor in Case and Blades, Razor Strop, Knife, Fountain pen, Belt, 1 pair Leather Gloves, Metal Wrist Watch (damaged), and Strap, Electrical Torch, Combination Knife, Fork and Spoon in Case, Comb.

Both the size and specific contents – eg Sam Browne Belt – suggest an officer’s kit rather than a NCO’s. Probably some of the kit reflected his time as a officer in the senior cadets (60th Infantry). It is also possible that those serving in a Divisional Train were better able to manage the logistics of holding and moving greater amounts of personal kit.

Sergeant Lear was buried at Trois Arbres Military Cemetery, Steenwerck, Nord Pas de Calais.

On the (National) Roll of Honour, his wife gave Parkville as the location with which he was ‘chiefly connected’.

A brief death notice appeared in the Gippsland Standard and Alberton Shire Representative on 10/8/17:

LEAR – Died of wounds at the front on 24th July, Eric Nightingale Lear, eldest son of D’Arcy Lear, North Melbourne. Age 26 years.

As reported in the local paper (7/8/18), his name was read out at the unveiling of the Won Wron school honor roll on 31/7/ 18.

References

Gippsland Standard and Alberton Shire Representative

O’Callaghan G (Comp) 2006, Clonmel to Federation: Guide to people in the Port Albert area 1841-1901, Vol 2, The Alberton Project

National Archives file for LEAR Eric Nightingale 10966
Roll of Honour: Eric Nightingale Lear
First World War Embarkation Rolls: Eric Nightingale Lear

126. Enlistments in the first half of 1917

This post presents the table of all those with an association with the Shire of Alberton who enlisted in the first half of 1917. It builds on the work of 5 earlier posts that have analysed enlistments, in six-monthly intervals, from 1914:

Post 21: Enlistments to the end of 1914: identifying the ‘locals’ ,

Post 55: Enlistments in the first half of 1915 ,

Post 61: Enlistments in the second half of 1915 

Post 81. Enlistments in the first half of 1916.

Post 101. Enlistments in the second half of 1916.

The number of those who enlisted in the first half of 1917, with a clear link to the Shire of Alberton, was only 31. Included in the group was Nurse Elsie Engblom. This takes the total number of such enlistments from the start of the War to 724.

The following summary shows enlistments from 1914. It shows how dramatically enlistments fell off in the second half of 1916. It also shows that by early 1917, the actual rate of enlistments was effectively in some kind of ‘free fall’. The most obvious interpretation of the figures is that by early 1917 the pool of available recruits from the Shire of Alberton had been largely depleted. However, as future posts will continue to show, there was always the conviction that there were still some local families who were ‘holding back’.

To the end of 1914: 138 enlistments
First half of 1915: 102
Second half of 1915: 200
First half of 1916: 183
Second half of 1916: 70
First half of 1917: 31

As has already been pointed out, the ‘quality’ of recruits was also down. Post 123 showed that when men came forward at various recruiting demonstrations 2 groups dominated: those who could not meet the medical standard – and most of these had already been rejected at least once – and the ‘minors’ who needed their parents’ permission to enlist. Moreover, many of those who passed the medical with Dr Rutter in Yarram were subsequently rejected in Melbourne.

On the issue of parents’ permission for under-age recruits, it seems that some recruiting officers were very, if not over, zealous. For example, in this particular group Cecil Holman was an 18 yo from Yarram. His parents had previously refused to give their permission for him to enlist. He was one of those Lt Crowe – see Post 123 – recruited for the ‘Sportsmen’s Thousand’ in Yarram in early May 1917. His enlistment date was 5/5/17 but the parents’ permission was dated 26/5/17. Presumably, he and his recruiter put the parents in a position were they had little choice but to agree.

Another example, from this group, of the lengths recruiting officers were prepared to go to secure under-age recruits involved Harold Berreen Elliott. He was a 19 yo working for a coach builder/blacksmith in Yarram. His father’s whereabouts was said to be ‘unknown’ and it appears that the mother was in some kind of institutional care. There was an older sister living in Melbourne at Fitzroy. The papers for this young man’s enlistment state: Lieut. Crowe who enlisted this man originally took this [the Application to Enlist form, dated 5/5/17] personally and had it signed by the lad’s sister whose signature is hereon written.

Once again, it is often hard to see the logic in the way men were, and were not, included on various honour rolls and other commemorations.  For example, Frank Lionel Harrison enlisted as a 19 yo in May 1917. He was another young immigrant from the UK and was working as a farm labourer for H P Rendell at Devon North. He had his medical in Yarram and was issued with a railway warrant by the Shire Secretary for the travel to Melbourne. He died of wounds on 19/5/18. At least one in memoriam was published for him in the local paper  and when his father, back in England, supplied the information for the (National) Roll of Honour, he gave Devon North as the location with which his son was ‘chiefly connected’. His name is included on the Roll of Honor for the Shire of Alberton. It is also included on the honor roll for the local Methodist Circuit. However, his name is not included on the Soldiers’ Memorial in the main street of Yarram.

The Table below shows that in most cases there were several items of evidence to link the individual to the local area. At the same time, in a few cases it was only the individual’s inclusion on the honour roll of a local school that linked him to the district. For example, the only link for the single female – Nurse Elsie Engblom – was her enrolment at 2 local state schools, Yarram and Alberton. However, she would certainly have been well known in the district. There was a brother – Charles William Engblom – who had also attended Yarram SS. He enlisted in September 1914, served at Gallipoli, was wounded and then discharged as medically unfit in early 1916. Even though the family was no longer living in the district, he was certainly regarded as a local and according to the Gippsland Standard and Alberton Shire Representative (24/6/16) he attended at Yarram and handed out the Shire Medallion to a group of volunteers who were leaving for overseas service. The father had been a tailor in the town.

As before, the following records are the ones used in the table to establish the connection to the Shire:

The Shire of Alberton Roll of Honor

The list of railway warrants issued by the Shire Secretary

The Shire of Alberton Medallion

The Shire of Alberton (Yarram) War Memorial (Alberton Shire Soldiers’ Memorial)

The honor rolls of state schools in the Shire of Alberton

Community honor rolls in the Shire of Alberton

Newspaper accounts (Gippsland Standard and Alberton Shire Representative)