Sunday, December 2, 2018

A convict-free colony please

Unlike every other state in Australia except Victoria South Australia was not founded as a convict colony. In 1834 the British Parliament passed the South Australia Act that decreed that the new colony would be convict free and in 1836 the first ships arrived with government officials and new settlers.

At some time in the early years of the settlement my husband's 4th great-uncles, Alexander and William Honeyman, travelled to Adelaide by ship from Tasmania. The brothers were born in Falkirk, Scotland and had travelled to Sydney, New South Wales in 1821 with their mother to join their father. (There is much more to this story but I'm cutting to the chase.)

The father had died by the time the family arrived and both boys were placed in an orphanage when their mother remarried. Details are vague but it appears that the boys later joined whaling ships that sailed out from Sydney and Hobart.

In February 1845 there was a petition, a memorial signed by South Australian residents, asking for a guarantee that the state of South Australia would remain convict free and it was published in the newspaper together with the names of the signatories.

South Australian 14 February 1845
On the list is one of the brothers, Alexander Honeyman, who was living at Port Adelaide at the time.

The irony is that the father of Alexander and William (and their sisters Annie and Margaret) was a convict!! William Honeyman Snr was transported to New South Wales in 1816 for robbery. And their older sister Annie had married a convict in Tasmania in 1828 (and died in childbirth the same year).

I suspect that if Alexander and William had been told that their father was a convict (he was in prison and then transported when the boys were just toddlers) they would not have talked about it because in those days a convict background was shameful.

There must have been a lot of people with secrets in the early days of colonisation.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Western Front (part 4)

Our last visit to the Western Front was to Bellenglise. The nearby towns of St Quention and Bullecourt are well-known but the 4th Australian Division memorial is at Bellenglise because that was the point reached by the division before it withdrew for rest just before peace was declared.

We couldn't find the memorial and finally asked a local who hopped into his little van and led us down a rough track to the site. We would never have driven down the track! And there was only one small sign tucked away on a side street. It's not even marked on Google maps.
4th Australian Division memorial, Bellenglise 
4th Australian Division memorial, Bellenglise 
4th Australian Division memorial, Bellenglise 
We were particularly interested in the Bellenglise battle site because Phil's grandfather, Roy Phelan, was badly injured there late in 1918 (he was hit on his head with shrapnel but recovered fully despite losing a large piece of his skull). I've read his unit's diary and as far as I can work out Roy was near the present village of Pontruet at the time.
Swede harvest in fields at Pontruet near Bellenglise. 


Western Front (Part 3)

We travelled further south to the Somme valley and Villers-Brettonneux in particular.

The farmland was looking beautiful and it is difficult to believe the devastation of the war years in this area 100 years ago. The Australian National Memorial and the new Sir John Monash Centre (behind it and underground) were very impressive of course but I was particularly interested in finding a name on the memorial panels. My grandmother Dorothy Wyllie nee Taylor's brother, David Edgar Taylor' was killed in action at Pozieres 5 August 1916. His body was never identified so he is listed among the missing at Villers Brettoneux.
David Edgar Taylor, memorial panel, Villers Brettoneux
Australian National Memorial, Villers Brettoneux
The 1st Australian Division Memorial is at town of Pozieres and there is a very moving memorial at 'Windmill' just north of Pozieres.
1st Australian Division memorial, Pozieres

1st Australian Division memorial, Pozieres
Memorial at the Windmill site. The old village windmill was a significant site in the battle of Pozieres.

Dozens of small white crosses form the shape of the rising sun symbol next to the Windmill memorial at Pozieres.

Pozieres and ANZAC
We looked for, and failed to find, a military cemetery at Franvillers in the Somme valley. My grandfather Duncan Smith's cousin, James William Hillgrove was buried there in May 1918.

Western Front (Part 2)

About eight kilometres south of the Belgian border, in France, is Fromelles. In July 1916, in just one day, 5300 Australians and 1500 British men were wounded, missing or killed. This is the memorial at that site.
Australian Memorial Park, Fromelles with V C Corner Cemetery in the background.
Australian Memorial Park, Fromelles
We visited the Rue du Bois cemetery near Fleurbaix, about 3 km from Fromelles, to pay respect to Phil's great-uncle, David Ray Leed from a farm at Mologa in Victoria. He was killed in action 15 July 1916 aged 22.

Rue du Boix Cemetery, Fleurbaix

Butterfly at Rue du Boix Cemetery, Fleurbaix

Ray Leed's headstone, Rue du Boix Cemetery, Fleurbaix

Every war cemetery has a cemetery register and a visitor book, safely stored in a niche with a metal door. It's a very impressive arrangement. Phil signed the book at Rue du Boix Cemetery, Fleurbaix.

We then found 'V C Corner cemetery near Fromelles to find the name of my grandmother, Dorothy Wyllie nee Taylor's cousin, John Henry Brown from Cobden who was killed in the action on 19 Jul 1916. His body was never identified so his name is on a panel in this cemetery.

John Henry Brown, listed among the missing, on a panel at 'VC Corner' cemetery near Fromelles.

VC Corner Cemetery, Fromelles

VC Corner Cemetery, Fromelles. 
VC Corner cemetery in the background and the sign on the right says 'German Front Line 19-20 July 1916'

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