Thursday, April 25, 2013

Anzac Day: We remember them

On Anzac Day we remember and pay tribute to Australians and New Zealanders who served in World War 1. This day acknowledges the first engagement, the first landing at Gallipoli in April 1915, and increasing numbers of people make the pilgrimage to Gallipoli each year and on this day in particular.

On a personal level we remember family members who served in war. My husband and I remember these grandparents, great-uncles, uncles and an aunt who voluntarily enlisted in either of the great wars of the 20th century. Two were killed in action.
  William Angus Wyllie
  Thomas Henry Smith
  David Edgar Taylor (KIA)
  James William Taylor
  David Ray Leed (KIA)
  William George Leed
  Robert John Daniel Phelan
  William Thomas Alford

  Leonard Allen Taylor
  Angus John Wyllie
  James William Wyllie
  Neil Kevin Phelan
  Keith William Phelan
  Gibson McKernan Phelan
  Elizabeth Campbell Smith

Today I select one of these to highlight. Thomas Henry Smith was my grandfather's brother. They grew up with their siblings on a wheat farm at Lawler, east of Minyip in the Wimmera district of Victoria. Tom was the oldest child.

On the 7 March 1916, when he was 23 years old, Tom enlisted in the AIF (Australian Imperial Force) as a private in the army. In the Australian Archives there is a 26-page file that describes his service in France and I've gleaned most of the following information from that. This is the first page.

For the previous three years he had been a volunteer in the 19th Light Horse, a militia reserve. It was during his brief training period in Victoria after he enlisted in the AIF that this photo was taken.
Thomas Henry Smith. Australian War Memorial Ref. DA15294

Note: The above notes state his number as 5019 but in fact it was 5771.

Tom embarked on the ship 'HMAT Ayrshire' and arrived in England two months later, September 1916. He was sent to training camp at Perham Down near Salisbury in Wiltshire before being transferred to France in October.

So we know that in May 1917 Tom was admitted to hospital suffering from influenza, that on 21 Oct 1917 he was sent back to England for a month's furlough, that he was detached from his regiment for 6 weeks in August 1918 to work in a burial party and that he was again sent on a month's furlough in England in October 1918. He returned to Australia on the 'Lyttleton' in June 1919 having served on the dreadful battlefields in France for over two years. I don't know what his experiences were but those six weeks working in a burial party must have been dreadful. Imagine collecting the bodies, that would have been in varying states of damage and decay, trying to identify each soldier by locating his name tag, carrying them out through the battlefields on stretchers and digging the graves to bury them.

As far as I can tell my great-uncle Tom managed to return home physically unscathed. And seemingly mentally unscathed as well. He married Evelyn Wyllie in 1923, raised a family, farmed for a living at Laen and greatly enjoyed visiting family in Victoria and Queensland. He was a most jovial man and I was very fond of him. He died in 1969.

Tom and Evelyn Smith
Lest we forget.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Sepia Saturday: Street photographers snap

Here it is, Saturday again, and I haven't written another blog since the last Sepia Saturday entry. Where did the week go?

The theme this week is a group of people setting off on a walk so I browsed through my albums to see what I could find. I came up with a few but really the majority of my family photos are of people standing still, facing the camera. It's not surprising really, because it cost a bit to get a film developed and if the subjects were moving there was more chance of blur. Nowadays the digital cameras allow us to take 'action photos' much more easily and at no cost.

I found a few photos of people linking arms or walking towards the camera, but only a few.

Bendigo Show, 1947_Neil Phelan, Shirley Alford, Elaine Whitfield, Joy Phelan, Keith Phelan and Doug Phelan

Mitiamo friends
Unknown people, unknown place.
Roy Phelan (left) with son Keith, and Ian Miles (right) - in Melbourne I think.
This family group is halfway through their walk. They're beside a waterfall in the
 beautiful Grampians range in western Victoria. Angus Wyllie, his mother Dolly and his sister
 Dorothy are standing. Angus' wife, Mavis, is sitting front left next to his sister Barbara
 and Mavis' sister Betty Curtis. There's me on my mum's knee and my cousin Rex
 is sitting on Betty's knee. 
And now you could head on over to Sepia Saturday to see what trails the other bloggers are following.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Sepia Saturday: A garden party at the palace

Sepia Saturday's theme photo this week is a castle. A castle! We don't do castles here in Australia so I had a search through photos that various relatives have taken on visits to Europe. The only one I came up with is a photo of a palace and I'm not sure that qualifies as a castle.

In the early 1950s Alfred and Christina Curnow travelled to England, presumably by boat. Their son Neil was working there and he arranged, somehow, an invite to a Buckingham Palace Garden Party. Uncle Alf had to hire his clothes for the occasion because there was a strict dress code. Auntie Chris had to wear a hat.

Alfred and Christina Curnow with their son Neil outside the gates of Buckingham Palace.
Garden parties have been held at Buck Palace since Queen Victoria instigated them and they are held several times a year. The 'garden' is actually a large lawn in the 40-acre parkland behind the palace.

So now, for some real castles, I'm going to be self-indulgent and post some photos of castles that I saw on a trip to Europe several years ago.
Hohenschwangau Castle, Bavaria
Blarney Castle, Ireland
Dublin Castle, Ireland
Durham Castle, England
Eilean Donan Castle, near Dornie, Scotland
Edinburgh Castle, Scotland
And finally, Castletown in Ireland, a village with no castle. We went there to see where an ancestor lived before he migrated to Australia in 1856, and  the first shop we saw had our surname over the top.


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