This page is dedicated to the memory of just a few of the many men and women who served in World Wars 1 and 2, and other conflicts. All have a connection with Carlton, North Carlton or Princes Hill. Some were born or had lived in the area, while others gave a Carlton address for their next of kin. Others returned to Carlton after the war and went on to live productive post-war lives.
A note on sources:
War service records have been sourced from AIF Project data and the National Archives of Australia. Biographical and family information has been taken from birth, death and marriage records and contemporary newspaper accounts. Place of residence information has been taken from directories, rate books and electoral rolls. Specific references are included where relevant, and images are from CCHG, unless otherwise stated.
More than 2000 Australian nurses served overseas during World War 1. At least three years' experience in medical and surgical nursing in a recognised hospital was required for acceptance into the Australian Army Nursing Service and recruits were to be aged between 21 and 45 years (although most were in fact in their thirties). They were to be either single women or widowed. Twenty five died on overseas duty. One of those who never returned was Amy Veda O'Grady who was working at the Melbourne Hospital when she enlisted. Amy contacted cholera and died at Colaba War Hospital in Bombay on 12 August 1916. Another Australian nurse, Kathleen Power, died of the same disease in the same hospital on the following day.
Nurses of World War 1
Some 1700 men gave a Carlton address as their own or that of their next of kin when enlisting and interspersed among their names are those of ten nurses. These are the stories of three of them.
Helen Condon was the daughter of Patrick and Ann née Carroll, both born in Tipperary, Ireland. Until his death in 1893, her father ran the Tasmania Hotel which was in Lonsdale Street, between Spring and Exhibition Streets on the corner of the now-disappeared Leichardt Street. According to her attestation when she enlisted on 3 May 1917, she had been born in Parkville and had completed four years of nursing training at St Vincent's. For many years she had been living at Miss McGeachie's nurses' home at 31 Collins Place, an extension of Exhibition Street between Collins and Flinders Streets. In 1910 numbers 33 and 35 were also boarding houses. Her attestation states that at the time of enlisting she was 32 years old, which indicates a birth year of 1885. But in fact her mother had died in 1884 following the birth of her fifth child and, although no birth registration has been found, Helen is likely to have been born in 1882. With both her parents dead, she named as next of kin her brother James, some seven years her senior, who since 1911 had been licensee of the Great Northern Hotel at 646 Rathdowne Street, North Carlton, on the corner of Pigdon Street. Before that, he and his wife Annie née Larkin had run a hotel in Peel Street, Collingwood. Her family too had a tradition of hotel-keeping and were associated with several such businesses in Gippsland.1
Helen Mary Condon
At the end of May 1917 Helen Condon embarked on the Khiva, no doubt never dreaming of how her life was about to change. By the middle of June she was in India where Australian nurses had been posted since September 1916. Over the following three years some 560 nurses served there, about 20% of the total overseas force. Many of them were unhappy about the posting as it was not considered to be a war zone and they would have preferred to be on the front line nursing Australian or at least Allied troops. But the placement was challenging nonetheless. Nurses found the tropical climate debilitating and encountered serious cultural and language problems with Indian orderlies and with the many Turkish patients, as many as 500 hundred at a time, evacuated from Mesopotamia (Iraq). There were other problems too. One nurse wrote that when electricity was finally connected to the hospital where she was, the nurses were "all delighted but each Sister still kept her hurricane lamp burning beside her bed at night, as snakes were very prevalent, many deadly ones such as Russell's Viper, Krait & Cobra having been killed, some in the Sisters' rooms. One Sister of our service was bitten at the Deccan War Hospital, Poona, but fortunately recovered."2
Helen was posted to the 34th Welsh General Hospital at Deolali, five hours travel from Bombay. Large and rambling, this was the biggest of the Indian military hospitals with some 3000 beds. The matron made her inspections in a car provided by the Red Cross. Helen appears to have served more than 18 months in that hospital but her record tells us nothing of her personal experiences. By early 1919, with the war over, many of the nurses in India were preparing to return to Australia. Not so Helen Condon who resigned her appointment the day before she married an Englishman, Captain Cecil John Howell of the Buffs (East Kent) Regiment, in St Patrick's Church, Deolali on 12 February 1919. According to the official marriage record, the bridegroom was 35 and the bride 29, a discrepancy of five years compared with the age she stated on her attestation when enlisting. In fact she was probably a year or two older than her new husband, who was born about 1884.
The couple continued to live in Deolali, where a son Peter John was born almost exactly a year after their marriage. But Helen's happy new life was not to last. She died on 10 October 1925 at Madura, India, and in November her bereaved husband and five year old son returned to London from Rangoon, Burma, on the Warwickshire. In the same year her brother at the Great Northern Hotel received the army's standard letter about the delivery of war medals, his being the only address in their records. James continued as licensee there until 1936, after suffering the loss of his wife Annie in 1919, and died in 1952 at Burwood.
Notes and References:
1 Discovering Anzacs (National Archives of Australia)
2 G. Robinson, The Forgotten Women: Personal Accounts of Australian Nurses Abroad in World War 1
Irish-born Richard Gordon arrived in Victoria as a 17 year old labourer on the Great Britain in 1865, but it was not until 1886 that he married Elizabeth née Morris. Their older son Richard Arthur was born in 1887, their only daughter Ruby Elizabeth in 1892 and a second son James Norwood in 1898. At this time the family was living at 142 Amess Street, but by 1901 had moved to a single-fronted house at 533 Nicholson Street, between Fenwick and Macpherson Streets. Richard's occupation was cab owner. The family remained at this address for some 20 years but from 1914 onwards Richard, who would then have been 65, described himself as being of independent means. Interestingly, Ruby appears twice on the 1914 electoral roll, at her family address but also at the Melbourne Hospital, where she had been working for four years.1
Ruby Elizabeth Gordon
Many of the nurses with links to Carlton were in their thirties, but Ruby was only 25 when she enlisted on 28 June 1918. She embarked on the Wiltshire in November 1918 and disembarked a month later at Bombay. She served at Deccan War Hospital in Poona (now Pune). Initially quite small, it had been enlarged to 1200 beds to accommodate patients from Mesopotamia (Iraq) and specialised in the treatment of tropical diseases. Later she was transferred to King George's War Hospital in the same city. In November 1919, just a little less than a year after she had arrived in India, she sailed for home on the Charon. Her father was officially notified that she would travel overland from Fremantle and proceed directly to the Nurses' Hostel in the Grand (now Windsor) Hotel, Spring Street, Melbourne. She duly arrived in January 1920 and was discharged the following month.
Ruby's older brother Richard (service number 25984) also served in World War 1. He enlisted on 25 February 1916 when he was 28, embarked on the Orsova and arrived in Plymouth in August of that same year. By March 1917 he was in France. He attained the rank of temporary corporal and returned to Australia on the Konig Frederich August in August 1919, just three years after his departure.
By 1921 the family had moved to 47 Arnold Street, Princes Hill (now demolished). Over the next decade Ruby's brothers married and left the family home but she remained there until the deaths of her father, at the age 89 in 1937, and her mother four years later. By 1943 Ruby was living with her brother Richard and his wife Ruby Myrtle in Rosemont Avenue, Surrey Hills and was still a nurse. She was then 51 and the rest of her life must have seemed quite predictable. But the 1949 electoral roll shows Richard and Ruby Myrtle Gordon still at that address together with Elizabeth Ruby Hood, an inspector, and Samuel Hood, government employee.
In December 1958, when she would have been 66, Ruby made an application to the Repatriation Department for "benefits" related to her service. Unfortunately her record does not show the reply to her request. In the same year she was living at 23 Queen Street, Frankston and again stating her occupation as nurse. She later moved to Brotherhood of St Lawrence accommodation at Carrum Downs and died there in 1972 at the age of eighty.
Notes and References:
1 Ruby was registered at birth as Elizabeth Ruby but the names are often reversed. Her service record is headed Ruby Elizabeth and this is how she appears on the electoral rolls while her surname was Gordon. On later electoral rolls and on her entry in the death index she appears as Elizabeth Ruby Hood.
Isabel Ogilvie was born in Walhalla in 1885, the first surviving child of a miner, Joseph Ogilvie, and Catherine née Sneddon (Seddon). The family grew to number seven, four daughters and three sons. Three other daughters died in infancy. When their father died at the early age of 45 in 1902, Isabel, the oldest, was 17 and her youngest sibling was a toddler. Within a few years the widowed Catherine had moved her family to the city, living at 160 Rathdowne Street, 822 Drummond Street and then Nyora at 90 Fenwick Street.1
Isabel Henderson Ogilvie
Isabel appears on the 1909 electoral roll as a student living at St Hilda's, Albert Street, East Melbourne. On the corner of Clarendon and Albert Streets, this Arts and Crafts mansion was built by successful tea merchant James Griffiths in 1907. He and his wife were both committed to Christian missionary work and almost as soon as it was completed the house was given in trust to a missionary society to become a Church of England Missionary Training Home. Living there in 1909, Isabel would have been among its earliest students. Perhaps missionary work was her intention at that time or perhaps other students were accommodated there as well.
When Isabel enlisted in the AANS seven years later in December 1916 she had completed three years' nursing training at the Austin Hospital and was 31 and eight months of age. Although on her attestation paper she stated her birthplace very clearly as Walhalla, a gremlin in the army machine typed it up as Gippsland, NSW. She embarked for overseas service on Anzac Day 1917 on the hospital ship Karoola, disembarking at Avonmouth near Bristol in mid June. By early July she was in France attached first to the 25th General Hospital. In November 1917 she was transferred to the 43rd Casualty Clearing Station, a front-line placement which would have involved very challenging work. Perhaps nurses were rotated in such positions; after a month she was returned to the 25th General Hospital. During 1918, in February and October, Isabel had two periods of fortnightly leave in England. By early 1919 she was herself in hospital, suffering from "debility" and returning to duty in March 1919. Soon after she was transferred to the 2nd Australian Auxiliary Hospital in England, where most of the patients would have been convalescent. Isabel returned to Australia as part of the nursing staff on the Kildonian Castle and was discharged from duty medically unfit in May 1919.
After her return Isabel was living at 90 Fenwick Street, North Carlton, with her mother Catherine, sister Ellen, a tailoress, and brother Joseph, a butcher and returned soldier whose story also appears on this page. In 1920 she married William Hayden Prime at the Erskine Presbyterian Church, then on the corner of Rathdowne and Grattan Streets, Carlton. The marriage notice in The Argus noted "Both late AIF". William Prime (Service Number 14419) had enlisted as a driver mechanic in February 1916 when he was 22 years eight months old. He embarked in June 1916 and by the end of that year was in France, attached to the 76th Field Ambulance. He was hospitalised briefly with scabies in March 1917, but otherwise appears to have survived physically unscathed. He was promoted several times and in June 1919 returned to England as Corporal Prime. He travelled home on the Suevic, disembarking in September and was discharged in October. He and Isabel were married four months later. Had they been engaged before the war? (Perhaps unlikely, given that she was eight years older than him.) Had they met in the appalling conditions of wartime France, where their experiences as nurse in a Casualty Clearing Station and ambulance driver created a strong bond?
A year after their marriage a son, Roland George, was born and again the notice in The Argus described the parents as "both late AIF". A second son was born in 1922 but lived only two days. Isabel lived to be 68, dying in 1953. For some time she and her husband had apparently been living in the Manchester Unity building in Swanston Street, perhaps in accommodation related to his employment as "superintendent". Her death notice refers to her son, her daughter-in-law and three grandchildren concluding "Late AANS 1st AIF". Her service was still obviously a source of great pride to her and to her family. Hayden, as his family called him, died in 1963.
Notes and References:
1 Although there does not seem to be any record of the birth, Isabel apparently had an older sister of the same name. On the birth registration of his son William Mansfield in 1898, Joseph Ogilvie listed his children in age descending, "Isabel dead, Isabel 13..."
Image source: Australian War Memorial
John Lelean Cope
When he enlisted as an army chaplain in 1915, the Reverend John Lelean Cope was the minister at the Presbyterian Church (demolished in the 1970s) on the corner of Princes and Nicholson Streets, North Carlton. John and his family were living at the manse (today the Carlton Neighbourhood Learning Centre) just around the corner at 20 Princes Street. The grassed block on that corner, reduced in area by road widening in the 1990s, once housed the church, a bluestone hall, two double storey shops facing Nicholson Street and another house at 16 Princes Street. It is part of a larger area bounded by Station, Nicholson and Princes Streets which was granted to the Presbyterian Church in 1870.
John Lelean Cope
World War 1 chaplains were appointed in numbers intended to reflect the proportion of each denomination in the population, as indicated by the 1911 census, and John Cope was one of 70 Presbyterian chaplains out of a total 414 in the AIF. 175 chaplains were Anglican and 86 Roman Catholic. As was usual, he was appointed initially to the rank of Chaplain 4th class, equivalent to captain. Chaplains received very little explicit training for their role and largely used their own initiative to determine their duties.1
At the age of 48 Cope was older than most serving clergy and at the upper limit for those undertaking continuous service at the front. (Many chaplains served only on voyages accompanying troopships to the point of disembarkation and returned on the next available hospital ship.) Presumably his age would have made him something of a father figure, an asset in this situation. His own eldest child, Helen Beatrice, born in 1897, was the same age as many of his young charges. John Cope, chaplain to the 14th Battalion, sailed on HMAT Nestor on 11 October 1915 and was posted first at Gallipoli, later in France and returned in February 1917 on the HMAT Ulysses.
The War Memorial in Canberra has a collection of his papers totalling more than 2000 pages, including 21 diaries covering the period July 1915 to January 1918 and letters written to his family during his time overseas. Topics covered include his methods for censoring letters (an duty unwelcome to many chaplains), a description of fighting at Gallipoli, doubts as to his ability to carry out some of chaplaincy roles and relations with officers, soldiers and other chaplains.
It would have surprised no one that John Cope became a clergyman. His father John and a close friend William Drew Lelean were soon to be ordained as Wesleyan ministers when in 1854 they attended a special service in Mevagissey Chapel, Cornwall, where a call was made for men willing to serve in the then difficult social conditions of Van Diemen's Land (renamed Tasmania in 1856). Both men responded. In November 1854 John was married to William's sister Mary Ann and in 1855 the trio travelled to their new home. Four daughters were born to John and Mary Ann between 1855 and 1860, followed in 1863 by a son who did not survive. Their last child, John Lelean Cope, was born in 1867 by which time the family was living in Melbourne after serving in various Tasmanian towns. Here again the family moved regularly with the Reverend Cope stationed in turn at Geelong, St Kilda, Richmond and Ballarat until in 1883 poor health forced him out of the ministry and into retirement in Hobart.2
Cope's son John Lelean was educated at Horton College, a prestigious boarding school near Ross in Tasmania, and Queen's and Ormond colleges at Melbourne University and followed his father into the Methodist church before becoming a Presbyterian minister. In 1896 he married Bertha Waterhouse and they had a family of three daughters. He served at Chalmers church in Launceston and Berwick and Cranbourne in Victoria before taking up the position at North Carlton in 1914. The decision to volunteer for service is an interesting one, given not only his age but also the fact that he was facing the challenges of a new congregation. Perhaps he was influenced by the examples of his father and father in law in travelling to remote Van Diemen's Land so many years before.3,4
After his return from war service, Rev. John Cope remained at the North Carlton Presbyterian church until at the end of 1920, when he received a call from the congregation at Woollahra, NSW. It was his last station before, in 1933, he retired from the regular work of the ministry, afterwards living in the Sydney suburb of Roseville with occasional work in various churches. It was not a long retirement; he died at his sister's residence in Union Road, Surrey Hills in May 1938 at the age of 70. Bertha had died two years earlier.5
Notes and References:
1 Australian War Memorial
2 The Hobart Mercury, 1 June 1909, p. 2
3 The Sydney Morning Herald, 30 May 1938, p. 7
4 The Argus, 21 May 1938, p. 2
5 The Sydney Morning Herald, 18 December 1920, p. 7
Patrick Francis Fittell
Service Number: 3108 Patrick was the only son of Syrian-born Michael Fittell, who arrived from Tripoli on the Yarra in July 1890 at the age of 19 and lived briefly in Tasmania before settling in Melbourne. In 1894 he married Mary Quirk, who was born in Tipperary, and their son Patrick was born in 1895. Michael was a bootmaker whose business was then situated at 705 Rathdowne Street, not in the building at that address today but in an earlier and clearly fairly primitive structure. After he moved out in 1912 and relocated across the street at 418 Rathdowne Street on the corner of Fenwick Street, the building at 705 was not occupied again and was eventually demolished and replaced by the present brick structure in 1940. A daughter, Mary Agnes, was born to Michael and Mary in 1898.
At the age of four she was involved in an inquest into the death of another child, Violet Wood, aged five, who lived with a registered nurse, Mrs Elizabeth Nichol, at 130 Curtain Street. The girls were playing together when "a childish quarrel sprang up and the younger child struck the other a blow over the left eye with a stick." Violet became ill, dying several days later, and the post mortem showed that the injury had contributed indirectly to the death. After the Coroner pointed out that the child who struck the blow was not of an age to distinguish right from wrong, the jury "found a verdict accordingly" and the child "who was quite unaware of the meaning of the proceedings left the court with her mother". In 1907, when Patrick was twelve and Mary Agnes nine, their mother died. Being left the sole parent of two young children may have been what motivated Michael to apply for naturalisation, which he did in October 1908. He had been in Australia for some 18 years and in Carlton for almost 15. He supplied all the information required and took the Oath of Allegiance before a police magistrate but two days later his application was rejected. "It appears from your Statutory Declaration that you are a native of Syria. You are, therefore, not eligible to apply."1,2
Citizen or not, Michael gave in writing his "full consent" when his son Patrick enlisted in July 1915. He was just 20, a printer's assistant with two years' experience in the 60th Infantry and he stated that he had previously been rejected because of his eyesight. He was assigned to the 58th Battalion and embarked on the Commonwealth in November 1915. He spent the first half of 1916 in Egypt where he was promoted to Corporal and in June 1916 joined the British Expeditionary Force in France. Communication with families at home was difficult. In August 1916 Mary wrote to the Officer in Charge at Base Records asking for information about the whereabouts of her brother. Several weeks later a Miss Scott of Haverbrack Avenue, Malvern, wrote asking for Patrick's number and battalion, saying that she believed "he left Victoria the beginning of November last." Having arrived in France in June 1916, Patrick was wounded in action in July but able to remain on duty. In the following month he was treated in hospital for "septic face" and "septic chin" but rejoined his unit on 12 September. Exactly two months later he was appointed Lance Sergeant and just a fortnight after that he was killed in action and buried near Ligny Thilloy. On 27 December 1916 the following paragraph appeared in The Argus under the headline Casualties in France.3Lance-Sergeant Patrick Francis Fittell who is reported to have been killed in action is a Syrian lad [born and raised in Carlton with an Irish mother!] of 21 years of age. He was educated at St Brigid's School, North Fitzroy and employed at the Government Printing Office. He was a member of the 60th Citizen forces, Princes Hill. He is the only son of Mr M Fittell, bootmaker of Rathdown Street, North Carlton. A striking coincidence is that he sailed from Australia on November 26 1915 and was killed on November 26 1916."A striking coincidence" seems hardly appropriate for the devastating loss to Michael and Mary of their son and brother. His father's pain is clear in the letter he wrote in August 1917 to the Officer in Charge, Base Records. "My son (number 3108 L.Sgt. P F Fittell "A" company 58th Batt. formerly of 23rd Batt.) was killed in action nearly nine months ago. So far I have received no satisfactory information about his death or burial. If you could enlighten me as to how he was killed and where he was buried I would be most grateful." The reply was not what he was hoping for. "I enclose certificate of report of death". The certificate stated "Killed in action in France." In the same month his family received a registered parcel containing his effects described as Disc, Rosary beads, Wallet, Cards, Photos, Religious Medallion (metal). Mary wrote asking whether his kitbag could be returned to them, but the reply was that no other effects had been received. A war pension of 30 shillings per fortnight was granted to Patrick's father but Mary's claim was refused on the grounds that she "was not dependent on the soldier".
In November 1921, after 31 years in Australia and now aged 50, Michael again applied for naturalisation, renouncing his Syrian citizenship and again taking the Oath of Allegiance. As was required, he placed advertisements announcing his intention in both The Age and The Argus. Several local shopkeepers vouched for him, describing him as "a loyal subject" who "had been anxious for his son to enlist and fight for Britain". This time he was successful. His name first appears on the electoral roll in 1927. Michael Fittell continued to work as a bootmaker at 418 Rathdowne Street until 1934, when he would have been 63 years old. Since 1927 he and Mary had been living almost opposite his shop in a very substantial double-storied terrace house at 749 Rathdowne Street. Michael died in 1936 at the age of 65. Mary appears never to have married. She remained at the house in Rathdowne Street until 1941, thereafter living in Pascoe Vale, where she died in 1958 at the age of 63.
For centuries it has been common for young men to do as Michael Fittell did in leaving his homeland and starting a new life without any family support. Over decades many became the patriarchs of large and prosperous extended families, as he must have one stage hoped to do. But it was not to be for Michael Fittell.
Notes and References:
1 The Argus, 1 September 1902, p. 9 and 2 September 1902 p. 6
2 There is some doubt about Mary's age. Her marriage certificate suggests a birth year of 1868 which would have made her 39 when she died rather than 43 as her death record states.
3 The Argus, 27 December 1916, p. 7
Alfred Roy Freeman
Service Number: 13 (World War 1)
Service Number: 81462 (World War 2) Alfred Roy Freeman (called Roy by his family) was the first son of Alfred and Jane née Wilson. Alfred senior was the youngest brother of Henry Freeman who in 1902 established his livery stables in Drummond Street, Carlton, opposite the now-disused police station, on the site that is today Lygon Court. Alfred was closely involved in the business from the outset and in time so was Roy and his first cousin Herbert Henry Freeman (Henry's son) whose war service is also recorded on this page.
Born in 1895 Roy was not quite 21 when he enlisted on 7 February 1916, giving his occupation as farrier and citing two years' experience in the Senior Cadets. On 6 June 1916 he sailed for overseas service on the Wandilla and by November of that year was in France where he served with the 3rd Australian Pioneers' Battalion. Little more than a month after his arrival, stationed at Rouen and now a lance corporal, he received a severe reprimand for "neglecting to obey an order requiring him to continually remain in charge of all animals placed in his care" which suggests that he had been assigned to duties where his experience at the family stables could be utilised.
In March 1917 Roy was hospitalised for a time and in July of that year he undertook a one-week veterinary course at Calais. Early in 1918 he had 14 days' leave in England and in the following August he was promoted to the rank of corporal. Just a month later Roy was awarded the military medal for bravery in the field, "for devotion to duty and sterling courage under heavy shell and machine gun fire, repaired roads and bridges as the advance went forward 8/8/18 east of Le Hamel".
Roy was still in France in February of the following year when he was admitted to hospital suffering from measles and later influenza. He was transferred to England and, after stays in three different hospitals, in April embarked on the Marathon for return to Australia. On arrival he was discharged, medically unfit.
Back in Carlton, Roy continued to live with other family members above the stables at 337 Drummond Street but his occupation had become motor driver. In 1926 he married Coralie Dartnell. By 1936 they, with their children, Russell and Betty (Lee), had moved to Bell Street, Preston. When World War 2 broke out, Roy was 44 years old but he enlisted very quickly, on 10 October 1939. He gave his permanent address as 337 Drummond Street, the family residence in the stables building which at one time or another was home to so many members of the extended Freeman clan. He was promoted to the rank of corporal almost immediately and in August 1941 to acting sergeant, serving at various Victorian locations including Caulfield, Echuca and Bendigo.
Roy was awarded 18 days' leave in December of that year and perhaps the freedom from military discipline went to his head because only weeks after returning to duty he received a severe reprimand for conduct "prejudice (sic) to the discipline and good order of the unit in that he was insubordinate and insolent to the NCO in charge of the guard."
In April 1942, three months after that reprimand and while on open camp leave, Alfred Roy Freeman was hit by a train and was found dead on the railway line near Moorabbin Station. He was 46 years old.1
Notes and References:
1 Inquest deposition file of Alfred Roy Freeman (VPRS 24/P0/1458/1942/1656)
Herbert Henry Freeman
Service Number: 1926 Herbert Henry Freeman was the only son of Henry Freeman and his first wife Elizabeth Isabella Jury née Clark. Despite suffering horrific damage to his left hand in a farm accident in 1884 at the age of 18, Henry became a very successful businessman with a great variety of financial interests. He is best known as the founder of Freeman's Livery Stables in Drummond Street, Carlton, which traded from 1902 for close to sixty years on a site opposite the now-disused police station.
In 1911 the Freeman brothers (Henry's youngest brother Alfred was closely involved in the business) replaced the rather ramshackle buildings they had inherited with an architect-designed structure including areas for stabling and coachbuilding, a public dance hall and comfortable family accommodation. After the stables closed in the early 1960s, this building became famous as the Pram Factory, a centre for innovation in Australian theatre, but was later demolished and the site now houses a shopping complex, Lygon Court. Herbert was, of course, brought up with the livery stables and completed a coachbuilding apprenticeship. About 1910, however, he told Henry that he was leaving the family business to pursue his interest in that new invention the motorcar. His disappointed father told him that he was making a mistake because the motorcar would never replace the horse.
An early enlistee, Herbert, then 25 years old, signed his papers on 18th September 1914. He gave his occupation as motor mechanic and driver (he already owned a car) and was appointed as a driver mechanic. Such skills must have been relatively rare at this time. He embarked for overseas service in December 1914 and was attached to the Australian Motor Transport Services. His record shows that he was to be an artificer "without pay" (presumably meaning without additional pay), a role where his mechanical skills could be given full play. By July 1915 he was serving in France. In 1916 he was hospitalised twice, first with influenza and then with "bad eyes" but by the end of that year he had returned to service in France and had been promoted to the rank of corporal and then sergeant.
It was a major transition for Herbert when in April 1917 he was transferred to the Australian Flying Corps and was stationed at Shawbury in Shropshire. At this time he was a sergeant but his service record shows an interesting sequence of events. On 11th July 1917 he reverted "at his own request" to the rank of second air mechanic. On the following four days he was promoted to first air mechanic, then corporal then sergeant then flight sergeant, presumably his ultimate goal and the motive for these administrative manoeuvres. It was at Shawbury that in November 1917 Herbert had a most memorable experience. Pilots at that airfield were trainees and there were frequent crashes. He was working on the recovery trucks which went out to collect wrecked planes. The aircraft were being used for observation and could carry only the combined weight of the pilot and an observer. Herbert was able to modify the engine so that a machine gun could be carried as well and he proved his work in a most unusual test flight. (See Magnificent Men in Flying Machines for an account of this amazing incident in Herbert's own words.) In May 1918 Herbert was "remustered chief mechanic" and this remained his rank at the end of the war.
During his time in England Herbert met Margaret (Peggy) Ellison and proposed marriage to her but her parents felt that she was too young. The family story is that Herbert asked if he might expect a different answer in a year's time and her parents agreed to this, thinking that would be the end of his suit. He returned to Australia on the Leicestershire arriving in January 1919. But Peggy's parents had underestimated him. A letter written to her in May 1919 shows him to be longing for their reunion and in the following year he travelled to England as he had promised. His nineteen-year-old bride-to-be was apprehensive about marrying a man she hardly knew; on the eve of the wedding she wrote in her diary "This is the worst day of my life." Nevertheless they were married and returned to Australia on the Osterley, arriving in July 1920.
Two daughters were born to them, Patricia in 1921 and Margaret in 1922. The family lived in a comfortable house at 1072 Lygon Street near Park Street and Herbert set up his garage on the premises, selling petrol, selling and servicing cars, hiring out vehicles and drivers as his father had done at the stables. This business continued until 1938 and the family then moved away from Carlton. Herbert's passion for cars and all things mechanical continued for the rest of his life and is vividly remembered by his daughter Margaret, who will be 93 in 2015, and by his grandchildren. He died in Mavern in 1961.
Image: Courtesy Freeman Family
Herbie Freeman outside his house and garage
1072 Lygon Street North Carlton
CCHG thanks the Freeman Family for sharing the story of Herbie Freeman
Leopold Michel Goldspink
Service Number: 851 (Boer War)
Service Number: 295 (World War 1) When Leopold Michel Goldspink was born in London in 1879, the odds were stacked against his living to a ripe old age. In an era of high infant mortality, Leopold defied the odds and survived a bout of measles, the same disease that took the life of his mother Charlotte. Decades later in World War 1, Leopold's early exposure to measles may have worked to his advantage, when communicable diseases cut a swathe through the ranks of the AIF.1,2
Leopold's parents, Charles Goldspink and Charlotte Heckstetter Michel, were married at Holy Trinity Church, Kew on 20 October 1878. They travelled to England, possibly on their honeymoon, where Leopold's birth was registered in the final quarter of 1879. Leopold would have been very young when the Goldspinks embarked on the return journey to Australia in early 1880. We know from a published account of Charlotte's death that she was breastfeeding because she was suffering from milk fever, as well as sea sickness. Given the average incubation period of ten days for measles, Charlotte was already infected when she left Galle in Ceylon on 20 February 1880 on the mail steamer Bangalore. The disease declared itself on 23 February and Charlotte succumbed two days later on 25 February. Leopold contracted a milder form of measles and, miraculously, he survived. How he survived the remaining voyage after his mother's death is not recorded, but there may have been another nursing mother on board who was willing, at risk to her own health, to give him nourishment.3,4
The Bangalore reached King George Sound in Western Australia, where Charles and Leopold disembarked, on 5 March and continued on to Adelaide and Melbourne. News of illness on board the Bangalore was made public and there were claims of an outbreak of measles in Victoria linked to the arrival of the ship. Charles and Leopold were placed in quarantine in Western Australia and later made their way back to Victoria on the mail steamer Assam, arriving at Hobson's Bay on 12 April. On the way, the Assam travelling east passed the Bangalore travelling west on its return journey and one can only imagine how Charles felt, catching another glimpse of the ship in which Charlotte had died. Back in Melbourne, Charles erected a memorial to Charlotte in the Church of England section of Boroondara Cemetery. The memorial, topped with a statue of a young, pensive-looking woman, would have been an important link for Leopold to the mother of whom he had no conscious memory.5
Two years later in 1882, Charles Goldspink married his second wife Margaret Fitzsimmons (Fitzsimons). Margaret, who was well known for her child welfare work, would have welcomed the young Leopold into the family home at 1 Goldspink Terrace in Rathdowne Street Carlton. The first of Leopold's half-siblings, David Norman, was born there in 1883, followed by Blanche Elizabeth (1884), Charles Raymond (1886, died 1890), Maud Louisa Mary (1890), Hector Joseph (1891), Linda (1894) and Eileen Frances Mary (1896). Though Church of England by birth, Leopold was educated at Christian Brothers College in East Melbourne, according to the teachings of his stepmother's Roman Catholic religion.
Leopold had his first stint of military service in the second Boer War in South Africa. He served in the First Light Horse Regiment from 1899 to 1902. Leopold's time in South Africa may have sparked an interest in experiencing life outside Australia, for in 1905 we find him in Argentina, working as the manager of a poultry farm in Merlo. In a letter written home to his family, he expressed his dismay at the level of corruption in the Government and Police Force, where anything could be bought at a price. This would have made a strong impression on Leopold, the son of a Justice of the Peace and stepson of a social welfare worker. He also commented that "Women are not respected here" and "The Spanish women ... are the most extravagant and as a class are the most useless creatures on face of the earth." 6
Back in Australia, Leopold became a father, with the birth of a son Raymond to Minna Agnes Olga Jochinke (Johinke) in East Melbourne in 1910. They later married at Stow Memorial Church in Adelaide on 8 August 1914, shortly before Leopold enlisted in the AIF. A daughter, Ellen Hoffmeister, was born on 11 February 1915 at Rose Park, but the marriage ended in divorce in 1916, on the grounds of Minna's misconduct while Leopold was away on war service. Both parties married new spouses the following year. Minna married Leonhardt Martin Von Hoffmeister, the co-respondent named in the divorce case, in Kingston, South Australia on 12 January and Leopold married Helen Cravino Liston in Brunswick in 1917.7
Leopold enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 10 September 1914 at Morphettville in South Australia. He served in the rank of private in the 3rd Light Horse Regiment, embarking from Adelaide on the Port Lincoln on 22 October 1914. He was hospitalised with a "bad leg" from 13 March to 8 April 1915, and he suffered from varicocile, a painful ailment for men. He returned to Australia on the Ballarat, embarking at Suez on 5 July 1915 and disembarking in Melbourne on 6 August 1915. Leopold was subsequently hospitalised at Keswick Barracks in Adelaide. Private Goldspink went AWL for an extended period between 11 November 1915 and 23 June 1916, and this corresponds to the time of his marital problems and divorce. His absence was investigated and he was sentenced to 28 days' detention, with the loss of 225 days' pay. In his defence, Leopold stated that he had a leave pass to 7 October 1915, but it was "extended until sent for". Leopold was discharged as medically unfit on 3 August 1916 and his discharge notice states the reason as "not due to misconduct" and his character as "good." For his war service, Leopold was awarded the 1914/15 Star, the British Medal and the Victory Medal.
After his discharge, Leopold returned to Victoria and lived with his second wife Helen in Brunswick, two suburbs away from the family home at Goldspink Terrace in Carlton. They had a son, Charles Michel, on 4 October 1917 and a daughter, Beryl Joyce, in 1920. Both were born in Brunswick, the place of their mother's birth. Sadly, Beryl Joyce died at the age of eleven. She was buried with her grandfather Charles, great grandfather David and great uncle Robert in the Goldspink family plot at Boroondara cemetery on 7 March 1932. Leopold worked in the Commonwealth Public Service. He died in Brunswick in 1962 and was buried in Fawkner Cemetery on 19 November. Helen survived him by seven years and died in Parkville in 1969. She was buried in Fawkner Cemetery on 9 December 1969.8
Notes and References:
1 Biographical information sourced from birth, death and marriage records (UK, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia)
2 War epidemics : An historical geography of infectious diseases in military conflict and civil strife 1850-2000, Oxford University Press, 2004
3 The Argus, 28 October 1878, p. 1
4 The Argus, 13 March 1880, p. 6
5 Boroondara Cemetery records
6 Albury Banner and Wodonga Express, 4 August 1905, p. 25
7 Ellen's birth was registered in Leopold's name as father, but her second name "Hoffmeister" casts some doubt on the paternity.
8 Fawkner Cemetery records
John Sydney Hopley
Service Number: 3912 Amess Street, North Carlton, is relatively short, with not quite three hundred houses. Men from thirty of those houses served in World War 1.
When John Sydney Hopley enlisted on 12 July 1915 his family had only recently come to live in Amess Street, at number 95, one of a terrace of four houses recently completed and named Medic, Suevic, Afric and Runic for ships of the White Star line. The house at no. 95 was first occupied in 1908 and the Hopley family was the third to live there. John's parents, John Sydney Hopley and Mary Anne née Doyle, had previously lived at a number of different addresses in Carlton and North Fitzroy and John had earned his living as a painter. His early life had not been easy - at one point he and two older siblings had been made wards of the state. But by the time they moved to their comfortable new house in Amess Street, John appears to have been prospering and was describing himself as a civil servant. By this time his family consisted of seven children, including his oldest son and namesake John Sydney (born 1893) and second son William Thomas (1897).
John Hopley's enlistment papers show his age as 22 years and seven months, his complexion as ruddy and his occupation as labourer. It is also recorded that he had previously been rejected because of the condition of his teeth. In reply to the question about previous convictions, he stated that five years previously he had been convicted of pilfering from the Railways Department, but was "allowed off" on a good behaviour bond for 12 months. Five months after enlistment, however, John Hopley was discharged on 3 December 1915 as medically unfit because of pleurisy. His file includes a letter dated October 1915 from a Dr Spring at 107 Rathdowne Street stating that "Mr Hopley is still under my care suffering with mitral disease and is not fit to resume work. I do not think he should try to go on with military work at all". But his patient was determined. Now 23 years and two months, he reapplied on 19 February 1916, citing his previous AIF service of 155 days, was accepted and embarked on the Commonwealth in September of the same year. Disembarking at Plymouth, he proceeded very soon after to France.1
Army life was clearly not as he expected. His records show that he was twice disciplined for being AWL, forfeiting on one occasion eight days' pay and 5 days' on the other. On 27 September 1917 he was wounded in action, shot in his right shoulder, and two days later was transferred to England. By February 1918 he was still in hospital, now suffering from epileptic fits, and in July 1918 he returned to Australia. Before the war had ended he had again been discharged as medically unfit with heart disease.
A year after the war ended, John Sydney Hopley married Gladys Byrne and, despite his health problems, lived to the age of 79, dying at Springvale in 1972.
Notes and References:
1 The Argus, 18 May 1911, p. 9, has details of this case under the headline Railway Men in Trouble.
Suevic, Afric and Runic
Amess Street North Carlton
William Thomas Hopley
Service Number: 5683 William Thomas Hopley has two separate war records. The first is dated 6 July 1915, about a week before his older brother John enlisted for the first time. He filled in the entire form and a medical examination was recorded but that is all it contains. He gave his age as 18 years and 6 months, overstating it by four months. His record provides no explanation as to why his application did not proceed.
The enthusiasm of friends and siblings must have been a powerful factor in the drive to enlist in what so many young men of the time saw as an opportunity for a great adventure overseas. The two Hopley brothers had taken steps to enlist within a week of each other in July 1915 and in February 1916, just ten days before his brother rejoined the AIF, William applied again, giving his age as 21 years and 3 months. On his form this is crossed out and there is an initialled correction of 19 years and 10 months. He was in fact 18 years and 9 months. Like John he was a labourer employed by the Railways Department and he cited one year's experience with the Senior Cadets and three years in the Citizens Forces 60th Infantry.
This enlistment proceeded. In April he was assigned to the 14th Battalion and embarked on the Port Lincoln. Like so many others he could have had no idea of the realities of war and his enthusiasm for military life was short-lived. From late September 1916 he was AWL for over a month "until apprehended by the civil police". The ensuing court martial sentenced him to 90 days' detention and the forfeiture of 148 days' pay. In 1917 he was AWL on three occasions, in March for almost four days, which cost him 9 days' pay, again in April, for which he was fined 10 days' pay, and then for a longer period of 8 days. This last offence incurred another court martial and the sentence was 60 days' detention in Wandsworth Barracks and the forfeiture of 111 days' pay. It looks as if someone was trying to teach him a lesson.
In August 1917 six days of this detention was remitted in recognition of good conduct and he was immediately transferred to France. At the end of that year he was admitted to hospital with trench fever and then returned to England for treatment. After some time in hospital and a short period of leave (How welcome that must have been!) he was stationed at Hurdcott near Salisbury. It was here that he was court-martialled for the third time, on the charge of receiving "eight shillings and sixpence stolen from NCAB." He was found guilty of receiving six shillings and sentenced to 85 days' detention. This record is over-written in red ink "not confirmed" which apparently means that the sentence was not endorsed by a higher authority.
After the months at Hurdcott William Hopley rejoined his battalion on 13 July 1918 but he was to be with his comrades for less than a month. On 8 August 1918 he was killed in action. A member of a machine gun crew, he was shot through the head, dying almost instantly, and was buried at Cerisy Gailly cemetery near Corbie. The notice in the Deaths On Active Service column on page five of the Age on the 24 August 1918 read:Killed in action in France on 8 August, Private William Thomas, 14th Battalion, second loved son of John S and Mary, loved brother of Jack (returned 20th Battalion), Lily, Ivy, Leo, Ernie and little Gerald, aged 20 years and four months, after 2 years and four months' active service. Late of Victorian Railways.1He was one of 97 men listed in that column of that newspaper on that day.
This was not the first death to touch the Hopley household. In June 1917 the Tribune published a letter dated March 14th, addressed to Mr and Mrs Hopley of 95 Amess Street and written by Private A.S. Collins, who was on active service in France and who was killed less than a month later.2"A dugout got blown in on me ... I got buried up to the neck in timber but none of it went into me ... They sent me to a dressing station. When halfway a nosecap of a shell hit me on the top of the steel helmet. Luckily enough it was near a little shelter and I poked my frame into it until Fritzy stopped his little pranks ... I was sent to the hospital with shellshock. Three of my mates got killed".
It was in September of the same year that their oldest son was wounded while serving in France. The Hopley's youngest son Leo was as keen as his brothers and made two attempts to enlist. The first was in February 1917 when, aged 16, he claimed to be 18 years and 8 months. Both his parents "signed" his attestation paper but the signatures look quite odd and his father has misspelt his own first name as "Jhon". In any case Leo was rejected as unfit because his chest measurement was "deficient". Almost exactly a year later he tried again, now claiming to be 18 years and 9 months. He passed the medical examination this time but the application was cancelled with this comment: "Mother will not consent and lad will not be 18 years until April." So it must have been with mixed feelings that John Sydney and Mary Hopley prepared to celebrate their silver wedding anniversary in October 1917.3
The army machine was efficient and less than a month after his death William's effects were delivered to his sorrowing parents. His kitbag was never traced and his father wrote to Army Headquarters pointing out that a notebook, one of the five items listed on the inventory, was missing when the parcel was opened. After some correspondence it was decided that there was no such notebook and its listing had been a clerical error.
Years after the end of the war Army officials were continuing the sad task of erecting headstones on war graves. A letter to William's father, John Sydney Hopley senior, dated 8 March 1922 read thus:It is noted that the personal inscription submitted viz: "How we miss our dear son and brother so far from the land of his birth. Rest in peace. Mother" contains over 90 letters and spaces whereas the available accommodation on the headstone will not permit of more than 66 ... If you do not desire to abbreviate the above, kindly choose a shorter inscription.How hard it must have been, having lost so young a son, to be so constrained in the wording on his headstone.
Notes and References:
1 Curiously his age is wrong. Born on 24 April 1897, he was 21 years and 3 months old when he was killed.
2 The Tribune, 7 June 1917, p. 7. In a later death notice (The Age 19 May 1917, p. 5) Private Collins is described as the "dear friend" of the household at 95 Amess Street and the "comrade" of Jack and Willie, serving overseas.
3 The Argus, 5 October 1917, p. 1
John Justin Leichardt Katterns
Service Number: 1983 There are two poignant letters in the military record of Sergeant John Justin Leichardt Katterns. Correspondence is common in soldiers' files but it almost always comes from, or is addressed to, the military authorities. The Katterns' letters are unusual because one was written by the soldier to his mother while he was serving in Egypt in 1915, the other by his mother to a friend in Carlton.
John's father, English-born John Thomas Katterns, married Margaret McCarthy in Kogarah, a Sydney suburb in 1890. At this time he was a tobacconist trading at 146 Norton Street, Leichardt and when their son was born in 1892 they called him John Justin Leichardt Katterns. By 1901 the family was in Albury, where John Justin served with the Senior Cadets, then from 1912 onwards they lived in Carlton, at 227 Cardigan Street. At different times, John Katterns senior is described as a waiter, a hairdresser and a cook. They were still living in Cardigan Street when John junior enlisted on January 13, 1915 at the age of 23. His attestation paper describes him as a wine and spirit merchant, but on the 1914 electoral roll he appears as a soldier living in barracks at Queenscliff. Allotted to the 6th Battalion, 5th reinforcements, he embarked on the HMAT Horotata on April 17, 1915 and in August joined his unit at Anzac Cove.
Just two months later on YMCA letterhead paper he wrote this jaunty letter home.Dear MaHis father is clearly not living at home at this time, which may explain why on enlisting John junior named his mother as next of kin. In May 1916, a year after his son sailed for active service, John Thomas himself at the age of 51 enlisted for home service and served 729 days as a cook at a camp in Maribyrnong.
Just a line as far as I know I will be sailing for Australia any day now. I was up before the Medical board yesterday and it was marked C which means Aust. Operation and two months furlough which will just about pull me together. I will drop a line to my Battalion and get all my letters readdressed back home to 66. [The family had moved to Dorrit Street in his absence.] Well Ma things are just about the same we don't hear much war news in this camp. Well the sooner a boat is available to run me back the better because walking around a lot with this Hernia isn't doing it any good. Well Ma I will close hoping to see you very soon.
Your loving son
PS. I hope you are improving in health also you have heard from Dad and that he is well
His son's hoped-for Australian operation and home furlough did not eventuate and in February 1916 John was treated for hernia in a hospital in Cairo, where at one point he was on the seriously-ill list. Katterns remained in Egypt for some months before being transferred to France in August 1916. He was promoted to Lance Corporal in October that year and two months later to Sergeant. In the same month he was hospitalised with cellulitis and later with trench foot, which led a stay in an English hospital and on recovery a fortnight's leave. He did not return to France until April 1918.
After a month's service he was wounded in action but able to rejoin his unit. Then only a month later, on June 7 1918, John Katterns was "killed instantaneously by a H.E. shell which struck his dugout ... His body was in a very exposed position and it was impossible to bury him at the time but it is believed that he was buried later by another Unit." His name appears on the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial, one of almost 11,000 Australian soldiers killed in France who have no known grave.
Katterns' mother received his effects in March 1919 and a year later wrote to ask for his medal, the 1914-1915 Star. The military authorities replied that the medal had to go to the soldier's father if he was alive and asked for his address. Coping with this process was too much for Margaret Katterns who wrote to a friend seeking help.Dear Mrs BigginsAll over Australia bereaved parents and families like Margaret Katterns had not only to come to terms with their loss but also deal with the rigidities and seeming heartlessness of the military machine. See also, for example, the stories of William Thomas Hopley and Ralph Gustav Stobaus on this page.
I am sorry about Mr Biggins not being Well yes those winds has been terrible I hope he is Well buy this it is no Joke those terrible headaches for I am often bad with them I thought one of you must not be two Well when you did not come now you asked me about the star the inclosed came today I am taking the liberty of sending it along would my Biggins answer it for me and tell them poor Katterns is dead on April 1919 and there fore I am next to kin and a War one I will leave it to him to tell them hoping to see or hear you soon
Your loving Friend
Would I have to sign it if so would you send it along to me when you have written it.
[A note across the top of the letter indicates that Mrs Biggins had called into the relevant office which probably explains why it is in John Katterns' file.]
Image: Courtesy Lynn O'Mara
Verna Lilleyman at Temora during World War 2
Image: Courtesy Lynn O'Mara
Verna and Bill Miller on their wedding day in 1947
The Australian Defence Force is now an equal opportunity employer and women serve alongside their male colleagues. It was a different situation in World War 2, when women were more likely to serve in nursing and supporting roles, or to backfill the positions of men away on active service. Verna Lilleyman spent her entire war service in Australia, yet the safety of many airmen on active service was literally in her hands.
Verna's father Absolom Ernest "Alfred" James Lilleyman was born in Deep Creek via Narrabri, New South Wales, on 27 November 1871. Her mother Bertha Augusta Drieling, of German origin, was born in Deniliquin, New South Wales, on 23 October 1878. They married in Brunswick, Victoria, on 9 September 1896 and lived initially in a rental property in Gold Street. Newly-married Bertha had an unpleasant experience when a rent collector by the name of Paul Costelloe tried to kiss her. She reported the incident and Costelloe was subsequently charged with assault. He was fined £5, with £1 10s costs, in the Brunswick Police Court.1,2
Alfred and Bertha's first child Myrtle Alma was born in 1897, followed by Vida Alvena (1900), Helena Augusta (1905), Bertha Feodora (1912), James Edgar Norris (1912), Verna Constance (1917) and Dorothy Ida (also 1917). At the time of Verna's birth, the Lilleyman family was living at 121 Park Street, on the Brunswick/Princes Hill boundary, in the row of four Victorian cottages west of Lygon Street. Verna was born prematurely on New Year's Day in 1917 and spent the first few months of her life wrapped in cotton wool in a shoe box. She grew up with small, wrinkled hands, but this was no barrier to her becoming an expert needlewoman. Verna went to school at Princes Hill Primary School, then Coburg High School when the family moved further north. She was a bright student and won a scholarship to University High School. However, her mother decided it was time for Verna to enter the workforce at the age of 14 and contribute to the household income.3,4,5,6
Verna began working at Georges, an upmarket city department store, handsewing garments and accessories for wealthy women. Her work was highly regarded and, at the age of 19, she was sent on a six month assignment to Fiji, where she made the bridal gown and trousseau for the daughter of a high-ranking government official. This would have been an exciting time for a young woman who had never lived outside Australia. When World War 2 broke out, Verna and her sister Dorothy did voluntary work for the Red Cross. Verna joined the Women's Auxiliary Australian Air Force (WAAAF) and was amongst a group of women specially selected for their needlework skills. She was stationed at Temora, New South Wales, and instead of sewing silk garments, she sewed silk into parachutes.7
Verna returned to civilian life after the war and it was not long before she was sewing her own wedding dress. She married Arthur Charles (Bill) Miller on 18 January 1947 in Armadale. Like many women of her era, she gave up work when she married, but maintained a lifetime interest in needlework, beading and other crafts. Arthur and Verna had three daughters. Janis, the eldest, was born in 1948, followed by Lynn in 1950 and Gael in 1953. Bill died on 27 December 1987 and Verna survived him by 17 years. She died on 31 May 2004 at the age of 87, and her ashes were later scattered at Mount Macedon in Victoria.
Verna's family is looking for a permanent home for her wedding dress and other items of her needlework. Contact us if you are able to assist in preserving Verna's needlework legacy.
CCHG thanks Lynn O'Mara for sharing the story of her mother Verna Lilleyman
Notes and References:
1 Biographical information sourced from Lilleyman family records
2 Evening News, 18 December 1896, p. 4
3 Dorothy's birth was registered in 1920, but she was born on 18 October 1917, just nine months after Verna.
4 Residential address information sourced from Sands & McDougall
5 Verna recalled an amusing story about a pony that was kept across the laneway. It was toilet trained to use a bucket, thus saving its owner the job of cleaning up the mess.
6 Verna's father Alfred had an arm injury and was unable to do manual work.
7 NAA: A9301, 91464 (National Archives of Australia)
Image source: Private collection of Serena Cheung and Chris Shai-Hee
Benjamin Moy Ling
871 Rathdowne Street North Carlton
Benjamin Moy Ling
Service Number: 19945 With the outbreak of World War 1 in 1914, young men from all over Australia answered the call to fight for king and country. But for Benjamin Moy Ling, Australian born and the son of a Methodist minister, the path to war service was not an easy one.
Benjamin (Ben) Moy Ling was born in Castlemaine in 1885, the youngest son of Reverend James and Kim Moy Ling. James Moy Ling arrived in Australia from China in 1855 and worked on the Victorian goldfields. He converted to the Methodist religion and ministered to his fellow countrymen in Castlemaine and Bendigo. As a probationary minister, he was appointed to the new Chinese Methodist Mission in Little Bourke Street Melbourne in 1872. James was fully ordained in January 1877 at Wesley Church in Lonsdale Street Melbourne, one of only two Chinese Methodist ministers ordained in Australia at the time. Four of Ben's siblings - Lucie, Samuel (who died in 1876), Josiah and Laura - were born in Melbourne. The Moy Ling family lived initially upstairs above the Chinese Methodist Mission, then in George Street Fitzroy and later in Lyttleton Street Castlemaine. Ben and his sister Esther were born in Castlemaine, where their father James took the oath of allegiance on 27 July 1883 and became a naturalised Australian.1,2,3
The family returned to Melbourne in 1886 and began a long association with Carlton, living at 142 Princes Street North Carlton and 35 Drummond Street Carlton, while James conducted services at the Chinese Methodist Mission in the city. Ben was educated at Wesley College, on a scholarship awarded as the son of a Methodist minister. After completing school, he worked as a law clerk and remained a bachelor. Ben's brother Josiah was clerk of courts at Collingwood. His sisters Lucie, Laura and Esther married and moved to new houses in North Carlton, all within a short distance of each other. They lived at Kimoie at 864 Drummond Street, Canton at 871 Rathdowne Street and Sunwin at 969 Rathdowne Street. The five houses, together with the Chinese Methodist Mission (now Uniting Church) still exist today, a lasting memory of the family and James Moy Ling's service to the Methodist Church. James died at Canton on 2 February 1911 and his wife Kim died a year later on 4 March 1912. Both were buried in Melbourne General Cemetery.4,5
During World War 1 Ben made several attempts to enlist in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF). However, he was rejected as unfit on the grounds that he was "not substantially of European origin & descent". At the time, he was living at Canton with Laura and her husband Samuel Sue. While denied the right to fight for the country of his birth Ben, as a practising Methodist, would have prayed for his fellow Australians serving overseas. Ben was finally successful in enlisting on 4 May 1917, when the embargo on his non-European origin was lifted by special permission of Brigadier General R.E. Williams. Ben was quoted as saying: "If Australia is good enough to live in, it is good enough to fight for. I hope to live in it again after the war". On enlistment Ben nominated Laura as his next of kin and he also made a will, dated 7 October 1917, naming her as executrix and sole beneficiary of his estate. Ben spent several months at a training camp in Bendigo before embarking from Sydney on board HMAT A14 Euripides on 31 October 1917. He served with the 60th Battalion and later the 4th Divisional Signals Company, and he was in France when the war ended. He was discharged on 23 July 1919.6,7,8,9
True to his word, Ben fufilled his wish to live in Australia after the war. He worked at Victoria Market in later life and lived at Canton in Rathdowne Street with Laura and Samuel Sue (who died in 1923). His widowed sister Lucie Lem was just around the corner at Kimoie in Drummond Street, while Esther and her husband Thomas Chung were a block further north along Rathdowne Street. He played an active role in Methodist Church activities and in 1925 was presented with an inscribed watch in recognition of his service. Ben was a founding member of the Young Chinese League and served as Vice President. His fine baritone voice was heard at church services, Wesley College reunions, public performances and on the new broadcast medium of radio.
Benjamin Moy Ling, the man who was once considered unfit for war service, lived through two World Wars and died on 8 October 1946, aged 61 years. He was farewelled with a service at the Chinese Methodist Church and sadly missed by his family, friends and the church community. Ben was buried in Melbourne General Cemetery, together with his parents James and Kim Moy Ling. His sister Laura, who outlived her younger brother and died in 1950, was buried in the adjacent plot, with her husband Samuel Sue and brother in law Thomas Lem. Lucie and Thomas Lem's daughter Gladys Esther, who died in 1954, was buried with her grandparents and her dear uncle Ben. Ben's sister Esther died in 1965 and was buried with her baby brother Samuel, who died in 1876. Lucie, the eldest of the Moy Ling children, outlived all her siblings and died in 1976, aged 102 years. She was buried in Melbourne General Cemetery, not far from the final resting place of Ben.
CCHG thanks Serena Cheung for sharing the story of her great uncle Benjamin Moy Ling.
Notes and References:
1 Biographical information sourced from Victorian birth, death and marriage records and contemporary newspaper accounts.
2 The Methodist Chinese Church, Ian Welch, Department of Pacific and Asian History, ANU, 2010
3 Naturalisation record of James Moy Ling (NAA: A712, 1883/Y7284)
4 Building ownership and occupancy information sourced from land title records and Melbourne City Council rate books (Smith and Victoria wards)
5 Melbourne General Cemetery burial records
6 Attestation paper of Benjamin Moy Ling (NAA: MT 1486/1)
7 Attestation paper of Benjamin Moy Ling (NAA: B2455)
8 Every Week, 10 May 1917, p. 7
9 Probate file of Benjamin Moy Ling (VPRS 28/P3/4447/385/107)
Joseph Stanley Ogilvie
Service Number: 1356 Isabel Ogilvie's brother Stanley was 20 years and 10 months old when he signed his attestation on 26 June 1915. He stated that he was a butcher by trade and that he had previously been rejected for active service because of his height. (His medical examination gave it as 5'3".) His father being dead, he named as next of kin his mother Catherine then living at 822 Drummond Street, North Carlton and attached her permission for him to enlist.
Stanley (the only first name he gave on his attestation paper) embarked on the Hawkes Bay in October 1915, attached to the 11th reinforcements of the 8th Light Horse and appears to have been stationed in Egypt for the whole period of his war service. He was not wounded but was twice hospitalised with venereal disease, the second occasion being for a period of 79 days in late 1918. His only disciplinary offence occurred in April 1919 when he was deprived of one day's pay for being in town without a pass. He returned to Australia on the Malta in August 1919 and was discharged at the end of December.
Stanley worked as a butcher for the rest of his life and does not appear to have married. He lived for a time with other family members at Fenwick Street and then for many years at 249 Station Street, Carlton. By 1942 he had moved to Edwardes Street, Reservoir and the 1954 electoral roll shows him as having then been joined by three others with his surname, presumably relatives. Stanley later moved to another Reservoir address and died in that suburb in 1966 at the age of 72.
William Mansfield Ogilvie
Service Number: 2185 William was Joseph and Catherine Ogilvie's youngest son, born in August 1898 and only four years old when his father died. When he signed his attestation in January 1917, some eighteen months after his brother Stanley, his family had moved from Drummond Street to 90 Fenwick Street, North Carlton. He gave his age as 19 years and 3 months, overstating it by some ten months. Attached to the 13th Light Horse, he embarked on the Omrah on 17 January 1917 and, like another young enthusiast William Thomas Hopley whose story also appears on this page, he was in conflict with army discipline from very start. Within a couple of weeks he was recorded as having committed a "crime at sea" by disobeying standing orders, for which offence he was fined 5/-. A month after that he was admitted to the ship's hospital suffering from venereal disease and on disembarkation was transferred to hospital. When he was finally discharged on 29 April he had been absent from duty for 61 days. In August 1917 William was transferred from the 13th light Horse to the 7th Battalion. In early October he was AWL for 5 days, which resulted in 168 hours' detention and the forfeiture of 17 days' pay.
William was stationed in France from 18 October 1917. Within a month he was gassed, classed as wounded in action, and two weeks later returned to England for treatment. A letter to his mother notified her that he was in Norfolk War Hospital suffering from the effects of gas poisoning. From late January to 14 February 1918 he was awarded a period of "furlo" from which, perhaps characteristically, he returned several hours late and was "admonished". During this period of leave William married Ethel Violet Keens, a twenty year old munitions worker. He gave his age as 22, but was in fact only 19. She, of course, became his next of kin but nothing else seems to have changed. In April 1918 he had another bout of venereal disease and in August of the same year was AWL for 3 days. In October 1918 he returned to the front line in France. By September 1919 he was on indefinite leave in England awaiting a family ship for return to Australia. He and presumably his wife Ethel as well left Southampton on the Benalla and disembarked at the end of November. It must have been a very special Christmas for Catherine Ogilvie. In December 1918 she had three children serving overseas, but now she could celebrate the safe return of all three.
In January 1935 the Officer in Charge of Records in Melbourne received this rather plaintive letter from Ethel Ogilvie, giving her address as Revesby P.O., NSW.Dear SirThe reply stated that duplicates could only be made available to the ex-soldiers concerned but supplied the relevant information. Ethel, who died in 1958, appears to have remained in NSW and last appears on the electoral roll in 1954 at an address in Revesby, where two other voters with her surname were also living.
As my health is very unsatisfactory to the Doctors hear they are trying to get me into Fourlow House for a rest and as it is a returned Soldiers house for Mothers and wifes whom are needing a rest they desire my husbands discharge as my husband Deserted myself and children some time ago. I have not got same so could you send me a copy of his records ... So if you could just supply me with a copy of his discharge I would be truly thankful please Oblige.
In the early 1930s William seems to have been moving around NSW, but by the end of that decade he had returned to Melbourne. In January 1938, then living at 23 Henry Street, North Carlton, he made a Statutory Declaration to the effect that he had lost his discharge papers and medals. "My home was burnt whilst in the paddock working." By 1943 he had moved to Blackburn, where his mother Catherine had died in 1940 at the age of 73 and where Stanley himself died in 1954 at 56.
Final Resting Place of George Quigley
Warringal Cemetery Heidelberg
Notes and References:
1 The Age, 9 January 1909, p. 20
2 Report of Constable Luke Reid Nelson, 8 March 1932 (NAA:B741, V/9617)
3 The Argus, 22 September 1920, p. 19
4 Criminal Presentations (VPRS 17020/P1/49)
5 The Argus, 28 April 1922, p. 9
6 The Age, 18 May 1922, p. 6
7 Prisoner No. 36181, Victoria Prison Register, vol. 71, p. 292
8 The Age, 16 July, 1924, p. 11
9 The Argus, 16 July 1924, p. 17
10 Criminal Presentations (VPRS 17020/P1/60)
11 The Age, 17 April 1926, p. 13
12 Record (Emerald Hill), 23 June 1928, p. 3
13 War Pension Investigation, 18 March 1932 (NAA:B741, V/9617)
14 According to his war service record, George Quigley requested a replacement of his AIF discharge certificate in 1927 and his returned services badge in 1930, which he claimed to have lost. It is possible that these lost items were used to establish a false identity.
15 The child acknowledged by George Quigley was not named, but parts of the report have been expunged for privacy reasons.
16 The Age, 7 June 1933, p. 13
17 The Age, 9 June 1947, p. 10. The death notice appeared in the "On Active Service" column of the newspaper, but no record of George Quigley's service beyond his discharge from the AIF in 1919 has been located.
Service Number: 3911 After four years of war, many returned servicemen looked forward to a peaceful life back home with family and friends. This was not so for George Quigley, whose post-war life was a time of trouble. In the 1920s he faced charges of larceny, assault and attempted murder, for which he served time in gaol, and he was later caught up in a war pension fraud involving his estranged wife Elsie.
George Quigley was born in Carlton in 1889, the son of Samuel Quigley and Harriet Lawlor (Lalor). He had five siblings, including an older brother of the same name who was born in 1887 and died at the age of seven weeks. He married Elsie May Davey in 1908, but within 3 months he was charged with unlawfully deserting his teenage wife, as he had neither a job nor the means of supporting her. Their first child Vera May was born in 1909, but she died at the age of one month. A second child, George Rupert, was born in 1913. Elsie went on to have at least six (possibly eight) other children, born between 1915 and 1930 and bearing the name "Quigley", but George later denied that he was the father.1
At the time of his enlistment on 31 July 1915, George was 25 years old, working as a wharf labourer and living in Market Street, Fitzroy. The address for Elsie as next of kin was later changed to Rose Street, Fitzroy. Private George Quigley embarked from Melbourne on 8 February 1916 on HMAT Warilda and joined the 21st Battalion in France. He was wounded in action on 24 August 1916 and spent three weeks in hospital with "shell shock". He rejoined the battalion in September 1916, but had several other hospital admissions for gastritis and diarrhoea. There is little doubt that the stress of war and insanitary conditions in the field contributed to his illness. George received a gun shot wound to the left foot in July 1918, a few months before the end of the war. During the war, it was not uncommon for servicemen to overstay their leave passes and be charged with the "crime" of being AWL. Private George Quigley was no exception and his service record shows charges on 17 April 1917 and 29 October 1918, resulting in the forfeiture of a total of 9 days' pay. He returned to Australia on the Castalia on 30 May 1919 and was discharged from the AIF on 14 July 1919.
It is not clear whether George returned to his wife Elsie May after his discharge. When Elsie was investigated for pension fraud in 1932, she was reported as stating that her husband had gone to war and "no one knows where he is or what has become of him." The report by Constable Luke Reid Nelson concluded "Mrs Quigley is also a convicted person and of bad repute", which casts some doubt on the veracity of her statement. We know from newspaper accounts that Elsie was in Rose Street, Fitzroy in August 1920, when she and a man named Herbert Backhouse were targets of a shooting by Backhouse's brother-in-law Thomas Edward Moran. This incident bore some similarity to a later shooting involving George Quigley and Mary Skelton in 1922.2,3
George resumed his work as a wharf labourer, in an environment where there was ample opportunity for pilfering and other crimes. He was charged with assault in May 1920, for which he received a fine of £5 or 14 days' imprisonment. In October 1921, he was charged with stealing two dozen table forks, the property of J. and A. Boyes ironmongery store in Elizabeth Street, Melbourne. He pleaded not guilty in the General Sessions Court of Melbourne in November 1921 and was given a suspended sentence of six months' "on his own bond of £50 to be of good behaviour for two years." There was a charge against George Quigley of "illegally using a horse and gig" in Ballarat in March 1922, but his identity was in question because this "George Quigley" was also known as "George O'Keefe." 4
So far, George had avoided a custodial sentence, but this changed with a more serious charge of attempted murder in 1922. The evidence presented in court also sheds some light on George's personal life in the immediate post-war years. Mary Amelia Skelton, a married woman living in Shakespeare Street, North Carlton, stated that she had known George Quigley for 4 years and had lived with him for 18 months. She had left him about 5 months previously to live with her sister in Drummond Street, Carlton, then she returned to her husband William Skelton. On the evening of 15 April 1922, George Quigley visited the Skelton house in Shakespeare Street, in the hope of persuading Mary to return to him. She would not allow him to enter the house and, in the ensuing struggle, a shot was fired and Mary was wounded in the arm, though not seriously. She was taken by her sister to Melbourne Hospital, where she was treated as an outpatient.5
Quigley pleaded not quilty to the charge of attempted murder and was committed for trial at the Supreme Court of Melbourne on 15 May 1922. In his defence, he claimed that he had not intended to shoot Mrs Skelton and that the revolver had gone off accidently. John Kennedy, a witness who lived nearby in Lygon Street, reported hearing a shot and the voice of a man saying, "There's no harm done. It's a pity it didn't settle you." Considering the evidence, the jury was on George's side, possibly swayed by the romantic nature of the crime, and returned a guilty verdict of unlawfully wounding without intent to do grevious bodily harm. George Quigley was sentenced to 12 months' gaol and he served an additional 6 months' sentence for breaking his previous good behaviour bond.6,7
George was released from gaol on 25 August 1923 and, less than a year later, he was facing another assault charge involving Mary Skelton. They were living together at 18 Murchison Street, Carlton and, on the evening of 4 July 1924, Mary alleged that George had thrown a knife at her. There was no doubt that Mary was injured - she was bleeding from a head wound that required hospital treatment - but the circumstances of the alleged assault were questionable. George refuted her allegation, claiming that Mary had attacked him and he had pushed her away and her injury had resulted from a fall. When the case was heard in Carlton Court on 15 July, Mary admitted to having had been drinking on day of the assault. George was sentenced to one month's gaol and he was released on 14 August 1924.8,9
The last stint in gaol was not quite the end of George's criminal history, nor was it the end of his domestic strife with Mary. In April 1926 he was charged with receiving stolen goods, a case and a number of magnetos, being the property of the Melbourne Harbour Trust Commissioners. Quigley and his co-accused Frank Currie pleaded not guilty in the General Sessions Court of Melbourne and both were discharged. George was living in Cobden Street, South Melbourne, at the time and Mary was at the same address. In June 1928, Mary Skelton laid a charge of assault against George Quigley, but she failed to appear in South Melbourne Court. The chairman made a comment that "It's only history repeating itself," while the sergeant said that the man and woman had a brawl, and the woman "made a convenience of the police." 10,11,12
George and Mary moved back to Carlton, living at 14 High Street, from 1930 onwards. In the meantime, George's wife Elsie was living with a man, known variously as Albert George Quigley, alias Backhouse, alias Thomas Lalor, alias Foster, who may have been the same Herbert Backhouse involved in the Fitzroy shooting incident in 1920. He claimed to be a returned serviceman, but a police investigation in 1932 revealed that he was posing as Elsie's husband and was not the same George Quigley who had served with the AIF in World War 1. At the time, Elsie had six children ranging in age from 18 months to 15 years and she was drawing a war pension. In sworn evidence, George Quigley stated that these children were not the issue of his marriage to Elsie May Quigley and that the only issue was one child over the age of 16 years. Elsie was found guilty of claiming a war pension under false pretences and her payment was cancelled after 23 March 1932. A year later in June 1933, when she was living in Little Palmerston Street, Carlton, she pleaded guilty to a charge of shoplifting a coat from Holders Pty. Ltd. in the city. Elsie was sentenced to 14 days' imprisonment and her co-accused, niece May Davey, was given a suspended sentence of 14 days' on her entering into a good behaviour bond for two years.13,14,15,16
George Quigley died at Heidelberg Military Hospital on 6 June 1947, aged 58 years, and was buried in the Warringal Cemetery, Heidelberg. His death notice, published in The Age on 9 June 1947, refers to George as "dearly beloved friend of Mary Skelton". Mary remained in High Street, Carlton until the 1950s. She died in 1963, aged 78 years.17
Shooting in Shakespeare Street
The Stobaus Brothers
Ralph, Robert and Victor Stobaus were brothers, the sons of Ralph and Margaret née Prendergast. Prussian-born Ralph senior was a pawnbroker and well-known North Melbourne (then Hotham) identity who married in 1864 and raised a family of eight children. His wife Sarah died in 1886 and in the following year he married Margaret Prendergast, a much younger woman who became the mother of Ralph, Robert and Victor, as well as two daughters. However, by 1901 these children, ranging in age from thirteen to five, were orphans, their father having died in 1898 and Margaret Stobaus three years later, aged only 37. From then on they lived in Carlton with and under the guidance of their aunt Catherine, Margaret's sister, who after a court battle, won the right to raise them as Catholics as their mother had wanted, although when their father was alive they had been Protestant.
Ralph Gustav Stobaus
Service Number: 668 When World War 1 broke out, Ralph Stobaus was very quick to enlist, signing his attestation paper on 17 August 1914. Aged 25, with both parents dead, he cited as next of kin his brother Robert living at 60 Cardigan Street, Carlton. Ralph had previously served with the Victorian Rifles, a part-time militia group, from October 1910 to June 1913 and noted that he had "left own accord". In September, the month before he left Australia, at St Jude's Vicarage in Carlton he married Mary (May) Evelyn Kniese aged 19 who of course became his next of kin. Interestingly, he gave his religion as Church of England which is what it would have been in his early years. He embarked on the HMAT Orvieto on 21 October 1914 and six months later was killed in the landing at Gallipoli. But for eighteen months he was officially posted as "Missing in Action" and his army file is full of letters from his relatives, sometimes anguished, sometimes exasperated, trying to find out what had happened to him. That they feared the worst from the very beginning is clear from a paragraph in The Age on June 22 under the headline Careers of the Fallen where Ralph is described as the nephew of Mrs Murray (his aunt Catherine who had married William Murray in 1913) a dressmaker of Cardigan Street. A plasterer by trade, working at Williamstown, he had married a month before leaving for Egypt and his wife was residing at 55 University Street, Carlton. 1
By October 1915 his elder sister Maudie, now Mrs Anthony Egan, living in Berrigan NSW, was writing to the Minister of Defence seeking an explanation. Mail sent to the front was being returned to the family with the envelope marked "Missing in Action" on the front and "Killed in Action" on the back. She forwarded the envelope to him as requested and received the reply, "There is no official report that he is killed". In November a letter to his wife May, who had moved to Balaclava, reported that there was still no news. By this time she was the mother of a daughter Myrtle, whose father must have been dead before she was born. Maude in Berrigan received a similar letter in January 1916. In February 1916 his aunt Catherine, still living at 158 Cardigan Street, Carlton, wrote seeking news. "As he is nearly 12 months missing I thought you might have heard something of him by now". "Nothing more is known" came the reply. In March 1916 May was granted a war pension of £52 p.a. with a further £13 for Myrtle. On the first anniversary of the Gallipoli landing, a Prendergast cousin placed a notice "in loving remembrance" in the very long column of death notices on the front page of The Age.
On 20 November 1916 Maudie wrote to the Officer in Charge of Base Records asking for any further news of Ralph and also for the correct address for her youngest brother Driver Victor, as parcels and letters sent to him had been returned. At almost exactly the same time she received a letter dated 21 November 1916 from the Red Cross."We have now received two reports from our agents ... but regret to state that they contain very little information. However, we are sending them to you knowing that any news, however meagre, is welcome. Major A D Luxton states that on May 25 near Lone Pine Private Stobans' body was found. Lieut. D Robertson states that the name should be Stobaus not Stobans. Stobaus ... was known to him. Stobaus was missed with others after the landing and understood by his company to have been killed. This information is sent to you on the understanding that is unofficial and that we do not vouch for its accuracy ..."
Of course she wrote immediately to the Officer in Charge of Base Records. "Would you kindly enquire into the matter and find out if what Major A D Luxton says be true. Surely an officer commanding the 5th battalion would not give such evidence without foundation." What neither Maudie nor the Officer in Charge of Base Records knew was that on 3 November 1916 a court of enquiry into Ralph's case had been held. In his army file there is a typed report, its origin unclear but dated 28 November 1915, which may have been used as evidence at the court of enquiry.
"Witness says his correct name is Ralph Gerald Stabous and he was a mate of his and married a Broadmeadows girl just before his departure. He heard nothing of him on the peninsula after April 25th but he saw in an English paper (name and date unprocurable) that he was in hospital in England."The court finally pronounced Ralph "Killed in Action". Even then it appears that the result was not immediately passed on to his family; the letter to May attaching the report was dated 2 March 1917. With the truth now known, Anzac Day 1917 was marked with a notice in The Age from the Prendergast family at 437 Rathdowne Street, Carlton followed by one in The Advocate in May. "In loving memory of my dear nephew Private Ralph Stobaus ... inserted by his fond aunt, Mrs C Murray, 226 Station Street, North Carlton, and his brothers on active service abroad, Driver Victor Stobaus and Robert Stobaus." Ralph died intestate, but in September 1918 during the process of realising his assets there was a notice of sale of a double-fronted house of four rooms at 22 Castlemaine Street, Yarraville.2,3,4
However, the family's problems with the army bureaucracy were not over. In February 1918 Ralph's effects were sent to the address of his brother Robert, his originally-named next of kin rather than to his wife May. One letter to Robert was addressed to him at May's address in St Kilda instead of his own in Carlton. In September 1920, when correspondence over the delivery of his medals had begun, an exasperated Maude wrote, "If you will look up your Records you will find my Late Brother Private R G Stobaus ... that his wife is dead twelve months last July [May had died of influenza in 1919 when Myrtle was just four] and I am his Elder Sister also Trustee of his Little Girl Myrtle Stobaus. Therefor the Child or myself is entitled to his 19/14 19/15 Star. Kindly forward it on." In June 1921 Maude received a letter from the army asking if anyone in the family had any letters or reports which would help to establish where he died or was last seen alive. She replied, "We were told that a Major Luxton found his body at Lone Pine. That is all we know. I hope and trust you will be successful in tracing my poor brother's grave". It was a vain hope. Ralph's death is recorded at the Lone Pine Memorial, one of five memorials on the peninsula which commemorate servicemen killed in the campaign but who have no known grave.
Forty years on, in 1967, Mrs Myrtle Carter wrote from Tuppal Station, Tocumwal, NSW, asking whether she was entitled to the Anzac commemorative medallion as the daughter of Gustav Adolph Ralph Stobaus. In due course she signed a formal request form agreeing that she would surrender the medallion if someone with a better claim applied.
Notes and References:
1 The Age, 22 June 1914, p. 10
2 For decades the name Stobaus was regularly misspelt not only in newspaper reports but in all kinds of official documents, including marriage, death and military records.
3 The Advocate, 4 May 1918, p. 18
4 The Age, 28 September 1918, p. 3
Service Number: 1316 Soon after learning that their older brother Ralph was Missing in Action, Robert and Victor enlisted on almost the same day in July 1915. Robert, a labourer, was 23 years and one month old and named his sister Margaret as next of kin. She was unmarried and living with their aunt Catherine Murray at 158 Cardigan Street, Carlton. He embarked on HMAT Ulysses at the end of October, again within a day or two of Victor. Attached to the 58th Battalion, he was stationed first in Egypt, where in March and April 1916 he spent some time in hospital, and later in England before being transferred to France on the last day of that year. He again spent some time in hospital in 1917 and in January 1918 went to England on furlough. He was court-martialled for returning two weeks late from this leave. The handwritten record is hard to read but it appears that he was again AWL for a period of five months from April to September. The sentence of the ensuing court-martial in October 1918 was 12 months' detention of which 9 months was almost immediately remitted.
Robert returned to England in the following February, was demobilised in April and was granted a period of six months leave with pay to work on carriage building with a firm in Westminster. It was during this period, on 31 August 1919, that Robert married Rose Geeson, aged 24, in an Anglican service at the parish church of Bromley S. Leonard (despite having described himself as Roman Catholic on his attestation paper). The army clerk who completed the official form recording the details of the marriage from the original certificate made the inevitable mistake, recording the names of both the bridegroom and his father as "Stobans". In September 1919 Robert was on indefinite leave awaiting a family ship to return to Australia. Eventually he and Rose returned on the Honorata in April 1920.
In 1927 while the family was living at 100 Fenwick Street, North Carlton, their son Victor Bernard then aged seven suffered the loss of a foot when he was run over by a cable tram on the corner of Newry and Rathdowne Street. Despite this disability he became a talented footballer playing for the Melbourne Boys League and was described by the Sporting Globe as "dashing about on his wooden peg and blithely kicking goals". In 1937 that newspaper ran an appeal to raise money for an artificial leg to replace Victor's wooden one. He had stopped growing, it was said, and therefore the time was right. The progress of the appeal for this "limbless" boy, as he was described more than once in the Globe, was regularly reported, the fund fed by private donations but also by major events including a dance at the Palais Royal in the Exhibition Building and a picnic at Warrandyte where the entertainment consisted of two football matches and dancing. By November more than £20 had been raised. Finally in July 1938 came the triumphant headline "Stobaus has his leg". He was "walking without a limp and the new leg seemed to have straightened his carriage. He looked taller." 1,2,3
It was only two years after that that Robert Stobaus died at the early age of 43. Rose lived another 36 years, dying at 82 in 1976. Their son went on to enlist in World War 2, although he possibly never left Australia, and married about that time. After the war he and his wife Annie lived in the Colac area and for a time were the postmaster and telephonist at the hamlet of Cororooke. Later they lived for many years in Reservoir. Victor appears to have lived until 2009 when he would have been 89 years old.
Notes and References:
1 The Argus, 20 July 1928, p. 9
2 The Sporting Globe, 2 June 1937, p. 9
3 The Sporting Globe, 9 July 1938, p. 5
Victor Norman Stobaus
Service Number: 1524 Victor, the youngest of the Stobaus brothers, was 19 years and one month old when he enlisted in July 1915, at almost exactly the same time as Robert, having previously been rejected as unfit because of a defective chest. He had about nine months to go of an apprenticeship as a book clicker, a highly skilled job which involved cutting the uppers for shoes and boots and was thus named because of the characteristic noise of the machinery involved. It looks as if his aunt Catherine Murray had done a good job of raising him after the death of his father when Victor was two and his mother when he was five. He named Catherine as his next of kin and, like Robert, gave his religion as Roman Catholic. Attached to the 4th Light Horse, he embarked on the HMAT Palermo at the end of October. At first stationed in Egypt, he was transferred to France in March 1916. By July his rank was that of Driver. He had several short periods in hospital, but does not appear to have been injured. In 1917 he had a period of leave in England from which he returned two days late. For this he was "admonished" and lost three days' pay.
Victor returned to Australia on the Runic in April 1919, considerably ahead of Robert. In 1921 he married Beryl Pegg whose brother Athol was the husband of Margaret (Maggie), the younger of Victor's two sisters. Despite her grief at the loss of her nephew Ralph, Catherine Murray, who had had to conduct a legal fight to win the responsibility of caring for her dead sister's children, must have felt a sense of satisfaction as the youngest of her charges reached this milestone.
Victor continued in the boot trade for the rest of his life, sometimes describing himself as a leather worker. For some 20 years he and Beryl lived in Brunswick. By the late 1940s they had moved to Cowes where he continued to work as a boot repairer. Victor Stobaus died in Cowes in 1966.
Service Number: 3144
Clive Haldenby Strover was just 18 when, on 26 February 1915, he enlisted in the AIF (with parental permission, according to his army record). His father was Walter Strover, a Carlton chemist who had opened a pharmacy on the south west corner of Curtain and Rathdowne Streets in 1889 at a time when that shopping strip was thriving. Over the next two decades he married and had a family of five children. Clive, born in 1897, was the only son. By 1912 Walter was prosperous enough to move his family a short distance south to the substantial house at 669 Rathdowne Street and his business to new custom-built premises at 671, erected on what had been the side garden of that house. A decorative glass panel above the doorway of what is now a hairdressing salon reminds us of its original purpose.
On his enlistment papers Clive gave his occupation as university student and claimed as relevant experience four years in the Senior Cadets. He embarked in June 1915 on the Euripedes and disembarked at Suez in July. Attached to the 6th Field Ambulance 2nd Division AIF, he served in Gallipoli but soon suffered the first of the bouts of illness which were to mar his war years. In November 1915 he was admitted to hospital at Anzac with pyrexia or fever and was soon transferred to a hospital in Malta. He returned to duty in April 1916 but a bare year later was again hospitalised.
By June 1917 Clive Strover was in England and from January 1918 he was granted 12 months leave of absence without pay to enable him to take up a law scholarship at Christ Church College, Oxford. An Essendon newspaper reported the award to "an old boy of St. Thomas Grammar School where he was one of their best students ... We understand that the scholarship is one of the Rhodes scholarships which were formerly granted to German students which the British government have determined to discontinue."1
By mid 1919 at the age of 22 Clive had married Florence May Cox, an Oxford school teacher. At this time he was on indefinite leave awaiting recall and in October 1919 he and his wife embarked for Australia on the Osterley. His discharge as medically unfit came in January 1920, almost exactly five years after his enthusiastic enlistment.
On his return Strover became a master at Geelong College, where he was active in the cadet corps, and remained there for some five years during which time a daughter and then a son were born to Florence and Clive. By about 1925 the Strover family was in India and remained for close to twenty years. Two more sons were born there. Clive became head of the English department as Ismalia College near Peshawar and the Khyber Pass. This institution had been set up by the British government just before World War 1 to encourage education among the border people and lessen the necessity for military action against invading tribesmen.2
When World War 2 broke out Clive Strover enlisted with the Indian army and served from 1939 to 1943 before returning to Australia with the rank of captain. The family lived in Deepdene and then Heidelberg and Clive continued his teaching career. We get another glimpse of him in 1948 when he succeeded in being accepted as a competitor in a new quiz program. At that time he was a lecturer at the Melbourne Technical College, now RMIT University. Florence died in 1961 and Clive, after entering a war veterans' home, in 1963.3
Notes and References:
1 The Essendon Gazette and Keilor, Bulla and Broadmeadows Reporter, 7 February 1918, p. 2
2 The West Australian, 29 July 1937, p. 5
3 The Argus, 24 August 1948, p. 5
Decorative glass panel of Strover Pharmacy
671 Rathdowne Street, North Carlton
A book called Fallen - The Ultimate Heroes details the lives and military careers of footballers who fought and died in the Boer War and World Wars 1 and 2. Their stories highlight the brutality of war in a personal way, the courage and bravado of those involved, the randomness of outcomes and the importance of chance. Some died instantly, others lingered on for months or even longer. Their deaths are labelled as making the supreme sacrifice and yet none of them set out to die. They undoubtedly knew it was a possibility, but it seems very unlikely they really wanted to die. They were, however, sacrificing part of their lives to fight in wars.
Carlton Footballers Who Fought and Died in the Wars
We have selected eight of the 115 in the book who played for Carlton to look at. Their names are Wilf Atkinson, David Gillespie, Tom McCluskey, Fenley McDonald, Mathew Stanley McKenzie, James Pender, Alfred Williamson, and James Park.
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