Category Archives: Letters

Lewis Reginald DUFF

Lewis Reginald DUFF

Per his military service record (regimental no. 4766), Lewis Reginald Duff was born at Katoomba, N.S.W. [1]  He gave his age as 18 years and 6 months, his marital status as single, and his occupation as labourer.  His description on his Certificate of Medical Examination form was height 5 feet 5 ¾ inches tall, with a dark complexion, brown eyes, and brown hair.  His religious denomination was Presbyterian.  He claimed that he had no previous military service.

His father Lewis J. Duff gave his consent on his son’s Application to Enlist in the Australian Imperial Force form.  Lewis Reginald Duff completed his medical examination at Katoomba on 5th November 1915, and was attested by Lieutenant F. Middenway at Katoomba on the same day.

‘Lewis Duff’ was named in The Blue Mountain Echo as one of ‘the lads who answered the call, and marched out with the Coo-ees’ at Katoomba.[2]

After completing the Co-ee March he went to Liverpool Camp as reinforcement for the 13th Battalion.

On his embarkation roll his address at time of enrolment was Alma Cottage, Lurline Street, Katoomba, N.S.W., and his next of kin is listed as his father, L. Duff, at the same address.

On 8th March 1916 Private Duff, along with many of the other Coo-ees, departed Sydney on the HMAT A15 Star of England.  He arrived in Egypt on 11th April 1916.

On 19th April 1916 he was transferred to the 45th Battalion in Egypt.

On 2nd June 1916 Private Duff left Alexandria aboard the transport Kinfauns Castle bound for France.  He arrived at Marseilles on 8th June 1916.

Private Duff served with the 45th Battalion in France and Belgium for most of the remainder of the First World War.

Letters sent home to his parents which were published in The Blue Mountain Echo, in which he is usually referred to by his middle name, “Reg. Duff” (as both his father and grandfather were called Lewis Duff), tell us something of his experiences during the war.

A letter dated 15th September 1916 that Private Duff wrote to his parents at Katoomba was printed in The Blue Mountain Echo: “I have just come from the trenches, after a solid seven days without a spell. This is my third stretch out, and, so far, I’m altogether. Scratched in several places, but nothing serious. Our last experience was the worst, so far. It rained nearly all the time, and, in some places, we were up to our knees in mud and water. It was deadly, but we bogged through. We were relieved by the Canadians – fine fellows, fine fighters. I doubt if we will go back to the old lines. We are being re-fitted, and it is rumoured we are to the entrained and sent to another part of the front. All our old cloth go to the wash. It is commencing to get very cold here, and we are getting the misty rains, just like the Mountains… I forgot to mention our company received ‘special mention’ in army orders for the work done. Our officers are very proud- so that’s something”.[3]

His brother Cecil Duff wrote home to his parents from England in late 1916 that “I met an officer of the platoon young Reg. is in last Monday, and he gives a good account of him’’ and he said “Reg. was a game little fighter, very hardy, and was well liked…”.[4]

The next entry in Private Duff’s service record is not for nine months after he arrived in France, when it was recorded that on 5th March 1917 he was promoted to Lance Corporal.

Three months later, on 14th June 1917 he was promoted to Temporary Corporal.

His rank was made Corporal on 15th July 1917.

In a letter to his parents [not dated] that was published in The Blue Mountain Echo on 28th September 1917, Corporal Duff wrote: “Orders are out for another push on the Flanders front, and long ere you receive this we will be back and up to our neck in it again.  We are getting quite used to it now, as, although I have not mentioned much about it, I have been right in the thick of it all along. I have been in very push from the beginning of last year’s offensive at Pozieres. Our Battalion went through that. We were then recalled and sent up to Ypres, in Belgium, and then back down on the Somme again, landing there for the big start in November. We hung on there till April of this year, through all the fighting at Gueudecourt. We were instrumental in forcing Fritz to retreat from Bapaume, and we followed close on his wake right up to the Hindenburg line, at Bullecourt. We didn’t go over here, but, later, when our other Battalions broke through, we returned and aided in holding our gains for a couple of days. When we were relieved, the Huns drove out successors out again, but we doubled back and took them again. After that we were sent to Messines, where there was more rough work. On the completion of that stunt (“stunt,” by the way, is a soldierism for engagement or contract), we went further along the line, where they were hard at it when my squad got furlough. You will see by the foregoing that our boys have done their bit. There are not many left of the old Battalion – that is, of the boys who came with me from Egypt. One by one they drop out, and now men take their places, but so far I’ve been lucky, very lucky. I’ve had enough escapes to account for half a dozen good men, but I’m still all together, so that’s the main thing. Hope I pull through as well on my return, as there’s lots of work ahead”.[5]

On 27th February 1918 Corporal Duff was granted leave to England.  He rejoined the 45th Battalion on 15th March 1918.

On 15th July 1918 Corporal Duff was promoted to Sergeant.

On 31st August 1918 Sergeant Duff was detached for duty to the Permanent Cadre of the 3rd Training Brigade in England.

On 2nd September 1918 Sergeant Duff arrived at Folkstone, England from France.  On 3rd September 1918 Sergeant Duff marched in to the 3rd Training Brigade and to the Permanent Cadre at the Musketry School in Tidworth, England.

On 23rd September 1918 Sergeant Duff was detached to the Drill School at Chelsea, England.

On 20th October 1918 Sergeant Duff was taken on strength of the 12th Training Battalion at Hurdcott, England.

On 11th November 1918 Sergeant Duff was transferred to the No. 2 Camp at Park House, England.

On 14th December 1918 he returned to the 12th Training Battalion.

The Blue Mountains Echo on 28th March 1919 printed an extract from a letter sent by Sergeant Reg. Duff to his mother from Hurdcott, England, in which he stated that he “received three parcels last night (23.1.19)” and that” One was from home, with Xmas cake and sox…”, and that “I was expecting to be going home shortly ; but I had a disappointment yesterday, when they told me I would be going back to France on January 28… I am just back from my Xmas leave. I had a few days in Scotland, but spent most of my time in London, as I know some nice people there. I had only been back from my leave a few days when they gave me the Xmas leave. Well, I don’t want any more leave now ; I’ll wait until I get home”.[6]

On 29th January 1919 Sergeant Duff departed Southampton bound for France.  He arrived at the Australian Base Depot at Le Harve, France, on 30th January 1919.  He rejoined the 45th Battalion on 5th February 1919.

On 6th April 1919 Sergeant Duff arrived at the Australian Base Depot at Le Harve to commence his return to Australia.

On 15th April 1919 Sergeant Duff departed France bound for England.  On 16th April he marched into the No. 4 Group at Hurdcott, England.

On 2nd June 1919 Sergeant Duff departed Devonport, England, aboard the H.T. Beltana bound for Australia.

He arrived in Australia on 19th July 1919.  He was discharged Termination of Period of Enlistment on 12th September 1919.

 

[1] NAA: B2455, DUFF L R

[2] ‘March o’er the Mountains’, The Blue Mountain Echo, 12 November 1915, p. 3. Retrieved March 7, 2017, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article108042142

[3] ‘The Soldiers’ Mailbag’, The Blue Mountain Echo (NSW : 1909 – 1928), 10 November 1916, p. 1. Retrieved March 7, 2017, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article108042760

[4] ‘Fragments from France, The Blue Mountain Echo, 2 February 1917, p. 3. Retrieved March 7, 2017, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article108248522

[5] ‘Right in the Thick of It’, The Blue Mountain Echo, 28 September 1917, p. 1. Retrieved March 7, 2017, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article108249657

[6] ‘News of Our Boys’, The Blue Mountain Echo,  28 March 1919, p. 6. Retrieved March 7, 2017, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article108246428

Cyril Roy MCMILLAN

Cyril Roy MCMILLAN

Private Roy McMillan (Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate, 11/5/1918)

Per his military service record (regimental no. 4861), Cyril Roy McMillan was born at Singleton, N.S.W.[1]  (This place of birth appears to have been recorded in error, as his birth was registered at Silverton, N.S.W., where his father was stationed as a Police Constable).[2]  He gave his age as 19 years and 2 months, his marital status as single, and his occupation as engineer.  His description on his Certificate of Medical Examination was 5 feet 7 inches tall, weight 123 ½ lbs., with a fair complexion, blue eyes, and brown hair.  His religious denomination was Church of England.  He claimed to have 4 years military service in the Cadets and was still serving.

He completed his medical examination at Parramatta on 10th November 1915.  His initial Application to Enlist in the Australian Imperial Force form was dated 11th November 1915, and his father’s signature giving his consent is on this form.  He was attested by Lieutenant R. Howe at Parramatta on 11th November 1915.

After a successful recruiting meeting the evening before, the Coo-ees left Parramatta on the morning of 11th November 1915, with an official count of 27 new recruits from that town.

After completing the Coo-ee March Cyril Roy McMillan went into Liverpool Camp as reinforcement for the 13th Battalion.

On 11th February 1916 Private McMillan was charged with being absent from fatigue duty.  He was fined 5 Shillings.

The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate reported that Private ‘Roy McMillan’ was presented with a silver-mounted pipe, fountain pen, and other articles, at a send-off held for him and fellow Parramatta recruit Jack Saunders, at Parramatta on Monday 14th February 1916.[3] (He was named as Roy McMillan in several articles in The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate).

On his embarkation roll Private McMillan’s address at time of enrolment was Marsden Street, Parramatta, N.S.W., and his next of kin is listed as his father, F. C. [Franklin Cutbush]. McMillan, at the same address.

On 8th March 1916 Private McMillan, along with many of the other Coo-ees, departed Sydney on the HMAT A15 Star of England, as15th reinforcements for the 13th Battalion.  He arrived in Egypt on 11th April 1916.

On 19th April 1916 Private McMillan was transferred to the 45th Battalion in Egypt.

On 2nd June 1916 Private McMillan left Alexandria aboard the transport Kinfauns Castle bound for France.  He arrived at Marseilles on 8th June 1916.

On 4th July 1916 the 45th Battalion was at Sailly-Sur-Lys preparing to move into the trenches for the first time, when Private McMillan was evacuated to the12th Australian Field Ambulance suffering from septic foot.  On 7th July 1916 he was sent to the 4th Division Rest Station.  He rejoined the 45th Battalion on the 12th of July 1916.

On 20th June 1916 Private McMillan was charged with being absent from billet without leave.  He was awarded 7 days confined to barracks.

On 6th September 1916 the 45th Battalion was refitting at Beauval, France, when Private McMillan was evacuated to  hospital. On 10th September 1916 he was admitted to the 2nd Canadian Stationary Hospital suffering myalgia.  On 19th September 1916 he was discharged from hospital to the 1st Convalescent Depot.  On 24th September 1916 he went to the 4th Australian Division Base Depot at Etaples, France.  He rejoined the 45th Battalion on 17th October 1916.

On 7th March 1917 the 45th Battalion was training at Bresle, France, when Private McMillan was evacuated to the 12th Australian Field Ambulance, then transferred to the 3rd Australian Field Ambulance with trench feet.  On 8th March 1917 he was moved back to the 45th Casualty Clearing Station.  On 11th March 1917 he was placed aboard the 9th Ambulance Train and admitted to the 3rd Stationary Hospital at Rouen, France.  On 13th March 1917 he was placed aboard the Hospital Ship Warilda at Le Havre for transfer to England with trench feet.  He was admitted to the Kitchener Military Hospital at Brighton, England, on 14th March 1916.

A letter dated 23rd March 1917 that he sent home to his father was reported on in the The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate: ‘Sergeant McMillan, of the Parramatta police force, has received a letter from his son, Private Cyril Roy McMillan … in which he stated that he had then been in hospital in England suffering with trench feet’, and that ‘In describing the complaint, he says that the toes swell up, then wither away, and fall off in bad cases’.[4]

On 27th April 1917 Private McMillan was discharged from hospital and granted leave to report to the No. 1 Command Depot at Perham Downs on 12th May 1917.

On 20th July 1917 he was transferred to the No. 3 Command Depot at Hurdcott, England.

On 23rd November 1917 he marched in to the No. 1 Command Depot at Sutton Veny.

On 6th December 1917 he marched into the Overseas Training Brigade at Longbridge Deverill, England, near Sutton Veny.

On 3rd January 1918 Private McMillan departed Southampton bound for France.  He arrived at the 4th Australian Division Base Depot at Le Harve, France, on 4th January 1918.

On 22nd January 1918 Private McMillan rejoined the 45th Battalion when it was resting at La Clytte, Belgium.

On 5th and 6th April 1918 the 45th Battalion was in action around Dernacourt, France.  On 13th April 1918 it was recorded in Private McMillan’s service record that he was reported Missing In Action on 5th April 1918.  On 14th May 1918 he was reported to be a Prisoner of War in Germany.

After being released at the end of hostilities, Private McMillan was repatriated to England on 10th December 1918, and admitted to the 4th London General Hospital, suffering Dysentery.  On 18th December he was transferred to the 3rd Australian Auxiliary Hospital.

Private McMillan wrote the following letter to The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate about his prisoner of war experience, which was published in the paper on 18th January 1919:

‘France, 30th Nov., 1918. The following letter reached ‘The Argus’ on Thursday: — “Dear Sir, — I am sending you a few lines, and would like you to publish them in the old paper.  I left Parramatta three years ago, with the Coo-ees, and I am sorry to say there are only two or three of us left to tell the tale.  I was taken prisoner in that big stunt last March and April.  One of my mates that I enlisted with was killed alongside me, just before we started to advance towards the Germans.  His name is Webber.[5]  Most of the boys will know him.  For the first five days I was captured I had nothing to eat.  All they would give us was a drop of water to drink. We were taken further back behind the lines, and there we were counted out into working parties, about 300 in a party, then again sent up behind the German lines, on munition dumps, and different kinds of work.  There we stayed until our people started to make the big advance, and we were gradually moved back to Germany. But never the whole journey did we have a lift in a train or motor lorry.  We had to foot it the whole way, right across Belgium, 20 and 30 miles a day, and hardly anything to eat. In passing through the Belgium towns the Belgians would do their best to help us.  They would give us bread and comforts, but the Germans would take all that off us and knock us down with their rifles. But we were never downhearted — we would scramble to our foot again and still have another go at it.  It was either that or starvation.  We were mostly living on potato peelings, turnip peelings, and cabbag[e] leaves, and it was an awful sight to see us having our dinner.  The poor lads were dying every day, and yet they would not give us any care.  When we wanted a smoke we had to pick up the ends of cigarettes and cigars which the Germans had dropped, and not every one of us could get that much.  You can’t imagine how happy we are to-day, now that we are released.  We were released about two weeks ago.  They just cast us adrift and told us to find our way back.  They never gave us any bread to start with, not even a bite.  Only for the Belgians we should have had hundreds of deaths along the road.  But the Belgians cared for us in every manner possible.  My mate and I were taken in by a Belgian lady, and there we stayed for five days, living on the best.  When we were leaving they packed our bags with sandwiches and cakes, also plenty of cigarettes and money.  We crossed the British lines on the 17th Nov., and we were heartily greeted by our own lads.  Several of us had to go to hospital through sickness.  I am in hospital at present, but will be across to England for Christmas, and hope to be home in Parramatta shortly afterwards.  I think I will close for the present, as it is getting beyond my time for sitting up. — I remain, your soldier friend, No. 4861, Pte. C. R. McMillan ’45th Batt.'” [Private McMillan is a son of Sergt. McMillan, till recently stationed at Parramatta police station.]’[6]

On 23rd December 1918 Private McMillan was discharged from hospital, and granted leave to report to the No. 1 Command Depot at Sutton Veny, England, on 23rd January 1919.

He was granted leave again from 7th June 1919 to 19th September 1919.  During this period of leave he attended a Motor Training Institute in London.

On 25th September 1919 Private McMillan departed Devonport, England, aboard the H.T. Port Denison, bound for Australia.

He arrived in Australia on 17th November 1919, and was discharged Termination of Period of Enlistment on 9th January 1920.

 

[1] NAA: B2455, MCMILLAN C R

[2] NSW Birth Registration, MCMILLAN CYRIL R 34803/1896 FRANKLIN C MARGARET A SILVERTON ;  ‘Local and General’, Western Grazier, 15 January 1896,  p. 2. Retrieved March 12, 2017, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article13381118

[3] ‘The Sheepskin Fund’, The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate, 19 February 1916, p. 11. Retrieved March 12, 2017, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article86072411

[4] ‘Personal Pars’, The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate, 26 May 1917, p. 6. Retrieved March 12, 2017, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article86086965

[5] William WEBBER  was one of the Coo-ees attested at Ashfield.  He was killed in action on 6th April 1918.

[6] ‘German Atrocities. A Parramatta Prisoner’s Story’, .The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate, 18 January 1919, p. 10. Retrieved March 12, 2017, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article86118958

 

Leslie Reginald ANLEZARK

Leslie Reginald ANLEZARK

Per his military service record (regimental no. 4726), Leslie Reginald Anlezark was born at Orange, N.S.W. He gave his age as 26 years and 8 months, his marital status as single, and his occupation as brick-setter. His description on his certificate of medical examination was height 5 feet 7 ½ inches tall, weight 9 stone 6 lbs., with a fair complexion, grey eyes, and brown hair.  He had a heart pierced by a dagger tattooed on his right upper arm. His religious denomination was Church of England. He claimed that he had three years previous military service, and had been rejected as unfit by the A.I.F. in August 1914 due to his eyesight.

He completed his medical on 24th October 1915 at Orange, and was attested by Captain Nicholas at Orange on 24th October 1915.  He was given the rank of Acting Sergeant on 24th October 1915, when he joined the Coo-ees at Orange.

After completing the Coo-ee March he went to Liverpool Camp as reinforcement for the 13th Battalion, retaining his rank as Acting Sergeant.

On 21st November 1915 Acting Sergeant Anlezark was charged with being absent without leave from the Liverpool Camp. He received a warning.

A letter Acting Sergeant Anlezark wrote to Mr E. T. McNeilly, the Mayor of Orange, while he was in Liverpool Camp, was published in The Leader on 14th February 1916, in which he wrote:

“…Now for some statistics: The Coo-ees marched into camp 273 strong and seven me were added from other units, because of technical knowledge or for other reasons. Of this number unfortunately, twenty one failed to pass the severe Liverpool medical test, and sixteen, for medical or disciplinary reasons, have since been transferred to the home defence forces, or have been discharged – not a large proportion to lose in comparison with the camp experience of other units. And, although thirty men, at their own request, have been transferred to the Light Horse, it will be seen that the Coo-ees column is still substantially intact, an assertion that is further supported by the fact that every non-com but one in the present E. Company marched with the column from the west. The company sergeant major is S. E. Stephens, who, since his service with the first expeditionary force in New Guinea, has been on the ‘Farmer and Settler’ editorial staff. He went to Gilgandra to report the route march for this journal, re-enlisted there, and marched into camp with the column. The platoon sergeants are H. Davenport, of Wongarbon; L. R. Anlezark, of Orange; T. W. Dowd, of Wongarbon; and E. S. Taylor, of Wentworthville. Corporals: C. H. Maidens, of Molong; W. W. Smith, of Geurie; J. E. L. Hourigan, of Parramatta; J. G. Cameron, of Gilgandra; J. McKeown, of Gilgandra; and Pay Corporal, J. C. Gilmour, of Coonamble. Others of the men gathered in on that first route march are qualifying for the non com class; but, unfortunately, as the Coo-ees are reinforcements for a battalion already at the front, and not part of a new battalion, these ranks may only be temporary.

How well, on the whole, the Coo-ees are behaving, and how quickly they are assimilating the lessons to be learned at Liverpool, is evidenced by the fact that, although they only marched into camp on November 14, a fairly big draft has already been made upon E company to make up the 14th reinforcements for the battalion at the front…”.[1]

On his embarkation roll his address at time of enrolment was C/o Mrs R. Benfield, Railway Estate, Hurstville, N.S.W., and his next of kin was listed as a friend, Mrs L. Benfield, at the same address.

On 8th March 1916 Acting Sergeant Anlezark, along with many of the other Coo-ees, departed Sydney on the HMAT A15 Star of England, as 15th reinforcements for the 13th Battalion, and arrived in Egypt on the 11th April 1916.

He was transferred to the 45th Battalion on 19th April 1916.

On 2nd June 1916 Private Anlezark left Alexandria aboard the transport Kinfauns Castle, bound for France.  He arrived at Marseilles on 8th June 1916.

Private Anlezark served with the 45th Battalion through its first action at Fleurbaix, France in July 1916, then as through the battles around Pozieres and Mouquet Farm in August, September and October 1916.

On 24th November 1916 the 45th Battalion was holding the front line trenches in the vicinity of Guedecourt in France, when Private Anlezark was evacuated to the 36th Casualty Clearing Station suffering from Influenza. He was placed aboard the 24th Ambulance Train and sent to the 12th General Hospital at Rouen, France, where he was admitted on 25th November 1916.

On 8th December 1916 he was also diagnosed to be suffering from trench fever, and was evacuated to England by the Hospital Ship Aberdonian.  He was admitted  to the War Hospital at Reading, England, on 9th December 1916.

On 17th January 1917 Private Anlezark was discharged from hospital, and granted leave till 1st February 1917, to report to the No. 1 Command Depot at Pernham Downs, England.

On 23rd March 1917 Private Anlezark was transferred to the 61st Battalion at Wareham, England.

On 29th April 1917 he was transferred back to the 45th Battalion, and departed Folkestone, England, for return to France.

On 30th April 1917 he marched into the 4th Australian Division Base Depot at Etaples, France.

On 4th May 1917 he rejoined the 45th Battalion when it was preparing to move at Bouzincourt, France.

Just over one month later, on 7th June 1917 the 45th Battalion was engaged in action around the Messines Ridge, Belgium, attacking German trenches.  During the attack Private Anlezark was wounded in action, receiving a bullet wound to his right arm. He was evacuated to the 9th Casualty Clearing Station on 8th June 1917.  He was then admitted to the 9th General Hospital at Rouen, France, on 9th June 1917.

On 14th June 1917 he was evacuated to England on the Hospital Ship St George, with a gun shot wound to his right arm.

He was admitted to the 3rd London General Hospital at Wandsworth in England on 15th June 1917.

On 25th June 1917 he was transferred to the Grove Military Hospital at Tooting, England.

On 23rd August 1917 he was moved to the 1st Australian Auxiliary Hospital at Harefield, England.

On 1st September 1917 Private Anlezark was discharged from hospital, and granted leave till 15th  September 1917, to report to the No. 2 Command Depot at Weymouth, England.

On 20th September 1917 Private Anlezark was transferred to the No. 3 Command Depot at Hurdcott, England.

On 19th October 1917 he was moved to the Overseas Training Brigade.

On 10th November 1917 Private Anlezark departed Southampton England bound for France. On 11th November 1917 he arrived at the 4th Australian Division Base Depot at Le Harve, France.

On 27th November 1917 he rejoined the 45th Battalion when it was training at St Quentin, France.

Less than a month later, on 24th December 1917 the 45th Battalion was training near Peronne, France, when Private Anlezark was admitted to the 11th Australian Field Ambulance suffering from Influenza.  On 31st December he was transferred to the 1st Casualty Clearing Station.  He was discharged to duty on 4th January 1918.

Private Anlezark rejoined the 45th Battalion on 22nd January 1918, when it was training at La Clyette, Belgium.

On 28th July 1918 Private Anlezark was granted leave to Paris, France.

He returned from leave in Paris to the 45th Battalion on 7th August 1918, when the Battalion was near Hamel, France, preparing for a major offensive against German positions, which began the next day.

Private Anlezark served with the 45th Battalion for the remainder of the war.

On 27th January 1919 Private Anlezark departed Le Harve bound for England, arriving at Weymouth on 28th January 1919, where he marched into the Overseas Training Brigade.

On 19th February 1919 Private Anlezark was charged with being absent without leave from 2359 on 17th February 1919 till 1200 on 18th February 1919. He was fined two days pay.

On 22nd February 1919 he was transferred to the No. 1 Command Depot at Sutton Veny, England.

On 4th March 1919 Private Anlezark was admitted to the 1st Australian General Hospital at Sutton Veny with cellulitis of face.

Private Anlezark departed Southampton, England, on 6th May 1919, aboard the H.M.A.H.S.  Karoola, bound for Australia.

He arrived in Sydney on 28th June 1919.  He was discharged termination of period of enlistment on 18th October 1919.

 

[1] ‘The Coo-ees’, The Leader, 14 February 1916, p. 6. Retrieved December 17, 2016, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article117790684

 

James Birrell DAWSON

James Birrell DAWSON

Walter Goodlet (left) and James Birrell Dawson (right), both amputees. Photograph courtesy of James Dawson's great granddaughter Jamie Stacey.

Coo-ees Walter Goodlet (left) and James Dawson (right), both amputees. Photograph courtesy of James Dawson’s great-grandson Jamie Stacey.

Per his military service record (regimental no. 4469), James Birrell Dawson was born at Joadga Creek, N.S.W. He gave his age as 19 years and 9 months, his marital status as single, and his occupation as miner. His description on his medical was height 5 feet 3 ¾ inches tall, weight 122 lbs., with a fresh complexion, brown eyes, and brown hair. His religious denomination was Presbyterian. He claimed that he had 12 months previous military experience with the Senior Cadets in Lithgow, and that he had been rejected by the 41st Infantry [Regiment of the Militia] for being ‘not tall enough’.

He completed his medical on 31s October 1915 at Lithgow, but was not attested until 13th November 1915 at Liverpool (by Lieutenant Edward Shaw). His ‘joined on’ date was 2nd November 1915.

The Lithgow Mercury reported that ‘He was formerly employed as a wheeler at the Oakey Park colliery’, and that he ‘enlisted with the “Coo-ees” and marched to Sydney with this body of men’.[1]

After completing the Coo-ee March he went to Liverpool Camp as reinforcement for the 13th Battalion.

A farewell party was held for Private Dawson at Oakey Park in early January 1916 before his departure overseas, where he was presented with a fountain pen, military hairbrush, and comb, and ‘dancing and singing were indulged in until the small hours’.[2]

On his embarkation roll his address at time of enrolment was Oakey Park, Lithgow, N.S.W, and his next of kin is listed as his father, G. [George] Dawson, at the same address.

On 16th February 1916 Private Dawson was one of the first group of Coo-ees to embark overseas on active service, and departed Sydney on the HMAT Ballarat A70 as 14th reinforcement for the 13th Battalion.

HMAT Ballarat A70, 18/2/1916. Photograph from the AWM Collection PB0182.

HMAT Ballarat A70, 18/2/1916. Photograph from the AWM Collection PB0182.

The HMAT Ballarat A70 arrived in Egypt on 22nd March 1916.

On 1st April 1916 Private Dawson, (along with the other Coo-ees he had travelled to Egypt with), was transferred to the 54th Battalion at Ferry Post.

On 19th June 1916 Private Dawson left Alexandria aboard H.T. Caledonian bound for France, arriving at Marseilles on 29th June 1916.

On the night of the 19/20th July 1916 Private Dawson was with the 54th Battalion when it participated in the Battle of Fromelles. During the battle he was wounded in action, suffering a gun shot wound to his right forearm.

He was treated by the 15th Australian Field Ambulance, then moved back to the 1st Australian Casualty Clearing Station. On 21st July 1916 he was placed aboard an Ambulance Train, and moved back to the 30th General Hospital at Calais, France. His right arm was amputated due to his wounds.

On 3rd August 1916 he was placed aboard the Hospital Ship Newhaven for evacuation to England. Later that day he was admitted to the Huddersfield War Hospital.

On 8th September he was taken on strength by No. 2 Command Depot, Weymouth, England.

A letter that Private Dawson wrote home to his mother during his time convalescencing at Weymouth in England was published in the Lithgow Mercury:

‘Private James Dawson, Lithgow, writing to his mother from Monte Video camp, Weymouth, Dorset, under date September 11 [1916], said he was quite well. His arm (which was amputated) was about healed up and did not trouble him at all then. He had been in England since August 3. He was in Huddersfield Hospital until September 8, when he was removed to the first-named address. While he was a Huddersfield he had an enjoyable time. He was only there three days before he was out to three garden parties in succession, and had a “great time.” They were the first Australians to go there and the people could not do enough for them. He always had plenty of places to go to for tea. All the picture shows and theatres were free to them, and even the young ladies used to take the chaps home to tea with them, and it was a great place. But it was very quiet at Weymouth after having been at Huddersfield’. [3]

On 20th September 1916 he was transferred to the 2nd Australian Auxiliary Hospital at Southall, England, which specialised in fitting artificial limbs.

On 21st December 1916 Private Dawson was discharged from hospital, and granted furlough, to report back to the 2nd Australian Auxiliary Hospital on 5th January 1917.

During his stay at the 2nd Australian Auxiliary Hospital he wrote the following letter home to his mother, which was published in the Lithgow Mercury:

‘Pte. James Dawson, writing from the 2nd Australian Auxiliary Hospital, Southall, England, to his mother, Mrs G. Dawson, Oakey Park, under date February 9 [1917], says:–“I am getting on splendidly. I have had another operation since I last wrote, making three in all. But I think it will be the last, as I have been measured for the artificial arm and will be getting it in two or three weeks. I am having a very good time here – always going out to tea or theatre parties, etc. In fact, the people can’t do enough for us. We are getting well looked after in hospital, but I am getting sick of hospital life. It has been nothing else but snow these last few weeks. No sun ever shines; it is only wind and snow. I don’t think they have any summer at all. I received the other day four letters addressed to Egypt. They chased me all round the country. They were very dirty and torn when I got them; otherwise they were all right. I have only had one parcel but no papers. I don’t know where those sent got to.[4]

On 5th April 1917 Private Dawson was discharged from the 2nd Australian Auxiliary Hospital to commence his return to Australia.

Private Dawson departed Devonport, England on 4th May 1917, aboard the Transport Themistocles. Also travelling with him on the same ship was his friend and fellow Coo-ee Walter Goodlet, who had also lost an arm.

They disembarked at Sydney on 4th July 1917.

Private Dawson was discharged medically unfit, with a disability of an amputated right arm, on 12th December 1917.

[1] ‘Wounded in France’, Lithgow Mercury, 2 August 1916, p. 2, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article218730143

[2] ‘Presentation to Pte. Jas. Dawson’, Lithgow Mercury, 10 January 1916, p. 2, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article218732433

[3] ‘Our Soldiers’ Letter Box’, Lithgow Mercury, 8 November 1916 p. 1, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article218724555

[4] ‘Our Soldiers’ Letter Box. Private James Dawson’, Lithgow Mercury, 27 April 1917, p. 7, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article218761454

 

Postcard from W. H. Saunders sent from Lithgow

W. H. Saunders’ postcard sent from Lithgow to his mother (advising he was sending his port home with his washing)

I recently received a copy of this wonderful postcard that William Hilton Saunders, who was one of the Wongarbon Coo-ees, sent home to his mother Mrs E. J. Saunders at Wongarbon, while the Coo-ees were at Lithgow.

Postcard sent by W. H. Saunders, courtesy of Mrs K. Edmonds

Postcard sent by W. H. Saunders to his mother, courtesy of Mrs K. Edmonds

Back of postcard sent by W. H. Saunders to his mother, courtesy of Mrs K. Edmonds

Back of postcard sent by W. H. Saunders to his mother, courtesy of Mrs K. Edmonds

His grand-daughter has assisted me to transcribe the handwriting on the back of the postcard as follows:

‘Dear Mother

I am sending my port home to-day with a bit of washing & take all the trousers out & only send the pair of grey ones back. There is some grass in a piece of paper that I got out of the church yard at Wang, also keep poetry. We drilled all day yesterday & are leaving today. We might stay a day at Mt Victoria to see the caves.

Had tea with the Lucas girls last night. Lithgow is a very busy place but very smoky & dusty. We camped in the Trades Hall. Have been having all our meals in the military camp here with the other recruits & the grub is pretty rough. Ask Jack Ryan about our flag as we have not received it yet. All the boys are doing well hoping you’re the same also all the other folk.

Fondest love from your fond son Hilton.

[Written across the top left hand corner]

Will write & tell you where to send my port. We were all issued with Dungarees & white hats yesterday. We all look comical’.

The Coo-ees were at Lithgow from Monday 1st November to Wednesday 3rd November 1915. Based on the information W. Hilton Saunders included in the postcard, he wrote it on Wednesday 3rd November (the day the Coo-ees left Lithgow), and the Coo-ees were issued with their blue dungarees and white hats uniforms on Tuesday 2nd November 1915.

William Hilton Saunders war diaries available online

William Hilton Saunders war diaries

William Hilton Saunders (Photograph courtesy of Macquarie Regional Library)

William Hilton Saunders (Photograph courtesy of Macquarie Regional Library)

William Hilton Saunders joined the Coo-ee March at Wongarbon. Several of the many letters he wrote home were published in local newspapers. He also kept diaries from 1915 to 1919, which are now part of the UNSW Canberra Academy Library’s manuscripts collection.

Stephen and I visited the Academy Library at the Australian Defence Force Academy in Canberra on 22nd August 2013 to view W. Hilton Saunders’ war diaries. There were 5 small fragile diaries, sealed in bags, which we were able to look at under supervision, wearing white gloves. There were many diary entries of interest in these diaries that I would have liked more time to read, but the time we had available to visit was limited, and it was difficult to write many notes in pencil, wearing gloves.

I was advised by the State Library of New South Wales last week that William Hilton Saunders’ war diaries (1916-1919) are now available online on this library’s website at http://www.acmssearch.sl.nsw.gov.au/search/itemDetailPaged.cgi?itemID=1323843. To access the digitised diaries, click on the Collection Hierarchy tab, then the title for each year’s diary, then click on ‘view images’.

This online access to W. Hilton Saunders’ diaries provides a wonderful opportunity to read through the wartime diary entries of one of the Coo-ees, following his experiences in the First World War, from his training at Liverpool Camp, to his voyage from Sydney to Egypt on the HMAT A15 Star of England, his experiences in the training camp at Egypt, and then on the Western Front, and on hearing of the Armistice that ended the war.

Unfortunately the 1915 diary has not been digitised, probably due to its limited number of entries, with none until the end of the year. The 1915 diary had an inscription inside it from a family member dated 8th October 1915 (the day W. Hilton Saunders did his medical and original attestation at Gilgandra before the march commenced). Unfortunately he did not make any entries for the period of the march, only a mention of arriving in Liverpool camp.   There were however lots of female names and addresses written in the back of this 1915 diary with addresses from many the towns and villages along the march, from Stuart Town onwards (where he re-signed his attestation form on 19th October 1915).

W. Hilton Saunders was one of the main contingent of Coo-ees that embarked from Sydney on HMAT A15 Star of England on 8th March 1916, which arrived in Egypt on 11th April 1916. He recorded daily entries in his diary for this period.

W. Hilton Saunders recorded the following details in his diary for the day the Coo-ees loaded onto the HMAT A15 Star of England, and left Sydney Harbour through the Heads:

W. H. Saunders diary entry 8/3/1916 (Image part of the State Library of NSW collection)

W. H. Saunders diary entry 8/3/1916 (Image from the State Library of NSW collection)

March 1916: 8 Ash Wednesday. “Up at 3 a.m. left Show Ground for wharf 4.57 a.m. & at 8.10 a.m. moved out from wharf amidst cheers from thousands to tune Auld Lang Syne Cleared Heads 2 p.m. water rough chopping seas fore deck”.

The Coo-ees when they joined the Coo-ee March and enlisted in the AIF had expected to be going as reinforcements to support the ANZAC troops on Gallipoli. That campaign finished while they were still in training in Liverpool Camp.

Yesterday as I attended the dawn service at the Dubbo War Memorial commemorating 100 years since the ANZAC troops had landed at Gallipoli, I had wondered what W. Hilton Saunders had wrote in his diares about his experience on the first Anzac Day held on 25th April 1916, where a sports day was held in the Australian camp in Egypt, where he and the other Coo-ees were in training. He wrote the following words:

W. H. Saunders diary entry 25/4/1916 (Image part of the State Library of NSW collection)

W. H. Saunders diary entry 25/4/1916 (Image from the State Library of NSW collection)

April 1916: 25 Easter Tuesday. “1st anniversary of landing at A.N.Z.A.C. Holiday for all troops in Egypt. Sports held on the Canal. Swimming etc. on the water. Did not go over myself felt too lazy. Stayed in camp & wrote home.”

He wrote no entry in his diary for Anzac Day in 1917, but in 1918 he wrote the following entry about his Anzac Day experience for that year:

W. H. Saunders diary entry 25/4/1918 (Image part of the State Library of NSW collection)

W. H. Saunders diary entry 25/4/1918 (Image from the State Library of NSW collection)

April 1918: 25 Thursday. “3rd Anniversary of the landing at Anzac. We were paid today & held sports in the afternoon. Had a good time. No. 1 Section won about 5 events out of 9 – including the officers race … 440 yds, kicking the football & Relay race. Most of the boys are celebrating the great day in “neck oil”. [aka beer].

 

Stanley E. Stephens’ letter about his ‘baptism of fire’ in the trenches

Transcript of an article by “Coo-ee” Stanley. E. Stephens titled ‘A Baptism of Fire” published in The Farmer and Settler on 17 August 1917, p. 2.

‘A BAPTISM OF FIRE
A “Hop-Over” In France
VIVID DESCRIPTION OF TRENCH RAID.

The “raids” upon the German trenches carried out by the British forces have been among the most successful enterprises with which the war has made newspaper readers familiar, and their effect upon the enemy has been of the highest military importance, breaking down his moral, shattering his nerves, and making him, in most cases, an easy prey to the attacking party. A vivid description of one of these raids, and one that is interesting also, because of the personal and psychological disclosures made, was given by Stan E. Stephens, formerly on the “Farmer and Settler” staff in a letter that he wrote from France shortly before he participated in the attack upon Lagnicourt, in which action he was reported among the “missing.”

“On the night of February 4th, we ‘went in’ — into the front line,” he writes. “As we had suspected for some time past, we were to do a ‘stunt.’ There was a ‘hop over’ for us, to try to take a trench that some other battalion had taken and failed to hold, four or five days before. We dumped our blankets, and at about eight p.m. moved off in Indian file; stopped a moment at an ammunition dump at a chalk pit, to fill our pockets with bombs; then on again, in dead silence, crouching. We passed through a sap running forward to our front line, which we entered, squeezing past the Victorians that were holding it, and thus getting into position for the ‘hop over,’ only a few minutes to ten p.m. It had taken us two hours to come three-quarters of a mile. The moon was like an electric incandescent lamp in the frosty sky. Our hearts were thumping, and one heard muttered words and curses, as we stumbled into our places, and nervously filled our magazines and fixed our bayonets. I was wondering if I could ever bring myself to get over that bank, two feet above my head, where I crouched in what was merely a shell-hole connected with other shell-holes, and called a trench. Fritz was quiet. It must surely be ten o’clock — the time we were to go over. The big wild Irishman, Tom Riley, was on my right, Finlayson and Lord on my left.

“The plan of attack on this occasion was explained to us before we moved off, and was similar in the main points to the teachings we had had back in England. A two-minute barrage was to open on the enemy wire at ten p.m. making a passage for us, and then lifting to the trench, putting the enemy to flight, and smashing things up generally. At the end of two minutes (10.2 p.m.) the barrage was to lift altogether, and play on to the enemy supports and communications. We were to hop out at one minute past ten, and it was estimated that it would take us a minute to cross, reaching the wire as the barrage lifted to the supports — distance across, 150 yards. Our objective was a trench (already known as Stormy trench), in which Fritz had a strong post.

A Nerve-steadying Drink.
“Some one said: ‘Get ready’, and I was just wishing I was at home, or anywhere else in the wide world, when a fervent ‘Ah!’ in the vicinity made me look around. A mess-tin full of rum was being passed along. Everyone took a swig, and passed it on. There was plenty in it when it came to me, and I just gulped down a couple of mouthfuls and handed it to Fin, when, ‘bang,’ ‘bang,’ ‘screech,’ ‘screech,’ over our heads came some shells. Many men involuntarily ‘ducked,’ but were reassured by someone saying: ‘They’re ours.’ So they were. The barrage had started — only a minute to go! Thank Heaven for that rum. It pulled me together, stopped the nervous trembling that made me afraid that everybody would notice me and think I was going to ‘squib’ it. I was cool enough to notice things then, but still I glanced hatefully now and then at the top of the bank above me.

“Somebody said: ‘Now!’ There was a bustle, and I found myself up in No Man’s Land jostling someone to get around a shell-hole. The order had come simultaneously from both ends of our line, so that we at the centre were a bit behind — a sag in the middle. Everything could be seen as clear as day; the line stretched out to right and left. We crouched in our advance, moving slowly, picking our way, with the shells shrieking over us, and bursting only a few yards in front of us. I thought about the ‘backwash.’ Why weren’t some of us killed. Would they knock our heads off if we stood up straight? We were in semi-open order, perhaps five or six deep, and advancing slowly. Oh!, the weight on my back from the heavy kit and the stooping. Yet I felt amused at the struggles of a chap that was sitting down, softly cursing a piece of barbed wire— such silly, meaningless curses. Another stumbled in front of me, and I nearly jabbed him with my bayonet. Then I looked around smartly, to see if any one was close enough behind me to treat me likewise.

“The wire! We were up to it already. But the shells weren’t finished. They had made a good mess of it, I saw as I stepped through from loop to loop. A piece caught me somewhere, but something gave way and I was free again. No; the shells weren’t finished yet. ‘They are bursting behind me.’ I exclaimed to myself, ‘Why on earth don’t I get killed? Are they charmed, so as to kill only Fritzes.’ I caught the flash of another out of the tail of my eye, and then there was a straight line of intermittent flashes in front. What’s this? At that moment I slid and scrambled down a steep, bank and found myself in the German trench!

Too Quick for Fritz.  
“Our barrage was just lifting. A Fritz officer afterwards said: ‘I knew you were   Australians; you come in with your barrage; you are too quick for us.’ Yes, we went in with the barrage, instead of a few moments after it— and without a casualty!

“The details of this, my first hop-over, my baptism of fire, are indelibly printed on my memory. I shall always remember the impressions made on me, down to the most trivial incident of the hop-over. Thinking over it afterwards, I have tried to reason out why we got in with our barrage. It’s a good fault, for it prevents the Germans from getting ready for us when the barrage lifts. The Germans reckon that the Australians are always too quick for them that way. I certainly believe that a spirit of ‘don’t-care-a-damn’ was abroad; or, maybe, it was hereditary bloodthirstiness that came out in the excitement, and made us, for the time being, all ‘hogs for stoush.’ I think only the fear that we would be killed by our own curtain of fire kept us from actually running. It wasn’t the rum, anyhow, as the slanderous have asserted. The rum, I found out afterwards, was our first casualty, being broken in the coming up, so that the only rum issued was half a demi-john to a small section of trench that I happened to be in. The jar was found by a chap taking German prisoners back half an hour later, still   nearly half full.

“Just by the way, I might mention that he gave this batch of Fritzes a nip each, and filled his own waterbottle before giving the remainder to the Victorians (the men holding the old front trench), and bustling his herd back to Chalk Pit. The poor beggars wanted it!   They were almost in a state of collapse from our bombardment. I was to experience the same sort of bombardment very soon after.

Delighted to be Prisoners.
“To get back to it: The Fritzes that remained in the trench to meet us were still down their dugouts when the first men hopped in. The trench was big, wide, and deep. They came up crying, ‘Mercy, kamerad,’ whining and cowering in the bottom of the trench in a way that made me feel very brave; and, I have no doubt, the same feelings were experienced by others. They were shooed off at once in batches of ten or a dozen, as they were found, back to — somewhere. They were delighted to find that they were to be prisoners, pointing back to our lines and saying, ‘Mercy, kamerad,’ and ‘Kamerad good,’ etc. But they didn’t care about going over the top to go back. I helped one chap persuade his lot to go. I don’t think I actually stuck it into them, but they went! Like a mob of sheep, once started on their feet, they raced over the top and across No Man’s land for their very lives, the escort a good last, laughing fit to burst, at their scurry.

“Finlayson was separated from us in the hop-over, and entered the trench some distance on our right. Lord and I were together. Our bombardment continued on the enemy reserves, and Fritz had commenced ‘putting them into us.’ The row was deafening, and we were having casualties; not very many, but every now and then the order would be passed along for stretcher bearers. Just as I stepped down for a smoke (it would be about midnight) Fin. came along the trench looking for us. After yarning for a minute or two he went back to fetch his web gear and rifle, etc., up to our ‘possy.’ He and I had been mates for a long while, back in Kiama, and together with Lord, had run our affairs on an ‘all in and share alike’ basis, since going into the line. He had only been gone about ten minutes when another mate named Moss Paine came to tell me that Fin. was killed. I went back along the trench with Moss, but Fin. had been hit in the chest with a piece of shell that exploded in the trench, and had dropped without a word. Another good chap, Dave Whittingham (a tent mate at Duntroon), was hit everywhere, and died in half an hour. Moss Paine, who was standing between them— the three were talking together—was not touched. Needless to say, I was much upset. “The little bit of a trench we took has ‘opened up the game’ on this front, seemingly. It was on a rise that obstructed our observation of enemy lines; now the tables are turned.”’

Click here to view the article on Trove: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article116642518

Note: Stanley E. Stephens was The Farmer and Settler newspaper’s official reporter on the Coo-ee March. He also joined the Coo-ees at Gilgandra as a recruit, and had the rank of sergeant on the march. Francis Charles Finlayson (whose death is reported in this article) joined the Coo-ees at Parramatta.

Letters home and family photographs

A daughter of Donald Stewart (who joined the Coo-ees at Wellington) contacted me recently via the blog, so I have posted transcriptions of some of the letters he wrote home to his family while he was a prisoner of war in a German prison camp during the First World War, which were published in the family’s local newspaper The Wellington Times.

We are discovering through our research on the Coo-ees that several of them were held as prisoners of war during the First World War, including Donald Stewart from Wellington, Joseph Armstrong who joined the Coo-ees at Dubbo, and Allan Collquhoun and Cecil Roy McMillan, who both joined the Coo-ees at Parramatta.

Letters sent home to family and friends by the Coo-ees – whether they were training in camp, on a troopship, prisoners of war, fighting on the front, or behind the lines – provided information about their experiences during the war, and their thoughts and feelings at the time.  It is great that some of these letters were published in local newspapers during the First World War, so that we can read about their experiences today.

Some family members have also sent me a photograph of their Coo-ee relative, with permission to include it on the individual blog entry for their Coo-ee, and it is fantastic to be able to be able to put a face to the name of individual Coo-ees.

Newspapers also published individual photographs of some of the Coo-ees during the war years, which I have been collecting, but I may not have found all of these yet.  If more photographs become available, I will add these to each individual Coo-ees blog entry.

If anyone has personal letters, diaries, or photographs of the Coo-ees, I would very much like to hear from you. Please email me at cooeemarch1915@gmail.com.

Another letter from Donald Stewart, a Wellington Coo-ee, from inside a German prisoner of war camp

Transcription of an article titled ‘Two years a prisoner of war : letter from Private Don Stewart’ published in the Wellington Times, 19 September, 1918, p. 3.

‘TWO YEARS A PRISONER OF WAR.
LETTER FROM PRIVATE DON STEWART.

Mr. and Mrs. Stewart, of Park Street, Wellington, have received a letter from their son, Private Don Stewart, who for over two years has been a prisoner of war in Germany. The letter is dated from Schneidemuhl, June 10, 1918, and reads:— “Just a few lines, hoping to   find you all well at home. As for me, well, I am feeling pretty fit lately, as we have plenty of fresh air and exercise, which keeps a fellow in good health. I feel a bit tired so I will have a smoke and go to bed and finish writing tomorrow.

Next morning he resumed his letter as follows: “I feel a bit like writing now, so will have a try to finish this letter. I received fourteen letters during last week, on May 30, and two on June 2, from home, also one from Mrs. Mostyn. Two days later I had one from father, and one from mother. I wish they would come every week, although I cannot answer them. Well, dad, it is nearly two years since I was taken prisoner, and how I do wish I were back again at home. I do not think I will want to leave home again in a hurry. The experiences I have had since I left home would do a lot of good to the young chaps who want to leave home at the age I did. Fancy, I had my 17th birthday at Liverpool (England), and my 18th and 19th here in Germany, and in six months I will be 20. I will soon be able to have the key to my door. I am sending you two of my photographs by this letter. (The British censor encloses a slip stating the photos were missing from the letter when it reached England. Evidently they had been taken out by the German censor). I will have my photo taken again soon and will send you some. I saw Private Long a few days ago, and up till then he had not heard about his brother having been killed. I may see him again next week, and see if he has heard anything further. I cannot say much, so will close, hoping you will remember me to all my friends and give my best love to all at home.”

Click here to view the article on Trove: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article143228060

To read more about Donald Stewart, click on the Donald S. Stewart tag at the bottom of this blog entry.

 

Another Letter from Donald Stewart in a German prisoner of war camp

Transcription of an article titled ‘Australians in action. Letters from the Front. Private Don. Stewart’ published in The Wellington Times, 1 March, 1917, p. 3.

‘AUSTRALIANS IN ACTION.
LETTERS FROM THE FRONT.
PRIVATE DON. STEWART.

Private Don Stewart, who is a prisoner of war in Germany, writes as follows to his father under date 14th November, 1916:—
Just a few lines hoping you are well at home, as this leaves me at present. I have been a kreigsgefangenen (a prisoner of war) for four months now, and I am just about getting used to it. We get parcels from the Red Cross and also from the Battalion. What date did you hear I was missing? I wrote to mother and Amy from Lille just after I was captured and the officials said you would get it before the Battalion reported me missing. It was only a note saying I was alive and well, which was a wonder. I forgot whether I wrote to you or mother last time so I am writing to you. We have a very merry time here sometimes. We have a piano and organ and you bet I use them a lot. We have all sorts of music from a tin flute to a piano. When there is nought doing I read until two o’clock in the morning and get up at ten. It is getting very cold now. We will have snow next month. Fancy having snow at Christmas. I suppose if I had any sense and took my old Dad’s advice I would have spent it at Wellington, but I would have flogged the cat over it. It is done now. When I see you again I might speak German so you had better learn to speak it. I suppose you have still got Prince. When I am coming home I will get out at Apsley and walk home. I mean to surprise you all. You can tell me how Les is when you write. I hope he is well. You can send me parcels when you like. You know I would like them. Wishing you all a Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year, which I wish I was spending at home.

Click here to view the article on Trove: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article137416649