AUSTRALIA & NEW ZEALAND
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Spotlight: British regiments in Australia
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Contents findmypast special edition 2013
This issue 5
Findmypast’s Memory Bank
A woman of her time
14 A redcoat in the family 26 Win a findmypast subscription
27 The Beersheba Chargers 36 Great gazettes 45 From Hollywood to Wellington 56 What’s new on findmypast 59 Stay connected
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AUSTRALIA & NEW ZEALAND
PO Box 406 Erskineville NSW 2043 Australia Editor Cassie Mercer email@example.com guest Editor Vicki Dawson General Manager, findmypast.com.au firstname.lastname@example.org ipad Designers Rohana Archer Kelly Bounassif Editorial contributors Emma Kelly Rosemary Kopittke Bruce Petty Neil Smith Subscriptions to inside history For the iPad version, click to purchase on the App Store. For desktop and Android devices, click to purchase on Zinio For a print subscription to Inside History, click to purchase at www.insidehistory.com.au
Cover image A portrait of 1144 Private L J Langdon, 11th Battalion, who was killed in action on 26 April 1915. Courtesy Australian War Memorial, ID H06395.
This free digital edition of Inside History is a collaboration between findmypast.com.au and Inside History magazine. This very special issue has been produced to honour our brave ancestors who went away to war. Inside History (ISSN 1838-5044) is published six times a year by Cassie Mercer (ABN 13 353 848 961) Views expressed by the authors are not necessarily those of the publisher. Copyright 2013 by Cassie Mercer and Inside History. All rights reserved.
The tragic events of war have affected thousands of families across Australia and New Zealand. As the centenary of World War I approaches, it is particularly timely to share the experiences and memories of those brave men and women who went away to do their bit for their country. Inside History and findmypast.com.au are delighted to be working in collaboration to produce our exclusive digital magazine. This new form of media is a great way for us to share digital content with you. It’s a fantastic opportunity to showcase our growing collection of international historical records and share some fascinating stories with you. We hope you enjoy this special Anzac edition and our interesting articles from military experts. Learn about the different wars from specialists in the field as well as from regular people like you and I, with Anzac ancestors. If there is a theme or topic that you would like to see in a digital magazine in the future then please share it with us by emailing email@example.com. PS Stay in touch with us on Facebook! like Inside History at: www.facebook.com/insidehistorymagazine like findmypast at: www.facebook.com/findmypastaustralia
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Join usJoin in honouring Anzacs and the sacrifices they made. us inour honouring the Anzacs Can you imagine what it was really like for an Anzac during the war?
Lieutenant Colonel Neil Smith, historian and researcher, be helping people build their own family Australian military Share your Anzac memories and n Firsthand accounts of the war in our commented:moving “At such an important time, wartime memories with the Anzac Memory stories to honour your Anzac Memory Bank Bank. Launched in early April, this online it’s great that people have somewhere to n Exclusive photographs ancestors and educate others ACCESS TO ALL come and find out what these brave men commemorative archive contains heroic n Memorials from ancestors of the Anzacs what brave people endured tothese protect their country. stories, photos and expert information about and women about n Learn about the different wars and theirtips families have endured. I love the practical provided to help you Australian and New Zealand involvement find out more about your military ancestors.” in wars and conflicts around the world. n all Useful resources to learn more and Visit findmypast.com.au Anzac Day is a national day of Plus, you can sharememories your own personal and preserve your Anzac remembrance in Australia and New family stories, photos and diary entries Zealand, held on the anniversary of the so others can learn what it was like to live Gallipoli landing on 25 April each year. through these times of turmoil. It is a day to honour those that sacrificed In the week leading up to Anzac Day their lives, those that came home and — Monday 22 through to Friday 26 April, www.facebook.com/findmypastAustralia 2013Facebook: — findmypast.com.au is offering free all the families affected by wars around the world. The Anzac Day Memory Bank access to entire international military Twitter:its www.twitter.com/findmypastAU provides a place for people to remember the collection to enable people to research sacrifices of these brave men and women. their ancestors’ military history. This To add your stories to the Memory comprehensive collection includes 3.6 million records from Australia, New Zealand, Bank, visit www.findmypast.com.au/ Britain, Ireland and the United States. articles/anzac-day-stories Anzac Day,tofindmypast.com.au will Visit his findmypast.com.au discover:
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A woman of
When Helen Stillman started delving into her family tree, she discovered an extraordinary woman who had lived in the very same suburb. Here, Helen shares the amazing story of Cecilia May Delforce.
C Above Sister Cecilia Delforce c.1941. Cecilia was a POW in Singapore. Courtesy Australian War Memorial, ID P00703.
ecilia May Delforce was the youngest of six children born to Samuel Delforce and Lydia Elizabeth Ogden on 7 September 1912. She had four brothers: Samuel jnr, Andrew, Austin, and John William and a sister Emma Lydia. She is my second cousin twice removed on my paternal side. Cecilia’s parents Samuel and Lydia where married in Augathella in Western Queensland in 1897. His 11 siblings were living and working the rich mining area around Merriwa near Newcastle while Samuel was working in 1910 at Augathella as a shearer. I’ve always thought it strange that Samuel left New South Wales where his parents had lived all their lives. Cecilia grew up in and around the Augathella area, until she was old enough to gain employment for herself in her chosen career of nursing. It is believed that she first nursed at Augathella, and then moved to Stanthorpe where she nursed for at least four years. In the Queensland electoral roll for 1934 I discovered that she was living at the Stanthorpe General Hospital as a nurse. It’s fairly certain Cecilia moved to Brisbane and was nursing there when World War II broke out and the call for nurses to go into service was made. Cecilia signed up to join the Australian Army Nursing Service (AANS) and on 20 May 1940 her first assignment was as a staff nurse in Brisbane. Her appointment ended on 9 January the following year. Cecilia, however, was not ready to go back to civilian life, so she again signed up for service as a nurse with the Australian Infantry Forces (AIF) on 17 January 1941. She was allocated a service number
Below The 1915 electoral rolls on findmypast.com.au revealed the approximate date that Cecilia’s parents moved to Augathella in western Queensland. Courtesy findmypast.
of QX19071 and attached to the 2/10th Australian General Hospital (AGH). It was with this unit that she embarked for Singapore in February 1941. On arrival the 2/10th AGH were sent to Malacca. They were soon helping the soldiers that had been wounded or suffering from tropical diseases. They enjoyed for a few months normal working conditions and delighted in the joys of this foreign land and all it had to offer. There were rumours that the Allied forces were in trouble and the nurses were warned that they were going to get quite busy as the Japanese were quickly advancing through Sumatra. The rumours were correct; the hospitals were soon filling with more wounded soldiers. By early February 1942 the Japanese were bombing Singapore and the surrounding areas. On 10 February the Japanese took Singapore, storming hospitals and taking prisoners. All medical units around Singapore were ordered to pack up as they were being evacuated with all the wounded they could take. Two ships were used to evacuate the nurses and their charges — the Empire Star and the Vyner Brooke. The Empire Star set sail early in the evening of 12 February, bound for Australia. Later that evening the Vyner Brooke was loaded with passengers, nurses, the wounded and crew. The fatally wounded were sadly left in Singapore. Cecilia embarked on the Vyner Brooke with the 2/10 AGH to sail for Australia. They never made it out of the Banka Strait, as a Japanese bomber sighted them as they were weaving in and out of the islands. At 1425 hours on 13 February the Vyner Brooke was bombed and sank about 15 nautical miles off Banka Island. Cecilia found herself floating in the water on debris, and covered in oil from the engines of the sinking ship. She had missed the life boats as they were filled with the wounded and the nurses that couldn’t swim. Most of the life boats were shot full of holes by the Japanese machine gunners. Cecilia drifted with the currents, past islands, bodies and
Of the 63 nurses who set sail on the Vyner Brooke that fateful day in February 1942, Cecilia was one of only 24 who made it back to Australia”
Above Survivors of the Vyner Brooke bombing, a small group which included Cecilia. Courtesy Helen Stillman.
life rafts. She couldn’t make it to land as the currents were too strong. More than 18 hours later, she found herself washed ashore at the northern part of an island. After recovering from the ordeal she walked up the beach where she found a path that led into the jungle. Cecilia followed it in the hope of finding a village, food and water, but instead she met a lone Japanese soldier who escorted her into Muntok, where she was taken as a prisoner of war (POW). Cecilia endured many camps while a POW in Sumatra. The Japanese never classed the AANS as POWs, therefore they didn’t have to provide them with rations. The nurses were “internees”, which meant that they had to find their own food and sustain themselves as best they could. When they weren’t performing their nursing duties, most ran little businesses to get money in order to buy food from other prisoners or the locals. Some made hats from baskets, others made handkerchiefs from scraps of material that was begged, borrowed or stolen. Cecilia cut firewood to earn her money, no doubt a skill she learnt at home in Queensland. Of the 63 nurses who set sail on the Vyner Brooke that fateful day in 1942, Cecilia was one of only
Above Celia’s final resting place in Queensland. Cecilia requested that there be no flowers at her funeral in 2011, because she had not been able to bury her friends in Sumatra with flowers. Courtesy Helen Stillman.
24 who made it back to Australia. The surviving nurses were sent to Army hospitals to recover from their ordeals as POWs at the hands of the Japanese before returning to Australia. On their arrival home, the nurses were treated as heroes. In 1946 Cecilia married Allen Bean McPhee in Wollongong, New South Wales. The couple had two sons and the family lived in New South Wales for many years. In later years they moved to Cecilia’s native Queensland and settled on the Gold Coast, where she died on 5 March 2011 at the age of 98. Cecilia was the last of the 24 nurses to pass away and requested at her funeral that she have no flowers. As she was not able to bury her friends in Sumatra with flowers, Cecilia did not think that she should have flowers either. I’ve been researching Cecilia’s family tree on and off for 30 years. I’m grateful for the resources available to do this from the comfort of my own home. I’ve found findmypast.com.au a valuable resource in my research. In particular the UK censuses and Australian electoral rolls have been a great help to me in my search. In May 2010 my husband and I moved to the Gold Coast and, during that time due to work and other issues, I didn’t have the time to sit down
Above In 1945 ex-POW sisters from the Australian Army Nursing Service, including Cecilia (far right), examine floral gifts presented to POW survivors. Courtesy Australian War Memorial, ID 119670.
and research Cecilia’s history. In December 2012 I discovered that I had missed meeting Cecilia by just 18 months. I was upset that I had not found the time to do her research sooner. I made a visit to Cecilia’s resting place on Australia Day 2013 to thank her for her sacrifice.
CLICK to discover the invaluable electoral roll records for Australia and New Zealand on findmypast.com. au — these records are vital for family historians as census data is not always available.
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Helen Stillman has added Cecilia May Delforce’s journey to findmypast’s Memory Bank, to ensure her life and sacrifices during World War II will not be forgotten. CLICK here to learn how you can add your ancestor’s war stories to the Memory Bank.
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A Redcoat in the family
Did your ancestor belong to a British regiment garrisoned in colonial Australia? Military historian Neil Smith AM looks into the life of a redcoat, and the records to use if you’d like to learn more.
Above Men of the 11th Regiment, one of many redcoat regiments to garrison Australia. Courtesy Neil Smith.
ohn Neal always remembered the cries of pain, the clash of bayonet against pike, the smell of gunpowder, fire, blood, and the death. Memories of that day at the Eureka Stockade in Ballarat on 3 December 1854 stayed with the soldier until he died in his home in Creswick, Victoria, 40 years later. The Irish-born labourer had joined the British Army in 1833 as a teenager. He had been a tall, strapping lad and knew that the Army offered security and adventure beyond reach as a labourer in his home town of Tullow in County Carlow. Almost nine of his 22 years in the Army with the 40th Regiment of Foot had been spent overseas. Years of rough living in India had been especially demanding. Despite some early promise his military career was often tarnished and he was no stranger to the ‘cells’. But by the time he arrived in Australia in February 1854, Corporal Neal had settled somewhat and had a wife, Ellen, and an infant daughter, Fanny. Perhaps he could regain his third stripe and see out his engagement as a sergeant, but this was unlikely: garrison duty in colonial Victoria offered few prospects for advancement. Although he had witnessed many a skirmish with hostile locals in India, it was the action at Eureka that most disturbed Neal. Unlike India, it was a clash between men of similar backgrounds and beliefs to his own. In the days leading up to the battle, the redcoats could not understand the growing hostility extended to them. Usually the soldiers were applauded as
Below “A view of Eureka Stockade” by B Ireland, c.1890. Courtesy State Library of Victoria.
protectors of the goldfields around Ballarat. Then, in the last days of October the attitude had changed among the disgruntled miners as resentment against harsh mining taxes mounted. Tempers flared. Shots were fired and the miners dug in behind their fortified stockade. It was clear a fight was to follow. Before dawn and fortified with a tot of rum, Neal and the others marched stealthily to positions near the stockade. Plans for capturing the stockade were discussed by the officers and orders issued. Neal fell in behind Captain Henry Wise who was to lead the storming party. Ordered to advance, the redcoats moved quietly forward. Then a shot rang out from the miners’ camp. The captain paused then bellowed, “We are seen. Forward and steady men. Let the insurgents fire first.” Within seconds the first ragged volley of musket shots rang out from the stockade’s defenders. The soldiers faltered. Neal saw Captain Wise fall with blood spreading over his right thigh. Wise regained his feet and limped forward joking, “My dancing will now be spoiled.” Sergeant Daniel Hegarty tried to support Wise, who was again shot and fell to the ground. He was to die some days later. Other redcoats were hit by the miners’ musket fire. Bernard O’Donnell pitched forward in a crumpled heap with blood enveloping his neck. Neal knelt and fired his musket. Many soldiers
Below Redcoats fought against miners at the Eureka Stockade in 1854. Courtesy State Library of NSW.
advanced with bayonets fixed. Henry Cotter tripped; his musket flung aside as he clutched his chest, the blood invisible against the red tunic. William Juniper flicked about as if hit by a wagon and grasped his shattered leg. Private Gore sprinted forth like a man possessed and, dropping his musket, reached up to pull at the wooden barricades. A hatless dark-haired soldier, possibly Henry Perry, fired his musket point-blank at a rebel who was leaning over thrusting at Gore with an old flintlock musket. The miner was propelled back in a cloud of smoke and fell like a stone. Perry was then struck by a pike. Private Denis Brien from Cork slumped forward lifeless with wounds to theÂ neck. Another Irishman, Private John Byrne, dropped his musket and tore at the iron bark planks with his hands then recoiled, holding his neck. As he staggered back another miner with a hand gun fired and a second ball struck Byrneâ€™s leg. Blood spurted from his neck as he tried to stem the flow with his handkerchief. Before collapsing, he glimpsed familiar
faces among the miners and wondered â€” why has it come to this? Byrne realised they were theÂ faces of fellow Irishmen he had met and even joked with during his gold escort duties. Redcoats and miners struggled in deadly combat. Swords, bayonets and roughly forged pikes flashed. Metal on metal. Metal on flesh. For 15 minutes the death and mayhem continued. Then it was over. Lumps of human life in rough mining clothes lay next to fellow countrymen wearing red-shell coats with yellow or buff facings. Neal was sickened by what he had seen, but proud that he had done his duty. Perhaps for the first time he felt old and spent. Perhaps then he felt that his future lay in the new colony, not as a soldier, but as a pioneer in Creswick. In June 1856 Corporal Neal could take no more. He was discharged medically unfit with dyspepsia and chronic disease of the heart. His fondness for the grog and lapses of discipline over the years meant he did not receive any good conduct medal, but his medical
Right Redcoats on garrison duty in India c.1850. Courtesy Neil Smith.
Below Redcoats were a familiar sight around early Sydney. Courtesy State Library of NSW.
discharge did result in a life-long pension. That became the key to later finding out so much about the life of John Neal. Fortunately for today’s genealogist, a wealth of information can be drawn from the surviving pension records of the 1800s, better known as Chelsea Pensions, held by The National Archives (TNA) in London. The good news is that these precious records are also available to researchers in Australia and New Zealand through findmypast.com.au. Before commencing the search for a British redcoat, some knowledge of the British Army’s garrison role in Australia is necessary. It started with the First Fleet in 1788 and four companies of Royal Marines (a type of sailor who fights ashore). The New South Wales Corps — a conglomerate of British soldiers assembled for the purpose of defending the fledgling colony — replaced the Marines two years later. From 1810 a rotation of battalions from British Line Regiments took the place of these ‘Rum Corps’ men as they were known. Although the initial British settlement under Governor Arthur Phillip was at Sydney Cove, the British troops were later detached to settlements such as Norfolk Island, Parramatta, Windsor, Bathurst and in other colonies at Melbourne, Castlemaine, Ballarat, Hobart, Adelaide and Perth. The British garrison was mainly responsible for general defence matters and maintaining law and order among the convicts and early pioneers. There were also occasional clashes with Aborigines and an early action in 1804 involved quelling a convict insurrection at Vinegar Hill, northwest of the Sydney settlement. The most notable engagement for the British garrison was against the 1854 armed rebellion of gold miners at the Eureka Stockade. Here, soldiers from the 40th like John Neal and the 12th Regiments fought against almost 300 miners. As the years passed the British government became increasingly resistant to funding the garrison due to commitments elsewhere, such as the Crimea War in the 1850s and conflict in New Zealand in the 1860s. The last British units were withdrawn in 1870 thus leaving the various Australian colonies to fend for themselves with locally raised forces. With some knowledge of the British garrisons in Australia we can commence the task of tracing
Above James Wilson from Sale, Victoria, was one of many Redcoat veterans who settled in Australia. Courtesy Neil Smith.
individual redcoats. In short, the bulk of all records for 19th-century British Army personnel are held at TNA. Even if there is no surviving dossier, a man can nearly always be traced through the rather bulky unit muster books. However, this often laborious task needs to be done in person or by a professional researcher. So with John Neal, although his personal and service records have been largely gleaned from his Chelsea Pensioner dossier, much detail is also replicated in the muster rolls. Army personnel dossiers from the Chelsea Pensions series can be patchy, but for those that have survived, most can be accessed at www.findmypast.com.au ( CLICK to visit the site). Unfortunately these dossiers are only found for men who sought a pension, so there won’t usually be a dossier for a man who served for a short time or who suffered no ill effects from his service. Private Michael Day for example, who arrived in Australia with Neal and who served for eight years, has no pension record. Although the muster rolls will nearly always prove fruitful, the researcher must know the approximate period of service, the soldier’s regiment and preferably his number and rank. A useful tool is James Hugh Donohue’s The British Army in Australia 1788–1870, which lists all men giving names and, most importantly, regiment. ( CLICK to see which libraries have a copy.) Neal’s regiment is correctly listed as 40-2. Be prepared for more than one entry and name variations. For instance, there is a John Neal with the 70th Regiment and others with name variations such as Neale and Neil. An option for further research in Australia is the Australian Joint Copying Project held by most major libraries. Among these microfilm records are copies of all muster rolls for all British units for the period the unit was garrisoning Australia. The quarterly muster roll from TNA (Series WO12/5365) covering October to December 1854 lists Neal as being present for duty throughout the 92-day period.
Below The 40th Regiment strength statement signed by Captain Wise before sailing for Australia.
The muster rolls for the period when Neal initially enlisted and finally took discharge have, as is customary, some additional detail such as occupation, place of birth and description. Of course for Neal, the early muster rolls in Ireland and India have to be examined at TNA. As with all military research, the task can be eased if your man was a commissioned officer like Captain Wise. For around 300 years all British officers have been routinely listed in various Army lists, the most useful of which are Hart’s Army Lists. Such resources, usually consisting of large well-bound volumes in a red cover, include an index. Some not only list officers like Wise with his regiment, promotion and date of birth, but give a potted history of his service with campaigns and medals shown. Libraries and military museums are likely sources for officer lists. But researchers beware — officers do not have a regimental number nor do they have Chelsea Pension dossiers.
Above right Corporal Nealâ€™s final discharge, taken from Chelsea Pension dossiers available at findmypast.
Many 19th-century official records were published in The London Gazette. This outstanding resource can be searched at www.london-gazette.co.uk ( CLICK to visit the site). The London Times at www.thetimes.co.uk ( CLICK to visit the site) is also worth a look. Both publications contain information including officer promotions, honours and awards and many military appointments. Captain Henry Christopher Wise, for example, has four such entries in The London Gazette. Remember also that a search of Australian
Below Was your ancestor a redcoat? Turn over the page to see a list of regiments. Courtesy State Library of Victoria.
newspapers on Trove can result in some brilliant outcomes for your British soldier. Of course, gazettes published in the colony should also be consulted as well. Regimental histories held by libraries and various military museums are also worth consulting. These resources plus the Imperial Pension records held by the National Archives of Australia have been useful in expanding on Neal’s adventures, beyond that to be found in his Chelsea pension records. If your ancestor was a redcoat, like Neal, he will have some form of paper trail. He may not have served at Eureka or indeed in Australia. Rather he might have come to Australia after his discharge. Regardless, when service documents are combined with other records, maps or newspaper accounts, the result can provide a wealth of biographical and other information. The outcome will enhance your family tree as will no other, plus provide you with some exciting and unique anecdotal family information. And with Chelsea Pension records online with findmypast, tracing your redcoat ancestors is easier than ever.
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Below Taking advantage of the shade offered by his horse, Private Leslie Spurgeon Holmes, of the Australian Light Horse Brigade, takes a respite. Courtesy Australian War Memorial, ID P05093.019.
Piecing together war diaries and official records leads military historian Neil Smith AM to discover the heart-wrenching stories of the men and horses of the 4th Regiment of the Australian Light Horse Brigade at the pivotal Battle of Beersheba.
Above Edward Cleaver, who died from wounds received in the Beersheba Charge. Courtesy Australian War Memorial, ID P05693.002.
he shining silver medal with its crisp blue and crimson ribbon was comforting. The reverse simply read ‘For Distinguished Conduct in the Field’. Elsie Bolton had waited years for the original medal to be replaced. It symbolised so much that had happened in her life and that of her husband Sloan, now long past. On www.findmypast.com.au we see that Sloan Bolton had immigrated to Melbourne alone, as a teenager from Ireland in 1913. (CLICK to visit the record.) Further research reveals that he worked hard and became a locomotive driver. Then came World War I. Elsie had known Sloan before he joined up and disappeared to the sprawling Broadmeadows Army camp. It was another five years, however, before their romance could blossom, by which time Sloan was physically shattered from his active service at Gallipoli, then through the Palestine campaign to the mad, headlong mounted charge against Turkish guns at Beersheba and beyond. This article examines my efforts to identify and research confirmed ‘Chargers’ like Sloan. With the National Archives of Australia (CLICK to visit www.naa. gov.au) now providing digitised copies of all World War I personnel records, the task is becoming easier. In summary, the Battle of Beersheba was a precursor to capturing Gaza. Two previous attacks on Gaza had not broken the Turkish defence line which barred the way north to Damascus. By mid 1917 British General “Bull” Allenby had concluded that only an offensive against Beersheba, at the extreme right of the Turkish defence line, could break the deadlock. The matter of who rode in the charge at Beersheba on 31 October 1917 continues to exercise the minds of many. The charge is embedded in the Australian
Below Medical supplies carried by members of an Australian Light Horse Field Ambulance. Courtesy Australian War Memorial, ID REL03824.
ethos along with Gallipoli and the Kokoda Track. Simpson, the man with the donkey, allows us to put a human face to the Gallipoli campaign. Many yearn to do the same for those who rode at Beersheba. To effectively research those who charged, we must first examine the campaign. To do so requires some specialised research, including examination of the Regimental War Diaries held by the Australian War Memorial ( CLICK to visit www.awm.gov.au.) The War Diary tells us that on 28 October the 4th Light Horse Regiment, as part of the Desert Mounted Corps, moved out from Tel el Fara carrying three day’s rations and fodder. The column bivouacked for the night east of Esani. Sergeant Arthur Pickford was with A Squadron — which was destined to be the lead squadron in the charge. Notable chargers in his squadron were the four Langtip brothers of Chinese descent. Other men about to ride into history included Syd Vialls and Jim Ryan — both Boer War veterans. The next day, waiting in the heat of a wadi with parched lips were others like Reuben Lee, who along with Major Lawson served again in World War II. All these men and more have rich histories waiting to be explored among resources located as far afield as London, at NAA offices throughout Australia, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and even among
Department of Defence archives. Some, like Jim Schultz and Bert Salvado, used an alias, but lateral thinking and use of resources like later war gratuity registers will often come up trumps. Pickford described the lead-up to the charge: 28th October. Issued with three days rations for self and horse. Left Tel el Fara in the evening. My health good. 29th October. Camped at Berl el Sam for the night and day. Moved off in the evening. Camped at Khalasi in an old ruined village. Bonzer well for watering horses. 30th October. Off again in the evening. We are ordered to hang on to what water and food we have. The next we get we are to capture from the Turks. We travelled all night doing 30 miles.
Above Lieutenant Colonel Murray Bourchier, commander of the 4th Light Horse Regiment. Courtesy Australian War Memorial, ID H01371.
The offensive on Beersheba started on 31 October 1917. British troops attacked the southern and western defences without success. The Desert Mounted Corps was ordered to capture a fortification named Tel el Saba to the north east of Beersheba. All assaults failed and the battle raged through the day. The mounted troops had now been without water for nearly two days and by late afternoon it was apparent that Beersheba had to be taken that day, or the Corps would suffer a major reversal. Accordingly, the reserve Australian Light Horse Brigade was directed to make a frontal attack on Beersheba. There was no time to plan and there was no support available. The Brigade comprised the 4th and 12th Regiments leading the charge, plus the 11th in reserve. Murray Bourchier commanded the 4th Light Horse Regiment. A Gallipoli veteran with militia service, Bourchier was annoyed that his regiment had missed out on previous battles and eagerly grasped the opportunity for action. Bourchier’s part-time militia service before the war can be tracked on microfilm at the NAA and Army Officer Lists summarise his main appointments and those of his officers. Bourchier ordered Major James “Vicar” Lawson to lead the Charge with his A Squadron. At a walk, then canter, they advanced, most wielding hand-held bayonets with the heat and the flies
Above Light Horsemen and their Waler horses take a short break. Courtesy Australian War Memorial, ID J05982.
forgotten. Surprise and speed were their best weapons, and almost at once the pace was quickened to a gallop, wrote the official historian, Charles Bean. Troopers Alfred Healey and Tom O’Leary raced ahead as ground scouts identifying enemy positions while the long lines of Light Horsemen thundered behind. The startled Turkish gunners opened up with artillery fire but could not depress their guns rapidly enough to keep up with the pace of the charge. Even so there were early casualties. Shrapnel sliced through Colin McLean’s left elbow and he gradually slipped from his horse. The following horsemen swerved or jumped their horses over him. The embarkation rolls at the Australian War Memorial reveal that McLean had embarked with reinforcements for the 4th Light Horse Regiment on the troopship Clan MacCorquodale on 6 May 1916. Other chargers identified in this research project, such as Tom Noonan from Traralgon and Bert Sidlow from Brunswick, had sailed with McLean. As the pounding hooves narrowed the gap to the enemy lines, the Turks commencing firing with machine guns and rifles. Within minutes the Australians reached the trenches, at which point much hand-to-hand fighting took place while many troopers simply jumped the defences and galloped into the town. Panic took hold among the enemy and
Above Portrait of the three McClymont brothers from Inverell, New South Wales. From left is Cecil, Norman and Alexander. The latter died during the Beersheba Charge. Courtesy Australian War Memorial, ID P07768.001.
their resistance quickly crumbled. Many tried to run and were overcome by those who leapt from their horses and attacked the Turks with bayonets and revolvers. Bolton’s horse Monty had been struck by a bullet on the rump and, maddened with pain and fear, took off. With adrenalin pumping the Light Horsemen fanned out through the town capturing guns and prisoners. Bolton saw Albert Cotter treacherously killed after he had chased and bailed up a field gunner. The Turkish drivers had quickly surrendered, but when Cotter trotted up, one shot him dead. The Roll of Honour Circular held by the Australian War Memorial for Cotter notes that the Sydney Grammar School graduate had previously gained prominence as an international cricketer. In an effort to thwart the Australian efforts to secure water and capture Beersheba, demolition of the town wells had already begun. Fortunately, this was stopped when Bolton and Ray Hudson from Corowa came across an officer feverishly working an array of demolition switches. The officer promptly raised his hands when threatened by the revolvers of the Light Horsemen. Turkish prisoners were herded into a concentration area and the injured gathered. Edward Cleaver was among the seriously wounded and died at the Field Ambulance three days later. With chests heaving, dismounted men and horses drank thirstily. Other Australians were still racing beyond the town in the gathering darkness. Bolton was a quarter of a mile away when he heard wheels rattling ahead. He spurred Monty forward and soon came upon a horse-drawn Turkish wagon. Bolton closed in and saw a German officer riding on the front seat next to the driver: Riding up to him I gave a fierce yell. My revolver misfired, so I struck him over the head with it. However he was wearing a steel helmet and I hurt my hand more than I hurt him. The next blow was more successful. For this action Bolton received the Distinguished Conduct Medal, details of which are to be found on the AWM and the London Gazette websites. Using
Trove we find reference to such acts of gallantry plus Cleaver listed with other fatalities from the charge in the Gippsland Times. Pickford described the battle: 31st October. The charge started at 5 o’clock. I was in the second line. The Turks opened with heavy rifle and artillery fire. It was hell itself gone mad. A few of our men and horses were falling but lucky for us the Turks were firing high. We took the Turkish trenches in our stride. Nine feet deep. We won the position by a big bluff. Beersheba was ours.
Below A map of the attack plan for the Beersheba Charge. Courtesy Neil Smith.
The charge was a radical tactical move. Defying the odds, the 4th and 12th Regiments had charged across open ground against entrenched Turkish troops — and won. For his courage and leadership Major Lawson was recommended for the Victoria Cross. Sadly the award was downgraded and the officer instead received a Distinguished Service Order. Several pages of the associated recommendations for Lawson and other chargers like Boer War veteran Arthur Cox can also be seen on the AWM website. The focus of my work is on those who charged from the 4th Light Horse Regiment. This has
Above Albert Cotter in happier times. Courtesy Australian War Memoral, ID P04366.001.
necessitated an examination of the service of all men who were with the Regiment from its inception, through the Gallipoli and European campaigns to the end of hostilities in the Middle East, exactly a year after the charge. To better identify chargers I have compiled a complete and accurate nominal roll using original hard copy War Gratuity Registers, Embarkation Rolls, handwritten roll books and pay records held by the NAA plus some anecdotal input. The records of many men on RecordSearch at NAA have been studied to determine whether a man was with the Regiment on 31 October 1917. Clearly those who had been transferred elsewhere or perhaps died before that date can be discounted immediately. Likewise, many others arrived later as reinforcements. There have also been instances where a soldier’s Repatriation Department records have yielded clues. Sloan Bolton’s dossier is a case in point. These records often cover the soldier’s medical history decades after the conflict but can still be illuminating. Remembrance books published by organisations such as banks, schools and the Victorian Education Department and now available at www.findmypast.com.au have been of great use as well. ( CLICK to visit the website) Those men whose records indicate that they were with the 4th Light Horse Regiment on 31 October 1917 total 475. This is probably a little high for the number that actually charged as some men may not have charged simply because they had duties elsewhere. Perhaps they had been minding supplies to the rear or were sick. Unfortunately official records rarely make mention of a man’s duties on the day, so for a few we will never know where they were at the time of the charge. As it stands 136 men from the Regiment are confirmed as chargers. The supporting evidence varies from those who were casualties or decorated on the day to family records or similar correspondence initiated by veterans of the charge. Many names have been gleaned from diaries in which a man’s pals are mentioned in connection with the action. Arthur Pickford’s diary is an example.
Above A detail of Light Horsemen and their Waler horses. Courtesy Australian War Memorial, ID J05982.
But what of Sloan Bolton? He survived the charge and from Beersheba accompanied his Regiment’s northern advance, constantly clashing with the Turks, who still showed plenty of fight. Jerusalem fell and the Australians pushed through the malaria infested Jordan Valley. As he had at Gallipoli, Bolton was struck down by sickness but recovered. Then, on 3 May 1918, his luck finally turned at a place called Black Hill. While defending a rocky outpost he edged forward to gain a better vantage point with his overheated machine gun. Suddenly a Turkish shell exploded next to him mangling both his legs. The rest of the story is one of unending pain. For months Bolton could only sleep under a merciful cloud of morphine. His suffering continued long after he returned home and to read the soldier’s Repatriation Department dossier is heartbreaking. Until the day he died, Bolton’s two stumps bothered him. He and Elsie faced countless trips to hospital from Geelong to have the stumps trimmed. Their experiences begging for refunds of a few shillings for the tortuous train trips to the Caulfield Hospital defy comprehension. Bolton never gave up. He tried to ignore his injuries and succeeded in riding again, even though he fell and broke an artificial leg. He started several new ventures but the Depression interfered and the visits to hospital continued. Bolton’s health deteriorated and worry over a son flying Spitfires against the Japanese added to the strain. Finally on Christmas Eve 1947 he fought his last battle, although Elsie’s torment continued even after Sloan’s death. Six months later her home was destroyed by fire and the gallantry medal was lost. Officialdom refused to replace the medal until 1970. The losses among the 4th Light Horse Regiment at Beersheba had been incredibly light. At Beersheba the Australian Light Horsemen had written themselves into the history books and annals of Australian legend for evermore. We must remember them and make every endeavour to identify them using resources such as those mentioned herein. We must also seek out the stories of men like Sloan Bolton who were part of that last, great mounted charge.
gazettes Genealogist Rosemary Kopittke looks at Australasian government, police and education gazettes, and explains why they are key to your family history research.
ave you ever wondered why libraries devote so much shelving to old government gazettes? At one library I found a student had stuck a dead cigarette down the spine of a gazette along with a note suggesting that they should be removed and the shelving put to better use! Obviously he or she was not a historian. Could you explain to them the real value of gazettes or do you too think that they are just dry, dusty documents of no relevance to any except those who may have worked for the government? Governments now publish a wide range of gazettes but for the purpose here we will check out what information is available in the oldest ones — the government, police and education gazettes. All colonies published these records and many have now been digitised, making them much more accessible, so we should delve into them and learn the history of our families and local areas.
Above Gazettes can offer information relating to your ancestor’s occupation. Courtesy State Library of Victoria, ID H2002.124/208.
Government, police and education gazettes Contrary to popular opinion, gazettes contain much more than just information on government employees, criminals, legislation, and regulations. True, that information does get mentioned, but ordinary citizens also feature prominently. The following examples give an idea of the scope of material covered: Appointments to a wide variety of positions. Some you may be very surprised to see, such as sheep directors, bailiffs, poundkeepers and commissioners to overseas exhibitions. There are even results for some public service examinations. Regular lists of employees
Above Details on brands of horses, cattle and sheep can be found in gazettes. Courtesy State Library of Victoria, ID H36531/18/87.
were often published giving the name, position, date of birth, and salary. The police gazettes include some information on personnel changes but surprisingly less than you may think; the early New Zealand Police Gazettes do not normally list personnel at all. Brands of horses, cattle and sheep were widely published in the gazettes. These are particularly applicable to those with families who were farmers, but many city dwellers also owned horses. In all cases the brand along with the name and address of the proprietor were listed. Business partnerships formed and often dissolved, and both can be found in gazettes. Notices about convicts often appear in the early gazettes — tickets of leave, conditional pardons, permissions to marry, absconders, and more. There are other sources of material for convicts but the gazettes can prove a valuable additional source often providing a physical description, the name of the ship on which they arrived, their native place, and details of their occupation and location. Gazettes also report the legislation under which the convict system existed. Criminals and their victims As expected, the government and then later the police gazettes, reported widely on crimes committed. The notices give wonderful descriptions of the perpetrators of the crimes as well as their victims — almost better than a photograph. They didn’t mince their words — remarkably ugly, half-witted, insane — whatever language best conveyed the description of the person.
There are lists of prisoners discharged from gaol, escapees, arrests and so much more; enough to make you wish you had a criminal in the family! The property of the victims is also well described — the details of stolen watches right down to all the dents, the contents of toolboxes, and even washing taken from the line. The information found here can add much-needed flesh to the bare bones of a person’s life. Death The gazettes have little information on births and marriages, but often a lot about death! Notices regarding both intestacies and wills feature regularly in the gazettes. Typically the notices give the name of the deceased, residence, occupation and the executor or administrator. Usually just one notice appeared though there may be subsequent entries if there is difficulty in locating the next-of-kin or heir, or where the executor sought the creditors of the estate. Estates listed represent a wide cross-section of the community, both men and women — ranging from those with little to leave to those with estates worth thousands of pounds, from those dying in lonely outback areas, to residents of large cities.
Notices referring to the transmission of real estate following a death are another great source of
information. Published to allow people to oppose the transfer of the real estate, the records give the date of death, the name of the claimant of the real estate, a full description of the land and the dates within which a caveat may be lodged. The police gazettes record inquests of accidental deaths giving details about the person and the date and place of death. Defence Notices about early regiments stationed in Australia often appear in the gazettes — deserters always rate a mention and are normally accompanied by details of the regiment, age, occupation and physical description. Later gazettes record military details about the Volunteer Defence Forces, troops sent to South Africa, promotions, examination results and even battalion bugle calls. Education Those researching their family or a particular school will find much of interest in the government gazettes, including appointments, transfers and promotions of teachers, details of new schools, tenders for building and repairing school
Left, from top Was your ancestor a chemist? Registrations for medical practitioners can be found in gazettes. Courtesy State Library of Victoria, ID H2009.61/35 (top) and ID H85.55/162/4G (bottom).
property and members of school committees. The education gazettes which were published later continued to provide this information but also included considerable details on students themselves, such as examination results, scholarships, bursaries and sometimes university results. During the war there were reports on staff who have been wounded or killed. Some of the gazettes included an occasional obituary for staff. For those who might enjoy a test of their knowledge the exam questions included will give you a challenge. Employment There are numerous lists and notices that relate to people’s ability to carry on their occupation. Some occupations require the issue of an annual licence — there are regular lists of auctioneers, publicans, billiards, bagatelle, packet, tobacco, and other licences appearing in both the government and police gazettes. Some professions, such as medical practitioners, chemists and druggists, required registration before they were able to practice. The information provided here — the date of registration, address, and qualification (degree, year Below Robert Beeston’s shop in Queen Street, Brisbane in 1869, which is mentioned in the police gazettes. Courtesy Rosemary Kopittke.
and place) â€” though brief, can lead to other sources. In later years, lists for dentists, surveyors, architects, optometrists and other professions began to appear also. Ministers of religion were required to be authorised to celebrate marriages and there are regular notices and lists that appear in the gazettes indicating their name, religious denomination and residence. Insolvency notices appeared regularly in all the gazettes. As early as March 1832 Thomas Alison Scott was required to attend the Court House, Kingstreet, Sydney and be examined regarding his alleged insolvency. Conditions were often difficult and many became bankrupt. Sometimes the police gazette may reveal other circumstances which triggered the insolvency, such as the theft of tools in the case of Robert Beeston. The sequence of the various stages are all recorded in the gazettes enabling the researcher to discover the occupation and residence of the bankrupt, the executors and the final dividend paid to creditors. These are worth following up in Trove where you could find a list of all they owned up for auction. Land records Information relating to land is in great supply in the government gazettes. There are
Below There is a wealth of information relating to land and property in gazettes. Courtesy State Library of Victoria, ID H2003.27/103.
extensive Land Tax Register and Valuation lists in Victoria which record an address, the nature of the holding, a full description of the property and the area and value; Assessment Rolls in Tasmania which provide similar information after 1900; Lists and Transfers of Runs; Crown land records; leases of various types; land sales in towns; and notices about new roads and licensed gates which impact on an individual’s property. All will provide information allowing you to extend your research into other documents. Mining In Victoria in particular, there are numerous notices inserted by shareholders applying to register mining companies. Apart from the place of intended operations, the shareholders are all listed together with their address, occupation and the number of shares held. Applications for mining leases, miner’s rights and business licences also open other avenues of research for those whose family thought mining a great way to make their fortune. Missing friends Lost or deliberately lost? These notices cover people who are heirs to an estate, husbands who have deserted their wives, criminals escaping the arm of the law and others where people have simply lost touch and are seeking to re-establish a connection. Whatever the reason, the snapshot in the notice can give a potted history of the life of the person — age, physical description, occupation, migration, places they resided and more. Naturalisations Aliens (non-British subjects) could apply for certificates or letters of naturalisation which would give them full citizenship rights. Some of these are recorded in the gazettes and can include the person’s occupation and residence. And more... Apart from the topics discussed, there are notices about unclaimed letters, unpaid rent, patents, trademarks, rolls of ship owners, horse theft, petitions, proclamations and so the list goes on — just waiting for you to discover. All can tell you something about the social conditions of the time and how the colonists fared and lived their lives. Closure periods The government and education gazettes are generally open to public view. Police gazettes, however, were
originally published ‘for the exclusive use of the police force and prison officials’. In Australia they are closed for periods ranging from 30 to 70 years depending on the state, while in New Zealand they remain closed for 70 years.
Above Some records of marriage exist in gazettes. Courtesy State Library of Victoria, ID H2000.105/1.
Where to access the gazettes Government gazettes Digitised, fully searchable government gazettes are available on Findmypast.com.au for New Zealand and all Australian states (except Western Australia) for varying ranges of years (earliest 1832 for New South Wales, latest 1905 for Queensland). Gazettes for most states have been digitised by Archive Digital Books Australasia (CLICK to visit www.gould.com.au) including and beyond those that are available at findmypast.com.au. An online archive of the Victoria Government Gazette is available at the State Library of Victoria (CLICK to visit http://gazette.slv.vic.gov.au). Police gazettes A good collection of Australian gazettes is available at findmypast.com.au to 1900, except Western Australia. Gould Genealogy also has digitised 20th-century gazettes available (South Australia to 1947). Western Australian gazettes have been digitised and are accessible for 1876 to 1900 on the State Library of WA website (CLICK to visit www.slwa.wa.gov.au/ find/eresources/police_gazettes. Digitised Canterbury Police Gazettes for 1869 to 1871 are available through the Christchurch City Library (CLICK to visit http://christchurchcitylibraries. com/Heritage/Digitised/PoliceGazette), while all others may be accessed at the archives. Education gazettes Some education gazettes can also be found at findmypast.com.au. Researchers should investigate the state, university and education department libraries as well as many gazettes are held in their collections.
Well worth your time Government gazettes in all their forms are a source we cannot afford to neglect. Though many suspect they are irrelevant, in fact that is not the case — they cover the whole population and not just government employees, police and teachers. They are bound to include someone in your family! government gazettes: www.findmypast.com.au/articles/ world-records/full-list-of-australasianrecords/newspapers-directories-andsocial-history
Above Find details from land departments in your state’s government gazettes. Courtesy State Library of Victoria, ID H13851.
Police Gazettes: www.findmypast. com.au/articles/world-records/fulllist-of-australasian-records/ institutions-and-organisations
Education Gazettes: www.findmypast. com.au/articles/world-records/fulllist-of-australasian-records/ education-and-work
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your family Below The Second Marine Division marches through Wellington in 1943 on their way to various camps outside the city.
Author Bruce Petty looks at New Zealand’s home front during World War II, and how it became a second home for many American troops stationed on its shores.
herever you go in New Zealand, whether to its large cities, small towns, or even parts of the country where towns no longer exist, you will be struck by the fact that there are memorials to the young men — and in some cases women — who sacrificed their lives in war. For some, going off to war was an obligation, and for others it was an opportunity to see another part of the world and have a great adventure, as more than one Kiwi veteran told me. In the village of Omata, near New Plymouth, Taranaki, on the west coast of North Island, you will find one of these memorials. I have visited it on numerous occasions, noting the number of individuals from both WWI and WWII etched into the cold marble. Many thoughts went through my mind as I ran my fingers over the columns of names. To begin with, I noticed there were almost twice as many names chiselled into the marble for WWI as for WWII. I also noted that for WWI the same surnames occurred more than once in some cases. This led me to imagine that some mothers may have lost two or even all of their sons in that conflict. On the list of names for WWII, I saw fewer names but couldn’t help but note that some of those surnames were the same as others listed for WWI. Again, my imagination took over and Left The Omata memorial, which displays the names of sevicemen from WWI and WWII. Courtesy Bruce Petty.
Below “Mapping Unit” (detail) painting by P G Navarro, Second Marine Division, World War II. Courtesy Bruce Petty and Mark Navarro.
I envisioned a poor woman who lost her husband in the First World War and a son in the Second. According to those who study the demographics of war, WWII was the largest and most destructive man-made act in history. Military historians aren’t even sure how many people died worldwide as a direct or indirect result of that conflict. Some estimates put the total as high as 80 million — maybe more. Looking back today, we can only imagine the anxiety that people, especially parents of military-aged young men, must have felt as the world once again prepared to launch into another world war. At the outbreak of WWII, the population of New Zealand was approximately 1.6 million. This small nation had a Home Guard of roughly 100,000 men, many of whom had served in the First World War. Soon the Second New Zealand Division was formed and sent off to fight alongside their British counterparts in Greece, Crete and later in North
Africa. The Maori Battalion was part of the Second New Zealand Division and likewise saw combat for the first time in those theatres. (Maori also served in the Home Guard, the Royal New Zealand Navy, and the RNZAF and RAF.) When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour on 7 December 1941 (8 December in Australia and New Zealand) other Japanese forces moved rapidly south, taking British strongholds such as Hong Kong and Singapore. New Zealanders and Australians alike, with most of their fighting men on the other side of the world, felt especially vulnerable to the new threat coming south out of Asia. However, American President Roosevelt, at the behest of Winston Churchill and Prime Ministers Peter Fraser of New Zealand and John Curtin of Australia, redirected US Army divisions originally and destined for Europe to New Zealanders and trained Australia, and US Marine Corps and Navy personnel to New Zealand. These Australians alike, were followed later by US Army troops. with most of their Within the first four months of fighting men on the America’s entry into the war, it had over 100,000 military personnel other side of the south of the equator. One US Marine world, felt especially Corps brigade, reinforced, was sent to Pago Pago, American Samoa, in vulnerable” January 1942, followed by another in March. Elements of the Second Marine Division, scattered from Iceland to California, were sent to Wellington and settled in camps throughout the area. Other elements of the Second Marine Division were rerouted to Guadalcanal in August 1942 to aid the First Marine Division in their desperate early days to secure a foothold in the Solomon Islands and stop the Japanese march south. They would later join the rest of the division in camps outside of Wellington in late February 1943, before moving out in late October 1943 to be blooded on Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands. Before leaving for Tarawa, some members of that division had spent up to eleven months in New Zealand, longer than any other unit of its size. New Zealand, which was and still is an agrarian nation was pretty much cut off from the rest of
Below â€œ18th Marinesâ€?, a painting by P G Navarro. Courtesy Bruce Petty and Mark Navarro.
Below Joe Wetzel enlisted in the US Marine Corps during the Depression years, and was sent to Guadalcanal with other elements of the Second Marine Division. He then spent about eight months in New Zealand, before going to Tarawa, Hawaii, and the Marianara Islands. While in New Zealand, he met and married a New Zealand girl. Wetzel lived in New Plymouth until his death a few years ago.
the world in terms of foreign travellers. However, following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour, and the “Friendly Invasion” of US military personnel, that changed. Most New Zealanders I interviewed told me that everybody in New Zealand knew about the US in those days because of the plethora of Hollywood movies that inundated the country—movies about cowboys and gangsters. However, when I interviewed veterans of the Second Marine Division most of them told me few if any of them had ever heard of New Zealand. Furthermore, when elements of the Second Marine Division left Guadalcanal in late February 1943 to join up with the rest of the division, they were not told where they were going when they boarded ship. One of them told me they just assumed they were on their way to “another stinking island to fight more Japs!” When they entered Cook Straits and saw a modern city before them, some of those hardened marines started crying. They knew then they were not going to fight on another stinking island, but have some time to rest and recuperate. A lot of these US Marines and sailors coming to New Zealand from Guadalcanal were sick with recurring bouts of malaria and other tropical diseases, and many others suffered from what we today would call post traumatic stress syndrome. By this time, most of New Zealand’s young men had been gone for three years or more while parents, wives, children and friends and family members worried about whether they would ever see them again. At the same time, a lot of American military personnel coming to New Zealand were young, some as young as 13 and 14. Today in the US there is an association for these underage veterans. For many of these young Americans this was their first time away from home. A lot of them were homesick and frightened. New Zealand families with sons of their own they had not seen, and might not see for years, took in these young American servicemen. New Zealand families gave these young American fighting men a home away from home. As a result, a lot of these now aged veterans told me that they always considered New Zealand their second
Above June Baudinct-Taringa, and her daughter, Tanya Savage. June has lived all her life wondering who her American father is, and Tanya has been helping in the search ever since she started having children of her own. Below and right Shirley Anne Winistoerfer Fairest, as she looks today, and her father, Francis W Winistoerfer as he looked as a young US Marine. Shirley only discovered who her father was eight years after he passed away.
home. The Second Marine Division Association made this clear in the 1960s when they started having their reunions in New Zealand every fifth year. During these reunions they reconnected with Kiwi families and in some cases old girlfriends. With so many New Zealand men off fighting the war, New Zealand women took over running the farms, working in factories and doing other work that had traditionally been done by the men folk. There was little in the way of romance for New Zealand women during the early war years, but that all changed with the arrival of young and seemingly exotic Americans, who came courting with flowers, boxes of chocolates and hard-to-find nylon stockings. The Americans also introduced the population to things like donuts, milkshakes and the latest dance grazes from the US, such as the Jitterbug. Relationships between New Zealand women and American men started almost as soon as the men stepped off their ships. According to the official record, 1,400 war brides resulted mostly from the American presence in New Zealand. There were also a large number of children born out of wedlock as well as hushed up abortions. Some of these children were put up for adoption, while others were raised by single mothers. However, since having a child out of wedlock was socially unacceptable at that time, many of these children didn’t learn for years that their biological fathers were American servicemen; others probably never knew. June Baudinet-Taringa, a “Cook Island Maori” didn’t find out that her biological father was a US Marine until she was in her late teens, and to this day does not know his name or even if he survived the war. Her mother refused to talk about him to her. Shirley Fairest knew she was somehow different from her brothers, but could never quite put her finger on why until she was 15 and her aunt inadvertently let the truth slip from her lips. After years of wondering and searching she finally found out who her Marine Corps father was as a result of meeting up with a group of Second Marine Division veterans on one of
Below and right Clint Libby’s father, Robert Clinton Libby, was one of many American servicemen to meet and marry New Zealand women during the war. He was also among those who survived multiple Pacific island battles, and settled in New Zealand. Robert journeyed back to the US only once after that. Clint is held by his father in this photo.
their return visits to New Zealand. Shirley was 50 years old by then and discovered that her father had died eight years earlier. However, the following year she travelled to the US and met for the first time her father’s side of the family. She described those two weeks with her father’s side of the family as “the making of me.” Alfred Leach, like Shirley Fairest, didn’t find out that his biological father was an American serviceman until he was a teenager, and like Shirley found out as the result of a slip of the tongue by a family member. However, unlike Shirley, Alfred still does not know who his biological father is. The last thing he said to me in his oral history interview was, “I don’t have to have much to satisfy me, I don’t think. If I could see a photo...” Since the end of the war, countless American veterans have returned to New Zealand to try to locate children they left behind. Likewise, countless numbers of New Zealanders have been trying to locate their American fathers. In both situations there have been heart-warming successes as well as heart-breaking failures. A lot of New Zealand women moved to America after the war. There were also American servicemen who elected to make New Zealand their home and not return to the US. Joe Wetzel of Louisiana, met and married Peggy Whiting while in New Zealand. Wetzel survived Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Saipan and Tinian. Since his bride didn’t want to live in the US, Wetzel decided to make New Zealand his home. He was one of four former marines to settle in New Plymouth after the war, and was the last one living in that city until his death a few years ago. Likewise, Robert Clinton Libby of the Second Marine Division, who married a local girl before shipping out to Pacific battlefields, spent his formative years
Below and right Sylvia Whitehouse Carrigan as a teenager, and Clifford Carrington, as a young US Marine. Both photos were taken in New Zealand, during the war. Note the old 03, A-3 Springfield rifle Clifford is holding. This was prior to being issued the newer M-1, Garand rifles, the mainstay of US ground forces during WWII.
bouncing from one foster home to another until he escaped to the US Marine Corps. He had no problem making New Zealand his home after surviving multiple island battles. As a former foster child, he had nothing to go back to in the US. Clifford Carrington of Illinois, and also a member of the Second Marine Division, was one of many marines taken in by a New Zealand family. The Whitehouse family of Otaki, north of Wellington, was close to Carrington’s camp at Tihati Bay. They were the family that adopted him and some of his buddies. Sylvia Whitehouse was their teenage daughter. She and Carrington married in 1990. After spending so much time in New Zealand, members of the Second Marine Division and the people of New Zealand had become so close that for the first time New Zealand newspapers printed not only the names of New Zealand casualties from the war, but also the names of Americans killed on Tarawa. And although it may have been a memorable time for young and not-so-young New Zealand women and US servicemen stationed in New Zealand the home front situation was cause for concern among New Zealand fighting men both at home and overseas. It was of special concern when some of them started receiving “Dear John” letters from girlfriends, and in some cases wives. In 1943, some New Zealand servicemen started coming home on furlough only to find the Yanks had taken over. There was any number of alcoholfuelled fights and riots. Much of the discord had to do with women, and also racial attitudes on the part of some Americans. The US military was still segregated in those days and Maori home on leave did not take kindly to some of these American attitudes. In spite of some of these confrontations, few Americans who spent time in New Zealand during the war had unkind things to say about the country or the people. In fact, both New Zealand and US military
authorities were kept busy throughout the war years rounding up American deserters who preferred life in New Zealand to combat in the Pacific. During one of their efforts to round up these deserters, American Military Police and New Zealand civilian authorities were surprised to come across an American sailor who had jumped ship 25 years earlier. Unlike the Americans who first came to New Zealand during WWII, there are few Americans today who have never heard of New Zealand. However, those WWII veterans who are still with us are well into their eighties and nineties. The Second Marine Division Association veterans of WWII have stopped having their five-year reunions in New Zealand, and for those still standing there are few friends and comrades left to lift a pint with and share their memories.
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Your free special issue from Inside History and findmypast is out now! Discover how to trace your military ancestors, from redcoats to Anzac...
Published on Apr 21, 2013
Your free special issue from Inside History and findmypast is out now! Discover how to trace your military ancestors, from redcoats to Anzac...