Monday, 25 August 2014

Imperial War Museum

While in London we visited the Imperial War Museum, particularly to view their new World War I display.

The Imperial War Museum was opened in June 1920 with the intention of collecting and displaying material relating to the First World War. The collection now extends to the Second World War and subsequent conflicts. The new First World War Galleries were opened in July this year and were a major reason for the visit. Fortunately we arrived at the museum well before the opening time of 10.00 am as there was already quite a long queue ahead of us. It was not long before the queue was out of the gate and growing in the street. About ten minutes before the doors opened a staff member began handing out tickets for the First World War exhibition for the first group of people to be admitted.

Viewing the exhibition is a moving experience. The exhibition investigates a variety of topics including the lead up to and causes of the war,events that took place during the war, the involvement of countries from the British Empire, recruitment, experiences on the battlefield, life on the home front, role of women, logistics of feeding and looking after the soldiers on the battlefield, the advent of new machines and technology in warfare as well as Armistice and the Peace Treaty. You really need more than one viewing to take it all in.

There is a constant hum of the sounds of battle. In one section you walk through what appears to be a trench. One confronting moment is turning a corner and finding yourself face to face with a tank. A large number of artefacts and photographs help to portray the story. Fortunately the IWM has published a book by Paul Cornish to accompany the exhibition.
The IWM also has smaller displays relating to the Second World War and other military conflicts in which the British have been involved.

Upstairs there is a galley exhibiting some of the artwork produced relating to the First World War.

We also visited the library where Robin looked for information about his grandfather who died during the First World War.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Poppies in London

The centenary of the commencement of the First World War was commemorated on August 4. In France on August 5 we watched a report on Sky News about a project at the Tower of London where a display of ceramic poppies is being prepared in memory of the servicemen from Britain and the British Empire who lost their lives during World War I.

Additional information about the Tower of London Remembers project can be found on the Tower of London website.
 Two days later, on our first day in London, we walked to the Tower of London to visit the display. It was a spectacular sight and when complete, later in the year, it will be a moving memorial to the men who died.
The display of poppies continues around three sides of the Tower of London. Cascades of poppies fall from two windows on different sides of the tower while a third cascade appears over a garden wall.
In some sections there are only two or three rows of poppies but we watched the many volunteers adding additional poppies to the display.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Role of women in World War I

When investigating my family history I discovered that my great grandmother, Annie Hutton,  and her elder daughter, Eleonora, set off from Sydney for England in 1916 to assist the war effort in the Home Country. For Australian civilians to travel to England during a war seems a strange and reckless undertaking. Even more so as Annie and her father were born in New South Wales and her mother was born in Ireland making close family reasons to undertake such a journey unlikely.  For Australian women wishing to assist the war effort, there were also many opportunities to do so at home.

However Annie, who was 52 when she left Sydney, and her daughter were away from Australia for three years. Initially Annie worked as a supervisor in a munitions factory. My mother has a couple of the hairnets that the women wore in the factory. Annie was known as a good organiser and was later in charge of a canteen. What type of canteen and where in England she worked is unknown.  All my mother knows is that when rations were short Annie always found some way of obtaining what was needed. The information about what Eleonora did is even more sketchy except that it is said that she worked in a government department in some capacity. As she had not had previous working experience in Australia this seems unlikely, but we do not know. Unfortunately stories of their experiences were not passed on to other family members.

During the First World War women were involved as nurses and members of the Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) in hospitals as well as working in factories and most essential services and generally taking on roles in offices vacated the men serving overseas. Kate Adie's book, Fighting on the home front: the legacy of women in World War One discusses the various roles undertaken by women in England during the war, including working in canteens.

Chapter 8 'We need volunteers - you, you and you' discusses the voluntary work, often overlooked, done by women prior to 1914 and how this tradition of involvement in voluntary groups, particularly by the middle classes transferred to volunteering for the war effort. For married women there was the Mothers' Union, Sunday School movement, temperance movement as well as other parish and social activities. Women, particularly younger women, had recently become involved in the Red Cross, undertaken St John first aid courses and some had joined the Girl Guides, formed in 1910, where girls could learn practical skills - members could obtain badges as a cyclist, photographer, air mechanic or electrician. Girls, too young for the workforce, could knit warm clothes for boy scouts undertaking coast watch duty. According to Adie they then 'progressed to scullery maids, laundresses, waitresses, canteen workers and orderlies, and also to spinning, weaving and sandbag making. They taught English to refugees and in London worked as messengers in government departments.' And of course they provided free labour.

In Edwardian times there had been a shift in education opportunities for many young women. The suffrage movement had provided some women with a better idea of politics and the possibility of a freer lifestyle than that experienced by the previous generation of women. Adie described the situation:
    When hostilities started these women were already well versed in knitting, sewing, first aid, fund-raising, charitable work, gardening, tea-making, organizing and setting a good example. What the war brought was public recognition that they were wanted, and had moved from 'helpful' to essential. Even if they were still not wanted on the front line, there were ever increasing opportunities on the Home Front.
At the outbreak of war, the YMCA quickly established huts attached to army camps in France to look after soldiers returning from the battlefield. Although women were permitted to work in these huts they were not permitted to make decisions, so in December 1914 the Women's Auxiliary Committee (WAC) was formed to provide volunteer female workers to staff the huts at the base camps. The women were vetted by members of a WAC committee before being allowed to volunteer and travel to the camps. The huts provided a welcoming environment away from the trenches for the men, a cup of tea, chocolate, a friendly face and someone to talk to. In some places they developed into recreation huts where letters could be written and hot drinks, biscuits and cigarettes could be purchased. The next stage, in a few locations, was the development of hostels for the relatives of the wounded, dockside canteens, convalescent centres - all provided by female volunteers. Some of the women also worked as drivers. During the war almost 2,000 women volunteered in these huts operated by women.

The WAC also operated in England providing services to refugees who were flooding into England, soldiers on leave and women working in the munitions and other factories providing war equipment and provisions. The WAC and other welfare groups were particularly concerned about the conditions faced by the thousands of working women who had left home to work for employment in war related industries. Canteens for these women were operated in munitions factories. Rest rooms and recreation huts for women were also established. It became acknowledged that safe leisure environments needed to be created for these women. Other welfare organisations for women, such as the Girls' Friendly Society and similar groups from churches, worked to help the young women whose lives had been greatly changed by the outbreak of war.

Adie's book highlights the many opportunities for women's involvement in the war effort - working in canteens being only one - plus the social changes that occurred for women as a result of the war.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Clive Condor Weston part 2

In Mapping Our Anzacs, the file of records relating to Clive Condor Weston shows that when was injured at Gallipoli in August 1915 a series of of official letters was written about his condition in reply to enquiries from his family who had been trying to contact him.
The above telegram was sent to Clive's sister who lived in Parkes, Mary Balcombe, who had been listed as his next of kin and bore the stamp - Parkes 27 August. It read: 'Regret reported Brother Private CC Weston wounded August 7th gunshot wound head severe disembarked Malta from Dunluce Castle Aug 12th will advise upon receipt further particulars will cable free receipt you request   Sec'y Defence'
Mary immediately wrote to the Secretary of the Defence Department in Melbourne requesting that a wire with enclosed message should be sent to her brother. A note written in pencil at the bottom of the letter states 'Cable sent 5/9/15
Note on bottom of the message to be cabled to Clive says, '2/9/15'.
A letter in reply to Mary's letter, dated 4 September, was sent from the Officer, Base Records. The letter noted the receipt of Mary's letter and informing her that' a cable message has been dispatched requesting progress of your brother, No. 536 Private C. C. Weston, 1st Light Horse Regiment, and upon receipt of reply it will be immediately transmitted. It is regretted personal messages cannot be included, but should you desire to send a private message the following is suggested as the address:-
536 Weston
Wounded, First Australian Horse
The cost of a week end letter cable is 10¼d per word and 3/5 per word, ordinary rate, for the reply when received.'
A postal address was also provided.
The next letter from Melbourne Base Records was dated 19th September to advise Mary of a new postal address for Clive as he had been transferred to a hospital in London.

Two days earlier, Mary had written to the Melbourne Base records requesting information as she had heard no further information about her brother and explaining how distressed she was not knowing his condition.
The Melbourne Base Office replied on 26th September to say they had sent another cable to London concerning her brother and would keep her informed when they had information.

The next message from Melbourne Base Records was dated 8th October advising Mary that 'now reported that Brother Sergeant C. C. Weston injury finger progressing Second London General Hospital will promptly advise if anything further received.'

Another letter was sent on 19th October 1915 confirming the information that Mary had already received.

The series of correspondence in the file of Clive Condor Weston illustrates the difficulties families in Australia faced in receiving information about family members wounded overseas.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Clive Condor Weston

Clive Condor Weston, born at Coonamble in 1875, was the youngest son of William Clifton Weston and Jane Cox. Clive worked as a clerk in the Petty Sessions office at a number of locations in New South Wales including Lithgow, Balmain and Newcastle.

In January 1900 he enlisted in the NSW Citizen's Bushmen and was in C squadron. The men were stationed at a training camp at Kensington before marching through Sydney on 28 February to board the ship to South Africa.
Image originally in Sydney Mail 3 March 1900
Clive was with the same group of soldiers as Arthur Hutton. They would have known each other as Clive's sister, Annie, had married Arhur's brother, George. Clive was one of six sergeants in C squadron. Clive's service number was 256.

The NSW Citizen's Bushmen contingent consisting of 30 officers and 495 other ranks, with 570 horses arrived at Cape Town on 2 April 1900. They disembarked at Biera on 12 April and then continued on to Bulawayo in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). C Squadron was involved in a battle at Koster's River on 22 July while attempting to relieve the Eland River Garrison. They continued to operate in the Transvaal and the advance on Pietersburg before returning to Cape Town to embark on ships returning to Australia. They arrived back in Australia on 9 May 1901 disembarking in Sydney on 11 May.

The NSW Citizen's Bushmen contingent had several name changes to Australian Bushmen Contingent and then to 1st Bushmen Regiment.
For information about the NSW Citizens' Bushmen:
Australian War Memorial
Australian Military History of the Early Twentieth Century  

Back in Australia Clive was CPS first in Raymond Terrace and then in Bourke from 1902 until 1905.  He appears then to have made a carer change as when he enlisted in the army in 1914 his occupation was listed as Stock and Station Agent.

Clive was 39 when he enlisted in the AIF on 24 August 1914 at Coonabarabran, however most of his military records give his age as being 34 when he enlisted. His next of kin was listed as his sister, Mary Balcombe, at Coradgery Station, Parkes. The description on the attestation papers was that Clive was 5 foot 9 inches tall, weighed 12 stone 2 pounds, had a ruddy complexion, blue eyes and fair hair. He was a private in the 1st Light Horse Regiment, C Squadron, and his service number was 536. On 20 October 1914 the men embarked on the HMAT A16 Star of Victoria for Egypt.
On 9 May 1915 the troops, without their horses, were transferred to Gallipoli. During the next three months Clive received a number of temporary promotions first to corporal and then sergeant as men holding these positions were killed or wounded. Clive Condor Weston received head and hand injuries on 7 August. His records do not specify the battle but the date coincides with the diversionary action by Australian and other forces to allow British forces to land safely. Details of the battle were published in Australian newspapers - Gallant Australians - Charge of the Light Horse part 1 and part 2.

The papers relating to Quarter Master Sergeant Clive Condor Weston in Mapping Our Anzacs  show that for the next two years Clive served at various locations in the Middle East including Romani and Tel-el-Kebir, however for much of the time he was in hospital having treatment, particularly for his hand. A medical report made on 25 April 1916 stated ' anchylosis 1st & 2nd joints 2nd finger right hand & failing memory and headaches'.  The report continued 'RH quite stiff - making hand unfit for rifle shooting. Occasional giddiness, headaches and loss of memory.' On previous occasions bone fragments had been removed and work done on the tendons but hand was not responding. The doctor recommended that Clive Weston should be discharged as unfit, as did the Medical Board, however he was returned to his unit. The records give details of another medical report dated 4 September 1917.
    patient states he was wounded in the right hand at Gallipoli. Since then the hand has steadily been getting more useless. Admitted into No. 14 AGH on July 3 1917. Examination of r. hand showed ankylosis of middle finger in all its articulations, and very little power in the other fingers. Middle finger amputated: adhesions in the other fingers forcibly broken down. Has received no benefit from massage and hot air treatment.
This time the recommendation was that Clive Condor Weston should be discharged to Australia for six months. The Medical Board agreed and also noted that his ability for earning a full livelihood in the general labour market had been lessened by one half.  At Suez on 12 November 1917 Clive embarked on the SS Wiltshire to return to Sydney where he arrived on 20 December.
By the middle of 1917 it would appear that Clive was using alcohol to resolve his problems. Before leaving Cairo, Clive had been arrested on 28 July 1917 for being drunk and disorderly. At his trial on 2 November he received a reprimand for his behaviour. In Sydney on 22 February 1918 Clive was admitted to No. 13 AAH (Australian Auxiliary Hospital). Unfortunately the writing is difficult to read but he was committed to the hospital suffering from the effects of drinking. 'He was noisy, abusive & threatening. He was sent to the cottage'. The next note dated 4 March 1918 reads, 'Is now well & in his normal condition.  He wishes to be discharged and this is recommended.'

Clive was  discharged from the army as medically unfit on 20 March 1918 and from 21 March received a pension of 71 shillings a fortnight.

On 17 October 1922 Clive Condon Weston committed suicide in his room at Central Australian Hotel, Bourke, New South Wales. The Raymond Terrace Examiner and Lower Hunter and Port Stephens Advertiser on Friday 20 October 1922 provided the following report.
    Death. Mr. Clive C. Weston, who about 20 years ago, was C.P.S at Raymond Terrace, was found on Tuesday morning in an hotel at Bourke with a cut in his throat and his wrists bleeding. Medical aid was summoned but he died in about ten minutes. He had been to the war, and was badly gassed, and was more or less a physical wreck. Before evil days came upon him he was a fine type, and his passing thus is a sad one.
The statement about Clive having been gassed was incorrect however the sentiment expressed probably summed up the situation. A sad story.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Walter John Hutton

Walter John Hutton was born in Bath, England, on 1 July 1861, the third son in a family of eleven children. His father, William Forbes Hutton, was an officer with the 34th Light Infantry in India. Walter was living in Leckhampton, Gloucestershire when the 1871 census was taken. On 6 May 1874, when he was 12, Walter arrived in Australia, aboard the Northumberland, with his mother and family members not already in the country. His father had retired from the Army and had decided to settle in Victoria having purchased a property at Lilydale. Initially Walter and his family lived in a large house, Blythswood, in Kew. He would have initially attended school. His youngest brother, Maurice, later atttended Melbourne Grammar School but it is not known which school Walter and the next brother, William, attended. Walter would have helped on his father's property. The family appear to have lived at Cooring Yering from 1885.  When his father died in 1896, most of Cooring Yering was bequeathed to Walter's mother except for 150 acres, on which the vineyard was established, which was inherited by Walter and Maurice.

When the Victorian Mounted Rifles established a Lilydale attachment in 1891 Walter would have joined his brothers, William and Maurice, as members of this group. During the Boer War in 1899 some of the members volunteered to travel to South Africa to fight.

Private Walter John Hutton (No. 137) joined the 2nd Victorian Mounted Rifles which was part of the second contingent of Australians to leave for South Africa. Two hundred and sixty-four men with 305 horses left aboard the Euryalus on the 13 January, 1900, and arrived at Cape Town on 5 February. This number was made up of 14 officers, 12 sergeants, 10 artificers (servicemen who looked after the horses), 4 buglers and 224 rank and file. Three horses died during the voyage.

Once in South Africa they proceeded to the Maitland Camp and from there travelled to Naauwpoort. During their tour of duty they were involved with the action, initially going on patrols and then fighting in a number of encounters including Colesberg, Kuilfontein, Bloemfontein, Houdenbeck, Vet River, Zand River, Black Reef Mine, Pretoria and Doornkop. In October they returned to Pretoria and from there to Cape Town. A summary of their time in South Africa is provided on the Australian Light Horse website.

On 7 November the Victorians embarked on the Harlech Castle ultimately reaching Melbourne on 4 December. The Argus newspaper on Wednesday 5 December 1900 provided graphic descriptions of the return of the soldiers of the Victorian Mounted Riflemen and the crowds that welcomed them home.
Walter's brother, Arthur William Hutton, left Sydney for Cape Town in  April 1900 as part of the NSW Citizen's Bushmen. Another brother, William Lidderdale Hutton left Melbourne for Cape Town on 15 February 1901.

After his time in South Africa, Walter appears not to have returned to Lilydale to live. He did spend time in the Parkes area at the beginning of the twentieth century as he was on the committee of the Parkes Jockey Club in 1901. In the electoral roll for 1914 he is listed as being a landowner at Arcadia near Shepparton. William and his wife were farming also at Arcadia. Five years later the electoral roll shows Walter living at Rosedale in Pasley Street, South Yarra. In 1924 he was listed as a landowner in Croydon. In the 1930s Walter was living in Toorak Road, South Yarra while in 1943 his address was listed as Kooyong Road, Armadale. Walter John Hutton died 18 September 1943 aged 82.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Arthur William Hutton

Arthur William Hutton, the second son of William Forbes Hutton and Eleonora Mackillop, was born on 14 July 1857 in Ootacumund, India where his father was a Captain in the 34th Light Infantry. On 20 April 1858 he left India with his mother, sister Alice and one servant to travel to England. The 1861 English census showed him living at Bath in England while the 1871 census showed the family living at Leckhampton in Gloucestershire.

In 1871 Arthur's father travelled to Australia where he purchased land at Lilydale in Victoria. He travelled back to England in 1873 and when he returned to Australia in February 1874 he brought two of his children, Arthur and Jean, with him. Arthur was 16 when he arrived in Victoria and would have initially helped his father establishing their new property. Once the rest of the family arrived to join them, the eldest son, George, who had come to Australia in 1869, decided to travel north initially to Queensland.

In the 1883 George and Arthur, with the financial assistance of their father, formed a partnership - the Messrs Hutton Brothers - and purchased a property, The Troffs, west of Parkes in New South Wales. They ran the property together until the partnership was formally dissolved on 1 April 1898. George then managed The Troffs on his own while Arthur looked to purchase property of his own and further pursue his racing interests. Arthur was very involved with the Parkes Jockey Club holding a number of positions over the years including vice president and secretary. He also owned and raced horses. Another brother, Walter John Hutton, lived in the same region and was also on the Parkes Jockey Club Committee for a number of years.
During the Boer War it was decided to raise a regiment consisting of men from the country who were familiar with living in the bush and were good shots, good riders and had good physiques.  Public subscription funded the raising of the regiment initially known as the New South Wales Citizens' Bushmen. Arthur Hutton certainly knew about horses and had experience living in the bush so he enlisted.Four mounted rifle squadrons - A to D - were stationed at Kensington during January 1900. Arthur Hutton was in C Squadron, initially as a Trooper but before the ships sailed he had been promoted to second lieutenant. There were two second lieutenants in each squadron. The Western Champion 26 January 1900 included the announcement that 'the keen and capable secretary of the Parkes Jockey Club has obtained leave of absence as he is "off to the war".'

On 28 February the men of the NSW Citizens' Bushmen marched from Kensington to the ships that were take them to South Africa. A large crowd turned out to view the procession and dignitaries including the Lieutenant Governor and the Premier addressed the men before they boarded the ship. Arthur Hutton was 42 when left Sydney for South Africa.
Image originally in Sydney Mail 3 March 1900
The contingent consisting of 30 officers and 495 other ranks, with 570 horses arrived at Cape Town on 2 April 1900. They disembarked at Biera on 12 April and then continued on to Bulawayo in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). C Squadron was involved in a battle at Koster's River on 22 July while attempting to relieve the Eland River Garrison. They continued to operate in the Transvaal and the advance on Pietersburg before returning to Cape Town to embark on ships returning to Australia. They arrived back in Australia on 9 May 1901 disembarking in Sydney on 11 May.

Back in Australia, Arthur returned to his previous life in the Parkes region. In December 1902 Arthur Hutton was appointed, with two other gentlemen, by the Australian Jockey Club as stipendiary stewards in the metropolitan area on a salary of £500 a year. The term of the contract lasted until 1 August 1904. He continued his association with Parkes Jockey Club but was also involved with other racing clubs in the region. The Western Champion 7 December 1906 reported that 'Mr Arthur Hutton, of Coradgery, who has been appointed handicapper for Peak Hill Jockey Club, is a keen sport and is regarded as being " as straight as a gun barrel".' From January 1909 Arthur held the position of stipendiary steward of the Western District Racing Association before resigning to take up a similar position in Queensland in 1912. He only stayed in the Queensland position for three or four months. 

Arthur Hutton married Florence Hamilton in Sydney on 23 June 1915. They appear to have then lived in Sydney as a report in a newspaper in 1922 recorded that Arthur's sister, Katherine, visited them in Sydney when travelling to Queensland. Arthur William Hutton died in Sydney on 19 January 1930. He was 72.

For information about the NSW Citizens' Bushmen:
Australian War Memorial
Australian Military History of the Early Twentieth Century