Saturday, January 6, 2018

Private Charles Malcolm Baker

  24 Tennyson St, Kensington.  Reproduced with the permission of

From this single-fronted terrace house at 24 Tennyson St, Kensington, salesman Charles Malcolm Baker, known as Malcolm, left in 1916 to do his bit for the war effort.   Initially allocated to the newly formed 39 Infantry Battalion, Malcolm later transferred to the battle-hardened 7 Battalion which had strong links to the Essendon district.

Rod Martin is on a roll, and tells the story of Malcolm Baker's war service on the Empire Called website in his usual sparkling style.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Private John Knox Adams - missing

The Argus 25 Apr 1916 (Courtesy of Kim
Phillips, Spirits of Gallipoli website.)

John Knox Adams of McPherson St, Essendon, was an enthusiastic AIF recruit of 22 years when he enlisted at the outbreak of the war in 1914.   He worked as a grocer in Sydney Rd, Brunswick, and was a keen baseballer and cricketer  on weekends.

John Adams stepped ashore at Gallipoli on 25 April and no-one was able to say what became of him after that.  Probably those who knew were also missing.

Rod Martin tells the story of this young man's appointment with fate on The Empire Called website.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Gunner Youlden of the 8 FAB

Members of 14 FAB battery, Ypres Front, 28 September 1917   (AWM E00920)
Gunner Frederick Henry Youlden, formerly of Bendigo but lately of Moonee Ponds, was posted to the 8th Field Artillery Brigade where they operated eighteen-pounder field guns as shown above.  The stacks of shells close to each gun amply illustrates how entire gun crews could disappear if the enemy guns found their range.   Fred Youlden died of shell wounds to the chest received on 28 September 1917.    Rod Martin tells the story of Fred Youlden's service here.

His bride Gertie did  not have a child and never remarried, remaining a widow for 35 years. 

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Life in Egypt, and other places, with the AIF

Unknown Album. Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria Collection.

The photo above was contained on page 42 of  a photograph album by a mystery photographer who took his camera with him when he enlisted. The photographs are not necessarily in chronological order.  They depict life in Egypt, Lemnos, and Gallipoli and Broadmeadows. The SLV catalogue entry describes the album thus:

Album, containing annotated photographs depicting scenes in Egypt, Gallipoli, Lemnos and Malta. No indication of the compiler's or photographer's name is given. Photographs include men in the 6th, 7th, 8th and 14th Battalions; the 7th and 8th Battalions leaving Mena for Ismailia (1915); the crossing of the Panama Canal on the transport Jaika (Dec. 1918); troops on the Minnewaska en route for Gallipoli and on the Osmanick at Gallipoli; the terrain, and men in the trenches.

There is no provenance given with the album, and the best guess from me is that the soldier served originally with 14 Battalion in A Company and later moved to 8 Battalion, and probably as a cook.  Not all photos are captioned, but some of the groups that are mention that they are cooks.  

I checked all the names mentioned in the album against my database of men from Essendon and Flemington, and the only one I found was Herbert Troy Swindells, whom I thought was probably the Bert Swindles mentioned in the caption above.  He had been a trained baker when he enlisted.   His service record doesn't indicate whether he served as a cook in 8 Battalion, but it is possible he did.  The only other man I could identify in the photo is "Bert Glangell", whom I think was
William Henry Herbert Gangell who also served in 8 Battalion and who was also a baker when he enlisted.  

It is not entirely clear when the photo was taken - it appears on a page where other photos were taken at Broadmeadows, Zeitoun and Mena, but given the sand underfoot, probably it was taken in Egypt.  8 Battalion had two periods in Egypt, in 1915 before the landing at Gallipoli, and in 1916 after the evacuation, so it is not entirely clear when it was taken.

It is an interesting album to browse through, showing ordinary aspects of camp life, such as in the image below:

"Fight.  Mena."

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Petition to the Australian War Memorial

I just signed the petition, “Australian War Memorial - Please delay impending closure of, and access to the old Site.” I think this is important. Will you sign it too?
Here’s the link:

Farrier-Sergeant John Quill

The Maribyrnong Remount Depot, AWM H18770
Among the many branches of the army whose task it was to provide services to support the fighting men was the Remount Units who looked after the horses - the feeding, exercising, breaking, shoeing and a myriad other tasks.   Farrier Sergeant John Edward Quill of Ascot Vale spent his entire overseas service in Egypt with the 1st Australian Remount Unit.

A better known personality in a remount unit was Andrew Barton "Banjo" Paterson who actually embarked on the same ship, the Orsova, boarding in Sydney a few days earlier than Quill who embarked from Melbourne.  Paterson wrote about some of his experiences in a Remount Unit in France in his book Happy Despatches, which is now available free online through the Gutenberg Project.  Look for "Hellfire Jack" for an entertaining read.

Rod Martin looks in detail at the work of a Remount Unit through the service of Farrier Sergeant John Quill.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Lieutenant Meara, MC, of Ascot Vale

Cover of the 57 Infantry Battalion Unit War Diary for August 1918. Artwork by Presley Benjamin Edward Huthnance.
One of many who were appalled by the casualties at Gallipoli, Michael Meara of Ascot Vale enlisted in July 1915.  Within a short time he was selected for officer training, and went on to serve as a Lieutenant in the 57 Infantry Battalion.    He joined his unit in France in time to endure the bitter winter of 1916-17.  In one of the last campaigns of the war, Lieutenant Meara won a Military  Cross. This unassuming commercial traveller returned the family home in Ascot Vale, returned to work and passed his time playing golf with the Northern Golf Club  You can read his story on the Empire Called website.