Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Researching World War 1 soldiers from the Moreland area

Moreland City Libraries has put together an excellent collection of resources on researching the World War 1 years and has an ever-growing collection of digital resources, including images and publications, which are available for you to download and read at home.

For example, by putting 'Soldier' into a search of Moreland's Local History Catalogue, I came up with this image of Leslie ('Swannee') Prior, who, it is claimed, was Brunswick's youngest soldier.

Image courtesy Moreland City Libraries.

When I used the search term 'war' a number of images came up, all related to Brunswick. This one is of a 1915 send off to soldiers at the Brunswick Town Hall. It is probable that some of the men pictured here were from Moreland, which is right on the border between Brunswick and Coburg.

Image courtesy Moreland City Libraries.

The following photograph shows a gathering held in Coburg (at the Public Hall) in 1919 to welcome home returned servicemen. It can be found online by searching TROVE, another invaluable source of images and newspaper articles, amongst other things. (Note that on this occasion, the image has been labelled  incorrectly as a recruiting dinner, dated 1914.)

Image courtesy Coburg Historical Society

Local libraries and historical societies depend on donations of images and memorabilia from family members and others to help build a picture of what a particular community was like. You may not wish to part with your precious family treasures, but do consider donating digital images of the material to your local historical society and/or library.

No matter which side your family member fought on, or which country they lived in at the time, if they settled in the Moreland area at any stage, please consider sharing the material you have so that we can build a more realistic picture of what our communities were like during and after the war years.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Raising funds for the Glenroy Military Hospital

To begin with, in November 1915, Linda Davis organised a  bazaar and garden party at her home, 'Moreland Hall', and managed to secure Senator Pearce, the Minister of Defence, to open it. It was at this event that Senator Pearce spoke about the reason for the establishment of the Glenroy Military Hospital - for those who were taken ill before they went to the front.

From this point, Linda Davis worked tirelessly to support the Glenroy Hospital, in addition to other patriotic causes. No doubt she was involved in the Coburg Patriotic League Novelty Fair in April 1917, which featured a ‘lady with a hundred pockets’!

In March 1917, Linda was nominated by the St John’s Ambulance Society as its Queen of Soldiers. This was part of a great fund-raising effort – a Queen of Victoria competition. There were other Queens – of Sport, of Motorists, of Railways, of Music, of Peace and so on.

Linda Davis’ Queen of Soldiers’ fund-raising efforts began with a Military Pageant on 28 April 1917. One of the star turns was an equestrienne display by the Ladies of the Purple Cross and the Misses Crinnion of Rose Street, Coburg. The Remount Section AASC put on a display and there were races, drills, bomb throwing, semaphore displays and even a ‘balaclava melee’. 

Then came a Sports Carnival on 12 May  at the Coburg Recreation Reserve. It included many groups, including the Coburg Cowboys (who put on a wild west display), Oaklands Hunt Club and a ‘Pre-historic display’ by Coburg Harriers.

 Coburg Cowboys. Image courtesy Coburg Historical Society

A Hard Times Ball in aid of Queen of Soldiers was held at Coburg Town Hall on 12 July and there were many other fund-raising events, the most spectacular of which were the raffles organised as part of Linda Davis’s Queen of Soldiers effort.

Mount Alexander Mail, 11 August 1917

Weekly Times, 4 August 1917, p.34

Finally, in late August, the results came in. At first there was great disappointment – Linda had been ‘beaten on the post at the last minute by a matter of £7.’ (Brunswick and Coburg Leader, 24 August 1917, p.3) She had actually raised the most money (£1,700-2-9d), beating the Queen of Sport, Mrs Wheeler, but because the money had not gone in on time, she was deemed to have come second. (Brunswick and Coburg Leader, 23 November 1917, p.2)

Leader, 4 August 1917, p.49

The matter did not rest there, however. The decision was overturned. Linda Davis, Queen of Soldiers, was victorious!

Brunswick and Coburg Leader, 23 November 1917, p.2

Brunswick and Coburg Leader, 30 November 1917

And here she is, Linda Davis, Queen of Soldiers, winner of the Queen of Victoria competition:

Table Talk, 2 August 1917, p.18.

And again, with her team:

Table Talk, 2 August 1917, p.18.

This ends the blog entries on the Glenroy Military Hospital.

I have been researching the Glenroy Military Hospital’s history for a while now and it has not been an easy task. The Broadmeadows Historical Society has generously allowed me to scan and publish the images you see on this blog of ‘Ashleigh’ and ‘Sawbridgeworth’ and for that I thank them. Coburg Historical Society has provided images of ‘Moreland Hall’ and I thank them. Just about everything else has been pieced together from newspaper articles that I located on TROVE. 

Every researcher with an interest in Australian history should thank their lucky stars that someone, somewhere conceived the idea of TROVE. It truly is a source of great treasure!

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Patriotic efforts of the Davis family of Moreland Hall, Coburg and others

'Ashleigh', one of the two Glenroy houses used to accommodate sick soldiers during WW1. Image courtesy Broadmeadows Historical Society.

You may have wondered why a Military Hospital in Glenroy has taken up so much space in a blog about Coburg's World War One experiences.

The answer is simple: Much of the fundraising was done in Coburg and the driving force was Miss Linda Davis, daughter of Cr Albert Davis of  'Moreland Hall' and granddaughter of William Davis of 'Nassau', who featured in earlier blogs. Her brother Rupert served in the war, which has also been the subject of an earlier blog entry.

'Moreland Hall', Jessie St., Coburg. Image courtesy Coburg Historical Society.

Linda Davis seems to have been a phenomenal fundraiser right from the start of the war. From September 1914, the local newspaper, the Brunswick and Coburg Leader, reported on Coburg's fundraising efforts, beginning with a Garden Fete at 'Moreland Hall', opened by Maurice Blackburn MLA, to raise funds for the Coburg Patriotic Fund and the Foundling Hospital. 

In early December, Linda Davis helped organise a grand patriotic concert at the Public Hall in Bell Street to raise funds for the Red Cross. 

In the following June, the Brunswick and Coburg Leader reported that Linda had ‘made a systematic canvass of Sydney Road, Coburg, during the week in quest of sweets, tobacco and cigarettes for our returned heroes, and succeeded in gathering a good supply.’

And on it went ...

Linda, her mother and her sister Myrtle were members of the Coburg Branch of the Red Cross. Linda organised a dance at the Public Hall to raise money for the Red Cross and for wounded soldiers. She co-ordinated the knitting of scarves for the troops. She organised a Plain and Fancy Dress Ball. She was responsible for a concert at the YMCA Hall in Broadmeadows that was attended by 1,500 people.

And then the Glenroy Military Hospital opened its doors and as its supervisor, Linda Davis really came into her own.

Fundraising for the Glenroy Military Hospital will be the subject of the next few blog entries...

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Patients at the Glenroy Military Hospital

Image courtesy Australian War Memorial. Image DAX1070.  Portrait of Isolation Camp, rear of Army Medical Corps Base. Army Medical Corps, Isolation Camp, Ascot vale. C 1916.

Once again, the story of the men who were treated at the Glenroy Hospital has begun to emerge from that wonderful online newspaper collection found at TROVE. Each time I go back and search again, I find that new resources have come online, so this story is far from over.
At first I found only mentions of men who had died, but slowly a picture is emerging of some of the others who were treated there.
What follows here are the references to patients that I have uncovered so far:
July-August 1915. Signaller Stanley Selbey (Stan) Stoney, late of the Parramatta Boys Scouts, contracted measles at Broadmeadows Camp during a fortnight’s instructions and spent three weeks at Glenroy Hospital.  By mid-August he was at home on furlough. He went on to serve in France and arrived back in Australia in July 1919, having survived a bout of influenza at the end of the war. (The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate, 11 August 1915 and attestation papers)
16 August 1915. Private Rudolph (Rody) Ryan of Mortlake died at Glenroy Military Hospital. (Argus, 16 August 1916) His attestation papers show that he died just over a month after enlisting in the 10 Reinforcements of the 7th Battalion. He was a 32 year old traveller and listed his mother, Mrs Annie Ryan of Warrnambool, as his next of kin. He died at Glenroy Hospital on 16 August 1915 of tubercle of lung (12 months), measles and haemophysis. He was buried at in the Roman Catholic section of  Coburg Cemetery, Compartment A, Grave 46 on 16 August 1915.  The Mortlake Dispatch of 18 August 1915 records that his sister was serving overseas as a nurse.  
28 August 1915. William Swanson Naismith, second son of J.T. and M.E. Naismith, died at Glenroy Military Hospital of influenza and heart strain. (Attestation papers and Portland Guardian, 28 and 30 August 1915) He was in the Naval Reserve Unit and had been ill for a month. His body for returned to Portland for burial. A detailed account of his funeral can be found in the Portland Guardian, 1 September 1915.

Bendigo Advertiser, 3 Sep 1915. 

2 October 1915. A typhoid patient was discharged from Glenroy Military Isolation Hospital. The unnamed soldier arrived in Wagga on 3 October and was admitted to Wagga Hospital on 4 October. (Daily Advertiser (Wagga Wagga), 15 October 1915) This is the only mention I have found to a typhoid patient being treated at Glenroy.
30 October 1915. Thirty-two year old Donald Kirk died at Glenroy Military Hospital. of measles and broncho pneumonia. He was the fourth son of James Kirk of Myocum, NSW.  (Mullumbimby Star, 4 Nov 1915, p.5)  His attestation papers show that he was a cheese maker who enlisted in the 12 Reinforcements, 2nd Light Horse at Toowoomba on 11 September 1915, about six weeks before his death. He was buried in the Church of England Section of Coburg Cemetery, Compartment D, Grave 648 on 30 October 1915. 
November 1915. Pte Joseph Paul Lugg of the 4th Light Hosrse was a measles patient and doing well, according to his widowed mother Agnes, who lived at Airey's Inlet. Unfortunately, Pte Lugg did not recover. He died of cerebro spinal meningitis at the Alfred Hospital on 8 November and was buried at the Mount Duneed Cemetery the day after his death. (Geelong Advertiser, 3 Nov 1915 and attestation papers)

The North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, 23 Nov 1915. 

Wilfrid Esmond Kilburn joined the Flying Corps as an air mechanic. He survived the war and returned to Australia in March 1919.
12 June 1916. Tarrant Baker of Broadford died at Glenroy Military Hospital bronchial pneumonia and measles, having been ill for 12 days. He had been in camp at Seymour from 1 March to 22 May but was transferred to the Glenroy Military Hospital on 7 June 1916 (It is listed here as #5 Australian Infectious Diseases Hospital, Glenroy). He had enlisted in the 13/24th Battalion in February that year. (Attestation papers and Argus, 23 June 1928)

August 1916

Wangaratta Chronicle, 23 August 1916. 

Much of the fund raising for the Glenroy Hospital was organised through the efforts of Linda Davis of 'Moreland Hall', Coburg and the citizens of Coburg. This will be the focus of the next few blog entries.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Another nurse at Glenroy Military Hospital - Alice Prichard

Just when I thought I'd found as much material as I was likely to find, I decided to broaden my TROVE search and use the search term 'Glenroy Hospital' and hey presto a few more references were staring me in the face! Not only that, but since the last time I looked, more newspapers have come online, so I found more material that way, too.

It just goes to show that history is a dynamic thing and with new resources coming online all the time, I will probably revisit the Glenroy Hospital at a later date.

Alice Prichard

Portrait of Miss A. M. Prichard RRC, matron of 42nd British General Hospital which was one of the four hospitals at Salonika staffed by the AIF. Image Courtesy AWM. Image A01891. 

Alice Prichard hailed from the north of Victoria and had been the Matron of Mildura Hospital prior to enlistment. Her sister Florence also served as a nurse and had previously been head nurse at Albury Hospital. Four brothers (Frederick, Leslie, Charles and Richard) also served in the war, so  their mother, Mary, of 'Greenvale', Glenrowan must have had a very anxious time. 

During a brief return to Australia after the Gallipoli campaign, Alice Prichard served as Matron of the Glenroy Hospital. (She was a trained infectious diseases nurse.) She then returned to the war front. After discharge, she moved to Sydney to work.

Benalla Standard, 26 June 1917

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Staff of the Glenroy Military Hospital

Detail of photo of 'Ashleigh', site of Glenroy Military Hospital. 
Image courtesy Broadmeadows Historical Society.

I was interested to know who worked at the Glenroy Military Hospital. Again, it hasn’t been an easy task and it has been soldiers’ attestation papers and newspaper reports that have given me most of my information.
It seems that most of the nurses, orderlies and doctors who worked there had yet to embark for overseas. It is hard to tell how long they were assigned to the hospital, but it seems that it was for brief periods only, perhaps only a few weeks.


Sister Hilda Adelaide Allen, aged 28, of Elwood, who had worked previously at the Melbourne Hospital, was on the staff of the Glenroy Military Hospital in October 1915, just prior to enlisting. She embarked In November 1915 and served in Egypt, England and France. She returned to Australia in March 1919. She didn’t marry and died at Elsternwick in 1979.
Sister SarahLeatham Duff was 36 when she enlisted on 18 October 1916 and gave her address as the Military Hospital, Glenroy. There is no way of knowing how long she had worked at the hospital. By the mid-1920s, Sister Duff was in charge of the Truby King Baby Health Centre in Coburg.

Some patients and staff on the verandah outside the Isolation Ward at No 5 Australian General Hospital at St Kilda. Although this image was not taken at Glenroy, it gives you an idea of what measures were taken to try to avoid being infected by contagious patients. Image courtesy Australian War Memorial. Image H18693A  Melbourne, Victoria. 


Lance Corporal Herbert Cobb of Brunswick was attached to the Glenroy Hospital and the hospital at Broadmeadows before heading overseas in late 1916. In Europe, he served as a medical orderly in the Australian Medical Corps. Born in London, he enlisted in Melbourne, but married while in England during the war and returned there to live after the war.
Lieutenant Arthur Frank Stanley Dobson was a 26 year old solicitor and accountant of South Yarra when he enlisted. He was appointed to Glenroy Military Hospital from 14 Sep 1916 to 1 Oct 1916 then he went to MacLeod before going overseas in 1917. He ended up in the Flying Corps.


Fifty year old Captain Victor Joseph Emmanuel Zichy- Woinarski was appointed a medical officer at the end of September 1915. He served overseas briefly but was  back in Australia by the end of Jan 1916. His wife Gertrude was a highly regarded community welfare worker who was a prominent member of the Melbourne Ladies’Benevolent Society. His son Casimir served in the war and his daughter Valerie, who had been a theatre nurse at Ballarat Hospital, served as a nursing sister.

There were other staff, of course, and volunteer workers, too. I would be extremely interested to hear from anyone who can tell me more about who worked at the Glenroy Military Hospital during World War One.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Life at the Glenroy Military Hospital

It’s been slow work given that there are really only newspaper reports to go on, but finally a picture is emerging of what life might have been like at the Glenroy Military Hospital during its eighteen months' existence.

Detail from an image of the hospital at 'Ashleigh', courtesy Broadmeadows Historical Society. It's not a very sharp image, but you can make out a day bed on the balcony and a man standing with hands on hips while another leans on the railing.

The patients were convalescent, mostly recovering from measles. They had become ill before they had a chance to set off for overseas (Argus, 22 Nov 1915, p.10) so there were no wounded or battle-affected soldiers at the hospital. For the most part, their illnesses were not life-threatening. Most men recovered and went on to serve overseas, although there were deaths, as might be expected in those days before antibiotics and other treatments now taken for granted.

Another detail from an image of the hospital at 'Ashleigh', courtesy Broadmeadows Historical Society. Here you can make out three nurses just right of centre and several women standing on the right. 

Life was probably pretty boring for those who could do little more than lie or sit around and wait their turn to return to camp and set off overseas to join the action. Early on in the hospital’s brief life, Lance Corporal Herbert Cobb, a medical orderly, sent a letter to the editor of the Argus asking if anyone would be willing to donate a gramophone, records and songs for the use of patients and staff.  (9 Sep 1915, p.7)

I wonder what the response was like? Did they all sing along to the popular parody of 'Waltzing Matilda' after which this blog is named?
Fighting the Kaiser, fighting the Kaiser,
Who'll come a-fighting the Kaiser with me?
And we'll drink all his beer, and eat up all his sausages,
Who'll come a fighting the Kaiser with me!

Or did the sound of Australia will be therethe ‘pop song’ of its day, resound around the area surrounding 'Ashleigh' and 'Sawbridgeworth'?
Rally ‘round the banner of your country
Take the field with brothers o’er the foam
On land or sea
Where’er you be
Keep your eye on Germany
But England, home and beauty
Have no cause to fear
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
No, no, no! Australia will be there.
(‘For Auld Lang Syne! – Australia Will Be There’, by Skipper Francis)

The need to keep the men occupied while they convalesced caused a frisson of friction in September 1916, when a well-meaning citizen of South Yarra by-passed the Red Cross and sent out a call to the public:

Letter to the Editor from L.M. Staughton, St Neots, South Yarra, asking for the public to 
‘send items to the sick and convalescent soldiers in the military hospital at Glenroy. They have literally nothing to do. Any card bagatelle boards, chess men and boards would be a godsend. There is a tennis court there, but much out of repair. Would anyone have it repaired, or would some of the many kind voluntary men helpers do it in their spare time? Also racquets and balls are wanted. A punch ball would help to keep the men fit.’ (Argus, 25 Sept 1916, p.4)

The Obituaries Australia website tells us that L.M. Staughton was in fact Lizzie Staughton, widow of Samuel Staughton, MLA, and an active worker for philanthropic and patriotic causes. For some time she served on the executive of the conservative, pro-Empire Australian Women’s National League and worked hard on behalf of a number of children’s charities up until her death in 1921. 

The terse response from Adelaide Creswell, Convenor of the Red Cross Home Hospital, says it all:
 ‘All that is necessary if more things are needed, is for the doctor in charge to ask the Red Cross Secretary. As it is a measles hospital, motor drives have not been arranged.’ (Argus, 26 Sept 1916, p.4)

Lady Creswell was not amused!

Lady Adelaide Creswell from Who’s Who of the World of Women, Vol 2, 1934, found on the People Australia website.

Clearly some men were well able to undertake more strenuous exercise, as indicated by the advertisement in the Brunswick and Coburg Leader,  12 May 1916, p.3, calling for tenders for the asphalting of a tennis court at the Glenroy Military Hospital. Tenders were to go to Miss Davis, Moreland Hall, but more of Linda Davis and her fund-raising activities for the hospital in a later entry.