Sunday, 7 December 2014

Chaplain William Devine of St Paul’s, Coburg


4th Class Chaplain Major William Devine, Chaplains



 Advocate, 24 July 1915, p.16


Twenty-seven year old Irishman William Devine enlisted as an army chaplain in July 1915. Born in Castlederg, County Tyrone, he gained a BA and BD in Ireland and came to Australia in 1914. He had been assistant parish priest to the elderly Fr Matthew Hayes at St Paul’s, Coburg for twelve months at the time of his enlistment. His older brother George (who signed as de Vine) served with the British forces. He attested in February 1916 with the Royal Horse and Royal Field Artillery, having previously served with the Royal Army Medical Corps for twelve months.

Usually we see parents or siblings or other family members listed as next of kin, but as he was a Roman Catholic priest Chaplain Devine listed his next of kin as the Dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne and Archbishop Carr, Chaplain General, recommended him as a military chaplain.

Fr Devine served with distinction and was awarded the Military Cross and the Croix de Guerre. The Australian Dictionary of Biography records that he spent most of his time with the 48th Battalion and that he wrote about the Battalion’s war experiences just after the war ended.


Image courtesy AWM. Image C04450. Group portrait of the Bishop of Amiens and a party of Australian officers. Back row, left to right: Chaplain Reverend W. Devine MC, 12th Australian Infantry Brigade; Lieutenant Henderson, 48th Battalion, 12th Australian Infantry Brigade; unidentified (hidden); Lieutenant Colonel S. L. Perry DSO MC, 48th Battalion; Brigadier General Sydney C. E. Herring DSO, 13th Australian Infantry Brigade; unidentified (hidden). Front row: Major W. Fowler-Bunnsworth MC, 4th Division; Major General (Maj Gen) John Gellibrand CB DSO, commanding 3rd Australian Division; Bishop of Amiens; Maj Gen E. G. Sinclair-Maclagan, commanding 4th Australian Division; Captain A. Nicholson, 18th Australian Infantry Brigade; Capt C. Bartlett, 4th Division. (Donor Herring)


In February 1919 he became seriously ill with broncho-pneumonia and was hospitalised in London. After his return to Australia in May 1919, he organised for fourteen Victoria Cross winners to act as Archbishop Mannix’s guard of honour in the famous 1920 St Patrick Day’s procession.

St Patrick’s Day Procession, 1920.  Australasian, 27 March 1920, p.51


You can read more about the 1920 St Patrick’s Day Procession here.

Here are the 14 VC winners, some Catholic and some Protestant:

Image courtesy AWM. Image P01383.018.
This is a restored version of P01383.017. The original is is a framed composite photograph presented to Lieutenant John Hamilton VC by his Grace the Archbishop of Melbourne and the Irish citizens of Victoria on the occasion of the Saint Patrick's Day celebrations in Melbourne, 17 March 1920. The composite photograph comprises portraits of fourteen Victoria Cross winners (ten Roman Catholics and four Protestants, all presumably with Irish backgrounds) with portraits of his Grace Dr Daniel Mannix (the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne) and the entrepreneur John Wren in the centre. The VC winners comprise Private (Pte) William Currey, Sergeant (Sgt) George Howell, Corporal (Cpl) Walter Peeler, Pte John Jackson, Lieutenant (Lt) Joseph Maxwell, Lt John Dwyer, Sgt Maurice Buckley (he was accidentally killed the following year) Pte George Cartwright, Cpl Thomas Axford, Cpl John Carroll, Pte Edward Ryan, Sgt John Whittle, Lt John Hamilton, Lt Lawrence McCarthey. It was probably financed by John Wren.


You will find more information on the image here


And another image showing the 14 VC winners:

Courtesy State Library of Victoria. Image  H2010.179 

The State Library of Victoria’s notes for the image read: This image shows Archbishop Daniel Mannix in a car in front of a large house, possibly his residence Raheen. The car is surrounded by 14 VC heroes, most on white horses and some seated beside Dr. Mannix in the car, forming a guard of honor for Dr. Mannix, St. Patrick's Day Celebration, 17 March 1920. Victoria Cross winners (ten Roman Catholics and four Protestants, all presumably with Irish backgrounds) comprise Private (Pte) William Currey, Sergeant (Sgt) George Howell, Corporal (Cpl) Walter Peeler, Pte John Jackson, Lieutenant (Lt) Joseph Maxwell, Lt John Dwyer, Sgt Maurice Buckley (he was accidently killed the following year), Pte George Cartwright, Cpl Thomas Axford, Cpl John Carroll, Pte Edward Ryan, Sgt John Whittle, Lt John Hamilton, and Lt Lawrence McCarthey. A lady is seated on a white horse draped in a green blanket with a banner titled "Old Kilmore" and a shamrock on it. 

Now back to Fr Devine …


Fr Devine later returned to Ireland but moved on to serve in China in 1927, where he stayed for three years before returning to Ireland. He died in Dublin in 1959.
The following article from the Advocate, 12 May 1917, gives an insight into William Devine the man, something that cannot be conveyed in the official record.





Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Anzac Day service, Gallipoli, 25 April 1921

c 6 May 1916. Studio portrait of Lieutenant (Lt) Joseph Edward Thomas Catron, 8th Battalion from Coburg, Victoria. Image courtesy AWM. Image DA15235.


In my last blog entry I noted that Joe Catron and his wife Zoe attended an Anzac Day service at Gallipoli in 1921. I now know that this was the third such ceremony but only the first attended by women.

You can read more about this early Anzac Commemoration on the New Zealand Government's World War One websiteOn the website you will also find a pdf of the original dispatch relating to the event. The following images were part of that dispatch.


Anzac Cove altar, 25 April 1921. Courtesy of Archives New Zealand: AAYS 8638, AD1, 15/93, R22430140.


Anzac Day service at Gallipoli, 25 April 1921. Courtesy of Archives New Zealand: AAYS 8638, AD1, 15/93, R22430140



Representatives of British, Australian, and New Zealand Armed Forces at the Anzac Day service at Gallipoli, 25 April 1921. Courtesy of Archives New Zealand: AAYS 8638, AD1, 15/93, R22430140.



Monday, 1 December 2014

More on the Catron brothers


Since I wrote about the Catron brothers in March this year, I have been in contact with several members of the family who have provided information and images that add to the story of the Catron family during World War One and beyond.

Most importantly, since making contact with one of Joe Catron's three granddaughters, I would like to add some information to an image I posted at that time.

The following is a photograph taken at the time of Joseph Catron's marriage to Zoe May in 1916.

Image courtesy AWM. Image DA15125. 


This photo is of the Joseph and Zoe Catron's wedding party. On the bride's right is maid of honour Ivy Catron (wife of Joseph's brother William, who was killed in action in March 1917) and William and Ivy’s daughters Muriel and Unity are sitting on the blanket in the foreground of the photo. (Information provided by one of Joseph Catron’s three granddaughters.)

Joe Catron married Zoe May in 1916 while convalescing in Australia from injuries received at the Dardanelles in May 1915. He later returned to serve in France and spent a short time in the Indian Army before returning to Australia and resuming his career as a teacher. The couple had a daughter and son. Their son, William, a Lancaster pilot based in England, was killed during WW2, aged 19. Their daughter Virginia served as an army nurse during WW2. She married an army chaplain in 1943, went on to have three daughters, and passed away in 2006. 

Joe’s wife Zoe lost her brother Alan May at Gallipoli and Joe later lost his brother William in France. All three men left Australia together with men and friends of the Geelong area in the 8th Battalion and served together at Gallipoli.

I have since learned from another source that Joe and Zoe Catron travelled to the battlefields in 1921 to attend an Anzac Day service. Up until then, I had not realised that ceremonies were being held as early as this and I am now trying to find out more about these early commemorations.

There is more to tell about the Catron family's war, but I will leave that for another time. 

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Stanley Grattan Gould's war



2044 Private Stanley Grattan Gould, 26th Infantry Battalion then 7th Machine Gun Company. Image courtesy AWM. Image DA10564.


Stanley Gould was the younger brother of John Gould, the subject of my last blog entry. Both brothers are featured on page 7 of the Coburg State School Soldiers' Book, which is available online on the Moreland Library Services Local History Catalogue. 

Stanley enlisted in July 1915 aged 19 and sailed for the Front in September that year. He served briefly on the Gallipoli Peninsula before heading for France where he was wounded at Pozieres in August 1916 and evacuated to England with a mild gun shot wound to his arm. He rejoined his unit in October 1916. 

After his return to Australia in April 1919, Stanley returned to the family home at 5 Young Street, Coburg until the early 1930s when he and his younger brother Allan crossed the continent and tried their luck as farmers in Carnamah, Western Australia. 

You can read much more about Stanley (Dick) Gould on the award-winning Carnamah website, which is worth a visit even if you are not interested in the history of the area. It is a good-looking, easy to navigate site that will keep you interested for hours. The blog, the virtual museum, the Biographical Dictionary, the photo collection and all the other treats in store are there to remind all of us how 'alive' history can be.


Allan Gould, known as Angus, was born in Coburg in 1898, tried to enlist in 1916 when he was 18, but was rejected on account of poor eyesight. He tried again in January 1918 and was again rejected. Later, he served in World War Two, enlisting from Carnamah, Western Australia.

The Carnamah website provides more information on Allan (Angus) Gould's life in the West.

A fourth brother, Frank, born at Coburg in 1908, was too young to serve in WW1 but served as a Lieutenant in WW2, having enlisted from Wiluna in Western Australia. He moved to the West in 1926 to join his brothers on their farming venture at Carnamah.

By 1937, Stanley and Allan's partnership had broken up and Stanley was back living in the family home at 5 Young Street, Coburg.


West Australian, 28 June 1937, p.19


Stanley married Beryl Colman in 1939. They lived variously at Port Melbourne and Kew. He died at Kew in 1975 aged 79.










Thursday, 27 November 2014

John Gould of Young Street, Coburg visits Paris

The foyer of LĂ“pera, Paris. I found this postcard in an antique shop in Oatlands, Tasmania. It was dated March 1918.



Le Gare d'Est, Paris. Another postcard found in the same antique shop in Oatlands, Tasmania. It was sent home to someone called Earnest. The writing in pencil on the back of both cards is faint but I can just make out that they are from Earnest's brother Alf. I wonder what Earnest made of the splendour of the Opera House, in particular. A far cry from Oatlands, or Young Street, Coburg for that matter. 



It's a long way from Young Street, Coburg to Paris, France, but in November 1918 Sergeant Fred John Gould (known as John) found himself on the streets of Paris at the time of the Armistice. What an experience it must have been!


5387 Sergeant Fred John Gould. The photo is taken from page 7 of the Coburg State School Soldiers' Book, available online through Moreland Libraries' Local History Catalogue. Image courtesy Coburg Historical Society.



The eldest child of Frederick William and Adelaide (Pegler) Gould of 5 Young Street, Coburg, John Gould was a bank accountant when he enlisted in the 8th Infantry Battalion in January 1916 aged 22. As noted earlier, he was on leave in Paris from 2 November 1918 until 15 November 1918. We will never know what he thought of that experience, as it is noted in his entry in the Coburg State School Soldiers' Book that his diary was stolen from him in England, but the following photos will give you a bit of an idea of the scenes he must have encountered at the Peace Procession held in Paris to mark the end of the war.


Image courtesy AWM. Image H18147. Paris peace procession. Paris, France. 1918. Soldiers from many countries who fought with France in WW1 gather around a war memorial after the Peace Procession. (Donor French Official Photograph) 


Image courtesy AWM. Image H18132 Paris, France. 1918. American Army soldiers with flags flying in the Peace Procession. (Donor French Official Photograph)

Perhaps John Gould visited the Maxime Bar while he was in Paris.

Image courtesy AWM. Image H03656. Paris, France. 1918-08-20. A group of Australian, New Zealand and South African soldiers and a lady from the New Zealand Volunteer Service relaxing on leave with a drink outside the Maxime Bar. 

It is likely, too, that he visited the soldiers' club known as a 'Corner of Blighty in Paris'. It was a voluntary organisation for British soldiers, headed by Miss Lily Butler, CBE but it was frequented by Australians, too.

Image courtesy AWM. Image A01190. An informal group portarit of unidentified Australian soldiers outside 'A Corner of Blighty in Paris.

Image courtesy AWM. Image A01192. Soldiers relaxing in the lounge of the 'Corner of Blighty in Paris'. Some of the men are reading, while others enjoy the music being played on the piano. Four women are gathered around the piano. Note the elaborate chandelier.


Image courtesy AWM. Image A01193. Unidentified soldiers and civilian women enjoying the tea rooms in the 'Corner of Blighty in Paris'. A desk and chair are to the left, on the desk is a book, a newspaper, a clock and a bottle, probably an ink bottle and a vase of flowers. The woman in the centre of the photo in the extraordinary hat is Miss Lily Butler, CBE.








Friday, 21 November 2014

War related advertising

I've become fascinated by the way advertisers used the war to promote their wares.

For example, Havelock tobacco had a range of military themes, including this one directed at officers, or so it seems. Smoking Havelock was clearly going to make you a better officer.


Mount Alexander Mail, 28 June 1917

The Empire Cocoa people got in on the act, too, with their appeal to Australians' sense of duty (with a bit of guilt thrown in for good measure?):
Warrnambool Standard, 18 September 1916

The following ad for 'Bookstall' novels reminds us that soldiers often had free time to read and had a 'hankering for anything Australian':
Australasian, 4 August 1917

I found those ads in country or national newspapers and it made me wonder what sort of patriotic appeals were made to the people of Coburg and Brunswick.
I found no references to the war in local papers in the first months of the war. Some, like this ad for Tarran's Carriage Works, recalled a bygone era. The pastoral scene depicted here seems more suited to a Thomas Hardy novel than a Melbourne suburb at war.
Brunswick and Coburg Star, 8 January 1915, p.4

Then there was the Primrose Dairy ad, reminding us that despite the war, life went on as usual.
Brunswick and Coburg Star, 6 August 1916, p.4.

On the same page, though, was an ad from Green's Newsagency, bringing our attention back to the war and reminding us of the losses involved, with its reminder that it specialised in mourning cards and offered a 'nice assortment of Soldiers' Mourning Cards'.
Brunswick and Coburg Star,6 August 1916.


For those busily knitting garments to send to the front, Hutton's of North Carlton was the place to go.
Brunswick and Coburg Leader, 26 November 1915.

Motor cycle riders were not forgotten, either. Andrew Johstone of the Thistle Motor Garage (and Thistle Cycling Club). This rather splendid ad appeared in the Brunswick and Coburg Star on 21 May 1915 and I can't help wondering whether Andrew Johnstone had heard the news yet that his son Donald had been killed at Gallipoli earlier that month (on 8 May).


By Christmas 1916, Grundy's had organised sending gifts to the Front:
Brunswick and Coburg Leader, 22 December 1916 (and preceding three months)

Blakeley and Jackson catered for patriotic locals who could have their Christmas cards made up in their particular soldier's battalion colours. I wonder how families who had sons, brothers or fathers in different battalions decided on a colour scheme?
Brunswick and Coburg Leader, 19 October 1917


And an important patriotic duty was to ensure a steady supply of tobacco to the Front, as evidenced in this ad for the Southern Cross Tobacco Fund.
Brunswick and Coburg Leader, 28 June 1918


I'll give the last word to local builder Robert Irvine, who looked firmly to the future, even in 1916.
Brunswick and Coburg Star, 31 March 1916


Tuesday, 18 November 2014

A widower decides to enlist: Hugh McLaughlin's story

Hugh McLaughlin was born in Monreagh, Ireland, but when he and his wife Bridget emigrated to Victoria, they did so from Scotland where their first four children were born. 

After their arrival in Melbourne, three more children were born. Sadly, one died young, then in July 1915 Bridget died, aged only 27, leaving Hugh to raise their six surviving children alone. Their eldest child was just seven years old and the youngest four months old.

In December 1916, when the family was living at 136 Barrow Street, Coburg, Hugh McLaughlin decided to enlist. His motivation for doing so is unclear, as to do so his children had to be placed in orphanages. 

Perhaps it was the regular income that motivated him? The Roll of Honour Circular gives his occupation as a 'bricklayer journeyman', suggesting that he did not have a steady source of income.


Mount Alexander Mail, 21 August 1917



After looking at this Ready Reckoner, I wonder what a widower with six children was paid per fortnight and whether that money was sent to the various institutions that were looking after his children.

Hugh McLaughlin left for the Western Front on 9 February 1917, giving his eldest son, William, of St Joseph's Orphanage, Surrey Hills, as his next of kin.

When he was killed in action in France on 9 August 1918, the news was sent to 10 year old William. Although I first read Hugh McLaughlin's file some time ago, it shocks me still that the wording of the correspondence to this child is in the officialese that went to all next-of-kin. There was no softening of words, so I only hope that one of the staff at St Joseph's Orphanage took pity on the young boy and broke the news gently.

Hugh McLaughlin is remembered in the Memorial Avenue of Trees at Lake Reserve, Coburg. His was the fourth tree planted on the day of the planting ceremony in 1919. Although his son William was invited to plant the tree in honour of his father, St Joseph's sent a letter saying he was too young to attend and the Mayor of the day, Mayor McAlpine, took his place.

The poignancy of the children's situation is brought home in the following letter that was in Hugh's attestation papers.




It is heartening to know that the children had some visitors, such as Mrs Brown, and that they were not completely forgotten. 

Some years later, William McLaughlin wrote from the Marist Brothers Juniorate, Our Lady of the Hermitage, Mittagong, NSW. William later enlisted in World War Two and was killed in action in Ambon in 1945.



I wondered what had become of the six children, orphaned at such a young age until I came across an elaborate and moving family grave at Coburg Cemetery. It's in the Roman Catholic section of the cemetery.


In this not very clear photo taken by me, the headstone makes it clear that the McLaughlin connection to Coburg was not severed with the death of Hugh and Bridget McLaughlin. The last surviving child of the family died in Coburg in 2005. 

The headstone also makes a proud statement about the McLaughlin family and there is a very strong suggestion that the children remained in contact and that they stood firm as a family. 

I hope so, anyway.