Sunday, May 12, 2013

Italy to Marseilles, France via the French Riveria

Here is a map of the path the train took taking Uncle Bert from Italy through the French Riviera to Marseilles, France in February 1918:

and if you click here it should take you to the trip planner to see more details.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Train trip from Taranto to Faenza Italy

I have tried to track the path of Uncle Bert's train trip from Taranto Italy to Faenza Italy... Hope this works... Click here
It seems these towns are along the north coast of Italy.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Uncle Bert's Tent mates...the older crew

Always interesting to try to find our a little more about the men Uncle Bert spent time with during the war. I have already found out a little about the digger who I think is Frank Watson (...still hoping more will come in the diary to confirm his identity) so here is a little more about his other 3 tent mates on January 26th, 1918... It turns out they were all aged older than 30.

Eddie Lapthorne Edward Reginald Lapthorne 5052

Lapthorne was 30 years old and had two children when he enlisted.

Tommy Thomas Thomas Sylvanus Thomas 5089A

Tommy was 37 9/12 when he enlisted in the army. His date of birth was 27 Oct 1879. No wonder Bert referred to him as "quite a father to the younger men"... He was quite probably the same age as many of their Dad's.

Tommy survived the war but died Feb 14, 1922 at age 42 as the AIF were informed by his widow when they attempted to award him the Victory Medal after the war.

Tom Shylock Thomas Sherlock 5086

It seems Tom Sherlock received a wound to his shoulder later in 1918... the medical report goes on to say he is unable to raise his right arm at all.

Alexandria Egypt in 1918...and Capos cigarettes

Alexandria, Egypt 1918

I thought it might be interesting to find some pictures of the places mentioned by Uncle Bert in Alexandria, Egypt circa 1918 when he was there... I found a great source of photos at a flickr account of the Cultural Collections of University of Newcastle.  
There are links back to their account for the photos I have placed here.

Other sources include:

Link is attached to the name.

Mohammad Aly monument

Post office Street and Cherif Pacha Street

The Nouzha Garden

The Garden and Monument to Nubar Pacha

Sidi Gaber

Sidi Kayed Bay Fortress

Malimoudieh Canal

In the most recent post by Uncle Bert he refers to a fight among the young Egyptians for his Capos cigarettes...I believe this is what the tin would have looked like:

Friday, April 26, 2013

Bert's tent mates on January 18, 1918

I am constantly amazed by the information on the internet... a few searches and I have been able to locate documents related to Bert's tent mates as listed on January 18, 1918...

First is Reggie Gluyas, Reginald Reseigh Gluyas 5029

There are 50 pages of original documents scanned into the National Archives. Sadly, Reggie didn't make it home and died in France later in 1918, aged only 19... When Reggie signed up he was 18 years and 9 months old, weighed 123lbs and was 5 foot 7 inches...

Next we have Don Tobin Donald Vincent Tobin 5090

There are 40 pages of original documents scanned into the National Archives. Don was an apprenticed fitter and turner when he applied to enlist in the Australian Imperial Forces in 1917. He was discharged on 21/9/19. Every soldier has a story and it would be fascinating to piece together the story of them all but I am afraid it will waylay me from my task.

Frank Watson Frederick William Watson 5124

These blokes who go by different names make future historians jobs much more difficult. Pretty sure Frederick is Frank... Details on his file confirm he was on the Ulysses with Bert and also that he disembarked at Suez on 16/1/18. I love finding information that correlates with the diary. It seems that Frank signed up in 1915 but did not travel overseas until 22/12/17 when he was over 21 years. I guess his parents didn't provide a letter allowing him to.

* Could Frank Watson also be: William Isaac Watson 5098 ??? (keeping this link here to see if future references reveal more...)

Frank Riley Francis Angas Riley 5079

Frank was a labourer whose father had died 5 years prior to his enlistment. His mother agreed that he could sign up and travel abroad after he had turned 19. It seems that Frank was subject to a Court Martial and sentenced to 3 years PS. (penal servitude)  Not much information appears to be on the site but it looks like I can request a copy here. The file does note desertion on 1/8/18 - 2/8/18 and also that the sentence was perhaps suspended in October of 1918. It also states the Court Martial was conducted in the field.
He was discharged 31/1/20 after returning to Australia in February 1919.
As with all these men, there is so much more to know.

Jack McEgan Lawrence John McEgan 5066

Uncle Bert thought Mac's name was Jack, when in fact it was Lawrence John McEgan. Earlier in the diary he mostly refers to him as Mac but occasionally as Jack McEgan. He listed his service number 5066 so it was easy to confirm I had the right record.
It seems he was discharged on 22/12/19...exactly 2 years after setting sale on the Ulysses (and the same date as Bert) Prior to signing up he was a jeweller. It also seems that there is documentation showing that his parents were advised at some stage that he was wounded in action and they had to follow up with letters for more news... I can't even imagine how terrible that time must have been for them. Jack/Mack/Mac is also referred to in the forward of the diary...a long lasting friend of Bert's.

Archie Trimming Archibald Ernest Trimming

Archie seemed to have a lot of medical issues and was returned home to Australia on the Port Lyttledon . He boarded on 10/6/19 and disembarked in Australia on 5/8/19 and was eventually discharged on 30/8/19. Below is a picture of medals awarded to him

Jobson Edwin Henry Jobson

I'm not sure which christian name he went by but Bert obviously refers to him as 'Jobson'. I found these records by confirming he was on the Ulysses. I have seen several copies of letters from parents giving their consent for their under 21 year old son to sign up. On September 1917 Jobson's parents gave their consent for him to sign up and less than 12 months later they received advice he was wounded in action (gassed).  He was later discharged on 4/3/1919. It notes 'underage' and family history  information about Jobson suggests he signed up with a false date of birth...but his parents 'blessing'.  His date of birth is noted as 1900 rather than 1899. He lived until 1980. He married on his return and his wife lived until 1997.

I hope that if ever any of these blokes descendants are searching for information about them they might stumble across this blog and read about encounters they had with Bert. It's yet to be revealed if there are future mentions in the diary, but it is highly possible.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Port Tewfik, Egypt and a sapper named Ray

As I type away I sometimes find things that I'd like to know more about. Today, Great Uncle Bert reached Egypt...actually he reached Egypt on January 16, 1918 but today I typed those pages into this blog...
As he mentioned Port Tewfik I decided to have a bit of a google and see what it might have looked like when he first saw it... I came across several versions of postcards from the period, including quite a few copies of this one:

I am posting it as a picture as I found this on an ebay site and I gather when it is sold it will disappear. Here is the link in any case and perhaps it may still be there for a little while. The interesting thing is that the seller also posted the reverse side of the postcard, which was written on:

I was amazed to have found a postcard that was written on February 9, 1918 by Ray Lipman...just a few weeks after Uncle Bert was in Port Tewfik. The words on the post card, addressed to:

Mrs Ray Lipman
398 Cleveland St
Surry Hills

9.2.18 On active service

My Darling Dolly and boy
I have seen this 
place as it is where 
we disembarked   
The hill in the back 
ground is the only 
hill to been seen.  
In fact we are 
forgetting what a 
hill is as it is a long 
time since we seen 
one. God love you and 
Phillip xxxxxx Ray

Raymond Moss Lipman, sapper, was pretty easy to find on the first World War Embarkation list.
I also found some family history information here.

Anyway, I'm a little sidetracked and need to get back to the diary...but the postcard above no doubt represents how Port Tewfik would have appeared to Uncle Bert.

Personal Sketches - some links

While re-typing the on board newspaper 'The Innocents Afloat' I thought I would google a few of the people featured in the Personal Sketches section. I am no expert googler so the results are pretty hit and miss:

The Ship's Commandant: Colonel Frederick William Hurcombe

The Ship's Adjutant: Lieutenant Jack Andrew Robertson

The Quartermaster: Lieutenant Louis Joseph Butler

Senior Medical Officer: Captain Herbert William Franklands

Church of England Chaplain: Captain William Edmund Moorhouse

Roman Catholic Chaplain: Captain Matthias Joseph Smith

Presbyterian Chaplain: Captain William John Gray

Nursing Sisters: Sister Hilda Clapp, Sister Elenor Jeffries, Sister Wilson, Sister Cowley, Sister Kelly

Ship's Sergeant-Major: Warrent Officer Gerald Mack

YMCA Secretary: Rev. H.A.Brewer (Article in WA newspaper about his service)

I have found links to a school in Uganda that had a Rev H.A. Brewer as headmaster from 1920 - 1931... given the article refers to his previous work in Uganda I am confident it is him

Australian Comforts Commissioner: Mr. Ivo Whiston Kerr

I am now able to return to Uncle Bert's first hand account of his experiences... Chapter 5 about to begin....