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....