Centenary of the Great War

DESERT CHRISTMAS: Time away from fighting was a treasured break for these lighthorsemen. Photo: The Digger’s View by Juan Mahony.Newcastle Morning Herald transcriptions and Hunter Valley enlistment and death details for December 17-23, 1917.

HONOUR ROLLThe ceremony of unveiling the roll of honour containing the names of members of the Merewether school of arts who volunteered to serve the Empire, took place on Saturday, in the presence of a large number of residents. Mrs E.A.M Merewether stated it was with pleasure that she acceded to the request of the committee of management to be present with them that day. She trusted that the war would soon be over, but if necessity demanded that further sacrifice should be made to bring the Allies to victory, she would like to see the tablets on the monument filled with the names of brave volunteers. She then touched a cord, and the Union Jack fell away, disclosing a structure some eight feet high, on which were engraved 19 names. One tablet bore the following inscription: “Erected in honour of our heroes, who answered their country’s call, and fought in the great war, 1914, unveiled 15th December, 1917, by Mrs E.A.M Merewether.” Mr A Edden, MP, paid a tribute to the members who had gone to the front. Personally he had no time for shirkers. He knows the heart burnings of mothers and wives of the gallant fellows who were today doing all they could to uphold their country’s honour. Alderman Wells, the Mayor, complimented the school of arts committee for erecting such a fine structure to the memory of their members, and suggested that one grand monument should be erected in some conspicuous place within the municipality in honour of all the young men who had gone forth from Merewether. The Rev. Mr Reid addressed the gathering at some length.

WIRELESS TRAINING SCHOOLMen are urgently required for training in the Wireless Training School in Sydney. Vacanciesexist for fitters and turners, instrument makers and repairers, electricians, electrical mechanics, linemen, telegraphists, wireless operators and drivers, while watchmakers are very urgently required. Full particulars as to rates of pay, etc., may be had on application, either personally or by letter, to the O.C., Wireless Training School, Moore Park. Applicants should furnish full particulars of their experience, and produce copies of any credentials they may hold.

POLLING BOOTH RULESInstructions have been issued by the District Commandant to commanding officers, and all concerned, as follows: The responsibility for the maintenance of order in and around the polling booths on referendum day, December 20th, rests with the civil authorities, but the following instructions must be issued to all troops. (1) As far as practicable arrangements will be made for all soldiers in camps to record their votes in camp.(2) Instructions must be issued that no soldiers in uniform must loiter in the vicinity of polling booths. (3) Where it is necessary for soldiers in uniform to vote at booths, outside their camps, they must go to the polling booths individually, and under no circumstances must they approach the booths in any military formation.

WELCOME ANDFAREWELLA pleasant social evening was spent at the Broadway Picture Palace on Monday evening, when a welcome home was extended by the Broadmeadow Citizens’ Soldiers’ Comforts Fund to Lance-corporal Miller, Privates Carlyon, Jamieson, and Kerr, and a send-off to Sapper F. M’Kenna.An interesting exhibit was the flag presented by Mr D. Watkins, MHR, to the wireless scouts, before their departure for Mesopotamia, and was hoisted in Bagdad by the Australians, who were the first to enter that city on its capture by the British forces. The flag bears the signatures on its stars of the Australians who reached Bagdad with General Maude. Another exhibit that excited much attention consisted of shirts and socks made by the lady members of the Broadmeadow Citizens’ Soldiers’ Comforts Fund for the soldiers. At the supper presentations were made to the guests by Mr. Watkins. MHR, on behalf of the fund. For Lance-corporal Miller and Private Jamieson, there was an inscribed silver cigarette case each; for Private Carlyon an inscribed silver-mounted tobacco pouch; for Private Kerr a fountain pen; and for Sapper M’Kenna a wallet.

PRIVATE HUMPHRIESMrs Humphries has received the following letter from Lieutenant W. Stevens, of the 53rd Battalion: “I have been directed by the commanding officer to acknowledge your inquiry re your son, Private R.H. Humphries. It was during the battalion’s tour of duty in the first line of trenches at Bullecourt that he met his death. On the 13th May he was hit in the head by a piece of enemy shell, and died a few minutes later, without regaining consciousness. He was buried near Bullecourt the same day. May I take this opportunity of expressing the sympathy of the Commanding Officer and the whole battalion with yourself, and relatives of Private Humphries. He was always a gallant and keen soldier, and well-liked by officers and comrades. I can assure you very much he is missed by all.”

GUNNER SMITHThe official news that Gunner J.T. (Sugar) Smith was suffering from gas poisoning was received by his wife, who lives at 45 Union St, Wickham. Gunner Smith, who is in hospital in England, has been on active service for two years. This is the fourth time his name has appeared in the casualty list, he having been wounded on three occasions.

LANCE CORPORAL JOHNSTONMr and Mrs Johnston, of Anderton St, Islington, have received a letter from Sergeant F. Smith, relating the circumstances under which their son, the late Lance-corporal H. Johnston, met his death. Sergeant Smith, after referring to the fact that he and Corporal Johnson enlisted together, states that the deceased soldier was a runner, and in that capacity he acted on many occasions in a manner which called forth praise from the colonel of the battalion, his actions at the battle of Messines being especially praiseworthy. They entered the line on October 12 to take part in the battle of Ypres, and they had a rough time while the advance was taking place. About 9 o’clock on the following morning a shell burst about 20 yards from a party, including Sergeant Smith and Corporal Johnston. A piece of the shell penetrated Corporal Johnston’s heart, and he died immediately.

TOY DISTRIBUTIONThe members of the Newcastle League of Honour held their annual toy distribution to soldiers’ children on King Edward Park on Wednesday afternoon. Glorious weather prevailed, and there was a large attendance. The platform on which the toys were placed was gaily decorated, and a large Christmas tree, heavily laden with toys, added to the picturesqueness of the scene. The children, with their mothers, were grouped in a semi-circle opposite the platform, and their smiling countenances testified to their appreciation of the thoughtfulness of the league in providing toys for them. It was a happy gathering, not a discordant note being sounded until the proceedings were about to close, then a few disappointed mothers said unkind things because their children had not received toys. The league was in no way responsible for this, as ample notice had been given when the names had to be handed in. Alderman Kilgour, the Mayor of Newcastle, in opening the proceedings, said the members of the League of Honour, in promoting the distribution, were trying to make up for the deficiency when the fathers of the children were away fighting for King and country. The league had done remarkably well, and for several days members had been working at high pressure to make the distribution a success.

Father Christmas, in the person of Mr Arthur Croxon, of Messrs. Dix and Baker’s company at the Victoria Theatre, then made his appearance, and met with a cordial reception from the children. He chatted pleasantly with all the little ones, and afterwards handed them their toys, with many bright and cheery words of Christmas greeting.

It was announced that those children who did not receive toys, through no fault of the league, would receive them later.

AUSTRALIANS’ CHRISTMASMr C.E.W Bean, the Official Australian Correspondent, telegraphing on December 22, says: The Australians are in country which is at present an exact picture of the old-time Christmas cards. The ground is covered with white frost, and every twig is outlined in sparkling white. In some parts, where snow has fallen, the men have been tobogganing down the hills, and sliding on the frozen pools. In other parts of the line they look out over a landscape like a great dreary moor, where nothing moves except shells, occasionally blackening nature’s coverlet with grimy smears. The Germans are continually raiding, trying to cut off posts, and discover how the line is held. They raided one division 13 times this week in the fog. After one attempt, in which they lost a raiding party three times the size of the post which they raided, they succeeded in capturing a post near Messines, picking up two other men lost in the fog further south. Our patrols certainly capture and kill far more Germans, because they are more at home in this class of warfare. At the present time the Australians, whether in the line or behind it, are certainly constantly thinking of the sunny country which is their home. Christmas here is being made more homelike by funds partly provided by seven concert parties, which are now a regular part of the Australian military organisation, besides the comforts fund of the YMCA, two institutions which have splendidly helped the various portions of the Australian force.

ENLISTMENTSHugh Vincent Cumming, Dunolly; George Joseph Fuge, Muswellbrook; John William Parsons, Merewether; James Arthur Peberdy, Gungal; James Ryan, Denman; Hugh Sharpe, Broke; John Francis Tattersall, Cessnock; Humphrey Camfield Windeyer, Tomago; Richard Michael Windeyer, Tomago.

DEATHSL/Sgt Alfred John Charlton, Lambton; Pte George Leonard Furner, Allynbrook; 2nd Lieut John Francis Garaty, Morpeth; Lieut Charles Albert Read, Merriwa.

David Dial OAM is a Hunter-based military historian. Follow his research at facebook南京夜网/HunterValleyMilitaryHistory

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