[Editor: These untitled news items, including some letters from Australian soldiers and reports of farewell functions for departing soldiers, are extracts from the general news section published in The Maitland Weekly Mercury (West Maitland, NSW), 9 October 1915.]
[World War One news items]
Mr. William Butler, of Lorn, has received a telegram from the Defence Department informing him that his son, Private Clarrie Butler, was in hospital in Egypt, suffering from dysentery.
A letter received from another relative tells of a very narrow escape which the other son at the front, Private Charles Butler, had, a bullet lodging in his pocket book.
The two brothers, with several other Maitlanders, are together in the 18th Battalion, and whilst in Egypt they met a number from this town.
Mr. D. J. Ryan has received the following telegram from the Defence Department:
“Regret Private H. L. Ryan wounded, not reported seriously. Will promptly advise if anything further received.”
Private Ryan is 21 years of age, and at the time he enlisted was employed as an electrician at the Aberdare colliery. He left Sydney on June 20 last, being attached to C. Co., 20th Battalion, and with the Power brothers, left Egypt on August 15, for Gallipoli.
Mrs. Wheeler, of Lee-street, has received a letter from her brother, Private D. W. Austin, of the 4th Battalion, who was wounded in the charge at Gallipoli on August 6, and at the time of writing was in the Atelier Hospital, Cairo.
Referring to his wound he says:
“I did not get hit too badly. I got one through the left leg and left hand, but they are only flesh wounds, and will soon get better. I hope you won’t worry. Tell all the young fellows to come and do their bit, too; we need them.”
In the charge he lost all his money, clothes, and some things he was keeping to bring home. He has the bullet which went into his leg and will try to keep that. He states that they are getting some good tobacco. The niggers in Cairo he refers to as a dirty lot, the women being just as dirty as the men. They go about with no boots on, and are as black as coal.
He wishes to be remembered to his friends.
At a social gathering held at the residence of his parents, Mr. and Mrs. H. Atkinson, of Regent-street, Driver H. Atkinson was farewelled by a large number of his friends.
On behalf of the Maitland Combined Light Horse Association, Captain W. J. S. Gillies presented the departing soldier with a periscope, and stated that if he did his work as well at the front as he did at home — and he had no doubt that he would — he would give a good account of himself.
Lieut. M. Campbell, who has charge of the machine-gun section, and Mr. A. Dodds, who presented Driver Atkinson with a smoker’s outfit on behalf of his friends, made eulogistic reference to their guest, and wished him a safe return. Mr. Atkinson responded.
Musical items were rendered by Misses M. Ryan, O’Neil, Connors, Hobden, M. and B. Atkinson, Messrs. W. York, A. Watson, Wilks, and Lock.
Driver Atkinson, who is in the Army Service Corps, was on final leave.
A farewell social was tendered to Private E. H. Roberts at the residence of his sister, Mrs. W. Webber, 142 High-street. Private Roberts is at present on final leave, and is to leave in a few days for the front.
A most enjoyable evening was spent in music, songs, and recitations, contributed by Mrs. Kerr and Messrs. McGlinn, Sharp, Cornell, and Varley, and euchre and other parlour games were indulged in. Refreshments were partaken of, and the evening concluded with best wishes to Private Roberts, and the singing of “Auld Lang Syne” and “He’s a Jolly Good Fellow.”
Private Roberts’ brother, Trooper A. L. Roberts, sailed for the front a week or two ago.
Most people know, or are supposed to know, that Belgium is a land of intense cultivation, and they know, from the happenings of the past year, that the Belgians are a people of intense patriotism. Apropos of this, Lieut. Sidney E. Peirce, writing from “Somewhere in Flanders,” under date Aug. 18th, writes:—
“The tall trees lining roads and canals are even more common here than in France — that is, we see much longer lines of them. Woods are also more common about here, although outside of these every inch of the soil is cultivated. The corn harvest is being gathered now, and fields of stubble, with shocks of corn in lines, are seen on every hand. Altogether, the land is a beautiful one in a quiet way. There is nothing impressive about it, except the industry of the people and their love for the land. Only the greatest of wars could drive them out. It explains the heroism of the Belgian soldier. True patriotism is a product of the land, and peoples who have close touch with the land, and have each a stake in it, are the peoples who would go any length to preserve it from our invader.”
Lieut. Peirce concludes his letter by saying, “Give my kind regards to all the Maitland people who still remember me.”
Soldiers who have returned from Egypt speak of the scarcity of good jam in that part of the world. They say that Australian jam would command a ready sale there, and at good prices. It is so long since good jam has been obtainable that no trouble would be experienced in finding consumers for a fair Australian sample.
Last week at Sydney University a special ceremony for the conferring of degrees on those graduates of the University this year who have enlisted for active service was held in the Great Hall. The majority of the new graduates are doctors, an enormous number of whom are required for the war.
Among those who graduated in science was Fred. T. Peirce, an old boy of the East Maitland High School, who was awarded first-class honours in mathematics, and who is in training with the engineers at Moore Park.
The Warden, Mr. H. E. Barff, announced that as far as could be ascertained, the number of graduates and undergraduates from Sydney University on active service totalled 742. Of this number 328 were from the various branches of the Faculty of Medicine and 193 from the Faculty of Arts, which includes the Department of Economics.
Mrs. E. K. Lambert, of Kurri Kurri, has received a letter from Lady Martin, of Clifton Gardens, London, conveying an appreciation of her son, Private R. K. Lambert, who was staying at Clifton Gardens, with others, during the convalescent stage, after receiving wounds in action (writes our Mines representative).
Lady Martin makes touching reference to Private Lambert’s devotion to his parents and his home in Australia, which was, she says, the more touching, because she herself has a son at the Dardanelles. Lady Martin added that Private Lambert is now almost his old self again. Since the letter was written, Private Lambert has returned to Egypt.
Constable Harry Chadban, who enlisted from Newcastle, where he was stationed for some months, died on August 13th of wounds received at the Dardanelles. His parents live at Stroud.
He was the first member of the Newcastle branch of the Australian Natives’ Association to be killed, although about thirty members have enlisted, a great many of whom are already at the front.
At a meeting of the branch this week, a special minute was passed, appreciatively recording Mr. Chadban’s services, and the mortuary allowance of £20 was passed for payment to his next-of-kin.
Sergeant Ray Dilley, another of Maitland’s soldiers who have been wounded at Gallipoli, returned home by the 7.50 p.m. train on 2nd inst., and was welcomed at the West Maitland station by a very large crowd. As the train steamed in he was greeted with cheers, and the Federal Band played “Home Sweet Home”, and “Auld Lang Syne.”
The Mayor (Alderman Manual) extended him a hearty welcome, and in congratulating him on having done his duty to his country, expressed the wish that he would be restored to good health. A procession was then formed and Sergeant Dilley conveyed to his home in Bourke-street. Patriotic airs and “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow” were played by the band, and cheers again given for the wounded soldier. Mr. R. D. Dilley returned thanks for the welcome given his son.
Sergeant Dilley was in the 2nd Battalion, and when he enlisted he was employed in the parcels office at the Sydney railway station. He was with the first force that left Australia for Egypt, and took part in the landing at Gallipoli on the morning of April 25. After 15 hours on land he received a bullet in the abdomen, and a few days later he was back in hospital at Egypt. An operation was performed and the bullet removed, and several weeks later Sergeant Dilley returned to the trenches. This time he remained a fortnight, when his eyesight became affected by what is known as “shell blindness,” but he states that this is now improving. He says that the Australians have, by their splendid fighting qualities, earned the admiration of all.
The horses that are in Egypt, taken over by the Light Horse contingents, have become somewhat unruly for want of hard work, and one young Australian at any rate prefers guarding Turkish prisoners to looking after Australian horses in Egypt.
Trooper Harold L. Peirce, writing home from “Prisoners of War Camp, Ma’adi,” Aug. 31, says:—
“By my address you can see that I have changed camp since I wrote to you last. We are now guarding Turkish prisoners of war, and, I believe, political prisoners. We changed camp last Sunday, and I went on guard straight away. We are only about one mile away from our last camp, and we are right on the banks of the Nile. Our duty consists of 24 hours guard, of which we do two hours on and four off. When we are relieved at 8 a.m. we have a holiday that day and can get leave to go to town. Next day we are on what is called waiting guard. We take the prisoners out to work two hours at a time; that is from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m., and from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., and then we have nothing to do until we go on guard next morning; but we are not allowed away from our quarters. The prisoners are very quiet and seem contented. The tucker here is not as good as at our last camp, but otherwise things are a lot better, and I can tell you I am not sorry to get rid of the horses.”
Then follows a description of a visit to the Sphynx and to Cheop’s Pyramid.
A very pleasant and enjoyable farewell evening was tendered to Private W. Williams at the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Kerr, Louth Park, on Sept. 30, prior to his departure for the front.
Musical items were contributed by Mesdames Kerr, McGlinn, and Miss Bryde McGlinn.
The presentation was made to the departing soldier by Mr. Clarence Walker of an illuminated wristlet watch, on behalf of the East Greta Railway Drivers, Firemen, and Cleaners’ Association.
Mr. Walker and Mr. Kerr spoke in appreciation of their guest, who briefly responded.
Refreshments were partaken of, the evening closing with the singing of “Auld Lang Syne,” “He’s a Jolly Good Fellow,” the National Anthem, and cheers for the guest.
Driver Norman Dufty, Motor Transport, 17th Division, 301st Company, grandson of Mrs. Dufty, East Maitland, writes:—
“We have been very busy the last few weeks. I have not been able to write, but hope you received my field cards all right. I am still quite well, with the exception of a scratch on the thigh. I have seen plenty of hard fighting since I wrote last. Have also witnessed numerous air battles, and they are awfully exciting. You can see the shrapnel shells bursting just underneath the ’plane, with a bright flash, which changes into a ball of black smoke, which hangs in the air an hour or more, according to the condition of the atmosphere. If there is a long engagement on, the sky looks as if it had the measles. Occasionally you will see a ’plane come down, but not often, as they are a hard target to get.
War is a terrible affair. I shall have every little incident stamped on my brain. The sights one sees at times turn one sick, and will always be a nightmare to one. There is one thing — it will make men, and good men, of everyone out here.
It is my wish and prayer that this terrible war will end quickly, for the sake of the poor chaps in the trenches. They have a bad time of it, and when they get hit it’s not lightly, but sends them to hospital for five or six months.
We have just come to the base for a spell, so I took the opportunity of writing.”
Private J. B. Skelton, previously reported missing, but now reported wounded and in hospital at London, is a native of West Maitland. He is 23 years of age, and the second son of Mr. T. Skelton, who now resides in Newtown.
The Defence Department notified Mrs. Ryrie on Tuesday that Brigadier-General Ryrie had been slightly wounded. A cable massage was immediately despatched to Cairo asking for additional particulars, and on Wednesday a reply was received from Brigadier-General Ryrie, dated Heliopolis, as follows:—
“Shrapnel bullet in neck. Nothing serious. Small operation to-morrow.”
A letter just received from Colonel Burnage, by his sister, Mrs. Squirrel, in Newcastle, states that his right hand had quite recovered, and that the left hand was much stronger, and the pain less. The letter was written from Bath, England.
Mrs. Squirrel, referring to a recent statement, said it was not correct that the colonel’s arm had been amputated.
Private J. H. Bowman, who is with the Australian Forces at the Dardanelles, writing under date August 25 to his aunt, Mrs. J. Clift, Newcastle-street, East Maitland, says:—
“I am anxiously waiting the time when I shall be relieved for a rest. The two Butler boys, Charlie and Clarrie, have arrived safely, and have been in an engagement.
A bullet went through Charlie’s right pocket, and had it not been for a couple of books which he had in his pockets, he would have been killed. The bullet passed through a first-aid book, and luckily glanced off a prayer-book.
I won’t be sorry when this war is over. We have suffered a great deal, but for all that we are gaining on the enemy. The Turk is a great fighter, and he thinks the Australians tackled something solid.”
Referring to atrocities, with which the Turks are credited with having committed on the Australians, he says they are not true. Although the Turks know they are beaten, they are fighting a fair fight.”
At the conclusion of the business hours at the Australian Bank of Commerce, on Wednesday, two members of the staff, Messrs. C. E. Crutch, jun., and V. H. Smith, who have volunteered for the front, were presented with a safety razor outfit each.
The manager, Mr. E. P. Carr, in making the presentation, referred to the many good qualities of both officials, and wished them good luck and a safe return.
Both volunteers went into camp at Newcastle this morning.
There was a large attendance of the residents of Homeville and Telarah at the residence of Mr. P. Ryan on Saturday evening for the purpose of making a presentation to Private Moylan, who is going to the front. Mr. Smith presided, and the large room was tastefully decorated with flags of the Empire and Allies.
Mr. W. Johnston, on behalf of the citizens, presented the departing soldier with a wristlet watch and sheepskin vest, and complimented him on the courage he was showing in going forth to uphold the honour of home and Empire. Mr. P. Ryan also made eulogistic reference to the guest and wished him a safe return. The recipient thanked the people for their good wishes and presents.
Refreshments were provided by the ladies. A concert was held, at which choice musical items were rendered by local singers, followed by a dance, which also contributed to the enjoyment of the evening.
The Maitland Weekly Mercury (West Maitland, NSW), 9 October 1915, p. 4
auld lang syne = (Scottish) “times long past” (literally, “old long since”), similar to “the good old days”; commonly known in relation to the song “Auld Lang Syne”, being the poem written by Robert Burns (and later set to music) which was based upon an old Scottish song
Australian Natives’ Association = a fraternal patriotic organisation and mutual society of Australian-born people, which was originally established in April 1871 as the Victorian Natives’ Association, but which extended its coverage to all Australians in 1872
Clarrie = a diminutive version of “Clarence”
euchre = a card game for (usually) four players, which is played with a deck of 24, 28, or 32 cards (especially popular in the 19th century)
Messrs. = an abbreviation of “messieurs” (French), being the plural of “monsieur”; used in English as the plural of “Mister” (which is abbreviated as “Mr.”); the title is used in English prior to the names of two or more men (often used regarding a company, e.g. “the firm of Messrs. Bagot, Shakes, & Lewis”, “the firm of Messrs. Hogue, Davidson, & Co.”)
National Anthem = in colonial Australia, and federated Australia up until 1984, the national anthem was “God Save the King”, or “God Save the Queen” (depending on whether the reigning monarch was a king or queen at the time)
’plane = an abbreviation of “aeroplane”
[Editor: The original text has been separated into paragraphs.]
[Editor: Changed “of Cifton Gardens” to “of Clifton Gardens”, “Asutralian Natives Association” to “Australian Natives’ Association”. Added a closing double quotation mark after “fair fight.”]