WW1 Dossier Project by Tony Cable
Saints Who Served in the Great War
Around Australia, there are many activities underway to mark the Centenary of ANZAC. Examples are with two Councils nearest this writer’s home – Woollahra and Waverly – as well as across Sydney Harbour in Mosman. All of these have groups working at collecting the history of their citizens who served during the conflict.
All three of the above can count among their lists, All Saints’ College Diggers. This collection of dossiers for All Saints’ had its beginning in 2009 and will culminate with publication for ANZAC Day 2015.
The History of All Saints’ College, Bathurst” (1963) lists 34 ex All Saints’ College members who “lost their lives on service.” Added to their names were the units enrolled in. However, on inspection, no date of death, or their units, was presented for two men; John Martin and A.W (or, F.W.?) Smith. To this list, two more killed were since identified – Mervyn Day and Earlston Korff. Other names have also been added to those who returned. Many other corrections have been made to the original lists, be they in the School History or on the Honour Boards.
With Internet resources (e.g. Trove,) now available, it could be surmised that it might be easy to research and fill in missing details. As a result, published in VIM (2009) was my resulting article on John Martin. Sadly, these years later, with hundreds of “Smiths” to troll through, this Smith has not been further identified. This is also the case with Bosworth, W.W. Cornish, A. Chauncey (Chauncy?), Captain.Malcolm Kirwan, Captain F. Stokes, and H.L.Maynard. Further, with the paucity of overseas records, not much is available on the 20 or so who served with British, Canadian, Chinese, French and West African units.
Continuing this interest, I proceeded to “cut and paste” into “scrapbook” dossiers any additional snippets I encountered on all of our servicemen. In this, I received encouragement from staff and friends of All Saints’ College to keep extending this collection. A close collaboration was developed with Mr Wayne Feebrey (All Saints’ College teacher) who envisaged that some of the scrapbook material had potential as a teaching resource on WWI for current and future All Saints’ students. Thus to some degree the collection has an orientation to this academic purpose.
As I started researching the 34, the significant connection with Anzac was noted – eight of our fallen were lost at Gallipoli, and of the Anzac survivors, seven were later lost elsewhere.
A much heavier task was begun, in answering “who else fought at Anzac?” The list numbered about 50, so, if one was to prepare dossiers, some 85 were needed! But, as they say, “that’s not all.” There were some additional 135 who also gave service. Why not, open dossiers on all our men? This evolved into setting a target to release all available scrapbooks for next ANZAC Day. The dossiers provide much more than a stark list of names. Underpinning each file, are selections from Personal Service Records from National Archives and newspaper cuttings. Casualty and Red Cross Reports are often, sad, frank and confronting. Added are photos as found, data from their time at All Saints’ College, university, occupations, family (“hatch, match and despatch” records), as well as copies of original documents (e.g. diaries).
A conclusion is, what a diversified, interesting, frightening, and sometimes outstanding record our men achieved and experienced. As such it is not presented as well-written prose. It is in crude form. The reader often sees in the originals, the unadorned and sometime shocking facts – such as the original report of the wounded.
- Scott shooting himself to avoid being taken prisoner by the Germans; or
- Sweetland, lasting a few days from the Landing; evacuated (“nervous breakdown”) and being sent home under a cloud “…..never be able to exercise the necessary control of men in the field.”; or
- another being court–marshalled for shortcomings at Fort Scratchly (Newcastle) at the beginning of the War, later to commit suicide; or
- another to shoot himself in Burwood Park, soon after the war due “to War service.”; or
- Sands’ Secret Service mission for the Prime Minister to the Far East in 1917 to investigate Japanese future intentions in the region – and many, many more.
Mr Tony Cable (Saturday, 1st November 2014 – the anniversary of the day the first ships left Albany)