Friday, September 16, 2016

Television before the first broadcast

All day channel 9 has been commemorating the 60th anniversary of the first television broadcast in Australia in 1956.  But I happen to know that there were broadcasts before then.  Test broadcasts, admittedly, but broadcasts nonetheless, and some people did actually watch them.

The first job my father, Ken Gibbons, had was as a cadet engineer with AWA.  One of the side lines AWA was working on was promoting television. They had a television camera, and a whole array of various monitors.  The camera was from Marconi in England, the monitors were mostly from RCA in America, and they used to take the gear round to various places and did a lot of closed circuit demonstrations. Their two stars were Joe the gadget man, who went on to become a regular promoting Nock and Kirbys (do you remember him saying "bring your money, bye [buy] now" at the end of his segments?) and a scientist who coupled the camera to a fairly low powered microscope. 

When the Queen came to Australia for the 1954 Royal Tour they did some of these demonstrations.  The first one was in Sydney.  The cameras were set up on the City side of the Botanical Gardens – possibly near the Man O'War steps – where a special wharf was set up for the arrival of the Queen and Prince Philip.  It was broadcast by microwave across to the Spastic Centre in Mosman (I know that isn't a politically correct word now, but it's what it was called at the time), and Dad was over at the Spastic Centre, where he took some photographs off the monitor screen. 

Marconi camera

Transmitted image

Then they went to Canberra for the opening of parliament with the Queen, and that was broadcast across Lake Burley Griffin to the hospital (the one that they eventually demolished with disastrous results), but no photo were taken there.

Finally they went to Brisbane and did the opening of parliament there too, and at that time Dad was actually at parliament house, not at the other end.

Access to the roof for microwave dish installation

Getting the dish up

Hauling it into place

Dish finally in place
The purpose of all this work was promoting television – trying to prove to certain investors that it could be a viable thing.  There was no film, it was all live, and there were certainly no video recorders in those days.  Such a thing as a flying spot scanner did exist which could convert film to live television, but there was no recording made of these test broadcasts of the royal tour.  The only recording method available was to photograph it an put it through a flying spot scanner.  So no record has been kept of any of it.  As far as he knows, the only record of it were his few photographs, because nobody else took any photos. 

Regular television broadcasts commenced two years later in 1956 on TCN-9, when Bruce Gyngell spoke those famous words "Good evening, and welcome to television."

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

AncestryDNA at the Camden Conference

This weekend just past I attended the NSW and ACT Association of Family History Societies at Camden. One of the speakers was Jody Taylor from Ancestry who spoke about their DNA offering.

Several interesting points came out. And several worrying statements were made.

One of the interested points were that there is a section on DNA under the HELP section on their website.  I've had a look at it and there are all sorts of interesting articles, some with videos attached, to explain about certain aspects of Genetic Genealogy. These vary from how to download your raw DNA data, to the differences between Y-DNA, mtDNA and atDNA, and there is also (very helpfully) a DNA glossary of terms. The Help also has a section (called Discussions) where people can ask a question.

Another interesting point is that they don't have any Australian Aborigines in the Reference Panel, but that it might change in the future.  That would be interesting.

More worrying was the discussion about the Ethnicity results. Firstly, the Reference Panel that they use to decide your ethnicity consists of only 3000 people.  A person only needs to take their tree back 12 generations to have 4096 ancestors (assuming no cousin marriages) and 13 generations to have 8192 ancestors.  Going back 12 generations I am looking at my 10g-grandparents. I do have some of those identified in my tree, and the births of those people vary from estimates of about 1580 or about 1600 to exact years of baptism of 1595, 1625 and 1637.  And, of course, my ancestors go back well before that. So how can a mere 3000 people from all sorts of place across the globe be used to accurately represent my ancestry?

My Ethnicity according to

But an example was given during the talk of an English chap called Jay who was convinced he was English through and through, but his results came up only 30% English. Except that they would have actually been classed as "Great Britain" which is England, Scotland and Wales.

You might be thinking that it is explained by the large numbers of waves of migration into Britain, and it might be, but how could they know they had people who were genetic descendants of the pre-Celtic inhabitants of the British Isles (because in that case, surely only they could be British)?

Now I am very aware that these ethnicity estimates are just that at this point in time – estimates. But I was looking around at the audience and they were believing that the figures they saw were unimpeachable scientific facts.  That's a worry.

It's also a big worry that they lump England, Wales and Scotland together as "Great Britain", when the "People of the British Isles" project showed quite distinct ancestry in different parts of Great Britain. The inhabitants are not one homogeneous lot who can be classified in your ancestry.

Don't get me wrong, I think that the AncestryDNA tests can have a valuable place in the repertoire of genealogical tools available to us, through finding cousins etc. And of course they can potentially be invaluable in finding the siblings and parents of adopted people.  It's that deep ancestry that worries me. Well, my deep ancestry doesn't worry me, it's the fact that so many people take it as gospel.

One amusing thought did occur to me.  We were informed that once two (or more) people in the Ancestry DNA database have a match, the system searchs the trees for common ancestors. Wouldn't it be interesting if it was the other way around?  How many errors in trees would be found, and how many non-paternal events?

Monday, May 30, 2016

My ancestor - The Hunting Sweep!

I discovered many years ago that my 4g-grandfather, William Vizard (1792-1873), was a chimney sweep, a fact disclosed on his daughter's marriage certificate and his entries in the censuses. I tried not to think of him as some cruel Dickensian master, like Gamfield from Oliver Twist or Tom's master from The Water Babies. But on the other hand, I cringed even more to think of Dick van Dyke's portrayal of a chimney sweep in Mary Poppins. Luckily it seems he was nothing like either of them.

The other day I was looking at (as you do) and found a tree with my William Vizard in it.  Attached to the person in that tree was a copy of the painting of "The Badminton Sweep".

Now I am always sceptical about "hints" that come from other peoples' trees, and always spend a lot of time trying to prove or disprove whether they are correct. In this case the picture was part of an article about a painting of the Badminton Sweep having come to light. The notes with it said that he was William Vizard from Chipping Sodbury, who regularly hunted with Duke of Beaufort at the Badminton Hunt, always carrying his sweep's brush.  The painting was expected to be sold for £2000-£3000 (in 2012).

Now my ancestor, William, was the son of William (c1759-1843) who was a gardener.  So it can't have been the elder William who was the hunting sweep.  My William also had a son William, born 1827, (who is not my ancestor – I am descended from the second William's daughter Mary Ann) and that son was shown as a chimney sweep in the 1851 and 1861 censuses, so I had two possible contenders.

Firstly I did some Google searching and discovered that the gentleman in question was more commonly referred to as "The Hunting Sweep", and that there were several portraits of him.  A print of one from a book was for sale on eBay for a ridiculous amount, but another was quite a reasonable price, so I've bought that and eagerly await its arrival.

But I still needed to prove which William was being referred to.  My next step was to turn to the newspapers.  There I found a death notice for the eldest William (that is, the gardener) in 1843 (I knew who this referred to as I had already obtained all the relevant death certificates) which read "DIED - On the 20th ult., at Chipping Sodbury, Gloucestershire, William Vizard, sen., the venerable sire of "the Hunting Sweep," aged 84." (Bell's Life in London and Sporting Chronicle, 3 Sep 1843, p2). 

And there were lots of other articles about the Hunting Sweep, although in many cases they were copies of articles from other papers.

From those newspaper articles I discovered a very amusing character.

SPORT V REFORM; OR, THE HUNTING SWEEP. – At Chipping Sodbury, Gloucestershire, resides a certain chimney-sweep, who, by industry, has accumulated some property. He happens, however, to be very find of the chase, and is often seen with the Duke of Beaufort's hounds in the neighbourhood, striding across the country in his sooty habiliments, to the great amusement of the gentlemen of the hunt, amongst whom, however, he never fails to maintain a conspicuous place. The sweep is a Reformer, but the Duke's brother, Lord E. Somerset, is a candidate for one division of the county, on opposite principles. The sweep was, consequently, rather puzzled as to the disposal of his vote, and hesitated between hunting and reform. The Hon. Mr. Moreton and his colleague, the two reform candidates, were first to put him to the test, and understanding that his political creed was favourable, solicited his vote with confidence. To their surprise, however, the sweep refused then, and on being pressed for his reason, said, "To tell you the truth, Gem'men, I can't vote for you, 'cause I hunts with the Duke."
(Morning Advertiser, Saturday 10 November 1832, p3)

Three years later and another election loomed. This time it was the Duke of Beaufort's son, the Marquis of Worcester, who was standing. Vizard is reported to have pushed his way to the front of the hustings, offered his hand to the Marquis and declared
"I am come, my Lord," said the sweep" either to propose or second you, if necessary, and, at all events, to give you my vote and interest." The Marquis expressed his obligations, and heartily shook the hand of his sable friend. "Ah," said the sweep, continuing his harrangue, "this is indeed an important crisis, and every well-wisher of his country ought to stand forward manfully to precent of Church and State from being brished away together. So displeased have I been with the sweeping attempts of late, that I have declined any longer to superintend the black work at Berkley Castle ... or to give my support to the Whigs, and as to the Destructives, they must be swept away and kept out of power, or you may depend upon it there will be no more stability in our Constitution then in a tottering chimney during a high wind." —All parties were greatly amused at the sweep's eloquence. It had the desired effect, and the Marquis was shortly afterwards duly elected. The sweep thereupon gave him a hearty cheer, and said, "My Lord, you will always find a friend in me, for you know I am true blue, and I hunts with the Duke."
(Sherborne Mercury, 26 Jan 1835, p3)

The next interesting article is entitled "The Hunting Sweep, or a Day with the Duke of Beaufort" which appeared in several papers, but the earliest one I found was in Bell's Life in London and Sporting Chronicle, 18 Dec 1836, p3. It is a long article, but in essence it describes a hunt attended by the sweep, as well as the Duke of Beaufort, the Marquis of Worcester, the Earl of Wilton, Lord Andover, Lord Seymour and five MPs, amongst others.  Vizard "was mounted on his old chestnut horse, with ... a pad for a saddle, no stirrups, and a bridle ... The sweep was in his sooty attire ... with a brush for a whip." When the Duke (who had been the Marquis at the election a year earlier, but had now succeeded his father to the Dukedom) appeared, the sweep "immediately rode forward, received the congratulations of his Grace, and returned them by placing his brush horizontally in front of his hat a la militaire. ... The sweep jumped on his nag, and stood erect upon one leg, extending the other in the air, holding the reins in one hand, and holding out the brush with the other, like a flying Mercury. He then showed his skill in horsemanship by galloping round the circle in this attitude, amidst the waving of handkerchiefs and to the infinite amusement of all present."

The hunt then commenced, and Vizard was in at the end and declared to all as he departed for home "I hope we part to meet again, for I am so well pleased with the day's sport that for the rest of the season 'I hunts with the Duke.' "

What a fascinating character to be able to claim as my own!

Monday, April 25, 2016

10971 Sapper Roy Francis Highett

Sapper R.F. Highett
Roy Francis Highett was the 2nd son of  Francis James Highett and Deborah Maria Griffiths and was my 1st cousin, three times removed. He was born on 22nd January, 1891, in Murrumbeena, which is a suburb of Melbourne. Roy was 24 years old and studying engineering at the University of Melbourne, when he decided that he should join up.  

On 15th March 1915 he applied to join the armed forces, though his service counts from 31st March. Roy was 5’ 11 ¼” , weighed 11stone 4lbs, had a fair complexion, light grey eyes (though described as blue at discharge), fair hair, and under "Distinctive Marks" it was stated that he had a "scar across back r.h. thumb, Mole R shoulder blade".

"Roy's Tent Crowd, 1915" from family photo album
Roy is second from the right
10971 Sapper Highett was assigned to the 10th Field company Engineers and embarked on HMAT Runic on 20th June 1916, more than a year after his enlistment. On the 10th August he disembarked in Plymouth, and after training in England arrived in Europe on 8th February 1917.  On the 20th of that month he was transferred to the 12th Field Company Engineers. He was sick in hospital from 22nd March to 27th April 1917, and detached for duty with 1st Anzac R.E. Workshop between 21st September and 25th September 1917 before being returned to the 12th Field Company Engineers.

Then on the 6th October 1917 he was wounded in his arm and back.  He was transferred to East Leeds War Hospital on 21st October, and not discharged from there until 14th January 1918.

The Argus, 4 May 1917

Despite what was written in the article in The Argus (above), Roy was not wounded on the 21st October. That was the date he was transferred to Leeds.  The entry in the War Diary of the 12th Field Company Engineers for the 6th October reads
No 10971 Spr R. HIGHETT wounded by H.E. while returning to camp from work on CORDUROY ROAD (J.13.a.28.)

Roy was granted 12 months leave in England to take up a soldier scholarship without pay or allowances from 23rd April 1918 to study engineering at the Imperial College of Science and Technology in Kensington, London, which was later extended.

Benalla Standard, 20 May 1917

Once again, there was an error in the newspaper reporting back home.  Roy never attended Cambridge or Oxford. He was not discharged at that stage, and his service records only indicate the one injury, which the War Diary indicates was from High Explosives.

Roy was admitted to hospital 27th September 1918 with Influenza, and discharged on 20th October, then admitted to hospital again on 9th April 1919 for treatment for a foreign body in his back.  He was discharged from that stay on the 24th April.

He was finally discharged from the AIF at London being medically unfit with effect from 29th July 1920, at the age of 29 years 6 months. Interestingly, his distinctive marks are now listed as "1 Vacc Lt arm". There is no mention of the scar on his thumb or the mole on his shoulder. And no mention of the gunshot wounds, which must have left distinctive marks.

His file contains a copy of the following letter, written in his own hand, sworn on 1 May 1920:

From 10971 Sapper Highett R.F.

12 Field Coy Engineers A.I.F.
Imperial College of Science South Kensington SW7
 To the COAdmin Hdrs  A.I.F. I, Roy Francis Highett, do solemnly and sincerely declare that my reasons for the attached application for discharge are as follows :- 1.    I wish to sit for the final B. Sc. (Eng. Ln. Univ) Examinations held during July.2.    I desire in the event of my being unsuccessful in these examination, of which the results are published in August, to sit again at the first opportunity.3.    It may be necessary that I should have to continue my studies until December before being allowed to take out this degree.4.    I also solemnly and sincerely declare that it is my intention to return to Australia on being elected an Associate Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers; in any case within 27 months of the completion of my course of studies;5.    That all my interests (parents and home) are in Australia6.    That I have no intention of permanently residing in England7.    That I shall be able to maintain myself during the course of my studies and until I return to Australia I make this solemn declaration conscientiously believing the same to be true by virtue of the provisions of the Statutory Declarations Act 1835
                                                            R.F. Highett

In support of his application, the Dean of Imperial College of Science and Technology wrote:
"I have much pleasure on certifying that Sapper Roy Francis Highett of the Australian Imperial Force is a student of Engineering in this College and that he has been in regular attendance here since April 1919. He has passed The London University Matriculation and the Intermediate B.Sc. in Engineering; he has also passed the College Matriculation. Highett has completed the second year course and has qualified for admission to the third year course and if he completes the remaining two terms of the Third Year he will, in June and July next, be eligible to take the final examinations for the College Diploma and for the University Degree of B.Sc in Engineering. He is a diligent and capable student and throughout his stay at the College his student conduct has been irreproachable."

However, despite what he said in his application, Roy DID have an interest in England – a wife.  He had married Marie Gertrude Davis on 2nd August 1919 at the Paddington Register Office.  They went on to have two daughters, and Roy never did return to Australia.

Roy with his wife and first daughter, 1920

Thursday, April 7, 2016

In Search of a Marriage

Thanks to the 1939 Register I've uncovered another Black Sheep in the family!

**N.B. Names have been changed to protect the guilty

It was known that Dorcas Lynne Longley – youngest daughter of Edward William Longley and Emma Mary Penrose – appeared with the family on the 1911 census in Wealdstone, MDX.  That document stated that she was aged 4 and had been born in Harrow.  Her birth was found in the GRO Indexes in the March Quarter of 1907 in the Hendon district.

It was known from family stories that she had a daughter Elizabeth, who had been friendly with her cousin Susan Longley and who had attended Susan's 21st birthday celebrations.  Elizabeth had gone on to have two children, believed to be called Alex (a son) and Freya.

No marriage could be found for Dorcas in England or Wales – had it taken place somewhere else?

When I questioned the son of Susan Longley about the family, it suddenly came to him that Elizabeth's husband was called Ernie.  He thought the surname was Roberts.  No marriage of an Ernie Roberts to an Elizabeth could be found.

No relevant Dorcas of the right age could be found in the 1939 Register.

Searches of all indexes for any Dorcas Lynnes turned up the death in the June quarter of 1970 of Dorcas Lynne Teague in the Watford district, born 1 Jan 1906.  The Watford district looked hopeful, as Elizabeth was known to have been living in West Watford later, though the date of birth didn't match the year of the birth registration.  Nonetheless it was mentioned to Susan Longley's son, since it was in the Watford district. At that point the name Teague rang bells with him.

A search for a birth of an Elizabeth Teague found a likely candidate in the December quarter of 1941 in the Watford District (Elizabeth C Teague, mother's maiden name Longley). She would have been about 4 ½ years younger than Susan, but it was still possible that they were friendly despite the age gap. But there was no marriage of an Elizabeth Teague to anyone named Ernie or anyone with the surname Roberts.

The name of her daughter Freya looked like a way in to the mystery.  Susan's son thought that since the name Teague meant something to him, and since he had never met Ernie, perhaps Elizabeth had divorced and returned to her maiden name.  So a search was made for the birth of a Freya Teague.  The only possibility was in Cornwall which did not seem correct, and the only Alex Teagues were Alexandras, born in Cornwall.

On the basis that Elizabeth was known to live in Watford, and had been born there, a search was made for births of Freyas in the Watford district. There was a birth of Freya Caroline Richards (not Roberts), mother's maiden name Teague, in Watford in the March quarter of 1968. Not only did the mother's maiden name fit, but the age looked about right. But no Alex could be found. Suddenly it was remembered that his name was Alec, not Alex.  There was a birth of an Alec J Richards in Watford district March quarter of 1964. Next step was to find his parents' marriage.

With the new surname a marriage was found for Elizabeth C Teague and Cyril E Richards in Watford, September quarter 1963.  The middle name starting with E was probably Ernie or Ernest, and it seemed that he was known by that middle name.

Looking again for a marriage of a Teague to someone called Dorcas. The only possibility was Graham C Teague to Dorcas L Teague, Mar quarter 1967 in Watford (4b 960).  My first thought was that a widowed Dorcas had married her husband's brother or cousin.  So I looked for a Teague death in Watford that could have been Dorcas's husband. I chose to limit it to Watford since all events found had been in that registration district.

There was an William J Teague aged 76 who died in Watford March Quarter 1961. I looked for him in the 1939 register, where I found him with a wife Mary and various children.  Had he left his wife between 1939 and 1941 (when Elizabeth was born) and taken up with Dorcas who took his surname without being legally married?

I looked for further information about William.  I found an entry for him in the probate indexes, with the executor being his wife Mary. So it didn't seem likely that this man had left his wife for Dorcas.

I then looked for Graham in the 1939 register to see where he was at the time, in case he had another brother.

I found Graham C Teague, born 8 Dec 1895, married, Commercial Traveller (confectionary), head of a household, with Dorcas L Longley (crossed out and replaced with TEAGUE at some point – probably 1967), born 31 Dec 1906 (which matched the birth registration), single, Unpaid Domestic Duties, and Jane A W Teague, born 24 Nov 1867, Widowed, Old age & unpaid Domestic Duties – probably William's  mother.  They were living at in Watford.

Dorcas had not shown up because her name had been transcribed as Dorhaf.

So it appears that Dorcas took up with William Teague (who was married to someone else), took on his surname as if they were married, had a daughter Elizabeth in 1941, and finally married William in 1967 (presumably after his wife had died), getting married under her assumed surname of Teague.

Monday, January 11, 2016

"Missing" Crew List found.

I recently had a client ask me to find when her father, Charles Hawker, had come to Australia.  I have her permission to write about the fantastic discovery I made.

The story that she had grown up with was that he had jumped ship in Australia and then stayed here. But many of the things that he said – such as the place of birth he gave on his marriage certificate – proved to be incorrect, so there was always the possibility that the story she was told was not true.

She spent years searching for a ship of arrival into Australia, or for any report she could find about him being a ship's deserter, all without success. Eventually she did manage to discover that he had been orphaned at a young age and sent from Plumstead Workhouse to the Training Ship Exmouth. She had obtained a copy of his records for his time there, which stated that he was discharged on 12 September 1907 to SS Orita as a deck boy for a salary of £1 per month. She had also found proof that he was in NSW by 1911.

The only voyage the Orita made to Australia was in 1903. Normally she sailed to Valparaiso, so the question arose as to whether he ever did serve on the Orita and if so, how did he get to Australia.

An enquiry made to the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich elicited the answer that they did not hold any crew lists for the Orita, but I was informed that the Maritime Archive at Newfoundland should hold a crew list for 1908 and also for some later years when he was known to already be in Australia.  However my client had already checked with them to no avail. 

I suggested that since I would be going to the National Archives at Kew soon, it might be worth looking at the Ship's Logs of the Orita. It offered only a slim chance of turning anything up, but if he had jumped ship from the Orita and then made his way to Australia on another vessel, the desertion might be recorded in the log.

Extract from BT 165/301 showing C Hawkes 
(from the National Archives, Kew)
Thus I consulted the logs for the Orita in BT 165/301 and BT/358, and I struck gold. Unexpectedly (but luckily) I found that the log, as well as containing a report of the voyage of 12 Sep 1907 to 3 Dec 1907, also contained the crew lists. These were all in the pre-printed "Official Log Book". Amongst the Deck Boys was a C Hawkes (not Hawker).

BT 165/301 (from the National Archives, Kew)
The log for the next journey, from 19 Dec 1907 to 8 March 1908, again included C Hawkes in the list of Deck Boys. The 1908 log checked at Newfoundland was evidentally for a different voyage in that year.

In both cases the log sections, which did name crew members who failed to return to the ship after stops in port, never mentioned Charles. As these logs were submitted to the Board of Trade when the ship arrived back in port in the UK, it is reasonable to say that Charles did not jump ship on either of these voyages.

The next two voyage logs for the Orita did not include Charles, so it seems he only made the two voyages.  But we can now account for Charles up to 8 March 1908, and we know he definitely did sail on the Orita. We still don't know how or when he got to Australia, only that he was here by 1911, but we have slightly narrowed down the period in which he could have arrived.

And, of course, I have discovered that at that period in time, the Ships' Logs contained Crew Lists!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Anzac Day Commemoration: Bert and Eric Wenban

In December 1915 two brothers from Millthorpe in New South Wales walked into the recruiting office the nearby town of Orange and enlisted to fight in the war.  The eldest of them, Bertram Aubrey Wenban (known as Bert) had been down to Sydney the previous month to see off some mates from his local area who had already gone to serve their country.  Bert was 25 and 10 months old, 5 foot 3⅞ inches tall, with blue eyes and brown hair. His occupation on his attestation papers was "Engineer and Mechanic", but this vague description referred to the fact that he was the local motor mechanic and ran a motor garage back in Millthorpe.  Bert was made a Private, and assigned the number 5105.

The younger son, Alpheus Eric Wenban (known, not surprisingly, as Eric - or Dick by his friends and family) was just 19 years and 9 months old. He was taller than his brother at 5 feet 7¼ inches tall and also had blue eyes but his hair was described as dark brown, not just brown.  Eric had spent 4 years in Cadets while at school.   Since then he had been working as a postal assistant and received high honours in the Postal and Telegraphic examination.  He was initially stationed in Millthorpe Post Office, but in Jun 1914 was transferred to Delungra in the Inverell district where he worked as a telegraph operator. As he was under 21 the consent of his parents was needed for him to enlist, and he was assigned the number 5106 – the one following that assigned to Bert.

Eric (left) and Bert (right) Wenban

The brothers were assigned to the 17th Battalion, 13th Reinforcements and sent to Lithgow (along with some other local boys) for training from 30 December 1915 until 18 January the following year. They were then transferred to Bathurst until 9 March 1916. Eric was made Acting Corporal (probably owing to his Cadet experience) while at Bathurst and Acting Lance Corporal the day after they left Bathurst. They were given final leave to visit their families in April 1916 and were each presented a "wristlet watch" (wrist watches were a new phenomenon at this time) by the local patriotic committee, (along with 3 other privates from the area).  Bert and Eric embarked on the HMAT Kyarra in Sydney on 3 June 1916 and set off two days later to do their bit.

Once in England they were sent to Salisbury Plain for further training, arriving there on 4 August.  The only incident where either of the brothers seemed to get into trouble took place during this period. Eric was Absent Without Leave from 2400 on the 11 September 1916 til 2400 of the following day and had to forfeit eight days pay.

On 30 September the brothers were transferred to the 33rd Battalion and less than two months later, on 21 November, they found themselves boarding a ship in Southampton for the voyage across the channel to France. This was in the middle of the winter that was notoriously the coldest one in a hundred years, when the pools of water froze, as did the men's wet boots, and the icicles hung from the roofs of buildings and dugouts alike.

For months the Germans had occupied a ridge south of Ypres which afforded them a good vantage point to pick off the Allied soldiers.  On 7 June 1917 the battle that became to be known as the Battle of Messines commenced with the detonation of 19 mines underneath Hill 60.

Bert was attached to a Lewis Machine Gun crew (he had been a noted marksman before the war and a crack shot in the Millthorpe Rifle Club) and he and three others were sent out that day to take up a position. The Germans located that position and dropped shells round them, the last one landing on top of them. Two of them were buried, and when dug out found to be unharmed, but Bert had had all bar two fingers blown off his left hand, an injury to his right arm, and a piece of shrapnel lodged in his head, just below the scalp. The right arm later had to be amputated, leaving only a stump two inches long.  The shrapnel was successfully removed.

After some time being treated and convalescing in England, Bert was sent home. He sailed on 15 February 1918 onboard the HT Llanstephen Castle. In the meantime, Eric had been formally made a Lance Corporal on 7 Aug 1917. He was granted two weeks leave in England in January 1918, during which time he visited his brother.
Sadly, while Bert was on his way home to Australia, his family received a cable saying that Eric had been killed. So the town, which otherwise would have put on a celebration for Bert's arrival back in Millthorpe on 19 April, was rather subdued in their welcome for him.

Leader (Orange, NSW), 22 Apr 1918

On 27 March 1918 the Germans attacked the ruined village of H├ębuterne, where Australian Forces had relieved the British the day before.  Fighting continued until 5 April in what became known as the Battle of H├ębuterne.

In the late afternoon of 30 March, during a counter-attack, Eric was near a Bosche trench in Hangard Wood when he was shot by a machine gun bullet. Some reports say the bullet hit him in the head, and others in the heart, but all say that he died instantly.  Pte M McLeod of the same division reported to the Red Cross that he was buried at the foot of hill between Villers-Bretonneux and Cachy, but if that is so then either his body has not been recovered or not identified, for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission state that he has no known grave.  He is commemorated at the National Australian Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux. Eric was just 22 years old.

Amongst his possessions supposed to be returned to Australia were a testament and a prayer book and a pipe.  They were on board the cargo ship Barunga on their way to Australian when she was torpedoed and sunk in the Atlantic Ocean.

After the war Bert ran a garage in Millthorpe, and later drove a taxi (despite the missing arm and fingers).  On Anzac Day 1925 Bert married Frances Emily Woodlawn Oldham at St Matthew's Church, Grahamstown. They had three children: Eric Henry Wenban (b1926), Dorothy Elizabeth Wenban (b1937) and Bertram Keith Wenban (b1940). By 1954 he was retired and living in Guildford, NSW, and by 1963 had moved to a home in Eastwood, where he died on 30 September 1967. His funeral service was held back in Millthorpe where he had grown up and spent so much of his life.

These two young men who gave so much were my second cousins, three times removed.