Saturday, 25 April 2015

ANZAC Bruce Wilkins Campbell

At the Australian War Memorial, shining on the dome above the ramparts
photograph by great-grandniece, Dian Gargano 23 April 2018 at 18.54
I have only mustered the courage twice to visit my great-uncle's grave at Brookwood Military Cemetery near London. The endless rows of ended life are daunting despite the ceaseless care bestowed on these Australian sons. 

Bruce and Sid, 1916
It's possible that in 1985 I was the first family member to visit him, almost 70 years after his death, although his brother Sid did attend the funeral for Bruce Wilkins Campbell in this same eerie, peaceful place.

Bruce was the youngest and 13th child of his father William Campbell; the 10th child and 7th son of his mother Rebecca Mary Wilkins. He was 19 years old when he enlisted for service with his brothers Charles Douglas (Chad), Sidney Frederick and Henry John (Harry).
Soldier #4747

They took the train to Brisbane to register for the 9th Battalion, Queensland's first.  Eldest brother Charles was discharged before departure. After serving in France from 1916, only Harry and Sid returned home. 
Original Brookwood Cemetery 
photograph, 1917

Bruce was wounded in action on 6 May 1917 during the second battle at Bullecourt. He was paralysed by gunfire and shipped to the National Hospital in London, where he died a month later.
Thy Will Be Done

The family's devastation is recorded in two places - Port Macquarie, near to Rollands Plains where Bruce was born in 1896 - and Tweed Heads, the border town from which Bruce and his brothers caught the train to Brisbane. 

The Port Macquarie Library has commemorated the service of its town's sons by reaffirming the dedicated World War I Memorial. 'The Memorial was built by public subscription and was officially unveiled in April 1921. Atop the memorial sits a world globe bearing the words "They Crossed the Ocean". 
At Port Macquarie

The associated website commemorates the people behind those names. It is not intended, nor does it claim, to be a definitive biographical source. The information has been researched using publicly available information sources and, in some cases, information contributed by relatives. The scope of the website is strictly limited to the names on the Port Macquarie War Memorial.'

For the Campbell family and its most courageous son, this is a deeply moving tribute and recognition of painful contribution. 

The altar, Presbyterian Church
Presbyterian Church, Tweed Heads

In a time when large families were common, it was usual practice for names to be inherited down the generations. Two generations passed before his mother and sisters would allow a great-grandson to be named for this dutiful young man.

ANZAC Herbert Frederick Slocombe

Lieutenant Herbert Frederick Slocombe was the son-in-law of Walter William James. Bert's intriguing life story has many chapters. It seems that the more he risked, the more he was able to risk and his war service exemplifies this.
[2 February 1916] Studio portrait of 1360 Sergeant Major (Sgt Maj) Herbert Frederick (Bert) Slocombe, 4th Divisional Ammunition Sub-Park, Australian Army Service Corps, of Auburn, NSW. Slocombe is wearing an unusual modified flying motorcycle jacket and modified flying helmet. There are sergeant's stripes on the right sleeve. He is dressed for motorcycling and he was possibly in the 5th Division Supply Column at this stage. Sgt Maj Slocombe was awarded the Military Cross (MC) on 24 January 1918 for his actions in July 1917 at Vlamertinghe Belgium. Slocombe served as a Lieutenant, service number N60391, with the 6th Reserve Motor Transport Company in the Second World War. [AWM P04695.001]

The All-Australia Memorial
The original Digger and the 1929 Model, Liverpool Camp 1929
[Bert Slocombe and Jack Marsh]
The Australian War Memorial commented that receiving a Military Cross for diving on top of an ammunition dump to prevent further loss was rare and probably unparalleled recognition.

Bert relished the ANZAC Day marches, and made sure he was the centre of attention wherever possible, in both Sydney and later on at Cowra. Over the years this caused some amusement and concern.
Bert at right

Bert spent his formative years in both Melbourne and Sydney. Auburn Public School provided a fitting testament to his contribution.
At Auburn Public School

ANZAC Walter William James

Walter William James (at right)

The All-Australia Memorial

Captain Walter William James (1862-1931) was a Londoner, having migrated to  Australia in 1888 as an apprentice engineer  submariner. He was also an original  ANZAC.  

In the commemorative volume of Australia's Fighting Families, The All-Australia Memorial, there is a poignantly captioned photograph:  
Where the Australians won deathless fame - ANZAC Cove (looking south)

"This photograph of the historic beach where the Anzacs intrepidly won a foothold in the dawn of April 25, 1915, was taken shortly after landing. The beach is teeming with men and movement, and no time is being lost in getting stored ashore and arranging for the temporary accommodation of the wounded as they are brought down from the firing line; meanwhile roads are being cut in the cliffs to facilitate transportation of food, guns and ammunition to the trenches."
As orderly as a park - a well organised camp near ANZAC Cove
"It bears striking testimony to British love of order and routine."
The term ‘an original ANZAC’ (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) was applied to those Australian and New Zealander troops who landed at Ari Burnu, a steep shore on the western peninsula of Turkey known as Gallipoli. It was the first day on land of a dreadful five-year commitment made by young men from two southern hemisphere nations of the Commonwealth. But some members of the Army Corps were not young, nor were they Australian. This was the case for Walter William JAMES, born on 17th May 1867 at 3 Burford Terrace, Poplar [1], the first child of Valentine James and Emma MERRITT [2].

Walter migrated to Australia in April 1888, shortly after the death of his father [3], at the end of a seven year apprenticeship as a marine submariner with Kirkcaldie Bros. in London [4]. He joined the Military Force of the New South Wales Artillery two weeks after arrival in Sydney, as gunner number 7, and in December of the same year became a permanent submarine miner [5]. After the Federation of the Australian States on 1st January 1901, the State-based forces merged to become the Commonwealth’s Permanent Forces. Walter re-enlisted in the Royal Australian Engineers in 1908, 1911 and early 1914 [4]. During that year the Australian Infantry Force was created, and in August Walter joined the volunteers as a Warrant Officer in the 2nd Field Company of Engineers [5].

The year 1888 was also significant in Walter’s personal life, as on October 24th in Sydney, he married Eva MEDCALF [6], the daughter of an upholsterer and a granddaughter of Adam HOWITT, the first agricultural overseer for the Australian Agricultural Company [7]. Over the next 11 years, they established a family of five ‘little Australians’: Edward Oram (1889), Emily Clara (1891), John Valentine (1894), Dorothy May (1896) and Walter William (1900) [8]. This was the family that Walter left behind when he embarked on the “Orvieto” from Melbourne, Victoria, in October 1914. He was almost 48 years old.

The ship’s last port of call before leaving Australia was at Albany in Western Australia, which the Adjutant was happy to farewell: “I cannot say how glad I am to see the last of Albany. Mothers, deserted wives and God only knows chasing with urgent telegrams all day…” [9]. The “Orvieto” arrived in Egypt on 3 December 1914, and after several months of training, the soldiers prepared to travel to Turkey [10].

A week before landing on 25th April 1915, Walter was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant. He is featured in an article of the 5th June 1915 issue of ‘The Sphere’ magazine showing the Australian lines consolidating their position at the now-named ANZAC Cove, one of nine men working unconcernedly as they moved supplies uphill. “Every round of ammunition, all water, and all supplies had to be landed on a narrow beach and then carried up pathless hills, valleys and bluffs, several hundred feet high, to the firing line.  The whole of this mass of troops, concentrated on a very small area and unable to reply, were exposed to a relentless and incessant shrapnel fire, which swept every yard of the ground, although fortunately a great deal of it was badly aimed or burst too high.” [11].

One of the Australians who survived said: “We were anxious before it began in my battalion. We knew some of the men were a bit raw. As we drew in to the beach the enemy opened on us with shrapnel, machine-guns, and rifle fire. It was worse as we got out of the boats, but we went through with it…I feel that to do what they did that day was possible only for veterans or raw troops. Only perfect discipline or perfect courage could have brought the men up the shore and the cliffs under that fire.”

“The enemy played every possible trick. They had machine-guns in the bush, the gunners with hands and faces stained green, and with boughs and whole bushes tied about them. Dug-outs everywhere with snipers, Turks and Germans, most of them with food for several days, and anything up to 2,000 rounds, and deadly straight their shooting was. We killed one in an Australian uniform with eight of our men’s identification badges around his neck.” [12].

Walter William James was commended twice for his actions in Turkey and France. His first commendation reads:

“Landed at Anzac with 2nd Field Company 1st Australian Division on 25th April and has done constant duty first with 2nd Field Company then with 1st Field Company. On the day of landing he took in hand that construction and maintenance of piers and also formation of the Royal Engineers Park at Brighton Beach under the most heavy shelling and trying conditions. On being transferred to the 1st Field Company he took over the supervision of a section of the defence near BARBED WIRE GULLY, by his strenuous efforts kept the trenches in a good state of repair, though heavily shelled at times, and straightened out the line by constructing new trenches…” [13]
With Regards & Best Wishes to all at Brightlingsea, Walter W. James (at left) 
France 5/7/16

Walter James was promoted to a Captaincy and transferred to France. His second commendation reads:

“At POZIERES between 15th and 22nd August 1916 he commanded the 2nd Field Company and was continuously on the front line work during that period. He showed great courage and ability under very severe conditions and fearlessly carried out reconnaisance in the front line under very heavy shell fire.” [14]

The Military Cross was conferred on 1st January 1917 by General Birdwood [15], and later that year Walter became an instructor/Camp Commandant at the Engineers Training Depot in Brightlingsea, England.  He was 50 years old. Three years further on, in December 1920, he arrived back in Sydney Australia aboard the “Bahia Castillo” after taking on the role of adjutant for the journey [16].
His children had not seen their father for six years. Walter William James was discharged from the Army in January 1922, due to illness, and as an original ANZAC he died on 8th August 1931 [17].
Church of England Cemetery, Smithfield, Sydney
 Entry for the James family from the 1881 British Census
Dwelling: 37 Sabbaston St
Census Place: Poplar, London, Middlesex, England
Source: FHL Film, 1341113   PRO Ref RG11  Piece 0506  Folio 113  Page 34

                                                              Marr    Age      Sex      Birthplace

Rel: Head
Occ: Brass Finisher



Stepney, Middlesex,
Rel: Wife



Stepney, Middlesex,
Walter JAMES
Rel: Son
Occ: Scholar



Stepney, Middlesex,
Rel: Son
Occ: Scholar



Stepney, Middlesex,
Rel: Daur
Occ: Scholar



Bromley, Middlesex,
Thomas JAMES
Rel: Son
Occ: Scholar



Poplar, Middlesex,

Rel: Daur



Poplar, Middlesex,
Rel: Lodger
Occ: Painter




New Yorkshire


This article was informed by a thesis written for a Graduate Diploma in Family Historical Studies under the auspices of the Society of Australian Genealogists, June 1998.

Brief Family Tree:

                                                                                    Father: Walter JAMES

                                                Valentine JAMES        

                                                b. 14 Feb. 1843             Mother: Ann CULVERHOUSE

                                                33 Turner St.

                                                Mile End Old Town


                                                d. 16 Feb. 1887

                                                London Hospital



Walter William JAMES

b. 1867

3 Burford Terrace

Robin Hood Lane                       married 5 Aug. 1866,

Poplar, London.                         St John, Limehouse

d. 1931

Sydney, Australia

                                                                                    Father: William MERRITT

                                                Emma MERRITT          

                                                b. 21 Jul. 1847              Mother: Mary Ann LATHBURY

22 Nelson St.

Mile End Old Town


Still at 146 Bow Common Lane in 1930 as Mrs. E. TURNER                              


[1] General Register Office, London, Birth Certificate for Walter William JAMES, Poplar, #143/1867. 

[2] 1881 British Census. 

[3] General Register Office, London, Death Certificate for Valentine JAMES, Whitechapel, #78/1887.

[4] National Archives of Australia, Commonwealth Record Series (CRS) B4717/1. Army Militia Records and Dossiers of Permanent Military Forces and Militia Personnel. Alphabetical Series: 1901 to 1940-FILE Name: JAMES Walter William.
The Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts located an entry for the Kirkcaldie and London Steamship Company in Kelly’s 1901 Post Office Directory at 4 Trump Street, Cheapside, London EC.  However, company records are held at the National Archives of Scotland. They contain no apprenticeship records (advice from Archivist, July 2001).

[5] National Archives of Australia, Personnel dossiers for first Australian Imperial Forces ex-service members, lexicographical series, 1914-1920, CRS B2455, FILE Name: JAMES Walter William, No.199.

[6] Registrar-General of NSW, Marriage Certificate for Walter William JAMES and Eva Jane Gertrude MEDCALF, Canterbury (Sydney), #2199/1888.

[7] Adam HOWITT, Census of New South Wales, November 1828.

[8] Edwin Oram JAMES, born 30 April 1889, #8500/1889, Redfern (Sydney) NSW

      Emily Clara JAMES, born 23 May 1891, #32445/1891, North Sydney, NSW

      John Valentine JAMES, born 27 November 1893, #20181/1893, Mosman NSW

      Dorothy May JAMES, born 22 March 1896, #14373/1986, Mosman, NSW

      Walter William JAMES, born 21 April 1900, #14478/1900, Mosman, NSW

[9] Australian War Memorial (AWM) 7: Troopship War Diaries, 27th October 1914.

[10] The most recent publication which described the AIF landing at what is now known as ANZAC Cove is Gallipoli Diaries: The ANZACS’ Own Story Day by Day, Jonathon King, 2003 ISBN 0 7318 1205 0.

[11] ‘With the Australians at Gaba Tepe: How they landed beneath the scrub-covered cliffs’, The Sphere, An Illustrated Newspaper for the Home, #60, Volume LXI, No. 802, London, 5 June 1915, p. 231.

[12] loc.cit.

[13] Australian War Memorial: AWM 28 Recommendation files for honours and awards, AIF [1914-1918], Collection 2, Box 13 (15).

[14] Australian War Memorial: AWM 28 Recommendation files for honours and awards, AIF [1914-1918], Box 1 (8).

[15] British-Australasian Publishing Service, The All-Australia Memorial (New South Wales edition) History, Heroes and Helpers, Melbourne, 1919, cardboard insert.

[16] National Archives of Australia, Canberra: CRS B4717/1.

[17] Registrar-General of NSW, Death Certificate for Walter William JAMES, Fairfield (Sydney) #12946/1931.

All National Zeal And Courage

The family contribution to World War I was modest compared to some, so despite celebrating two ANZAC legends and one senselessly lost life, the sacrifice was overlooked in the recent federal ballot for the centenary event. 

Today, on ANZAC Day, these posts serve as the family's memorial. The first post is for Captain Walter William James

Walter William James (1867 - 1931)

The second is for Walter's son-in-law, Lieutenant Herbert Frederick Slocombe.

Herbert Frederick Slocombe (1889 - 1979)

The third is for Private Bruce Wilkins Campbell and his brothers.

Bruce Wilkins Campbell (1896 - 1917)

It's possible that rather than baulking at change in their families' lives, these three men were keen to make a patriotic contribution. Their particular skills and interests suggest that this was the case. It is also daunting to imagine their undoubted zeal and courage.

Monday, 6 April 2015

No rush

I have written before about a father, John Henry de Chave, who went missing from Grafton circa 1874, although there is still hope for finding him because all avenues are not yet exhausted. de Chave, if that was his actual name, never met his father-in-law William Joseph Halligan, who also went missing albeit 15 years earlier. It only took 154 years to find out what happened, or 126 years, depending on how the extant "evidence" is approached. This is Halligan's story. 

Last month I wrote about the splitting of collections across political borders. It is not a new phenomenon. In 1948, the State Library of Queensland purchased a 0.03 linear metre-sized document called Tooloom Gold Escort Petition, written in 1859-1860.  At least, I think it was. 

I found it listed in Trove, which also contains a lot of newspaper articles that mention Tooloom and the discovery of gold there, some 200 kms north of Grafton in NSW. Or as SLQ's finding aid says: "Tooloom is located 90 miles from Ipswich".

The discovered gold was sent to both Brisbane and Sydney for sale, amidst concern for its security threatened by bushrangers, thieves and general ne'er-do-wells. So there was legitimacy for either state library in Queensland or New South Wales to hold this item. Why mention Grafton? It was the home for a lot of the miners who walked or rode along the Clarence River to the successful mining areas such as Paddy's Flat and Pretty Gully, near to the Tooloom diggings.
Clarence River, Paddy's Flat, 2014

William Joseph Halligan was one such miner. A convict from Ireland, he left his wife, son and three daughters in 1859 to take advantage of the gold rush. They never saw him again, and in June 1863, placed identical advertisements several times in both the Clarence and Richmond Examiner and New England Advertiser (Grafton, NSW : 1859 - 1889) and the Goulburn Herald (NSW: 1860-1864). It may have been an evidentiary requirement for monetary reasons.

Last year, pursuing a land grant which Halligan had been granted in 1856 in Queanbeyan prior to his move north, a document was uncovered which almost but not quite filled the gap left by an unregistered and intestate death. Halligan's son, John Hallagan (1844 - 1935), claimed the Queanbeyan land in 1888. To do so, he and his mother Mary Hines (~1825 -1904) had to fill out an affadavit.

State records NSW NRS 17513/39/40 [PA 7162], 1 May 1888

A professional researcher is cognisant of the need to triangulate evidence. In sympathy with the time expended by the family originally, it seemed reasonable to travel again from northern NSW to Brisbane to look at the Tooloom Gold Escort Petition. The finding aid for item OM70-31 gives the box number '10159 o/s' so it can be ordered in advance. All quite helpful, until arrival at the John Oxley Library.

Box 10159 was fetched from the stacks, but a quick assay confirmed that it was not the the right box. 

The internal catalogue showed that the box number had changed. Thinking again of that family, my family, I waited for the next likely box, 8673, to arrive. 

At the same time the librarians checked the internal catalogue and confirmed that the document had been missing since 27 July 1997. Another journey of despair. No explanation was given for not providing this status in the public catalogue, so perhaps there is a possibility it will be found in the collection of the State Library of Queensland one day. Hopefully without waiting another 126 years.