Centenary of the Great War

POISED: German troops in their trench await the order to fight. Photo: The Digger's View by Juan Mahony. Visit thediggersview.com.au
POISED: German troops in their trench await the order to fight. Photo: The Digger's View by Juan Mahony. Visit thediggersview.com.au

Extracts from The Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate for 16 October-22 October 1916


The number of single men and widowers in NSW who answered the call to report themselves up to last Saturday night was 44,824. Of these 30,722 were examined and 13,978 were found to be fit, 9890 unfit, 4828 doubtful, and 2086 temporarily unfit. Exemptions were claimed by 22,067. It will be seen that the proportion of the men examined who were passed as fit only reaches 43 per cent. Up to Friday night 39 officers and 2153 of other ranks were in camp. Of these Sydney supplied 27 officers and 1282 other ranks and Newcastle 3 officers and 241 other ranks. Of those in camp, 5 per cent have volunteered for active service. The single men or widowers between the ages of 21 and 35 who have not reported are now liable to imprisonment for six months as defaulters. The military authorities made a start last Monday with the collection of information about such persons, and steps will be taken to have them brought to book. 


A special meeting of the Wallsend Miners' Lodge was held at the school of arts on Monday night. Mr. T. Richardson, who presided, said that owing to the present condition of things in connection with the compulsory enrolment, several interviews had been held with the manager, and he had that day informed them that owing to the enrolment, seven miners had gone into camp, and there were eight others who were classed doubtful, and might have to go within a few days. In addition to these there were five wheelers who had also to go into camp. He had asked that the vacancies created be filled by the men next on turn, and in the event of the referendum not passing, and the men coming back from the camp, they would resume their work, and those who had in the meantime taken their places would be found employment either at Wallsend or at Pelton Colliery. The report was received, and after two motions passed at previous meetings relative to permanent employment had been rescinded, it was carried that the secretary write to the seven men next on turn, advising them of the vacancies.


There was a large attendance of ladies in the Newcastle Council Chambers on Tuesday night, called together for the purpose of forming a committee to assist in carrying the proposals of the Federal Government on the 28th. Alderman M. J. Moroney, the Mayor, occupied the chair, and said the meeting had been convened to get the women united to assist in the national campaign. They looked with pride upon the part their sons had played in the war. The loyalty of the Dominions had been magnificently displayed, and were they now, at this stage of the fighting, to snap the chain that bound them together. Women committees in every other part of the Commonwealth were already doing very fine work, and Newcastle, which was never backward in patriotic work, would, the Mayor felt sure, exercise a great influence on the vote to be given on October 28th. On the motion of Mrs. Kilgour, it was resolved to assist to the utmost in carrying the referendum. Mrs. Davies moved “That all present form themselves into a committee for the purpose.” The motion was seconded and carried.


The District Commandant states that men are wanted for the Engineer Corps. Preference will be given to men who, in civil life, have been engineers, mechanics, blacksmiths and carpenters.


Private J. Beacham, of A Company, 35th Battalion (known as “Newcastle's Own”), writes that all is well with them. He says: “The boys have settled down to their work, and are doing it well. The mode of training is different to what we had in good old Broadmeadow. Each company in turn gets 48 hours in the trenches, so as to get used to them, and eat and sleep in them. These trenches are about a mile from our camp, so the boys have not got far to walk after their task is done. They have had a fair test, for we have had some rain here, which made things a bit sloppy, and they have stood it well. My company, that is A Company, was the luckiest. It got fine weather, and the other three companies had wet weather.”


Arrangements have been completed with the military authorities for the use of the trotting track at the Broadmeadow Show Ground for training in connection with the trotting events set down for the eight-hour demonstration sports. Mr. J. J. Curry, representing the eight-hour committee, and Mr. A. Pricter, for the trotting club, put the matter before Senator Watson, and as a result of his representations the horses, owners, and trainers can now have the use of the track after five o'clock every evening.


Vacancies exist in the Wireless Squadron for the following: 90 telegraph or wireless operators, 5 electrical engineers, 5 internal combustion engine experts, 1 instrument maker. The operators should have a speed of at least 20 words per minute, and preference would be given to others with a knowledge of telegraphy or horse management.


In a War Precautions Regulation issued Thursday, it was provided that after November 1 no person shall, without the consent of the Governor-General or a federal minister, use the word ‘Anzac’ as a name or part of a name of any private residence or any boat or vehicle, or any charitable or other institution, or any building in connection therewith. The regulation includes the prohibition of the use of words resembling ‘Anzac’ of any other words which are notified as prohibited words. The penalty is a fine up to £100, or six months imprisonment.


Mr Hughes, the Prime Minister, on Friday received the following cable message from General Sir Douglas Haig, the British Commandant in France: “The Australian Divisions in France are far below strength, and drafts are not arriving in sufficient numbers. The divisions have fought splendidly, and their heroic efforts will live in history, but they cannot continue to achieve results unless their strength is kept up. The successes of the past few months justify hope and confidence in our power to win final victory, but it is not yet won. To complete our work, and ensure future enduring peace, the utmost efforts of the Empire and of the Allies are required for a long time yet. I hope the strong drafts for your divisions will be despatched, and their strength maintained.”


Mr Hughes said: “The message needs no interpretation or comment. It is at once the most complete endorsement of the Government's policy and a crushing refutation of the statement that men are not needed, that the war is won, and that Russians and Indians should be hired to take the place of Australians. Here, from the lips of the Commander-In-Chief of the greatest Army the Empire has put into the field, is a plain and unsolicited statement that the present condition of the Australian Divisions is far below strength, that reinforcements are not arriving in sufficient numbers to keep up the strength of the forces whose heroism and valour will live through history, but they cannot continue unless reinforcements arrive in sufficient numbers.”

Enlistments for the week

Abel James Andrews, Reedy Creek; Joseph Armstrong, Islington; Joseph Reginald Barlow, Mayfield; Joseph Bartley, Merewether; Ernest David Benson, Forster; Gustav William Benson, Forster; Stratford George Bird, Scone; Alfred Lewis Blackman, Merewether; John Brenell, Cessnock; Edwin James Brown, Gloucester; Henry Cecil Bulte, West Maitland; Cecil Henry Burns, Jerrys Plains; Walter Cassidy, Merewether; Jack Chilcott, Singleton; Reginald John Vivian Clarke, Merewether; Alfred White Cobb, Ellerston; George Colquhoun, Howes Valley; Leslie McKenzie Craig, The Junction; Albert Francis Crebert, Lochinvar; Charles David Cunningham, Forster; Frederick Henry Dilley, Campbells Hill; Owen Doherty, East Maitland; James Francis Drinan, West Maitland; John Thomas Eather, Bulga; Rupert Fergusson, East Maitland; Norman Wilfred Fidler, Newcastle; Francis Joseph Fisher, Muswellbrook; Harold Francis, Hamilton; John Edmund Frost, Aberdeen; Percy Glass, Singleton; Hubert Griffin, Singleton; Martin Robert Hamilton, Maitland; Alexander Harricks Henderson, Wickham; Abraham Hepworth, East Maitland; Henry Honor, Jerrys Plains; Arthur Raymond Hopkins, Wallsend; Robert Jack, Newcastle; Arnold Charles Jackson, Bulga; Horace Penna Jackson, Bulga; Ernest Owen Kear, Wallsend; Leslie James Kelly, Newcastle; Robert Irving Keys, Singleton; Eric Larson, Carrington; James Edward Lever, Plattsburg; William Hercules Lewis, Greta; Charles Long, Warkworth; William Madden, Cessnock; Herbert Hamilton Manuell, Hamilton; Harry McCann, Newcastle; Kendall James McDougall, Wards River; Ernest Alexander McGee, Kurri Kurri; John Joseph McGrath, Singleton; John McKenzie, Barnsley; Gordon Medhurst, Martindale; Victor Harold Merrifield, Dungog; John Noake, Cooks Hill; Joseph Palmer, Newcastle; Andrew Peat, Abermain; Archibald Forbes Penman, Merewether; Herbert George Pocock, Cooranbong; John Archibald Pritchard, Fassifern; John Frederick Probost, Murrurundi; William Proud, The Junction; John Alexander Rae, Hamilton; Aubrey Thomas Searle, Cooks Hill; James Stanley Shearer, Merewether; Hugh Steel, Rutherford; Eric Arthur Thomas, Islington; Francis Henry Thrift, Scone; Henry Vincent Torpey, Stockton; David Samuel Trundle, Singleton; Albert Henry Tucker, Newcastle; James Gilles Westaway, Newcastle; Bentley Carrington Williams, Cooks Hill; Charles Edward Worsnop, Cooranbong.

Deaths for the week

Pte William Victor Jackson, Tighes Hill; Pte Sydney Hodgson, Tighes Hill; Pte John Alexander Logan, Bunnan; Pte Andrew Eyles McIlwain, Newcastle; Pte James Tweedie Wilson, Kurri Kurri.

David Dial OAM is a Hunter Valley-based military historian.

Follow David's research at facebook.com/HunterValleyMilitaryHistory