Centenary of the Great War

Volunteers: Members of the 36th Australian Heavy Artillery Group in Sydney, including three men from the Hunter in the front row. Photo: The Digger's View, Juan Mahony
Volunteers: Members of the 36th Australian Heavy Artillery Group in Sydney, including three men from the Hunter in the front row. Photo: The Digger's View, Juan Mahony

Extracts from The Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate for 27 November-3 December 1916. 


Voluntary workers were busy helping in the erection of a home near the Merewether Public School on Saturday under the auspices of the Newcastle branch of the Voluntary Workers' Association. In the morning half a dozen appeared, but in the afternoon the number had increased to 25. Good progress was made in the installation of weatherboards, and the next work will be on the roof. Operations will be continued during the week. The architect in charge, Mr Ackroyd, stated that voluntary help will be appreciated, and that the workers should bring tools with them. The heat on Saturday was such that the refreshments provided by Mesdames Dickinson and Dickson, and Misses Simpson, Brown, Campbell, and Dickson were greatly appreciated. At this stage in the history of the Voluntary Workers' Association it is advisable to correct a false impression which prevails in some quarters concerning the homes being built for soldiers or their dependents. There is an idea abroad that in a few years, when the homes have been secured on a small rental by the beneficiaries, the latter will be able to sell out. Such, however, is not the case, as the association will hold a second mortgage over the properties, and will have the right to say what shall be done. Many people, who are now withholding their voluntary aid because of the wrong impression mentioned, will probably roll up in future and assist the band of workers already engaged in a worthy task.


Mr Myer Cohen, captain of the Newcastle Life Saving and Surf Bathing Club, presided at a gathering of members in the club's pavilion on Sunday for the purpose of saying goodbye to Drivers Joseph Palmer and Albert Burke, who will shortly be leaving for the front. Mr. E. E. Sargent presented a set of pipes and safety razor to Driver Palmer, and a safety razor and shaving outfit to Driver Burke. In doing so, Mr Sargeant referred to the good work done by the recipients as members of the club, and the esteem in which they were held. Drivers Palmer and Burke suitably replied.


The fact that Great Britain feels called upon to use her men to the very utmost is proved by the call which has been made for Australian railway men to join a special unit for service on the western front. Mechanical transit has played an enormous part in the war, and it will play a still larger part. Reports have told us of the vast increase in the output of munitions, and we are told that the limit is still very far away. All this means a big increase in the facilities for getting the shells and guns to the firing line. The arrangement of the railways which have been constructed since the war commenced is of course not made public, but enough has been shown to prove that the extensions are on a very large scale, with lines branching to all positions where there are special guns mounted. As the army increases the need for traction increases, and traction in this war is chiefly mechanical. The Australian railway men are needed to work the system which has been introduced for the prosecution of the war to the only possible conclusion from the British point of view. It may be admitted at once that as a trained expert the railway man is a valuable asset to this country. But it is things and men of value which count these times. 


The suggestion was made in the Victorian Legislative Assembly that the government should adopt the French law providing for the marriage by proxy of soldiers at the front to young women whom they had promised to wed. Senator Pearce, the Minister for Defence, approves the idea and has asked the Attorney-General to prepare a bill to provide for the marriage of soldiers at the front to girls in Australia.

A report from Melbourne states that the Prime Minister is considering the question of applying the principal of daylight saving to the whole of the Commonwealth, in view of the coal shortage.


Captain Soame, staff officer for returned soldiers, visited Newcastle on Wednesday night to issue returned discharged soldiers' badges from the Commonwealth military forces. These badges are for returned members of the A.I.F., the naval, and military expeditionary forces, who have been discharged, and the issue was at the Soldiers' Club, King-street. Captain Soame brought 200 badges with him, but there were only about 60 men present to receive them in person, although badges were left with Mr. Potter, secretary of the Newcastle branch of the Returned Soldiers' Association, to be issued on production of discharges. Those who were not present to receive their badges will require to forward their discharges by registered post to the Staff Officer for Returned Soldiers, Victoria Barracks, Sydney, who will return by registered post the badges, discharges, and receipts which will have to be signed for the badges.


Dr. May Harris, the president of the Newcastle branch of the League of Honour, and the other ladies of the executive, are interesting themselves in a movement to provide Christmas cheer for the children of the soldiers who are at present on active service. An effort is being made to ascertain the number of children, and immediately that information is available steps will be taken to raise the money required to provide the Christmas tree. It is not expected that much difficulty will be experienced in obtaining the amount needed. Some of the bands are asked to give a recital on Shortland Park, and other entertainments will be arranged in order to give the children a real treat during the holiday season.


Aspirin, like Anzac, and many other well-known names, is a coined word. It was an English sounding word given by a German specialist, to a synthetic compound of rare medicinal charm and potentiality. When war broke out Aspirin was one of the few intrinsically valuable preparations that every doctor deplored was in enemy hands. It was the one known destroyer of pain that left no after effects and played a leading part in grappling with all nervous troubles, sleeplessness, headaches and rheumatism. Fortunately the formula was discovered by a Melbourne chemist named Nicholas and on proving that his product was even purer than German Aspirin was given a Commonwealth license to produce Aspirin in Australia. Nicholas Aspirin can now be produced at 2/6 per bottle at R. C. Donald's, Newcastle, Hamilton, and Islington.

Enlistments for the week

Jack Allen, Branxton; James Barkwell, Wards River; John Blackwood, Wickham; John David Blanche, Cessnock; Joseph Douglas Brindle, Aberdeen; Edward Culmer Carpenter, Hamilton; Gerald Arthur Collett, Hamilton; William Francis Dalton, East Maitland; Ernest Charles Edwards, Newcastle; Cecil Bernard Feneley, West Maitland; John Joseph Flavin, Scone; Edwin Arthur Frewin, Hamilton; George Gibson, Newcastle; Horace Leslie Gough, East Maitland; John Macalpine Gow, Merewether; William Henry Grills, Abermain; John Laurie Hipwell, Eccleston; Samuel Hucker, Adamstown; Harry John Hudson, Scone; Henry James Hughes, Muswellbrook; Evan Jenkins, Kurri Kurri; Frank Clarence Macfarlane, Maitland; Leo Aloysius McGuinness, Toronto; Allan McNiven, Raymond Terrace; Herbert Henry McShane, Dungog; Annette Mary Murphy, Stockton; John Joseph Nesbitt, Cooks Hill; Pearl Hilda Nowland, Muswellbrook; William Raymond O'Keefe, Bulahdelah; Reece Price, Tighes Hill; Frank Price, Cessnock; John Rose, Stockton; Walter Horace Sentance, Hamilton; Oliver Robert Shaw, Hamilton West; Harold James Slack, Bellbird; Charles Stagg, East Greta; Leonard Harold Taylor, Denman; Edgar Roy Waters, Yarramalong; George Weir, South Cessnock; James Fieldsend Wrather, East Maitland; George Victor Wright, Merewether.

Deaths for the week

Pte David James Housdon, Singleton; Pte Clarrie Wilson, Rutherford; L/Cpl Trevelyn Ernest Madden, Singleton; Pte Herbert Stanley Edwards, Carrington; L/Cpl Leslie Oliver, Wallsend; Pte William Price, Stanford Merthyr; Pte William Ridley, Young Wallsend; Pte William Peck, Glennies Creek.

David Dial OAM is a Hunter Valley-based military historian. Follow David's research at facebook.com/HunterValleyMilitaryHistory