Centenary of the Great War

FOR THE BOYS: During the war, patriotism appeared within all elements of Australian society. Photo:  Courtesy of The Digger's View by Juan Mahony.

FOR THE BOYS: During the war, patriotism appeared within all elements of Australian society. Photo: Courtesy of The Digger's View by Juan Mahony.

Newcastle Morning Herald transcriptions and Hunter Valley enlistment and death details for August 6-12, 1917.


There was a fair attendance at the Sports Ground on Saturday, to witness the match between the past and present players of the northern district. The proceeds of the game will be donated to the Captain H.P. Brown Memorial Fund, to assist in establishing a cot in the Newcastle Hospital. Mr Cannington, chairman of the fund, addressed the players during the interval of the game, and spoke of the grand sportsmanship of the late Captain Brown, and the good member the league had lost. He also wished to thank the A.A. Company in giving the ground free of charge, and Mr Kingsborough (The Hustler’s), in generously donating a set of jerseys to the past players.  The game was exciting throughout, the past players seemed to outclass the present players in every point of the game.


Meetings of citizens were held at various centres on Saturday to commemorate the third anniversary of the declaration of war.

At the council chambers, Newcastle, at half-past 10 o’clock, Alderman Kilgour, the Mayor, presided, and moved, “That on this, third anniversary of the declaration of a righteous war, this meeting of citizens of Newcastle records once more its inflexible determination to continue to a victorious end the struggle to maintain that ideal of liberty and justice which is the common and sacred cause of the Allies.” He said they had met again to affirm their loyalty to the British Crown. Since this dreadful world’s conflict had begun they had met on each anniversary, and they intended to do so while the war lasted, to reaffirm their undying loyalty to the British Empire. Since the last anniversary many of Newcastle’s noblest sons had made the supreme sacrifice, in common with thousands of other loyal British boys. That morning their hearts went out in the very deepest sympathy to the fathers and mothers of those boys, and they affirmed their determination to do all they possibly could to alleviate the distress that had overtaken them. He wished to repeat his admiration of the citizens of Newcastle for the patriotism they had shown. Newcastle did not take second place to any part of the Commonwealth or the British Empire in its loyalty to the Crown. They all deeply regretted the unfortunate industrial turmoil that had overtaken them, and they trusted that good counsel would prevail, and whether a man was an employer or an employee, he would recognise that under such an unfortunate condition of affairs, the innocent were penalised, and that such a time as this was no period for such industrial turmoil as had overtaken the State.


Mr J. Wilson, of Telford-street, Newcastle, received a cable message on Friday, informing him that his son, Private J. W. Wilson, who was recently wounded severely in the chest in France, is progressing favourably at the Davenport Military Hospital, England. In a letter written on July 12 to his parents, Private Wilson states that he was struck by a piece of high explosive shell in the left breast The Newcastle soldier said that he was proud to be an Australian, not that the other lads were not as good, but to see them fight and die cheerfully, when the orders came for charge, made one think they were in a race on a big scale. Private Wilson said that they did what was expected of them, and he was glad to have been one to take a great strategical position on the Western front. Private Wilson is attached to the 33rd Battalion, AIF.


Constable S. Pender, who recently returned from military service abroad, was the recipient of a gold albert and medal, suitably inscribed, and a complete smokers’ outfit, subscribed by his comrades of the Newcastle police district, on Saturday. The presentation took place at the station. Inspector M'Hardy presided, and said that Constable Pender's comrades and civilian friends also were glad to see him return safe and sound, after performing highly creditable service with the military forces abroad. Constable Pender had won the esteem of his superior officers, and the goodwill of the men with whom he had been associated. Commander Bracegirdle, in conversation with the speaker, had referred to Constable Pender in the most flattering terms, and said Constable Pender was one of the best men he had ever known. Inspector M’Hardy said that he was proud to have been associated with a man who possessed the qualities which were so essential for the winning of the war. They were traits which should be cultivated by every man, whether on service or at home. The people who stayed behind had their duties as clearly defined for the ultimate success of the Allies as those who were on active service. They had to maintain order at home, and to prevent internal dissension. He was proud to say that the police force, not only of the Newcastle district, but of NSW, were a loyal body of men. He was glad to welcome Constable Pender back again to Newcastle.

Constable Pender, prior to enlisting, was attached to the water police, and First-class Constable G. Scott, as the senior member of that branch present, was deputed to make the presentation. Constable Scott said that they were pleased to welcome Constable Pender home, after an absence of two years at the front, where his ability had met with recognition. He had volunteered at the first call for volunteers, but was rejected, owing to his teeth. He had then told the examining doctor in words, which had since become an established phrase, that “he did not want to eat the Germans, but to fight them”.


A public meeting was held in the Newcastle Council Chambers on Tuesday evening, with the object of assisting the recruiting train movement. Alderman R. G. Kilgour, Mayor of Newcastle, who presided over a moderate attendance, regretted that the trouble with the transit services had militated against the attendance, but though the meeting was small it was their duty to carry the project forward. Certain arrangements had been made for the stimulating of recruiting on Saturday week. Newcastle had upheld its prestige in all patriotic movements, and the people would give their full support. He had met Mr Buckleton, who had charge of the movement, and the proposals had been outlined.

Lieutenant W. Desmond said that in company with Mr F. A. Buckleton, he had interviewed the Mayor, and arrangements had been made to make the visit of the recruiting train on Saturday, August 18, a success. He felt sanguine that they would get the full co-operation of the ladies of all the patriotic bodies of the Newcastle district. He thought that it would be a fine thing if the ladies walked in columns of four under a banner upon which had been worked the words “Australian Women’s Service League”. He believed that the ladies with their aptitude with their needles could make such a banner. They were desirous of getting the fullest public sympathy and interest with the movement. 


At the meeting of the Amelioration Committee, held on Monday night, in the Newcastle Council Chambers, Mr F. G. Adrian occupied the chair, and, notwithstanding the wet night, there was a good attendance. The secretary reported that since the previous meeting, about 60 returned men had received assistance, a number being also placed in employment, and other cases quite outside the scope of the committee's official scope had been relieved, and letters received from many thanking the committee for assistance rendered. Mr John Burke, junior, hon. treasurer, read the financial statement for the month, and also the balance-sheet for the 12 months ended June 30, 1917. On the motion of Mr J. Keating, seconded by Mr G. Thompson, a vote of thanks to Mr Adrian was carried for the deep interest he had taken in the work of the committee from its inception, and the hope was expressed that he would long continue to retain his position. Gratification was also expressed at the financial condition of the fund, as disclosed by the balance-sheet. The thanks of the committee were tendered to the treasurers, Mr J. C. Reid and Mr J. Burke, junior. The outcome of the committee’s activity has been productive of many applications from widows of soldiers in the district for assistance in the matter of house rent. No reply has yet been received from the Department of Lands in regard to setting apart areas in Newcastle for the use of returned soldiers for poultry-raising, fruit-growing, etc.


Mr H. Colgate, of Neath, is in receipt of the following letter from Private G. Curtis from somewhere in France, under date June 6, 1917: “What do you think of the towelling we gave old Fritz? He had been boasting for months that we would never get through his lines, but we went through without much trouble. The boys were very disappointed. The old Kaiser issued an order to his troops to take no prisoners, and they thought they would have a hard fight. But, although he gassed us and put over all kinds of shells, he would not put up a fight when we met him, with the result that 6000 prisoners were taken. He is the best fighter in the world behind a stone wall with machine guns and artillery, but when met with the steel he is not worth a franc. I got a bit of a crack on the shoulder when Fritz was throwing over souvenirs, but it was only slight, and I will be back looking for more shortly.”


Andrew Aitken, Newcastle; Henry Costello, Kurri Kurri; William John Cruickshank, Denman; William Henry Harris, The Junction; John Hill, Newcastle; William Lobley, Carrington; Douglas Calvert McAdam, Aberdeen; Frederick Michael Mills, Lambton; Cyril Hubert Todman, Abernethy; George Alfred Warland, Newcastle.


Pte George Charter Nattrass, Weston; Sgt John William Shirley, Broadmeadow; Captain Oswald Leslie Steel, Wallsend; Sgt Oswald Oliver Steel, Wallsend.

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