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Tuesday, 26 August 2014

City of Ryde commemorates the Centenary of World War One - 6 August 2014

This month commences events which will commemorate the Centenary of World War One. 

The world-wide centenary commemorations will occur from now until 2018.

Local schools representatives laid wreaths
Photo : Kim Phillips.
In the City of Ryde, the occasion was marked with a service held at Ryde Cenotaph, Ryde Park on Wednesday 6 August 2014. Local politicians, councillors, residents, school children and family descendants, all came together to remember, as part of the City of Ryde’s ‘Ryde remembers 2014-2018’ events.

Ryde Mayor, Roy Maggio and
 Ryde Historical Society President,
Betty Willis. 

Photo : Kim Phillips.

Nearby our Cenotaph, a Lone Pine tree sapling was jointly planted by Mayor Roy Maggio and Ryde Historical Society President, Betty Willis. Local school children also placed on the Cenotaph, the names and photos of the seventeen known men from our district, who died in the Battle of Lone Pine, 6 - 9 August 1915.

 Ryde Cenotaph, Ryde Park on Wednesday 6 August 2014.
Photo : Kim Phillips.

The Ryde District remembers our fallen from the Battle of Lone Pine, Gallipoli, 6-9 August 1915: 

Pte.  Isaac Ashton ;
Pte.  Albert / Alfred J. Besanvalle ;
Capt.  Garnet Wollesley Brown ;
Pte.  Malcolm Horace Brown ;
Pte.  Frederick Catto ;
Tpr.  Arthur Stewart Dean ;
L/Corp. George Victor Goodwin ;
Pte.  George Gunning ;  
Lieut. Hubert Hartnell-Sinclair ;
Pte.  Edward Edgar Herring ;
Pte.  George Richard Horan ;
Pte.  Herbert Spencer Keepence ;
Pte. William Ernest King ;
Pte.  Ernest Charles Logan ;  
Pte.  Ralph Israel Marshall Noake ;  
Pte.  Wallace Park ;
Sgt. Walter Henry Scott ;
James Tallon,  who returned home badly injured , named his home ‘Lone Pine’ and his 1917 Rookwood Cemetery headstone called him a ‘Lone Pine hero’.

Australia's first official war historian, Charles Bean, wrote, "What these men did, nothing can alter now, the good and the bad, the greatness and the smallness of their story rises, it always rises above the mists of time as a monument to great-hearted men, and for their nation, a possession forever."

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Project update - July 2014

Firstly my apologies for the lack of blogging in recent months; hopefully I am back on track to post regular updates!

Just because the blog was quiet that doesn’t mean our project has stopped – it is quite the opposite.

There has been much happening in the last year of the Ryde goes to War Project and we are getting busier as we near the Centenary of World War One.
Some of the things we have been working on:
·        Continuing to identify and research all service men & women with a connection to the Ryde district prior to and during the war years.
·        We have searched the available local papers for names, and references to the service men & women, as well as any events in the local home front during the war years; and we have created an index to these references.
·        The Field of Mars Cemetery, Ryde, was walked and all headstones with a reference or memorial to World War One have been sought out, listed and photographed.

Members of the Ryde District Historical Society preparing to search the Field of Mars Cemetery for any World War I memorials or headstones, August 2013.
·        Planning for the Ryde District Historical Society’s Centenary of WWI events, including the publication of our research, has begun.
·        We have representation on City of Ryde’s Centenary of WWI Committee, and are working with Council on access to our database, and supporting their events.
·        We are assisting Ryde Library with their “Ryde Remembers 2014-2018” events across their branches.

·        Our volunteers or family connections have begun to write the stories of selected names in our database for our planed RGTW publication.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

SEARCHING FOR SOLDIERS - the Smythe family of Gladesville and Jerilderie - Our team member Betty details her search for four brothers....

Over a year ago the Ryde Goes to War project began and volunteers were given various letters of the alphabet to find service personnel from the Ryde district who served in World War 1.I was 'lucky' enough to be given the letters 'J' and 'S'.The names from all the Honour Boards in the area were collected and amongst my list were four Smythes onthe Honour Board at Presbyterian Church of St Andrew,  Gladesville. They were recorded as:

After some searching through Service records in the National Archives and the Australian War Memorial,electoral rolls and BMD records for NSW and Victoria, I discovered they were brothers and their parentswere Edward Albert and Annie Smythe. The 1913 electoral roll shows Mr & Mrs Smythe living in Eltham StGladesville. He was a bootmaker.


Born in Victoria, he enlisted on 21 August 1914 aged 24 and embarked on 20 October 1914 on
HMAT Euripides. On 30 April 1915 at Gallipoli he suffered a gunshot wound to the shoulder. He
was killed in action in the second battle of Bullecourt on 3 May 1917.


Born in Victoria he enlisted on 24 September 1915 and rose to the rank of Major. By March 1917 he
was Lieutenant in the 24th Btn and won the Military Cross. In October of the same year he was 
awarded the Bar. In 1915 his wife's address is “Glenvale” in Morrison Rd Gladesville. He servedalso in World War 11 from September 1939 to July 1946. He died in Port Moresby aged 77 in October 1968.


Born in Jerilderie. NSW, he enlisted with his brother, Herbert Andrew, and they served together in
Gallipoli. He served in France and In March 1917 as Captain he won the Military Cross. In October
1917 he was awarded the Bar. He returned to Australia in December 1918 and died in March 1982.


 Born in Victoria, he enlisted on 30 April 1915 aged 22. He became a 2nd Lieutenant and in late 1918  was awarded a Military Cross. He died in 1966 and the Ryerson Index states he was 'late of Denistone.
I had some difficulty finding records of birth certificates in Victoria to prove that they were brothers, so one
evening I Googled ..... 'Jerilderie Historical Society' – no luck, then I tried 'Jerilderie World War 1 soldiers' where I found pure gold!

The Smythe family have a website and I would recommend that you check it out.The website is in chapters – family, letters, diaries, photos, honours and awards etc etc. Herbert wrote many stories for the Jerilderie newspaper, giving a wonderful record of Gallipoli. There are letters from their brothers and sisters still at home – it was obviously a large, very close family.
The records on the website of their heroic feats to win Military Crosses are amazing reading, And so it is that 4 names on a Roll of Honour through a bit of searching and a lot of luck (thank you Mr Google) have become a wonderful, interesting story of amazing brothers in an amazing family.
Permission has been given by the Smythe website webmaster to include their link.

15 Feb 2014

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Welcome back to 2014....

The Ryde Goes to War project recently held its first meeting for 2014.
We were pleased to welcome so many of our researchers and get their updates on their progress in researching each group of surnames.

In Summary of 2013:

* Our database of names was divided alphabetically, with each researcher given a letter to try to identify and flesh out the story of each name, and find connections to the district. We have tied to identify and eliminate any duplication of names, but agree that some might not be found.

* We searched for any newspapers available detailing local reports of service, wounded, deaths and the home front.

* We also conducted a photo & transcription day at Field of Mars Cemetery, Ryde,  to identify and record all Commonwealth War Grave headstones and any other WWI memorials. (One section remains to be completed)

 Our planning for 2014 has commenced -- what we will do with, and how we will use all the data we are collecting. We also established a publishing sub-committee to look at, how we can tell the stories of those on our lists who have tales to tell, who gets included and the format it will take.

Our Committee was also represented at meetings with the local community and Council Committee in supporting and planning for the Centenary of WWI.

We look forward to sharing the journey of the Project in 2014.


Thursday, 10 October 2013

Duplication in centenary of World War One projects :

As we approach the centenary of World War One, we have come across other projects similar to those we are undertaking in Ryde and to a certain extent there will be some duplication across the country, with everyone wanting to claim some connection to the famous and infamous.

At this point our project’s main focus is on those men and women who have any connection to the Ryde Municipality before or during WWI. The connection might be like that of David Chestnut (in our first blog story), a lad who was born and educated locally, with strong family ties to the district that left his name recorded on 4 different war memorials within the Municipality.

Others, like Henry Oscar Nelson, were born in New Zealand and only moved to Ryde in the years before the war. Some names that have made our lists contain only a brief connection to the district with the only connection being found to be their birthplace, or the address of their next of kin. There are still a number of others that remain for us to puzzle out what their connection could be.

What we have found is that many can be claimed by more than just the Ryde district, also having connections to other regions, both before and after the war. Two of our more famous names fall into this category.

Matron Bessie Pocock, was born in 1863 at Dalby, Queensland. By 1876, her family had settled to a small acreage at The Punchbowl, near Grafton, NSW. She first joined the New South Wales Army Nursing Service Reserve in 1899 and enlisted for service in the South African War. Later in life she became the Matron of Gladesville Hospital between 1911-14. After the war she resumed her position as matron at Gladesville until 1924 when she established a convalescent hospital at Chatswood. While the Ryde district is not her place of birth or death, her connection to our district is remembered by her listing on the Gladesville Hospital Honour Board, Ryde Town Hall Honour Rolls and on Christ Church Memorial Gates at Gladesville.

Another example is the poet, Andrew Barton (Banjo) Paterson, who was born in Orange, NSW, in 1864. He spent much of his school years with his widowed grandmother, poet Emily Barton,  at her home, Rockend Cottage in Gladesville. Banjo’s connection to our district is also remembered on the Ryde Town Hall Honour Rolls.  His connection to the Orange District has also been made with a recent post on their “Centenary of World War One in Orange”  site:

Where we find any similar WWI projects, we will add them to our blog watch list or list the links.  Everyone on our list has a story to tell, some are just local, others national, we mightn’t get to them all but in the coming years we hope to find and share many of their stories.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Project Update — September 2013

My apologies for the lack of blog updates in recent months, but a bereavement and a birth in my family, has kept me distracted from updating the blog.

Yes – the Ryde goes to War Project is still progressing – our latest update:

In our database we currently have 2,075 names of Service people with a connection to the Ryde district. These have been collected from various Honour rolls, War memorials, embarkations rolls, local newspapers, etc. Most just list a family name with an initial or two. When these rolls, memorials and reports were created a hundred years ago, the Ryde community would have known exactly who they were honouring, but today many are unknown or forgotten. We want to identify these men and the few women and at the least find their full names and service numbers and their connection to the district. Many on our list were born in the area, educated or worked in the area; others are proving harder to find the connection for.

So far we have been able to identify,

 with full names and service numbers, 1,349.  

726 are still to be identified.

304 of them never returned home, and we currently have photos of 105 of their headstones or memorials.

We have also made contact with the families of 78 service people from our list

 and have found photos of 114 of them.

The number of Nurses, Sisters, or Matrons found on our list is currently at 11or 12 (depending if Nurse N. Hall, turns out to be the same person as Nurse Marion Hall...

What our team has been up to……

  • In August we got together to discuss our project with many of our team of researchers. We have more than 20 working on the project including one joining us when possible from Victoria! Each has been focusing on a specific letter and working on their group of surnames; some have completed their groups and we are starting to collate the data, while others are still hunting!
  • We also have representatives on the Ryde Anzac Centenary Committee Ryde Council’s WWI Centenary taskforce and are working with them to ensure the data we collect will be accessible into the future.
  • We had planned a transcription and photographing day at one of our local cemeteries, Field of Mars, in June, but it was rained out.  The sun shone on our July date and we were able to tackle various sections to hunt out any headstones that included war service information or memorials. A few of our team are following up on this and more details will follow.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Remembering 'the mothers of Ryde' who lost their boys in WWI

This Mother's Day we think of all the mothers, grandmothers, wives, aunts and sisters who lost their boys during the battles of World War I.
Many would have expressed the same sentiment as Elizabeth Nelson, (mother of Henry Oscar Nelson, of previous posts) when she wrote to the Army in March 1917, following the information that her son, Henry had been reported missing since the action at Fromelles in July 1916.

“Our poor lad may be suffering from an injury to the head or shell shock, and may have forgotten who he is.  We all have the feeling that he is not dead.”
Sadly, a few days later she received a letter from the Red Cross confirming that Henry had died.

Elizabeth Nelson was not alone, many mothers across the district and the country were receiving the same news. Another, the mother of  Arthur Ernest Tipp, currently being research by our project....

It was the 5th May 1918, when a Court of Enquiry declared that Arthur Ernest Tipp, No. 5099, 20th Battalion, the only son of William and Alice Tipp of Ryde, previously listed as missing, had been killed in action in Belgium on the 9 October 1917. [Arthur’s story will appear soon].

And more pictures from Kim Phillips' travels ....
where she recently visited the memorial at  V.C.CORNER, FROMELLES and left a poppy beside Henry Oscar Nelson's name.
Photo: Kim Phillips,  May 2013
Photo: Kim Phillips,  May 2013