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Monday, 20 October 2014

Second Dead Man's Penny returned to family members! This one was found buried in a local garden.

The Ryde District Historical Society was absolutely delighted to be involved in the returning of a second Dead Man’s Penny to the descendants of the family it was originally issued to.
Recently, we were contacted by a local Denistone resident who had found the ‘penny’ about ½ metre below the ground when digging in his garden. He in turn contacted us at the Ryde District Historical Society hoping that the family could be traced and the ‘penny’  a memorial plaque or commemorative medallion, as they were officially known, be returned to them.

Frank Uther's Memorial Plaque, showing scratches incurred when dug up in a Denistone backyard.
The name on the penny was Frank Uther. Unfortunately for us, Frank was not on our list of Ryde service people, but with only one man named Frank Uther serving in World War One AIF, the Society members and especially Kim, with her extensive experience and resources was not only able to identify him, but make contact with his family. This was made possible by using the public family trees on All those people who had included Frank Uther in their trees were contacted and his closest family was found.
The ‘penny’ was returned to Frank Uther’s second cousin, Erica, the only one still surviving of 77 cousins.

Kim, Erica holding Frank's penny and Ben from

The practice of burying a Dead Man’s Penny, as they were commonly known, is not unheard of but how it ended up in the back yard of a Denistone home is still a bit of a puzzle.
The story of the penny's return was featured on Sydney’s Channel 9, 6pm news on Friday 17 October 2014, and will also be used by

Last year the Society and Ryde Library Services were able to reunite the penny for Oscar Henry Nelson, found in a Northern NSW garage sale, with descendants of his family – (see earlier blog stories for details).


Sunday, 19 October 2014

Young father of two from Gladesville, NSW, ALBERT BESANVALLE is another Ryde boy lost in the trenches at Lone Pine.

The Northern District Times continues to publish our stories  in a series which commenced earlier this month. They are a brief outline of some of our 'Ryde Goes to War project' research on World War One service from the Ryde District.

Week 3 : 15 Oct 2014 - The Northern District Times, page 22  is the story of ALBERT BESANVALLE, Service No: 1716.

Albert joined the 4th Battalion, he went missing during the battle for Lone Pine. His widow and two sons received wonderful support from the community with the Gladesville Voluntary Workers Association building them a house.

A postcard from Lone Pine, then ‘missing’
 [if you click on the title -- it should take you to the on-line edition of the newspaper]

Friday, 17 October 2014

WALTER HENRY SCOTT, Service No: 564 our 2nd week story in the Northern District TImes

The Northern District Times continues our stories which commenced earlier this month. They are a brief outline of some of our research of World War One service from the Ryde District.

Week 2 : 8 Oct 2014 - The Northern District Times, page 26  is the story of WALTER HENRY SCOTT, Service No: 564.

Walter was an Eastwood boy who enlisted five days after war was declared He joined the 2nd Infantry Battalion and he spent his 21st Birthday at Gallipoli. He died from wounds during the battle for Lone Pine.

Sgt survived Gallipoli but fell at Lone Pine
[if you click on the title -- it should take you to the on-line edition of the newspaper]


Monday, 13 October 2014

Ryde goes to War stories start in our local newspaper!

On  Wednesday 1st October 2014, The Northern District Times began a special weekly column  featuring some of our research, in preparation for our Society's publication next year.

The Ryde goes to War project is researching  the stories of those who lived in or had a connection to the Ryde District of NSW, up to or during World War One [see earlier posts for details].

We are continuing sorting up to 2000 names from across all our district war memorials and similar sources and to sort out any duplications etc, so that we can honour them with their full names and service numbers. With the help of Society members, descendants and family & friends, we are also putting together the details of their service and their connections to the Ryde district.

We are planning to publish some of this research in book a format in 2015 (to date --the exact names of all to be  included and format of publication, are  still being confirmed).

The Northern District Times stories that commenced this month are a brief outline of some of our completed work.

Week 1 : 1 Oct 2014 - The Northern District Times page 17  is the story of  Reginald James Fitzroy, Service No: 1880, Aged 20 when he enlisted; he served in the 19th, 18th and finally 17th Battalions. He was awarded a Military Cross.

Beaurevoir bravery earned Military Cross

[if you click on the title -- it should take you to the on-line edition of the newspaper]


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