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Wednesday, 24 April 2013

ANZAC DAY 2013 & 1926

This ANZAC Day we remember all those who have fallen in war and pay tribute to their service

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
Our Project Coordinator, Kim Phillips is currently at Gallipoli to attend the services and collect further information on all the Australian Service men and women who lost their lives, as well as those with a connection to the Ryde Municipality.

The Anzac Commemorative site ready for the Dawn Service

Photo : Kim Phillips, April 2013


Source: Collis, E.H. The Story of Gladesville and its first church. 1938.

A large gathering in Gladesville remembered those who fell in the War of 1914-1918
 on Anzac Day 1926.
The Christ Church  memorial gates were unveiled by Governor General of Australia,
 Lord Stonehaven.
Originally located near the corner of Victoria Road and Jordan Street, they were moved, to their current location, a bit eastward along Victoria Road, during road widening.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Our Anzac family – the Nelson Brothers of Ryde, NSW and Wellington, NZ

Their story as researched by the RGTW team
In the previous blog post we have heard the wonderful story of the return of Henry Oscar Nelson’s Dead Man’s penny to members of his family.  In preparation for that event we did some research on who the Nelson family were, and where they came from and discovered them to be an ANZAC family!

Two of the six Nelsons listed on our Ryde goes to war database are brothers, Frederick Andrew Nelson (Service No. 727) & Henry Oscar Nelson (Service No. 728 ), both were born in Wellington, New Zealand.

Martin Nelson of Sweden, married Elizabeth McCracken of Ireland, in New Zealand in 1887.  They had seven children, all born in New Zealand: Charles Leonard, born in 1888 ; Alfred William, born 1889 and died in 1890 in New Zealand; Frederick Andrew, born 1891 ; Emily Jane, born in 1894; Henry Oscar, born in 1896 ; Agnes Maria, born in 1899 ; Maurits, stillborn in 1904.
Frederick Andrew Nelson
Service No. 727
 30th Battalion

The 1911 New Zealand Electoral Rolls record a Martin Nelson as living in Mount Pleasant, Mitchelltown and he was a Labourer.  The eldest son, Charles Leonard is also listed as living in Mount Pleasant.

 Henry Oscar Nelson
Service No. 728
30th Battalion
KIA Fromelles
20 July 1916

By 1915, the Sydney Sands Directory lists, Martin Nelson as residing in Parkes St, Ryde, on the south side between the Masonic Hall and Joseph Parry. This is the address given by Frederick and Henry, when they enlist in the Australian Imperial Force, in July 1915. With consecutive service numbers, the brothers both join C Company of the 30th Battalion, and depart Australia in November 1915. Tragically (as we have already heard in previous blogs), Henry is to be killed in action at Fromelles on 20 July 1916.

Only nine months after that the family is to receive another cruel blow when Martin fell from a tram near Pyrmont Bridge and died in Sydney Hospital.  He is buried in the Presbyterian section of Field of Mars Cemetery, Ryde.  His death certificate shows that he died on 10 April 1917, he was 60 years old, and died from accidental injuries.  His father was Svan Nelson, Pilot, and his mother was Anne Ivanson.  His place of birth is shown as Warberg in Sweden and he had been 3 years in NSW.  The informant was his eldest son, Charles, of Parkes St, Ryde.
Fortunately Frederick returned home safely from the war having married Beatrice Owen in England in 1918.  They settled in Bowden Street, Ryde, in a house they named “Amiens” where they lived, according to the Sands Directories, until at least 1933.  They moved to Victoria Rd, Drummoyne in the1930s and by 1943 they moved to Balmain, until Frederick’s death in 1969.

Elizabeth Nelson died on 8th July 1934 at her residence in 22 Belmore St, Ryde. Her death certificate shows she was 70 years old and her parents were John Charles McCracken, school teacher, and Margaret Henderson.  Her place of birth is shown as Dublin, that she lived in Wellington, NZ for 31 years and 20 years in NSW. The informant was her son, Frederick, of 61 Bowden St, Ryde.  She is buried beside her husband, Martin, at Field of Mars Cemetery.

Frederick Andrew Nelson is listed on the Ryde Town Hall Honour Rolls and St Anne's Anglican Church, while Henry Oscar Nelson is listed among the names of the dead in the Ryde Civic Centre Memorial Book and also on the St Anne's Anglican Church.

World War I Honour Roll of St. Anne's Anglican Church, Ryde

Monday, 1 April 2013

So what is a Dead Man's Penny ?

In preparation for our recent event which returned Henry Oscar Nelson's Dead Man's Penny to his family, members of the Ryde Goes to War project team did some research on exact what is the Dead Man's Penny. [ See previous posts  for event details].

Officially named the World War I Memorial Plaque, it is a commemorative medallion or memorial plaque which was presented to the next-of-kin of the men and women who died during World War I. The plaques were designed and produced in Britain and issued to commemorate all those who died as a result of war service from within the British Commonwealth.
The idea for the plaques was originally conceived mid-way through the war. It was decided that the design of the plaque, about 5 inches (12 cm) in diameter and cast in bronze, was to be picked from submissions made in a public competition. There were over 800 entries. The winner, Mr E Carter Preston of Liverpool, England, was chosen in 1918 and was awarded a prize of £250. The plaques were manufactured in London. 
Elizabeth Nelson ( Henry's mother) of Parkes St Ryde signed a receipt
 for the Memorial Scroll and King’s Message for her son, Henry Oscar Nelson, on 1 November 1921
and for his Memorial Plaque ( the above Dead Man's Penny) on 9 August 1922.
The medallion features an image of Britannia surrounded by two dolphins (representing Britain’s sea power) and a lion (representing Britain) standing over a defeated eagle (symbolising Germany). Britannia is holding an oak spray with leaves and acorns above the rectangular tablet bearing the deceased’s name cast in raised letters. The name does not include the soldier’s rank, to show equality in sacrifice. Around the outer edge of the medallion are the words ‘He [she] died for freedom and honour’.

Production of the plaques, which was supposed to be financed by German reparation money, began in 1919 with approximately 1,150,000 issued. Unfortunately, the production and delivery of the plaques was not a complete success and the scheme ended before all the families or next-of-kin of the deceased received the official recognition they should have.

The first plaques were distributed in Australia in 1922. Each plaque was sent out by mail from Base Records Office at Victoria Barracks in Melbourne. Approximately 60,000 plaques were issued in Australia. There were some relatives who returned their pennies to the Australian Government in protest as they felt it was insulting and it did not replace their loved one’s life.

 A scroll of thick parchment was designed to accompany each of the plaques. Officially named the World War I Memorial Scroll. The scroll, headed by the royal coat-of-arms, bore the following message:
He whom this scroll commemorates was numbered among those who,
at the call of King and Country, left all that was dear to them,
endured hardness, faced danger,
and finally passed out of the sight of men by the path of duty and self-sacrifice,
giving up their own lives that others might live in freedom.
Let those that come after see that his name is not forgotten.
 Underneath the message, the serviceman’s or servicewoman’s name, rank, honours and unit were written by hand in red ink.

Because of the late arrival of the plaques in Australia, many scrolls were sent out separately, with a message from the King (George V):
I join with my grateful people in sending you this memorial
of a brave life given for others in the Great War.


Military History Online,