Unidentified Soldiers In Frame

A frame containing the images of 18 undentified soldiers associated with Stockton.

Send-off and Welcome Home Committee

The community organised numerous events to send off and welcome home service people during WW1.

Stockton Soldiers' Memorial

The memorial lists over 150 men and women associated with Stockton who served in World War One.

Stockton World War One Memorials

Various memorials and honour boards and rolls containing the names of Stockton World War One service people.

09 April 2016

Possible Pop-up Display for Fromelles Centenary


This year marks the 100th anniversary of the bloody battle of Fromelles. As with many of the horrific events of the war, there is a Stockton connection. That of Private Douglas Caswell, whose remains were recently identified as part of the work conducted on the remains found in a mass grave at Fromelles in 2007, many of whom were unidentified. Since the discovery of the grave, an ongoing effort to identify the men has been undertaken. By ANZAC Day 2014 many, including Private Douglas Caswell.

As part of the commemorations of the battles of Fromelles and Pozieres in 1916, I am attempting to set up a pop-up exhibition in Stockton. Further details will be made available as they come to hand but I'm aiming for a two day opening near to ANZAC Day.

Reference: "STOCKTON." Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate (NSW : 1876 - 1954) 22 August 1916: 7. Web. 9 Apr 2016 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article133877494>.

23 October 2015

Apologies for Lack of Updates

My apologies to everyone for the recent radio silence. It's a combination of loosing my job of 20 years and starting a new Uni course. My researching time has been cut down to nothing between looking for work and studying. I am still working on the project but at a much slower pace. I will be finished my first round of study in about a month and should be able to resume regular posting then.

In the meantime, you might like to check out this interesting post on the enlistment of the Welsh in Empire forces, including the A.I.F.

05 August 2015

John William ROSE


John William ROSE is proving a bit of an exception to my usual problems. I can normally find alot of information about a persons early life and war service, and then strike problems with their post war life. However, John is the opposite!! I can't find anything about his life before he came to Australia. No birth record, nothing about his parents apart from names. Nothing about siblings, and nothing about how he got to Australia. Nothing about his marriage either. But I have quite a bit about his post war life. It's very frustrating.

I believe born in 1886 in Bristol, Gloucestershire, England. The son of Henry ROSE and Annie. He married a Janet GILLIES. I think GILLIES is her maiden name, it appears as her middle name on electoral rolls. I believe he was in Australia by 1910. He states on his enlistment in 1916 that he'd been an apprentice at A. Gonninans and Co for five years. He was employed by Earp Bros at the time. So pre-1910 for coming to Australia. I can't find a birth record in NSW for his son, John either. So he may have been born in England. Can't find a record for him though.

After the war he returned and set up Rose's Garage. This was still in business until a couple of years ago and the site is actually one of major contention in the community at the moment!!

29 July 2015

Gwilym JONES - Identified

Part of my methodology when researching the service people for the book is to look at their lives before and after the war. This begins with looking at basic genealogical information, like parents and siblings. I do this partly to give a broader view of the persons life, to make their bio more than just "the War" but it also has a broader research side effect of finding other potential subjects for the book who may have otherwise slipped through the cracks.

Case in point is the long list of JONES' on the Stockton Soldiers' Memorial. Usually, the problem is finding any potential suspects for those missing people. With a name like JONES, the problem is the opposite - too many!! I have put the JONES' in the too hard basket for the moment as their are just so many of them.

However, while looking into the family of 2425 Daniel JONES, I noticed he had an older brother, Gwilym. I found that he had served in the AIF. Checking his listing on the AIF Project page proved no immediate help. All his contact info related to Raymond Terrace. Very close to Stockton but no immediate link. However, the name  of his sister, as Mrs PITT did jump out at me. Firstly, I'd just finished researching 3122 John PITT, so I knew there were PITT's in Stockton. Secondly, I knew one of his sisters had married a PITT. I then checked his attestation papers. Here was the link. His NOK is his mother, Mrs Mary JONES, c/o his sister, Mrs PITT of Raymond Terrace. However, in his attestation file, this is changed to just his mother, of Forfar St, Stockton. We now have a link. And Gwilym JONES remained in Stockton until his death. So I'm now happy to assign the G. JONES on the memorial to him.

I think this is an important demonstration of three things. Firstly, the need to go further into the background of the soldiers and others we are researching for the deeper understanding of the individuals that this gives us. Secondly, because it provides us with a much greater depth of historical material to support our research and thirdly, it demonstrates the benefit that interplay between traditional historical research and the techniques of family history and genealogical research.

24 July 2015

Geoffrey COWEN

My latest problem child is 398 Geoffrey COWEN. I have his early details from his life in Kensington, Liverpool, Lancashire, England. And I have details of his post war life in Stockton, NSW, Australia. My issue is how he got to Australia from England.

I thought I'd found him working as firstly a deck boy, then a mess room steward on a number of regular passenger liners working between Liverpool and Sydney. However, it hit a problem when he is listed as working on the Ceramic in Oct, 1916. This would have been after his enlistment in July, 1915.

  • 1910 - Balasore - Liverpool - Sydney - Deck Boy
  • 1911 - Era - Port Pirie - Sydney OS
  • 1912 May - Irishman - Liverpool - Sydney - Mess Room Steward
  • 1913 May  - Irishman - Liverpool - Sydney - Mess Room Steward
  • 1914 May  - Irishman - Liverpool - Sydney - Linen Keeper
  • 1915 May and Oct- Ceramic - Liverpool - Sydney - Steward (later HMAT A40)
This person continued working on passenger ships until 1916, moving up the ranks to be a mess and linen steward. The possible link to this Geoffrey is that he mentions being a "seafearer" on his attestation papers and he has a connection to linen in his listed employment. Prior to enlisting he is working as a drapery packer and steward at D. Cohen and Co., Newcastle.

Normally, I'd say I've got the wrong person, but the linen steward connection seems pretty telling. They have the same year and place of birth - true, not an uncommon name.

Is this the same guy? It would explain how he got to Australia. And it seems while his father is listed as next of kin, he is done so via some living in Stockton - Mrs George TAYLOR, with his father remaining and dying in England. So no apparent other family in Australia. Working as a seaman would explain (1) How he got to Australia, (2) Lack of other family in Australia (3) Connection to Stockton.

22 July 2015

Soldier Poster Project

As part of my project, I've made up a number of profile posters of soldiers whose lives I've already researched. On the poster is an abbreviated text of what will appear in the final book, as well as a photo of the soldier and any other information or images of interest. If the soldier died while serving, they have a poppy placed in the top left corner of their photo. At the bottom right corner is their battalion patch. If they served at Gallipoli, they have the ANZAC "A" badge on top of their battalion patch.

I am hoping to have these posters placed in the front windows of shops along the main shopping precinct in Stockton. I hope people will find the information interesting and that it will generate interest in the project and perhaps lead to some further information about the men and women involved coming to light.

19 June 2015

Thomas BELL - Munitions Worker

"MR. THOMAS BELL." Newcastle Morning Herald
and Miners' Advocate (NSW : 1876 - 1954)
17 Mar 1948: 4. Web. 24 Jun 2015
<http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article134321863>

Thomas BELL was born in Jarrow, Durham, England in 1869, the son of Daniel BELL and Mary LEITCH. His father worked as a riveter in a local shipyard, as did his older brother Daniel. In 1889 he married Harriet Ann BOND, and they had three children, Harriet, Thomas Guy and Henry. His wife Harriet died in 1900 and he and his family moved in with his in-laws. By this time, Thomas was working as a marine-engine boiler maker (1901 Census). In 1903 he married again, to Laura Jane STILL and they had one daughter together, May. In addition, Laura Jane had a daughter from a previous marriage, Laura Allan HARNBY. In 1911 the family were separated when Thomas came to Australia in the beginning of the year, sending for the rest of the family in September 1911. They ended up in Newcastle, NSW where Thomas gained employment at Walsh Island as a boilermaker. Two of his sons, Henry BELL and Thomas Guy BELL served in the AIF during WW1.

At the beginning of the war he was approximately 45 years old, with children still at home. He didn't volunteer for the A.I.F but he did go to England as a munitions worker. By early 1915 it was clear that the current system in England couldn't meet production demands, one of the reasons was lack of skilled workers. In response, Australian Munitions Workers scheme was developed between the British and Australian governments. This scheme saw nearly 3,000 Australian workers go to England as part of the scheme.

He returned to Australia in May 1919 on board the Kursk. He died on Stockton in March 1948, leaving behind four sons and two daughters.

As a munitions worker, Thomas does have a file at the NAA, but I can't afford to pay for it! So if anyone is ever in Melbourne I'm looking for MT1139/1, BELL THOMAS (Barcode - 6447857).