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.

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

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).

27 May 2015

Stanley Roy BAXTER

"DIVORCE COURT." The Sydney Morning Herald
(NSW : 1842 - 1954) 28 Apr 1915: 7. Web. 29 May 2015

Stanley Roy BAXTER seems to have lived a quiet life after he returned to Australia from the war. But his early life was more problematic. His parents split when he was young. However, the nature of that split is proving difficult to determine. The article to the left would indicate that his mother left his father. In an article detailing his arrest for theft in Lithgow, the situation was described as "his father had been absent from home for eight years." (SMH 19 Nov 1914) So who left who?

18 May 2015

Robert Owen JONES - Identified

8074 Robert Owen JONES
I'm working on a couple of a parallel WW1 projects at the moment. The other one is to identify 18 men in a photoframe. I've just managed to identify another person - Robert Owen JONES. He is the brother of the first person we were able to give a name to - Llewelyn JONES. Further details over at the Stockton Historical Society Inc blog.

07 May 2015

DALGLEISH, R. H - Unidentified

As a starting point for my research, I am using the list of names on the Stockton Soldiers' Memorial. This lists those from Stockton who served in World War One,  not just those who died.

From a list of approx. 150 names, I currently have 27 names who I can't find any service records for. The likely reason for this is that they served in a force other than the A.I.F, such as the B.E.F or Merchant Marines.

I searched for one R. H. DALGLEISH in the NAA RecordsSearch and there is no exact match.There were two worth further investigation:

While Hugh Ross could be explained with a simple transposition error, records seem to indicate connections to Victoria and Western Australia, but not NSW. So while a possible, I've discarded this option for the moment.

Robert Emmanuel is a better candidate, since he is associated with Gosford, NSW. Checking his service records finds no obvious link to Stockton.

My starting point for tracking these names down (after not being able to find them in the NAA Service Records) is a search in Trove. There is often an announcement in the local paper letting the community know when someone is leaving for or returning from the War.

I followed this methodology for Robert Emmanuel DALGLEISH. Again, the few mentions I have of his name don't reference Stockton.

Checking Ancestry and NSW BDM gets his birth details of Milparinka, NSW. A further hint from Ancestry gives us a marriage in Newcastle, NSW to Amy H. WILLIAMS (nee CHAPMAN). So we now have a solid Newcastle link. But again, no references in the newspapers.

A check of Lives of the First World War for other Commonwealth forces, again finds no direct match, and a few possibles. But the lack of details at both ends makes it extremely difficult to narrow it down.

So for the moment, I will be putting this name aside for further investigation at a later date.

04 May 2015

Dr Robert DICK - Major, Royal Army Medical Corps

This is the first of my biographical posts for the blog. These posts won't go into huge amounts of detail, but are more about my research process and any tips and tricks I might come across.

Dr Dick proved a little more difficult than the average soldier listed on the Stockton Soldiers' Memorial. Firstly, he is only called Dr Dick, not first name or initial. A quick search of Trove popped out the District Medical Officer for Newcastle and the Hunter Valley, again referred to as Dr Dick. Further investigation allowed me to a get a first name, Robert. He was associated with the area over a period of decades and had many dealings with the Stockton Council in his professional capacity. He also lived here for many years.

Searching all the usual sites for Australian military records proved fruitless. No Dr or other sort of Robert Dick was listed anywhere. It was when looking through some tickets for the Stockton Send-off and Welcome Home Committee that I got the hint I needed, he was referred to as "Major R. Dick, A.M.C". Here was the hint I needed, as the Army Medical Corps referred to the British Army rather than the Australian. Bad news for me, as that meant many fewer records.

With this hint, I was able to find his British Army Medal Card and further details in Trove about his experiences overseas with the Australian Voluntary Hospital. There is also quite a bit about his life after returning to Australia as he was appointed a senior government position.

"New Health Officers." Evening News
(Sydney, NSW : 1869 - 1931)
28 Nov 1921: 1. Web. 4 May 2015

28 April 2015

Welcome to Stockton and World War One

This blog will chronicle the work I'm doing on my book about the community of Stockton and World War One.

The book will be in two parts. The first part will look at the impact of the war on the close knit community of Stockton and how the community responded to the massive disruption the war

The second part of the book will be biographies of the nearly 300 men and women who served in a variety of military roles during the war. We are hoping to include photographs of as many men and women as possible. We would welcome any contributions of photographs which you may have of World War One service people. We would not require originals but would be happy to get copies. And we would welcome any personal stories of World War One veterans that family may have of soldiers of either their lives before, during or after the war.