Sunday, 11 November 2018

Coburg RSL's Remembrance Day Service

This morning I was honoured to be the guest speaker at the Coburg RSL Sub-Branch's Remembrance Day Service as we reflected on the 100 years that have passed since the Armistice was signed at 11am on 11 November 1918.

The compere was Kathy Doyle. Sub-Branch President Michael Pianta spoke movingly about the war itself and its global and local impact. It was my turn then and I chose to look at how local people rebuilt their lives and found a way forward after the war was over. 

Music was provided by the 4th/19th Prince of Wales's Light Horse Regiment Association Band under the baton of Ian Davidson; vocalist Hannah Desmond; buglar Gavan Stray and piper Ian Arrell. The catafalque party was made up of members of the 7 Transport Squadron.

A group of World War One re-enactors showed us what some of the equipment and a Casualty Clearing Station would have looked like.

And wreaths were laid as a moving tribute to all service personnel who have fought for Australia over the past 100 years.

The service was a time to reflect on the losses but also on the impact of that war on the local community.

I leave you now with my final words this morning:
'We are here today to remember those who died, those who returned, and their families, friends and the community. The individuals I have just spoken of looked their futures squarely in the face as they set about creating their new world. I would like to think that in the same situation, we would all do the same.'

Friday, 9 November 2018

After the war was over

The National Archives of Australia has just launched an online exhibition on how Australians faced life after the war.

It's well worth a visit and you can see it here.

If you are in the area and are interested, I am speaking at Coburg Library next Monday (12 November) at 5pm. Find out more here

'The crowd in front of the Age office yesterday afternoon', Age, 13 November 1918

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Coburg RSL celebrates its centenary

Yes, Coburg RSL is one of the oldest sub-branches around and it's just about to turn 100.

Here's some information about the Centenary Celebrations.

 Click here to book your ticket through EventBrite.

Monday, 8 October 2018

Coburg Cycling Club's WW1 Honour Board

I took this not very good photo of Coburg Cycling Club's WW1 Honour Board in January 2015. 

There were many articles about members of the Cycling Club who enlisted in the local newspapers. One of the most detailed was this one from the Brunswick and Coburg Leader4 August 1916.

Coburg Cycling Club: It is the great pride of the club that they have sent so many champions to the front. A roll of honor board was made some time ago, but it is full: 40 names in all. There are 20 names to be put on yet, hence the necessity of another board.
Among the latest members who have been wounded are L. Cpl. Broome and Pte. Lou. Ambler. Both are progressing favorably, according to latest advice.
Recently we announced that Pte. C. Jones, our great champion, had been 'seriously wounded' receiving a bullet in the head. We are now pleased to report that he has been through a successful operation and is on the road to recovery. He will be remembered as one of our foremost road and track champions, representing the club in Nella Shields and road premierships, gaining 2nd place in the 25-mile premiership, and other races too numerous to mention. His cheerful, willing disposition, his good nature, gained for him many friends in the ranks, as it did in the Coburg Cycling Club. He enlisted in July 1915, in company with J. Sheppard and W. Cooper, who, we are pleased to report, are in the best of health.
Corporal Gambetta, who enlisted and was rejected, was for several months on home service. He has now received his discharge. We will now see his well-known figure on the road. He is training hard in preparation for the big wheel race at the Exhibition, to be held this month. He has every hope of getting into form again and repeating his former successes. His ambition is to get to the front and fight for King and country.

In the end, the Honour Board listed 86 Club members, 16 of whom died. 

Monday, 27 August 2018

Mud and Blood - and 'Pompey' Elliot

There's a new play out about 'Pompey' Elliot, written by Moonee Ponds writer Meg McNena and performed at the Clocktower Theatre.

'Pompey' Elliot attended many local events, including the 1919 Dinner for Returned Soldiers at Coburg Town Hall. You can read about that here. He was also at the planting of the Memorial Avenue of Trees at Coburg Lake Reserve, which you can read about here.

If you live locally, this is a 'must attend' event.

Thanks to Lenore Frost and her The Empire Called and I Answered blog for publicising what will be a very special event.

Check out the Clocktower Theatre's website for further details.

Saturday, 11 August 2018

Female Relatives Badges

A World War One Female Relatives Badge

Recently Lenore Frost posted an interesting piece regarding Female Relative Badges on her blog 'The Empire Called and I Answered'. You can read it here.

Not too long ago, I was shown another badge - a Mother's badge - that was worn by a local Coburg woman - either Emma Ashcroft or Maria Templeton. You can read more about the Ashcroft and the Templeton families lives during WW1 and beyond here and here.

Image courtesy Jean Taylor

As we look back on the years of World War One, our focus is mostly on the soldiers who went off to war and it is easy to forget the sacrifices of those left behind. These badges, and others like them, are reminders to everyone that mothers, sweethearts and wives all made their own important contribution to the war effort. 

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

1834 Private William Tardif, 7th Infantry Battalion, 4th Reinforcements

William Tardif was the eldest of six children born to William Reilly Tardif and Clementina Ross between 1893 and 1905. He was born in Wedderburn, a small rural town in Central Victoria. His mother was from Wedderburn, his father from Eaglehawk.

Wedderburn High Street, circa 1906. Image H90.140/1130. 
Image courtesy State Library of Victoria. 

His parents married around the same time they moved to Brunswick, in 1903, the year their fifth child Florence was born. One more child was born in Brunswick – Clarence Hector (known as Hector) – in 1905.
In October 1906, William Reilly Tardif, aged only 36, died of pneumonia at the Melbourne Hospital. He left a destitute Clementina to raise their six children. The newspaper headlines declared ‘A Bequest to the State: Six fatherless children’. The children were boarded out to their mother and remarkably she kept her family together. Clementina had pleaded with the court to keep the children: ‘She could not part with her children, but could pull along if they were boarded out to her.’ (Coburg Leader, 20 October 1906)
They remained in Brunswick, where William Claude Tardif, a trucker, enlisted on 5 January 1915. He was 21. On 16 May 1915 he joined his battalion (the 7th) on the Gallipoli Peninsula but by early July he had been sent to the No 1 Australian Stationary Hospital on Lemnos with epilepsy.

The tents of the No 1 Australian Stationary Hospital, Lemnos, which the Allies used as a base during the Gallipoli campaign. Image C02290. Image courtesy Australian War Memorial. 

No 1 Australian Stationary Hospital, Lemnos. Image C02263. Image courtesy Australian War Memorial.

William Tardif returned to Australia in September 1915 and was sent to the newly opened Soldiers’ Convalescent Rest Home at Clifton Springs for treatment. 

Clifton Springs Hotel, c1914-1916. The hotel was used as the Clifton Springs Soldiers’ Convalescent Rest Home from December 1915. Image H2002.19892. Image courtesy State Library of Victoria.

Although Major J. Mitchell, the CO of the Rest Home wanted him to stay and work as an orderly, William remained there until at least February 1916, but then returned to the family home in Brunswick.

 Pages from 1834 Private William Tardif’s war service record, Courtesy National Archives of Australia.

The family moved to Coburg and for a while William and his mother survived on a war pension. but he soon resumed his place in the workforce and by 1921 is listed in the electoral roll as a municipal employee. He continued to work as a driver.

The Tardif family lived at ‘Wedderburn’, 47 (later renumbered 59) Main Street, Coburg. His sisters married and eventually moved away. His much younger brother Hector (Hec), who was only ten when William went to war, remained in the area.
His remarkable mother, Clementina (Teeny), had kept her young family together under very stressful circumstances. She lived with her eldest son until her death in 1950 aged 76.
William remained in the family home. He died in 1965. He had never married, but survived the war and the condition it brought into his life and despite the prejudices of the times, remained in the work force and enjoyed what appears to have been a productive and happy life. Looking back on his war experiences and the development of what was then termed ‘epilepsy’, it is hard not to wonder whether his epilepsy was actually a form of shell shock. If you are interested, you can read an article on The Conversation website on the myths and realities of soldiers with shell shock here.

Sources:Australian War Memorial
National Archives of Australia
State Library of Victoria picture collection
Victorian Places website
Victorian birth, death, marriage indexes
Victorian electoral rolls
Sands and MacDougall Street Directories
The Conversation website
Bendigo Advertiser, 26 June 1894
Age, 13 October 1906
Age, 18 October 1906
Argus, 19 October 1906
Coburg Leader, 20 October 1906
Age, 27 October 1915
Evening Echo, 29 December 1915
Geelong Advertiser, 16 March 1916
Age, 19 October 1920
Argus, 17 June 1950
Age, 16 June 1953