Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Troops marching down Sydney Road, 1915

Troops marching down Sydney Road to Broadmeadows Camp, c1915. 
Image S.9.1.2. Courtesy Moreland City Libraries.

I've written about the first men to leave for the front before. You can read about that here.

In the meantime, here's a photo from the Moreland City Libraries collection that I can't help feeling was taken around the same time (ie October 1914). The troops are walking along Sydney Road heading to Broadmeadows Camp. The camera man is facing south and there are lots of trees in the background, so I'm guessing that's Princes Park and we're somewhere in the vicinity of where Sydney Road widens to become Royal Parade. The other photos I've seen are further north along Sydney Road in Coburg, but this looks like Brunswick or even Carlton North to me.

Maybe someone reading this has some more information to add?

Wednesday, 24 June 2020

Robert Allum is awarded the Serbian Medal

Some family background

Thomas Henry Allum was born at Acton, Middlesex in 1848. His younger brother William was born there two years later. In October 1853, the boys, with their parents William and Marianne (nee Sharp), arrived in Melbourne as assisted immigrants. They made their home in Brunswick where eight more children were born.

In 1878, Thomas Allum married a widow, Irish woman Margaret Matthew (nee Doyle). She had married her first husband Hannibal Matthew in Adelaide in 1861 and had eight children by her first marriage, three of them born in Brunswick.

In late August 1877 Hannibal Matthew, a Brunswick stone-carter fell trying to get his horse started and the wheel of his dray ran over his chest. The accident happened in Sydney Road. He died a month later at the Melbourne Hospital. He was only 36.

A year later his widow Margaret married Thomas Allum and they had two children, one of whom (a daughter) survived childhood.

These were the days before formal adoptions and it appears that the Allums fostered two sons: Robert, born about 1888 when Margaret was 35, and Joseph, born in 1894 when she was 41. There is some confusion about whether they were both foster sons, although I think this is likely, because I have yet to locate a birth record for Robert who is identified in a number of places as a foster son, and Joseph is identified as a foster son in his attestation papers.

Both of Margaret Allum’s foster sons enlisted in World War One, as did Matthew Matthew, a son from her first marriage.

Matthew Matthew (yes, that’s his correct name) enlisted in Perth in March 1916 claiming to be 43½ years old. His was a short war. He arrived in France on 1 December 1916 and three weeks later was in hospital in Etaples with rheumatism. He was evacuated to England in February 1917 where authorities discovered his real age – 52. He was returned to Australia and discharged on 12 July 1917.

Margaret Allum (formerly Matthew, nee Doyle) died at Coburg in 1918 aged 75. Her husband Thomas Allum died in 1925 aged 77. They are buried at Melbourne General Cemetery.


The Allum brothers and the war

The Allum family had been living in Moore Street, Coburg for a number of years when 1037 Private Robert Allum, 22nd  Infantry Battalion (later transferred to Camel Corps), enlisted in February 1915. He served in the Imperial Camel Corps in Egypt for the whole of the war and was awarded the Serbian Silver Medal in September 1916.

Imperial Camel Corps members, Palestine, 1918. AWM. Image B00193.

Studio portrait of 1037 Private Robert Allum, 22nd Battalion, of Coburg, Vic., taken about May 1915. Image courtesy AWM. Image DA09088.


Herald, 15 September 1917.

After the war, Robert Allum lived for a time in Glenlyon Road, Brunswick East, but by 1965 he was a resident of the Frank March Keira Diggers’ Rest Home at Mt Keira, NSW. (via Wollongong). His seems a sad story. By then he’d had a stroke and couldn’t write. He’d lost his discharge papers, medals etc. when his two suitcases (presumably holding all his possessions) were stolen from him in a similar place in Sydney. In a Stat Dec signed on 23 Sep 1965 when he was in Garrawarra Hospital at Waterfall (NSW State Hospital for those with chronic diseases and diseases of the ageing), he states that his next of kin at time of his enlistment was his brother Joe Allum of Moore Rd., Mooreland (sic). He said he’d had his suitcases stolen about 8 or 9 months before at a Residential near Central Station. ‘I asked a Residential Porter to mind my bags and when I came back the porter and the bags were gone.’ Robert died on 19 October 1969.

He is remembered on the Moreland State School (2837) Roll of Honour and on the Town of Coburg Honour Board, WW1, 1914-1918, located at Coburg Town Hall.

DEPOT 2544 Joseph Allum, enlisted in 5th Infantry Battalion but discharged.

Joseph Allum enlisted in July 1915. His foster mother Mrs M. Allum is listed as his next of kin. He was discharged at Broadmeadows because he enlisted without his parents’ consent. Margaret Allum wrote in January 1916 that she had lived in the Coburg/Brunswick area for 50 years and that Joseph had attended the Moreland State School. ‘I have always brought him up to be honest and truthful. I have had a great deal of trouble to rear him as he was not a healthy child.’ In another letter she says ‘He is not fit to go away and I find it very hard for to let a boy go to his certain death, especially when he has not had my consent.’ End of story. Joseph stayed home. He died in 1971 aged 75, quite possibly not knowing what had become of his foster-brother Robert.


Thursday, 21 May 2020

Charles Kelynack - motorcycling and life in Paris

I first wrote about Charles Kelynack in September 2013 and you can read my original blog post here.

Since then I've heard from a Frenchman, Jérémie Petit, who has sent me some photos and documents that add to Charles Kelynack's story. So I thank Jérémie for his generosity.

I've also taken a closer look at the newspaper collection on TROVE, and as usual it's come up trumps.

I hope you enjoy finding out more about what sounds like a very adventurous early life.

Charles Kelynack, the motorcycle rider

This photograph comes from the Winner, 19 August 1914. It's a photo of a motorcycle race in progress. It was a 25 mile race from a mile outside Craigieburn to Wallan and back. The article goes on to tell us that ‘Kelynack got away well in his little two-speed Sunbeam. The healthy cackle of his exhaust must have been sweet music to his ears’… but later we are told that ‘Kelynack, the limit man, led all the way out, and was first round the turn at Wallan, but was to be seen soon afterwards on the roadside suffering from magneto troubles.’

Charles Kelynack, the soldier

When it came time to join up, it will come as no surprise that Charles Kelynack continued his love affair with motorcycles. As a newly arrived Corporal, he wrote from the Mena House Hotel in Egypt where he was based with his 'corps of cyclists and signallers' (he was part of the 1st Divisional Signal Company) describing a visit to the Pyramids. 

The visit was covered by the Herald and the Winner on 3 February 1915 under the sub-heading ‘Cyclists explore Pyramids with bicycle lamps.’ It begins ‘Motor cyclists will be interested to hear that the Pyramids have been explored by the light of an acetylene lamp. An interesting letter has been received from Corporal C.J. Kelynack, the well-known cyclist, who is now at Mena with his corps of cyclists and signallers.’ 

This is what he wrote:

Kelynack was not wounded during the war, although he became ill with measles and also had his appendix removed after being seriously ill with appendicitis in Egypt. The timing of his operation (reported in the Brunswick and Coburg Standard on 23 April 1915) suggests a lucky break in a way, because he was convalescing at the time of the ANZAC landing and missed the worst of the fighting on the Gallipoli Peninsula.

He went on to serve in France and by June 1916 he had been promoted to Lieutenant. He was awarded the Military Cross at the end of October 1917. Not long afterwards he was promoted to the rank of Captain.

Herald, 17 November 1917

Charles Kelynack, the married man

Kelynack married at St Martin’s Register Office, London on 11 January 1919. He was then in the 5 Divisional Signal Company and gave his address as the Jermyn Court Hotel, Picadilly Circus. He married Dora Kreemtianka, of Kensington Palace Mansions, Kensington Gardens, an artist. In later documents her address is given as Mrs D. Kelynack, 328 Rue St. Jacques, Paris, although she followed him to Australia after his return in August 1919.

Photograph of Charles and Dora Kelynack around the time of their marriage. Courtesy Jérémie Petit

Dora Kelynack practised her art while here in Australia, and appeared in numerous newspaper articles, but in October 1922 the couple left Melbourne and settled in Paris, described in one paper as 'their beloved Paris'.

Extracts from Mme Kelynack's scrapbook. Courtesy Jérémie Petit.

Kelynack, an accountant in the Defence Department in Melbourne before the war, established a business in Paris and in the early 1920s he wrote regularly from Paris for the Sporting Globe, on a range of sports such as boxing, cycling, swimming and motorcycle racing. 

The very last story published from him was in the Herald on 15 April 1926. The article, 'When snow falls on Paris', had been written on 2 February. Not long after (if my schoolgirl French hasn't let me down) he and his wife filed for divorce - on Bastille Day - 14 July 1926.

Divorce papers for Charles Kelynack and Dora Kucembianka. Courtesy Jérémie Petit.

Charles Kelynack, single man once more

Not long after the above copy of the divorce papers was made in June 1929, Charles Kelynack returned to the family home at 52 Shaftesbury Street, Coburg. His mother had died in September 1928. In 1930 his father, the sports journalist known as 'Kickero', retired. He had run the Herald's football section for 41 years, was a great all-rounder and also served as the paper's crime reporter for 40 years. (Herald, 11 October 1930). 'Kickero' died in 1936 and is buried at Coburg Cemetery with his wife Catherine. 

From this point, Charles Kelynack lived a very private life. He did not remarry and there are no references to him in newspapers after his return from Paris until his death (at the family home) on 23 September 1950 aged 55. 

Dora remarried in 1931, continued to paint and exhibit under the name Dora Bianka, and lived in France where she died in 1979 aged 84. 

Saturday, 9 May 2020

Herbert Victor Stait dies in the battle of Broodseinde in Belgium

Tribune, 29 November 1917

Advocate, 1 Dec 1917

Advocate, 22 Dec 1917

The above newspaper reports give a little background on 4200 Pte Herbert Victor Stait's war and the Roll of Honour Circular that his mother Mary Ann filled out tells us a little more about the man - he was a 28 year old baker who was born in North Melbourne and attended school in both North Melbourne and Brunswick.

He died on 4 October 1917 and is remembered on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial in Belgium.

He was remembered at a Memorial Service for the Fallen held in Coburg in February 1918 and a tree was planted in his memory (tree #111) in the Memorial Avenue of Trees at Coburg Lake Reserve.

Courtesy Coburg Historical Society.

Saturday, 25 April 2020

The first ANZAC Day is celebrated in Moreland, April 1916

The Australasian, Saturday 29 April 1916, p.49. The caption reads 'Anzac Day amongst the State Schools: Brigadier-General R.E. Williams addressing 1,400 scholars at North Park Reserve, Brunswick on April 20.'

This was the first Anzac Day and a number of newspapers reported on the Moreland State School commemorations. The Brunswick and Coburg Leader proclaimed it a 'colossal affair', and it seems that it was. The day started at the school with ceremonies on the school site then the teachers and students headed down to North Park Reserve for an impressive ceremony. The VIPs present included the Lord Mayor Sir David Hennessy, Brigadier-General R.E. Williams and Frank Tate, the Director of Education. That evening, back at the school, there was a musical evening for parents and relatives of past scholars who had enlisted.

There were ceremonies in other parts of what we now call Moreland. At 10.30 am that day, the recently opened Brunswick Technical School held its commemoration, with special guests the Mayor and Mayoress of Brunswick, Mr and Mrs Balfe. It was reported that Brunswick Tech was the only technical school in Victoria to celebrate Anzac Day.

Much further north, at Campbellfield State School, the children took part in what sounds like a celebration more than a commemoration. There were flags for each child, fireworks, sweets and nuts. The emphasis seemed to be on whipping up patriotic fervour rather than solemn reflection. (It was still three months before the huge loss of life at Fromelles.)

The Education Department took its role in supporting the war effort very seriously and struck an Anzac Medal for the occasion, planning to sell it to children on the day for sixpence then distribute it to the public at the cost of one shilling. The money raised would go towards the war effort.

Age, 19 April 1916

Age, 19 April 1916
Australasian, 29 April 1916, 6 May 1916
Brunswick and Coburg Leader, 14 April 1916, 28 April 1916, 5 May 1916
Punch, 20 April 1916

Thursday, 16 April 2020

Private A.A. Vial of DeCarle Street, Coburg

Herald, 19 May 1917

Arnold Vial and his brother Clarence both served in World War One, but as you see from this article, Arnold served with the South African Rifles and although I have not found proof, it seems likely that Clarence did, too. And because I have not found a post-war trail for Clarence, it may be that he died during the war, but I don't know that for sure.

The Vial brothers and their three sisters were born in the rugged tin mining area of Waratah on Tasmania's north-west coast to Samuel Vial and his second wife Harriet Bell. Not long after the birth of the fifth child, Clarence, father Samuel Vial disappeared to South Africa for a year or two before returning to Tasmania in November 1899. 

Four years later the parents divorced and a month after that Samuel Vial left Melbourne for Cape Town with three of his children - Mabel, Lily and Arnold. 

From then until the WW1 years there was a constant toing and froing of family members between Cape Town and Coburg. In 1910 Samuel married a third time in South Africa then his daughter Mabel also married there, so although the boys must have spent some of their school days at Moreland State School (their names are recorded on the school's Honour Board) their family ties were now firmly placed in South Africa.

After the war Arnold married and had four children. His father Samuel and step-mother Elizabeth lived in Witbank (now known as Emalahleni), in a coal-mining area east of Pretoria. Samuel died in 1946 aged 91. It is not known when either of his sons died.

Friday, 10 April 2020

Moreland Grove 'fayre' to raise funds for the Coburg Red Cross, 1917

Punch, 29 November 1917

Held at the Pavilion in Moreland Grove (now The Grove), the 'fayre' ran over three days and raised funds for the Coburg Branch of the Red Cross. Hopefully these stallholders had a very busy time and raised lots of money.

There were more photos of this event published in Punch, 27 December 1917. These are just some of them.

Mrs A. Wood (President), Mrs J.H. Ward (Vice President) and a group of early Victorians.

Mrs Rudrum's Flower Stall.

Mrs Hunter's Produce Stall

Mrs A. Wood (President) was very much involved in patriotic activities in the Coburg area. She had four sons at the Front. You can read about her war here and here

Mrs J.H. Ward's son Leslie, a stretcher bearer, was injured on 23 January 1917 about six weeks later. Mrs Ward's given names were Mary Jane. She's identified here by her husband's initials (he was John Henry), which was the custom then, unless a woman was a widow when she used her own initials. You can read more about her contribution to the war effort here.

Mrs Edith Rudrum's son Carl served and survived the war. He began  aLieutenant Arthur Carl Rudrum, 8th Infantry Brigade Train and later was promoted to Captain in the 5th Divisional Train, ASC. You can read more about Edith Rudrum's contribution to the war effort here.

Mrs Lavinia Hunter's sons Norman and Leslie were in the navy. Norman served on HMAS Sydney and witnessed the sinking of the Emden. You can read about that here