Friday, 28 November 2014

John Gould of Young Street, Coburg visits Paris

The foyer of LÓpera, Paris. I found this postcard in an antique shop in Oatlands, Tasmania. It was dated March 1918.

Le Gare d'Est, Paris. Another postcard found in the same antique shop in Oatlands, Tasmania. It was sent home to someone called Earnest. The writing in pencil on the back of both cards is faint but I can just make out that they are from Earnest's brother Alf. I wonder what Earnest made of the splendour of the Opera House, in particular. A far cry from Oatlands, or Young Street, Coburg for that matter. 

It's a long way from Young Street, Coburg to Paris, France, but in November 1918 Sergeant Fred John Gould (known as John) found himself on the streets of Paris at the time of the Armistice. What an experience it must have been!

5387 Sergeant Fred John Gould. The photo is taken from page 7 of the Coburg State School Soldiers' Book, available online through Moreland Libraries' Local History Catalogue. Image courtesy Coburg Historical Society.

The eldest child of Frederick William and Adelaide (Pegler) Gould of 5 Young Street, Coburg, John Gould was a bank accountant when he enlisted in the 8th Infantry Battalion in January 1916 aged 22. As noted earlier, he was on leave in Paris from 2 November 1918 until 15 November 1918. We will never know what he thought of that experience, as it is noted in his entry in the Coburg State School Soldiers' Book that his diary was stolen from him in England, but the following photos will give you a bit of an idea of the scenes he must have encountered at the Peace Procession held in Paris to mark the end of the war.

Image courtesy AWM. Image H18147. Paris peace procession. Paris, France. 1918. Soldiers from many countries who fought with France in WW1 gather around a war memorial after the Peace Procession. (Donor French Official Photograph) 

Image courtesy AWM. Image H18132 Paris, France. 1918. American Army soldiers with flags flying in the Peace Procession. (Donor French Official Photograph)

Perhaps John Gould visited the Maxime Bar while he was in Paris.

Image courtesy AWM. Image H03656. Paris, France. 1918-08-20. A group of Australian, New Zealand and South African soldiers and a lady from the New Zealand Volunteer Service relaxing on leave with a drink outside the Maxime Bar. 

It is likely, too, that he visited the soldiers' club known as a 'Corner of Blighty in Paris'. It was a voluntary organisation for British soldiers, headed by Miss Lily Butler, CBE but it was frequented by Australians, too.

Image courtesy AWM. Image A01190. An informal group portarit of unidentified Australian soldiers outside 'A Corner of Blighty in Paris.

Image courtesy AWM. Image A01192. Soldiers relaxing in the lounge of the 'Corner of Blighty in Paris'. Some of the men are reading, while others enjoy the music being played on the piano. Four women are gathered around the piano. Note the elaborate chandelier.

Image courtesy AWM. Image A01193. Unidentified soldiers and civilian women enjoying the tea rooms in the 'Corner of Blighty in Paris'. A desk and chair are to the left, on the desk is a book, a newspaper, a clock and a bottle, probably an ink bottle and a vase of flowers. The woman in the centre of the photo in the extraordinary hat is Miss Lily Butler, CBE.

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