Sunday, 2 August 2015

More on Roy and Rosie's wedding

Remember Roy and Rosie and the wedding photo they sent to Auntie Annie? The photo that was bought at a Trash'n'Treasure in Coburg in June 1992?

Just in case, here it is again:

Thanks to those who responded to my previous post on Rosie and Roy’s wedding. The mystery of Roy and Rosie has been solved, thanks to all the detectives out there who got on the case!

I firstly followed up on Colin’s mention of the overseas service chevrons and found a very interesting article on how to make sense of the parts of a soldier’s uniform. You can read it here.

The most useful part is the paragraph that reads:
‘In January 1918 the AIF also approved the wearing of the overseas service chevrons which had been adopted by the British Army. These were embroidered or woven inverted chevrons worn above the cuff on the right arm. Due to a shortage of supply, some men had chevrons privately made. For each year of war service a blue chevron was awarded and those men who had embarked in 1914 received a red chevron to indicate that year’s service.’

It then became clear that Roy was an early enlistee and left Australia in 1914. There are four blue chevrons, meaning he served from 1915-1918, so it seemed probable that the wedding took place in 1919, on Roy’s return from overseas.

Lenore also noticed the pips on Roy's epaulettes, so I knew he was an officer, rank of Lieutenant. 

The colour patch on his sleeve was a little harder to make sense of, especially as the image is in black and white. Colin suggested it might be the 49th or 50th Battalion’s patch. The 49th Battalion’s patch was circular with dark green horizontally divided over light blue. The 50th Battalion’s was circular with purple horizontally divided over light blue. So either of these would work. 

While I was taking another look at this photo of Roy and Rosie from the Coburg Historical Society collection, I noticed in the bottom right hand corner the words ‘Dease Perth’. A quick visit to Mr Google and I discovered that the Dease Studios operated out of Barrack Street, Perth from the late 1890s and took many photos of WW1 service personnel.

The State Library of Western Australia has digitised a large collection of Dease Studios photographs taken between 1900 and 1927 and these can be viewed online. I started to look through them thinking I might find Rosie and Roy that way, but there are just too many of them, even for me!

Since then, though, others have got to work and we now have a much better idea of the story behind the photo. 

It was Paul who came up with the brilliant thought of posting the photo to the Great War Forum and within hours, we not only knew who Roy and Rosie were, but I had a link Roy's war service record and another to a newspaper article about their wedding which gave the names of the wedding party, including the other servicemen in the photo.

So thank you, Paul. I never would have thought of doing it!

Firstly, Roy's war service: He was Francis Roy Brown, who enlisted at Blackboy Hill in Perth and left in 1914 with the 11th Battalion and served on the Gallipoli Peninsula. With the evacuation of the Peninsula, the 11th was disbanded and many of the men in this battalion became members of the newly formed 51st Battalion and went on to serve on the Western Front until the end of the war. These were both West Australian battalions. Roy Brown's rank at the end of the war was Lieutenant. You can read his war record here.

As a member of the 11th Battalion, he appears in the iconic photo of the 11th Battalion on the Cheops pyramid.  He's near the very top middle of the photo and is reasonably distinctive because he's holding a white bag/shirt/hat or something. He is identified as number 70 in the photo. Even if you don't have any interest in the 11th Battalion, you should check out the website here

More than that, again through the Great War Forum, Paul supplied me with a link to a newspaper article that gives details of Roy's wedding to Primrose Mary (Rose) Barrington at the Wesley Church in Perth on 30 July 1919. The person who gave the information said they had been engaged since 1916. The two servicemen in the photo have been identified as 4727 Sgt Arthur Victor Royal Barrington, 48th Battalion (at the centre back) and 4380 Lt Charles Thomas Britt, 28th Battalion (on the right at the back). I'm not sure of Arthur (Roy) Barrington's place in the family, though, because the birth indexes show that he and Rosie were not siblings, so perhaps they were cousins. In any case, Roy Barrington remained in Perth after the war.

You can read the newspaper article here but I've published it below, too.

The Daily News, 11 August 1919, p.3.

Thank you Paul for taking the trouble to post the photo to the Forum and thank you so much to everyone who responded. 

So now we know that although Roy was born in Carlton, he married Rosie in Perth. Roy later lived in Sydney, but did make occasional visits to Melbourne, as this letter found in his war service file shows:

I have also discovered through looking at electoral rolls that the bride's parents moved to East Melbourne in 1919 and lived there until 1926. By 1933, when Rosie's father died, he was living in Hawthorn. Roy's parents remained in Perth, where his father died in 1941 and mother in 1956. They had been residents of Perth since the early 1900s.

Francis Roy Brown, son of Francis Henry Brown and Annie Sholl, was born in Carlton in 1894. He and Rosie had one daughter, Selma, who was born in 1921 but who died at the Children's Hospital the following year aged four and a half months. If the electoral rolls are to be believed, the marriage didn't last and by 1936 Rosie and Roy were living at different addresses in Perth and Rosie was making her living as a typist. She remained in Perth until her death in 1971.

Frustratingly, I cannot locate Francis Roy Brown on any later electoral rolls, but it seems that he died at Granville, NSW in 1943, the same year that he wrote the above letter where he says he ran a General Store at Maroubra Beach in Sydney. 

So where is the family's connection to Coburg? Maybe it was through Auntie Annie? Then again, maybe they had no connection to Coburg whatsoever and the photo's presence in the Coburg Historical Society collection is just a coincidence.

Back to square one …

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