Thursday, 17 September 2015

Rupert Adams dies of war-related tuberculosis

4351 Acting Corporal Rupert William Edwin Adams, 21st Infantry Battalion, C Company

Rupert Adams, the eldest son of William Leonard Adams and Millicent Bawden, was born in Moonee Ponds in 1891. His brother Aubrey was born there five years later. Older sisters Edeline Florence (referred to as Hilda in some records) and Lillian (Lily) were born in South Yarra in 1888 and 1890.

Rupert Adams is remembered in Coburg Historical Society's Soldiers' Book. Image courtesy Coburg Historical Society.

By 1903 the family was living in Coburg where the youngest children attended Coburg State School. After school, Rupert worked as a clerk. He was a member of the local Lacrosse team and something of an athlete as he left his mother all his trophies ‘won in running’ when he died in November 1920. The family attended Holy Trinity Church. Little else is known of his life, except that the family lived at 6 Main Street, Coburg and his father William was a commercial traveller, and Vice President of the Commercial Travellers’ Association for a time.
Rupert Adams enlisted in July 1915 when he was 24 years old. He embarked in March 1916 and arrived in France the following month. However, he saw little action. By December 1916 he was sick in hospital. He returned to his unit but in mid-January 1917 returned to hospital with appendicitis and returned again and again with influenza, tonsilitis and pleurisy. Finally, in early November 1917, he returned to Australia with tuberculosis of the lung and was granted a pension.
By the time of Rupert’s return, his family had moved from Coburg and was living at ‘Brighton Grange’, Hawthorn Road, Brighton and it was there that Rupert’s younger brother Aubrey died on 20 January 1918 of pneumonia. He was 22 years old.  
Rupert’s health deteriorated over the next three years and he died at ‘Warawee’, Healesville on 15 November 1920 of tuberculosis contracted during the war. Considered a death caused directly by his war service, his parents, who were then living in Union Street, Malvern, received the Memorial Plaque known to many as the Dead Man’s Penny. He was 27 years old.
The Adams brothers are buried together in the Church of England section of the Brighton Cemetery.

Image courtesy Brighton Cemetorians

In the will he made the day before his death, Rupert Adams left a Sister Clara Bristow his ‘War Gratuity Bond with interest accrued at the time of my death’. Presumably she was his nurse. At first I thought she might also be his sweetheart but she was twelve years older than he was, so perhaps the legacy was simply a gift from a grateful patient.   
Rupert’s parents and unmarried sister Lily moved to Garden Vale before settling in Murrumbeena in the mid-1920s. His father William died in July 1937 aged 74. His sister Lily died the following year aged 48. His mother Millicent Matilda, who appears to have gone by the name Sarah Matilda in her latter years, died in 1943 and is buried with her husband in the Church of England section of Fawkner Cemetery.
Sister Hilda remained a mystery for some time until I discovered that her legal name was Edeline Florence. It was then that I found in one of those coincidences that feature in so much historical research that Hilda (Edeline) Adams married Edwin Endersbee, younger brother of Charles Endersbee who was the subject of my last blog post. The couple married in 1912 and lived in Thornbury and Preston. Hilda (Edeline) died in 1982, the longest-surviving member of her family and the only one to have children.

Friday, 4 September 2015

Charles Endersbee’s link to Tasmania’s convict past

Ship Manlius, attrib. Fitz Henry Lane, c.1865

Charles Endersbee’s maternal great-grandfather, Horatio Wilks, was born in Market Drayton in Shropshire. In April 1828 he was transported to Van Diemen’s Land for 7 years. He had stolen fourteen hats from a warehouse. It was his third conviction. He’d previously been in prison for stealing linen and stealing marble.

Twenty-nine year old Horatio Wilks left behind his wife Rosanna and children in their home city of Liverpool. Many years after his enforced voyage, his daughter Caroline made her own way to Australia with two of her children. It was 1856, thirty-two years after her father’s departure, and she was going to join her husband Thomas Endersbee on the Victorian goldfields. It is not known whether her father was still alive, or whether they ever met again.

It was not long before Thomas and Caroline Endersbee relocated to the Newlands area of Coburg where Thomas is reputed to have set up as the first quarryman in the area. Here they raised their family, including Thomas George, who was our soldier Charles’ father.

Thomas Endersbee junior married Sarah Jane Daley at Pentridge (as Coburg was then known) in October 1867 and they settled at 74 Bell Street, Coburg, just near the Public Hall and Shire Offices, where the Moreland Municipal Offices are today. He was a warder at Pentridge and in those times warders had to live within hearing distance of the bell at Pentridge, so this was a perfect location. The seven Endersbee children, including Charles, were raised in Bell Street.

In 1888, grandmother Caroline Endersbee (nee Wilks) died at West Newlands and the year after grandfather Thomas died, leaving an estate of £1,152. For the daughter of a convict, Caroline had done well. It is doubtful that the family who stayed behind in England could say the same.

2900 Private Charles Endersbee, 32nd Infantry Battalion (on nominal roll. (51st Btn, 7th Reinfs. on embarkation roll) 

From the Coburg State School Soldiers' Book, page 30.

In 1903 Thomas Endersbee junior died and Charles, our future soldier, lived at home for a while, before making his way to Western Australia, where worked as a labourer on the railways. In 1916, he was living at the 257-Mile Camp, Trans-Australian Railway in the Kalgoorlie area. In July 1916, aged 39, he enlisted at Kalgoorlie and set sail from Fremantle on 9 November 1916. He went to France in 1917 and survived the war without injury.
On his return to Australia in June 1919, he lived briefly in Rodda Street, Coburg before returning to Western Australia where he died unmarried in April 1946.
The following extracts from West Australian newspapers in June 1923 give  an excellent glimpse of what Charles Endersbee’s working life was like. He was a caulker and ring setter based a few miles out of Canderin, working on a pipe track on the WA goldfields water scheme. Here he is giving evidence in the WA Arbitration Court regarding Government employees’ hours and wages. (He was employed by the Goldfields Water Supply Department.)

The West Australian, 28 June 1923, p.7.

The Daily News (Perth), 28 June 1923, p.8.

An interesting sideline:

The Van Diemen’s Land convict records are a rich resource and have been the subject of the long-running project called Founders and Survivors.

One of the very useful things that can be done using the convict records, which are available online through LINC Tasmania and the AIF records, which are available through the National Archives of Australia is compare the physical descriptions of different generations.
The first thing I noticed is that Horatio Wilks, convicted and transported in 1828, was 5 foot 9 ½ inches tall, had brown hair and hazel eyes. About 90 years later, his great-grandson, Charles Endersbee, was described as being 5 foot 9 inches tall, weighed 204 pounds, had reddish hair and blue eyes.  

Many more comparisons between male convicts and their AIF descendants are possible and the Founders and Survivors project has been doing just that in its Convicts to Diggers project. The Victorian team, led by Professor Janet McCalman is now embarking on a new project entitled ‘Diggers to Veterans: Risk, Resilience and Recovery’. This project will cover the period after the war and investigate what happened to the men of the AIF on their return to Australia.