The whales didn’t like the weather either!

We are enjoying a three day break on Fraser Island, staying at Kingfisher Bay Resort. Fraser is the largest sand island in the world and is world heritage listed. It is 300 km north of Brisbane. The resort is an ecotourism resort with minimum interference with the environment. As I write I’m relaxing beside the pool.

It’s quite breezy so not many people are brave enough to be swimming.

The island is 120km long by 20km wide. The original people here were the ‘Butchella’ people and their name for the island was gari which means paradise. One of the fresh water creeks, Eli Creek, flows over 80 million litres of fresh water into the Pacific Ocean every day.

Yesterday we went on a whale watching cruise from the island. It was very windy which meant it was quite rough. The catamaran took us up to the northern end of the island where there is a sheltered bay on the mainland side. It’s called Platypus Bay and the humpback whales like to stop there for a week or so to rest and to teach their calves some life skills. The lungs of a humpback are the size of a small vehicle and a calf can drink up to 500 litres of milk per day. They can hold their breath for up to 45 minutes and the tail of each is unique like our finger prints.

We saw several pods of whales and some were quite close to us but they weren’t doing any of their party tricks. No clapping or breaching so this was very disappointing.

The wind was very strong and the waves were quite big so our little cat was bouncing a lot. My arm and leg muscles all felt very tight last night as they’d worked very hard just hanging on. It was quite exhausting. Quite a few people were ill but not us, fortunately.

It wasn’t safe to unload us at the island because of the wind so we were taken to Urangan on the mainland and then bussed to the ferry and brought back to Kingfisher by ferry. We have a voucher to do the cruise again because of the weather so hopefully we will get that chance on a better day when the whales want to play.

But we have seen whales. I can’t say we enjoyed the day but we endured the day and we did see whales.

A pleasant day at Brisbane’s Southbank”

This weekend was the Regional Flavours promotion of Queensland produce at Southbank, the site of Expo 88 beside the Brisbane River. As you know, we do enjoy our fresh food and visiting the fresh food markets in Europe.

So yesterday morning we caught the train from our local station at Lota for the 35 minute ride to Southbank.

When we arrived we found that many others had arrived before us and the market stalls were very busy with queues to buy goods at most of them. The regions of Queensland had displays of both fresh food and goods produced in the region from that.

We weren’t tempted to buy much as we didn’t have the car. I lived in The South Burnett for ten years and so bought a bag of curry flavoured peanuts for old times sake. Kingaroy is famous for its peanut van which sits beside the main road into town and sells peanuts with many flavours.

You could buy a stemless plastic recyclable wine glass for $5 and visit the area which showcased the many wine-producing companies of Queensland for tastings. We do not really enjoy tasting many wines in quick procession so we didn’t bother with that.

Many stalls were selling food for eating on the run- everything from berries to ice cream to chicken wings to camel milk and camel cheese to sliders and tagines. There didn’t seem to be an area where you could sit down to have a proper meal within the Regional Flavours displays and since we like to sit down and enjoy our food, we ate at one of the local restaurants, French Martini, where we both enjoyed moules cooked in white wine and lemon with a baguette. I also enjoyed my glass of French Chablis. The moules were delicious but the baguette was quite disappointing – not up to the standard I expect of French breads. We sat and enjoyed ourselves over our leisurely lunch. I felt quite disloyal eating at a French restaurant on this day but consoled myself with the thought that the mussels would have been local.

After lunch we wandered back alongside the river to South Brisbane Station, enjoying the lovely ambience of Southbank where so many families enjoyed the artificial beach and the parklands.

All in all, a very pleasant few hours!

Loved reading about some of my female ancestors

I’ve just read Struggle and Suffrage in Swindon – Women’s Lives And The Fight For Equality by Frances Bevan.

My first contact with Frances came about a few years ago when I searched for Radnor Street Cemetery on Facebook and her name popped up. I found that she researches the lives of the people buried in this old cemetery and writes their stories. She also leads tours of the cemetery on one Sunday per month through the warmer months. The cemetery is in Swindon, a railway town in Wiltshire about a ninety minute drive west of London. Consequently I can’t go on the tours but I can read her stories and since many of my Alley family, my paternal line, are buried there I really enjoy reading them.

In fact, it was through communicating with Frances that I found and have met some cousins who are very special to me. When Frances asked me if I knew Wendy Burrows who was also searching for information about Frederick Alley, it lead me on the journey to find my cousins. We went to Swindon where Frances, Wendy and her husband, Frank, David and I enjoyed a wonderful day together. We have since met and stayed with my lovely cousin, Kay Prosser, and her husband Ben in Victoria on Vancouver Island and they have been to stay with us in Brisbane. When you discover at 52 that you were adopted, finding and meeting and becoming close to your birth family is very special. It gives you back your sense of identity and you know where you fit in the world.

Reading about the women in my family in Struggle and Suffrage in Swindon is also special and I really appreciate the work that Frances does. My Grand Great Uncle, George Richman Alley had one son and seven daughters. The daughters are pictured Below. Amelia Annie Alley and her sister, Ethel Gertrude Alley had a millinery business at 90 Victoria Road. Ethel Gertrude Alley married William Hewer and they ran the Oddfellows’ Arms. The youngest sister Eva married George Babington and they opened a drapery store next door to the milliners. Mabel Alley was awarded the British Empire Medal for Meritorious Service in 1960 as she was sub Post Mistress at Westcott Place for more than fifty years.

Emma Louisa Hull, née Alley, another of the sisters, was a member of the Women’s Freedom League and was active in the fight for the vote for women. She was arrested twice and imprisoned for short times.

Eileen Kostitch, née Babington, was the daughter of Eva Alley & George Babington fought with the Yugoslavian forces against the Germans in World War II. She died there of ill health and is buried in Western Bosnia.

I think there have been some amazing women in my family!

Details of life in Swindon and of the women who fought for women’s rights can be found in this well researched book. I found it fascinating.

Oceania Cruises wows us again!

A couple of weeks ago we received an invitation to a luncheon from Oceania Cruises. We thought we’d go along ….. It would probably be finger food and we’d stand around for an hour or so, trying to juggle glasses of wine and plates of food as we chatted to fellow Oceania cruisers before hearing the promotional messages but it would be OK.

So we caught the train into the city, found 480 Queen Street and caught the lift to level 4 and entered Otto Ristorante, a beautiful Italian restaurant with a view of the Brisbane River and the Story Bridge.

This was a special, sit-down, a-la-carte meal with lovely wines. It was Oceania thanking some 60 of us for being loyal Oceania cruisers. The food was delicious as you would expect of a company which promises the finest cuisine at sea. What’s more, they did not use it as an opportunity to sell more cruises.

We were very impressed with the restaurant too. It is a beautiful venue and the food and the service were great. We’d like to return.

So, thank you Oceania. We really enjoyed ourselves.

An enjoyable afternoon at the movies with Red Joan

Last Thursday we went to the movies at Cineplex Victoria Point to see Judi Dench in Red Joan and we really enjoyed it. This is our favourite movie theatre with very comfortable seats and plenty of room to stretch your legs and it is so much cheaper than other theatre chains. Parking is easy too. So why would you go anywhere else?

The movie is based on a book of the same name by Jennie Rooney inspired by the life of Melita Norwood who was a secretary at the British Non-Ferrous Metals Research Association. In the movie, Joan is befriended by communists whilst studying physics at university. She becomes secretary to a physicist researching the atomic bomb and leaks documents to her friends.

The movie begins with the arrest of the elderly Joan who is played by Judi Dench. We thought it was a great role for her and we really enjoyed the movie.

A pleasant week in Ayr, North Queensland

Last week we flew to Townsville where my daughter picked us to drive us to Ayr where she teaches Japanese. It was Friday night so first we went to the CBar on the Esplanade in Townsville for a Friday night drink. For dinner, we chose to go to A Touch of Salt which turned out to be a great choice. I really enjoyed my sand crab and scallop dumplings although David wasn’t overly impressed with his beef short ribs. Jac had vegan dumplings and they were good too.

Ayr is about an hour south of Townsville usually but, at the moment, roadworks are slowing it down.

Staying in Ayr is very relaxing. It’s a small country town and everything is within walking distance. Everyday we would wander up the street to our favourite coffee shop, Chill, for our caffeine hit. We went to the movies to see Rocket Man which we all enjoyed. I usually manage to find something that takes my fancy in the little boutiques and this time, I found a groovy, bright comfortable pair of pants that were actually made on the Gold Coast.

I visited the Japanese classroom at one of the school and it looks a very inviting environment in which to learn about the language and culture of Japan.

It was a lovely week staying with my daughter and I look forward to returning soon.

A fictional tale about the workings of the legal system in the USA

I think it is probably twenty-five years or so since I first read a novel by John Grisham and I remember particularly enjoying The Pelican Brief and The Client amongst others. He was one of my favourite authors.

A couple of weeks ago I found his 2017 novel, The Rooster Bar in our bookshelves so I decided to read it. It’s a story about three final year law students in America, each of whom have racked up a $200,000 loan for their university fees. They’ve been conned into attending a second rate law college and are unlikely to ever be able to repay the loan as they have no hope of getting a job in a law firm.

They decide to practice law illegally without the qualifications and that is where the trouble starts.

I enjoyed the book but it wasn’t one of my favourites. I wouldn’t want to read it again and I wouldn’t recommend it to you.

Here he lies……….

This is a story about another of our relatives whose WWI story we followed when we were in France last month – Robert WACHMAN, David’s second cousin once removed.

Robert was born in Dublin Ireland in 1894 to Moshe WACHMAN and Seina (Sina Tzia bat Rachel Leah) JACKSON. This gets a bit complicated but Seina’s mother was Rachel Leah Wachman who married Urel Jackson. Rachel is the sister of David’s great grandmother Tsipe Wachman. If you’ve been following my blogs for a while, you’ll remember that this was the massive brick wall I had in trying to discover the link between Moshe and Tsipe. Well, we think there is a double link in that Seina is Moshe’s cousin. Anyway, as I said, that’s complicated. Enough to know that David and Robert WACHMAN are definitely cousins.

Moshe was born in Tels Lithuania in 1865 and Seina in 1871 in Memel (now Klapedia) Lithuanis. Somehow they both arrived in Dublin where they married in 1885 and started their family. Robert had two older brothers also born in Dublin – Abraham (1891) and Simon(1892). The family then migrated to Capetown South Africa where they had four more children – Edward (1899), Harry (1901), Albert (1903) and Saidie (1904).

They then migrated to Australia arriving in Albany Western Australia in May 1905. Ernest was born in Broken Hill on 7 May 1907 and Betty was born in Australia somewhere in 1909.

So, now to Robert, himself. in 1914 at the outbreak of war, he was a traveller, according to his army record. We presume that means what we used to call a “commercial traveller” and we get a further clue from an item in the Melbourne Herald on 28 May 1914 stating that he and his brother, Simon, applied for a patent (No 12757) for a “push coin vending machine”. I am unable to find further information on the success of this patent and I wonder if anything came of it.

He enlisted in the AIF at Blackboy Hill, east of Perth, on 25 November 1915 when he was 21 years 8 months old and living at 258 Newcastle Street Perth Western Australia. On 10 February 1916 he is shown as being a member of the 16th Battalion 15th Reinforcements. Blackboy Hill seems an interesting place. It was the birthplace of the Australian Infantry Force (AIF) in Western Australia and over 32 000 men did their basic training there for about 10 weeks before heading for Egypt or England. Because of the number of casualties on the battlefields, some battalions had up to 27 reinforcements of 100 men in training here, ready to head overseas. Robert was 5ft 7ins (170cm) tall and weighed 158lbs (72kg). He had black hair, brown eyes and a dark complexion and was of the Jewish faith and he noted that he was a British subject. I think this is because his father was naturalised in South Africa when he was still a minor. His next of kin was his mother, Seina who was living at 137 Lake St, Perth.

On 12 February in Freemantle he embarked on the HMAT A28 Miltiades and he shows on the Australian War Memorial Embarkation roll number as 23/35/3. He joined the 14th Battalion 16th reinforcements on 13 February 1916 and he disembarked at Port Suez on 11 March 16. On 14 May 1916 he was allotted to the 12th Training Battalion at Tel-el-Kabir and it was here that he was awarded 28 days punishment on 28 May for refusing duty and insolence to a Non-Commissioned Officer.

He was transferred to the 48th Battalion, part of the 12th Brigade 4th Division, on 2 June 1916, the day that he embarked on HMT Caledonia at Alexandria. He arrived in France at Marseille on 9 June and they went to the Nursery Sector, to an area around Bailleul, a French Flemish town close to the border with Belgium. The Nursery Sector was so named because it was supposed to be relatively quiet and an area where units new to the Western Front could be sent to get ready for trench warfare. Whilst here they visited the front line trenches at Houplines. In July they were under heavy shelling form the Germans in the Fleurbaix area and were moved by train from Bailleux to Doullens, about 100km south in the Somme.

In July 1916 there was intense fighting around Pozières in an attempt to capture Old German Lines (OGL) 1 & 2. By August 6 and after 10 days of fighting, the Australian 2nd Division had lost 6848 officers and men and it was replaced by the Australian 4th Division which included the 48th Battalion and Robert Wachman. On 8 August, they captured OG1 & OG2 but suffered heavy casualties with 102 killed, 404 wounded and 76 missing in action (MIA). Many were shell shocked and the battalion numbers were very low. They were moved to Albert on 16 August and marched to Warloy Baillon and then back to Albert but by the end of the month they were back near Pozières attacking Mouquet Farm.

On 2 September they were moved back to Albert and from there travelled to Belgium where they had huts and tents, were able to wash and change their socks. What a relief that must have been! They had a church parade – I wonder if there was a Rabbi amongst the chaplains? In October they were at Vierstraat in Belgium at the front but were not in the action. They were billeted in Boeschepe and then moved to Villers sous Ailly where they were also billeted. They were cleaning up the streets and here they were able to attend a concert which was held in a barn.

November saw them moved from Villers sous Ailly to Berthencourt where they were billeted and underwent training and then moved to Vaux which was a good area where they underwent training and even played football. They were then moved to Dernancourt where the billets were poor and extremely dirty. They were cold and wet. Then they moved to Fricourt and then to Switch Trench at Flers which was a very bad area where they dug trenches in the mud and water. They saw action at Flers and here conditions were so bad it was not possible to give the men a hot meal whilst in the firing line. Rain was torrential and the mud was up to the men’s knees. This was the start of the worst European winter for 40 years. To move from rear camps up to the front line with full pack on, the men could take 6 hours to cover the 3 kms so bad was the weather and the mud. Sleep was impossible in the trenches and men could have to remain standing for the full 24 hours as they couldn’t lie in the mud.

The 48th then moved back to Mametz in the mud over bad roads. In December they were in Dernancourt where they were visited by General Birdwood, the British Officer who was in command of the Australian and New Zealand Forces at Gallipoli and on the Western Front. The Battalion was moved to Flesselles and then to Vigancourt and in both places were billeted.

On New Years Day 1917, the Brigade held a sports day and the 48th was the successful battalion winning most events. On 2 January, they marched to Franvillers, a distance of 14 miles in full kit in 6.5 hours. The official war diary states that the men marched well – no one fell out. On 3 January, they marched from Franvillers to Dernancourt in 3.5 hours and again, no man fell out. On the 5th they marched for three hours to Fricourt along roads that were very difficult to march on and again no one fell out. Here they were joined by the 25th reinforcements. On this day, Robert Wachman is promoted to Corporal (Temporary). On the 6th, they marched to Bazentin, back near Flers, and took up lines near Gueudecourt. They moved forward then to support the lines at Bulls Road.

The war diary for the 8th is very interesting to read. All cooking was done in Flers and carrying parties carried the two meals per day to the men in the trenches. This took 3 hours each way each meal. The men were also given hot soup at 3am. Their wet socks were sent back daily and dry ones provided. On the 9th, an easier route was found for the carrying parties and the return trip took only 2.5 hrs. There was heavy artillery fire from the German lines.

On the 10th, it appears that there was debate about how the meals should be delivered efficiently but there is conviction that without hot food helping to keep the men warm and fed, they would not be efficient. Army rations would not be enough. On the 12th enemy artillery fire is heavy and three men are killed – one is buried for 7 hours under debris. Some men are suffering from trench feet with the extreme cold even with the dry socks.

By January 12, the problem with trench feet had become worse with two men evacuated. The other sufferers go to the Battalion Rest Station where the Medical Officer is pleased with the results of a new powder they have been issued with. The porters carrying supplies leave at 5pm and finish their second trip about 5am as it all has to happen under the cover of darkness. Three men are evacuated with mumps. The 15th saw heavy shelling and headquarters was hit and a store containing gum boots was blown up. After 10 days at the front, the 48th was relieved by the 47th at 7:45pm. The men moved to Brisbane Camp and there was a heavy fall of snow.

On January 19, fatigues arrived and all men had a bath and a clean set of clothes. All rifles were cleaned and inspected. I can’t begin to imagine how good that must have felt. I imagine it took a lot of soaking and scrubbing to remove the mud from their poor tired bodies.

On 24th they moved into Bazentin Camp where it was still very cold and the snow was still on the ground. The men worked on the roads and the rail tracks. The diary of the 31st states that the Australians are not used to the extreme cold and they need sufficient fuel to allow them to have a stove to keep them warm and get them ready for their next tour of duty. The lack of sufficient food and heating is not good.

In February, the 48th continued with the railway work and moved to the Albury Camp, to the Flers Sector and then to Bulls Trench and back to Mametz.

During March the weather was still extremely cold and the men were busy cleaning arms and equipment and training. They were wet and cold. On March 17, Robert Wachman was promoted to Corporal.

On 1 April, they marched 6 miles into to an area near Bapaume with full pack and one blanket. It was wet and cold. The men then worked on fatigues. The officers undertook some training on the 5th and then inspected the frontlines at Bullecourt and Noreuil on the 6th. They arranged to relieve the 52nd and did so on the 8th. The next day was quiet and some patrols went out into enemy wire at Bullecourt and discovered that the barbed wire was strong. Bullecourt was part of the German’s defence lines known as the Hindenburg Line and the Allies wanted to break through thi s line

On April 10, the 46th and 48th Battalion were ordered to attack enemy lines on a frontage of 600 yards. The battalions were to be in position to attack in conjunction with the tanks at 4:30am. There was to be no artillery fire so as to surprise the Germans. But the tanks failed to appear and orders to retire were given at 5:30. This had to happen in daylight in full view of the enemy. There was a barrage of enemy fire and five men were killed and 17 wounded.

The attack on Bullecourt did take place on April 11. It was timed to occur at 4:20 but the tanks were late and slow at moving forward so the 48th couldn’t attack until 6:19. This meant that the men were exposed to heavy rifle and machine gun fire and the battalion suffered heavy losses – 14 Officers and 421 men. They breached the enemy position and held it for 70 minutes despite the withdrawal of the other battalions on their flanks. They retired in an orderly manner but were unable to collect the wounded and the dead. A very sad day for Australia.

Sadly, Corporal Robert Wachman was one left behind. He was reported Missing in Action (MIA) on 11 April 1917. He was one of the 3000 casualties of that battle. Another 1170 men were taken prisoner.

The field at Bullecourt where it is thought that Robert’s body lies.

His brother Simon who was in the Transport Section of the 44th Battalion was making enquiries in July 1917 to try to find out what happened to his brother.

His mother, Seina, was his next of kin and on 23 January 1918 she wrote to the army requesting information on Robert’s whereabouts as she had been informed that he was MIA. She received an answer on 30 January saying that there was no further information.

It wasn’t until the 8 March 1918 that Simon received notification that Robert had been killed on 11 April. The Australian Red Cross Wounded and Missing Enquiry Bureau Files contain a statement by Second Lieutenant Brockelberg that Corporal Wachman was badly hit and subsequently died at Bullecourt on 11 April 1917. It’s awful to think of those men lying wounded in that dreadful field and being left behind as their mates retreated.

His effects were returned to his mother on 21 February 1918. All she received were some letters and a book of views (postcards maybe?). She received a pension of 30 shillings per fortnight.

A memorial to the Bullecourt Digger
A digger wearing full pack at the Bullecourt Memorial

He was entitled to two medals: the British War Medal and the Victory Medal and although Seina was his next of kin, his medals were sent to his father, Moshe, on 23 January 1923 as that was the law at that time.

Robert’s name on the Australian War Memorial at Villers Bretonneux. Myriam of Walkabout Digger Tours and David Edelman are pointing to his name during our visit in April 2019.

Visiting the battlefields and war cemeteries of the Somme and learning the stories of those brave men who suffered so much in the mud and the cold under enemy fire is heartbreaking. The noise must have been deafening, the smell horrible, their homesickness overwhelming, the mud suffocating, the cold and wet intolerable….. How did they do it?

I wonder what Robert would have achieved if he had made it home? Would his patent for a push coin vending machine have been developed? What else would he have patented?

If you think about all the young men and women killed in wars and you ponder what they collectively could have achieved, it really is mind-blowing. What a waste!

One of so many young men who didn’t come home

Charles Brooke BURGESS was born in Werribee Victoria Australia around August 1893. His parents were Brooke BURGESS and Elizabeth HEATH and Brooke was the brother of my great grandfather, Joseph BURGESS. So Charles was my first cousin twice removed.

In 1914 Charles was working as a signwriter at Buckle Bros in Melbourne, having served a three-year apprenticeship. When war broke out in August 1914, the Naval and Expeditionary Forces were formed to assist the country in seizing or neutralising German territories in the Pacific and Charles joined this volunteer group on 14 August .

Charles in his naval uniform

On 1 July 1915 he enlisted in the Australian Infantry Forces 30th Battalion. At that time he was 5ft 5in tall (166cm) tall and weighed 10st 5lbs (54kg) so he was quite a small man. He had a fair complexion, fair hair, blue eyes and tattoos on both arms. His regimental number was 1047. He listed his religion as church of England. The 30th Battalion was formed in Liverpool NSW and was made up almost entirely of men from Newcastle and country NSW but one whole unit was almost entirely made up of former RAN ratings from Victoria.

On 9 November 2015 Charles was on the HMAT Beltana leaving Sydney and heading for Suez where he disembarked on 11 December 1915. On 18 March he was promoted to Lance Corporal. Whilst in Egypt the Battalion underwent training – it seems there was insufficient accommodation for them in France at this time. He left Alexandria on the HMAT Honorata on 16 June and disembarked in Marseille France on 23 June, having been promoted to Corporal on the 18.

A few weeks ago we were lucky enough to be able to tour the Somme with Myriam of Walkabout Digger Tours and she took us to all the relevant places and told us the story of his war. I’d like to share it with you.

The battalion was moved to the front and its first major battle took place at Fromelles on 19 July 1916. Initially, they were involved in providing carrying parties for supplies and ammunition but were soon involved in the heavy fighting. This was the worst 24 hours in Australia’s military history with 5533 casualties on one night. Brigadier General, H.E. “Pompey” Elliot stated that it was a “tactical abortion”. The 30th lost 54 men, Killed in Action (KIA), 224 wounded and 68 missing in action. What must have that been like for Charles and all the others? I can’t imagine!

During the rest of 1916 the battalion was rotated in and out of the front but took no part in any major action. Charles suffered from trench feet which must have been horrible. He was hospitalised and on 7 December 1916 he was on the hospital ship Newhaven at Calais being transferred to the 3rd London General Hospital. He stayed there until 30 March when he was transferred to the 3rd Auxiliary Hospital. Trench foot is a medical condition caused by long exposure of the feet to damp, cold and unsanitary conditions. It wasn’t until 4 May that he was released from hospital and given a furlough. On 21 May he was required to report to Perham Downs which was a command depot for men who had been wounded or were ill and had been discharged from hospital. He remained in England and on 17 January 1918 he marched into the overseas training brigade of the 30th Battalion at Longbridge Deverill in Wiltshire.

He left Longbridge on 7 February for Southampton and then onto Le Havre in the Normandy region of France and then to rejoin the 30th Battalion on 15 February. During this month the battalion was mainly engaged in improving the trenches in the area near Messines in West Flanders in Belgium.

In March, they were involved in raiding parties & training at Wulvergham Camp and were moved to Neuve Eglise then to Hazebrouck and then to Douleens by train and then by bus to Bus les Artois, Authie and Vauchelle in Northern France.

At the beginning of April 1918 the battalion was in Vauchelle and were training. They then moved to Bois de Gentelles (Genteel Wood) via Daours on 5 April where they were reinforcing the lines at Bois de Gentelles.

Bois de Gentelles in the distance where Charles was killed

On 7 April, Charles was behind the lines having a shave and a man called Medhurst was having a wash when an enemy plane flew overhead and dropped a bomb which killed them both and another man.

On the afternoon of the 7th they was buried in the local community cemetery at Boves by the Church of England Chaplain. Padre Hicks.

Charles’ headstone in the cemetery at Boves

The Australian Red Cross Society Wounded and Missing Enquiry bureau Files, 1914-18 War for 1047 Corporal Charles Brooke Burgess contain these eye witness accounts of his death.:

Burgess and Medhurst were out on a pack guard some time in April, they were killed outright by a bomb from an aeroplane sometime in April. There was every opportunity for burial. It happened in a wood between Blancy-Trombelle and Boves (near Villers-Bretonneux). Cpl Burgess shaving at the time and Medhurst was having a wash. (Informant was Dvr. H.L.Kay 2372, 30th AIF Transport, University Hospital, Southampton on 18 July 1918.)

Burgess and Methurst were together in the transport lines at Gentile Wood between Villers-Bretonneux and Boves when I saw them killed by an aerial torpedo about 11am on April 7th. They were buried that afternoon in two graves side by side. The service was taken by the Padre of the Battalion. A small cross was put over each grave but as far as I know not a battalion cross. I was quite close at the time and attended the funeral. Description: Corporal A Coy 1 Platoon. Came from Melbourne and been in Naval Reserve out there. Always called “Charlie”. (Informant was Pte Charles Edward Ellis, 2nd Platoon A Coy 30 AIF, Tapsbury St Albans. July 22nd 1918.)

In his will, Charles left his worldly goods to his mother. His effects were sent home to her,

Details of his effects from his war service record.

Wouldn’t I love to see those diaries! I wonder if Elizabeth kept them. Could they still exist in someone’s collection? I have so many questions. Who were the photos of? Did he have a girlfriend somewhere? Did he meet someone in the 14 months he was in England being treated for his trench feet and recuperating? I wonder did he use his signwriting skills to do directional signs for troop movements in France?

Searching on Trove, I found the following entries in the family notices of the Argus under the heading: DIED ON SERVICE

Family Notices (1918, April 18). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 1. Retrieved May 23, 2019, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article1653387

BURGESS.- Killed in action April 7, 1918, Corpl. Charles Brooke, dearly beloved eldest son of Brooke and Elizabeth Burgess, and brother of Clara, Mary, Harry, Jack, Jim, Maggie, and Annie, aged 24 years, after 3 years and 7 months active service. (Inserted by his loving father, mother, brothers, and sisters, 164 Melbourne road,North Williamstown.)

BURGESS.– In memory of our dearly loved nephew and cousin, Corporal Charles Burgess, killed in action, April 7, 1918.There is a link death cannot sever;Love and remembrance live forever.–(Inserted by Mr. and Mrs. J. Burgess, Tib, and May.)

BURGESS.- In loving remembrance of Cpl. Charles Brook Burgess, killed in action 7th April, 1918.”Underneath are the everlasting arms.”–(Inserted by George S., Lydia, and Amy S. Wilkinson, 36 Alma terrace, Newport.)

Thus, he was mourned by his family who received the following medals on his behalf after the war: 1914/1915 Star, British War Medal and the Victory Star.

A poor substitution for a loved son, brother and cousin!

Flying from Brisbane to Europe and return

We flew Etihad business class from Brisbane to Paris and Barcelona to Brisbane on our holiday in Europe. The holiday was great but how were the flights?

They were long, so long! Our journey to Paris was 28 hours, door to door. I don’t sleep too well on planes so that doesn’t help. Some people seem to be able to sleep the whole way. The lucky ones! I didn’t watch any movies as I couldn’t seem to find any that I really wanted to watch but I filled the hours by reading. I find it’s a great opportunity to lose myself totally in a good book. Even though I am retired, I don’t get that chance as often as I’d like.

On both routes we had a two hour stopover in Abu Dhabi. It’s not quite a long enough break if you want to have a shower and freshen up as we like to do. By the time we disembarked, walked to the transit area, found where the next gate was and then found the lounge, we had about an hour and that’s not quite enough. I’d rather that though than have a five hour lay over.

So what of the airline’s performance? On the way to Paris, the flights were on time but our departure from Barcelona was delayed because we had no crew. That wouldn’t have been such a problem if an announcement had been made saying that boarding was delayed but that didn’t happen. Boarding showed on the board so everyone rushed to the gate only to stand around for 30 minutes until the crew arrived and they prepared the plane.

I found it annoying that in Abu Dhabi, the home of Etihad, we couldn’t disembark directly into the terminal but rather had to negotiate stairs and then be bussed around the tarmac for what seemed miles. The same happened in reverse when we were leaving.

Checking in on Etihad in Barcelona is not easy. The taxi dropped us at our terminal but we couldn’t see the Etihad counter so we asked at information and the pleasant lady told us we had to go down two levels to counter 821. Well, we followed the signs, we thought, went down two levels and were out on the footpath. We eventually found our way back in and found the counter. It was a bare concrete area. Not very welcoming. All that, with all of our luggage, of course. After Check-in we then went back up two levels, found our gate and the lounge. It was breakfast time and we were hungry by this time but there was very little food to choose from. What was most disappointing for me was the lack of any dairy-free milk to have on my cereal and in my coffee.

Sleeping arrangements on the plane are ok. The bed is completely flat and so you can stretch out comfortably and I did manage about four hours sleep. David did much better. I do enjoy the beds on Singapore and Emirates where you have a mattress but this arrangement was satisfactory.

One meal is served on each leg and then there are all day offerings of things like omelettes, steak sandwiches, cereals, breads and pastries. Again, I prefer the food on Singapore Airlines but this was ok. However, still no dairy alternative on offer. Surely today, it should be standard practice to offer soy or almond milk.

Most of the crew have been very friendly and helpful but two seemed to find us an inconvenience when we asked for something.

One advantage of flying Etihad is that we can amass Velocity points which means we can travel more comfortably at home in Australia. This is the case with Singapore Airlines too.

We are so lucky to be able to fly business class and enjoy this comfort and service and Etihad have looked after us pretty well. I think though that should we be lucky enough to travel overseas again, it will be with Singapore Airlines.