You can let your imagination run free with your responses to this one. Street traders, roadside artisans, menders, cobblers, tools-of-the-trade, hand-colouring and lantern slides
This postcard has, I think, Dorothy Grace DAW (nee HINDE's writing on the back of the postcard) on the right hand side. On the left, very faintly, you can see some other writing. It says from Cousin Roy to Hinde family. So I imagine that is Roy's writing. How precious.
Roy enlisted in the AIF 25 August 1915 at the age of 21 years and 5 months. Less than a year later he was killed in action.
Roy was the sixth child of Alexander DUNCAN and Julia O'SULLIVAN. He was born 1894 and was their fourth son. Older siblings included William, Catherine, John, Rose, Maurice Alexander and younger brother Robert.
Roy's father Alexander was part of the big family of William Doig DUNCAN and Rose GORRIAN. He was the third eldest and his younger sister Alice Cecilia DUNCAN was my husband's great-grandmother. Roy and my husband's grandmother Dorothy (Dolly) DAW (nee HINDE) were cousins. Roy was about 7 years older than Dolly.
Roy embarked from Brisbane 30 December 1915 on the HMAT Itonus A50. He was single, Roman Catholic and earning 5 shillings a day.
|BRISBANE, QUEENSLAND. C. 1915. TROOPSHIP ITONUS (A50) DEPARTING FROM PINKENBA WHARF AS RELATIVES AND FRIENDS FAREWELL SERVICEMEN LEAVING FOR OVERSEAS SERVICE.|
It looks like a bit of a party doesn't it? Close to New Year's Eve I expect there was some excitement in the air.
At first Roy was assigned to the 7th Reinforcement of the 26th Battalion. He was taken on strength at Tel-el-Theba on 3 March but then, on 9 March 1916 he was assigned to the 48th Battalion. According to a letter from his father on page 12 of his file, Roy was a Signaller with C Company of the 12th Infantry Brigade of the 48th. Shortly after his transfer to the 48th he went to Hospital with the Mumps, then rejoined the Battalion at Serapeum on 28th March. It's a bit tricky reading the record but what I can make of it it indicates that he then went back to hospital with influenza. He finally joined the BEF at Alexandria on 2 June and made his way to Marseilles by 9 June.
I have been reading Scott Bennett's Pozières – The ANZAC story, CEW Bean's The AIF in France and the Unit Diaries on the AWM site to get some sense of what was going on at the time.
The potted history of the 48th on the AWM site here gives the best summary:
The 48th Battalion was raised in Egypt on 16 March 1916 as part of the “doubling” of the AIF. Roughly half of its new recruits were Gallipoli veterans from the 16th Battalion, and the other half, fresh reinforcements from Australia. Reflecting the composition of the 16th, the men of the new battalion hailed mainly from regional South Australia and Western Australia. The new battalion formed part of the 12th Brigade of the 4th Australian Division. It became known as the “Joan of Arc” (the Maid of Orleans) battalion because it was “made of all Leanes” - it was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Ray Leane, his brother was the adjutant, and several other relatives were scattered throughout the battalion.
The 48th’s first major battle on the Western Front was Pozières. Here, it was tasked with defending ground captured in earlier attacks by the 2nd Division and entered the firing line on two separate occasions - 5 to 7 and 12 to 15 August. During the former period the battalion endured what was said to be heaviest artillery barrage ever experienced by Australian troops and suffered 598 casualties.
The unit diary which you can read online here says the following about the day Roy died and this is the closest I can find to a possible account of his death.
HQ was very heavily shelled from 2.30 to 3.15 with systematic searching fire and considerable damage was done. Two shells burst in the sap close to HQ dug out and destroyed a lot of signal gear and telephones and also I regret to say killed 2 runners of 48th and 2 of this battalion and wounded 7 others either signallers or runners. A heavy barrage of HE shrapnel and indirect m.f. fire was placed on these HQ and Sunken Road tracks from 11pm to 3.15am.
On 17th February, Roy's father wrote to Senator Pearce, then Minister for Defence, as follows:
I write to ask you if you could assist me in getting my son's belongings that are over somewhere in France and to unable (sic) you in doing so I am sending you full particulars as to his name & date of death & as I am his father I would like to get all his little treasures whether great or small but it's all poor compared to my sad loss. I beg to state since my son's death there has been letters sent from Captain McKay that my son had written & not posted. Captain McKay said they were found in the personal
affaieffects. I also wish to state that no other member of my family are to get these things wihout my written consent. If you cannot get his things for me will you please write & tell me where I would have to write to . I remain Yours Faithfully Alexander Duncan.
Eventually the little treasures were returned. They comprised:
Metal cigarette case. Hair brush. Comb. Letters. Postcards. Notebook. Photo. Flynet. Cottonbag.
I don't know if these little treasures survive today, but I will treasure this hand coloured photo very dearly now I know its story.
For more treasures go here.
PS -A couple of very important things I forgot to say before....
Roy has no known grave. If you read the account of the battle I believe that many were just buried in the trenches due to the incredibly heavy bombardment in that battle. He is commemorated at Villers Brettoneux and I am grateful to Tracey and Doug for this photo on Flickr. What a powerful place that must be to visit.
According to Find A Grave here, his name is inscribed on the memorial. You can read more here.
If you go to the Australian War Memorial his name is on Panel 145 as per here. But most importantly, his name will be projected on the war memorial at the following times:
Tue 28 October, 2014 at 4:53 am
Thu 1 January, 2015 at 1:05 am
Wed 4 March, 2015 at 5:06 am
Fri 24 April, 2015 at 4:36 am
Sun 7 June, 2015 at 9:19 pm
Sun 19 July, 2015 at 9:45 pm
Thu 3 September, 2015 at 12:28 am
Tue 27 October, 2015 at 10:23 pm
I don't think I will be in Canberra at any of those times. I want to go in March but it will be at the end of March. If you want to see what it will look like, go here. Pretty impressive huh? What a great idea.