Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Frank Leslie Riggs

100 years ago today, Frank Leslie RIGGS was killed in action.

The Riggs family was a well-known farming family in Gawler. Frank was born on the 23 June 1892 at Gawler West to James Parker Riggs and Emily Jane Congdon. He was a 23 years old blacksmith when he enlisted on 26 July 1915. He had previously served seven months as a volunteer in the Senior Cadets. 

He embarked on the Benalla on 27 October 1915 at Adelaide. He sailed to Egypt where he joined the 50th Battalion. Frank made corporal on 12 March 1916. He sailed from Alexandria to Marseilles, France. After arriving in France on 11 June 1916, the 50th Battalion fought in its first major battle at Mouquet Farm between 13 and 15 August and suffered heavily.

Frank was killed in action on 16 August 1916. He is buried at Moquet Farm, and remembered on the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial.  

His personal effects of brush, kit bag and fountain pen were sent to his mother in Broken Hill in 1918. 

Frank and his brother Harold were well known in musical circles in Broken Hill and Gawler.

Lest we forget! 
Photograph from chronicle newspaper 30 September 1916 p.46

Thursday, August 4, 2016

The name of my town is Virginia


The name of my home town is Virginia.  It is a small township on the Adelaide Plains.  It is composed mostly of small cottages. There are two shops, one garage and service station, a hotel, post office, railway station, school and institute, where we celebrate Arbor Day each year. We have recently acquired a recreation ground. The bitumen road runs through the centre of the town.  Numbers of cars ran through in each direction from Adelaide to Port Wakefield and other places. About two miles from the township lies the Gawler River. It is shaded with large red gum trees, opossums live in the trunks of the trees, buds build their nests in the branches and others high up in holes of the trunks. Along its banks the land is cut into blocks for gardens, where they grow vegetables and fruit. In dry weather water is obtained by electric pumps from the river. Sand is also carted for building purposes. Hay is mostly grown here, and after it is cut it is stooked, put on wagons and taken to the haystack. It's a pretty sight to watch the men and horses at work; the smell of the hay is very sweet.

The Observer Thursday 29 January 1931 page 18

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Clarence Roy McLaren

100 years ago today, Clarence Roy (Clarrie) McLaren lost his life fighting in Poziers, France.

The McLaren family stem from Ardrossan. Duncan and Elizabeth Ann Adams had nine children mostly in Ardrossan; four or who enlisted in the AIF.

After the birth of Clarence in 1893, the family moved to Bridge Road, Gawler West. Just prior to the war Clarrie was a pupil teacher in Gawler in 1912 and studied at Teachers College in 1913. In January 1914 he was appointed to Wellington Road School as Assistant Teacher. He was re-appointed each year until July 1916, even though he had enlisted on 20 August 1914. He was given leave on that date without pay until his return from war. 

Clarrie enlisted on 20 August 1914 when he was 21 years old. He had served one year in the University Rifle Corp, and three years in Senior Cadets. 

He was assigned to the 10th Infantry AIF. Sailing on-board the Ionian he joined the Middle East Forces at Alexandria, Egypt. He was sick with otitis (ear infection) at Cairo. After recovering he fought at Gallipoli and sent sick to hospital on 9 May 1915. He re-joined his battalion at Gallipoli and on 25 September 1915 was appointed Lance Corporal. In December he was made Corporal and then Sergeant after the evacuation of Gallipoli.

Clarrie was killed in action in the field on 23 July 1916 at Poziers, France. He is buried in Villiers-Bretonneux, Picarde. He left everything to his mother, who received his effects which included a wallet, trinket, notebook, post cards, letter, pen, photographs, set of chess and board, watch, mittens and soap box. 

In November 1918 Mrs. McLaren wrote to the army from Evanston, Gawler asking them to request the women of France to continue to tend to her sons grave as they have been, as it would be a great comfort to her. She mentions that she has three son’s still doing their part in the war. The army replied that they would pass on the request and also that a photograph of his grave would be sent to her. His mother wrote twice requesting a copy of the death certificate.  

Clarrie was well known and highly esteemed in the area. He was amongst the first to land at Gallipoli. 

A headstone was erected in Angle Vale cemetery for Clarrie and David.

David Francis was born on 20 November1880 at Ardrossan. He became a blacksmith and enlisted in 1917, aged 36 years. David had previously tried to enlist but was turned down because of heart trouble. He travelled to Sydney but failed again. He tried again in South Australia and this time was successful. Initially he was placed on home service, a task he felt was for returned soldiers. He resigned and was then offered a position as a munitions worker and left Adelaide in November 1917. In England he worked in a large factory near Ramsgate doing aeroplane work in a flying school and later at Southampton.

Unfortunately David contracted Spanish influenza and died in the Southampton hospital.

Allan Bruce was a thirty year old Blacksmith when he enlisted on the 1 November 1915. He was placed in the 25th company as a Driver in France. He was invalided out to the UK with pneumonia in October 1918.

James Ross was assigned to the 9th Light Horse Regiment and fought at Gallipoli. After receiving an injury to his left eye he was returned to Australia. James was discharged on 10 October 1919. 

A nephew Alexander James McLaren died of wounds in the chest and foot on October 14th 1916 in France. Other cousins were also serving at the front, Private Lloyd Silas McLaren (of Normanville), Stanley Roy McLaren (of Forest Range), Lieutenant J H McLaren (of South Africa) and Sister Tilly McLaren of Western Australia.

 Lest we forget!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Craigmore Farm

'Craigmore' by Elders Real Estate
This beautiful stone homestead was recently sold at Uleybury.  At one time, the property known as Greentree Hill Farm and later Craigmore lay on 619 acre property.

A holding consisting of several sections (Section 4177 on which the house was built), 4178, 4174, 4175, 4179, 4180.  These sections were originally granted to several people, Robert Paterson, Thomas Ryan, Robert Thomson and John Ridley between 26 February 1850 and 2 June 1852.

By August 1859 Robert Paterson had acquired all these sections amounting to an area of 619 acres for £2,940.
Paterson owned the property until 31 August 1897 when he sold it to Melville Galbraith Smith a gentleman farmer of O’Halloran Hill.  It was not until September 1928 when Craigmore changed hands again, brought by Arnold Fraser Warren of Kingswood for £10,450.  In 1968 John Bellhouse Fuller Ifould brought ‘Craigmore’ selling it to Clement Raymond Viney and JM Viney in 1972.

In 1897 the property was consisted of ten rooms, and a cellar.  There used to be a well and a swimming pool which was later filled in. The house had been extended probably 1972 to mid 90s with a modern kitchen and extra bedroom and laundry area. 

Monday, June 27, 2016

William Parr Stevens

100 years ago, today William Parr Stevens died of wounds in France.

The Stevens family were pioneer farmers in the Peachey Belt area. John arrived in 1836 on the Buffalo when he was 27 years old. A market gardener and farmer he resided in Adelaide, Unley and the Peachy Belt. John married Ann Burgin and had five children. The eldest son Charles Bennet was born on the 20 August 1840 at Unley.

Charles followed in his father’s footstep, working as a farmer and labourer living at Peachy Belt. He married Elizabeth Parr in 1865. Charles and Elizabeth Parr had six children, three boys and three girls all born at Peachy Belt. The youngest, William Parr was born on the 10 February 1883.

William enlisted on the 19 July 1915, he was 32 years old, single and worked as a labourer. He left Australia on the 27 October 1915 for Egypt. He was transferred to the 4th Division Pioneer Battalion on the 18 March1916. In June 1916 he proceeded to join the BEF from Alexandria, Egypt to Marseilles, France. Pioneer Battalions were essentially light military combat engineers organised like the infantry and located at the very forward edge of the battle area. They were used to develop defensive positions, construct command posts and dugouts, and prepare barbed wire defences. These soldiers held many skills from building, construction and maintenance to road and track preparation. They could also, and did quite often, fight as infantry.

While fighting in the field, William received shrapnel wound in his buttocks and abdomen. He was admitted to the Casualty Station, but died of his wounds on the 27 June 1916. He is buried in the Bailleul Cemetery by the Reverend C. K. Whalley.

William’s effects were returned to Australia. They consisted of dice, letters, photos, cards, belt, Testament, Prayer Book, diary, writing pad, pipe, knife and coins. The memorial Plaque, Scroll and photos of the grave were sent to his father.

Lest we forget!

 Photo: Chronicle newspaper Saturday 15th July 1916 page 43