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A 1558 -- Cattle-killer, .455in, Mark I. Introduced for land service 2 March 1926. A pattern of the abovementioned cattle-killer has been approved to govern supplies. It is of heavy pistol design and is fired by trigger action, the service Cartridge, S A ball revolver being used. To load, press the thumb catch `A' at the right side of the body downwards, give the barrel a quarter-turn in a clockwise direction and draw it forward. The cartridge is then inserted into the chamber and the barrel reassembled. The fired cartridge case is removed, when the barrel is detached from the body, by pressing rearwards the sliding catch `B' at the top rear end of the barrel. Weight 51b. 13 oz. The Rod, cleaning, pistol, Webley, No.2 ([phi]A 1560) is used with this cattle-killer. (List of Changes in British War Material in Relation to Edged Weapons, Firearms and Associated Ammunition and Accoutrements, Volume V 1918-1926, published 1998 by Ian Skennerton, Box 80 PO Labrador 4215; website: -- reproduced by permission of the publisher.)

A recent single-owner collection auctioned at Christie's in Sydney included a number of military items of interest:

* A fine cased pair of officer's pistols the case with a paper label showing the engraved crest of Thomas Townshend (1732-1800). Townshend became Viscount Sydney and as Secretary of State in the 1780s was responsible for the planned settlement of Australia. Passed in -- expected price was $30,000.

* A mid-19th century five-pounder deck cannon, $4,700.

* An officer's sword, retailed by T T Jones of Sydney and presented to Captain (later General) Henry Chauvel of the Upper Clarence Light Horse, $7,050.

A Highland Officer's broadsword, 1828-pattern, engraved for Captain John Campbell, commanding No 1 Company of the Duke of Edinburgh's Highland Volunteer Rifle Corps, Sydney 1866-1877, $9,400. (Collectables, Sydney Morning Herald Money Manager, 26 Sep-2 Oct 2001).

The Soldier Career Management Agency, alias CARO, is relocating to Fort Queenscliff in November or December this year (Army, 21 June 2001).

A reunion for the 7th, 8th, 13th, 17th, 20th and 21st Light Horse regiments, their families and interested members of the public is being planned. Contact Michael Thompson, 84 Miller St, Tongala, Vic, 3621. Telephone 03 5859 0241. (Vetaffairs, Newsletter of the Department of Veterans' Affairs, June 2001).

The Office of Australian War Graves (OAWG) has available for sale an Australian World War I Battlefield Driving Tour kit at a cost of $10, including GST and handling. Contact OAWG at 02 6289 6527. (Vetaffairs, September 2001.

The New Zealand Government introduced into Parliament a Bill to grant posthumous pardons to four New Zealand soldiers executed during World War 1 for desertion. They were Pte Victor Spencer and John Sweeney of the Otago Regiment and Ptes Frank Hughes and John King of the Canterbury Regiment. In addition to granting a `free pardon,' the legislation provides that the New Zealand Government `shall take all reasonable steps to restore the memory of the soldiers ... and the esteem in which they were held.' Each of the desertion cases follows the same pattern: each soldier suffered what is now recognised as `shell shock', was patched up and returned to the front line. After repeated offences of AWOL, each faced a court martial and was sentenced to death. It is now recognised that shell shock is a seriously debilitating condition causing behaviour disorders, for which veterans of recent conflicts are being paid disability benefits. (The Volunteers, Journal of the New Zealand Military Historical Society, Volume 26 No 2). Joe says: When the Bill passed (by a vote of 112 to 5), it pardoned five soldiers. The fifth soldier executed deserves an item to himself. His story is an interesting illustration of discipline on the Western Front, with an Australian connection. Pte Jack (correctly, John) Braithwaite of Dunedin, New Zealand, enlisted in the Otago Regiment on 22 October 1915. Aged 33, he was formerly a journalist with the Sydney Bulletin. He embarked for France from Alexandria in April 1916, having been delayed in hospital at Suez with measles since February. After a couple of minor offences in France, he appeared before a Field General court-martial on 30 May 1916 charged with being absent from a Reveille parade and `stating a falsehood to an officer'. He was awarded 60 days Field Punishment (FP) No 2 and forfeited 60 days pay. On 17 June, while on FP, he went AWOL, was arrested by military police two days later, escaped, was re-arrested three days later, and when confined in the FP compound again escaped and was arrested. On 10 July, he was sentenced to imprisonment with hard labour for two years for these offences. On the same day, he escaped from his escort while on his way to detention and `deserted' for two further days. On 19 July, he was sentenced to a further two years imprisonment with hard labour, which he commenced to serve at No 4 Infantry Discipline Depot (a British unit). On 28 August, Braithwaite, with three Australian prisoners, intervened between a British S/Sgt and another Australian prisoner named Little. Little was being marched to the punishment compound because he had loudly and colorfully complained to the S/Sgt that there was no hot water in the showers. When reprimanded, Little said `Go and !@#$ yourself'. Braithwaite dragged Little away from the S/Sgt and took him to his tent, while the three Australians stood around the NCO and prevented him from following. On 11 October, all four soldiers appeared before a General court-martial charged with `joining in a Mutiny by combining among themselves to resist their superior officers in the execution of their duty'. In evidence, Braithwaite said that his motive in getting Little away to his tent was to prevent more serious trouble, as he had been given permission to petition General Birdwood on behalf of the Australian and New Zealand prisoners for release to go back to the front. The petition had gone and he was expecting an answer at any time. Other witnesses, who also mentioned the petition, corroborated his story. Council for the Accused declined to address the Court. The Judge Advocate and President decided that a summing-up was unnecessary. They proceeded directly to a finding of guilty and to sentence all four to `suffer death by being shot'. General Haig commuted the death sentences of the three Australians (Pte F W Mitchell, 5th Bn; Pte Bertie Le Guier, 14th Bn; and Pte Sidney Sheffield, 4th Bn, all AIF) to two years imprisonment with hard labour and confirmed Braithwaite's death sentence. He was shot at 6am on 20 October at Rouen. He is not commemorated in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force Roll of Honour and his name does not appear on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission registers. (Jack (John) Braithwaite was one of seven New Zealand brothers who volunteered. Two were KIA, two were permanently injured and repatriated to New Zealand during the war and the remaining two survived the war). (The Volunteers, see above).

The last known British Gallipoli survivor has died aged 106. Percy Goring, who had lived in Australia since 1948 when he and his wife migrated, died on 27 July 2001 in a nursing home at Bunbury, south of Perth. He was 18 when he enlisted in 1915. Australia now has just one remaining Gallipoli veteran -- 102-year-old Alec Campbell of Hobart. Alec was born in February 1899 in Launceston and enlisted in June 1915 in the 15th Bn. He served at Gallipoli before returning to Egypt on Christmas Day 1915. In early 1916, he was repeatedly hospitalized until he was discharged medically unfit in August 1916 and returned to Australia. (The Australian Senior, September 2001 and Vetaffairs, September 2001).

For the foodies. You never see Horatio Hornblower eating a ship's biscuit, do you? It was one of the great staples on ships until the late 19th century. Without canning and refrigeration, the mariners relied on salted meat, ships biscuits, dried peas, oatmeal, processed cheese and beer or rum. Dry biscuits date back to Roman times, when they were portable nourishment for the legions. They accompanied all the great maritime explorers from Columbus onwards. Weevils and other insects invaded them and it is now thought that the sailors probably gained more nutrition from the weevils than the biscuits. Sailors used them to thicken stews, create sea pies and make funderdunk, a pudding concocted of biscuit soaked in water, mixed with fat and molasses. For a `Food at Sea' Festival at the Australian National Maritime Museum this year, the most difficult thing to find was an authentic ship's biscuit. The recipe is not a secret; flour and water and a touch of salt. But the baking procedure is arduous. One of the Museum's contacts tasted one at a historical dinner in New England, USA, where locals used them to thicken their famous chowder. Unfortunately, while a good biscuit, they were too refined to be the genuine article. Next stop was the Mystic Sea Museum in Connecticut, USA who were able to produce a manufacturer who makes the landlubber version, `hard tack', which was supplied to the Union Army in the American Civil War and is made today for re-enactment enthusiasts. Unfortunately, these proved too costly. Next on the scene came COOKIE MAN, a Hornsby, NSW firm. They came back with authentic samples within a week. Mr. Peter Elligett, the Managing Director, says `it's a very simple process but the biscuits have to be baked for 12 hours. Then they have to be left to cool down very slowly, to squeeze the last remaining moisture out.' A batch of 5,000 biscuits was delivered to the Maritime Museum in July. (Sydney Morning Herald, 3 July 2001).

In addition to $50,000 already committed to the construction of the Australian Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial at Ballarat, Victoria, the Federal Government has promised an additional $150,000. The memorial will be built in the Botanical Gardens and will include a granite wall with the names of almost 35,000 Australian ex-POWs, including the 8684 Australians who died in prisoner of war camps (Vetaffairs, September 2001).

On 29 July 1918, Pte G J Giles of the 29th Battalion, 5th Australian Division took part in the attack at Morlancourt. Two lines of trenches, 128 prisoners and 36 machine guns were captured. Just after the battle, a man who introduced himself as Charles Bean approached Pte Giles. Bean asked Giles to hand over his mud-spattered uniform, equipment and documents. This he did and obtained a clean uniform and equipment in exchange. Giles's uniform and equipment, still with the original mud on it, can be seen in the Australian War Memorial's World War I gallery (AWM staff, to Joe).

Fourteen VCs were awarded for the New Zealand Wars (`The Maori Wars'), with 22 DCMs. One VC recipient, whose grave had been shown in records as `unmarked', was Lieut. John Thornton Down, 57th Regiment (later the Middlesex Regiment -- the Duke of Cambridge's Own -- nicknamed `The Diehards'), which arrived from India in 1861 and departed New Zealand for the UK in 1867. Down gained his Victoria Cross at Poutoko, Taranaki, when he and Drummer D Stagpoole VC DCM volunteered to rescue a wounded comrade from rebel natives. Down's VC is not publicly held while Stagpoole's is held by the Prince of Wales Royal Regiment (Q & H)

Museum. Our sister society in New Zealand located the grave in Otahuhu Old Cemetery, close to Auckland and found the tablet from which the above details are taken, `erected by his brother officers'. (The Volunteers, 2001).

Tired? Feeling old? Military History not producing the adrenaline rush it once did? Think about our senior (and now Life) member Barry Videon, who wrote recently to Joe: `My book on `Australians in the First Air War' is virtually complete ... my next one on `Civilian War Badges of Australia' (is coming along) ... and the one after that on `Air Force Uniforms and Insignia of Australia' also. Young Barry is 76. (Personal correspondence, May 2001).

The AWM's displays include a Malayan Emergency scene, where a platoon signaler is sending a message on an A510 radio, while his platoon commander looks on. The display is incomplete in that a WWII cape half-shelter with a rubberised surface is used to cover the signaler's bedroll in lieu of the British Army issue poncho. (The platoon commander's bedroll is correctly covered with this British issue item of the period). The poncho sought is roughly a metre and a half wide by two metres long, of an olive green rubberised fabric, with a drawstring-fitted collar in the centre. The poncho was press-studded to another poncho to form a `hootchi' for two soldiers. If any member has such a poncho and is prepared to donate it to the AWM, please contact Michael Nelmes, Assistant Curator Military Technology on 02 6243 4241 (National Malaya and Borneo Veterans' Association Newsletter No 24, July 2001).

Jack (John Walter) Kerr passed away 29 July 2001, aged 102 years. He was born in Kerang, Victoria in 1899 and served in the 4th Light Horse in Palestine and Egypt. His death leaves just 21 known World War I veterans and only one member of the Light Horse, Albert Whitmore of South Australia (Untold Story, Sydney Morning Herald, 24 August 2001).

The North Fort Royal Australian Artillery National Museum at Manly, NSW is seeking volunteer guides for attractions such as the museum, the North Fort underground tunnels and fortifications, the Memorial Walk, Defence of Sydney 1939-45 Monument and the Restoration Workshops. Contact 02 9976 3855 (Army, 13 September 2001).

Sir John Overall, well known as a major influence on the post-war development of Canberra, has died aged 88. He enlisted in the 2nd AIF in 1940 as a lieutenant in RAE was promoted lieutenant colonel in 1943 and given command of the 1st Australian Parachute Battalion. A demanding taskmaster of both himself and his men, he was known as `Haversack Jack', because he was always on the men's' backs! Army, 13 September 2001).

Colonial troops -- a thing of the past? Not really. The Kingdom of Spain maintains two toeholds on the Moroccan coast of Africa: The Plazas Real of Ceuta and Melilla. To garrison these tiny enclaves, the Spanish Army fields not only Banderas of the Spanish Foreign Legion but also locally recruited units of Regulates. These latter units are recruited in the main from people of Moorish descent. While mostly restricted to service in the Plazas, the Regulares also provide a ceremonial guard unit which serves in Madrid and is often seen at parades and ceremonies in their traditional white turbans and Moorish capes (Intrep, Newsletter of the ACT Branch, November 2000). Joe says: Who knows more about the Spanish Foreign Legion? What about an item?

For those interested in the activities of the First Australian Field Hospital (1AFH) in Vietnam (1968-1971), in Somalia, Rwanda and on Bougainville following the Sepik Tsunami of 17 July 1998, there is a detailed report in RUSI Queensland Bulletin, March 2001 by Major General John Pearn. It also covers 1AFH's activities in Dili (6 September 1999 to 19 February 20001).

On 22 January 1879, the Battle of Isandlwana (in the province of South Africa now known as KwaZulu Natal) led to the death of 1329 out of about 1700 British soldiers. Of the Zulu Army of about 20,000 warriors, about 3000 were killed. A physicist at the University of Salford, Britain, has now put forward a theory that accounts for the apparently contradictory actions of the Zulu Army on that day and on the following day at Rorke's Drift. The massive Zulu Army had been mustered for an attack several days before 22 January but had not intended to fight on that day. The Zulus believed that evil spirits abounded when the moon disappeared for a few days each month (when it is near the sun in the sky and so lost to earth's observers in the solar glare). The Days of the Dead Moon commenced on 22 January. They intended to wait until the new moon appeared as a slender crescent a couple of evenings later and were unsettled to be discovered by a British patrol late in the morning of 22 January. However, at about 1pm, an eclipse of the sun began. It obscured the sun and made part of the moon visible, giving the Zulus heart to go into the attack. By 2.30pm, the massacre was almost over and the eclipse continued as the impis stormed on towards Rorke's Drift. Why the Zulus did not resume their attack on the mission next morning has always been a mystery. But Dr Duncan Steel has calculated that the eclipse ended at about 4pm the previous day and the apparent disappearance of the moon was interpreted as a sign that they should cease action, pending the sighting of the new moon. (The Canberra Times 23 June 2001, quoting The Guardian and Dr Steel's book `Eclipse', which explains the significance of this and other eclipses in history).
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Author:Furphy, Joe
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Dec 1, 2001
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