Thursday, January 11th
I am pleased to say that Annie Bull is much brighter and quite resigned. She loves to talk of Colin to me and was quite cheerful when I was out there on Saturday last. She spoke a great deal of what Gerald and Colin used to do and is taking an interest in her daily doings such as poultry and household affairs. I was so glad because the week before she was terribly broken up. The girls are quite cheerful. They know Colin would not have them fret. The one thing Annie is concerned about is if Colin had a will, to simplify the fixing up of his bank account. Perhaps Gerald will know the answer to that. I worry about how my boy is taking the loss of his dear pal, for I know his absence will leave a blank that is hard to fill. If peace comes soon he will be home again, but I will have to share him with Annie.
Miss Lorna Neill rang up last week for Gerald’s address and had a chat to me. She was very upset over Colin’s death and has taken it very badly. I told her to go and see his mother, which she did. I remember she was up at Liverpool camp when we had the farewell dinner. She said she wished to write to Gerald about poor old Colin. I felt so sorry for the child, she seemed very cut up. We must all stand to one another in these terrible times.
One cheerful bit of news is that Clifford Bull is being returned to Australia. No particulars are given, but he is evidently on his way and will probably arrive in about a month’s time. This news has cheered all his family up most wonderfully and Annie is a different woman.
I hear there will not be another mail from Egypt until the end of the month and poor Mrs Guthrie did so long for another letter from Alec. Her case is much the saddest I know amongst my friends, losing two of her boys. She has just started venturing out and strolled in for a yarn yesterday afternoon, along with Agnes Bennett. I am trying to see a few friends while I am on holidays from the Red Cross, but what with the house and garden, sewing and spinning at home I don’t get much time for calling, so it is lovely when friends drop in to see me. Agnes brought me a basket of plums, more than I can do with, so I made two very nice pies and am taking one to the Guthrie’s for dinner.
A few days ago I attended a most interesting yet disturbing talk Agnes gave about her time in Serbia in a town called Monastir where, with a group made up entirely of women, she set up a tent hospital. They treated the worst of the wounded and were always full, the rest being sent by train to a General Hospital somewhere else. They were right at the front and were eventually shelled, Agnes thinks accidentally. A week later the women left for Salonika where they met many refugees trekking across the plains, many of them children. They even had to contend with wild dogs that stole their food, as well as plagues of mice. It is, she said, something that will be etched in her memory for the rest of her days. My life is so blessed compared to those poor people, victims of a war they had no hand in starting. I should never complain again.
I have not heard from John since November 9th, the day he left for Mesopotamia. I expect I shall hear shortly.
It is quite odd to receive news that is two months old or more, knowing that things will not now be as you read of them. When I was in Berridale in November Everard was in Peronne, sleeping in the ruin of a library among broken fragments of another family’s life, ruined books, toys, chinaware and ornaments in pieces both inside and out. He used wreckage of their furniture for a fire to keep himself warm, listening to the big guns booming, shaking the air with vibrations. This is a Great War, he says, a great waste of materials, men, horses and money. I look around me in my little house and am filled with horror at the thought of enduring what those French families faced. Their lives will never be the same.
Good news earlier this month that Eric Blashki has got the Military Cross. His mother rang me the other night to tell me. She has been wonderfully plucky over Roy’s death and is a grand woman. I am very fond of her. She does buck one up so.
I see from Gerald’s last letters, which I received some weeks ago now, that he is very tired and knocked about by Colin’s death. I sent him some good parcels of eatables, socks, some magazines, cigarettes and a new pipe which was highly recommended. I used pine needles from our old tree for packing. I hope it will help cheer him up a little. Fancy John being in Cairo and going to the ward to surprise Belle. A thousand pities he could not have seen Gerald.
Clifford is home. He looks very well but is moody and nervous. The poor boy did not hear of Colin’s death until he got to Melbourne and was very cut up over the news. He complains of pains in his head and his teeth have been troubling him. He likes to potter around and keep off inquiring crowds, as he calls them. I went to meet him with his family when he arrived back, then had dinner at their place and got soaked coming home. I could not stay the night as I had all my chickens to feed, nineteen of them.
I am looking forward to starting at Georges Head Convalescent Red Cross Hospital where I am to teach some of the crippled soldiers stenciling as well as spinning and a simple sort of art needlework embroidering. Mary Makinson goes there once a week to teach wood carving. I will continue my Red Cross spinning but have left off the bale making as I found it too much standing all day in hot rooms. I worker there for three years, so I have not done badly.
Thursday, March 14th
After a long silence some letters arrived from Gerald that included photos of his concert party in Pierrot costume. They look as if they were having great fun. He has had a promotion to Driver which sounds like a safe job to have. I also had a letter from John, c/- River Sick Convoy Unit, Indian Expeditionary Force, Mesopotamia. Everard has been invalided out of the army. Such nonsense. Having failed to reach the firing line he made a request to resign his commission and was swiftly given a medical order to return to England. He is very annoyed and grumbled about being a failure but it is about time he thought of coming home and looking after his own affairs. The strain of the war, my anxiety about the boys and the responsibility of looking after everything is getting too much for me. I have not been feeling at all well but have made no complaint to Everard or the boys. Colin and Alec Guthrie’s deaths gave me an awful shock and I don’t seem to be able to realize it at all and I see there is fresh fighting going on in Palestine which makes me tremble for Gerald’s safety.
Clifford Bull is looking much better now but still attends the hospital. I do so hope he gets his discharge. I am determined I to get Gerald six months leave. I will work every oracle to get him work on a transport so he can be home with me for a time.
Another North Sydney boy, Tom Stanton, arrived home a week ago and I went up to Alfred St and looked after the dinner for them so all the family could go to the Anzac Buffet in the Domain Gardens to meet him. It was nearly 3pm when they arrived home and I joined them for lunch. Tom looks splendid though he has lost an arm and received nine other wounds. Since then I have been home with a heavy influenza cold with a temperature of 103 degrees which prevented me from attending a social in the School of Arts for Tom’s return. I heard it was a great success and Kiss in the Ring was the favourite amusement.
Annie Bull, Mrs Blashki, Clifford and I had afternoon tea together last Monday. Annie is much better and talks of Colin as if he were still alive and it comforts her. She is much better since Clifford came home.
I have heard nothing further from Everard as last mails were lost in the Audamia when she was torpedoed. I must write to Belle and see what is the matter as I have not heard for weeks and Mrs Guthrie had a nice letter from her. How I wish my darlings were here – I have their photos in front of me as I write. I think I shall send Gerald a body quad despite his objections. If poor Colin had worn one he would have been alive now. I saw a very neat and light one in a George St shop the other day. Perhaps he will wear it for my sake. One cannot be too careful.
Thursday April 10th
For my birthday I was especially glad to get letters from all my family and from Belle, so I started the day well. Following on was show week and very busy as I was in charge of the Red Cross spinning and weaving exhibits. I was there from 7am to 5.30 pm so didn’t get home until about 7pm. It was most strenuous. I was thinking all the time how Everard and John and Gerald used to spend the whole day there. There were the usual awful sideshows of monstrous animals – calf with dog’s head, man eating shark, the fat lady and other horrors so beloved of the young.
Clifford has his discharge now so the war is practically over for the Bulls, excepting for Gerald and some other friends. I am thankful that my men are well but it gives me a heartache to see others coming home while I am still trying to get Gerald some leave. It was lovely to read from Belle that she has been meeting up with him.
Everard was lucky to get out before Péronne, just in time before the German advance. The Western Front must be hell. He is still undecided whether he is coming out or not. I think it would be better if he stayed. Travelling at sea is fraught with danger and I don’t know how he would occupy himself out here until the war is over. He claimed the rest and treatment he was sent to hospital for were not forthcoming, so he dismissed himself. John seems to like Mesopotamia but he hadn’t yet experienced the hot weather at the time of writing.
Joe Makinson has gone on a holiday. I am disappointed in him on some ways though he’s a nice boy. He is absolutely under the dominance of priests and women, his sister Mary in particular. They won’t let him enlist as most of his family has done, so he is rather alone. The Guthries will scarcely speak to him and he seems to have no friends. He went down again at his last exam. I don’t think he tries and he is always out for his own pleasure in his sailing boat.
I am going to the Bulls again next week. Gladys has finished a month at Randwick Hospital making morning and afternoon tea for patients. Annie is much more cheerful than she was but life can never be the same again for any mother who has lost her son in this cruel war.
On Tuesday afternoon I am to take a class at the Convalescent Hospital at George’s Heights to teach individual soldiers spinning. It will be a change after teaching women. I don’t suppose they will learn so quickly, but one never knows. Those poor boys find time weighs heavily on their hands.
My first spinning class at St Georges Heights Convalescent Home was not a good attempt. I had sent the wheel out beforehand but when I got there it was nowhere to be found, so I came away.
Now Clifford has his discharge he is longing for the pension. He is not right yet and gets bad fits of depression. Norman Bull wants to join up which is absurd. He has been turned down once as he can only see out of one eye. It would kill Annie if he were to go. We are all now pointing out to Norman that it’s his duty to stay home as his mother is not well and gets bad heart attacks. Somehow I think things will soon take a turn for the better – it’s always darkest before the dawn.
I heard through a letter from another soldier in the 12th Light Horse that Gerald got hurt playing in a football match, that he was knocked out twice and hurt his ankle. Nothing serious I hope. This chap also said Gerald is a great artist of the ragtime and did great concerts for the men. I do so love to hear these little bits of news about my boys from other soldiers.
Everard is still not sure when or if he will return. He never does things in a hurry so I will have to be patient to see what he decides. John is now Principal Medical Officer on a hospital ship. He seemed to be liking the life very much.
Colin’s effects came back last mail, his identity disc, some correspondence and his sheepskin vest plus his matchbox and watch. Gladys seems to think Gerald sent these last two as they came by registered post and not with the others things. It breaks our hearts that this is all that will return of him.
Soon it will be yet another anniversary of the landing of our boys at Gallipoli and I am to be at Farmers in Pitt St at 9am. We have to wear white frocks, caps and aprons with the Red Cross on them. I am going to take in all the flowers I can find in the garden. The following day is Red Cross Day. Farmers Department Store is giving their windows for a big display of Red Cross industries, including cooking. I dread these days as they make me feel lonely and I get dreadfully tired.
Belle’s last letter, dated March 6th, enclosed one from Gerald about their holiday on the Nile. It was very dear of Belle to look after my boy but I do wish I had been there to have shared it with them. She wrote that Gerald did a great line with one of the sisters who was a pal of Eric Blashki’s for many years since hospital days. I am so very lonely now. I have been quite alone now for three years – it will not be so bad when Everard comes, but things seem very uncertain and up to date I don’t know when he will return.
I had a big day spinning wool today so my hand is very shaky tonight. Wool is so scarce that we have a special appeal wool and sock month. I am posting off a pair of socks to Gerald knitted from wool I spun myself from a dark sheep, plus a cake I won in a raffle on Red Cross Day.
Tom Stanton and I went round with a collection box and did very well. The Volunteer Aid Detatchments had a great march through town, it was a splendid sight. It is heartwarming to see so many women who give their time voluntarily to do war work. I don’t know where hospitals would be without them. Both Gladys and Marie do great work as VAD’s. I had one of the Red Cross delegates staying with me for the week, a Mrs Crisp I stayed with in the Kosciusko district and she took part in the march as it included delegates from the suburbs and country districts. A terrific thunderstorm came over about 4pm. It only lasted a short time but it spoilt many stalls.
I must get a move on in the garden and have it looking as well as I can when Everard comes home. I hope he arrives in the spring when it is looking its best. John sent me an amusing snapshot of himself in a pith-helmet and shorts and the army livery. Very comical he looked. He says where he is too inactive. I think he should resign and come back to see about his own career. He has done his full share and it is up to others now to go.
A soldier from the 12th Light Horse has been to see the Bulls. He was so kind and nice and took a lot of photos to show them, including one of Colin’s grave. It looked so very bare but of course it is just new. I see by the papers that several men were killed in action from the 12th Regiment about May 6th or so. Gerald must have been in more fighting.
I had a letter from Everard he is now trying to get back again into the army, so he may not be returning after all. He seems very dissatisfied with everything and is very pessimistic about things in general and the Allies in particular. I am saving all I can to please him and don’t think we will come to want in our old age unless the Germans win and take the banks. What inhuman wretches they are, bombing hospitals and killing nurses, yet the British take no reprisals, the only thing to stop them. As I write the evening paper gives us news that the Germans are only fifty miles from Paris. Those poor French, surely they will be spared another Siege. This was is just too horrible to realize.
I have been working hard to get Gerald six months leave on the score of family reasons and I think I shall be successful, though the military moves maddeningly slowly. Meanwhile I continue with war work. This is my week of instruction at the Red Cross rooms. Yesterday we had thirty-five spinners, two rooms full, the most we have ever had.
John at last got a ship which exactly suited him - and apparently a sister which also suited. I wish he & Belle would settle things. He is a stupid boy to see that Belle is one in a thousand and it will be his fault is he loses her.
Mrs Clunies Ross just rang to say her son Allen, who was a schoolmaster at the Grammar School, got the cardigan I knitted him and it was most invaluable to him. I am so pleased. One never knows. The poor man was in hospital suffering from gas poisoning when he wrote. Another brother was serving in Africa but is being invalided home and the third is on France. The 4th son is a schoolboy still so out of harm’s way. The family has well and truly done its bit, but there are thousands of men who should be helping out and are not.
Thursday, June 20th
Yesterday I received a letter from Gerald that had taken well over two months to get to me. There were excellent photos of his concert company. In the same mail I got one from John who was still recovering from the shock of getting sixty-five letters in one bunch, eight of which were mine. I am so pleased that Gerald has enjoyed his holiday at Port Said, for which I sent him £20. It makes me happy to know my boys are having some nice times. I can’t send off parcels this week as I have been in bed for the best part of a week with an attack of influenza followed by bronchitis which have been epidemic this year, everybody has them.
Last week the Bulls motored over to see me and brought me a rooster. It was the first time Mr Bull had been here and he was quite charmed by the place. The poinsettias are in full bloom with their vividly scarlet flowers and looked splendid. We had a fire and were very cosy though there was a cold westerly wind blowing. I have planted half a dozen new roses for when my men come home. I’ll cook the dinner and they can choose the menu and the company. In a fortnight it will be four years since Everard left Sydney. He has been talking of going to Ireland, recruiting, but as he has a different project in every letter, I can’t count too much on him.
Yesterday I had some very bad news. My dear brother Jack was killed on June 25th. He could only have been at the front less than two months. He was a dear, kind-hearted fellow and had come top of bombing school before leaving for the front. I am feeling very heavy hearted over his death. I have written to get Alma to pay me a long visit. It would do us both good.
All my efforts to get Gerald home on leave for six months end in waiting and suspense as the Defense Department is horribly slow. I must write to them again and point out that I am being forgotten though I musn’t write too often or will be put down as a nuisance.
To add to my woes, Everard has volunteered for the French army as a transport driver and is not coming back. As he speaks French well he will probably be taken in. He is certainly full of grit and energy and feels he must see the war out. Maybe that is best for I expect he would be restless and unhappy if he were not in things. He says there is a microbe in his blood that keeps him on the move, the microbe of restlessness.
This is all taking its toll on me. I have been off work with the Red Cross for nearly two months as I have had a bad time with influenza and bronchitis and nerves, but I am now feeling a lot better though I haven’t been out to the Bulls for ages. It is fearfully cold where they now live and too cold to go out in the evenings, but hope to go out next week.
My application for Gerald’s return has been refused “as there is an urgent necessity for the services of every man owing to the serious position of the war”. I shan’t stop at this. I know several people who have got their sons back who have only served a short time and have nothing like my claim. I must manage it somehow. I will write to Dr Throsby and get a letter from him stating my health is not good, which is true. I shall leave no stone unturned, even if I have to write to the Governor General himself.
Jack’s death was a great shock to me. I was just recovering from my ill health when the news came. He was not even fighting when he met his end, just collecting soldiers’ rations from a wagon. It is so sad for Alma who is now without both her son and her husband. There is no-one else for her except her mother and father. I wish she could have accompanied me to Jack’s memorial service in the chapel of the Grammar School last Friday. She would have been very proud to see how he was admired. I am feeling particularly low tonight so think I will have a little conversation on paper with my boys before I go to bed so I don’t feel so alone. I love John and Gerald more than anything else on earth or in heaven. It’s cruel to be parted like this from my children.
September 16th, The Women’s Club, Sydney
I feel I have had about as much as I can stand of my loved ones being away. I have heard nothing further about Gerald’s leave after a second refusal. They make sympathetic promises but there it seems to end. I now have a certificate from Dr Throsby which I will include in my next application. He has put it pretty strongly for the sake of helping me, though at the time I was pretty bad. Hopefully that will change their minds and Gerald will be granted leave. It is rumoured that three years servicemen will all be getting leave in turn, but I feel I can’t wait another moment sometimes.
I got an awful shock to hear from Belle that Gerald has given up the transport section and has gone back to being a Trooper. He did not mention it to me though it happened back in June. A driver is much safer than being a trooper in the regiment, so it is even more urgent that I get leave for him. I feel sick when I think of the horrors of this war. I often wonder why such things are allowed. I am always working hard and doing my best for my soldiers, yet I am left alone due to this wicked war and nothing from separation from my dearest and best.
I have received a letter from Everard and a cable from John. Everard has changed his mind again and now states he is coming home owing to a letter he had from Gerald. I think he is making a mistake for he will hate the life here after all the exciting times he has had and will probably say later he only came out for my sake. However, as he changes his plans about once a week he still may not yet come. John is leaving Mesopotamia. I hope that doesn’t mean he is ill.
It is teeming with rain, a very dismal start to the 7th War Loan. A large man o’war is erected in Martin Place and the Loan Honour Flag was unfurled at noon by the Governor with a lot of soldiers and sailors in attendance. It was a most depressing performance in the rain.
I finally caught up with the Bulls when I had dinner with them recently. Norman is mad on enlisting now and Annie is terribly troubled by it. She told me in strictest confidence that he is sweet on some girl who is an ardent patriot and Annie fancies she is at the bottom of things. I strongly advised Norman to stay where he is. I went with him to the recruiting depot and would not let him enroll there and then. He wanted to go into the infantry but his mother has a horror of it. Surely Colin and Clifford have done enough for the family. Clifford will never be the same again. He is still at home. He is a dear fellow, kind and thoughtful and most intelligent to talk to.
Last Saturday week I went with the Bennetts for a row up Middle Harbour. We took afternoon tea and had a lovely time out on the water. It was very peaceful being away from everything, even if only for a short time.
I am starting my Xmas cakes this week to be quite ready when the Xmas mail is advertised. There are lots of fundraising days ahead which will no doubt keep me busy. I hope this rain stops, it is raining cats and dogs. This weather stops my hens from laying which is most annoying as I practically live on eggs now.
I have been working hard in the garden, but am thinking of and crying for my men all the time. The garden is the only pleasure I have left now - I have been planting iris round the pond. I have been making a new pond for goldfish and water lilies. Joe has been doing the cementing for me, but we had to call a halt as heavy rain flooded us out. I am glad summer is coming. I am sick of the very lonely winter evenings.
The day after my last entry, on September 17th, I read in the paper that leave was to be given to 7000 Anzacs and they will be home for Xmas. They are all supposed to be 1914 men but I don’t think 7000 of the originals can be left when one thinks of all those who have returned. At present I can’t take an interest in anything but the question of Gerald’s leave. I am still waiting a reply to my third application but am living in forlorn hope.
As I write this I wonder if Gerald has come safely through all the terrible fighting in Palestine. I live in dread of what every hour may bring me. I am anxiously awaiting a cable from him or Belle to tell me he is safe. If the military had granted him leave as I requested he would be out of it but they are a callous, hard lot with no sympathy for anyone’s sufferings. I am so indebted to Belle for her kindness in looking after my boy over there. She is a dear girl and I do wish she and John would settle things.
This spring has been the worst I can remember for sickness and no two days are alike, first a red hot day followed by a storm, rain and cold winds, then a hot westerly dust storm. Three of the Bull family are down with influenza. Poor Marie has her hands full nursing them, so she could not come and stay as we had planned.
There isn’t a minute in the day when I don’t miss my men. I feel twenty years older since they went away. If they are spared to come back it will be the happiest day of my life. Surely the war can’t go on for much longer.
I hope Gerald got the emu feathers he asked for. I sent them off wishing they will come home soon with my boy on his hat. I commenced proceedings for his leave last May and still live in forlorn hope.
Everard should be on his way. He intended to leave at the end of August, taking Egypt on his way in the hope of seeing Gerald. He never mentioned Jack’s death though the letter was written on August 12th and my brother was killed on June 24th. I cannot understand it. The letter was a chapter of lamentations but I can’t see what he has to grumble about. Very few men of his age would have been accepted at all.
I am sending off some great Xmas parcels to my boys, including iced cakes, tinned vegetables, cigars, honey, tinned fruit, sardines, spaghetti and tomato sauce, chocolates, boiled sweets and a few more things I can’t remember, sent with my dearest love for Xmas and a Peaceful New Year.
I am back working at the Red Cross but am taking things very easily. On Saturday I went with friends to the Rose Fete at Centennial Park. It was like an old English fair with stalls of all kinds and merry-go-rounds and a huge model of the Victory, Nelson’s old ship, from which you got a splendid panoramic view of the whole thing. It was a huge success and we made over £2000.
I am trying to keep the garden looking good and have set two hens, one due at the end of the week. I am always setting hens thinking my boys will be home to eat my poultry and each year goes by and I have to eat them myself. I also have some nice young roosters to kill for their dinners in the near future. Peace must surely come soon. I don’t think Norman Bull will see much fighting, which is a good thing. I was supposed to go out to the Bull’s last Thursday but unfortunately I was not feeling well, so had to send a wire putting it off. I plan to go this week.
It is almost a year since Colin lost his life. Gerald has asked me to put a notice in the Herald for his mate. What a sad year it has been.
Last Friday was Jack’s Day in the city and it really looked a beautiful sight. The shipping people had stalls in the whole of Macquarie Place. Bridge St had two lighthouses in it and there was a huge model of Captain Cook’s Endeavour. The results are not yet published.
I hoped for a cable from Gerald after that big fighting and am feeling very anxious. It seems years since I heard news of him. I should feel glad now that Peace with Turkey has been declared, but until I hear my boys are safe nothing is any good to me. Malaria and influenza seem rampant in Palestine, and I only hope Gerald will l escape it and come home soon. Also, John has been ill in hospital. The few lines I had from him today of his illness were posted nearly two months ago and since then I have heard nothing. Everard, as usual, wrote a whole chapter of woes so his letters were not cheerful to receive. I do not know where any of my three soldiers are at the moment – I seem to have lost touch with them altogether.
More young men I know have lost their lives, including two of the Clunies Ross boys. Bob was killed in action in France only six days after Henry died of malaria in a London hospital. Such tragedy.
The war is over. I can scarcely believe it is true. Sydney is going mad
Thank god the war is over. It has taken some time to take it all in after so many years of fighting. I can scarcely believe that after so long my loved ones will be coming home. I had three letters from Gerald, one telling me of Everard’s visit to him in hospital where he was recovering from malaria. They went flying on his discharge, which I thought rather risky so soon after being in hospital. I had been feeling terribly anxious as I had received no news from Gerald for ages, but I know now that he was not in the Palestine fighting after all so I need not have had so many sleepless nights.
I went out to the Bull’s last week. Luckily peace came before Norman enlisted, a great relief to his mother. A 12th Light Horse man had been there with very good photos, one of them of the service for Colin being read at his grave. It was all so sad, I thought, but made me feel so grateful that my boys had been spared to me.
Everard’s ship was due at Freemantle yesterday but I have heard nothing further. The transports are coming in every day but a lot of them have to go into quarantine for this wretched influenza. I hope Everard’s is a clean ship. I have been very busy all week cleaning up in readiness for his arrival. It’s been terribly hot all week and now my hand is shakey with heat and nerves. I was going to make him some chilli beer but there were no corks to be had anywhere. It is a pity he is coming in the Xmas holidays as most of his pals will be away. I feel so nervous and excited I can’t eat or sleep much.
I found out from Gerald the true story of Everard’s journey home. He spent eight days on a train from London to Toranto in the south of Italy, the last two days of which he was suffering from diarrhea. From there he boarded ship, the S. S. Ormonde, but it was a week until it set sail for Egypt in convoy with another transport. First he was seasick then followed another bout of diarrhea. Thankfully he had a cabin to himself. Of course he tried to make light of it to Gerald, but it must take it’s toll. I hope and pray the rest of the trip has been better for him and that he arrives home in good health.
Everard is supposed to get in to Melbourne tomorrow and comes overland by special train on Sunday evening, but there is a big chance the ship will be quarantined. There are a huge number of Light Horse on the same ship. John’s Xmas cake and the silk socks I sent him for Xmas were returned here today, which was quick work.
Continue to 1919
... served as a Captain RAMC in France, where he won his Military Cross, for which the citation reads:
AWARDED THE MILITARY CROSS...“T./Capt. Eric Phillip Blashki, M.B., R.A.M.C.
For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He went forward during an engagement and established a dressing station in an advanced position. He remained at his post under heavy shelling and collected the wounded from an area swept by machine-gun fire. He showed the greatest courage and resource.
Extract from Third SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, 18th July, 1918, pages 8450, 8455.
Mary Makinson became well known for her carved furniture, often using motifs of Australiana.
She also worked at Graythwaite House, bequeathed to the state in 1916 for use as a convalescent home for returning soldiers of World War I. A plaque was later erected in memory of Mary Makinson for her work with the Red Cross during and after the war
The death occured recently of Miss Mary Makinson, of Neutral Bay. A well-known member of the Forum Club, she was keenly interested in arts and crafts, and was an accomplished woodcarver. She was an enthusiastlc member of the Red Cross during and after the Great War, and devoted herself to teaching and helping the returned soldiers at Randwick and Graithwaite Hospitals.
The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW), 30 August 1939
Edie's brother, John, lost his life only months after his arrival in France. On the back of this photo of him is written "With Love to Edie - John Macknight, (32nd Battalion) killed in action at Sailly-le-See (France) on the night of June 24th 1918. Aged 41. Buried - Military Extension Cemetery, Vaux-sar-Somme.
Mr. H. MacKnight, of Mistral-avenue, Mosman, and secretary to the controlling wool appraisers for New South Wales, has received information that his brother, John MacKnlght,of the W A Pioneers was killed in action in France on June 25. He was the third son of the late Mr ALexander MacKnightt of Neutral Bay at one time Mayor of North Sydney, and of Mrs Mary MacKnight, who is now
resident in Saltash, Cornwall, England. He
married Alma, the youngest daughter of Mr and Mrs Harrison of Kew Melbourne who rejoined her parents on her husband's departure for the front. Mr John MacKnight was a well known businessman of Fremantle and Perth, Western Australia. His early days were passed in Neutral Bay, and he was an ex-pupil of the Sydney Grammar School and Church of England Grammar School, North Sydney. Another brother, Archibald MacKnight is still in the trenches in France.
More than once, Everard quoted lines from the following poem by A. St John Adcock in his letters to Edie. It was printed in a little book acquired by Edith in 1917 called Songs of the World War and could week have been written for Everard and their little house by the sea.
THE HOUSE OF MEMORIES
There's a little house in a little street,
A little way from the sea,
And O, when I'm weary of all then world
It's there I lain to be!
For the world is full of sorrow and care,
And the darkness lies before;
And then little house is full of dreams
That were ours, but are ours no more.
In then little street, in the long ago,
In the little house by the sea,
We dreamed of the days that have had no dawn,
Of the years that shall never be.
But you were young, and I was young,
And we dreamed and had no care,
And dearer and better than life has been
Were the dreams that came to us there.
And so when I'm weary of all the world,
Of its sordid hopes and its pain,
I think of then little house that was ours,
And sigh to be there again.
T'were heaven enough if we found our dreams,
And dreamed them again, maybe,
In the little house, in the little street,
A little way from the sea.
On Active Service
In loving remembrance of Corporal Colin Brodie Bull, 12th A.L.H. Killed in action at Beersheba, October 31st, 1917, beloved comrade of Trooper G. Digby. ”Lord keep his memory green.”
"The effigy of the German Emperor should provide some entertainment at the village fair at the Broadway (Sydney) on Jack’s Day. This will be a giant figure, and will be subjected to whatever treatment the people may think worthy of. Finally in the evening it will be blown out of existence. " Source: AusPostalHistory.com
1917 deaths recorded by Edith
MACKNIGHT, John, aged 41, Customs agent, k.i.a 24th June 1918, France. Husband of Alma MacKnight, Kew, Victoria. Brother of Edith Veysey Digby. Jack was married to Alma Harrison in the eastern Melbourne suburb of Kew, in 1906 where her parents lived at “Molonglo” and some time after moved to Cottlesloe, Western Australia, quite possibly because of his father’s business interests there. They had already suffered tragedy with the death of their only child, aged 4, in 1911.
MAKINSON, Hilary Cooper, aged 24, died of wounds Aug. 15, 1918, France after being struck by shell fragments when having his breakfast. Cousin of Joe Makinson.
ROSS, Henry Edgerton Clunies, aged 26, died September 27, 1918 of malaria, pneumonia and influenza in London. He had terminated his appointment with the AIF in 1917 and joined the Kings African Rifles. He was invalided to England where he died in hospital. Both Henry and Ross were old boys of SCEGGS.
TAYLOR, Joseph Henry, aged 24, k.i.a September 15th, 1918, France.
ROSS, Robert Clunies, aged 21, k.i.a Oct. 3, 1918, France, only six days after his brother died.
STANTON, Tom, of Alfred St, North Sydney, lost an arm and a finger and was returned to Australia at the beginning of 1918, having received the Military Medal the preceding November for bravery in the field. He was discharged from the AIF in September, 1918.
DOBBIN, Vernon, of North Sydney, was repatriated home in April 1918 due to malaria and lumbago. His father, John, had also joined up and was on active service. It was Vernon’s mother who made the shirts that Edith sent to Gerry.