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Saturday, 16 May 2009
Rifles Clubs, Charles William Prott, 1851 - 1926
Topic: MilitiaRC - NSW

Rifles Clubs

Charles William Prott, 1851 - 1926

 


CW Prott and G Lindsay from NSW came 1st and 2nd respectively at the Victorian Rifle Association "Queen's Cup".

[From: The Town and Country Journal, 23 December 1899, p. 38.]

 

Born 1851 at Bad Vilbel, a town near Frankfurt am Main in Germany, Charles William Prott was the son of George J (d. 1879) and Mary Margaret (d. 1903) Prott. His siblings were Frederick (d. 1919), Elizabeth A (d. 1922), George J. (d. 1916), Andreas Boysen (d. 1935). The Prott family emigrated to Australia on the "Commodore Perry" and landing at Sydney but settling in Kiama.

Charles William Prott found work with the New South Wales Post Office. He worked in Sydney and then Parramatta. 

In 1876 Charles William Prott met Sarah Parsons in Parramatta where he was living and working with the New South Wales Post Office. Later that year Charles William Prott married Sarah Parsons in Parramatta. 

A few years later Prott moved his family to Lithgow where his job took him. It was here, some nine years after their marriage that Sarah gave birth to their only child, William Charles in 1885 (d. 1970).

The Prott family eventually settled in Wollongong making it their home. It was here that Prott worked his way up to becoming the Wollongong Post Master.

The passion that consumed Prott was rifle shooting. He was instrumental in establishing the Wollongong Rifle Club, which came into being on 20 September 1893. Prott soon became the President of the Wollongong Rifle Club.

Rifle shooting in New South Wales was seen as a quasi military activity so many were affiliated with a Militia unit, and in this case, it was the Headquarters Company of the 2nd NSW Infantry Regiment. It was a member of the Southern Rifle Association located at Mossvale.

Over the years it was seen that the Southern Rifle Association was not able to represent the shooters on the south coast of New South Wales. In response during 1899, the local shooters formed the South Coast Rifle Association located at Kiama.

In the same year, he won the Victorian Rifle Association "Queen's Cup". The Age of 20 November 1899, p. 10 gave the following summary:

The winner, Mr. C.W. Prott, is about 48 years of age, and a native of Germany, but a colonist of very old standing.  He has long been a devotee of rifle shooting, and during the past five years organised the Wollongong Rifle Club, which has made great advances under his tuition and encouragement.  Mr. Prott won the New South Wales Championship in 1894, and carried off the Tasmanian Championship in the same year by very brilliant performances.  In 1898 he won two challenge matches in connection to the infantry regiment to which he is attached, and also was the principal member of the champion team of the year.  He is a very moderate smoker and drinker, and has a nerve as cool and steady as the best marksman to be found.

Mr. Lindsay, the runner-up, for the Queen’s, is of middle age, and, like the winner, has some very good performances to his credit, amongst them, being the New South Wales Championship, which he won in 1897.

 

The next year, from 12 - 16 June 1900, the South Coast Rifle Association held their first of many Annual Prize Meeting at Kiama. As a contestant, Prott was quite successful. Below is a listing of the events in which he took part.

The "Maccabe" on the 400 yards and 500 yards ranges with 7 shots at each. Prott 12th, prize money, £1.

The "Illawarra" on the 500 yards and 600 yards ranges with 7 shots at each. Prott 2nd, prize money, £4.

The "Campbells" on the 500 yards and 600 yards ranges with 7 shots at each. Prott 2nd, prize money, £4.

The "Illawarra" on the 500 yards and 600 yards ranges with 7 shots at each. Prott 2nd, prize money, £4.

The Rifle Clubs' Match included 14 teams. The Wollongong Reserves comprising CW Prott, G Lindsay, M Byron, T Byron and W Harrigan won 1st prize of £15. 

The President's Match on the 800 yards with 10 shots. Prott 1st, prize money, £6.

The "Roberts" on the 900 yards with 10 shots. Prott 20th, prize money, £1.

The "French" on the 400 yards kneeling, 500 yards prone with 7 shots at each. Prott 1st, prize money, £5.

Rapid Firing, 500 yards kneeling or sitting with 10 shots in 100 seconds at targets 6 foot by 4 foot. Prott hit with 9 shots, prize money, £1.

Volley Firing, 10 volleys at unknown ranges, first five volleys in any military position, second five volleys kneeling or standing, open to teams of five and a commander from any squadron, battery, company, or rifle club in accordance, with the conditions governing the Rifle Clubs' Match, to be completed in 10 minutes. The Wollongong Rifle Club team was given a 5% handicap and came 4th, prize money, £4/10/-.

South Coast Champion Aggregate included all scores in all matches except the Teams and Beginners. The winner of the Gold Medal and £10 was Prott with a score of 370, 16 points ahead of his next rival, Private ER Armstrong of Kiama.

Prott's total prize money for the competition was £42, almost half a year's income for the average worker. This gives a good insight into Prott's ability as a shot.

 

The South Coast Rifle Association 500 yard range with shooters.

[From: The Town and Country Journal, 23 June 1900, p. 26.] 

 

Prott's wife, Sarah died in 1914.  

When the Great War broke out, the Prott family faced a major dilemma. At the outbreak, anti-German feeling ran high with many Germans being abused, insulted and assaulted. Others lost their jobs.

While Charles William Prott had been naturalised in Sydney on 18 August 1903, making him a British subject, it would appear that he never lost his German accent. To save himself some trouble, so to those who asked him about the accent, Prott told them that he was from Belgium. Rather than evoking the usual anti-German sentiment, he was seen as some sort of hero.

Things began to unravel when the Belgium Consul in Sydney heard of these claims by Prott through people wanting to ascertain their accuracy. They wrote to the Department of External Affairs on 16 February 1916 seeking clarification of the status of Prott. The truth came out although it is unsure as to the actual impact on Prott's life. There is no indication that the Belgium Consul actually pursued the subject any further.

In 1917, Prott remarried. His new wife was Ethel Mary James. The marriage too place in Burwood. Prott returned to Kiama where he spent the rest of his life, dying in 1926.

The legacy of Charles William Prott in the Rifle Club movement in the early twentieth century was quite profound. His shooting style was excellent and this inspired many men to copy his techniques and so improve their own shooting. Prott's active promotion of shooting also brought him into contact with many different levels of New South Wales with an impact that is hard to guage but certainly was regionally immense in his lifetime.

 

Acknowledgement:  Thanks to the assistance from Andrew J. Kilsby, the author of, The Bisley Boys - The Colonial Contingents to Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee 1897 - The Victorian Rifle Team, (Melbourne 2008). Copies of this book may be obtained directly from Andrew who may be currently contacted at:

kilsbya at optusnet dot com dot au

 

Further Reading:

New South Wales Rifles Clubs, 1893 - 1901

New South Wales Rifles Clubs

 


Citation: Rifles Clubs, Charles William Prott, 1851 - 1926

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EADT
Updated: Monday, 18 May 2009 12:32 AM EADT

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