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"At a mile distant their thousand hooves were stuttering thunder, coming at a rate that frightened a man - they were an awe inspiring sight, galloping through the red haze - knee to knee and horse to horse - the dying sun glinting on bayonet points..." Trooper Ion Idriess

The Australian Light Horse Studies Centre aims to present an accurate history as chroniclers of early Australian military developments from 1899 to 1920.

The Australian Light Horse Studies Centre site holds over 12,000 entries and is growing daily.

Contact: Australian Light Horse Studies Centre

Let us hear your story: You can tell your story, make a comment or ask for help on our Australian Light Horse Studies Centre Forum called:

Desert Column Forum

WARNING: This site contains: names, information and images of deceased people; and, language which may be considered inappropriate today.

Friday, 21 November 2008
Keep the Home Fires Burning, Part 9 Student Outline
Topic: AAB-Education Centre

 

Education Centre

The Australian Light Horse Studies Centre in conjunction with the various Education authorities in Australia, has embarked upon producing a program of instruction targeted initially towards the Later Adolescence band of scholars, characteristically those who are studying in Year 9 and 10 within Australia. Each lesson will be a self contained module. Some will be more difficult than others and graded accordingly.

 

Lesson 9 Keep the Home Fires Burning

Student Outline

 

A silk embroidered postcard sent from a serving man to his sister




Overview

Letters were an important part of maintaining soldier morale. In an age of almost universal Australian literacy letter writing was the main means of economical personal contact. The letters written by the light horsemen form part of Australian history as it affected the family. By use of many unpublished and published letters, the fears and loves of the men at the front comes through. In the end, it gives a positive link to the past as the letter authors become humanised rather than a statistic.

Focus questions

Many of us talk about our family and kin. At the bottom of this page are the definitions of family and kin. When you have read these definitions, think about these questions in relation to your family.

  • What do we mean by the term “kin”?
  • Who is a kin member of your family?
  • Why is the home an important part of understanding our history as Australians?



Introduction

Families

The different types of families occur in a wide variety of settings, and their specific functions and meanings depend largely on their relationship to other social institutions.

The term "nuclear family" is commonly used to refer to a family of adult partners and their children (by birth or adoption) where the family relationship is principally focused inwardly and ties to extended kin are voluntary and based on emotional bonds, rather than strict duties and obligations. This considers the spouses and their children as of prime importance and which has a fringe of comparatively lesser important relatives.

The term "extended family" is also common and it refers to kindred (a network of relatives that extends beyond the domestic group) who do not belong to the nuclear family.

 

  1. What is a family within our community? (Shared goals and ties by cohabitating people usually are defined as families within the community.)
Refer to Family Relationship Chart.
Family Relationship Chart

 

2. When you look at the Family Relationshp Chart, where do fit in with your family? Here the students should be able to describe their immediate family structure and populate it with the names of the various members.



Main activity

When the Light Horsemen enlisted in 1914, they did not realise that they would be away from Australia for so long. During the Boer War, the most time a person spent in South Africa with a particular unit was about a year and then they returned back to Australia. In the Great War, the men who rushed to join thought they might go overseas, fight one or two battles and be home by the end of 1915. The terms of their enlistment, duration plus four months, meant that when the war bogged down, there was no release until it ended. Some Light Horsemen enlisted in August 1914 and were discharged in September 1919, some five years later. There were at least 35 Light Horsemen in this situation although many more came close to serving similar periods.

See: Light Horsemen who enlisted in 1914 and served over 5 years

Light Horsemen who enlisted in 1914 and served over 5 years


Contact with families and friends were most important activities for the soldiers to maintain their moral. While many men were often homesick, a letter was capable of alleviating some of those feelings of loss.

Open the page:

Resource - Letters from 1914 to 1918

Letters from 1914 to 1918 

 

  1. Why do you think families were so important for the continued strength of the Light Horse when the Great War broke out and continued during the war.
  2. Access the 23 individual letters. Select one letter. Your teacher might like you to read it out to the class.
  3. Follow each letter as it is read. At the bottom of each letter are a few things to reflect upon about the particular letter. You might like to begin to reflect over the letter and its contents.
  4. When the letters have been read, examine the letter youu have chosen and answer the reflection questions. Try to put yourself in the place of the person who wrote the letter and also the person who received the letter.
  5. When you have understood the letter, try to write a response to the letter.  Perhaps the response should be about 100-200 words in length. Think about the things the author might like to hear about from their family or friends. If you want to get further inspiration, go to Light Horsemen who enlisted in 1914 and served over 5 years and select a Light Horseman and open the file. Most files contain much material about the things they experienced while in the Light Horse.
  6. After finishing the letter, you might be asked to present it to the class.
  7. What do you think about the information contained in the responding letters? If you were receiving that letter, how would you feel? What motivated these people to write the letters? By writing the letter, did you learn something about yourself as well as the letter writer?
  8. Was your experience different to the students? How? Why?



But how was the mail delivered?

  1. How was it possible for Light Horsemen to mail their letters in the desert?
  2. How did the military Post Office find the right location of each individual Light Horseman while they were constantly moving cross country? See: The Army Post Office delivering the mail
  3. Why was it common for Light Horsemen, when on active service, to note the letters received? [This allowed the men and their families to keep track of the mail sent between each other. If an item went missing, it could be tracked by the Military Post Office.]



Extension

  1. Perhaps you might like to research the full National Archives Service File of a Light Horseman who served over five years. It is now in his fifth year of service. Write a letter as either a relative or the Light Horseman describing experiences and feelings to the recipient.
  2. Why not find out about the current family communication systems available for Australian troops deployed overseas. Compare and contrast that with the systems available to the Light Horsemen in the Great War.  One interesting fact is that the International Postal Agreement was only a decade old for Australia and so cheap international letters were still a novelty.



Word bank

  • AIF
  • Attestation Papers
  • B103
  • Blow
  • Enteric
  • Great War
  • Mena
  • Mizpah
  • Taken on Strength



Definitions

Nuclear family

A type of family made up only of parents and their children.

Kin

1. One's relatives collectively: family, kindred, kinfolk.
2. A person connected to another person by blood or marriage: kinsman, kinswoman, relation, and relative.

 

Resource Material

Family Relationship Chart

The Army Post Office delivering the mail

Letters from 1914 to 1918
Light Horsemen who enlisted in 1914 and served over 5 years 

 

Aid to reading service files

Index to Common B103 Terms 

Light Horse History

Maps

Map of Cairo and Allied Camp locations 

Locations

Heliopolis

Mena

Entertainment for the troops - the movies

History

The History of the Composite Australian Light Horse Regiment

 



Citation: Keep the Home Fires Burning, Part 9 Student Outline


Posted by Project Leader at 1:56 PM EAST
Updated: Friday, 21 November 2008 3:28 PM EAST
Lesson 9 Keep the Home Fires Burning, Lesson Plan
Topic: AAB-Education Centre

Education Centre

The Australian Light Horse Studies Centre in conjunction with the various Education authorities in Australia, has embarked upon producing a program of instruction targeted initially towards the Later Adolescence band of scholars, characteristically those who are studying in Year 9 and 10 within Australia. Each lesson will be a self contained module. Some will be more difficult than others and graded accordingly.

 

Lesson 9 Keep the Home Fires Burning

Lesson Plan

Level: Later adolescence – Year 9 and 10


Overview

Letters were an important part of maintaining soldier morale. In an age of almost universal Australian literacy letter writing was the main means of economical personal contact. The letters written by the light horsemen form part of Australian history as it affected the family. By use of many unpublished and published letters, the fears and loves of the men at the front comes through. In the end, it gives a positive link to the past as the letter authors become humanised rather than a statistic.

Outcomes

Students:

  • Understand “kin” and “relation”;
  • Consider the role played by Light Horsemen’s families in Australian history;
  • Understand the importance of the home front during the Great War;
  • Undertake a specific case study of one letter; and,
  • Define specific Light Horse terms.


Focus questions

  • What do we mean by the term “kin”?
  • Who is a kin member?
  • Why is the home an important part of understanding social history in Australia important?



Introduction

Families

The different types of families occur in a wide variety of settings, and their specific functions and meanings depend largely on their relationship to other social institutions.

The term "nuclear family" is commonly used to refer to a family of adult partners and their children (by birth or adoption) where the family relationship is principally focused inwardly and ties to extended kin are voluntary and based on emotional bonds, rather than strict duties and obligations. This considers the spouses and their children as of prime importance and which has a fringe of comparatively lesser important relatives.

The term "extended family" is also common and it refers to kindred (a network of relatives that extends beyond the domestic group) who do not belong to the nuclear family.

 

  1. Initiate discussions by asking students: What is a family within our community? (Shared goals and ties by cohabitating people usually are defined as families within the community.)
Refer to Family Relationship Chart.
Family Relationship Chart

 

2. Where do the students fit in with their families? Here the students should be able to describe their immediate family structure and populate it with the names of the various members.



Main activity

When the Light Horsemen enlisted in 1914, they did not realise that they would be away from Australia for so long. During the Boer War, the most time a person spent in South Africa with a particular unit was about a year and then they returned back to Australia. In the Great War, the men who rushed to join thought they might go overseas, fight one or two battles and be home by the end of 1915. The terms of their enlistment, duration plus four months, meant that when the war bogged down, there was no release until it ended. Some Light Horsemen enlisted in August 1914 and were discharged in September 1919, some five years later. There were at least 35 Light Horsemen in this situation although many more came close to serving similar periods.

See: Light Horsemen who enlisted in 1914 and served over 5 years

Light Horsemen who enlisted in 1914 and served over 5 years


Contact with families and friends were most important activities for the soldiers to maintain their moral. While many men were often homesick, a letter was capable of alleviating some of those feelings of loss.

Open the page:

Resource - Letters from 1914 to 1918

Letters from 1914 to 1918 

 

  1. Discuss the reasons why families were so important for the continued strength of the Light Horse when the Great War broke out and continued during the war.
  2. Access the 23 individual letters. Select each individual student to read out a letter to the class. [Note: Since most of the letters are short, reading the letters out aloud by tasking one student per letter, would consume at maximum, about 10 minutes.] After each letter is read, a reflection question may be asked at the discretion of the teacher. Reflection questions are attached to the bottom of each letter. The focus of this activity is to ensure that the students can empathise with the author and recipient of the letter.
  3. Students self select or are allocated a particular letter from the letters page.
  4. Students examine the letter and answer the reflection questions.
  5. Each student will then attempt to write a response to the letter.  Perhaps the response should be about 100-200 words in length. Students are encouraged to think about the items the author might like to hear about their particular lives. The focus of this activity is a practical application of their empathy. It is of little consequence that they have no historical basis to respond as it is their response at a human level that is important in this exercise.
  6. Each student presents the responding letter to the class.
  7. Discuss the common information and elicit observations.



Debrief

  1. Ask students to describe their experience of researching their family and then putting themselves in the shoes of the letter writers. Ask: What motivated these people to write the letters? By writing the letter, did they learn something about themselves as well as the letter writer?
  2. Did experiences between each student vary? How? Why?



Light Horse context

  1. How was it possible for Light Horsemen to mail their letters in the desert?
  2. How did the military Post Office find the right location of each individual Light Horseman while they were constantly moving cross country? See: The Army Post Office delivering the mail
  3. Why was it common for Light Horsemen, when on active service, to note the letters received? [On occasion, ships bearing the letters would be sunk or poorly addressed. This allowed the men and their families to keep track of the mail sent between each other. If an item went missing, it could be tracked by the Military Post Office.



Extension

  1. Ask students to research the full National Archives Service File of a Light Horseman who served over five years. It is now in his fifth year of service. Write a letter as either a relative or the Light Horseman describing experiences and feelings to the recipient.
  2. Ask students research and report on the family communication systems available now for Australian troops deployed overseas. Compare and contrast that with the systems available to the Light Horsemen in the Great War. [Bear in mind that the International Postal Agreement was only a decade old for Australia and so international letters were still a novelty.]


Web support

The following items are available and recommended to be utilised as student and teacher resources.


Teaching Aids

Lesson Material

Family Relationship Chart

The Army Post Office delivering the mail

Letters from 1914 to 1918
Light Horsemen who enlisted in 1914 and served over 5 years 

 

Aid to reading service files

Index to Common B103 Terms 

Light Horse History

Maps

Map of Cairo and Allied Camp locations 

Locations

Heliopolis

Mena

Entertainment for the troops - the movies

History

 The History of the Composite Australian Light Horse Regiment

 


Word bank

  • AIF
  • Attestation Papers
  • B103
  • Blow
  • Enteric
  • Great War
  • Mena
  • Mizpah
  • Taken on Strength



Definitions

Nuclear family

A type of family made up only of parents and their children.



Kin

1. One's relatives collectively: family, kindred, kinfolk.
2. A person connected to another person by blood or marriage: kinsman, kinswoman, relation, and relative.



Learning outcome principles covered by module for Late Adolescent students:

 21 LA.4. The events, people and movements that shaped the development of Australia (e.g. colonisation and expansion, development of governments, participation in major wars) and the contexts in which events and actions occurred (e.g. social and economic context, motivation and beliefs of individuals).
 
 21 LA.6. Ways in which Australia is presented, nationally and internationally (e.g. stereotypes of Australian people and places).

 21. LA.7. Select and apply geographical tools and processes (e.g. maps, graphs, photographs, flow charts, fieldwork, action research) to gather, interpret and present geographical information on Australia;
 
 21. LA.8: Analyse sources, perspectives, theories and gaps in narrative accounts of Australia and Australians; and,
 
 21. LA.9. Sequence historical events and relevant contextual information to explain and create narrative accounts of Australia and Australians.



Additional Reading:

Education Centre Topic Outline

 


Citation: Lesson 9 Keep the Home Fires Burning, Lesson Plan


Posted by Project Leader at 7:44 AM EAST
Updated: Friday, 21 November 2008 1:05 PM EAST
Monday, 17 November 2008
Family Relationship Chart
Topic: AAB-Education Centre

Education Centre

The Australian Light Horse Studies Centre in conjunction with the various Education authorities in Australia, has embarked upon producing a program of instruction targeted initially towards the Later Adolescence band of scholars, characteristically those who are studying in Year 9 and 10 within Australia. Each lesson will be a self contained module. Some will be more difficult than others and graded accordingly.

 

Lesson 9 Keep the Home Fires Burning

Resource - Family Relationship Chart

The Family Relationship Chart is for use in the Education Centre Lesson 9, Keep the Home Fires Burning for the specific purpose of allowing students to understand the hierarchy of family and their particular place within it.

Family Relationship Chart

[Click on chart for full sized version.]

[Adapted from: Relatives Chart.]

Examination of this chart demonstrates the place a person has within a family group as well as the continuity of this family group with the new generation.  There is a natural and lineal continuity from one generation to the next.

The following two learning points are Extension Activities found in Lesson 9. 

Activities:

1. Use the Family Relationship Chart to map the extended family that exists around you.

2.  In consultation with other family members, try to establish a similar family relationship chart for your great grand parents.

 

Additional Reading:

Letters from 1914 to 1918 

Map of Cairo and Allied Camp locations 

Heliopolis

Mena

 


Citation:  Family Relationship Chart


Posted by Project Leader at 3:51 PM EAST
Updated: Monday, 17 November 2008 3:53 PM EAST
Saturday, 15 November 2008
Letters from 1914 to 1918
Topic: AAB-Education Centre

Education Centre

The Australian Light Horse Studies Centre in conjunction with the various Education authorities in Australia, has embarked upon producing a program of instruction targeted initially towards the Later Adolescence band of scholars, characteristically those who are studying in Year 9 and 10 within Australia. Each lesson will be a self contained module. Some will be more difficult than others and graded accordingly.

 

Lesson 9 Keep the Home Fires Burning

Resource - Letters from 1914 to 1918

During the Great War, letters were the main method of keeping in touch with loved ones. The extent to which the Light Horsemen wrote home is exemplified by the statistics at the end of this post.

Popular Pre-recorded Mizpah Message from Egypt to a Sweetheart in Australia - From 1918.

 

The Sands of Time ...

As the lives of the men who served and the families who served with them in Australia fades with the passing of those who knew them and the generations who felt the preservation of this material was important have also gone, the people featured in these letters have been abandoned by the current generation. Each letter was discarded by relatives who inherited them. These letters, 23 in all, have never been published before. By using them as a learning activity, the lives of these people will once again become meaningful to a new generation.

In presenting the letters, the names of the people have not been revealed. This is for two reasons. In some instances there are no names in the correspondence that can be matched. Other circumstances relate more to present day circumstances where the revelation can cause great embarrassment for the relatives. At times, a post script will be added to the letter indicating the fate of the author.

The letters reveal intimate details about their particular lives. The purpose of the letters is to reveal the common humanity we share with the generation of nearly a century ago. They express the same emotions in the same manner as we do. Everyone will recognise themselves in at least one of the letters. That is the beauty of this exercise - it puts us in touch with our past and yet it also feels like the present.

The letters are placed in a chronological order moving from 1914 to 1918. There will be a brief introduction to the letter so that it has some context within the lives of the people involved and allow understanding of the contents. Following that, the letter will then speak for itself. Finally, there are a few reflective question about the letter which the reader may wish to ponder finished by a post script.

Finally, each reader is urged to treat these letters with the greatest of respect as they are part of our common heritage.

 

1914

 

Letter 1 - Will and Margo

Mena Camp was the major training depot in Egypt for Australian troops. Named after a large building called Mena House, it was under the shadow of the famous Pyramids of Giza. It was a popular visit for all the troops. There were some 20 camel ride companies and a dozen photographers. The standard picture was of the serviceman astride a camel. This card was no exception.

Mena Camp
Cairo
Egypt
18 Dec 1914
Dear Margo
Our camp is quite close to the Pyramids in quite a good place. Will write a letter when I get time. Always looking out for a letter from you.
Love Will.

 

  • What would Margo think when she received this post card?
  • Since the day's work ended at about 6pm, why do you think Will didn't have time to write?
The letter is filled with the excitement of a tourist seeing the world for the first time. Everything was going great for Will and his note is filled with enthusiasm and optimism.

 

Letter 2 - Will and Lily

Will purchased a 1914 Christmas Card while in Egypt to express his feelings towards Lily, his sweetheart.

 

Cover of Christmas Card

The message inside the Christmas Card

This was the message - although prewritten sentiments, the thoughts expressed in them were those that Will wished to express to Lily.

 

  • What do you think Will's feelings were being away from family at Christmas time?
  • How would Lily respond to this card?

Such a card was one of many thousands sent from Egypt to Australia in 1914.

As the years move on, the optimistic sentiments expressed in these two letters turned to greater reflection and a fatalistic acceptance that the seperation would be for a period much longer than anyone thought.

 

1915

 

Letter 3 - Arthur to his Mother

The letter from Arthur to his mother was written en route to Egypt. It was a quick note posted at Aden which was a coaling station and watering point for British ships. See Wikipedia - Aden.

21/1/15
Dear Mother
Just a line to let you know we have passed Aden. The natives are very good bargain hunters but come down in price if you barter with them. Well Mum, I think this is all the news so give my love to all. Art.

 

  • What was Arthur's intention in sending this note?
  • What would Arthur's mother felt when she received this note?

Arthur served continuously through the war and returned home to his mother.

 

Letter 4 - Dan and Ivy

An optimistic letter from a man who had not tasted the terror of war. In a few weeks Dan would be at Gallipoli. By the time Ivy received this letter and penned a response, Dan would have spent some twelve weeks at Gallipoli.

Dear Ivy,
I am sending you this Photo but you must not laugh too much at the little bit of black on my nose. Still we only had it taken for the fun of it, and they are not the best photographers out here. We had a great time at the Pyramids. I shall be glad when I receive a letter from you but I'm afraid we shall be at the front before one comes. But don't forget to write every week.
With best love from yours
Dan
xxxxxx
 
  • Why does Dan seem excited by being in Egypt?
  • How would Ivy feel about reading of Dan's adventures?
  • What would she think about the prospect of going to the front?

Dan appears excited about the prospect of going to the front line, an optimism borne of naivity. The next letter would give an accurate idea as to his state of mind on the front line.


Letter 5 - Frank and Bessie

Frank appears to be a friend of the family as Bessie appears to be still at school and judging from the comments, she might still be an infant. 

18/7/1915
Dear Bessie
Just a little note to let you know that I have not forgotten you yet. I often wish I was back to tease you again. How are you getting on at school. I suppose Jan will be a big girl when we get back. Well Ta Ta Bess.
From Frank
Have a kiss
xxxxxx
 
  • Who would read this letter to Bessie?
  • How would Bessie feel about receiving this letter?
  • What do you think Frank's relationship is to Bessie?

Frank has some very fond memories of Bessie. His comments are filled with kindness towards a little girl. Judging by the awkward comments, it would appear as though Frank does not have any children of his own.


Letter 6 - Will and Isabella

Enteric Fever or Typhoid Fever was a dreadful illness which afflicted the men when placed in large concentrations with little ability for good hygiene practices. Enteric was the cause of a great many casualties at Gallipoli. The shortagesof hospital beds in Egypt meant that Malta quickly became a major hospital centre. This too overflowed and men were shipped to Britain. Will was part of that movement of men from Malta to Britain.

Malta
12 October 1915
Dear Isabella
Just a card to let you know that I am on the Hospital Ship "Assaye" which sails for England this afternoon, just recovering from Enteric Fever.
Regards to self + Madge.
Will
 
  • What relationship do you think Isabella and Madge are to Will?
  • In view of the news in this note, how would Isabella and Madge would respond?

Judging by the lack of introduction to the news about Enteric and the fact that he is also requesting Isabella to pass the news onto Madge, it does not appear that these women are very close to Will personally. Will tells his news in a very matter of fact manner which understates the dire nature of his illness. Enteric was often fatal. That he was being moved indicated that Will was recovering from the illness.

 

Letter 7 - Bill and Sister

Bill's sister, Catherine, was married and lived elsewhere in Victoria and so was not readily accessable. However, judging from this letter, a couple items shine through. Bill was not particularly close to his sister and so that distance became a problem. It would appear that after embarkation, Bill's parents passed on his sister's disappointment at not seeing him before departure. The opening sentence is one of a petulant brother who is responding to a "telling off" by his parents. It seems like a reluctant opening. But then familiarity seems to take over and the letter takes on a more characteristic sibling interchange.

At Sea
15-10-15
Dear Sis,
I was told to write, so I did . We are at Albany and doing well, we have had some rough weather and a lot of the boys have been sea sick, but I have not. We have to sleep in hammocks and get rocked to sleep of a night. I woul like to have said good-bye before I went, but I didn't seem to get a chance. Don't forget to drop me a line. I will write again soon so I will grow stout. With love to all.
Bill.

 

  • How do you think Bill's sister felt at not being able to see him alive for the last time?
  • Why was Bill and his sister so distant?

Bill never met his sister again - he was killed in action 29 July 1916, age 20. The death of a family member is always a dreadful event from which few ever recover. To never say good bye and express all those feelings to a family member before the death is a devastation. Guilt is another emotion that is felt strongly by the surviving family.

 

Letter 8 - Alwynne to his sister Lois

Alwynne saw extensive war service throughout the Middle East. After Gallipoli, he served in Palestine with the most memorable moment being as part of the 4th Light Horse Brigade which charged into history at Beersheba on 31 October 1917. Lois was married to Herbert whose brother Owen (or Lois and Alwynne's Brother in Law) was a dentist working with the Light Horse.

Gallipoli
21st Oct 1915
Your last letter dated Aug 29th 1915.
Dear Lois
Many thanks for your five letters which I received the day before yesterday, I also received one from you about ten day before that. I have received about a dozen letters during the last ten days all from you, Blangowrie and K. Consider I'm doing well and getting along nicely. Hope the two children are well, give them both a kiss for me. Suppose the boy can nearly crawl now. Owen is well in Egypt I think. When he comes over he will very likely be pretty near me. I saw him in Egypt several times. I think I told you or perhaps it was mother. Lover from your loving brother, Alwynne.

 

  • What sort of relationship did Alwynne have with Lois?
  • Can you guess the ages of that Lois's children?
  • How do you think Lois would feel receiving this letter?

Alwynne returned to Australia in July 1919 and settled down as a grazier.

 

1916

 

Letter 9 - Walter to Nellie

While this letter is undated it is suspected to have been written sometime in March 1916. Walter was a driver with a Brigade Train although no embarkation record exists for him. At the time he wrote this letter he had not been allotted to a unit.

Heliopolis
Dear Nellie
A few words to let you know I have not forgotten you and hope you are keeping well. No further news about going to the front yet so I am having a good look around while I have the opportunity. Remember me to Mollie and best wishes to you both.
Yours sincerely
Walter

  • What impression do you get about the state of mind of Walter when he wrote this letter?
  • Who do you believe Mollie is?
  • Do you think Nellie would keep up a relationship with Walter after receiving this letter?

Walter returned to Australia in May 1918 with a hernia. He was discharged as being medically unfit for military service.

 

Letter 10 - Charles to Marsh

Charles was part of the Supply Corps. Although he saw service with the 4th LHR, it was as a driver with the Regimental Train.

Heliopolis Camp
Egypt
Dear Marsh
Just a PC from an old pal letting you see I'm still as and enjoying life. Have been here nearly 4 months and expect to move to the firing line next week. But a few lines to above address will find me. Trusting you one as. Best wishes.
Regards to all
Charles
 
  • Was it common for a male writing to a male friend to address him solely by the surname?
  • In what sense is he using the term "as" in this letter?

Charles served his time with his unit and returned to Australia in 1919.

 

Letter 11 - Unknown Nurse to Unknown Recipient

While no woman served as a Light Horseman, women were an integral part of the AIF, usually designated to a nursing role. This letter is from a nurse who has nominated to remain in Egypt after the bulk of the AIF embarked for France. As to the author and recipient, nothing is known. There are no names or addresses on the card, just the note.

Intermediate Base Depot
Cairo
Egypt
The cake was lovely. Nearly all my men friends have gone away. I hate the thought of France. I nearly volunteered for Transport on the Meditterian for six months. I was a very good sailor coming over but it was on Beautiful ships and I thought it would be better to leave things to fate and wait till I am sent. A good many have volunteered but I want to keep my eye on the Australian boys.
 
  • To whom do you think this letter is sent to?
  • If the cake was lovely, what sort of cake would it have been to last such a long journey?

The comments in the letter lead to the conclusion that this nurse was far happier working in Egypt than going to England or France. While being stoic over her fate, her preference was to work with the Light Horsemen.

 

Letter 12 - Henry to his mother

This is an interesting letter because it is packed full of hinted but unstated history due to censorship of the letters. The unit Henry belonged to was going to a place called Wadi Muksheib which contained more than enough water to supply a Turkish attack. The aim was to drain the wadi and cisterns to deny the Turkish forces the ability to assemble at this place as they had done a year before. The fighting near by could relate to two events, they being: 1. The 9th LHR attack on Bir el Jifjafa on 13 April; or, 2. the Turkish attack at Qatia on 23 April.

25/4/16
My Dear Mother
Just a few lines while I get the chance to write and I believe we are going out to stay for perhaps a week and may get a brush with the enemy. There was supposed to be some fighting again pretty close to where we are and we are most likely going out tomorrow. There is nothing much doing, but just enough to keep us awake. Love. Henry.

 

  • What is Henry saying about being a soldier on the Front Lines?
  • How would a mother respond knowing that her son is going into battle?

Henry played quite an active role during the war and was considered by his commanders to be an excellent bushman and was often chosen to escort senior officers through the front lines. He survived the war and returned to Australia where he lived until dying in the late 1980's.

 

Letter 13 - Charles and Ida

Charles is very much taken by his sweetheart Ida. Much of this letter appears to be a playful, tongue in cheek, letter. Despite his gentle teasing, he does want to pass a message to Ida regarding his ongoing relationship. Charles is broadly hinting that he wanted a firm commitment from Ida before he left Pontville Camp, just outside Hobart, where he was training, and embarked to the war.

Hobart
17/8/16
My dear little Sweetheart
I have been waiting, it seems like years, for an answer to my letter of a few months ago, but I have waited in vain so now intend to send you a gentle reminder. What have I done that you should treat me so harshly, may be darling there is some other fellow that has taken my place if there is the case be goood enough to write and let me know, then I will know that all is over between us and I may go to the war and get shot, you know darling I have lived for you and you alone can make me live. Think well dearest one before you answer my appeal (orange peel) for on your answer hangs life or death on the bettle field of France and you know darling I'm too young to die.
Second spasm
Well my deal little Ida, it really does seem like years since I was up at dear old Aps and I fair long to get up there for a day or two. I am going off this month, don't mean off the shelf, but off duty to get my eye see to, it is gradually getting worse. So may come up and have a look round with one eye.
How do you like the returned hero. Spose he will be right in the boom with the tarts. Miss Daisie is sure to have a few tickets on him.
I saw my old girlfriend Nina in Launceston. She came down to the train to see me, and you may guess it made this feel all over alike when I saw her, I would have gone for my life had I been able to, but I had to stand my ground, and she and another girl bowled up to the engine. She does not look half the girl she did when at Apsley.
Mrs Lisson and Nina came down another day and invited me out to tea. Of course Cliff said he would go but that's as far as he got, and she has gone home now broken hearted. I feel sorry for the poor girl.
Well Ida old girl, I must bring this to an end as it is getting late. Say, don't forget to drop a few lines to a fellow.
Give my best love to Mum, Jim, Mil and kisses.
Heaps of love for your little self.
I remain yours to a cinder.
Cliff.
 
  • How would Ida feel getting this letter?
  • Did this appeal by Cliff achieve its purpose? 
  • How would you go about making such an appeal?


Cliff survived the war to marry Ida. They lived in Tasmania for the rest of their lives.

 

Letter 14 - Geoff and Lindsay

The letter sent by Geoff to his brother Lindsay deals with his life in the Western Egyptian desert. The Senussi rebelled in Egypt when Italy entered the was a British ally. After the Italians took over the Turkish province of Libya in 1911, the Senussi were at war with them. To suppress the rebellion, Australian Light Horse units joined those from the Imperial Camel Corps to fight them. Geoff was a member of the Imperial Camel Corps.

5 October 1916
The last time I wrote was from Mersa Matruh, I am now hundreds of miles away among the sand dunes of upper Egypt. There is nothing here but clouds of flying sand and it is just awful at times. Water is scarce, as we are a good distance from the railway. We are advanced into the enemy's country so I am unable to name this place. We get up every morning at 4 o'clock and it is jolly cold. We have to keep a good guard on at nights and as we only have shorts and putties on we find it cold on our beats as we walk up and down inside the barb wire entanglements. For miles and miles there is nothing but sand dunes. I can tell you it was awful when we were all cooking for ourselves and the sand blowing into everything, we were eating half sand most of the time. We have no tents yet, when we wake in the mornings we have to dig the sand out of our ears and eyes for a few seconds before we can see anything. The Senussi will be driven further back until there will be no danger of them invading Egypt. The armed cars do fine work here, and I can assure you the Senussi are terrified when they see them coming. It is a wonderful sight to see the motor bicycle climbing the steep sand hills and one would think it impossible the work that they do.
Geoff

  • Can you find the location of Mersa Matruh in Egypt?
  • After the description of the sand problems after waking, can you feel the same sensations?

Geoff was killed in action on 11 April 1918 at a place called Musullubeh, near Jericho and the Jordan River.

For an account of this campaign, see:

The History of the Composite Australian Light Horse Regiment

 

Letter 15 - Alf to Ruby

Alf was a horse trainer who, while in Bundaberg enlisted in a Queensland based Light Horse Regiment where he rose to the rank of Warrant Officer Class II. Alf came from Adelaide. For many years he had been fond of Ruby, indeed since 1906, although he left Adelaide to ride and train horses around the east coast of Australia. Despite his travels he always kept a picture of Ruby in his bags. When Ruby found out that Alf was in the AIF, she sent him a letter. From there a correspondence was generated. This is one letter in that series.

Somewhere
Nov 26th
My Dearest Ruby
I have five minutes to spare while we are resting. We are on the march so thought I would send you a card and a couple of snaps that were taken here in the Desert. Excuse the scribble Ruby but I was thinking of you and thought I would write for old times sake. Trusting you are well.
I am still
Your boy
Alf
xxxxxx

 

  • Why do you think Ruby decided to write to Alf after 10 years?
  • What would Alf feel after suddenly, without warning, receive a letter from Ruby?

Alf came home from the war as a genuine hero being awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal, a very high war decoration.

 

1917

 

Letter 16 - Dan writing to his uncle.

This letter appears to be one of a series. From the content, it would seem that Dan wrote a letter to an uncle - the brother of his father - which came to the uncle almost out of the blue as it was unexpected. Many men who were facing the trials of front line duty often wrote to anyone who might respond. In this case it was an uncle.

8/1/17
Dear Uncle
I just received your letter and was pleased to hear from you. I suppose you where surprised when you received my card not having heard from any of us for such a long time. Dad was always going to write but he put it off. This is a photo of my mates + I. I am sitting. It was taken when I was in England. I would like to have visited you but I will not let the opportunity pass next time if I get the chance. Hoping this finds you in the best of health as it leaves me at present. Dan.
 
  • If you were the uncle, how would you respond to suddenly receiving this letter?
  • In view of the response given to Dan, can you think of a reason for the separation of Dan's father and uncle for such a long period?

Dan never was able to carry out his promise to meet his uncle - he was Killed in Action, 8 August 1918.Perhaps the two brothers came into contact again after this letter. 

 

Letter 17 - Jack to Marcella

This was a note on the back of a photograph of two men in AIF uniforms. There is no indication as to whom the men were apart from one having the name "Jack". Similarly there is no information about Marcella.

Jan 12 1917
Dear Marcella
I promised to send you a photo of the reinforcement to which I am attached but as none has been made available so far, I hope you will accept this as a substitute. I am here photographed with my pal Bert of Bellevue Hill. He is going away with me. Best wishes.
Yours sincerely
Jacky.

 

  • Why would a photograph of Jack with his unit be important to Marcella?
  • Do you think the substitute photograph would suffice?
  • How would Marcella respond to this letter.

Sadly this letter gives the reader no more than is on this page. Someone cared enough to preserve the memory for many years until those who knew its story passed into history until lost on the shelves of a shop.

 

Letter 18 - Ted to his sister Nell

Ted's letter expresses one theme that is consistent in all letters, whether expressed or implied, that is the thought of getting home. Flag wagging is another term for semaphore, a system of signalling that relied upon the movement of flags.

EGYPT
May 3rd 1917
Dear Nell
Enclosed herewith please find a few negatives of photographs which I took at Cairo. I am sending then home as it is a nuisance carrying them about. Put that with the others I sent you some time ago.
I am going down to Zeitoun, to the Signal school on Sunder next, and from there expect to be going to Alexandria. I am looking forward to the trip and intend to put all my time into the flag wagging business.
To-day is the anniversary of my departure from Sydney. The time has passed very quickly - much more so than I expected. This time next year I hope to be home again.
Expecting a mail very soon, so will wait for your letter before writing again.
Best Love to all.
Your affectionate brother, Ted.

 

  • Why did Ted need to carry his photographs and negatives with his kit?
  • What does this letter say about Ted's relationship with his sister?

Ted spent most of his time in Egypt as a stores clerk or working in AIF Headquarters in Cairo. He returned to Australia in 1919.

 

Letter 19 - Bertie to his father, Bob

This is a touching letter from a son to his father. The final plea says much about the times and the impotence felt by the son in being with his father. Bob was wounded by shrapnel to his eye and lungs. He returned to the front at the end of the year.

28 June 1917
Dear Dad
Just a line hoping you are getting better. I am glad to hear that you are getting on orwright. No dought you can do with a rest and it will do you good. Hooping that your will take care of your self. It would be very nice that you would not have to go back in the trenches again for what you would be able to come home. You ort to sham sick like alot of them do and they might send you home again. Mum and all are well.
From your loving son,
Bertie
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
 
  • How old do you think Bertie is?
  • What sort of relationship does Bertie have with his father?
  • Bob's wounds were traumatic so how would he have felt receiving this letter from his son Bertie?

Bob was sent to hospital with myalgia and debility a couple months into 1918, then sent home with rheumatism, debity, and premature senility. Bob was discharged from the AIF in June 1918 as being medically unfit for active service. Bertie had his plea answered.


Letter 20 - Cliff to Lily

Cliff was not a man to waste words. He sent many post cards but wrote very little on them except for terms of endearment to his sweetheart. Apart from "Darling girlie", he used "Darling sweetheart", and "My Darling loved one".

29. 8.17
Darling girlie
Am on the track again and having a few minutes to spare am dropping you a few lines trusting they find you well aurevoir
Cliff

 

  • What do you think about Cliff's endearments?
  • Have you any suggestions on what you would like to hear?

The expressions are very quaint which tells much about the character of  the man. While we don't use these terms any more, we now have our own catalogues of favourite endearment terms.

 

Letter 21 - Doris to Mick

As the war dragged on and relatives wanted to express their thoughts about this separation, often a woman would obtain a picture of the man in her life and place an insert of her image in a cloud. The aim was to give the impression that the man was reflecting upon the woman in his life. This particular style of post card was very popular.

Doris in the deep thoughts of Mick

The picture is of Mick prior to departing from Melbourne in November 1915. It is a standard studio photograph taken by many photographers at the time. It is suspected that this picture was sent during the month of October 1917. As to Mick, he served in the AIF from August 1915 until he returned to Australia, May 1919.

 

  • What was Doris thinking when she put together this card idea?
  • How would Mick respond to recieving this card?

The particular card in this picture was a copy of the original sent by Mick to his neice Ruth after the war.  This should indicate Mick's state of mind on receipt of the card.

 

Letter 22 - Unknown writer to his parents

The particular author was part of a concert party touring the various fronts to present entertainment to the Australian troops. 

Dear Mum + Dad
Just received the parcel from Aunt Kitty. Have just written to her and sent photos to you, and one to Hilda of Floss + myself. I have not received any letters for some time. Of course I told you I had to pay 3d on each extra postage. We are not lucky enough to be resting in Blighty. Oh no, we are well in France and working hard day and night. We travel out every night about 8 or 9 miles. We leave tomorrow for a week’s season. I did not get that paper about Gray. I thought he was too much of a blower. PS Remember me to everybody.
 
  • Who do you think Floss was?
  • What sort of relationship do you think this man has with his family?

Concert parties were quite demanding of the men who worked on them. Moving the equipment from one location to another while keeping the show on every night was a strenuous task.

See: Entertainment for the troops - the movies

 

1918


Letter 23 - Annie and Bob

To assist people in expressing sentiments they found difficult to write, it was common for cards with patriotic themes to be available in the shops. Many women purchased these types of cards to send to their menfolk who were overseas. 

Card sent from Annie to her husband Bob, 15 March 1918

Mizpah 

The Lord watch
Between me and thee
When we are absent
One from another

God be with my hero
When we're far apart
May he lift your heart
May he watch between us;
Bless us night and day
Through tim, the waiting time
When you're far away

Mizpah is an emotional bond between people who are separated (either physically or by death). 

15/3/18
My Darling Bob,
I am sending you some nice cards for your birthday. There is one from all of us. They aren't as nice as I would have liked to send you but they were the best I could get here. I know darling your will think they are nice this card dear I think it is lovely it took my eye so I had to buy it to send you. I think the writing on it is beautiful don't you? And it is just what I think and pray dearest. It brings tears to my eyes when I read it. Well dear, accept our best love and wishes. Also give them to dear Pa.
Longing for you dearest.
I remain your ever loving wife
Annie

 

  • After reading the Mizpah, did you think of someone in your life who was absent? Which parts do you think would have brought a tear to her eye.
  • Annie seems to be unsure of her present to Bob. Why do you think this might be?

Annie and Bob were married in 1915. Along with his Father in Law (Pa in the letter), Bob enlisted in August 1916. Both Bob and Pa returned to Australia in 1919.

 

Final Note

The role of the Censor.

1st Light Horse Brigade and Censor's franking stamps, Gallipoli, 24 October 1915

All letters written by the soldiers were read by the unit censors prior to being despatched. Unless the letter bore the censor's stamp, it couldn't be posted. It was a tiresome job for the unit censor. Apart from reading all the mail, the censor had to report on the contents of the letters to the intelligence sections. The surveys of outbound letters allowed the commanders to understand the mood of their troops and the problems that really affected them in the field. Many times, a good commander would utilise the results of these censor reports to effect welcome changes in the conduct of the unit before the problem became a discipline issue. 

Postal Statistics

The Australian Military Post Office servicing the Light Horse was comprised of one officer and 57 men. On a weekly basis, the Australian forces in the Light Horse received 632 Letter bags and 1,339 Parcel bags making a total of 1,971 bags of mail. Similarly, the Light Horsemen and their supports sent about 42,000 letters to Australia every week. Over the whole period of the Middle East campaign through the Sinai, Palestine and Syria, Australian Light Horsemen and their support staffsent some three million letters to Australia.

[From: Rachwalsky, E & Harrison, DF, "The postal history and postmarks of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force (E.E.F.) with special reference to Palestine", BAPIP Bulletin, No. 30, 1958, p. 7.]

 

Additional References:

Post Office

The Army Post Office delivering the mail

Maps

Map of Cairo and Allied Camp locations 

Locations

Heliopolis

Mena

Entertainment for the troops - the movies

History

The History of the Composite Australian Light Horse Regiment

 

 


Citation: Letters from 1914 to 1918

Posted by Project Leader at 2:52 PM EAST
Updated: Friday, 21 November 2008 1:07 PM EAST
Thursday, 13 November 2008
Aboriginal Light Horsemen, Part 11, Students outline
Topic: AAB-Education Centre

Education Centre

The Australian Light Horse Studies Centre in conjunction with the various Education authorities in Australia, has embarked upon producing a program of instruction targeted initially towards the Later Adolescence band of scholars, characteristically those who are studying in Year 9 and 10 within Australia. Each lesson will be a self contained module. Some will be more difficult than others and graded accordingly.

 

Lesson 11 Aboriginal Light Horsemen

 

3603 Pte William Reginald Rawlings, MM, killed in action on 9 August 1918, at Vauvillers, France.

[From: AWM P01695.001]

 

Overview

Indigenous Australians have always been part of the Australian Story from the inception of European colonisation. This was recognised until Federation in 1901 when Aboriginals were virtually stripped of their citizenship by the Constitution, a situation that remained till 1967. Despite that, Aboriginals played a minor but significant role in the subsequent life of the nation. During the Great War, despite prejudice, many Aboriginal men enlisted in the AIF. They faced the same dangers as everyone else, won medals for bravery and some paid the ultimate price with their lives. In this lesson students explore the history of Aboriginal participation in the Australian Light Horse during the Great War; identify issues of specific Aboriginal concerns; research and produce a military biography; develop conclusions based upon the available information; and deliver findings of the study.

 

Sensitivity

When dealing with the subject of Aboriginal servicemen from the Great War, it is important to be aware that in some Aboriginal communities, hearing or seeing names or seeing images of deceased persons might cause sadness or distress, particularly to the relatives of these people. Some Aboriginal cultures may also have prohibitions on who may see certain records based on the age, or sacred or sensitive status of information in them, as it relates to individuals of any particular Aboriginal group. If you feel that your inherited culture falls within the categories mentioned in this section and you feel that it would be inappropriate for you to participate in this learning session, your teacher already understands this and will allow you to undertake an alternative activity.

 

Focus questions

  • What do we mean by the term “race”?
  • What is an Aboriginal?
  • Why is the understanding of Aboriginal history in Australia important?

 

Introduction

In considering the idea of “race” let us take a few minutes to think about the idea of a nation and the community.

  • What sort of groups form in the community?
  • In the past, when the Great War broke out, why were Aboriginals excluded from Australian society?

The Light Horse

Let us look at the way Aboriginal Light Horsemen were treated during the Great War

Access the file of Pte Tom Cooper

Pte Tom Cooper

Read the Attestation Paper, page 3. What do you think the phrase “Not of substantially European descent” really means? Would you like that to happen to you?

Access the file of 2919 Pte Alfred John Henry Lovett.

2919 Pte Alfred John Henry Lovett 

Was Alfred John Henry Lovett treated more fairly than Pte Tom Cooper? Why do you think this is so?

One thing to notice that once accepted as a soldier in the AIF, there was no discrimination in relation to treatment and pay.

From the Australian War Memorial Encyclopaedia:

Indigenous Australian servicemen

Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders have fought for Australia, from the Boer War onwards.

Change in attitudes

Generally, Aborigines have served in ordinary units with the same conditions of service as other members. Many experienced equal treatment for the first time in their lives in the army or other services. However, upon return to civilian life, many also found they were treated with the same prejudice and discrimination as before.

First World War

Over 400 Indigenous Australians fought in the First World War. They came from a section of society with few rights, low wages, and poor living conditions. Most Aborigines could not vote and none were counted in the census. But once in the AIF, they were treated as equals. They were paid the same as other soldiers and generally accepted without prejudice.

Enlistment and Service First World War

When war broke out in 1914, many Aborigines who tried to enlist were rejected on the grounds of race; others slipped through the net. By October 1917, when recruits were harder to find and one conscription referendum had already been lost, restrictions were cautiously eased. A new Military Order stated: "Half-castes may be enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force provided that the examining Medical Officers are satisfied that one of the parents is of European origin."

This was as far as Australia – officially – would go.

Why did they fight?

Loyalty and patriotism may have encouraged Aborigines to enlist. Some saw it as a chance to prove themselves the equal of Europeans or to push for better treatment after the war.

For many Australians in 1914 the offer of 6 shillings a day for a trip overseas was simply too good to miss.

Too dark

Aborigines in the First World War served on equal terms but after the war, in areas such as education, employment, and civil liberties, Aboriginal ex-servicemen and women found that discrimination remained or, indeed, had worsened during the war period.

See:

Indigenous Australian servicemen

 

Self paced learning activity

Choose a name from this list or perhaps your teacher will allocate a name per person. This section works best if everyone has a different Aboriginal light horseman’s service file. There are 26 names in this list.

2422 Pte William Bert Brown, 11th LHR, Lesson 11 Resource

2424 Pte Edward Collins, 11th LHR, Lesson 11 Resource

2423 Pte Frederick Arthur Burnett, 11th LHR, Lesson 11 Resource

2459 Pte Fred Collins, 11th LHR, Lesson 11 Resource

2425 Pte Jack Costello, 11th LHR, Lesson 11 Resource

2426 Pte Harry Doyle, 11th LHR, Lesson 11 Resource

2428 Pte Frank Fisher, 11th LHR, Lesson 11 Resource

2427 Pte Joe Fitzroy, 11th LHR, Lesson 11 Resource

2462 Pte Rupert Franklin Gore Gallaway, 11th LHR, Lesson 11 Resource

2429 Pte John Geary, 11th LHR, Lesson 11 Resource

2431 Pte Jack Kearns, 11th LHR, Lesson 11 Resource

2432 Pte John McKenzie Laurie, 11th LHR, Lesson 11 Resource

2433 Pte James Lingwoodock, 11th LHR, Lesson 11 Resource

2434 Pte Leonard Lynch, 11th LHR, Lesson 11 Resource

2438 Pte James McBride, 11th LHR, Lesson 11 Resource

2437 Pte David Molloy, 11th LHR, Lesson 11 Resource

2435 Pte Frank Morris, 11th LHR, Lesson 11 Resource

2453 Pte Martin Mulrooney, 11th LHR, Lesson 11 Resource

2436 Pte Harry Murray, 11th LHR, Lesson 11 Resource

2439 Pte William Nicholld, 11th LHR, Lesson 11 Resource

2440 Pte Jack Oliffe, 11th LHR, Lesson 11 Resource

2443 Pte Charlie Parkes, 11th LHR, Lesson 11 Resource

2441 Pte Jack Pollard, 11th LHR, Lesson 11 Resource

2445 Pte Edward Smith, 11th LHR, Lesson 11 Resource

2447 Pte Joe White, 11th LHR, Lesson 11 Resource

2448 Pte Leslie Thomas Wogas, 11th LHR, Lesson 11 Resource

Each file will have 5 pages. Underneath every page is a list of information to extract from the file.

The front cover of the Attestation Paper of Persons Enlisted for Service Abroad provides the reader with the following information:

  • Service Number,
  • Surname,
  • Given Names,
  • Age,
  • Employment,
  • Married or Single,
  • Next of Kin Relationship,
  • Next of Kin Name and Address,
  • Enlistment Date.

The third page of the Attestation Paper of Persons Enlisted for Service Abroad provides the reader with the following information:

  • Height,
  • Weight,
  • Chest Measurement
  • Complexion,
  • Eyes,
  • Hair,
  • Religion

Try to convert the height and chest measurement into metres. Remember: 1 foot = 0.305 metres; and, 1 inch = 0.0245 metres.

Try to convert weight into kilograms. Remember: 1 stone = 14 pounds or 6.35 kilograms; and, 1 pound = 0.454 kilograms.

The next two pages are from the B103, the Casualty Form - Active Service which is a summary of the service performed by the serviceman in the Australian Imperial Force, AIF. To help you understand some of the abbreviations used on this form, there is a list of common terms

To understand the terms employed in the B103, the Casualty Form - Active Service, an index is available here:

Index to Common B103 Terms

The front of the B103, the Casualty Form - Active Service provides the reader with the following information:

Regiment

  • Rank on Enlistment,
  • Terms of Enlistment,
  • Embarkation Date,
  • Embarkation Port,
  • Embarkation Ship,
  • Date Taken on Strength with the 11th LHR.

The back of the B103, the Casualty Form - Active Service you may find a further chronology of the serviceman. However, you will only need to find the following information:

  • Did the serviceman Return to Australia; and,
  • The date this occurred.

The term “Returned to Australia” is the date the serviceman departed from the overseas placement, and specifically in the case of the Aboriginal light horsemen, it means the date they left Egypt. The arrival in Australia is a different date usually about a month later.

Page 1 of the Transferred to Australian Imperial Force D provides the reader with the following information:

  • The last rank held in the AIF,
  • The date of Discharge,
  • The place where Discharged,
  • The eligible medals awarded to the serviceman.
At the end of the war men who enlisted and served prior to the end of 1915 were awarded the Medal Trio of the 1914/15 Star, British War Medal and the Victory Medal. They were commonly known at the time as Pip, Squeak and Wilfred. Here is some information about these medals:

Pip, Squeak and Wilfred - the Trio Medals 

The men in this example only were awarded generally the British War Medal and the Victory Medal because they enlisted after the end of 1915. In one case, the Victory Medal was not awarded because this medal required the soldier to have been taken on strength in an active service unit. Since this man was sick and spent his time in Egypt going from one hospital to another until repatriated back to Australia, he was ineligible for the Victory Medal.

When you have extracted all the information, your teacher will ask you to present it to the class. As all the information is collected and collated, you will see some very interesting things happen. You will note items like the most common occupation at the time of enlistment or when most men were discharged from the AIF. Your teacher will help you to understand this information.

Here are some questions you might like to think about.

  • What motivated these men to enlist?
  • Were the men treated the same as the non-indigenous Light Horse?
  • What did they feel towards the man they were researching in terms of his experience?
  • Did experiences vary? How? Why?
  • What was it like to be an Aboriginal Light Horseman?

Aboriginal members of the 11th LHR were regularly employed as trackers. Here is one story about two men employed as trackers during the Egyptian Rebellion of 1919. This comes from Hammond, EW, History of the 11th Light Horse Regiment, Fourth Light Horse Brigade, Australian Imperial Forces, Singapore, 1984, p. 142:

A soldier of the 3rd Gurka Regiment. was murdered by natives while on patrol, and the miscreants were tracked by Corporal Allen and Driver Smith to a village near Abu Hammad on the Cairo-Port Said railway. The Omda (head man of the village) renounced all responsibility in the matter. and, in fact, became defiant and even truculent towards our men. This action, at such a time, was, to say the least of it, foolhardy, and retribution descended swiftly upon him and his people. The soldiers surrounded the village and organised parties escorted the women and children to safety. The troops then entered the village, and after thrashing every man in it with their fists the soldiers burnt the houses to the ground. It is a pleasure to relate that after the "clean up" the guilty natives (three in number) confessed the crime and were later court-martialled and sentenced to death.

Driver Smith was one of men from the 11th LHR 20th Reinforcements studied in the learning assignment. Here are his details.

2445 Pte Edward Smith, 11th LHR, Lesson 11 Resource

You can look a bit deeper into their stories by looking at the activities of the 11th LHR when these men joined the unit.

Here are some items you that can access to read about the 11th LHR in the Jordan Valley.

11th LHR, AIF account about the 2nd Es Salt Raid - March to May 1918, Chapter XVI

11th LHR, AIF account about the Jordan Valley – May to August 1918, Chapter XVII

Now something to think about:

  • Did the participation of the Aboriginal men as servicemen during the Great War influence any change in the Australian treatment of the Aboriginal people in general?

 

Extension

When you recorded the location in Australia described as the address of the Next of Kin of the person you examined perhaps you could research some details about this location.

Perhaps you could research the full National Archives file of the person you studied. Extract more details that might be found on the Service Files.

You might research the service life of 2430 Pte John Johnston and produce a report.

 

Word bank

  • Indigenous
  • Aboriginal
  • Light Horse
  • AIF
  • Great War
  • “Not of substantially European descent”
  • Attestation Papers
  • reinforcement
  • half caste
  • dark
  • race
  • B103
  • Taken on Strength

 

Definitions

Aborigine:

1. An indigenous person who was born in a particular place;

2. A dark-skinned member of a race of people living in Australia when Europeans arrived; and,

3. Is a person of Aboriginal descent who identifies as an Aboriginal and is accepted as such by the community in which he (she) lives.

race

1. A local geographic or global human population distinguished as a more or less distinct group by genetically transmitted physical characteristics.

2. A group of people united or classified together on the basis of common history, nationality, or geographic distribution: the German race.

3. A genealogical line; a lineage.

4. Humans considered as a group.

 

Web support

Index to Common B103 Terms

Aboriginal Servicemen

Pte Tom Cooper

2919 Pte Alfred John Henry Lovett

2430 Pte John Johnston, 11th LHR

Articles

Reveille Articles on Aboriginals in the AIF

11th LHR History

11th Light Horse War Diary Index for 1918 - 1919, Lesson 11 Resource.

11th LHR, AIF account about the 2nd Es Salt Raid - March to May 1918, Chapter XVI

11th LHR, AIF account about the Jordan Valley – May to August 1918, Chapter XVII

External Reference to Wikipedia:

Australian referendum, 1967 (Aboriginals)

 


Citation: Aboriginal Light Horsemen, Part 11, Students outline

Posted by Project Leader at 7:28 AM EAST
Updated: Sunday, 16 November 2008 11:06 AM EAST

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