On Sunday 02 November 2014 I jumped online as a registered bidder of a Book Auction: The Stuart Braga Collection of Australian Military History held by the reputable Michael Treloar Antiquarian Booksellers. This impressive collection was up for auction and contained a huge selection of Australia’s military history to the end of the First World War including many scarce original battalion histories, rare printed ephemera, memorabilia, photographs, maps and artwork. Some of the items included Charles Bean’s virtually unknown Cairo publication, What to Know in Egypt (March 1915); a lengthy run of the very rare Gallipoli journal Peninsula Press; and Norman Wilkinson’s eyewitness watercolour of the Landing at Gallipoli which sold for a five-figure amount.
As the auction progressed I was so pleased to learn that the auctioneer was the great-grandson of one of the doctors from the No 1 Australian Stationary Hospital. I have since been in contact and hoping to share information soon.
I was after one little book which was called War Service of Old Melburnians 1914-1918 by John Beacham Kiddle. The book was an illustrated history of all the old boys of the Melbourne Church of England Grammar School who fought in WWI. One of the 1325 names in the book was my relative LTCOL Henry Bryant, the commanding officer of the No 1 Australian Stationary Hospital. A two page biography and a new photo of him makes the purchase all worthwhile.
Just released recently is a wonderful book called Blood, Sweat and Fears which is about the
Medical Practitioners and Medical Students of South Australia who served in World War 1. As most of the Doctors from No 1 Australian Stationary Hospital were from South Australia then this book has become my new best friend.
‘Blood, Sweat and Fears: The Military Service of the Medical Practitioners and Medical Students of South Australia who served in World War 1’, is dedicated to the memory of the South Australian Medical Practitioners and Medical Students who served in the Army, Navy and Flying Corps in the Great War, 1914-1918: To commemorate those who lost their lives and to those who lost their health, faith, hope and aspirations and to celebrate the achievements of those who received Military or Civilian honours in recognition of their bravery under fire, their leadership and contribution to their profession and society in the aftermath of the war, and finally to those whose contributions remain unknown and unacknowledged.
Publisher: Army Health Services Historical Research Group AMOSA
Authors: Christopher Verco RFD MD FRCOG FRANZCOG;
Annette Summers AO RFD PhD MEdSt BN;
Tony Swain MB BS FANZCA RANR;
Michael Jelly RFD MB BS FRACMA FRACGP FCHSM.
Thank you to the authors for providing me a copy in acknowledgement of my contribution of information to the book.
I recently had to go to Canberra for two weeks with work and as they say; when in Rome… so I went to the Australian War Memorial. I could only attend on the Saturday so after spending a couple of hours walking around the wonderful exhibits I entered the research room and made the most of my few hours I had available. I came prepared so I knew what I was looking for and I was fortunate to pick up some information from Colonel Martin who was placed in command of the Kyarra during the journey from Australia to Egypt. I also received a copy of SSGT Cowan’s diary and some other useful bits of information. In my last hour I asked for access to the maps on Ismailia and found a great map that shows the location of the No 1 Australian Stationary Hospital in 1916. Overall a great day with more information found for the book.
Received an email from Colin this week regarding George Leslie Hayward. PTE Hayward was one of the original members of the No 1 Australian Stationary Hospital serving in Egypt, Lemnos, hospital ships and Gallipoli. Unfortunately he was killed at Gallipoli after a shell hit the tent he was in. His possessions were returned to his family which included a diary that he kept. Even though he was not a detailed writer (most entries were one-liners), the diary provides information that is invaluable to this project. He also includes details in the diary such as pay, money lent by colleagues, some medicine prescriptions and addresses of people that he met and knew. One entry is special; the address of Albert Jacka VC that is obviously written in the diary by Jacka himself. Jacka passed through the hospital on Lemnos in August 1915 and members of the hospital even had a chance to take a photo with the new VC Recipient. Thanks Colin for making contact and very grateful for the information.
I have been missing in action for a little while with work and family commitments but have had a few interesting emails come through the door in the past 6 months. Another reason for the absence was due to waiting on a response regarding an application I submitted in February for an Australian Army History Unit grant which provides funding for Military Research projects. After waiting 5 months to hear, I was unsuccessful. The great thing about receiving the letter is the detailed feedback you receive on why you were not successful encouraging me to re-apply again in Feb 15. This means that the book will not be published for a little while however this was going to be the case anyway as I am still seeking further information to put in the book. I am still looking for Diaries, photographs, stories, medals or any other bits of information on the members of the No 1 Australian Stationary Unit.
Had a very successful trip to Adelaide during the Australia Day long weekend. With only two days, I had a very tight schedule but managed to fit a lot in. I was able to visit the State Library of South Australia which houses a number of collections I looked through. Some of these collections contained information about No 1 ASH and others did not. However through some of the documents, I was able to identify a few more members and take some notes that will allow me to do further research when I come to Adelaide in the near future. I also did a quick visit to Keswick Barracks to see where the hospital was raised in 1914.
During the weekend I was also able to catch up with 5 different relatives of soldiers that served with the hospital. Some of the information and photos they have were incredible and I wish I had more time to share some of the stories they told. I was fortunate enough to spend an afternoon with a grandson of a doctor at the cricket and we talked for hours about the hospital and prominent medical me of South Australia during that time.
The drive to Melbourne at the end of the trip was also surprisingly successful. I stopped in a small country town to have a break and wandered over to a small antique store. Inside a found an old dusty book on a shelf that contained over a 100 stories written by men that went to Gallipoli. In the book were three stories written by members of the No 1 Australian Stationary Hospital.
Overall a great weekend and a very successful trip.
This weekend I finished my first chapter of the book. As usual I didn’t start at the beginning but rather went with a chapter on Ismailia 1915. After the No 1 Australian Stationary Hospital arrived in Egypt in Jan 1915, half of the hospital was sent to Ismailia. Here was the scene of bitter fighting by the Turks who tried to cross the Suez Canal in early February. Suffice to say that casualties from these actions were brought into the hospital including a New Zealand soldier and a dozen sailors from a British ship that was hit by Turkish Artillery. There was even a delivery of a baby in there as well. Found some great material written by Charles Bean for a New Zealand newspaper…..of all the places.
Also involved in some great correspondence with the relatives of JS Verco and C Knuckey. Very interesting information being shared which is very much appreciated.
That’s it for now. This month hoping to work on some biographies for the Annex as well as start the chapter on the voyage of the unit from Australia to Egypt. Have a nice Christmas and that for reading.