28 February 1915

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27 February 1915

See us march along in order,
Step in time not slow,
Heads erect and eyes attention.
Watch us as we go.
We are off to slay the Kaiser.
And be sure ’tis true,
When the time has come for action
What we say we’ll do!

It’s a long way from Australia,
It’s a long way to go,
It’s a long way from Australia,
‘Tis the brightest spot we know.
Farewell to our loved ones;
Good bye homeland fair.
It’s a long way from Australia,
But our hearts are there.

We are leaving home and kindred,
Sweethearts, mothers, wives.
For the motherland is calling,
We don’t grudge our lives,
We would rid the world, of tyrants,
Purify the air,
By the downfall of the Germans;
Wait till we get there.

In the trench and in the open,
‘Mid the battle’s roar,
Think of your brave soldier laddies, 
You may see no more;
Pray for us that we may conquer,
Though the fight be long,
God is still the God of Justice,
He will right the wrong.

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Oliver James Sykes

Brothers Oliver and Harold Sykes hoped to enlist together for service when World War l was declared in August 1914. However, while my grandfather Harold, aged 21, was accepted, my great-uncle Oliver, at 19, was too young. Undeterred, Oliver travelled to Melbourne, where he enlisted at Broadmeadows, stating his age as 23.

Not a lot is known about Harold’s war service, but he was assigned to the 3rd Battalion and with service number 375 he sailed on the Euripides on the first convoy from Sydney. He fought at Gallipoli and later in France, receiving shrapnel wounds to his ear and back. He returned to Australia on the Port Sydney on 2 December 1918 and was discharged from service on 3 February 1919.

When Harold returned to Orange he was given a hearty welcome at the railway station. Among those greeting him were the Model Band, VADs, Digger Post, relations and a large number of friends. After the band played ‘Home Sweet Home’, the Mayor, Ald Bouffler, welcomed him home. Others to speak were the Rev J McDonald and Mr P Callahan on behalf of the Returned Soldiers’ Club.

Then the band led a procession as far as William Street, from where Harold’s relations took him back to his home in Bathurst Road. Earlier that day, another Anzac, Corporal T Dalton, returned, having spent much of his time at Gallipoli. There Dalton witnessed the death of Cecil Lidster, another Orange district recruit.

Harold was married less than a year later, as recorded by the Orange Leader newspaper on 25 August 1919:

An attractive military wedding was celebrated at Christ Church, Blayney, on Wednesday afternoon when two young people of the same name, but unrelated, were united by Canon Harris.

The bride was Annie Adelaide Sykes, third daughter of Mr and Mrs Walter Sykes of Neville, and the bridegroom Gunner Harold Sykes, eldest son of Mr James Sykes of Orange. The bridegroom was an Anzac with 4½ years’ service to his credit.

The bride, who was given away by her father, wore a pretty white voile dress with touches of pale pink and wreath and veil, and carried a shower bouquet trimmed with ribbon of the bridegroom’s battalion colours.

The bridesmaid was Miss Minnie Sykes, a younger sister of the bride, whose dress was a pale pink voile with lace overdress and ribbon trimmings. A soldier comrade in Pte Waters supported the bridegroom.

The wedding breakfast was held at Bowyer’s Hotel and the happy couple subsequently left for Sydney to spend their honeymoon. The travelling dress was of navy blue voile with biscuit coloured straw hat.

Harold, who was a carpenter, moved to Chatswood in Sydney in the 1930s, and died at Fremantle, WA, in 1973.

Oliver enlisted twice, firstly as number 1082 on 1 October 1914. He served at Gallipoli but was returned to Australia in September 1915 for medical treatment.

He re-enlisted in February 1916 on the Ballarat, and served in the 31st Infantry in France.

Oliver went AWOL in England for a year at the end of the war, angry that he had not been allowed any leave. His holiday took him to the north of England, but the authorities caught up with him and he had another 12 months’ ‘holiday’ courtesy of HM Prisons.

He worked as a labourer and died in Leeton in 1980 aged 84.

Harold and Oliver Sykes are remembered on several honour boards in Orange, including Orange East Public School and St John’s Presbyterian Church.
This article was prepared by Orange and District Historical Society President David Sykes. It was first published in History Alive: Orange and District Historical Society Newsletter, Spring 2014, p. 9.

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Harold George Sykes

Harold and Annie Sykes on their wedding day. Image courtesy David Sykes.

Harold and Annie Sykes on their wedding day.
Image courtesy David Sykes.

Brothers Harold and Oliver Sykes hoped to enlist together for service when World War l was declared in August 1914. However, while my grandfather Harold, aged 21, was accepted, my great-uncle Oliver, at 19, was too young. Undeterred, Oliver travelled to Melbourne, where he enlisted at Broadmeadows, stating his age as 23.

Not a lot is known about Harold’s war service, but he was assigned to the 3rd Battalion and with service number 375 he sailed on the Euripides on the first convoy from Sydney. He fought at Gallipoli and later in France, receiving shrapnel wounds to his ear and back. He returned to Australia on the Port Sydney on 2 December 1918 and was discharged from service on 3 February 1919.

When Harold returned to Orange he was given a hearty welcome at the railway station. Among those greeting him were the Model Band, VADs, Digger Post, relations and a large number of friends. After the band played ‘Home Sweet Home’, the Mayor, Ald Bouffler, welcomed him home. Others to speak were the Rev J McDonald and Mr P Callahan on behalf of the Returned Soldiers’ Club.

Then the band led a procession as far as William Street, from where Harold’s relations took him back to his home in Bathurst Road. Earlier that day, another Anzac, Corporal T Dalton, returned, having spent much of his time at Gallipoli. There Dalton witnessed the death of Cecil Lidster, another Orange district recruit.

Harold was married less than a year later, as recorded by the Orange Leader newspaper on 25 August 1919:

An attractive military wedding was celebrated at Christ Church, Blayney, on Wednesday afternoon when two young people of the same name, but unrelated, were united by Canon Harris.

The bride was Annie Adelaide Sykes, third daughter of Mr and Mrs Walter Sykes of Neville, and the bridegroom Gunner Harold Sykes, eldest son of Mr James Sykes of Orange. The bridegroom was an Anzac with 4½ years’ service to his credit.

The bride, who was given away by her father, wore a pretty white voile dress with touches of pale pink and wreath and veil, and carried a shower bouquet trimmed with ribbon of the bridegroom’s battalion colours.

The bridesmaid was Miss Minnie Sykes, a younger sister of the bride, whose dress was a pale pink voile with lace overdress and ribbon trimmings. A soldier comrade in Pte Waters supported the bridegroom.

The wedding breakfast was held at Bowyer’s Hotel and the happy couple subsequently left for Sydney to spend their honeymoon. The travelling dress was of navy blue voile with biscuit coloured straw hat.

Harold, who was a carpenter, moved to Chatswood in Sydney in the 1930s, and died at Fremantle, WA, in 1973.

Oliver enlisted twice, firstly as number 1082 on 1 October 1914. He served at Gallipoli but was returned to Australia in September 1915 for medical treatment.

He re-enlisted in February 1916 on the Ballarat, and served in the 31st Infantry in France.

Oliver went AWOL in England for a year at the end of the war, angry that he had not been allowed any leave. His holiday took him to the north of England, but the authorities caught up with him and he had another 12 months’ ‘holiday’ courtesy of HM Prisons.

He worked as a labourer and died in Leeton in 1980 aged 84.

Harold and Oliver Sykes are remembered on several honour boards in Orange, including Orange East Public School and St John’s Presbyterian Church.
This article was prepared by Orange and District Historical Society President David Sykes. It was first published in History Alive: Orange and District Historical Society Newsletter, Spring 2014, p. 9.

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24 February 1915

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23 February 1915

Dear Susie: — We arrived today,
And anchored off (deleted) bay.
Oh, how I long to see your face,
And dear old (mustn’t name the place).

Yes, darling girl, I’d love to kiss
Your luscious (cannot mention this).
Or wander on the silver strand
Holding your tiny (subject banned).

Last night I lay and dreamt of you,
And how (this topic is taboo).
I seemed to see that happy day
When (this is what I mustn’t say).

That day within my heart I vowed,
That once you’d (cannot be allowed),
For I couldn’t live without,
My ownest precious (word crossed out).

So we can only pray for Peace—
This correspondence now must cease
The censor won’t permit of more—
He is an (expurgated) bore.

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22 February 1915

German airship bombing Calais on the night of 21–22 February 1915. Bundesarchiv Bild 146-2008-0051, Frankreich, Bombardierung Calais. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 de via Wikimedia Commons.

German airship bombing Calais on the night of 21–22 February 1915. Bundesarchiv Bild 146-2008-0051, Frankreich, Bombardierung Calais. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 de via Wikimedia Commons.

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21 February 1915

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20 February 1915

For your country needs your aid;
Let it not be written
That Australians are afraid
Can’t you hear your old pals calling
From the trenches cold and grey?
Fall in, then, and help them
The Teuton foe to slay.

On the cricket, on the football fields
You were never known to shirk;
Now, let us see what you can do
To rout the awful Turk.
They would invade our sunny land,
And drive us from our home;
But Australians true will let them see
That day will never come.

God bless you, young Australians,
For the sacrifice you’ve made,
We’ll forever sing your praises
Nor forget the price you’ve paid
We will welcome your return to us,
To your island land of gold,
And we’ll grip your hands, brave cornstalks,
As your forbears did of old.

So rally round the brave old flag.
And we’ll give you three times three
For the honor of Australia,
And the homo land ‘cross the sea
Where your brothers now aro ‘listing
With K. of K. and French,
To beat the ‘Kultured’ Teutons
And take them trench by trench.

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19 February 1915

Panoramic view of the Dardanelles fleet by unknown British Navy photographer. Image in public domain.

Panoramic view of the Dardanelles fleet by unknown British Navy photographer.
Image in public domain.

 

* cacoethes scribendi – an insatiable urge to write

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