29 February 1916

Unknown artist's impression of HMS Alcantara and SMS Greif in battle. Image courtesy The Times History and Encyclopaedia of the War Vol XXI, London 1920, p. 127.

Unknown artist’s impression of HMS Alcantara and SMS Greif in battle. Image courtesy The Times History and Encyclopaedia of the War Vol XXI, London 1920, p. 127.

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Thomas James Dudley

Thomas James Dudley was born in Lucknow on 21 May 1897; one of ten children born to Thomas and Mary Ellen Dudley. Thomas’ maternal uncle was Alderman William Edwin Agland, who became Mayor of East Orange in 1910. Thomas’ grandfather – Thomas Taylor Dudley – was a Cornish settler from Ludgvan who arrived in Lucknow in 1877, and his grandmother, Mary Ann Dudley nee Allen, who practised as a midwife in the Lucknow and Shadforth areas for many years and was still delivering babies in her 80s.

The Dudleys were very prominent in the district. Thomas Snr was underground mine manager of the Lucknow Gold Mining Company, and family members were active in the Methodist Church, and participated in music and sport.

Thomas enlisted in WWI in February 1916 and attended Dubbo training camp for six weeks before proceeding to Liverpool camp. He embarked from Sydney in September 1916, a private in the 3rd Battalion, 20th Reinforcements. Private Dudley served in France for over two years. He was hospitalised twice during his service; in May 1917 due to trench foot, and in March 1918 after having been gassed.

On 18 September 1918 the 3rd Battalion was involved in the Battle of Warfusee in the Picardy region of France. It was here that they captured the German 77mm calibre Field Gun that is now on display in Cook Park in Orange. Private Dudley was one of 25 servicemen from the Orange area who served in the 3rd Battalion.

Thomas returned to Australia in March 1919 and was discharged from the AIF two months later. He married Frances Jessie Bowyer in Orange in 1922 and the couple settled in Huntley. In mid-1929 they were living in Sydney where Thomas was employed as a voluntary timber worker. On 14 August their home in Huntley was destroyed by fire; the couple lost all their possessions, including Thomas’ war medals.

Jessie died in Orange in 1931, aged just 28. Thomas continued living at Huntley until his death in February 1964 at the Repatriation Hospital at Concord. His obituary in the Central Western Daily described him as “a keen sportsman, taking particular interest in breeding and racing greyhounds.” Thomas is commemorated on the Methodist Church Orange Honour Roll.

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James J Paton

When James Paton enlisted at Dubbo in February 1916 he stated his age as 28 years and seven months. He was, in fact, born in Orange on 29 June 1885, the third of six children to George Daniel Paton and his wife Emma Jane nee Bargwanna. Aged 31, perhaps James believed he would have more chance of being accepted into the AIF if he claimed to be under 30.

James spent a week at camp in Dubbo before proceeding to Liverpool for further training. A private in the 3rd Battalion, 20th Reinforcement, James embarked HMAT A14 Euripides in Sydney on 9 September 1916, arriving in Plymouth late the following month.

Private Paton proceeded to France in December 1916. In May the following year he sustained a gunshot wound to the left thigh and was evacuated to England and admitted to the 4th Southern General Hospital at Plymouth. James spent over two months in hospital; he was discharged to furlough at the end of the July and marched into No 1 Command Depot at Perham Downs in Salisbury in August 1917.

In October 1917 James returned to the Western Front in France. In April 1918 the 3rd Battalion was engaged at Strazeele in northern France defending the British-Australian front line during a German offensive. It was here that Private James Paton was killed in action on 14 April 1918.

When James enlisted he nominated his sister Levine in Lucknow as his next of kin, as both his parents were deceased. In June 1917 Base Records Office wrote to Miss L Paton at Lucknow to advise that James had been admitted to hospital in England, however the letter was returned unclaimed.

Ada Fraser, James’ eldest sister was located in Sydney following his death, and it was she who eventually received his personal effects and war medals. But this was not until the Army was convinced that she was, in fact, entitled to them. On 7 December 1922 the Base Records Office wrote to Ada to enquire if her parents or an older brother or sister were alive. Ada replied two days later, confirming that both parents were deceased and that she was the eldest child. She also added that she had been forwarded her brother’s deferred pay and gratuity bond. On 19 December 1922 Base Records replied:

[I] regret the information supplied is not sufficient to enable me dispose of the late soldier’s war medals etc… Will you kindly state definitely whether the deceased has any surviving brothers.

On 9 January 1923 Ada replied to their request asking:

Would you be good enough to let me know what you intend doing with regard to mementos granted to my late brother…I fail to understand why you doubt my word after the severe test you put me to when you paid me his gratuity and deferred money. I think that alone should prove to you that I am his next of kin.

Ada received her brother’s war medals later that month.

In 1923 the Anzac Memorial Avenue of trees was planted along Bathurst Road to commemorate fallen WWI soldiers. A tree was planted in honour of “Pte J Paton”; it was donated by H Hansen. Very few of the trees are still standing today.

James Paton is commemorated at the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux in France, on the Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Panel number 37 and and on the World War I Roll of Honour on the southern face of the Orange Cenotaph.

Telegram (illegible) advising James’ sister Levine of his death. The residents of Forest Reefs presented the medallion on the right to Levine in 1920. Image courtesy WE Agland RSL MBE Memorial Museum Orange.

Telegram (illegible) advising James’ sister Levine of his death. The residents of Forest Reefs presented the medallion on the right to Levine in 1920. Image courtesy WE Agland RSL MBE Memorial Museum Orange.

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28 February 1916

The muddy Verdun battlefield 1916. Image in public domain.

The muddy Verdun battlefield 1916. Image in public domain.

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27 February 1916

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26 February 1916

La Provence, 1911 by Antonio Jacobsen. Image in public domain.

La Provence, 1911 by Antonio Jacobsen. Image in public domain.

There was no lamentation, and there was no panic, though the ship was sinking rapidly and the boilers exploding. Captain Vesco remained on the bridge, calmly giving orders, and finally cried, “Adieu, mes enfants.” The men clustered on the foredeck, and replied, “Vive la France.” Then the Provence made a sudden plunge, and the foredeck rose perpendicularly above the water.

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25 February 1916

The Fort of Douaumont 1916. Image courtesy Photographisches Bild-und Film-Amt.

The Fort of Douaumont 1916. Image courtesy Photographisches Bild-und Film-Amt.

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24 February 1916

Essad Pasha leaving Durazzo, 24 February 1916. Image in public domain.

Essad Pasha leaving Durazzo, 24 February 1916. Image in public domain.

 

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23 February 1916

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22 February 1916

General George Fowke, 1917. Image courtesy Imperial War Museum.

General George Fowke, 1917. Image courtesy Imperial War Museum.

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