The Road to War and Back

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POPULATION OF WEST AUSTRALIA.

13 January 1914, Kalgoorlie Western Argus (WA : 1896 - 1916), page 18

…those numbers were quickly exceeded, and the fleet that ultimately gathered in the Indian Ocean, heading across to Gallipoli, carried almost 30,000 . People from every walk of life put their hats in the ring, and not only those signing up to fight. In addition to the men coming forward to join the military effort, there were nurses, doctors, chaplains, and many others who stood up to assist, providing important care to those who went across the sea to the battlefront. In 1914, the population of the state of Western Australia was a lot smaller than it is now, with 320,000 people living here, or around one seventh of the current population of two and a half million . Western Australia is one of the largest states in the world, and the capital city of Perth is one of the most isolated, being further from Sydney than it is from Indonesia. Perth is now one of the most spread-out cities in the world, sprawling along the Indian Ocean coastline for more than 120 kilometres, but in 1914, it was far more compact. Perth, to the west of everything Much of Perth’s population was centred near the Swan River , in suburbs like…

2 citations

Australians in Egypt. December 6, 1915.

13 January 1916, Geraldton Guardian (WA : 1906 - 1928), page 1

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THE ROLL OF HONOUR. FIFTY-THIRD CASUALTY LIST.

19 July 1915, The West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879 - 1954), page 7

…this nation in so many ways- it's no surprise that the losses are commemorated everywhere. Researching for my novel recently, I wanted to check what people at home knew about Australian casualties as of July 1915, three months into the Gallipoli campaign. I checked out the The West Australian newspaper from the time, and what I found there was a stunning statistic that brought home exactly the reason those days still echo down the through the years with such resonance. On July 19th 1915, 85 days after the ANZAC landing and the start of Australia's war, the newspapers published the Fifty-Third Casualty List . And the totals at that point in the war, just three months in, were as follows: That is: 2307 Australians killed 8418 Australians wounded 746 missing in action. A total of 11,471 casualties in just three months. Eight-five days to take a whole nation from innocence, to utter devastation. It's a stunning impact on a population of only 4.9 million, which included 2.58 million males. What it means, when you break it down into cold, hard numbers, is that nearly five in every one thousand Australian men had been killed, injured or lost in just three months. One in…

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ORIGINAL VERSE. A RECRUITING SONG.

17 September 1915, Western Mail (Perth, WA : 1885 - 1954), page 36

…11th Battalion marching out of Blackboy Hill Can you with calm, unruffled mien Peruse the war news daily, And go about, on business keen, And take your pleasures gaily? Your countrymen in hundreds fall Before Great Britain's foemen, Will you not answer to the call, You stout Australian yeomen? For Blackboy Hill is calling, ever calling, At Gallipoli our boys are falling, falling; But we'll soon drive out the Turk, If your duty you don't shirk, So come and lend a hand, for Blackboy's calling. A RECRUITING SONG From the Western Mail, 17th September 1915 During the course of the First World War, some 32,000 Western Australian men marched away to fight. The majority had one thing in common- their initial training took place at Blackboy Hill Camp, in the Perth hills. The first troops marched into Blackboy Hill on 17th August 1914, twelve days after the declaration of war. Western Australia’s 11th Battalion was the first raised in this state, and such was the enthusiasm that there were far more volunteers than were initially needed. As a result, the first 1400 chosen were considered particularly fine specimens of Australian manhood, as were those recruited…

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CHAPTER 1. Blackboy Hill Camp.

9 December 1937, Western Mail (Perth, WA : 1885 - 1954), page 9

…By S. M. Harris From the Western Mail, 9th December 1937

…says a great deal for this draft that the men were able to tumble out of the train at Bellevue Station and fall in under Captain R. L. Leane, who marched them off to Blackboy Hill. There was no camp there at that time, and the first thing the boys had to do was to draw tents for shelters and start to pitch camp. Cooks and other details were allotted. The cooks were so only in name, and, after trying their effort, nearly all the boys cleared off to Perth for a feed. At least, that was the excuse given. From the Western Mail, 9th December 1937 (pg. 9) Anyone for stew? Eight companies of men were formed from those who came from Perth and all over Western Australia, with many having served in the civilian reserves under the compulsory Universal Service Scheme that began in 1911. When they first arrived, though, fine physiques or no, the men were for the most part totally untested as soldiers. The men had been passed as medically fit. The minimum height was 5ft. 6in., but otherwise they were a mixed bag-- clerks, sleeper-cutters, miners, prospectors, tradesmen-in straw hats, "boxers" and felts, serge suits and dungarees, with shining suitcases and dilapidated swags. From…

…By Winifred May From the Western Mail, 9th December 1937

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The Ghosts Of Blackboy Hill

27 May 1950, The West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879 - 1954), page 24

…Anyone for stew? Eight companies of men were formed from those who came from Perth and all over Western Australia, with many having served in the civilian reserves under the compulsory Universal Service Scheme that began in 1911. When they first arrived, though, fine physiques or no, the men were for the most part totally untested as soldiers. The men had been passed as medically fit. The minimum height was 5ft. 6in., but otherwise they were a mixed bag-- clerks, sleeper-cutters, miners, prospectors, tradesmen-in straw hats, "boxers" and felts, serge suits and dungarees, with shining suitcases and dilapidated swags. From The West Australian, 27th May 1950 Blackboy Hill was to be the making of a battalion that has gone down in legend as one of the strongest, toughest, and most highly respected of the entire Australian Imperial Force. Their initial training was limited, focussing heavily on marching, drilling, musketry practice, and other basic military tasks. In his serialised history of the 11th Battalion , first published in the Western Mail in 1937, Belford shared a letter that described a soldier's average day at Blackboy Hill: As the battalion took shape, and became accustomed to its routine, the training became more intense, and few of the succeeding…

…1914 (SLWA) Perth archaeologists continue to study the area to learn more about the lives of the men who lived at Blackboy Hill, and in a future follow-up blog post, we'll hear more from one of the experts who's involved. On the eve of Anzac Day each year, the setting sun aligns with all elements of the monument, which includes a sculpture representing the Australian Imperial Forces' rising sun emblem, and a pine tree transported from Gallipoli in Turkey. It's a simple but beautifully symbolic memorial. In the 1950s, when the site was first slated for a new housing development, there was a bit of an outcry , and the push was made to preserve this little piece of the land in memory of those who trained here. And it is small, and there's not a great deal to see, but for me, it was well worth the trip out to the hills to stand on the same soil. If you're a Western Australian with an interest in the First World War, there are no more significant places in the metropolitan area than this little sliver of history, where men from all walks of life passed through on their way to meet their fate. They come from…

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THE STORY OF A.I.F. The ELEVENTH BATTALION CHAPTER 1 (Contd.)

16 December 1937, Western Mail (Perth, WA : 1885 - 1954), page 9

The Western Mail, 16th December 1937 (pg. 9)

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Twenty Years Ago IN THE HURLY-BURLY OF THE WAR DAYS INTERESTING MEMORIES REVIVED (From "The Sunday Times" Files of August 13, 1916.) The Shovellers

16 August 1936, Sunday Times (Perth, WA : 1902 - 1954), page 32

…Their three abiding passions were beer, biff, and bad language, and they indulged in all liberally. Was a soldier awakened out of his beauty sleep by the sole of a No. 10 brogan imprinted firmly upon his countenance he knew without asking that it was a Shoveller. Did an Indian file of lurching forms-- each hilariously brandishing a beer bottle-- swim into a sentry's ken he merely sighed, and said, "Pass, Shovellers." From the Sunday Times, 16th August 1936

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No title

4 July 1915, Sunday Times (Perth, WA : 1902 - 1954), page 17

…(Source: NLA )…

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LOCAL NEWS.

5 June 1907, Albany Advertiser (WA : 1897 - 1950), page 3

…Frank Seccombe has to be one of the most interesting characters I've come across in researching individual stories of the First World War. When I first noticed his record, listing him as having joined up on 17th August 1914, I wondered just what a "piano expert" did for a living. I half expected him to be a piano maker or tuner. But he was in fact quite a renowned musician around Western Australia, described during a tour in 1907 as "one of the most gifted vocalists Albany has possessed for many a year". He both played the piano, and sang basso-baritone in innumerable individual and group performances all over the state, and was to be a bandmaster for the 11th Battalion. Besides his reputation for musical talent, he was also well-regarded for his willingness to roll up his sleeves and jump into the fray when the occasion warranted action. Just the kind of man you'd expect to be first to front up for a war, and there's no doubt he would have been one of the great characters of…

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PEEPS at PEOPLE A BREEZY BUDOET OF PERSONAL PARS

4 July 1915, Sunday Times (Perth, WA : 1902 - 1954), page 20

…who warned him to desist, and it was the same Seccombe who, when the lout repeated the obnoxious epithet or expression, put him to sleep for half an hour with one of the piston punches he kept handy for such occasions. Apart from such affairs, F. D. was a breezy, good-natured Bohemian, and was splendid company at a private festivity or smoke social. The present war gave him not his first baptism of fire. Frank acquitted himself well in the Boer War, having sustained a slight injury to one of his eyes through a small splint from a shrapnel shell. Sunday Times, 4th July 1915 Frank left behind wife Sarah, who he'd just married in 1914, and step-daughter May. His wife had remarried by 1921, and with no children of his own, the memory of him has faded from public view. His fate was shared by many of the others who called Blackboy Hill home. By 1st May 1915, the Unit Diary records that the 11th Battalion commanders were only able to gather together some 450 of their troops, with the rest of that incomparable first 1400 having been killed, injured, or otherwise lost in the madness that was the first week after the Gallipoli…