- The End of the War
- Meanwhile Back in Chermside
- Brisbane Peace Pageant
- An Afternoon and Night of Celebrations
- News From the Army in France
- The Boys are Coming Home
- Pneumonic or Spanish Flu 1919
- Pneumonic Flu Precautions
- Nurse Alice Mable Cock
- The Hamilton Family Infection
- Long Term Psychological Damage of the War
- Long Term Physical Damage of the War
- Formation of the RSL
- Kedron Sub-Branch of the RSSILA after WWI
- Wavell Heights Sub-Branch of the RSSAILA after WWII
- Kedron-Wavell Sub-Branch of the RSL long after WWII
- War Memorials
The End of the War
The end of the war was marked by the signing of an Armistice at 11am on the 11th November, 1918. The German Army was beaten but it did not surrender even though the United States wanted an Unconditional Surrender; later Hitler used the non surrender very effectively in his propaganda.
The German soldiers marched back to a country facing revolution, disorder and starvation while Brisbane rejoiced.
Headlines in Brisbane Courier Page 7 (The front pages carried advertising) 12-11-1918 described the announcement and celebrations of the previous day.
PEACE WITH VICTORY
ARMISTICE TERMS SIGNED.
THE WAR PRACTICALLY ENDED.
WASHINGTON GIVES OUT THE NEWS.
OFFICIAL CONFIRMATION FROM LONDON.
GERMAN THRONES TUMBLE LIKE NINEPINS.
KING OF BAVARIA VANISHES AT MIDNIGHT. HIS HOUSE DEPOSED BY REPUBLICANS.
HIS MAJESTY OF WURTEMBERG ABDICATES.
EX-KAISER AND SON SEEK REFUGE IN HOLLAND.
RED REVOLUTION SPREADS TO BERLIN.
FIRST NEWS IN QUEENSLAND.
THE "COURIER'S" CABLEGRAM. \ GREAT REJOICING.
WILD EXCITEMENT IN BRISBANE
A MEMORABLE NIGHT.
The first news In Queensland regarding the signing of the armistice was received by the "Courier" 'at 7.25 o'clock last evening, and the message was immediately posted\ in the "Courier" vestibule.
The good news spread like wildfire, and within half an hour all over the metropolitan area whistles were blowing, church bells ringing joyously, and excited crowds cheering and singing patriotic songs. The "Courier's" cablegram was communicated to the Commandant, and made the basis of official action.
BRISBANE DELIRIOUS WITH JOY
Within an hour 20,000 people were on the streets; before 10 o'clock the number had grown to enormous dimensions. Soon after the news was received in Brisbane an electric illuminated sign bearing the words, ''Peace and Victory," was posted on the balcony of the first floor of the "Courier" office and it was cheered again and again.
Later in the evening a special edition of the "Observer and Evening Courier" was issued as a peace souvenir,
There was no mention of Chermside but it can be safely assumed that the same sort of celebration went on for those who could not get into Brisbane to join the festivities.
Meanwhile Back in Chermside
Thomas Hamilton wrote in his diary on Monday 11-11-1918 that he went to Central Station to see Cousin Emma off on the 8.5am train where he "saw her safely in the carriage and start for home." Then he went to a funeral and "Mr Matters put the iron on our new shed." And finally "News came through this evening about 9pm that the war is over. We sung the Doxology and National Anthem in our Lodge meeting."
Since the Hamilton family had a telephone at their home then someone could have rung them from the city when the news broke at 7.25pm. Since Thomas heard it at 9pm then someone must have come with the news to the School of Arts which was where the Lodge met. News travelled fast when you had the telephone.
Thomas was a very methodical man, when he wrote up his diary he recorded the day's events carefully in chronological order rather than in order of importance.
The entry on Tuesday 12th was in the same orderly manner starting with him working on the new shed in the morning. Followed by "MJ (Mary Jane), Hector, Alex, Mary Chalk and I went by our Motor car to see the procession to (the) Exhibition grounds. It was a wonderful sight. Everybody seemed to be nearly mad with excitement & joy on account of the victory & peace."
Brisbane Peace Pageant
The Brisbane Courier 30-11-1918 p. 5. Reported the Armistice Celebrations of the previous day the 29th in detail. Brisbane people turned out in their thousands to celebrate.
THE BRISBANE PEACE PAGEANT.
GORGEOUS EMBLEMATIC DISPLAY.
A BIG DAY ON THE EXHIBITION GROUND.
SPECTACULAR NIGHT CARNIVAL ON THE RIVER.
Then followed a very detailed description of the festivities covering most of page 5.
An interesting little note headed "German Troops' Home-Coming" appeared at the end of the above to say that the German newspapers were welcoming "Our Unbeaten Army" home to Germany. Hitler was to use this theme with devastating effect in his climb to power in the 1930s. Ominous!
Thomas entered in his diary: Holiday. M J, Beckie, May, Mary Chalk, Alex & I went to town by motor car, we intended joining in (the) procession with Kedron Shire but were too late to get through the crowd, so just watched the procession.
One of the many floats that took part in the processions. Each float had a message that reflected the wishes or aims of the sponsor. Some were political, some were historical all were looking forward to a better world.
An Afternoon and Night of Celebrations
Sunday 1-12-1918 Afternoon with a choir of 1,500 singers
Reported Monday 2-12-1918 p. 7.
A SERVICE OF THANKSGIVING
15,000 PERSONS AT BOWEN PARK
Thomas recorded in his diary: MJ, Hughie, May, Clara, Beckie, Hector, Lela & I went to the Musical Thanksgiving service in (the) Exhibition Grounds this afternoon, many thousands of people present.
Sunday 1-12-1918 The Brisbane Courier described the celebrations which commenced at 7pm in Queen Street attended by a crowd estimated at about 100,000 happy, cheering people witnessed a brilliant torchlight procession the like of which had never been seen in Brisbane.
QUEENSLAND'S PEACE CELEBRATIONS.
A WONDERFUL NIGHT IN BRISBANE.
BRILLIANT PAGEANT ; HAPPY REJOICINGS.
A CITY OF SONG, GLADNESS, AND THANKFULNESS.
It seems that Thomas did not attend this celebration as there is no entry in his diary.
News From the Army in France
News from France and the front did not come very fast by today's standards where we can watch what is happening as it happens ie "in real time".
The following excerpts from Thomas Hamilton's diary show how long it took to notify the family that Thomas (Eddie) Hamilton had been seriously ill with what was probably among the first incidences of the Pneumonic or Spanish Flu.
Thomas writes that they got a telegram from Base Records in Melbourne informing them that Private Thomas Hamilton (Eddie) was admitted on the 22nd November 1918 to the Third Australian General Hospital Grande, with Pneumonia.
Thomas went to the Valley Drill Shed to find out what he could but, apart from the hospital being somewhere in France, they could tell him nothing.
Thomas writes: Went to the Red Cross in town to inquire about the cabling re Eddie but might have to wait 2-3 weeks for a reply. (Later a telegram arrived saying that Eddie was off the danger list.)
Another telegram arrived informing Thomas that Eddie had been transferred, on December 7th, to Batts War Hospital, Batts England, with severe Bronco Pneumonia.
There was almost a fortnight delay between the incident and reporting to relatives, which for the state of technonogy at the time was probably very good.
The Boys are Coming Home
Bringing the troops home was an enormous task as some 100,000 men had to be brought half way around the world. The task was given to General Sir John Monash, partly because he was a great organiser who looked after his men and partly because he was the commander of the Australian Army.
With the end of the war came the problem of shipping millions of men home to all parts of the globe. Fleets of ships were needed and had to be found as everybody wanted to go home as soon as possible.
The sick and wounded had to be transported on hospital ships but for the rest ordinary ships would suffice. The ships were not luxury cruisers but often they were merchantmen adapted to carry a lot of men.
The Welcome Home
There are few, if any, records surviving of a welcome home, other than that for Eddie Hamilton. Perhaps the people of Kedron Shire never recorded their anguish or the relief they felt when the troops came home. Thus the account that follows will have to suffice for all of them until more information is found.
Thomas Hamilton mentions the names of several local men who returned, and in particular that of his son Thomas, always known as Eddie.
On the 28th February 1919 Thomas wrote "We got letter from Base Records (Melbourne) stating Eddie had embarked in the 'Lanceshire' (sic) Feb 7th for Australia, expected to arrive at Melbourne 21st inst." (March)
All transport was by ship which took about six weeks to make the voyage.
The entry for Saturday 29th March reads "I worked about house all day, dressed & put (illegible) brackets on back veranda & painted them. The transport boat "Lancashire" that Eddie is on arrived in Moreton Bay today."
Very simple, no hint of any excitement, but there was plenty to come.
In the same matter of fact style Thomas writes on Monday 31st March, "I banked money, got 6 (pence) worth cabbage plants. Charlotte brought us word that Eddie rang up from Lytton this afternoon & would ring again about 5 p.m. M J (His wife Margaret Jane) & I had communication with him on Phone arranged to drive down and see him next Wednesday afternoon. He is well. M J first time at a telephone." The entry for the day ends "I attended Lodge meeting."
The bare text gives the impression that nothing interrupted the ordered flow of life; everything had its place and time. However, the remark about M J and the phone reveals that her longing for Eddie overcame her previous refusal to use the 'telephone'. Private telephones were first installed in Chermside from about 1909 and the Hamiltons would have been among the first to install one.
Thomas had a motor car but never learned to drive, however there was no shortage of drivers in the family.
Then came Wednesday 2nd April and Thomas commented "I worked half day painting our own dwelling. M. J., Fanny & her two boys, Clara, Alex, Hector & I drove to Lytton by Motor this afternoon to see Eddie who is quarantined with all the other soldiers off the "Lancashire". We saw him at a long distance. We all had tea at Percy's & Fanny's place when we came back." "I attended choir practice."
All very calm, but must have been a squeeze with eight in the car.
Thursday 3rd April - after commenting that they had a "blow out (tyre) on the road", Thomas goes on "I (sic) doing some painting at our house after we came home. M. J. & I rung up Eddie about 5.40 p. m. & had a good chat to him, they are to get up to Kangaroo Point Hospital about 3 p. m. tomorrow."
Looks like M. J. is doing well on the phone!
On Friday 4th April 1919, Thomas painted the veranda posts, bracket, and "M. J., Clara, Alex & I drove to Kangaroo Point Hospital Wharf by Motor to meet Eddie coming home from the War. We got home about 5.30 p.m. Eddie is in first class health & looks real well. James, Charlotte, Jamie Wayper, Percy, Fanny, Hughie, May, all our family & grandchildren had tea & spent the evening with us."
All very sedate, but then he expresses his own feelings in writing for the first time, "Praise God from Whom all blessings flow." That's it, but it says everything.
Pneumonic or Spanish Flu 1919
In 1919 just as the troops were coming home from the War to End All Wars, the global pandemic of Pneumonic Flu or Spanish Flu or Pneumonic Influenza struck Australia. It is strongly suspected that the returning Diggers brought it with them as possibly the first case in NSW was a soldier, newly arrived home in Sydney. Many soldiers were consequently marched from their troop ships to places such as the Sydney Cricket Ground and into quarantine.
The pandemic took more lives in one year than the war did in four years with estimates varying between 10 and 20 million lives worldwide. As many as 20 million may have died in a year; in contrast, the modern pandemic of HIV/AIDS killed 20 million people but it has taken about 25 years. Most of Pneumonic Flu deaths were of people between the ages of 18 and 40, people who are usually the fittest in the community. In Sydney about 36% of the population was infected with about 3,500 deaths .
While NSW and Victoria were declared "infected States" in January 1919, Queensland attempted to maintain stronger quarantine methods but became an "infected State" in May 1919. Isolation buildings were opened in the Exhibition Grounds and they rapidly filled with 300 cases and the Brisbane Hospital had another 150; between June and October 31,131 cases were reported in Queensland.
The death rate in Sydney was reported as about 13.5% and if that rate was applied to Queensland then about 4,200 people may have died. 500 of the 1,800 employees at the Ipswich Railway yards were off sick and so many employees of the Brisbane Gas Company were sick that gas had to be rationed.
By the end of the year the flu was just about over with only 152 cases being reported for Queensland in the November-December period; the disease struck suddenly, killed quickly and was swiftly gone.
Pneumonic Flu Precautions
A flyer issued by Department of Public Health, Hope Street South Brisbane issued a series of directions:
• If symptoms appear contact a medical practitioner, or Town Clerk/Shire Clerk or Officer of Police at once.
• Transmission may be by speaking, coughing and sneezing. Masks with four layers of surgical gauze should be worn and must be boiled daily.
• Be temperate in eating and avoid alcohol; wash hands and face immediately on reaching home. Change clothes before mingling with family, exercise, short of fatigue should be taken regularly, keep mouth and teeth clean.
• Curative Measures: Isolate the patient with only one person to attend patient, go to bed in a well-ventilated room and have no visitors. Cough and sneeze into gauze or rag, which must be burnt immediately and the person handling the rag must wash hands immediately.
Nurse Alice Mable Cock
(This material was supplied by Alice's nephew Maurice Cock.)
Alice Mabel Cock was born on 11th February, 1890, the youngest child and only daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth Cock. Alice's mother was formerly Elizabeth Chalk, whose family was amongst Brisbane's earliest residents.
John Chalk, Alice's uncle, owned and operated the first bus service in Brisbane, building up an empire of horse drawn buses servicing all of Brisbane, from the South Side to Bald Hills.
Alice's father, Thomas Cock, owned a Slaughter Yard in Rode Road, Chermside. (Rode Road was originally named Cock's Road.) During the 1890's, in conjunction with the Slaughter Yard, Thomas Cock started a small cannery business, with the brand name "Devonia" named after Devon in England, from where the family originally came. The initial shipment of canned corned beef was donated to the Lord Mayor of London. The cannery was forced to close in 1901, because of the effects of a severe drought.
Alice attended the Chermside State School from 6th August 1900 to 30th June 1905 along with her brother John. After training for four years at the Brisbane General Hospital, now the Royal Brisbane Hospital, she became a qualified nurse, receiving her Certificate on the 31st January, 1917. She enlisted in the Australian Army Nursing Service on the 29th December, 1917 and was posted overseas. While serving on active duty she contracted the Pneumonic Flu along with other Australian service personnel.
Nurse Cock returned to Australia on the 14th January, 1919 and was discharged from the Nursing Service. On 14th June 1919, she married James Woodside in Brisbane but they had no living children. Alice died on the 30th December, 1923, at the age of 33, from the effects of the Pneumonic Flu she contracted whilst serving overseas.
Nurse Cock was one of the many service personnel who continued suffering from the effects of the war and, as a consequence, died, in her case, at an early age.
When the Chermside & Districts Historical Society Inc. restored the vandalized missing names on the Marchant Park World War I Memorial Gates (1914-19) at Chermside her name was added. She is the only female whose name appears on the marble tablets and on the original Chermside State School Honour Board.
The Hamilton Family Infection
Thomas Hamilton records in his diary the family experience of the Flu in May & June 1919:
• Tuesday 20 - I brought Beckie home sick with a cold from Franny's this morning; I did not get a start at work till near 10 am.
• Thursday 22 - Beckie is a little better.
• Friday 23 - I posted a letter to Mrs Andersen letting her know I would not call for a while as we had the "Flue".
• Saturday 24 - We had a welcome (home) picnic in our paddock to Harold Hack it was the Church & Sunday school people but the Flu kept a lot of people from attending. I had to come home early & go to bed, Clara also. M J (Margaret Jane, his wife) pretty bad but trying to keep up.
• Sunday 25 - Only Eddie, Alex & Hector able to attend Church
• Monday 26 - I lay about all day not fit for work. Beckie out awhile, Clara out a little while but could not stay out. M J still battling away but should not be up. Alex gone down to it this afternoon.
• Tuesday 27 - We are all still about the same not much improvement.
• Wednesday 28 - All except Alex rather better today.
• Thursday 29 - I am very much better today. Alex not so well others mending. Hughie feeling bad.
• Friday 30 - I stayed at home all day we are all getting a bit better & I think will soon be fit for work again. Alex is the worst. Hughie went down to it last night his head is very bad today.
• Saturday 31 - Stayed about house, rather better today.
• Sunday 1 June - Stayed at home all day, not too well.
• Monday 2 - He worked all day on a cottage they were building but concluded "I did not feel so well this evening."
• Wednesday 4 - Continued working and concluded "I feel much better this evening."
• Sunday 8 - I attended morning service.
Thus over a little under three weeks the whole family of nine, except for Eddie, seemed to contract the Flu but all survived. Eddie, it seems, had the flu while still with the army in France the previous year.
Thomas missed services on two Sundays which indicated that he must have felt really bad. All the children were in the most vulnerable group, the young adults, while Thomas and M J would have been about sixty. There was no mention of medication or visits to the doctor; it seems that if one did not go to hospital then the treatment was much the same as for a 'normal' dose of the flu; go to bed till nature effected the cure.
Also the local Methodist Church carried on services as usual when public gatherings were either banned or discouraged.
The Chermside State School closed for 48 days owing to the Influenza epidemic from 6 May to 11 July.
Long Term Psychological Damage of the War
Bill Gammage wrote "The Broken Years" - Australian soldiers in the Great War. He wrote what the diggers told him in the 1970s.
Gammage personally interviewed several hundred diggers and examined hundreds of letters and diaries stored in the Australian War Museum in Canberra.
In Appendix 2 P.289 he assesses the human price of WWI. While the following section refers to Australia as a whole it also applies to the Chermside District and instances of all its points would probably have been found here.
The emotional and psychiological cost continued long after 1918.
The war changed all those who participated and few of those at home ever understood just how much they changed. The diggers went to war with thoughts of daring deeds, heroic exploits, even glory of victory but the 'grey carnage' of the battle fields changed all that. Many who cheered the veterans return expected them to just 'get back to normal' or 'take up where they left off' years before; others felt that the veterans had been amply rewarded with benefits, honours, and adventures in in the war.
A gap had opened up between the civilians and many diggers who were still traumatised by the horrors to which they had become accustomed; horror had become normal life. The incredible shelling, the endless killing, the suffering of the wounded, the comradeship of mates under fire, the pain they felt when their beloved comrades were killed, the loss of those comrades still alive when their units were disbanded at the end of the war. The family formed in the war was broken up, in most cases forever and that was possibly the unkindest cut of all; few civilians could really understand the loss of that relationship.
However one of the miracles of the post war period was that so many veterans made the change to civilian life successfully; they were twice heroes.
One of the most memorable remains of the Great War are the endless rows of headstones in the endless cemeteries dotting the green landscape of France and Belgium. It seems that as time passes and memories are retrieved, many people are coming to understand something of what the diggers went through.
Pilgrimages by descendants to these cemeteries and the associated battlegrounds are now fairly common, perhaps our attitudes to war are, at last, beginning to change. Lest we forget!
- Lutwyche Cemetery - This website contains the Commonwealth War Graves section which is mostly World War II and later soldiers. However in the lawn section there are many World War I diggers buried.
Long Term Physical Damage of the War
Gammage examines the physical cost of the war to the diggers after it ended in 1918. He writes that about 2,000 men were permanently hospitalised as a result of their wartime injuries, only death would release them.
He continues with the more obvious cost of the blinded, maimed and crippled diggers who lived in society. People found it easier to understand their sacrifice because it could be seen in everyday society.
Further in 1926 some 22,742 veterans were hospitalised for some time but in 1939 the numbers had risen to 49,157 as age was taking its toll and their disabilities were growing worse.
On the other hand the number of War Pensioners was declining; 90,389 in 1920 to 70,462 in 1940 as the veterans had their lives cut short due to war injuries.
Formation of the RSL
Gammage p. 272- Between 40% and 50% of WWI ex-servicemen did not join the RSL or the reverse did join. Only about half joined the RSL. Many joined to fight for concessions or rights and to be with old mates while others wanted to help those diggers who were disadvantaged and look after their dependents.
How the League Evolved
The RSL evolved as a direct result of the camaraderie, concern and mateship shown by the "Diggers" for the welfare of their mates during and after the 1914 - 1918 War. That ethos of compassion and service remains today the motivating influence of the League.
Some key historical dates in the history of the League are:
Conference of Returned Soldiers' Association recommended formation of The Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia (RSSILA)
- Returned Services League of Australia - A brief outline of the major changes to the RSL can be found in this website. Click on "About the RSL" on the left side of page - On the drop down menu, clikc on "How the League Evolved."
Kedron Sub-Branch of the RSSILA after WWI
Brisbane Courier 10-9-1928 reported that the War Memorial School of Arts was opened at Kedron.
The Kedron Progress Association raised £300 to buy the land on the corner of Broughton and Gympie Roads, Kedron; the site is now occupied by a Kentucky Fried Chicken shop built in the early 1970s and may be the first one in Queensland. (Thanks to John McDonnell for pointing this out.)
A further £1,800 had been raised by a special committee and the Public Works Department had drawn up plans for a building to cost about £5,000. It was also to supervise the building free of cost. The successful tender was for £2,701 exclusive of the electrical installation which was to cost a further £122.
The building, opened with a golden key by the Lieutenant-Governor Mr Wm. Lennon , had a deficit of £1,650.
The sub-branch of the RSSILA had 30 members but was appealing to ex-diggers to join up and take the total to about 200.
RSL Social Clubs as at Kedron/Wavell - developed after WWII - open to all comers not just ex-service personnel.
Wavell Heights Sub-Branch of the RSSAILA after WWII
Information from "The Story of the Wavell Heights Community Centre" by Keith Boden.
The Wavell Heights Sub-Branch of the R.S.L. was formed in 1952 with Alex Dewar as the driving force and Mr. Bicks as the foundation president. Membership was small at first but gradually rose to 130 in the early 1970s. It met regularly in the Memorial Hall built in 1951 by the Wavell Heights Community Centre Committee.
Activities were not confined to ex-service affairs and the Sub Branch look pride with the good work done among the less fortunate. To their credit all meetings showed a genuine interest in League and national matters.
The Sub-Branch was a very active body in the community and the Anzac Day services held in the grounds of the Memorial Hall soon became one of the largest suburban services held in Brisbane.
In 1971 the Sub-Branch amalgamated with the Kedron Sub-branch and so the Kedron-Wavell Sub-Branch was formed with headquarters in Chermside.
Kedron-Wavell Sub-Branch of the RSL long after WWII
The Kedron-Wavell Sub-Branch of the RSL was formed in 1968 with the merger of the Kedron and Wavell Heights Sub-Branches of the RSL.
The K/W Services club whch is the largest single community organisation in the district, grew out of the Kedron-Wavell Sub Branch RSL.
The Club was formed by local people and is run by the members for the benefit of the local area. The money that it earns is spent on improving its services and in supporting other groups in the local area and beyond. The money it gathers stays largely in the district.
- Kedron Wavell Services Club Inc - Click on to this Link for a comprehensive account of the way in which the Services Club supports local organisations.
To honour those who served and died for their country is a deeply felt urge in all societies. And so it was after the Great War, thousands of memorials were built, statues, large cenataphs, tomb of the unknown soldier, Australian War Museum in Canberra, honour boards, avenues of trees, memorial gates, Anzac Day and Remembrance or Armistice Day.
Every city, town, village and hamlet had something and when travelling today the wanderer sometimes finds a memorial of the Great War in an isolated place; the village has gone and only the lonely memorial remains.
Since Chermside was the centre of Kedron Shire it was appropriate to put the main memorial there. So the Marchant Park Gates are sited there.
While some memorials are neglected these gates have been changed and enhanced by the development of the park. There is belief that August Vellnagel planted the Hoop Pines that form the left side backdrop to the gates. But since there is no sign of them in the post 1924 photo he could not have planted them, he had been moved, under protest, in 1921.
Many Honour Boards were produced and many probably ended up like this one before we rescued it. Schools of Arts had them but when the old buildings were demolished there was nobody to take the board and it went to the dump. These memorials meant a lot to the generations that passed through the war but not much to those which followed.
There were other Honour Boards which listed the officials of the local Lodge or Friendly Society or School but they have mostly gone.
The CDHS has a couple of Honour Boards in its archive room apart from this one; the World War II board from Chermside State School, another one from a private firm Brown & Broad Ltd and Queensland Box Co Ltd.
The Kedron-Wavell Sub-branch of the RSL has more stored in a room including one from the Jireh Baptist Church which was in the inner city but moved further out leaving the board with the RSL.
Honour Boards are at Banyo Municipal Library and Zillmere Municipal Library while Bald Hills Memorial Hall has one also.
These boards were often simple but sometimes elaborate. They could be made by a local joinery shop or a carpenter, one was made by the local blacksmith. The lettering was done by a house painter who doubled as a signwriter. Since they were kept indoors they could be made from plywood and softwoods with a good coat or two of paint.