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The average bloke's story as History


old man emu
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The say that history is written by the victorious and as such elevates the status of the powerful, but in there is more accurate History in the stories of the average bloke. 

 

It has only really been since the introduction of the printing press, or more accurately, the arrival of mechanical movable type printing that average persons have had a means of recording and communicating their experiences to a wide audience. Now the Internet gives us instant access to written information that previously required one to travel to where the information could be examined in person. Everything from Birth, Death and Marriage records, to the content of defunct newspapers and personal diaries can be found in digital form. As a result, we are seeing more stories of the average bloke being published, and those stories are being written with independently corroborating documentation.

 

I invite you to use this thread to post stories of people and events supported by information from contemporary sources.

 

 

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 I don't expect the Sco Mo "quiet Australians" will say much. Aren't THEY  the average bloke?  Talking of aero stories and their drivers, I've found the average bloke who flew fighters etc if they do go into print write a good (true) story. They didn't get high hours in the modern sense and often were the only survivor of a fair sized group. Nev

 

 

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Do you have to introduce current politics into everything? I didn't intend this thread to deal in any way with our exalted leaders. Here's my first post on the topic.

 

What made the ANZACs such effective soldiers?

 

Those blokes who stormed the cliffs of Ari Burnu on 25th April 1915 were not professional soldiers. Sure, they had had some training in the use of rifle and bayonet, but they were not skilled in military tactics. How, then, did they make the advances they did against the defenders and then hold the ground for eight months against other troops who held all the trump cards?

 

A 2015 publication, From Desk to Dugout - The education of a Victorian ANZAC" by Robyn Youl and Keith Hallett (ISBN 9781922175953) looks at the formal education these blokes received as they grew up at the turn of the 20th Century. They look at the material that young people used to learn to read and how the content of that material shaped the way these militarily naive men expressed themselves in word and deed.

 

The basis of the author's hypothesis is that the introduction of compulsory education in all Australian colonies in the 1870's resulted in soldiers who could not only read Orders, but could write clear situation reports, thereby providing the Commanders with accurate military intelligence on which to formulate battle plans. The authors also discuss how the stories and activities coming from the reading material molded the minds and attitudes of these young people, so that they readily responded to the call, "For King and Country!".

 

The authors illustrate the results of compulsory education on the common man by referencing  The Anzac Book   ( http://davidmhart.com/liberty/WarPeace/Books/The_Anzac_Book1916.pdf). This book was the result of an attempt to raise the morale of those freezing in the snow-filled trenches of Gallipoli in November 1915. Soldiers are expected to fight, but in the stalemate of Gallipoli, the ANZACs were told to write. So, the ANZACS were the first "other ranks" in history directed by their commanders to express themselves through poetry, prose, sketches and cartoons. These were things that these men had done as schoolboys as they worked their way through a programmed learning sequence using the Royal Readers as their texts. 

 

The contributions to The ANZAC Book are the progenitors of the many memoirs we are now seeing published by those who experienced the tumultuous years of the 20th Century. The poetry might not have been as well known as that of the English poets, Wilfred Owen, Rupert Brook and others, but it conveys similar sentiments. The prose is often of a humorous bent, and why not? It was written to boost morale.

 

So, what made the ANZACs such effective fighters? No doubt a contributing fact was that from age 6 to 14, each one had to attend school and learn the 3 R's. Having learned to read, these young men had their heads filled with the derring-do of adventure stories, setting them the expected standards of manhood. Also while attending school, the boys were inoculated with the ideas of loyalty to the Crown and of British superiority, which no doubt resulted in the overwhelming rush to the recruiting offices when War was declared.

 

So download The ANZAC Book and see part of our history through the eyes of the average bloke who was there. And see if you can get a copy of From Desk to Dugout - The education of a Victorian ANZAC" to broaden you knowledge of how we came to be.

 

 

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OK I'll have a go. This is research I have done on my great-great grandfather, Hannibal Bartley.

 

Hannibal Bartley was born in St Columb Minor in Cornwall in 1822, one of twelve children. At the age of 19, Hannibal was converted to God during the great Primitive Methodist revival in Redruth. He was then living in Illogan, a village about 3 km northwest of Redruth, where he may have been a farmer or a miner. He married 26-year-old Mary Ann Andrew at the Wesleyan Chapel in Hayle, Cornwall on 23 December 1848.

 

Mary Ann’s parents had died when she was nine and she was living with her brother John Andrew, a blacksmith, and his wife Ann. John was also caught up in the revival and was a lay preacher in the church. Mary Ann had been living with John since her teenage years.

 

Hannibal and his new wife immediately emigrated from Plymouth on the “David Malcolm” as government assisted emigrants, arriving in South Australian in April 1849. They traveled with Mary Ann’s brother John and his wife Ann.

 

Initially Hannibal and Mary Ann attended church in North Adelaide. Hannibal found then work as a miner at the Barossa copper mine in the Lyndoch valley. He was working there in early 1850, the year their son William was born. The mine closed in early 1851, but Hannibal had already taken up farming on the Little Para river at Inglewood, 22 km closer to Adelaide. The family attended church at Houghton, 6 km from Inglewood.

 

When news of the Victorian gold discoveries reached South Australia, Hannibal and John Andrew left their families and traveled to Castlemaine (Mt Alexander). They sent back 60 ounces of gold to their wives, which arrived on Alexander Tolmer’s second escort in May 1852. There was much concern that the coming winter would stop supply wagons getting through from Melbourne and that the diggers might starve, so Hannibal and John decided to return to South Australia. They probably carried a lot more gold with them, beside the amount sent home by the escort.

 

They boarded the brig Triton in Melbourne on June 10th, with 48 other passengers including 30 with them in steerage. Due to bad weather and eventual stranding on mud flats near the mouth of the Gawler River, the Triton did not reach its destination until June 30th. For the last nine days, the steerage passengers had to survive on biscuits and water.

 

Hannibal and Mary Ann’s son George Andrew Bartley was born at Inglewood in 1855. In 1857 the family moved 4 km east to an apple orchard at Kersbrook in the Adelaide hills. Meanwhile John Andrew and his wife Ann had settled at Angaston, where they were to remain for the rest of their lives. They were both stalwarts of the local Methodist church, as was their son William.

 

Hannibal sent word of the good Australian life back to his brother Jeremiah (born 1832) who emigrated with his wife and son William to Burra Burra in about 1855. Jeremiah died there in 1857. William became a miner in Moonta and then in Broken Hill, and is the patriarch of the Broken Hill Bartleys.

 

Scarce lands, good seasons and the income from sales persuaded the SA government in 1874 to open to selectors the whole colony as far as the Northern Territory border. 20-year-old George Andrew Bartley bought 492 acres (Minlacowie) in 1875 and 148 acres (Curramulka) in 1876, both “by credit selection” at Minlaton. He married Elizabeth Booth in 1879 and they eventually had ten children.

 

Hannibal died in 1891 at Kersbrook.

 

 

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Here's a story of a young man who gave his life fighting in the AIF during WW2. His name was Maaruff Bin Shalid and he died three weeks short of his 23rd. birthday, only a few miles north of where my father was at the time, near Balikpapan, Dutch Borneo. I started researching Maaruff a few years ago and started a Wikipedia page about him; something which I'm yet to complete. It started when I took my dad down to Leyburn in Queensland to see the old WW2 airstrip, the one where RAAF 200 flight was headquarted during their time working with Z Special Unit. As you drive into Leyburn, there's a memorial and a plaque inscribed with the names of lost 200 Flight crews and Z Force commandos.

 

What caught my eye was the two Malay names on the plaque. We drove out to the old airstrip, one leg of which is now a bitumen road named Liberator Place. We got talking to a local lady who lived on a block at Liberator Place, and she informed us that the Malay Z Force members were taken on board as interpreters. After that, I started compiling available information on him which is the basis of this story.

 

Lance Sergeant Maaruff Bin Shalid was born in Selangor, near Kuala Lumpur in 1923. At the time the war with Japan started, he was working as a pearl diver on a lugger out of Broome in W.A. which ended with the introduction of the National Security (Aliens Service) Regulations in 1942. As Maaruff was a natural born British Subject, he was classified as an Allied Alien and was placed in the CMF's 23rd. Australian Labour Company, one of the so called 'Forgotten Soldiers". Initially put to work on the docks, he soon graduated to the 51st. Port Craft Company, Royal Australian Engineers, no doubt due to his maritime experience. During this time, he also worked detachments to other units as a Malay instructor.

 

In August 1944,  Maaruff was transferred to the A.I.F. as a member of Z Special Unit and remained in Western Australia until transferring to the Australian Parachute Training Centre at RAAF Base Richmond, in February of 1945. After qualifying as a parachutist, he was sent to Leyburn to train with 200 Flight who operated six modified B-24 Liberators under the direct command of the Allied Intelligence Bureau. In May of 1945, Maaruuf departed for service outside Australian territory, most likely to Morotai, Dutch East Indies, where 200 Flight had a forward operating base.

 

That same month, Maaruuf was inserted into North Borneo as a team member of Agas 2, an operation in the Sandakan and Pitas region, to perform intelligence and guerilla activities in support of the 9th. Division landings at Labuan and Brunei Bay. His second operation was Operation Platypus 7 in support of the 7th. Division landings at Balikpapan. He was part of a four man team parachuted into the Semoi region, just north of Balikpapan on 30th. June, 1945, one day before the landings. And that's where things went wrong. Out of respect for living relatives, I won't list the details here, but to cut a long story short, they were dropped ten miles away from the planned DZ, right on top of a Japanese camp.

 

The team comprised the leader, Flight Lieutenant Alan Martin (RAAF), Sergeant James O'Dwyer (AIF), Signalman Ernie Myers (NZF) and Lance Sergeant Maruuf Bin Shalid (AIF). Flt. LT. Martin was the only survivor and eventually made his way back to Balikpapan. His story of surviving is worth telling and I can do that at a later date if anyone is interested in reading it. There are conflicting reports about the fate of the other members. One member was killed initially and Maaruuf and the other member survived until the 3rd of July. or the 5th. according to different native and Japanese sources. Reports vary as to whether it was Sgt. O'Dwyer or Signalman Myers who was captured and killed first.

 

It was to be a while before Maaruff was laid to rest in his final resting place. He was initially buried near the river bank by either the Japanese or locals. In November 1945, he was located and reburied at the Balikpapan War Cemetery. In 1947, he was relocated to the Sandakan War Cemetery, and at a later date to his final resting place in the Indian section at the Labuan War Cemetery. In 1953, his awards were posted. He posthumously received the 1939/45 Star, the Pacific Star, the War Medal and the Australia Service Medal 1939/45. Two months later, they were listed as returned unclaimed. My guess is that they were sent to the Australian Consulate or relevant authorities in Malaya and living relatives could not be located. Maaruuf was unmarried, and with the Japanese occupation, his relatives might not have survived, or possibly relocated to another district. With Malays having no family name, they are very hard to trace. His last name is a patronym. Bin Shalid means 'of Shalid', with Shalid being the name of his father. So as their last name, everyone has their father's first name; very hard to track.

 

I think Maaruuf was one such average bloke who did more than his share and is well deserving of recognition. I hope to finish that Wikipedia page one day; it's the least someone can do to recognize his service and sacrifice. At the moment, the only public reference to him is a few scattered records here and there.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

This internet is really something...  I typed in "Heinrich August Haebich blacksmith "  and got a site that gave lots more stuff than ever I was told as a kid. Photos too. 

 

Apparently he went by the name August, and there is an old reference to him as " Henry " which was obviously an anglicised Heinrich.

 

At one time, the name of Hahndorf was changed to Ambleside, due to stay-at home patriots during ww1, so this was par for the course.

 

Across the road lived auntie Alma Miller, nee Haebich.  I always wondered if uncle by marriage Clarrie Miller was actually Muller but don't know to this day.

 

Anyway, old August Haebich was a substantial and successful man.

 

Blacksmith Shop and Cottages - Hahndorf - Adelaide Hills - LocalWiki

 

 

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I invite you to use this thread to post stories of people and events supported by information from contemporary sources.

 

That's what I said at the beginning. I'm glad that it inspired you go looking.

 

No go look for Uncle Clarrie's ancestry to see if he came from English or German grain grinders.

 

 

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  • 1 month later...

pmc, there is a great book called "on the margins of the good earth" by Meinig.

 

It is about the expansion of the SA wheat frontier in the days of your story. It was written as a thesis but it was so good it became a bestseller.  Have you seen it?

 

 

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pmc, there is a great book called "on the margins of the good earth" by Meinig.

 

It is about the expansion of the SA wheat frontier in the days of your story. It was written as a thesis but it was so good it became a bestseller.  Have you seen it?

 

No I haven’t but now I will look for a copy.thanks.

 

 

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yep thats it OME.

 

I had a copy myself but lent it out once too often. In the book,  they thought the food production capacity of South Australia was unlimited.

 

There is a similar thing happening today with the "infinite growth " official dogma. Those of us who question this are regarded as problem people.

 

My expectation is that the infinite growth nonsense  will finish with far worse consequences than the foolish wheat-frontier expansion in the book.  We look back and wonder how they could have been so stupid. What will coming generations say about us?

 

 

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pmc, there is a great book called "on the margins of the good earth" by Meinig.

 

It is about the expansion of the SA wheat frontier in the days of your story. It was written as a thesis but it was so good it became a bestseller.  Have you seen it?

 

No I haven’t but now I will look for a copy.thanks. Just ordered a copy.

 

 

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I would like to hear the stories from guys who post here, like OME and Yenn and pmc etc,  with emphasis on the entertaining bits like best and worst memories , and what were your schooldays like, first job,  last job etc. I reckon anybody over 60 must have  quite a story to tell.  I think that many of us grew up in country towns, that alone would be interesting to know.

 

 

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I have been thinking along these lines for some time and have started writing up my history for the great grand kids. In some ways I think it would be boring for others but there are some things I have done that are a bit way out. I might get round to a quick easy version for you.

 

 

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Don't put that job off, Yenn. Lots of family history is lost because people either don't value it or don't get around to recording it.

 

Next Friday would have been my dad's 100th birthday so his kids planned to gather near Queens Lake where he grew up and spend a weekend sharing what we knew of his story. Between us we should be able to fill a few of the big gaps.

 

Unfortunately, the fires have made a mess of those plans.

 

 

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I agree with not putting the job off.  In my case the family history on my father's side was something I was too slow in getting around to and now all the witnesses have died.

 

I don't think your story will be boring Yenn. It will be like a window into Australia as it was when we were younger.

 

 

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