Shellharbour on my mind — Roy Christison

A post on Facebook’s Shellharbour History and Pictures has generated this wonderful war-time picture of my uncle Roy Christison Junior, my grandmother Ada Christison, and my grandfather Roy Christison Senior in Sydney. (Note the tram!)  Posted by my cousin Linda Christison.

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In that same Facebook thread someone asked if anyone had seen a photo of Ada and Roy taken in the 1930s when Roy was headmaster of Shellharbour Public School. Well, I have: it is in my collection. That is the headmaster’s residence in Shellharbour.

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Day 3 Commonwealth Games 2018

I’m really enjoying the Commonwealth Games. I could rant about the Revenant of Oz’s outburst about the Opening Ceremony being “disgusting” and “too Indigenous” — but why would I bother? I did think it was too long, and the music didn’t exactly turn me on — but that Indigenous Smoking Ceremony was just brilliant! A side note though: The Revenant apparently thinks she is Indigenous herself — rather like the Cane Toad, the fox or the rabbit. I get so bored by (never OF!!!) that silly and not uncommon claim, sometimes made by people not nearly as objectionable as The Revenant. But let’s leave her in her box, eh! And Alan Jones in his! (Related: Family history and mystery–the Indigenous connection.)

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That Smoking Ceremony: magnificent!

My mind went back to 1970 and the thrill we Whitfields felt as we followed events in Edinburgh.

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Beverley Joy Whitfield (15 June 1954 – 20 August 1996)

Three gold medals in swimming at Edinburgh! 100m and 200m breaststroke and 4X100m medley relay. Much excitement in Dapto and Shellharbour at the time!  (My family and I were in July 1970 living in Dapto,)

One thing I love about the current Commonwealth Games is the way the “para” events have been integrated into the main competition. A brilliant idea which is working very well indeed.

Related (from 2014): Channel 10, the Commonwealth Games, and Ian Thorpe.

Too many Whitfields!

I have a lot of family history in my blogs, much now consolidated in Neil’s Family Specials and Memory Hole. Lately some potentially confusing comments have appeared in what is in fact my original (though revised) post on Whitfield family history. What a maze that comment thread has become over that past 10+ years! On the other hand much there is of value and interest to family members — or families members! There are, it appears, at least four Whitfield families floating around in Australia history.

One lot came from Hull. I noted them almost ten years ago.

There is a new series ongoing on Ninglun’s Specials: Looking for Jacob. Yes, I know I said I was dropping the series idea, but not the series tags, but a recent email from one of the Whitfield family historians set me off on a small expedition to record the area we now know held the convict Jacob Whitfield’s residence in the 1830s. I was just now reflecting on this: as a child I met, and remember, at least four of the children of William Joseph John Whitfield (born 1836), the grandson of the convict, none of whom ever mentioned their great-grandfather. In fact there was a story my father had that the original family member in the colony had been a shipwright from Hull in northern England – Dad even had a shipwright’s chisel in his tool kit that allegedly came from him. Curiously, there was a Jacob Whitfield in Hull around the time of the Battle of Waterloo, listed in Indentures of apprenticeship cancelled or discharged before the magistrates 1813 – 1821: “Jacob Whitfield, son of Jacob Whitfield of Hull, blacksmith to Thomas Stephenson of Hull, master mariner, 21 June”. Not our Jacob, it seems, though the general trades area is right: but how did my father make a Hull connection in his story? (See also Family stories 3 — About the Whitfields: from convict days. Our Jacob came from Ireland.)

I noted that a family in Sutherland Shire traced back to the Hull Whitfields…

It turns out there is another Whitfield family altogether extant – and with Shire links.

Perilous Seas: The Whitfield Family – Ancestors & Descendants England & Australia 1605-2012

The Whitfield family farmed in the Tyne Valley of Northumberland before moving to iron works on the Derwent River in Cumberland where two daughters drowned in separate accidents. Descendants experienced contrasting fates. One, James Whitfield made a fortune on the Australian goldfields before becoming a successful entrepreneur in Workington. His siblings lived and worked in industrial towns and the youngest, William Whitfield became a master mariner in Australia, experiencing a number of misfortunes before returning to Hull, Yorkshire, leaving his Australian family behind.

Now that is interesting, because my father used to say his Aunty Jessie and one other family member had traced the family to Hull, and there was allegedly a lost fortune there… That must be this family, but there is no doubt there is no close connection.

Speaking of confusing, have a look at this! Jacob Whitfield (1759 – abt. 1851). Family historian Bob Starling was on the case:

In a 2011 comment on “About the Whitfields: Convict Days” Bob Starling wrote:

For some years I have been searching for Jacob Whitfield’s death. It was noticed that Jacob gave his religion as a Quaker on one of his applications to marry. With this fact the Quaker society in Sydney has carried out some research and came up with the following piece of information:

“In searching the incomplete records we have of burials in the Friends Burial Ground within the old Devonshire Street (Sandhills) Cemetery, I came across a reference to:
“Burial Notes missing of … Jacob Whitfield” Unfortunately, there is no indication of his date of death or burial. Burials took place in the Friends Burial Ground from about 1837 through to about 1880.”

Whilst we can now accept that Jacob died in Sydney, probably between 1851 and 1856 we cannot quite put him to rest until we find an exact date.

He was certainly around for a long time.

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From Bob Starling

Now going way back it would be interesting to see how all the Whitfield families link to Wikipedia’s Whitfield family.

The Whitfield family was a landowning Norman family in present-day United Kingdom; the family was seated at Whitfield Hall Northumberland in Northumberland. The area was granted by William, King of Scotland in the twelfth century. The family derives its name from the old English hwitfeld, meaning open white lands….

Quite likely the Irish connection began as part of the Plantation of Ulster.

Looking back at 2017 — 9

From September 2017.

Horror movies right there on my TV…

Too much Cory Bernadi perhaps…

So here I am recuperating from casting my say in the Postal Survey.

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Actually, I was reading an ebook: Gone With the Wind in fact.

Last night I felt a bit gone with the wind myself as I watched Classic Countdown on ABC. It was very good. Lots of uninterrupted acts.

But was it all really over 40 years ago? And did I look like this back then?

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A hundred years ago in Belgium

There was a special commemoration in Belgium yesterday.

ALMOST 1000 people have made an emotional journey to Polygon Wood in Belgium to honour the 5700 young Australian soldiers killed in battle there 100 years ago.

Descendants and friends of the fallen gathered among the headstones at the Buttes New British Cemetery outside the township of Zonnebeke for a dawn service, honouring the sacrifice of the young soldiers killed a century ago on September 26, 1917.

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I thought of two of my family, an uncle I knew and an uncle I never knew.

This man was for sure my favourite Whitfield uncle – well, the only one I ever met in fact. [There was Uncle George of course, but he was “by marriage”.] But he was a really good man, as I recall, with snowy white hair and a crack shot with a rifle – he had competed in that sport. See my April 2014 post Shellharbour.

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Kenneth Ross WHITFIELD (b.1897  d. 1967) m 1920 Esma H. EAST (b. 1895 d. 24 Mar. 1971)

The other uncle — great-uncle actually — was David Belford Christison.

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His life was short. He married Flora Fletcher in 1907 and had three children, all daughters as far as I have been able to find out. According to one source Flora died as recently as 1971. I never met her. David died four years after returning from World War 1.

His military record is available. He was a sapper.

Engineers, also known as sappers, were essential to the running of the war. Without them, other branches of the Allied Forces would have found it difficult to cross the muddy and shell-ravaged ground of the Western Front. Their responsibilities included constructing the lines of defence, temporary bridges, tunnels and trenches, observation posts, roads, railways, communication lines, buildings of all kinds, showers and bathing facilities, and other material and mechanical solutions to the problems associated with fighting in all theatres.

In civilian life he had been a postman.  He managed to get himself blown up by an exploding shell in 1918 leaving a permanent knee injury.

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David Christison was in 14th Field Company Engineers, attached to the 5th Division AIF which did indeed take part in Polygon Wood in 1917. His injury came in April 1918.

Initially, the division was stationed on the Suez Canal. In June 1916 it moved to France, taking over part of the “nursery” sector near Armentieres. There it became involved in the disastrous attack at Fromelles in July. In October it joined the First, Second and Fourth Divisions on the Somme around Flers.

In March 1917 a flying column of the Fifth Division pursued of the Germans to the Hindenburg Line, capturing Bapaume. In May the Division relieved the First Division in the Second Battle of Bullecourt, holding the breach thus gained against furious counterattacks. In September it managed to turn an allied defeat into a major victory at the Battle of Polygon Wood.

In March 1918 the Fifth Division was rushed to the Somme region to help stem the German Offensive. There it guarded the vital Somme River bridges. In April it counterattacked at Villers Bretonneux, recovering the town.

The Fifth Division fought in the Battles of Hamel in July and Amiens in August. In September it forced the Somme River at Peronne and fought on to the Hindenburg Line.

Ken Whitfield arrived in England in December 1917. He has part of a reinforcement for the 3rd Battalion AIF. However, his service with the 3rd Battalion was cut short somewhat by illness. He returned to Australia invalided quite late in 1919.

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