November 25th is a day of some family significance

Information expanded 3 hours after first posting.

On that day in 1911 in the Shellharbour/Kiama area this woman had a child, not her first.

That child was my father. Her name, before marriage, was Henrietta Bursill. She passed away in 1931. There had been many dark events in her life, including this.

As I explained in an earlier post my grandfather and grandmother had already lost two other sons, Aubrey (1893-1906) and Thomas W (1906-1906). Another son, Kenneth Ross Whitfield, served on the Western Front from 1917 and survived. I remember Uncle Ken fondly. And so my father, Jeffrey Noel Whitfield, was born 25th November 1911, passing away in December 1989.

My Dad and mother told me about his mother. It appears her birth had been a touch irregular.

That Henrietta’s mother was also Henrietta, as I note in this 2013 post. Yet an obituary for Henrietta Senior dated 1921 – reproduced in that post – states that she was survived by two sons (including Charles) and ONE daughter “Elizabeth, Mrs. Whitfield.”  That of course should be “Henrietta”.  There is another obituary for Henrietta Senior in the Kiama Reporter and Illawarra Journal 6 July 1921.

On 28th June, 1921, at the residence of her daughter, Mrs. Thos. Whitfield,of Shellharbour, one of our best beloved and most highly esteemed residents passed quietly away to her rest in her 85th year. Mrs. Bursill was born at Bradfeld, England, in 1837, and at the age of 18 years took passage for Australia by the sailing ship “Asiatic,” and after sailing 97 days, entered Sydney Heads, 24th May, 1855. When 21 years of age she married Thomas Bursill, and they came to Illawarra in search of a new home. They settled on a small farm near Shellharbour over 62 years ago. Mr. Bursill passed away many years ago, leaving his partner the care of five children, three sons and two daughters. The two elder sons, Mr.E. Bursill, builder, of Robertson, and Mr. Chas. Bursill, builder, of Shellharbour, and are both highly esteemed and respected residents of both districts, the third son, George, passed away, from heart failure.It is safe to say we have never had  a resident more universally beloved and esteemed than was Mrs. Bursill,always bright and cheerful, and ready to help, going about doing good. The district is better for the lives and examples of such as she, and very much poorer for their loss.The Rev. Gallop, of Jamberoo, con-ducted the funeral service, at Shellharbour cemetery on 29th June, and spoke of the good she had done and of her kind way of doing, of a long life of usefulness, then entering into rest.

You may have noticed that the “two daughters” left when Thomas B died could not have included my grandmother Henrietta Jr. Do the Maths and study this birth certificate extract carefully.

The page on the Bursill family at the Shellharbour Museum glosses over some things but is still informative.

Thomas and Henrietta’s daughter, also named Henrietta, married Thomas Daniel Sweeney Whitfield, another well-known builder in the area. Thomas worked on occasion with his brother-in-law Charles Bursill. Thomas and Henrietta suffered much tragedy in their life, losing three children. Their eldest son, Aubrey died in 1906, the result of blood poisoning from lock jaw, the result of a kick from a pony. Just one week earlier, they had lost their infant son, Thomas. Nine years later in 1915, their son Colin was fatally shot while on a visit to Albion Park; he was 14 years old.

Question: Am I of Aboriginal descent?

Answer: Possibly, even probably. And no, I have not had a DNA test. But the story is in a way simple. I have (as you do) eight great-grandparents. I can account for all but one of them. In the case of my grandmother’s parentage — and a fine woman but troubled she was by all accounts — the father is unknown. That is, my father’s mother’s father.

The story — which I heard from my father and mother themselves — is that this grandmother was the daughter of an Aboriginal man, probably Dharawal (or maybe Yuin). We know nothing much about him.

But it is enough to make me look at Merrigong from my window with different eyes. The story was enough for Aboriginal actress Kristina Nehm, knowing the story, to always introduce me to Aboriginal people thus: “This is Neil. He is family.”

This is apart from the story of my brother’s wife, who is a descendant of the family of Bungaree.

Email info July 2021 from Rowena Gough

: Hi Neil,

Doing a google search on Bursill trees I’ve come across your website. I think that I can provide you with clearer family tree information for Henrietta Bursill (1874-1931). She was the youngest child of Thomas Russell Bursill (1832-c.1870) and Henrietta Woodley (1837-1921), and named after her mother. Father Thos Edw was bapt. 1832 in Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, Eng, married Henrietta 7 June 1858 in redfern, Sydney, and died c.1870 at Shellharbour, NSW. Mother Henrietta Woodley cme from a farming family, born 1837 Englefield, Berkshire and died 28 June 1921 Shellharbour, NSW. Your Henrietta had 4 siblings. My great grandfather Edward Bursill was the younger brother of Edward Russell Bursill and he emig to the Maryborough area of Victoria. The parents of Thomas and Edward were Thomas Bursill (1808-1846 and Elizabeth Russell (1812-1888). I’ve spent anout 25 yrs on the family history and am quite sure that this is your family line. The William Busill (convict) line is not as yet, connected to our family, and were from London. Our line is from Cambridge, and Yorkshire. So at the moment the story on you blog re family tree probably needs to be reviewed.


Back Again Neil,

Yes, thinking about it. He [Charlie Bursill, Henrietta Whitfield’s uncle] would have known as an older brother what was happening in his household. Father dead, and mother carrying a baby and then a new little one in the house. They live on a farm with livestock, so would have known what was going on.  And of course, the shame of an illegitimate child in those times, and the gossip of local people. Charlie might have had to keep quiet for a long time and then later in life, just needed to release the pressure, so talked to family members. Anyway, it’s Henrietta [Bursill] I admire, and she seemed to have been held in some esteem in the area after a long and hard-working life.

So just to confirm, there is no connection with the convict William Bursill from London. But quite possibly, if you go digging back on all lines in your tree, there’ll be someone in there.

Cheers, Rowena

Charles Bursill prior to my parents’ marriage in 1935 had warned Roy Hampton Chrisrison, my maternal grandfather, that through Henrietta my father had “a touch of the tarbrush”. Grandpa Christison replied, I am told, along the lines of Charlie taking a leap into Lake Illawarra!

So here I am today writing this on Dharawal Country, gazing every day at mountains of enormous cultural significance.

I spent the years of my life from 1943, when I was born, through to 1970 when I first came to live in Wollongong also in Dharawal (or Tharawal) Country, the northern part where the Gweagal could be found; around Wollongong you have the Wodi Wodi. The stories there cross over into those we once wrongly regarded as the beginnings of Australian history, at least on the East Coast.

See this video on Facebook — sadly unable to embed, but here is a screen shot showing a rock shelter in the Sutherland Shire.

And I hasten to add that I am not at all a fan of “cancel culture” or anything like it. I am a fan of acknowledging all our national story.

I have posted several times on this theme, most often when such predictable sources as the Sydney Daily Telegraph or Quadrant or some twit of a pundit on Sky News is beating up a story about Captain Cook, or getting stuck into Dark Emu on the grounds its author is not really Aboriginal.

Twits on Sky News have been at it again in the past few days, getting their knickers in a twist over Adam Goodes’s children’s book — which does not pretend to be a systematic history text. The lesson in it, however, is essentially true. This place was peopled before Europeans came.

NSW One Nation leader Mark Latham says a primary school play is attempting to “demonise” Captain Cook by falsely showing he was there when the First Fleet came to Australia.

Mr Latham said the play, which is based on a book by former AFL player Adam Goodes, is “complete fiction” and teachers at the school should be sacked.

“There’s one supreme responsibility for teachers in the New South Wales education system and that is to teach facts,” he told Sky News host Paul Murray.

“Teach knowledge and facts rather than political indoctrination.”

Now that Murray and Latham are busily stirring up boring old memes and “controversies” again — this time doing a bit of Goodes-bashing and pursuing woke leftie schoolies yet again, I, while tired of the stupidity involved and having begun my personal journey of recovery around 1988, am moved to share this 2020 blog post which in turn delves back to 1988 and 1788,… And to reflect on my own family story in this post.

I also am able to honour James Cook as the great navigator he was. I do chew gum and walk at the same time as well.

Facebook and blog visitors from Ireland recharge the Whitfield family history — Part 2

Let’s start with a visit to Cootehill, County Cavan, where my ancestor William Whitfield (1812-1897) was born. More on him later.

William and Caroline Whitfield — Picton NSW — my 2X great-grandparents

And a song at the end.

Oh fare thee well, sweet Cootehill town
The place where I was born and bred
Through shady groves and flowery hills
My youthful fancy did serenade

But now, I’m bound for Amerikay
A country that I never saw
These pleasant scenes, I’ll always mind
When I am roving far away

The pleasant hills near Cootehill town
Where I have spent my youthful days
Both day and night, I took delight
In dancing and in harmless plays

But while I rove from town to town
Fond memory in my mind shall stay
Of those pleasant happy youthful hours
That now are spent and passed away

I hope kind fate will reinstate
And fortune’s face upon me smile
To safe conduct me home again
To my own dear native Irish isle

When my comrades all and friends likewise
Will gather round and thus will say
We will sing and dance as in the days of old
For you’re welcome home from far away

That Cavan Old Irish Photos group item I told you about in my first post led, through the comment dialogue I engaged in, to the WikiTree for William Whitfield which in turn led to the WikiTree for his father, the convict Jacob Whitfield. This year is the bicentennial of Jacob’s arrival in Sydney on the convict transport Isabella 1. Here is one of my own posts about Jacob and the Isabella 1. The actor Geioffrey Rush’s ancestor was on board as well!

There are lots of details about the Isabella here.

The vessel was moored at Cowes on Thursday 2nd August 1821 when the detachment of the 24th regiment under orders of Lieut. Harvey from Albury Barracks embarked. There were 28 Privates and Corporals and three women. The following day at noon they weighed anchor and passed through the Needles under light and variable winds. On the next Friday (10th) they arrived at the Cove of Cork after a rough passage when the Guard and women suffered very much from sea sickness. They remained at the Cove of Cork for some time during which time several of the guard became unruly and rebellious. A court-martial took place on board and six soldiers were sent back to shore.

On October 14th forty-seven convicts were received onto the vessel making the total to 200 men. They were divided into messes and sent on deck during each day in two divisions. This routine continued until nearly the end of October when rain set in and the men were kept below. The surgeon reported that the prisoners were orderly and well behaved. The bad weather continued and the men were allowed on deck intermittently. By November they had set sail and most of the convicts, guard and women were all experiencing sea sickness in the boisterous weather.

Over the next four months Surgeon Price kept a daily record of the position of the vessel and weather experienced as well as the various illness of the convicts.

There were light winds on the 10th March when they came to anchor in Sydney Cove. The convicts were mustered on deck and divine service performed. The following day the Colonial Secretary came on board to muster the men.

On the 14th March at daylight the guard and the convicts were all disembarked and at 11am Governor Sir Thomas Brisbane inspected the prisoners in the gaol yard.

One item in the Jacob Whitfield WikiTree that caught my eye is this: “Seems Jacob continued his life of crime, bad behaviour and womanizing in the colony of Australia. He is mentioned a few times in News Articles in the early 1800’s.”

This may not be so, as I explained here.

I have alluded before to this article from 16 October 1839 concerning my ancestor the convict Jacob Whitfield. See Family stories 3 — About the Whitfields: from convict days and Respectability achieved–and rapscallions left behind? Jacob was here:


Jacob was accused of receiving stolen goods, namely hats, but the outcome of the trial was in his favour:


So that gunsmith, who was murdered in 1864, may have been just a bit unfair about my ancestor. Then in 1846 there was the curious case of the goat…


Jacob had gained his Conditional Pardon, making him an emancipist, published in October 1842. “A Conditional Pardon, when approved by His Majesty through the Secretary of State, but not before, restores the Rights of Freedom, from the date of instrument, within the colony. But it bestows no power of leaving the colony, and no rights whatever beyond its limits”.  The last we hear of Jacob is in 1851 when he was still living in Market Lane and witnessed a domestic.

The William Whitfield WikiTree contains a flat-out error or confusion: “Name: William Whitfield Vessel: Baring Province: New South Wales Title: General muster Year(s): 1822.” Must be another person. Jacob arrived in 1822 as we have seen, but at this stage my William would have been 10 years old and no doubt was still in the Cootehill area. He arrived in 1826 on the Thames and was never a convict. See 5a — William made it–or I wouldn’t be blogging, would I?

Amazed still by the extra pieces of information about how my great-great-grandfather William (1812-1897) arrived here as a kid just turned 14 in 1826. And imagine this, citing Dr Linton, surgeon on the Thames:

James Whitfield (12) Came under the care of Surgeon 2/2/1826 died 17/2/1826 After gradually sinking died

Ann Whitfield (9) Came under care of Surgeon 22 January – died 21/3/1826 – Examination of the cadaver revealed a collapsed lung and possibly other contributing factors

And it may be his mother also died…

William arrived in Sydney 11 April 1826. Ten years later, 20 June 1836, at St Andrews Church of Scotland, Sydney, New South Wales, he married Caroline Philadelphia West. Their first son, William Joseph John Whitfield, my great-grandfather, was baptised on 18 September 1836 at St James Church, King Street.


Mellish entering Sydney Harbour 1830


Elizabeth St from Lyons’ Terrace in 1842 by John Rae (1813-1900)



As I mentioned in Unexpected connections the point is that William Smith arrived on the same convict ship as my ancestor Jacob Whitfield and his wife and children were on the Thames, the same immigrant ship as were my great-great-grandfather William Whitfield and his sister Mary. Mind you, whoever wrote that inscription gets two things wrong: the convict ship should be Isabella or Isabella 1, not Isabella 2; the Thames arrived on 11 April 1826.

On the Thames I repost a 2011 comment by Bob Starling from my family history page:

An update on the information dated 30/11/2010 –DOCTOR LINTON THAMES SHIP’S SURGEON/DOCTOR RN – meticulous records were maintained by Dr. Linton with his report now held by the Mitchell Library – Special Collections on Microfilm AJCP PRO Reel 3214 Page 522 onwards (79/8555 Identifying number on film). The film is most difficult to read but with patience I was able to decipher records that are of interest. During the voyage there were 223 passengers put on the sick list with 207 being discharged from the Doctor’s treatment with 16 deaths being recorded 3 wives and 13 children. Fevers and fluxes (whatever this symptom represents*) were the main illnesses treated. The 16 deaths were spread across a broad number of categories that cannot be deciphered although fluxes and debility accounted for 8 deaths. Dysentery was prevalent amongst those treated. If Dr Linton treated 223 passengers there is no way that the Microfilm has captured all of the Doctors medical journals. Perhaps he treated several patients on multiple occasions for minor ailments and did not record their medical history as all told here were only 161 passengers on board and although there is no mention of the number of crew there was possibly no more that 20 crew. I have only identified 9 of the 13 children’s deaths. Dr. Linton’s Report comprises 111 pages and has been captured to a CD but only addresses 31 medical cases plus a pre sailing report and a report at the conclusion of the voyage. Perhaps there are other medical journals maintained by Dr Linton that have not been microfilmed by the Mitchell Library. I have asked the Mitchell Library to see if they can locate the original Surgeon’s Report so that I can examine it with the view to locating the possible death of Mary Whitfield**.
The “Thames” was the 1st ship to carry wives and children of convicts that had sought permission to bring their family to Sydney. There is document at the Mitchell Library, although I have not viewed the document, that indicates that there lengthy delays to the “Thames” departure from Cork Ireland. This may account for the date that Dr Linton starts his records 20 September 1825 and sailing date 14 November 1825. Dr Linton was treating patients between these two dates. Perhaps Mary died before the Thames departed Cork.

Dysentery – NW.

** Presumably Jacob’s wife Mary Gowrie. This would contradict the assertion “His wife Mary did not go to Australia.” And just to complicate matters, here is another story!

Birth : C1790 Ireland
Gender: Female

Marriage: C1810 in Ireland

Birth : C1787 Ireland
Gender: Male


Birth : 16MAR1812 County Cavan, IRL
Gender: Male

That is the William Whitfield who arrived on the Thames – same date and place of birth – but those other details vary from other records. In this Jacob is considerably younger! Bob Starling’s dates for him are “Born 1774 in Ballyhagen alternate date 2 April 1772” and some convict lists give his DOB as 1760! — NW

Index of Surgeon’s Report

Generally speaking if a passenger died on the voyage their names would not appear on either the Lyndon Genealogy or Michael Sheedy data bases
Family & Age Comments by Bob Starling
Page 1 Pre Sailing
Page 2 – 3 Ann Moore (32) No passenger with name of Ann although there is a Moore Family
Page 3 – 4 Catherine Smith (14) Discharged
Page 5 – 9 Rose Murray (16) Died 15/2/1826 – there is no family with this name
Page 9 – 14 Ann Carr (3) Discharged
Page 14 – 18 Margaret Farraher (11)Died 20/2/1826
Page 18 – 20 Bridget Farraher (49) Discharged
Page 21 – 22 Mary Smith (12) Discharged
Page 22 – 24 Mary Bradley (49) Died 25/3/1826 – there is no family with name (Paradby)
Page 25 – 30 Patrick Doyle (12) Died 14/2/1826
Page 31 – 33 Patrick Costello (12) Discharged
Page 33 – 36 Jerimah Doyle (10) Died 3/2/1826
Page 36 – 38 Patrick Real (7) Discharged
Page 39 – 40 Richard Casey (4) Discharged
Page 40 – 42 Patrick White (12) Discharged
Page 43 – 45 Judith Fogerty (11) Discharged
Page 46 – 49 Eliza Donovan (5) Died 26/3/1826
Page 50 – 51 Mary Killduff (38) Discharged
Page 52 – 52 John Owens (7) Discharged
Page 53 – 54 Ellen McCarthy (35) Discharged
Page 55 – 62 Ann Whitfield (9) Came under care of Surgeon 22 January – died 21/3/1826 – Examination of the cadaver revealed a collapsed lung and possibly other contributing factors
Page 63 – 64 Jane Hinks (32) Discharged
Page 65 – 69 James Whitfield (12) Came under the care of Surgeon 2/2/1826
died 17/2/1826 – corrected NW
After gradually sinking died
Page 70 – 74 John Harvey (5) Discharged
Page 75 – 79 Mary McCovey (10) No passenger by this name – died 31/3/1826
Page 79 – 81 Mary White (56) Discharged
Page 82 – 84 Mary Owens (38) Died 6/3/1826
Page 85 – 86 Ellen Chawner (32) Discharged – difficult to read name
Page 87 – 89 Mary Curton (15) Discharged
Page 90 – 91 Mary Real (38) Discharged
Page 92 – 93 Ann Smith (12) Discharged
Page 94 – 95 Alica McCovey (9) Discharged
Page 96 – 110 Post arrival Report by Dr Linton
The Post Arrival Report would make great reading if only it could be deciphered and understood relative to legal terms. Page 102 does mention the words “highly probable, specifically from inappropriate food and drink”. James Whitfield is also mentioned on Page 108 with the word “hemorrhage” identified. Page 110 mentions the word “lemon Juice” which in those days may have been associated with scurvy, a deficiency in vitamin C.

Mary Bradley
Eliza Donovan
Jerimah Doyle
Patrick Doyle
Mary Farraher
Mary McCovey
Rose Murray
Mary Owens
Ann Whitfield
James Whitfield

Mary Whitfield’s name does not appear on the Surgeon’s Report and there is every possibility that she died during the voyage as there are six deaths that cannot be identified from the Surgeon’s Report. Eight children and 2 wives have been identified leaving a discrepancy of eight children and one wife that are not accounted for in the Surgeon’s Report.

Bob’s research on the Thames and what happened to the people on her is now held by the Society of Australian Genealogists….

But see note on 5b — Stray stories of family and Australiana — 4.

A plus in the WikiTree is some new information about William Whitfield’s death. Sadly he took his own life — I have told the story before.

The new information is this:

Name: William Whitfield Birth Year: abt 1812 Admission or Discharge Date: 7 Mar 1896 Admission or Discharge Place: New South Wales, Australia Age: 84 Asylum: Government Asylums for the Infirm and Destitute Title: Register of Inmates Nov 1894-Jun 1896

And there is a prequel of course:

It is worth exploring the 1890s in Australia. See for example the My Place site. One aspect:


Between 1890 and1893, a severe economic depression caused the closure and collapse of many banks. The Federal Bank of Australia ran out of money and closed. In April 1893 the Commercial Bank of Australia, one of Australia’s largest banks, suspended operations. Twelve other banks soon followed. Those who had put their savings into building societies, as well as those who had borrowed heavily to fund their own speculative investments, found themselves in desperate straits. Businessmen, pastoralist farmers and land speculators weren’t able to pay their overdrafts, and thousands of small and large investors were ruined.

Is that why we have this from 18 August 1894?


Sure looks like his son’s — William Joseph John’s — business is going down the tubes. According to Australian biographical and genealogical record series 1, 1788-1841, with series 2 supplement, 1842-1899 / series 1 edited by John T. Spurway, assistant editor Allison Allen; series 2 edited by Kenneth J. Cable and Jane C. Marchant WJJ’s Bluegum Saw Mill in the early 1890s employed 34 men. WJJ “during the Great Depression of 1893 … supplied timber for the building of Catholic Schools and piles for the construction of Sydney wharves.” 

Caroline, William’s wife, William Joseph John’s mother, had died in 1881.

The following year William sold up:


To summarise the story of William Whitfield:

Australian biographical and genealogical record series 1, 1788-1841, with series 2 supplement, 1842-1899 / series 1 edited by John T. Spurway, assistant editor Allison Allen; series 2 edited by Kenneth J. Cable and Jane C. Marchant

Facebook and blog visitors from Ireland recharge the Whitfield family history — Part 1

Since this post was written

Now to my family stories….

What an amazing time I had on Wednesday night beginning with a modest comment I was asked to allow on my Ninglunbooks blog where I have posted so much family history — Christisons as well as Whitfields. The comment was the latest to come to my earliest post on family history which dates back to 2000 but has been much added to and revised.

Catriona Brady 7 September 2022: Yes Isaac Whitfield lived in Killatee, Maudabawn, Cootehill Co Cavan in Drumgoon Parish. Their farm is still call Whitfield’s to this day. They were Quakers. If you are on Facebook and follow Cavan Old Photos, you will see a 4 pictures of Isaac Whitfield & his wife Rebecca & some outside their home in Killatee.

Now I see an earlier comment:

Jennifer Douglas 4 December 2014:


I am hoping to get in touch with Bob Starling or perhaps you can help … I am researching the family of Isaac and Rebecca Whitfield (nee Mackee). I have seen a post that indicates that they had 10 children, I believe that I have found 8. I have cousins who are descended from their son Thomas and his wife Rose Anne Cleland. Is it possible that Isaac is?:
Birth : 12FEB1800 Cootehill, Cavan, IRL
Gender: Male

The Isaac I am researching appears to have lived in Cavan, there is a widow, Rebecca, that died 15 April 1869 (b 1801)

Such an intricate web of comments that page of mine has become! Just to remind you: my 3X great-grandfather is Jacob Whitfield, a convict, who arrived in Sydney in 1822, His son William came out and joined has father in 1826 at the age of 14. William was born in Cootehill County Cavan in 1812.

Bob Starling is a family historian who has added so much to our knowledge and to that page, along with Stuart Daniels, John Van Luyn, Merrick Bailey, Kerry Roach and so many more. In more recent times the amazing Lilian Lee (RIP) and photographer and historian from the Picton/Tahmoor/Thirlmere area James Whitfield.

I visited that group on Facebook — Cavan Old Irish Pictures and among the things there is that house — no longer there — to which Catriona refers — Whitfield’s.

I became involved in a comment thread with people in the group and was given many a juicy lead — but I am still evaluating them. It does seem more and more likely that convict Jacob was a Quaker. It had been determined that his grave, now lost, was in the Quaker section of the Old Burial Ground which was where Sydney Central Station now stands.

This is one of the treasures the Cavan group led me to — more on it later.

And to orient myself:

Three of us have been back, but none to Cavan. First was my grand-nepew Nathan in 2011.

I am 99% sure he is the first of Jacob Whitfield’s descendants to set foot in the Old Country since the 1820s! Of course someone may have…

Then in 2019 his brother David and sister Lauren visited the Old Country, seeing more of it than Nathan had but not getting to Cavan. Lauren took many beautiful photos. This is one.

More to come….

My nephew Warren tells me his son Simon also visited Ireland.

One year ago when lockdown was our life…

Just a sample! Definitely worth a repost!

Various lockdown hacks and escapes — 40 — our town and some brilliant finds

Posted on  by Neil

Yes, the 40th in the series! OMG! Longer actually, as our lockdown began 26 June. So Day 61 in fact.

In accordance with NSW Health advice Saturday 26th June Collegians will be closing its venues from 4pm today. This includes:

Collegians Wollongong, Collegians Balgownie, Collegians Illawarra Leagues, Collegians Figtree & Collegians Port Kembla

At this stage we hope to re-open our doors on Saturday 10th July in accordance with the end of the lock down Midnight Friday 9th July. Pending further advice from NSW Health.

Thank you for your understanding. Stay safe and take care. Collegians Management

Well here we still are… As I have said City Diggers is taking advantage of the lockdown to do major renovations.

The coffee shop bar yesterday!

Talked to a club friend from early on in my return to The Gong, Steve Hitchens, about this yesterday on the phone. BIG changes. But as I said to him, I hope the Bistro menu is better than it was in the lead-up to lockdown — the reason I and Maurice and many others migrated to Illawarra Leagues. Be interested to see the changes though.

Speaking of The Gong, on Thursday I went to town to the chemist as I had to renew some medication. Waiting for the bus at this bus stop I had a conversation which I later reported on Facebook:

At the bus stop in The Gong this morning — a woman around my age was consulting the bus timetable as I scanned the intersection of Crown and Keira for a bus…

“Are they after you?” she suddenly said.

Apparently some kind of police or public order officers had just gone past. I hadn’t noticed…

She laughed and said, “You never know these days, do you?”

We chatted about how things were going. “It’s bad,” she said.

“Yes, but our parents lived through the War,” I replied. “This is not as bad.”

She agreed. “Yes, I was born just after and I remember…”

And told stories of shortages and rations.

“I was born during,” I replied. “And I think now we should be tapping into the spirit our parents had back then.”

“True,” she replied. And went on her way.My bus arrived. A 39. Good, Mount Keira Road service. And I was the only passenger.

Meanwhile the internet continues to deliver, especially through Facebook, some amazing things.

First a family history treasure from the Wollondilly Historical Page on Facebook. I have colourised the image.

John (Jack) Whitfield (1864-1956) joined the Police Force as a Probationary Constable on 28th October 1889. Previous to this he worked as a sawyer with his father W.J.J. Whitfield at his Bluegum Creek Sawmill near the Thirlmere Lakes.John Whitfield was the last constable with the Police Force at Appin. The Court House/Police Station was closed in 1933. Photograph from Whitfield family collection.

Uncle John deserves colour! I met him when I was a kid, but I hardly remember him I’m afraid. I better remember his brother Bill and indeed his other brother, my grandfather Tom. And his sister Annie, who attended the reception in Shellharbour in 1972 for my gold medal Olympian cousin Beverley.

Then on a completely different tack is this brilliant video from journalist George Monbiot on climate change.

So very true! I am ashamed to see that Aussie motormouths like Alan Jones PhD (not) are a significant part of the picture! Game, set and match George! He uses plain and sometimes Anglo-Saxon words at times — perfectly justified, in my view! But if you are a bit precious about such things. be warned if the letter F frightens you….

… Yes, I know absolutely dreadful things have been happening in Afghanistan. On Facebook first thing yesterday I wrote:

I will not spend too much time on this but like everyone I will be following these events closely. Nothing but absolute revulsion can be our attitude, There is nothing good about ISIS, nothing worthy in their cause or their tactics. They appear to hate everyone except themselves.

Any here or in the USA who turns this into partisan politics of any kind is simply contemptible.

But soon after I did share an item from blogging and FB friend in California, Kanani Fong with this note:

Kanani Fong shared this saying “I thought of this photo this morning, when I heard the news about the Kabul airport. It was the last image I saw last night before tucking in. The Marines have always brought a dose of safety and clarity wherever they go. Much love to their family, friends, and fellow Marines.”

Her husband worked as a surgeon with the US military in Afghanistan. She was involved in that excellent documentary Restrepo.

One more — part of a post….

Various lockdown hacks and escapes — 35 — so much good reading!

Posted on  by Neil

First let me mention something that happened yesterday morning.

So there was an insistent knock on the door just now, which I eventually heard through my headphones! Not Coles — they delivered my supplies a couple of hours ago.

Turned out to be Australia Post. And inside, a Wollongong Library book I had reserved some weeks ago!

I am looking forward to that one. The author is a Yuin man from the South Coast of NSW. The book has been much praised….

It did not disappoint!

Back to July 2012 and also to my dad during WW2

The post I have been mulling over needs a lot more cooking, so I am holding off. This however is no mere filler, relating as it does to some recent posts here.

Temps perdu–Whitfield’s, not Proust’s–1 — 20th century

Posted on  by Neil

The first thing to come my way was a special edition of Aero Magazine.


Now I need to refer you to Closely watched planes 1 and About the Whitfields: loss in my “Specials” archive.

14390 Cpl. Whitfield J. N.
Group 833

My Darling Wife

I came to work this morning thinking it was just another day, another hot steaming day, after a terrific thunderstorm last night. About nine o’clock a chap came in with some demands that had to be attended to and on dating them the realisation struck me, this was no ordinary day to me, but a very special one, the anniversary of the day when I made my very bestest pal in all the world mine for keeps, for worse or better…

Thus begins a letter from Port Moresby reproduced on the second of those two pages.


One of my father’s wartime photos

Sadly many more have been lost over the years

Now I am not absolutely sure which squadron my father was in, or if as a “carpenter-rigger” – so described in his discharge papers – who appears to have been involved in salvaging bent aircraft – I have seen a file of correspondence with the higher-ups in the RAAF my father was engaged in, including some recommendations of his that seem to have been adopted – he was attached to several. His discharge papers don’t say. One thing I do know is that he rather specialised in Kittyhawks. 82 Squadron seems a possibility.


So I was drawn to a photo in that copy of Aero.


Now the more I look at the guy in the cockpit the more convinced I am that it is my father!



I guess I will never be sure.

The same issue has this photo of someone I once met and talked with for an hour or more: Richard Cresswell. As I mentioned in “Closely Watched Planes”:

I met Wing Commander Cresswell — as he became — purely by chance one night at the Sydney Intercontinental Hotel in 1988 and had quite a long conversation with him; but that’s another story.