George Hubert Wilkins (1888-1958)

ABC News Breakfast this morning featured an interview with Jeff Maynard, author of The Unseen Anzac (2015) — certainly one to look for in the Library.


See The Saturday Paper:

George Hubert Wilkins (1888-1958) – polar explorer, air-racing pilot, cinematographer, war photographer, showman, mystic and fabulist – lived more than enough lives for an ordinary mortal. Showered in honours (he was awarded the Military Cross and knighted in 1928), Wilkins is “largely responsible” for taking and documenting Australia’s official collection of World War I photographs. Although Maynard tells the story of Wilkins’ childhood and his years as a polar explorer both before and after the war (Wilkins accompanied Shackleton on his final expedition to Antarctica in 1921), the bulk of the biography is devoted to Wilkins’ time on the Western Front. Charles Bean’s determination to document the Australian experience of war led to Wilkins and Frank Hurley being appointed as official war photographers in August 1917. While Hurley quickly became frustrated with the restrictions placed on his work and soon left for Palestine, Wilkins remained.

He should have died several times. A fearless “wielder of the mechanism”, he was determined to capture images of the fighting. Wounded frequently, he accompanied the soldiers into the front line, sometimes going ahead of them. He refused to carry a gun, and as Bean acknowledged, continually showed “disregard of personal danger” and was probably “in the fighting more constantly than any other officer in the corps”.

Maynard, who began his research in 1998, has scoured the globe in search of archival material, even speaking to the owner of the unassuming hotel in Massachusetts where Wilkins died in 1958. He has tracked down wads of previously unseen correspondence and authenticated 178 photographs in the Australian War Memorial’s collection as having been taken by Wilkins. His understated, well-honed biography reveals the maverick, eternally restless Wilkins as a man who refused to define his life through war alone.


That’s Wilkins on the right.


Wollongong High’s centenary, my family history, WW1

In December is the 100th birthday of what is now Wollongong High School of the Performing Arts.

WHSPA has a long and interesting history since it was first founded in December 1916. It was originally located where Smith’s Hill High School is now located before moving to its current site in 1957.

The original school was officially opened by the then Minister for Education Mr James and contained only six classrooms, a science room, a manual training room, a library and some offices. The founding Headmaster was Mr Frank McMullen who opened the school on 29 January 1917 with 140 student enrolments.

The original school motto from 1918, Age Quid Agas was later changed when it was discovered that it translated as “What on earth are you doing?” The school motto then became Age Quod Agis meaning “Whatever you do, do well.” – a fitting motto that exemplifies the expectations of students, teachers, parents and the school community to this day.

I taught there 1975-1980, with a hiatus for secondment to Sydney University 1977-1978. My Uncle Keith Christison and Aunt Beth Christison (Heard) went to WHS in the 1930s. I had an Uncle, Colin Whitfield, who was part of the founding intake. He was born in 1901, but I never met him.  This may be seen in Shellharbour Cemetery:


For the sad story behind these see Neil’s personal decades: 20 – Shellharbour Whitfields 1905 and Neil’s personal decades 26: Whitfields, Christisons, and more — 1915.

In Shellharbour the home front for my family was a sad place in 1915, as posted in More Whitfield family history last year.

My uncle, Colin Whitfield

Obviously I never knew him, nor he me, though when I was in high school I used an Algebra textbook that was in our house, inscribed with his name. This is such a sad story. I had never before seen this detailed version, though it confirms the oral accounts I have had of that dreadful tragedy back in Shellharbour in 1915. Illawarra Mercury 9 April 1915.


Not far away in Albion Park Cemetery you can find the grave of Bert Ernest Weston, an exact contemporary of Colin and no doubt one of the boys mentioned in that story. He passed away in 1996. Quite a man, it appears.

Bert Weston, who left the family farm to dig for gold in Papua New Guinea, and stayed there to distinguish himself as an engineer, soldier and aviator, died in Sydney on 14 October, aged 95.

Soon after arriving in what was then a remote part of the Territory of New Guinea, Weston emerged safely from a night attack on his camp by local warriors, feared as cannibals. He escaped by crawling along a dry riverbed. Later he survived an even more dangerous encounter with Japanese forces when his aircraft was the only one of three to return from reconnaissance operations during the Milne Bay campaign.

At various times Weston raced motorcycles, beginning with a 500 cc Triumph. He won his last race at the old Maroubra track on a 1000 cc Indian of 1923 vintage.
Bert Ernest Weston was a direct descendant of another fanner and soldier, George Johnston, who commanded the NSW Corps and deposed Governor Bligh in the “rebellion” of 1808.

Weston was born on 23 February 1901, in Albion Park, NSW, where his family had received a grant of land from Governor Macquarie. He attended the local school, about which he wrote entertainingly in the Herald more than 90 years later, and Wollongong High School.

Weston was supervising the building of airfields, lighthouses and various public utilities in New Guinea and on Nauru when World War II began. He was commissioned in the Royal Australian Engineers, and was often called upon to advise military officers in Papua and New Guinea about the terrain over which operations were to be conducted.

After the war Weston pursued a career as a civil engineer in Sydney, working on some major projects. He also found time to write extensively on local historical themes and issues in letters to the Herald. Even after he retired from business in his late 80s he continued writing. Earlier this year his short history, The Albion Park Saga, 1900-27, was published by the Albion Park Museum…

He wrote an account of Wollongong High School as he and Colin Whitfield would have known it.

The writer’s secondary schooling sat astride the four year segment before and after Wollongong High School was born, and also coincided with the 1914-1918 World War…

Two bursaries were allotted to the South Coast each year. I achieved one of them. This entailed automatic posting to the first year Latin class, which had no fixed home. For twelve months we averaged four shifts per day to a room from which the occupiers had gone to a science lesson, then to the weather shed, thence across the street to the old Technical College and finally to finish the day crowded on to a verandah. The following year we were housed in a portable wooden room where we remained until the start of third year saw the move to Smith’s Hill.

You will note that my Uncle Colin died in early April 1915, but Bert Weston witnessed this later in 1915:


The Waratahs recruiting march, leaving Kiama, led by army personnel,on the way to Jamberoo.

Bert Weston has left an account:

Alan Clark in his book ‘The Waratahs – South Coast Recruiting March 1915’ gives this account of part of the journey from Kiama to Albion Park;

The escort to Jamberoo included members of the Mounted Police, the A Squad of the Illawarra Light Horse under the command of Captain Theodore Grey and the cadets under Sergeant Booth.

On the road from Jamberoo to Albion Park a milk wagon containing empty cans and carrying a number of school children, had a hair raising time when trying to pass the Waratahs. The four horses were startled by the noise of the band and the flags flying in the breeze. The horses dashed at a great pace and travelled a quarter of a mile before halted by the driver.

The Albion Park community gathered in the lowlands of the town and waited for the Waratahs to come around the heights of Mount Terry. The Mounted Police led the party, followed by the Light Horse and the Waratahs themselves.

There was an archway of flags along the road leading right to the Agricultural Hall at the Showground which was quarters for the night. On reaching the hall about 4pm they were welcomed on behalf of the residents and recruiting committee by the Mayor, Thomas Armstrong.

The Illawarra Mercury reported that plenty of straw was provided and the men had their beds made and time for a rest before the evening meal’.

Bert Weston was a boy living in Albion Park when the Waratahs arrived in 1915. He wrote some of his memories in a letter to The Sun Herald October 7 1990;

‘As a schoolboy, I remember when they (the Waratahs) reached our town of Albion Park. With only 60 more miles to go, they were a weary band clad in dusty civilian suits. Their first move, after unloading their gear from the accompanying truck was to be marched to the nearby Macquarie Rivulet for a skinny dip clean up. Quartered for the night in the Agricultural Hall, they filled their hessian sleeping bags with hay donated by the local farms and partook of a hearty meal supplied by the local ladies, which was followed by a concert and recruiting speeches. Several local lads came forward and volunteered to join up, and left with the march next morning.

Albion Park baker Mr Lowe cooked the meat in his oven and took it, still hot in time for dinner to the showground. Then the ladies took over and mentioned as carvers were Madams Collins, Lowe, O’Keefe, Chapple, Gower, Harris. Mrs F Slusher was in charge of dispensing the vegetables and many other district ladies assisted in the serving the meal.

‘The ladies were left to clean up as the Waratahs and local men assembled at the Town Hall to hear recruiting speeches delivered by Inspector Anderson and Sergeant Tickner. This was followed by a pianoforte solo from Miss Timbs who started with a National Anthem and the Marseillaise.

‘Recitations were given by Mr WJ Healey and Miss Fleet. There were songs from Gertie Corr and the Waratahs went on stage to sing a chorus.

‘The night was far from over as the floor was cleared for the dancing which was enjoyed until midnight. Miss Timbs provided the dance music, assistance came from Miss Corr and Mr S Condon and it proved an enjoyable evening.

‘Two young farm labourers joined the march at Albion Park; Edwin Bullock 21 had migrated from England; while Henry Timbs born at Berry in 1895 was a member of the 28th Light Horse Regiment.

There was an effort to keep the ‘Waratah’ men together when they went overseas; many left together on board the Makarini and served together as the 16th Reinforcements for the 1st Battalion on the Western Front.

They arrived at The Front in July 1915 during one of the most devastating months of the war when 5300 Australians were killed in Pozieres, France. What followed was the bloody Battle of the Somme. 15 of the 31 Illawarra Waratahs who embarked were either killed in action or died of wounds…

Anzac Day reposts: 1

Anzac Day

Posted on April 25, 2015 by Neil

Last Saturday I posted:

In my Neil’s Decades series you will find much that is relevant.


And going back to the South African War I should add:

Last night on Facebook  I posted pictures of the people – all relatives – mentioned in those posts. Here is a fresh set.

fotosketcher-jhc-in-south-africa davec keith

John Hampton Christison in South Africa; David Christison, his son, a sapper on the Western Front in WW1; Keith Christison, my uncle, WW2

NHC1 dadww2

Neil Christison, my uncle, RAAF WW2; Jeff Whitfield, my father, RAAF WW2

norman_FotoSketcher UHP-IND574_FotoSketcher

Norman Harold Whitfield MC and bar, German New Guinea, Gallipoli, Western Front – from Wollongong; Kenneth Ross Whitfield, my uncle, from Shellharbour

Late Anzac Day thoughts

27 Apr 2007

I didn’t do a special post on Anzac Day, letting last year’s serve, and a few people did Google to it I notice. However, two good programs on ABC-TV last night have inspired some reflections, not so much on the day and its significance — important and solemn rather than sacred as far as I am concerned; I can’t help thinking the word “sacred” in this context really isn’t quite appropriate.

The first program was decently low key, I felt: Andrew Denton’s Gallipoli: Brothers In Arms.

Why are more Australians drawn to the shores of Gallipoli each year? The Dawn Service at Anzac Cove, once a modest gathering of souls, has become an event on a scale that rivals the original invasion. The gentle, grassy slopes of this Turkish landmark are thronged with the relatives of those who fought and died, veterans of other conflicts, the merely curious, and a generation of backpackers paying their respects as they circle the globe.

In 2006, Andrew Denton went to meet some of these pilgrims, to listen to their stories, to ask why they had made the journey and what they were learning from it.

Focusing on the war-time experiences of three pairs of brothers, as told by the families who remember them, Andrew returned with a portrait of a special place, which then as now, is crucial to our understanding of ourselves and our nation…

As the program pointed out, even greater horrors awaited on the Western Front. (Transcript now available.)
kenMy Uncle Ken (right) was on that Western Front but never talked much about it, not to me at least. I know he saw considerable action though. Browsing through the CD-ROM of my family history so brilliantly researched and presented by a relative, Bob Starling of Wangi Wangi, I note the family’s leading military figure, Norman Whitfield, my father’s cousin. I never met him, but my father was proud of him and talked about him at times. Here is a Bob Starling’s account of him.

Norman enlisted with the Illawarra Volunteers during World War 1 – enlisting on 10 April 1915 – discharged 20 January 1919. [NOTE: My Uncle Ken enlisted in April 1917. — N.]

The following words in italics I believe are from a post card (below) sent by Norman Harold Whitfield to Uncle Will (additional information researched by Audrey and Alan Scheumaker): Left Australia for Rabaul on 18th August 1914.

Rabaul, Capital of New Britain, an island off the NE coast of New Guinea was founded in 1910 as a German Colonial Headquarters. By 1914, the Australian and German governments controlled most of the coastal area. Norman was part of the Australian Military Expeditionary Force (AMEF) sent to Rabaul on a 6 month contract to take over German wireless stations. Great Britain having declared war on Germany on August 4th 1914.

Sailed for Gallipoli and France on July 14th 1915.

Norman’s career in WW1 led him to the Rank of Captain and on 29th August 1917 he was decorated with the Military Cross while serving with the 5th Pioneer Regiment. He was then around twenty one years old, held the rank of Lieutenant and carried three chevrons (badge in a V shape) on his sleeve, indicating three years Army service. He had enlisted on 11th May 1915 and discharged on 14th January 1919.

Norman’s WW2 career took him from the Rank of Major to Lieutenant-Colonel and was Director-General of Recruiting. His Bar to the Military Cross (as recorded on the Internet) was possibly earned in France WW1.

norman.jpgArticle by Margaret Augusteyne:

Norman Harold WHITFIELD: At one stage he attended Thirlmere school. Following the outbreak of the First World War the call to arms beckoned him and even though slightly under age, he rushed off to enlist. His distraught mother informed the authorities and he was recalled. It was only a matter of time before he paid a visit to his grandparents, Elizabeth and William Whitfield of Upper Picton, to say goodbye. His young cousin remembers seeing him walking along to the little house. She thought he looked very tall and handsome in his uniform, but he hardly noticed her.I have been told that he fought in Gallipoli and was wounded in the arm. After looking into the was records in Canberra I found he was awarded three Military Crosses (Military Cross plus Two Bars) and mentioned in dispatches. Norman’s Unit was the 5th Pioneer Battalion, 6th Australian Division, 1st Anzac Corps. (Note by Bob Starling: I believe there was Military Cross awarded with 2 Bars).

In 1916, near Gueudecourt on two occasions as a Lieutenant, he set out communication trenches leading to the front line. He was sniped at continuously by the enemy. As a result of his good sightings, the men were able to succeed in their digging. On another occasion he was in charge of the water supply from the front line to the captured positions. This he maintained under the most trying conditions. Through these actions he showed himself to be “a brave and courageous officer” and was awarded his first M.C.

In September 1917, east of Polygon Wood, Lieutenant Whitfield and his company were wiring the front line. Just as they were to withdraw an SOS signal warned them of trouble. Immediately shooting broke out and there were several casualties, including the Company Commander. The injured men could not gain their own line. Despite heavy dire, Norman went out to give assistance and brought back a badly injured man. He returned to assess for him self that there were no more wounded. Two others had to assist him. It was said, “Lieutenant Whitfield showed the greatest coolness and disregard of personal danger”. For this he received a bar to the M.C.

In 1918 near Bullecourt, Norman led his company on urgent forward road work. His coolness and example were said to be responsible for their initial success. Later, in dense fog and under heavy machine gun fire, he took forward a portion of his platoon and drove the enemy from the northern portion of Bullecourt, thereby allowing the road to go through. Later on, he organised a party to disperse the enemy. His courage, initiative, example and devotion to duty were largely responsible for getting the road through. For this he received another bar to his M.C. He returned from the war to a very proud and grateful family. However, he had not escaped the terrible effects of the dreadful mustard gas.

Ironically, after being exposed to so much danger, his life ended tragically in a train accident in the 1950’s, but his memory lives on.


He was also active in World War 2, being awarded a US Medal of Freedom in 1948. “It is designed to recognize individuals who have made ‘an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors’.”

bullwinkel.jpgThe second program last night recounted the inspiring life of Vivian Bullwinkel.

Vivian Bullwinkel became famous as the brave Australian nurse who survived the worst atrocity committed against women during the Second World War. But her story has been forgotten over the years.This documentary sets out to rediscover who Vivian Bullwinkel was. It is the first serious attempt to tell the story of Vivian and the Australian nurse POW’s.

An Australian Heroine uses Vivian’s war diary excerpts, interviews with family, friends and colleagues and newly discovered newsreel footage and photos to chronicle her rich and eventful life.

Australian army nurse, Vivian Bullwinkel was one of the hundreds of Europeans evacuated at the last minute as Singapore fell to the Japanese. Her ship was bombed and sunk by Japanese fighters and Vivian and some fellow survivors washed up on the shores of Bangka Island near Sumatra.

Their attempt to surrender to the occupying Japanese army was ignored. The men were bayoneted and the nurses were ordered to march into the ocean and were machine-gunned. Vivian Bullwinkel was shot through the side and survived by pretending to be dead. She hid in the jungle for 13 days, caring for a soldier who had been bayoneted and was badly wounded. Eventually starvation forced her to surrender and Vivian spent the next three and a half years as a prisoner of war in the most appalling conditions.

After the war ended, Vivian Bullwinkel had a successful career as a civilian nurse. She became the much loved matron of Melbourne’s Fairfield Hospital and, as the President of the Royal College of Nursing Australia, she was a key player in the struggle to have nursing education moved to universities.

Certainly a person to be remembered, even if the ABC’s the worst atrocity committed against women during the Second World War (horrible as what happened to those nurses was) is highly debatable. Among the worst atrocities may be nearer the mark. Think of a whole range of atrocities from the Rape of Nanjing through the lives of the “comfort women” through Auschwitz and Belsen… Sadly, one could name so many atrocities against or affecting women (and children). And it still goes on: Violence Against Women in Armed Conflict (Amnesty International). Of course none of this detracts from the inspiration Vivian Bullwinkel’s story still offers.

When I lived in Glebe in the late 1970s one of my neighbours, very hospitable folk whom I came to know well, was John Waterford, father of the Canberra journalist Jack Waterford. He was a survivor of the Burma Railway and wrote up his experiences. Not only did John tell me about all this but I have also read his memoir Footprints.

Footprints by Pte. John Waterford (2/18 Bn)

A story of the experiences and philosophy of a young country lad, as he was, when he enlisted, who was lucky not to be in the firing line on those occasions, when his Unit had its two most important encounters with the Nips, in the Nithsdale and adjacent Joo Lye Estates at Mersing and on Singapore Island. As a P.O.W. was sent to Blakang Mati, but had need of hospitalisation for appendix operation, which sent him back to Roberts Barracks and therefore made him available for selection for “H” Force, when it went up on the “Railway”. A tribute to Father Marsden and Major Fagan.

He has been unlucky to have been stricken with multiple sclerosis. He turned his hand to writing as a type of a therapy, because of his physical handicap. His first effort was devoted to the research and writing of his Family History.

He was encouraged then by his brothers and sisters to write this book, “Footprints”. It is only a 54 page paper-back and the cost of printing it was met by the family.

John is long gone, but what I recall most is how little he hated the Japanese. Indeed, when I knew him one of his major points was his belief in the need for good relations with Japan, and China. The last chapter of his book is about that. He and his family were originally from out Coonamble way; they were also early champions of Aboriginal land rights and reconciliation and great supporters of the work of Fred Hollows. (I do get peeved when the Right appropriate all this tradition, forgetting even such elementary facts as the actual politics of Simpson: the Man with the Donkey at Gallipolli.) I notice John’s story is retold in Legacies of Our Fathers: World War II Prisoners of the Japanese – their Sons and Daughters Tell their Stories ed. C. Newman (2005).


Pic from the Burma Railway during World War 2: see the Changi website.

See also…

Those links still work.

Japanese submarine in Sydney Harbour

Look at this scrap of paper among things my father left:


It’s 1942, the year before I was born. I am told that a month before my brother, grandmother and grandfather had taken the ferry for a day at Manly, that being 29 May 1942. My father was in the RAAF at Richmond at the time. That’s where he received that note from the brass. On the morning of 29 May a Japanese floatplane was sussing out Sydney Harbour. Wikipedia takes up the story:

Multiple observers spotted the floatplane but assumed it was a US Navy Curtiss Seagull. No alarm was raised until 05:07, when it was realised that the only ship in the area carrying Seagulls was the U.S. cruiser Chicago, and all four of her aircraft were on board. Richmond Air Force Base launched RAAF Wirraway fighters, which failed to locate I-21 or the floatplane. Therefore, the reconnaissance flight did not result in the authorities in Sydney taking any special defence measures…

Japanese mini-submarines penetrated the harbour from 8pm onwards. (My brother, grandmother and grandfather were by then I assume safely back in Sutherland.)  I do commend the detailed account in Wikipedia. Oh, and Sutherland was nearer the action than you might think: “As per the operation plan, the five mother submarines waited off Port Hacking on the nights of 1 and 2 June for the midget submarines to return.” It wasn’t all over either:

On the morning of 8 June, I-24 and I-21 briefly bombarded Sydney and Newcastle. Just after midnight, I-24 surfaced 9 mi (14 km) south-south-east of Macquarie Lighthouse. The submarine’s commander ordered the gun crew to target the Sydney Harbour Bridge. They fired 10 shells over a four-minute period; nine landed in the Eastern Suburbs and one landed in water. I-24 then crash dived to prevent successful retaliation by coastal artillery batteries. Only one shell detonated, and the only injuries inflicted were cuts and fractures from falling bricks or broken glass when the unexploded shells hit buildings. A United States Army Air Forces pilot, 1st Lieutenant George Cantello, based at Bankstown Airport was ordered into the air to retaliate, but was killed when engine failure caused his Airacobra to crash in a paddock at Hammondville.


A house in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs damaged by a Japanese shell

But time has moved on. Yesterday Sydney Harbour commuters saw this:


As the Japan Times reports:

A Maritime Self-Defense Force submarine arrived in Sydney Friday — the first time a Japanese sub has entered the harbor since World War II — to participate in bilateral exercises with its former foe.

The Soryu-class submarine Hakuryu was dispatched with the destroyers Umigiri and Asayuki for the latest round of Exercise Nichi Gou Trident, which kicked off the same day.

“This exercise, which has been conducted between Australia and Japan since 2009, is an opportunity to develop and enhance the bilateral naval relationship by practising maritime skills and improving levels of interoperability between our two navies. This is the first opportunity to conduct the exercise off Sydney,” the Australian Defence Department said in a statement.

The drills are expected to focus on anti-submarine warfare.

The exercises will also provide the Australian military with an up-close look at the Soryu-class submarine ahead of a 50 billion Australian dollar decision on a contract to build 12 new subs to replace its aging Collins-class vessels….

See the ABC’s take at Soryu submarine arrives in Sydney Harbour; first Japanese sub to visit since WWII:

With very little fanfare, JS Hakuryu sailed through the heads about 11:00am, accompanied by two Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force warships and led by HMAS Ballarat.

The Soryu class Hakuryu is the first Japanese submarine to enter Sydney Harbour in three quarters of a century, and will take part in Exercise Nichi Gou Trident with the Royal Australian Air Force and Royal Australian Navy…

Japanese officials were also using the opportunity to show off the capability of their high-tech Soryu class submarine that Tokyo hopes would be selected as the preferred model for Australia’s future submarine fleet.

Japan is locked in a Competitive Evaluation Process with France and Germany to decide who will be selected for the lucrative $50 billion defence contract…

Sam Roggeveen at the Lowy Interpreter asks:

Various functions will be held over coming days to mark the visit of the submarine and other Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force ships, but it is interesting that the Government and the Royal Australian Navy seem to have made little of the arrival today. Could it have anything to do with the fact that the PM is in Beijing?

And to illustrate again the whirligig of time, go back almost 101 years to our First Division heading off to Egypt and then Gallipoli. Look at the lead escort ship:


See the AWM’s description:

HIJMS Ibuki with HMAS Melbourne escorting the first Australian and New Zealand convoy in the Indian Ocean 1914. When HMAS Sydney was detached from the convoy to join battle with an enemy ship near the Cocos Islands, HMAS Melbourne was in charge of the convoy. On the 9 November, the Sydney reported having sighted an enemy cruiser, which proved to be the SMS Emden. The Melbourne immediately took station on the convoy’s exposed starboard flank and signalled the Japanese cruiser Ibuki to join her there for added protection….

104 years ago in Shellharbour

… my father was born. Here he is while in the RAAF during World War 2:


And this is the only picture I have of his mother, Henrietta, who died before I was born.


Now I suspect I have found her again on Trove in The Sydney Mail of 5 June 1918. She is top right:


It says “Mrs D Whitfield” but the only candidate near that name would have been “Mrs T D Whitfield”, so I think it may be my grandmother, whose son Ken was still overseas in the AIF at that time.



If it is her she looks careworn: not surprising. Hers was a tragic life in many ways. See Neil’s personal decades 26: Whitfields, Christisons, and more — 1915.

In Shellharbour the home front for my family was a sad place in 1915, as posted in More Whitfield family history last year.

My uncle, Colin Whitfield

Obviously I never knew him, nor he me, though when I was in high school I used an Algebra textbook that was in our house, inscribed with his name. This is such a sad story. I had never before seen this detailed version, though it confirms the oral accounts I have had of that dreadful tragedy back in Shellharbour in 1915. Illawarra Mercury 9 April 1915.


My grandfather and grandmother had already lost two other sons, Aubrey (1893-1906) and Thomas W (1906-1906).