Seen five years ago — May 2014

From my archive.

Sutherland sunset 21 May 2014 – Woronora Cemetery:


Rose garden, Woronora Cemetery:



East Parade, Sutherland: grand Federation house repurposed as a Thai restaurant:


In the Sutherland United Services Club:


What took me back to Sutherland. See Ian and I have just run out of uncles.



Anzac Day 2019

What better than to repost from last year?

I have posted often on this, as Anzac Day reposts: 1 shows. In 2015 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:

….pictures of the people – all relatives – mentioned in those posts…

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

One hopes that 2019 Anzac Day will pass without incident, given recent events in New Zealand, Turkey, and Sri Lanka.


“…history doesn’t happen in the past tense.”

That line is key to Kim Sherwood, Testament (2018), which I recently read courtesy of Wollongong Library. I also read a fitting companion.


Consider the stories I retold in my previous post, especially of my 1959 classmates Herbert Huppert and Peter Deli. How little I really understood of their stories, and so many others in that class of 1959. Eric, for example, who unaccountably had relatives in the Dominican Republic.

Fact is, as I played with my teddy-bear Sookle (yes, I know!) in Sutherland in the 1940s there were things going on elsewhere in the world which we still haven’t fully recovered from, things which affected those classmates-to-be far more directly.

And quite frightening is where we find ourselves now, as Kim Sherwood writes:

I tell Silk now, I am Jewish historically, but history doesn’t happen in the past tense. The pain you inflicted on those you loved hurts me now. The pain you felt hurts me now,,,

But I am your granddaughter always… My grief is a private grief, but here are the demands of stones and poems and ribbons left at altars, of mass graves without names. I will go to Prague. I will buy a museum ticket and walk the silent streets of Theresienstadt, past tired men selling army surplus from barracks with smashed windows, to the cellar painted red with the Star of David, where I will pray… My small film will gain attention as security at Jewish institutions is at high alert, as shootings in Paris wake us up, as refugees are made to plea at barred ports, as the Mediterranean swallows lives, as a ‘Beware Jews” sign goes up in north London. as tickets to the Blue Room sell out, as the UK closes its doors to Europe, as neo-Nazis attack our leaders and our citizens, as protesters take to the streets of Budapest in their thousands….

The other novel, The Last of Our Kind by Adélaïde de Clermont-Tonnerre was the winner of both the Académie Francaise Grand Prix du Roman and the 2016 inaugural Filigranes prize, awarded to the book with the widest general appeal.

Werner Zilch was adopted as an infant, and knows nothing of his biological family. But when, in 1970s New York, he meets the family of Rebecca, the woman he has fallen in love with, a mysterious link means he must uncover the truth of his past, or run the risk of losing her.

Spanning 1945 Dresden, the Bavarian Alps and uncovering Operation Paperclip, this is a riveting novel of family and love that seamlessly blends fact with fiction.

Werner von Braun plays a key role in the plot. On Operation Paperclip.

The Last of Our Kind is a fascinating journey through much key 20th century history, though perhaps at times too clever! And I have one pedantic note: characters at one point in 1948 play 45 rpm records, one year before that format was released! But do read this novel. The author’s background story is also most interesting.

Five years ago: Quitnet and more

Remembrance Day scraps


When I was 10.


October 1944: see also The real Bluey and Curley: Australian images and idioms in the island campaigns.


I believe the man in the cockpit of the Kittyhawk on the left is my father in Port Moresby. See Temps perdu–Whitfield’s, not Proust’s–1 — 20th century.

From the Illawarra Brewery on Thursday — 1




Such a great place to sit.

The old Quitnet has long gone, though a Facebook group soldiers on.  Helped me a lot. Oh, and you can add five more cigarette-free years!

Ascended the grand staircase

That’s Quitnet-speak for 1,000 cigarette-free days.


That number 75 again!

Hmmm. Best just repost Ninety years on – family thoughts.

The following telegram arrived from my father on 20th July 1943, my mother’s 32nd birthday. She was still in hospital in Hurstville recovering from my birth. The nurses called me “The Air Raid Siren”. I wonder why. They also called me “Dopey” after one of the Seven Dwarves. I still have the ears.


I had a real name of course: Neil James. Later in Sutherland and among my Christison relatives I would routinely get the double version to distinguish me from my uncle, Neil Christison. You see my mother had promised her mother, Ada Christison (nee Hunter) that if I were to be born close to 6th July, Uncle Neil’s birthday, she would name me after him. He was then in the RAAF and it was a tense time. Neil was only 19 that birthday in 1943. And so I got his name.

Or the version everyone used.


Roy and Ada Christison in Shellharbour 1929 or early 30s. He seems to be smoking—something I never saw him do!

My uncle’s actual given name was Nelson. You will see where that came from on this post – an inheritance from Grandma Ada’s side of the family. Her mother (1845-1925) was born Isabella Ann NELSON in Westmorland, England. My mother’s middle name was Isabella – a fact she often hid! The story goes Isabella Hunter died thinking she was back in the Lakes District. Homesick. “Nelson” however preferred Neil.

You will recall that Uncle Neil didn’t quite make it to 90, but had he done so I would have marked the occasion – as I would since I carry his name. See also Christison on my previous blog, and my 22 May 2014 post Another gathering of the clan – and Sutherland draws me back… 2.


In Canberra 1955. I am looking across the path at my Uncle Neil and Aunt Fay. The other woman is a friend of theirs whose name may have been Judy, if memory serves.