Monday, April 25, 2011

Anzac Day Ancestors

'Oh! we don't want to lose you but we think you ought to go

For your King and your Country both need you so.'

Paul Alfred Rubens 1875-1970 ( 'Your King and Country Want You'. Song)

William Leonard White ( my husband's grandfather),was born in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 1889. He and his sister Edith lost their mother at a young age and when their father remarried they were both sent into foster care. William left New Zealand as a young man to make a new life for himself in Sydney, Australia.

It was only whilst reading William's enlistment papers, for the Australian Imperial Force that I discovered that this was not his first experience in a defence force. The document, below right, shows that he had spent five years in the New Zealand Infantry. This was news to the family and something we will be following up in the near future.

William White enlisted in the 45th Battalion on the 21st of February, 1916, in Sydney. His service number was 2248. His profession was given as a french polisher and his next of kin, was his father, William White Snr in Canterbury, New Zealand.

Left is the colour patch on the uniform of members of the 45th Battalion.

'The 45th Battalion was formed in Egypt on March 2, 1916, as part of the doubling of the AIF.' [1] About half of this new Battalion were made up of members of the 13th Battalion who had seen action at Gallipoli and the other half, which included William White, were new recruits sent from Australia.

William White arrived in France with the 45th battalion (as part of the 12th Brigade of the 4th Division) on June 8th, 1916. William White was quickly to find himself in action in the trenches on the Western Front.

The small town of Pozieres in the Somme Valley, in German hands, was first attacked on July 23rd by the 1st Division in the battle of Pozieres Ridge on the Albert-Bauhaume road.William White arrived in Pozieres on August 8th, 1916 to join the fierce battle for Pozieres. The 45th battalion suffered many casualties and fatalities.

After the battle of Pozieres, the 45th battalion was sent to Ypres in Belgium where they were engaged in active duty in the trenches alternating with rest and training until March in 1917. William and his battalion spent time in the Somme Valley before becoming a reserve for the 4th Division at Bullencourt and the battle of Messines in Junes 1917. During this battle the 45th suffered many casualties.

The 45th Battalion was then moved to Ypres, once again, where they were involved in a major battle near Passchendale on October,12 1917. During 1917 and 1918, the duties of the 45th battalion alternated between the front line and rest. On August 8, 1918, the Allies attacked the Germans in what is known as the Battle of Amiens. On the very first day of this battle, the 45th Battalion captured 400 German prisoners, as well as German artillery and machine guns. The 45th battalion played a crucial part in the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line. The 45th Battalion was involved in its last major action in September 1918 at Le Verguier.

During his active service with the 45th Battalion, William White was injured and lost two fingers on his right hand. This injury meant the end of his career as a french polisher when the war ended. William White married Mary Jane McDonald a little over a month after the end of the war, on December 21, 1918.

Amongst William's possessions were found a number of photographs which are believed to have been taken by him. These images are a confronting and sombre record of the William White and the 45th Battalion's contribution to World War 1.



1.Australian War Memorial

2.'The Chronicle of the 45th Battalion'

(Joseph E Lee)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Friday Blog: Five Generations

Five Generations in a Family - a search of Trove to find them.

I am not certain how often five generations of living family occurs, however, it is a family history topic dear to my heart as I am the baby pictured in the photograph above, which was featured in the Brisbane Courier Mail in October, 1955. The occasion for the gathering of five generations of mothers and daughters in my family was the 88th birthday of my great great grandmother, Barbara Lena Nargar (nee Häberling).

Barbara Lena Häberling arrived in Maryborough, Queensland, Australia aged 4 years, on March 9th, 1871 on board the ship Reichstag with her parents Jacob and Anna (Bosshardt) and sisters, Rosina (1856), Amalie Dorothy (1861), Bertha Martha (1867) and Herminnie Adelle (1868). Sadly, three children, Fritz, Jakob and Rosetta had died in Zurich. My great great great grandfather Jacob Häberling was a bootmaker born in 1785 in Affoltern, Bern, Switzerland. With the help of the Maryborough District Family History Society, I have traced my Häberling family (spelled Heberling in Australia) back to the 1400's in Switzerland.

Feeling somewhat privileged to have this special five generation photograph in my family, prompted me to wonder how often five generations in one family occurs. I decided to conduct a search Australian newspapers on the Trove website, to find other Australian 'five generation' families. I was interested in several aspects of five generation families. Firstly, I was curious to see the age spans between the eldest and youngest generations. I was also interested to see if there was a pattern to the occurrence of these multiple generation families in different decades of Australian history. Given that the average year span for one generation is accepted as being around 20 years, I did not expect to find five generations of family alive in Australia until around the 1880's or 1890's.

[My research was undertaken purely for my own genealogical interest. There is no empirical evidence to support my findings. I am merely reporting information found in digitalised newspapers and I admit that I found this excercise to be fascinating as a member of a five generation family.] Trove is an amazing source of information for the family historian.

My first discovery was a surprise as I discovered the first evidence of five generations of one family living at one time in Australia, as early as 1856.

Pictured right is a news item which appeared in the Hobart Courier in March 1856, on the birth date of a Mr Hoskisson's great great grandson William. Mr Hoskisson was living in Windsor at the time and was 100 years of age. (Born 1756)

Following are the numbers of five generation families, that I found reported in Australian newspapers between the years 1880 and 1954. (In a search of 20 pages of newspaper items).

1880-1899 - 2

1890-1899 - 2

1900-1909 - 11

1910-1919 - 18

1920-1929 - 19

1930-1939 - 55

1940-1949 - 27

1950-1954 - 17

The average year span for each generation between these years ranged from 17 to 20 years.

The record, above left, describes a five generation family in 1899, in a story which appeared in The Queenslander. The article featured a Mrs Ransley, reportedly one of the colony's oldest residents, who was 85 years of age and described five living generations of her family including her great great grandson.

Below are just a few of the wonderful photographs of five generations of Australian families which I found in various Australian newspapers on the Trove website which were published between the years 1915 and 1953.

The two photographs above are among my favourites as they picture five generations of mothers and daughters as does my own five generation photograph.

Perhaps my most exciting find, was the picture and story below, from the Australian Womens Weekly, which is of an amazing 6 generations of one family photographed together in 1982. The ages iin this family of six generations spanned 98 years to 7 weeks.

Source: Trove

I would love to hear from other people who have multiple generation photographs or stories.