Tag Archives: 1917

Sportsmen for the Front Line

At the tail end of the suggested themes from Sepia Saturday this week was “posters”. And so I’ll start my ramble this week with a poster.

Poster WW1 b

When recruiting for the Australian Imperial Forces during the First World War  a theme was often used to appeal to certain members of the public.  And this time in 1917 it was the sportsmen who were targeted.  As the war progressed taking part in sport became frowned on so why shouldn’t one thousand of these fit and healthy young men go and help the soldiers at the front.  The promise was that they would be kept together from the day they enlisted until the day they came home again, at least for those able to come home.

The theme usually included a well known person as an added attraction.  This time it was Albert Jacka VC, the first Australian to win this honour in this conflict for his bravery at Gallipoli.    In the poster he is surrounded by men taking part in a variety of sports.

It was said that one of the reasons he was such a good soldier, and had such a fighting attitude, was that he had been a boxer before the war. The campaign to enlist sportsmen was fuelled by a strong belief that by playing sport young men developed specific skills and qualities that could be used on the battlefield –     The Age, March 10th, 1917

The Sportsmen’s Thousand Band played  regularly at recruiting rallies around the state,  In towns large and small the band members were billeted by local residents and then the local newspaper would report on the number of recruits.  One such visit on August 10th 1917 was to Castlemaine, which was later  to be the town where I grew up and  the visit was reported the next day in the Bendigo Advertiser.

Last night the Town Hall was packed on the occasion of the recruiting rally.   Stirring addresses were delivered by Mr. D. Mackinnon, Ex-Senator St. Leger. Lieutenant Bolton and Miss Martyn. The Mayor   (Cr. Cornish) presided and introduced the speakers, while the splendid band of the Sportsmen’s Thousand rendered valuable aid. Vocal items were contributed by Miss   Marjorie Eadie and Miss Macoboy, of Bendigo, the meeting was marked by great  enthusiasm.

This is the band .  They had only just been presented with their new instruments in July, according to  The Broadmeadows Camp Sentry. a weekly news publication  for the servicemen training at the Broadmeadows camp.

Sportsmen's Thousand AIF Band

Sportsmen’s Thousand AIF Band

It was this Sportsmen’s Thousand band photo on a postcard which brought me to the poster which introduced this post.  Some time ago  a friend in Geelong  allowed me to copy his postcard  which he had because  his grandfather was a member of the Band.  And there he is, H.E. Monk,  the big chap, seated second from the left.

By October 12th 1917 the soldiers were ready for a lunch time march through the city of Melbourne followed by lunch at the YMCA in St Kilda Rd.  A few days later  a detachment of them  were photographed marching along Alexandra Avenue as reported in “The Winner” on October 17th, 1917.

Sp thous Alexandra Pde March The Winner Oct 17 1917The Winner was a small sporting paper, published weekly. Then on November 14th it  showed some of the “boys”  on board  on their way to England.  This was the winning Tug of War team.   Boys of the Sp Thous 1917

The Australian TV mini-series “Anzacs” in 1985 gave us a fictional taste of how a recruiting rally may have been conducted

And perhaps for more posters, or carting coal , or horses and carts or anything vaguely connected with the afore-mentioned, then go to this week’s Sepia Saturday .

2015.03W.43

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A Fishy Tale in Traralgon – More Treasure from Trove

In February 1916 the fishing in the river at Traralgon in Gippsland was going well and was reported in the Gippsland Farmer’s Journal on February 8th, mentioning   Bandmaster Tom Tansey and two of the bandsmen.

Feb 1916 fishing Traralgon 1But lthe following year  it was a completely different story.

In the Australian song Waltzing Matilda the trooper comes riding down on his thoroughbred  to the billabong and asks the swagman to show him the  stolen Jumbuck (sheep) that he has stowed in his tuckerbag

In this story the policeman rode down to the riverbank and asks the fisherman to show him the undersized trout that he has stowed in his tuckerbag. On Feb 27th 1917 the Traralgon Record screamed the heading

Heading feb 27 1917The local resident  in question was the town’s Bandmaster,  Tom Tansey, one of the local “fisher folk”  who “betook themselves” to  the banks of the Traralgon Creek to fish but not observing the regulations as to size.

Even the Bairnsdale Advertiser on March 3rd, 1917, gave a full report.

… and there espied John T. Tansey dangling a rod and line in the placid waters of that stream near Koornalla. The inspectors approached the fisherman and the constable remarked. “Hullo, got any fish. Mr Tansey, ?” The   angler confessed that he had “one:” and on being asked to produce it for inspection he fumbled about his bag and then presented one about 14 or 15 inches long. That’s well  over the size,”said the Constable     “You’ve got some more there, let’s see them.” The sportsman demurred  but on being pressed  produced  another fish, ..

Gradually more and more fish were produced from the bag, all of them undersized, i.e. less than 11 inches long. The Constable took possession of the fish and  promptly took them to the local butter factory so they could later be presented in court in a nice fresh state as evidence of Tom’s naughty deed.   He was brought to court in front of three local magisgrates, and was fined  £2 plus costs.

What the newspaper doesn’t say is that Tom and at least one of the magistrates knew each other.  Dr McLean was President of the Town Band, of which Tom was bandmaster, and may have played a part in bringing Tom to Traralgon.  Dr MacLean had come to the town in 1904. as  a young doctor, fresh from the Geelong Hospital and was the only doctor in Traralgon during the years of the First World War.    He had also played football for.Geelong

So he had been  living in Geelong at the same time as Tom, when Tom was well known for his skill as a brass instrument player.  Tom had been winiing medals for his solo performances at the National Band Championships at the beginning of C20th,  a time when the bandsmen were revered in the same way that pop idols are nowadays.  When the Geelong Town Band was leaving for competitons crowds would follow them as they marched up the street to the railway station and  greet them on their return.

Here they are in the same photo when the Traralgon Band and Members made a presentation to Dr McLean. with Dr McLean in the centre, Tom with his medals to the left and a young Hilda Tansey at the top.

McLean PresentationIt is interesting to wonder if the news of Tom’s fishing trip made it back to his mother, in  England, or to his younger brother William.   At the time William was Gamekeeper at Cotterstock House in Northhamptonshire.   Tom and William, oppposite ends of a spectrum but half a world apart.  What would William have done if he had been inspecting the creek and had come across Tom fishing ! And as a bit of trivia, Cotterstock House is where the movie Woman in Black with Daniel Radcliffe was filmed.

Transcript from the Bairnsdale Advertiser and Tambo and Omeo  Chronicle, Saturday, March 3rd, 1917

UNDERSIZED FISH.
TRARALGON RESIDENT PROSECUTED
For some time past, says the Record, there has been a suspicion amongst members of the Traralgon, Fish and Game Protection Society that all the “fisher folk” Who betook themselves to the banks of the creek for the ostensible purpose of fishing for trout were not observing the regulations as to size ,of the fish they took from the creek. During last month Constable Lineen, an inspector of the Fisheries Department, and Christian Stammers, an honorary Inspector, paid a visit to the upper reaches of the Traralgon Creek and there espied John T. Tansey dangling a rod and line in the placid waters of that stream near Koornalla. The inspectors approached the fisherman and the constable remarked. “Hullo, got any fish. Mr Tansey, The angler confessed that he had “one:” and on being asked to produce it for inspection he fumbled about his bag and then presented one about 14 or 15 inches long. That’s well over the size,”s aid the Constable “‘You’ve got some more there, let’s see them.” The sportsman demurred but on being pressed, produced another fish. “That seems to be undersized remarked the constable. “Have you any more ?” “Uh, no” replied the fisherman “only a salmon trout”. “Well, let’s see it” persisted the policeman. A trout, somewhat smaller than the other one was produced. The constable informed the angler that he would have to take possession of the fish. He measured them in the angler’s presence, one measuring 10 inches and the other 9 ½ inches in length and both were cleaned and ready for cooking. In explanation of having these fish in his possession the fisherman said he had caught several smaller ones and had thrown them back, but the two in question were so badly hooked that they died when the hook was extracted and he put them in his bag. Such was the summary of the evidence given at the petty sessions when Tansey was called upon to answer to a charge of being in possession of certain fish of a less length than that prescribed by section 28  of the Fisheries Act, the said fish being indigenous to Victoria. Defendant was fined £2 with £14/- costs.