Tag Archives: war

A Soldier’s Farewell to his Girl

Sepia Saturday’s them for the week  – trains, trams, transport.  But  if  I say trains and transport then the next word is troops.

I prefer to use images from the family albums but this time I am going with my favorite photo from the State Library of Victoria.   It is listed as being from the Melbourne newspaper of the time, the Argus on August 14th, 1940.  However it does not appear in the paper. but  is one of a collection which came from the paper.  Why ever wasn’t it used.  Every photo tells a story and this photo tells a very powerful story.

The unanswered question is – Who are these two central people ?

14th August 1940

14th August 1940

Is she his wife,  fiancee, girl friend ?  Was this an embarkation leave farewell?  Troops were still being sent to the Middle East .  Did he come back safely or was he killed at Tobruk like the driver of the bread van in my home town ?

In this second photo  you can again see her on the shoulder of some strong person.

Aug 14th 1940

Aug 14th 1940

Another time we see the soldiers marching down platform 10A at Spencer St Station  in 1944,  the engine for their train waiting t in the background.

Platform 10A, Spencer St. 1944


Then in 2012  Toni Jordan published her novel Nine Days which was inspired by the kiss photo.  She put her imagination to work to give a story going both back to the past and forward  to the future.  It is so believable and particularly enjoyable to anyone who enjoys their inner Melbourne suburbs and the idea of life as it was,  in this case  inner-city Richmond.

Nine Days by Toni JordanThe photo, with the help of a bit of colour, was used for the cover of the book.

How the novel came about, The Age, Aug 19th, 2012

Review of Nine Days by Toni Jordan in the Age, August 26th, 2012

And a bit of trivia for the young-uns as to those beautiful marcel waves in the first photo.  These days with all the electric wands for straightening and curling you might not know that in the 1930s when these marcel waves were popular, to make them at home you used these torturous butterfly metal grips with sharp teeth which pinched the damp hair together into ridges.  When dry the hair would comb out into waves.

Marcel Waves

Making Marcel Waves

 Go to Sepia Saturday to read more stories of earth-bound transport of every imaginable kind.

Sepia Saturday



Peace and Processions

195 minibannerYou lived in the small town of Apollo Bay on the south coast of Victoria. So what did you do when the need to celebrate arose..  The usual thing  was to hold a procession, follow it with a lunch,  then some sports at the oval in the afternoon and conclude with a concert at night.

This is how Apollo Bay decided to celebrate Peace in July 1919.   On June 28, 1919, Germany and the Allied Nations (including Britain, France, Italy and Russia) had signed the Treaty of Versailles, formally ending the war. The procession started from “Milford House,” headed by the Band, in the following order:—Returned Soldiers in charge of Lieutenant W. Vipont, decorated vehicles, fancy costumes, lady riders, and riflemen   Some distance away from Apollo Bay the Camperdown Chronicle later  reported  that  bad weather spoilt the planned sports events so the children spent the afternoon playing games in the Mechanics Hall.

ABProcessionStreetThe town had organized its first ever procession two years before in April 1917 to celebrate Anzac Day.  Not exactly a celebration of peace but remembering fallen soldiers and a we-are-hoping-that-one -day-there-will-be-peace celebration – in its way a rehearsal for the Peace Celebration.   I think that this image is possibly for that day in 1917.  They are marching towards the south, shops and houses on their right and the ocean just outside the picture on their left.  It typifies the way that a small community has of celebrating – let’s get together and do what we can with what we have available to us –  people, a community hall, a sports oval and some imagination.

A report by the Colac Herald said the procession was led by returned servicemen followed by boys in white, all riding  white ponies. Then boys representing the nation’s hope, carried flags on poles. The remains of the Rifle Club followed – married men and men over military age being nearly all that is left of the Rifle Club. Vehicles and banners and representations of the Allied nations followed.

ABProcessionCircleAnother photo was taken when the reached the Sports Ground high on the bluff overlooking the ocean.

This description seems to fit the above photo boys on white ponies and dressed in white.  But whether 1917 or 1919 is not the important as I am merely trying to show that when they had some news that was worth celebrating at that time they followed the same formula

In the following  photo the people representing the various nations can be seen more clearly. Boadicea is there with her shield, girls in white looking as though they are ready to dance a maypole, Anzac written on the front of a drum, blackface used to represent some friendly countries, a Scot in a kilt.

AnzacDay(poss)Australian Screen has a short  video of a 1915 Empire Day pageant which follows the same formula as was used for the processions in Apollo Bay.  Please watch it and you’ll see the similarlity between how different towns celebrated.  I don’t know which town had this pageant

1915 Empire Day Pageant

This is how the Peace Celebration was reported in the Camperdown Chronicle , 19 July 1919.


Peace celebrations were held here on Saturday, but were greatly Interfered with by the inclement weather. The procession started from “Milford House,” headed by the Band, in tho following order:—Returned Soldiers, In charge of Lieutenant W. Vipont, decorated vehicles, fancy costumes, lady riders, and riflemen. Mr. J. J. Cross was awarded the prize offered for the best decorated vehicle. Lunch was partaken of in the hall, after which the children proceeded to the reserve, intending to indulge In races and sports, but the rain drove them back to the hall and the afternoon was’taken up till tea time playing games, etc In the evening a concert was held, the hall being packed right back into the vestibule. The pro gramme was as follows:—Pianoforte duet, Misses Jessie and Blanche Mc Phee; song, Mr. T. Fonin; song, Miss D. G. Stanford; song, Mr. M. M’Phee; selection by the Band; song, Mr. J. Jforan (encored); song, Miss D. Q. Stanford. The Pierrots then gave a short entertainment as follows:— Pianoforte duet. Misses M’Phee; trio, “Tooraloo,” Messrs. Mitchell, Murdoch and Cross; song, “Susie,” Miss Mitchell; patter, “Kiver Y,” Messrs. Murdoch and Cross; song and dance, “Keel-row,” Mr. and Mrs. A. Murdoch (encored); song, “Mr. Bear,” Miss E. .Berry (encored); song, “Bllla bong,” Mr. E. Cross; burlesque, “Tip perary,” Messrs. Stone, Mitchell, Mur doch and Cross; finale, “Leader of the Band,” Mr. A. Murdoch and Company. Supper was then partaken of and the proceedings terminated with “God Save the King.”

And can you imagine any self-respecting store in Melbourne neglecting to try and cash in on the Peace celebrations ?  Ladies and Gentlemen, spend up big – we now have Peace !

From the Melbourne Argus after the November 1918 Armiistice.

Argus ad 1918For other stories centred around Peace click on the links on Sepia Saturday.

Defending Australia with Braces


Sepia Saturday has suggested that we talk about braces.

Militia Training Sorrento 1928

In the 1920s and 1930s the defence of Australia was entrusted to indivudals like this lovable bunch  seen here under the supervision of the elegant Lieutenant Charles Fricke. From the props I’m thinking it might be a washing up detail.  And of course you couldn’t wash up properly if your trousers kept falling down around your ankles, hence the braces as visible on the chap on the left, high-waisted trousers with the braces attached to buttons sewn on the trousers. This photo is of men who were part of the Australian 7th Battalion. which at the time was centred on Castlemaine in Central Victoria . The photo  was taken at Sorrento on Port Phillip Bay in 1928.

The  Australian Citizen Military Force, known as the Militia,  was established after World War  I and  gradually evolved into a part-time voluntary service. It could only be used within the boundaries of Australia and it’s strength and quality varied with the changing economic conditions in the country.   The training included an annual six day camp but this  was not always possible for some workmen.  Lt. Fricke’s wife referred to the Militia as ‘playing soldiers’.

The braces were also used for holding up a man’s underpants.  Underpants had small loops sewn onto the waistband. First the shirt was tucked into the underpants, then the loops went over the bottom of the braces before they were buttoned onto the trousers.

This structural work was then usually hidden by  a coat, waistcoat or knitted vest.

But braces weren’t the only hold-uppers that a man needed  Sox also had a habit of falling down so if you were aiming to look a bit more presentable and didn’t want your sox bunched up around your ankles you held them up with sock suspenders.

 sock-suspendersIt is said that the sight of a man in his boxer shorts and socks with suspenders ended more than one romantic evening prematurely

I remember when I was about 9 years old holidaying with a childless aunt and uncle at Hastings on the coast of   Westernport   Bay.  They lived in a four room cottage on an orchard.  The weekly trip into town was always an occasion to put on some decent clothes.  Once when I was ready I walked up the hall to my aunt’s bedroom in that very silent way that children have and announced at the door “I’m ready Auntie”. The picture is vivid in my mind of my uncle in shirt, voluminous knee-length boxer shorts, sox and sock suspenders, prancing to a hidden corner of the room as though he was on hot coals saying words that probably meant Get that Child out of Here ! I wish I had a photo of the image in my mind.  Perhaps one day in the future we’ll be able to transfer an image  from brain to computer.  Wouldn’t that be loverly ……. well sometimes.

Apart from trousers and sox there is one more item of men’s clothing that needs a bit of help  – shirt sleeves.  If the sleeves were too long they would hang  down over the hands, or if working in an office with pen and ink they were in danger of being spotted with ink.  Hence the sleeve garter, an elastic band in fabric or metal to wear on the upper arm so that the sleeve length could be adjusted.

Sleeve garters

Sleeve garters

And so the unseen braces, sock suspenders and sleeve garters help produce the well-dressed Capt Fricke at home in Castlemaine in the 1930s.

E3 Cmaine  at Adelphi c1936Napolean may have said that an army marches on its stomach but I say an army washes up in its braces (and perhaps its sleeve garters too).

And for more stories about braces go to the links on Sepia Saturday.