“The place where they grow men,”

 

Croix de Guerre - Front
Croix de Guerre – Front

 

This impressive looking medal is the Croix de Guerre, or sometimes known as the Belgian “War Cross”. It is the military decoration of the Kingdom of Belgium established by royal decree in 1915. It is primarily awarded for bravery or other military virtue on the battlefield. This splendid decoration was awarded to original sapper 121 Percy Talbot Griggs, a young plumber from the remote country town of Narandera, NSW Australia.

121 Percy “Talbot” or ” Sprigger ” Griggs  the young plumber from the bush, was a special young man, and during the entire war he served his country and his mates with unwavering devotion and bravery.

The enthusiastic and often ‘Gungho’ 129 Phil Ayton shared tents and dug outs with Percy  or “Talbot”  or “Sprigger” as he was known. Phil Ayton wrote to Percy’s sister Agnes while on the hospital ship, wounded, and updated her on their situation at Gallipoli.

“I am writing at your brother’s wish. He is alright, it is not he that is sick, it is I.    I have been a “cobber” of Talbot’s since we enlisted in Sydney, and I have been ever since. Not a bad kid is ‘”Sprigger,” as we call him. We were in the same tent at Moore Park, also at Mena Camp, in fact we have always been together. During the past three weeks of action in Turkey, our dug-outs have been together……………………………………………”A few of our chaps have been wounded, but Sprigger reckons he has a good chance of seeing Narandera again. He skites a lot about Narandera……………………………..The place where they grow men,” ………………he says”

He says you must not worry about him if you do not get any letters. That is why he asked me to write. He hasn’t the time or the chance on shore, and has no paper nor envelopes. As I had to come on board here, he asked me to write and tell you the news. If he gets snuffed out the papers will tell you, but he will get through all right. “

This would have been a very welcome and timely letter for the concerned family, although the full letter may have given them some cause for concern, Phil Ayton was forever the optimist and always full of enthusiam, he expressed how he and Talbot had no desire to return home, they were keen to stay on and clean up the Turks and then move on and help finish off the Germans, only to return when the job was complete.

 

Both of these great Australians stories are now on their own pages……………………….. links below.

121 Percy Talbot Griggs –  M.M  and Croix de Guere

129 Philip Owen Ayton

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TWO WORLD WARS – 144 Harold Stephen WHITE

 

Portrait - P11048.001

 

144  Harold Stephen White

144  Harold Stephen White was born in1891 in Tumut NSW to parents William Henry S White and Emily Sophia Watson.Harold had four sisters , Edna, Freda , Stella and Marjorie and two younger brothers Allan and William Rowland White.

Harold was a survey draughtsman working for the Railway Department of NSW when he enlisted on the 19th August 1914. William, his younger brother enlisted in 1916 and the two brothers would later join up together in the 1st Pioneer Battalion.
Harold was with the 1st FCE  landing party at Gallipoli and in late June, with a shell wound to his wrist was hospitalized for a time and then returned to Gallipoli, but most likely prematurely as his hand became septic and in August 1915 he returned to hospital in Mudros.
His father William had read in the ‘London Times ‘ that a Harold White with the matching rank as his son had been killed in an Aeroplane accident . Hopefully the family received a prompt reply and the good news that it was not their Harold as he was actually in France, alive and well and was now a NCO Sargeant with the 1st FCE.

letter from concerned mothert
In August 1916 while still in France he was transferred to the 1st Pioneer Battalion and promoted to 2nd Lieut. And later Lieutenant by the year end. He continued to see action in the field in France up to January 1918 , when once again he was transferred . This time his appointment as Lieut. was terminated and he was appointed a full commission in the Indian Army with the 1 KGO Bengal Sappers & Miners and fought in the Afghan wars.

In 1920 he briefly returned to Australia and married Winifred Mabel Grace nee Hilliard in Ashfield NSW . They both returned to India , but pregnancy and illness meant Harold resigned from his commission and returned to Australia and shortly after their son Norman was born in 1922  and in 1924 their daughter Shirley was born.

Initially they had settled down to family life living at ‘Roorkee’ 80 Austin st, Lane Cove. They had named their home after the military quarters of the Bengal Sappers & Miners in Roorkee, Uttarakhand India. Harold and Winifred were together in India for only a short time, but it must have captured their imagination and left its imprint on them both.
Harold returned to work for the NSW Railways as a member of the Engineering staff and joined the Militia until 1936. When the second world war broke out, Harold re- enlisted and was  back with  the 2/1 Pioneers. His son Norman had already been in the Navy at age 13 as a cadet at Flinders Naval College and in 1939 had already seen action at sea in the Middle East.

Harold unfortunately was killed in action at Tobruk on May 1941 . Our Gallipoli landing veteran age 48 and original sapper with the 1st FCE didn’t have to return to war, perhaps his wife Winifred even pleaded with him not to return, he had seen and done enough. But clearly it was in Harold’s blood, he had a love of the military service and so was the case with their only son Norman.
Harold was buried in Tobruk War Cemetery, Al Butnan, Libya – Plot: 5. K. 1.

Tobruk War Cemetery, Al Butnan, Libya Courtesy: cwgc.org
Tobruk War Cemetery, Al Butnan, Libya – photo – courtesy: cwgc.org

 

His son Norman would hear news of his father’s death while preparing for his posting as Sub- Lieutenant on the HMAS Perth which was later engaged in battles in the Java Sea. The HMAS Perth was sunk by the Japanese naval force and later Norman was captured by the Japanese and taken prisoner.
Winifred and Shirley back home must have been devastated to discover firstly the news of Harold’s death and then shortly after to discover Norman missing for six months and then reported as taken a prisoner of war.

Harold White had dedicated a large amount of his adult life serving his country, surviving the Great War, serving in the Indian Army when the great war had finished and making the ultimate sacrifice in World War 2 . His legacy as an original Anzac and his diverse war record is a proud one.  Unfortunately he did not live to see his son Norman leave his own mark in life and continue the family tradition of dedication and service to Australia and later showing a rare character that Harold and Winifred would have been enormously proud. Norman would be awarded ‘The Order of the Rising Sun with Gold and Silver Rays’ in recognition of his work in rebuilding Australian-Japanese relations. He was also awarded an OAM – (Medal of the Order of Australia) for his services to international relations through the promotion of cultural, business and education interests between Australia and Japan.

 

StoryCopyright©VanceKelly

Sources: AWM, NAA, NLA, CWGC

 

 

34 Sgt. Alexander Logan

 

 

Original - Alexander Logan Re- enlists - Back Row 1st left
 Original ANZAC – 34 Alexander Logan Re-enlists – Back Row 1st left

34  Sgt. Alexander Logan

34 Sergeant Alexander Logan was born in Hawick Roxborough Scotland in 1889 to parents Charles Logan and Margaret nee Grieve, he also had two brothers and four sisters.

When Alex was 20 years of age he made the voyage to Australia,  arriving on his own,  in Townsville Queensland in 1910 on the vessel ‘Oswesty Grange’.

Alex was well qualified for his role in the 1st FCE. When he enlisted at Victoria barracks Sydney he was 25 and declared he was a fitter by trade with 4 years service in the Kings own Scottish Borderers and whilst in Australia he had served for 2 years in the Royal Australian Engineers and held rank as sergeant.

On Landing Day, Gallipoli , Alex was wounded, a gunshot wound to left side of his neck and ‘left supra scapula fossa’, the bullet remaining lodged in his neck for 12 hours.  The bullet was finally removed leaving his left arm partially paralysed. He was medically discharged and  returned home on the  ‘Horatio’  the same transport ship as fellow original 211 Sgt Charles Kewley also returning home and although Charles Kewley was on the list as returning back to Sydney, he never actually made it. Charles disembarked ill in Victoria and later died in hospital.

The papers all reported on the arrival in Sydney of the third Contingent of wounded men from Gallipoli, and a rousing welcome was planned, with the details such as giving “each man a bunch of wattle and a packet of cigarettes”.

COMING HOME.

WOUNDED ARRIVE TO-DAY

“The mother State of the Commonwealth will to-day accord welcome to the third contingent of men returning from tho fighting on the Gallipoli Peninsula who have been returned wounded or sick.

The vessel bringing them is expected to enter the Heads at 9.30, and to warp in to  No. 1 wharf. Woolloomooloo, an hour later. Every preparation has been made for the   reception and comfort of the men, of whom only five are cot cases. The remaining 131 will be motored to No. 4 General Hospital, Randwick. There are also on board 30 wounded and sick, including one cot case, for Queensland, who will be despatched to the northern State later in the day.

The route of the procession from the wharf to the hospital will be via New-street to College-street, to Oxford-street, up Oxford- street to Centennial Park, entering at Queen- street gate; through the park, via Palm- avenue, to Darley-road, then along Randwick- road to its destination.” – Source: –  The Sydney Morning Herald , Monday 30 August 1915

 

Home Again Alex Logan
Source: The Bathurst Times (NSW : 1909 – 1925), Tuesday 31 August 1915.

On the 20th May 1916 Alex married Mary Slapoffski and in the same month he also re-enlisted. He was immediately attached to the Engineering Officers School of Instruction at Moore Park and later embarked for England with the 3rd Pioneer Batallion. All seemed to be going well for Alex until his old Gallipoli wound started to cause him recurring pain and again partial paralysis. Alex returned home once again to Australia and his wife Mary on the 16th April 1918.

 

 

34 Alexander Logan
34 Alexander Logan – looking for a quality portrait ?

 

 

After the war many of the remaining originals maintained their close friendships and for many originals such as Alex , William Cridland, Sydney Lalor, Fred Wicks, William Burnett, George Chisholm, and Harold White, they made reunions a formal and official gathering, registering the reunion organisation and electing a president, secretary and treasurer and committee members.

 

Anzac March - Courtesy Shoosmith Family Private Collection
1st Div. Engineers Anzac March – date unknown – Courtesy Shoosmiith Family Private Collection

 

 

Re union Commitee article16594627-5-001
1st FCE Re union committee notice – October 1929

 

 

In 1967 Alex was living at…where else but 44 Soldiers  Avenue, Harboard Sydney and he later died in 1969, he was 80 years of age. His letter of application for his Gallipoli medal is shown below

"A" on Purple Patch

Gallipoli medal

 

Sources and Acnowledgments:-

Anzac March Photo – Courtesy Gail McLoughlin ” Private Collection” Shoosmith family

AWM, NAA,NLA