Frank Rochester was born in 1888 in Durham England, to parents John William Rochester and Marion Pringle Rochester, nee Purvis.
At age 17 Frank started work as an apprentice blacksmith at the same local Colliery as his father. Franks younger brother John Rochester was an engine fitter and iron worker and they also had two sisters Mary and Marion.
After five years blacksmithing Frank decided to take a new path and on the 16th February 1912 Frank departed from London on the “Osterley” and immigrated to Australia originally disembarking in Adelaide and later making his way to New South Wales.
Frank enlisted with the 1st Field Engineers Co. on the 19th August 1914 and on October 18th he embarked with his fellow originals on the HMAT Afric, his autograph on the original postcard that belonged to original 101 John Hoey Moore.
Shortly after his arrival at Egypt he was appointed Lance Corporal on the 8th March 1915.
At Gallipoli, Frank was an original dawn lander and after 3 months he was promoted to 2nd Corporal.
He was also one of the rare individuals who served continuously at Gallipoli and during preparations for the planned evacuation on the 11th December he ruptured his knee-joint cartilage.
He was later treated at Mudros hospital, recovered and was promoted to Corporal before rejoining the unit in time to embark back to Alexandria, Egypt.
On the 21st March 1916 he embarked with the unit for Marseilles, and served in Sailly France and was promoted to Sergeant on 9th August 1916.
In December of 1916 Frank was detached from his unit and along with his mate 230 Robert Osborne Wrightson Earle returned to Newark in England and attended Engineering Training School and on completion was appointed his commission as 2nd Lieutenant.
In July 1917, like many of the originals, Frank prepared his final “Will and Testament” and his good friend 230 Robert ‘Ossie’ Earle, a draughtsman from Leeton was a witness to his statement.
Frank returned to France and the 1st FCE in December of 1918. A few weeks later he was promoted to full Lieutenant on the 31st January 1918. “ In April 1918 the 1st FCE had left Amiens and were disentrained at Hondeghem near Hazebrouck and marched to Borre. The Germans had broken through the Portuguese sector and the 1st Division had been ordered back to stop the enemy’s further advance and which the company duly accomplished.”– source :- A Short Account of the Formation of the 1st FCE- 1914 – 1918
On the 13th April the company was billeted at Pradelles and on the 17th April “they were shelled out of their billets.” Around this same time fellow original 180 Clyffe Bailey is wounded, a shell wound causing severe injuries to his right leg which is later amputated.
On the 23rd April 1918, Lieutenant Frank Rochester was in charge of certain road mines which were being laid across roads and at strategic points. The mines were then meant to be blown at the last minute in the event of the allied forces having to fall back. The road would then be blocked to enemy guns and transport.
About midday in company with 6989 Lance Cpl. Russell Robson of his section, were testing the electric fuses of some of these mines in Strazeele. He and Robson had just completed tests and then made their way back through the main streets of Strazeele when a small enemy artillery shell burst immediately in front of them killing both men instantly. The bodies were discovered by a working party of the 1st FCE that followed shortly after and they took the mutilated bodies back to the company billets in Pradelles.
Frank Rochester and Russell Robson were buried side by side at the Borre Military Cemetery the following day, a Padre officiated and most of the officers and men of the unit were present at the graveside, erecting the cross they had made and a white picket and chain fence surrounding the plots. For the 1st FCE this was a rare opportunity to prepare and attend an official burial.
By this stage of the war they were use to seeing death and devastation each day, but to have some time out to pay their respects to their mates was a special moment that they took very seriously.
The originals would have had memories of their first weeks back at Moore Park, Sydney and their first military burial at Waverley Cemetery in Sydney before they left in 1914.
Nearly four years had passed when they lost their first original 126 Ernest Cotterell and paid him the same honour and respect they had just paid to Lieut. Frank Rochester and L. Cpl Russell Robson.
Borre British Cemetery, France
The Borre Military Cemetery is the final resting place for 235 Australian soldiers… including 106 Lieut. Frank Rochester and Lance Cpl Russell Robson M.M . They are buried side by side.
In 1919 on the anniversary of Frank Rochester’s death, the Sydney Morning Herald coincidently published memorial notices for both Frank and Russell…once again side by side…. and it also appears that Frank may have had a sweetheart in Australia. “ROBSON. – In loving remembrance of Russell Dunsmore Robson. M M. of First Field Company Engineers, A. I. F., killed April 23, 1918, at Strazeele, aged 20½ years. ROCHESTER -In loving memory of Lieut Frank Rochester. Killed in action, April 23. 1918, after 3 years and 8 months faithful service. An Anzac. Greater love hath no man than this. Dearly loved friend of Gladys Dawson”. – SMH 23rd April 1919
Frank Rochester’s name is located at panel 24 in the Commemorative Area at the Australian War Memorial (as indicated by the poppy on the plan below).
Frank Rochester’s name will be projected onto the exterior of the Hall of Memory on:
• Wed 18 April 2018 at 7:35pm
• Sat 02 June 2018 at 5:55am
• Sat 14 July 2018 at 4:37am
• Tue 28 August 2018 at 7:08pm
• Sat 20 October 2018 at 10:21pm
William Hay was a determined man, his short and eventful life was full to the brim.
His personal story reads more like a colourful contemporary drama. Born into a hard working and ambitious family, educated at the University of Sydney, he inherited a small fortune from his father and shortly after enlisted in the Australian Imperial Forces with the 1st Field Co. Engineers.
He served the entire war and survived but unfortunately his older brother did not, his brother, a pilot in the Royal Flying Corp and the only Australian shot down by the famous German flying ace Manfred von Richthofen, the Red Baron.
William returned after the war to carve out a pastoral empire. He married a well-known socialite, but he shunned the limelight. A bitter divorce later ensued, but this did not prevent him from achieving his inherent destiny, but sadly the poisonous after effects of the Western Front ultimately took its toll and cut his life short.
Today the image of Arch Bland beares the title “The Water Carrier” .
This distinctive photo of original sapper Arch Bland carrying water along Bridges Road at Gallipoli captures the essence of the hard working sapper. The sling beam bending under the weight of the water filled tins across his shoulders, his measured stride as he bears the load on the uneven track, his casual gaze ahead as if his mind is elsewhere, and off course his signature look… a forage style cap worn to the side. For Arch Bland this was just another day at the office, and like his good mate Evelyn Lloyd he never had a sick day the entire time at Gallipoli.
The photo above although cited by the AWM as maker “unknown” , was possibly taken by his good mate fellow sapper 237 Evelyn Lloyd.
The photo below from the Bob Lundy collection shows Arch Bland centre standing…. and unmistakable with his signature look.
Archibald Evatt Bland was born in 1885 in Gloucester England, the youngest of 4 boys and his sister Ellen, to parents Samuel Bland a journalist and Emma Bland – nee Evatt.
Arch at 16 was schooled at Dean Close Memorial School in Cheltenham, and was a talented football player, having played inside forward for the Gloucester City Football Cub.
100 years have past and the Gloucester City Football Club AFC still honours and remembers their original young player, just as we will always honour and remember our brave ANZAC 234 Archibald Evatt Bland.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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
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.
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.
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
Sources and Acnowledgments:-
Anzac March Photo – Courtesy Gail McLoughlin ” Private Collection” Shoosmith family
The AFRIC No. A19 was a 12 thousand ton transport ship embarking from Sydney carrying units of the 1st Australian Division, including the 1st Battalion Infantry, Army Service Corp. and Engineers. It was among the first fleet of eleven ships designated to embark troops and horses in Sydney. The final count was made up of 48 officers, 1372 men and 8 horses.
On Sunday the 18th October 1914 the men of the First Field Company Engineers were finally ready to embark for a seven week voyage at sea. A few false starts and weeks of delays, the loss of one of its original members and 8 weeks of training, finally the men were about to head off for the great adventure. The drum beat sounded – Reveille – at 5.00 and the 1st FCE broke camp at Moore Park and marched to the trams to take them to the wharf at Woolloomooloo Bay and then they were taken by Ferry to board the troopship A19 – Afric.
53 Thomas Drane in his diary mentions the large crowds of people waiting at the Quay and the police having to hold them back and 29 Bob Lundy described a similar scene with bands playing, flags waving and large crowds cheering.
151 Ernest Murray recalled how ” there was a good deal of excitement on the way down”, however he was disappointed he did not see any loved ones at the wharf. 213 Roy Denning described it as being on the threshold of a new, harsh and adventurous life. – The Great Adventure had started……
On Board the Ferries
Boarding the Afric A19 – courtesy State Library NSW
The Afric left Sydney at around 5.00 pm. It was raining heavily and they were experiencing gusty winds and rough seas. Many men at sea for the first time were sick as soon as they had left Sydney Heads. The ferry whistles, launch sirens and all the farewell cheering and music had faded in the distance and now as Spr. Roy Denning described, everyman was now silent, occupied by his own thoughts.
101 John Hoey Moore also made some interesting observations. “In about half an hour the first boy began to show signs of uneasiness and a little while later took his position at the rail. Before bedtime about half the sappers, had joined him and I could not say they were holding their own. I notice that most of the anti sober and hardest case brats when in camp or on leave, are the steady ones tonight on their feet. I am sorry for some of the boys, one fellow lost his false teeth first hit.”
The men of the 1st FCE were finally on their long-awaited voyage and after a rough and tumble start they were headed with the fleet of the 1st Australian Expeditionary Force to Albany in Western Australia where they would be joined by the New Zealand Fleet.
From the pages of John Hoey Moore, Ernest Murray’s letters and diaries and the correspondence from the enthusiastic Ernest Tubbenhauer it’s possible to recapture some of the spirit of the 1st FCE and the troops on their voyage on the Afric.
140 Sapper Ernest Tubbenauer from Mudgee NSW gave his initial account of the voyage………… Ernest couldn’t wait to ply his civilian trade in printing and liked the idea of being a journalist. Ernest would became the ‘unofficial’ war correspondent for his home town regional newspaper, the Mudgee Guardian. He also couldn’t wait to join the printing staff of the onboard Newspaper ‘The Kangaroo’
Off to the War.
Letter from a Mudgeeite
Mr. E. Tubbenhauer, late of Mudgee, and now a member of the Australian Expeditionary Force (1st Field Company Engineers), writes from s.s. Afric at sea, under date of October 24: —
‘We sailed on Sunday afternoon at about 5 o’clock, and cleared the Heads about 5.30. The sea was very choppy, and the majority of troops were soon sick, including myself. Seasickness is a ‘lovely’ sensation. I was bad on Sunday night and Monday morning, but on Tuesday I ‘was right’ and am eating like a tiger now. As soon as I was right I hunted up the printing office, and got a place on the staff, and have been working hard ever since.
We are bringing out a daily ‘rag.’ It is the biggest paper ever printed at sea. There are five off us working in the office, and we have a fine little plant. Part belongs to two of the chaps working in the office, and part was given by the State Government printer, Mr. W. A. Gullick. ‘We are just nearing Albany, and have to have our letters ready for post by 6 o’clock to-night. There are over 1400 troops on board the Afric— about- 1000 Infantry (including Harry Collins), 200 Engineers, and about 240 Army Service Corps. We are having a tip-top time — plenty of games and reading. The parades are very light. There is not enough room to do much work. We have to get out at 6 o’clock and fold hammocks; physical exercises 6.30 to 7.30 a.m.: break fast 7.30; parade 9 to 10.30; knotting and splicing 11; fire drill; dinner 12 noon; parade 2 to 4 p.m. (semaphore signalling), tea 5 ; swing hammocks 7; lights out at 9;15. That includes the day’s work. I am exempt from all parades to work in the ‘Kangaroo’ office. ‘We expect to be at Albany for A couple of days.
All the transports meet there, and leave together under escort. There will be 28 transports from Australia (20,000 troops) and 11 from New Zealand (9000 to 10,000 troops)— 39 transports altogether ; it will be a grand sight, and only seen once in a lifetime.’ Source:nla.news-article156830216 – Published 19th November 1914
The ‘Kangaroo’ was the name of the onboard daily newspaper which Ernest mentioned in his first unofficial correspondence. It was a single sheet, about the size of a sheet of the “Herald,” and was printed on one side generally in the style of a six columned newspaper. It was printed on a cotton rectangular tabby weave fabric and printed with red paint. The Union Jack and the Australian flag were pictured in the heading, and a kangaroo on the left and the emu on the right give each other a friendly glance. Below was the announcement: “The representative newspaper of the Australian Imperial Expeditionary Force (1st Battalion.)”published on the troopship “AFRIC”.
On Sunday 24th October the Afric arrived at Albany and the troops spirits were high. John Hoey Moore tells the story…………………………………….. “This morning finds us in the port of Albany and we expect to be here for some days. Only twelve of the troopships are here so far and even then it is very interesting to see so many big ships in one spot. Albany is a dreary looking place from our point of view but perhaps if we could get ashore we would make some fun, the three hotels would do a good trade I know.”
Within a few days the New Zealand Fleet had also arrived…………………………………
” I watched the Maorilanders or “Pig Islanders” as the Australians call us, arrive in port. Perhaps I should have been with them for here was I, a true New Zealander, going off to war with the Australians. ” John Hoey Moore had just embraced the idea of the ANZAC spirit before it was known as ANZAC.
The men had responded to the call, they had been training for weeks and now on the long voyage to war, they were allowed to let off a bit of steam while on board, hair cuts, glee clubs, a Neptune ceremony, drill competitions and boxing tournaments followed.
“Time goes very quickly on board and the boys make the pace fast and positive, last night being one of the most amusing on record so far. Some of the boys with pretty curly or silken locks had refrained from getting them cut off in direct disobedience to the strict troopship orders. Some of the engineers organised a good strong team and armed with hair clippers, proceeded to carry out the duty of barbers which, although rough, had the desired effect. Each long haired soldier was set upon and held down while the clipper man took a patch out of his locks. The rest of the hair was removed at the victim’s request next day by the official barber.”– John Hoey Moore
“A boxing tournament is to be set in motion and I see some kind friend has appended my name to the list of those representing the engineers. I guess that means some hard work and a sore head at the finish.” – John Hoey Moore
Letter from a Mudgee Boy
“Following is a letter from Mr. E. Tubbenauer, who is a member of the Australian Expeditionary Force now in Egypt:- S S Afric at sea
“Sunday, Nov 1 1914 We arrived at Albany last Sunday and left there this morning at about 7.30. We were in the harbor about a week, waiting for all the other transports. The boats make a fine sight- 30 in all, sailing in three lines of 13 each with five warships as conveys up to the present. An officer told me this morning that we are going via the Suez and that our next port of call is Colombo, so that is where I will post this letter. There are in all 39 transports with 30 000 troops — 28 transports from Australia (20,000 men) and 10 from New Zealand (10,000 men). We were allowed ashore on Friday afternoon last for a route march. We did about six or seven miles in all. It was tip- top after being on the boat a fortnight.”
Source: nla.news-article156860248 – Published Mudgee Guardian
After four weeks at sea the AFRIC had arrived at Colombo on the 15th November and within a few days they left without setting foot on land. Ernest Murray thought it was a beautiful mountainous island rich in green foliage and the bay area the same only with buildings adding colour with white walled buildings and fine hotels. Bob Lundy thought the same, admiring the beautiful scenery, the fancy large hotels with tennis courts and lawns.
The next few days sailing conditions were perfect, Boxing and rifle drill competitions had taken the spotlight on board, the Engineers were favoured to win the rifle drill . The boxing tournament was also set to be a great success for the Engineers with“Maorilander”John Hoey Moore into the Semi Finals and up against another Maorilander.
John described the match-up ………” it was rather comical as my bout was with a Maori and we were talking to one another in Maori. The boys from Australia could not make it out at all.”
John scored again and had won his way through to the final. A few days later ……..“was pitted against a crack this time and came off second best. All the same I am quite pleased with myself to win second place and a prize of £3 for my troubles.”
The big excitement for the troops surrounded the Rifle drill competitions on board. The engineers had put up two teams , A.S.C two teams and 1st Battalion eight teams. According to most accounts the Engineers came first and second place, the ASC 3rd and fourth. The division corps had easily outclassed the infantry.
Ernest Murray recorded the winners in his diary and Bob Lundy must have been very pleased with the outcome as he earned top honours and it was also his birthday.
Names of winners of Rifle Drill Competition L Cpl Lundy Sec Cpl Dobbie L Cpl Baldwin L Cpl Shoosmith Sprs Bird Sprs Finnie Sprs Murray Sprs Smith Sprs Waters Sprs Sutherland Sprs Turbet Sprs Hay Sprs Murray. E. Sprs Wells Sprs Lytton Sprs Gatty Sprs Banks & King Sprs Cridland & Stock.
According to Bob Lundy, the follow up night was a real celebration, they had a “royal time” eating, drinking, speeches and plenty of music from the “Bijou Orchestra” who gave a special concert at the sharp end of the ship. Bob said he “could not have had a better day for his birthday”.
The following day on November 26th the troops on board the Afric had news that they were not going to England. Kitchener had ordered the troops to disembark at Alexandria for Egypt to finish training there. Apparently winter conditions in England were quite severe and they would be unable to accommodate the growing troop numbers.
The Great Adventure – Part 2 – Breaking Ship……….coming soon.
The Engineers Signatures
The souvenir card of the AFRIC above is a precious moment from the past. From the private collection of Jack Moore , son of 101 John Hoey Moore, he has kindly provided a high quality digitized copy of the card showing many of the originals signatures. On the back of the photo John has written “This photo has survived a fire and a flood”…. John at the time could not have envisaged it surviving the war and a further 100 years.
The following is a list of signatures from the AFRIC Souvenir Card
Interestingly some signatures are from a few non original members but obviously good friends of John as well as two originals on board the Clan Maccorquadale which John Hoey Moore must have obtained after the voyage.