Adieu, the years are a broken song,
And the right grows weak in the strike with wrong,
The lilies of love have a crimson stain,
And the old days never will come again.
From the diary of an Australian Solider . September 1917 . Quoted by Bill Gamage ”The Broken Years: Australian Soldiers in the Great War.
Menin Gate Memorial
The names of Australia’s 6,000 missing in Belgium are engraved on the walls of the Menin Gate.
The Menin Gate was so named because here the road out of Ypres passed through the old wall defences going in the direction of Menin. During the war the two stone lions standing on each side of the Menin Gate were seen by tens of thousands of troops as they went towards the front line. The gate, beyond which these men’s fate lay, became highly symbolic. Afterwards it was decided that on this site a huge monument, designed by the architect Sir Reginald Blomfield, would commemorate those of the Empire who were killed in Belgium but have no known grave. Although it bears the names of 55,000 soldiers including 6,000 Australians, so great were the casualties that not all the names of “the missing” are here. Every evening the Last Post is sounded under the memorial’s great arch.
WORK IN PROGRESS
‘Singleton and a Great (er) War’
Some notes on the impact of World War 1 on a small country town’
This research project seeks to determine the impact of the war on Singleton town and district. The study analyses the impact from three perspectives.
*For the individual, loss of quality of life through injury, disease, and psychological disorder.
* For the family the loss or incapacitated of the breadwinner, the loss of a husband, a father and a sibling(s)
* For the community, the loss of a member, loss of skills or talents.
I note that the historian Joan Beaumont writes ‘ …Nor could I dispel the impression that the war left Australians inward-looking, almost xenophobic, traumatised by grief and deeply divided by the political rancour over conscription and the inequality of sacrifice.’ Was this the case in Singleton?
The entries are based on the Cenotaph Inscriptions on the memorial in Burdekin Park, George St. Singleton. The foundation stone for which was laid by E. Lloyd Jones on the 25th April 1925 and the completed memorial was opened by Major General Brand on Sunday 29 Nov.. 1925. The memorial contains the names of 465 service men and women who enlisted from the Singleton District. We do not know what town and places were included but we do know that it does not include all the 667 who volunteered and gave Singleton or a near by locality as place of birth / residence. Many choose, to enlist elsewhere and only 159 are recorded as enlisting in Singleton.
One wonders what was the criteria to be listed on the Cenotaph?
We do know that of the 465 named on the memorial, 111 failed to return. A staggering 23.8% !.
I have expanded the entries to include biographical information and where available information regarding the military service..To these I have added selected biographical information from ‘Australia’s Fighting Sons of Empire’, research from Trove as well as from the AWM, the National Archives and the National Library as well as articles and books. In particular the ‘Hunter Region Roll of Honour’ compiled by the military historian David Dial and published in the Newcastle Moring Herald 19 April 2011 has been a valuable source of data.
As already stated a work in progress as entries are still being made and additional information entered.
Some working notes
Pensions payable to a widow on death of a member of the forces or to a member upon total incapacity was based on the ‘member’s’ rate of pay. The lowest rate was 6s 0d per day, the pension for this rate in 1914 was £1.0.0. per week. In 1920 this was increased to £1.3.6. more
Singleton Argus 8 Jan. 1916 ‘90% of eligible men have offered their service to King and Country’ I assume that this refers to local men.
Information is required to determine the population of Singleton c.1914, the dissection into males and females and their age distribution.
This link will take you to where I am up as at 1 July
Beaumont, Joan, Broken Nation, Australians in the Great War, Alen & Unwin, 2014.
Gammage, Bill, The Broken Years. Australian Soldiers in the Great War, first published 1974, Penguin 1975.
White, Richard, Motives for Joining Up: Self Sacrifice, Self Interest and Social Class 1914 – 18. Journal of the Australian War Memorial, October 1986, pp 3-16