Wednesday 30 April 2014

World War One - Red Cross Society, Parramatta Branch

Joseph and Mary Cook at a stone laying ceremony commemorating the 125th anniversary of Government House in Parramatta, Nov 1913.  Source: National Archives of Australia

The Australian Red Cross was established in 1914 by Lady Helen Munro Ferguson when she formed a branch of the British Red Cross.  The Parramatta branch was formed in early 1915 when a meeting was called in the local newspaper.

Source: The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate, 6 February 1915, page 12

Many prominent people were involved in organising assistance for the war effort.  Mary Cook, wife of Joseph Cook (Prime Minister 1913-1914 and Leader of the Opposition 1914-1917)  was very active in the Red Cross and in Cook’s electorate of Parramatta.  She was elected President of the Parramatta Red Cross at the inaugral meeting, and continued to be active throughout the war and afterwards.

Thursday 24 April 2014

Parramatta’s Memorial to Their World War One Soldiers – The Prince Alfred Park Memorial

Prince Alfred Park Soldiers' Memorial, Parramatta.
Photo - Peter Arfanis

Following the end of the Great War thousands of memorials were erected in suburbs and country towns across Australia. The world had witnessed death and destruction on a scale never before seen with many Australian families affected by a tragedy, loss, or wounding of a family member. In response communities and government rallied to create memorials to act as focal point for remembering the sacrifices made and to display pride in the soldiers lost in war.

Thursday 10 April 2014

World War One - New South Wales Lancers and the 1 Light Horse Regiment 1914 - 1915

Men of the 1 Light Horse Brigade before departure from Australia, Official History of Australia and the War,  Vol. 12, Charles Bean, plate 42

The New South Wales Lancers went under a number of different names before the outbreak of World War One and because some of these names are easily confused with the names of other Regiments I thought it would be good to clarify a little of this history before telling their story.

The first points to note are: 

  • The New South Wales (NSW) Lancers Regiment was formed in 1885 as the NSW Cavalry Reserves in 1885 with each group having its own territorial title.
  • In 1889 it became known as the New South Wales Cavalry regiment and in 1908 was renamed the 1 Australian Light Horse Regiment.
  • Finally in 1912 only two years before the war its name was changed again to the 7 Light Horse Brigade (NSW Lancers)

At the declaration of war in August 1914 there was a general call for volunteers to join an expeditionary force officially called the Australian Imperial Force (AIF). This force, once raised, was a completely separate force from the existing Australian Military Force (AMF). The AIF was disbanded at the end of the war.

In 1914 the 7 Light Horse was part of the AMF and was made up of three squadrons these were
  • Sydney A squadron
  • Parramatta B Squadron
  • Windsor Penrith and Luddenham C Squadron

Over the course of the war most of the AMF units, including the NSW Lancers, remained unchanged in organisation and designation but the AIF drained from them those men who volunteered and were fit for war. However a number of experienced veterans remained in the Lancers, while others were taken into the AIF as instructors. Those veterans who remained in Sydney and Parramatta squadrons patrolled coast from Manly to Pittwater and in 1916 sub units were sent to guard the Prospect water supply.


1 Light Horse Regiment of the AIF formed at Roseberry Park, Sydney In 1914 and was made up from active NSW men in militia regiments and men from country districts who could ride a horse. Major George Macarthur-Onslow was appointed to command but after he fell ill with appendicitis, 28 August 1914, Lieutenant-Colonel J B Meredith (Hunter River Lancers) assumed command of the force.

  • A Squadron under Major’s Reid and Lawry the commanding officers from New England Light Horse and Hunter River Lancers
  • B Squadron under Major’s Irwin and Cox the commanding officers from Australian Horse and NSW Lancers
  • C Squadron under Major Ganville, commanding officer from Hunter River Lancers and NSW Mounted Rifles

On the 20 October 1914 the 1 Light Horse Regiment as part of the 1 Light Horse Brigade left Sydney on ‘Star of Victoria.’ However some of the men including it seems Major Cox remained behind as reinforcements and they were drafted into the 6 Regiment of the 2 Light Horse Brigade. This was raised in September and sailed from Sydney 24 December 1914. However both brigades served as infantry at Gallipoli from May 1915 till the withdrawal in December 1915.
On 12 May 1915 the 1 Light Horse Brigade landed at Gallipoli some 200 yards from Fisherman’s Hut, south of Pope’s Hill. The next day the 1 Light Horse Regiment took over front line tranches at Pope’s Hill with 2 Light Horse Regiment. In late May the 2 Light Horse Brigade landed Gallipoli attached to the 1st Australian Division. Charles Frederick Cox and the 6 Light Horse Regiment became responsible for a sector on the far right of the ANZAC line, and played a defensive role until it left the peninsula on 20 December 1915.

Landing at ANZAC Cove, Trenching at Gallipoli, Gallishaw, 1915

On 7 August the 1 Light Horse were ordered to attack at the same time as the soldiers at Walker's and Quinn’s Post at the Chessboard. As a result 15 were killed, 98 wounded and 34 listed as missing. The Casualties included all the officers of B squadron, Major Reid and Lieutenant Nettleton's bodies were not recovered. William Cox (Charles' brother) and Lieutenant Tinson died a day later from their wounds.

On 20 December the 1 Light Horse Regiment were evacuated from Gallipoli.

[Note: from August 3 2014 through to November 11 2018 the research team at the Heritage Centre will be rolling out 100s of posts on its Parramatta and World War One Blog. Each post will focus on a specific event or story relating to Parramatta's soldiers, nurses or local community]

Geoff Barker, Research and Collection Services Coordinator, Parramatta City Council Heritage Centre, 2014

Friday 4 April 2014

John Nobbs - A Granville Pioneer and Soccer Enthusiast

John Nobbs.
Engraving that appeared in the Town and Country Journal March 24,1888

John Nobbs is considered by many a pioneer of Granville. In the early days he was seen as the leading spirit of the district, his heart and faith was in Granville which he believed was the centre of the district. He threw himself into developing Granville to be an industrial powerhouse of Sydney, ensuring the district had the services and employment opportunities required for its population.