Reminiscences of WW2 from My Grandparents – Part 2...

ANZAC Day. A day that Australians and New Zealanders remember of those who went to war. A day to remember those who never made it home. And it is also a day to remember those who were left at home during the war and afterwards. Last week I wrote “Reminiscences of WW2 from My Grandparents – Part 1” which is primarily an interview with my grandparents Evelyn and Cecil Hannaford about their experiences during World War 2. This interview, which was done as a high school project a number of years ago by a friend who interviewed them, is written as a transcript. So this is my grandparents talking about their own experiences during the war, In. THEIR. OWN. WORDS! Not as history books records it, but as they experienced it. As it was a long interview I decided to split it into two, and this is the continuation. Continuation of the interview … What type of weather was it? Mr H. It was winter time. Then when we got up to Trincomalee [Sri Lanka] it was summer time, in the tropics. We were out in the bay and the sister ship, Mary, went out into the harbour and they had all the port holes open, light shining everywhere. We had to have ours shut and it was hot. Did you have enough food? Mrs H. Well, everyone was rationed. What were the ration books like? Mrs H. We were given ration books and you had to have so many coupons for tea and sugar and butter. We weren’t troubled about the butter because we made our own. How did they actually work? Mrs H. We had to go to the shop or on the other hand thee was...

Reminiscences of WW2 from My Grandparents – Part 1...

“Don’t talk about the war to your grandparents”. That’s what I was told. So I didn’t. But fortunately for me (and the rest of my family), someone did. And for that I’m eternally grateful. When a friend was doing a school project on WW2 and needed to interview someone about the war, and didn’t have any reli’s here in Australia who were in the war, she asked my grandparents, Cecil and Evelyn Hannaford (nee Randell). So I have to thank both Cathryn and my grandparents for this, because if she hadn’t asked, I guarantee that these memories would have been lost forever. Before I begin I shall just say that the original interview is quite long, so I won’t include every question, but even so it’s still long enough that I’ll split this over two posts. The introduction … As a brief introduction, at age 25 Cecil Hannaford joined the army in 1940, and was trained at Woodside Army Camp before going aboard in 1941. During his time with the army he travelled to Libya, Palestine, Syria and Egypt. Aged 25 when he signed up, he went away as a driver, but also had to man the anti-aircraft guns at times. My grandma, Evelyn Hannaford (nee Randell) lived at Gumeracha with her family during the war. On their farm they grew vegetables which were needed for the army. The interview … How old were you when World War II was declared? Mrs H. 23 years old. Mr H. 25 years old. In what country were you living in? In what state? Both. Australia, South Australia. Living at Cudlee Creek. Were you living at Cudlee Creek all through the war? Mrs H. I was at Gumeracha during the war. Mr...

My “Spirit of Anzac” Centenary Experience...

The “Spirit of Anzac” Centenary Experience arrived in Adelaide, and what an experience it was. The exhibition gives viewers a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity to walk through various recreated World War 1 environments (via sound, audio, images, and in some cases figurines on sets) featuring more than 200 artefacts. You walk through “rooms” at your own pace, and are given stories and details of the various events and campaign via the audio headphones that you are given at the beginning of the tour. Generally it takes attendees anywhere from 1-2 hours to makes their way through. There really is a lot to see. This travelling exhibition which is transported from place-to-place on 10 semitrailers has been on the road since September 2015, and has already visited Albury/Wodonga, Launceston, Hobart, Ballarat, Bendigo, Wollongong, and Melbourne. With Adelaide only having a few more days left. After Adelaide the tour heads to: Tamworth – Apr/May 2016 Toowoomba – May 2016 Brisbane – Jun 2016 Mackay – Jul 2016 Cairns – Aug 2016 Townsville – Sep 2016 Darwin – Oct 2016 Port Augusta – Nov 2016 Perth – Nov/Dec 2016 Bunbury – Jan 2017 Kalgoorlie – Jan/Feb 2017 Geelong – Feb 2017 Orange – Mar 2017 Newcastle – Mar 2017 Sydney – Apr 2017 Entry is free, but bookings are required, and you can do so on their Spirit of Anzac website www.spiritofanzac.gov.au. First, here’s a short behind-the-scene video of the Spirit of Anzac Centenary Experience, which will give you an idea of the work that’s gone into creating this exhibition. And here’s just a few photos from my visit today … If you get a chance, go and see it. It will give you more of an understanding on what our ancestors went through....

World War One: “Out With the German Names”...

There’s no doubt that almost every Australian family was affected by World War One in some way or another. One sad fact that came out of World War One, was the intense hatred of Germans that emerged, together with all things German. The German families who emigrated to Australia and were happily living their lives, being a part of so many local communities. However when war broke out they were suddenly classed as an “enemy alien” purely because of their heritage, with many sent to concentration camps. Yes, even in South Australia. South Australia had a substantial German population, so much so that many towns and other geographical localities had German names. However, come the start of World War One … and all things German was “the enemy”, so to have German place names was no longer acceptable. To rectify this a Bill was passed to change the name of numerous German named towns and localities towns in South Australia. To make life easier for all I have compiled a listing of the places that were affected, together with their new name. German Place Names in South Australia Original name Substitute name Bartsch’s Creek Yedlakoo Creek Hundred of Basedow Hundred of French Cape Bauer Cape Wondoma Berlin Rock Panpandie Hock Bethanien Bethany Bismarck Weeroopa Blumberg Birdwood Blumenthal Lakkari Buchfelde Loos Carlsruhe (or Karlsruhe) Kunden Ehrenbreistein Mount Yerila Ferdinand Creek Ernaballa Creek Mount Ferdinand Mount Warrabillinna Friedrichstadt Tangari Friedrichswalde Tarnma Gebhardt’s Hills Polygon Ridge German Creek Benara Creek German Pass Tappa Pass Germantown Hill Vimy Ridge Gnadenfrei Marananga Gottlieb’s Well Parnggi Well Grunberg (or Gruenberg) Karalta Grunthal Verdun Hahndorf Ambleside Hasse’s Mound Larelar Mound Heidelberg Kobandilla Hergott Springs Marree Hermann’s Landing Moramora (& later Nildotti) Hildesheim Punthari Hoffnungsthal Karawirra Hundred of Homburg...

Anzac Day at Gumeracha

The town of Gumeracha in South Australia is a small town. It’s the kind of country town, where everyone knows everyone, and everything. The kind of town you walk down the street and say hello to everyone on the way. Putting it simply, it’s a quiet, friendly town. With a population of only a few hundred in the early 1900s, you can imagine that when the call came in 1914 for men to ‘serve their country’, and the locals joined up, it wasn’t just families affected, but rather the whole town would have felt it … in numerous ways. For my Anzac Day post this year, I decided to head to Trove, to see what the newspapers had to say about Anzac Day at Gumeracha. I fully expected to read about commemoration services, and town gatherings and so on, kind along the lines of what the town does nowadays. But what I didn’t expect to find was that they held Fairs or Fetes on Anzac Day. Yes, true. Trove surprises me yet again! But it makes sense when you realise that the town wanted to build a hospital as a permanent memorial to the locals who fought and paid the ultimate price in the First World War, so fundraising was needed. In 1921 the Gumeracha Fair had stallholders, competitions and a concert … In 1922 the Fair was a “Japanese” theme, complete with a decorated umbrella parade … as this is a long article, I’ve only included a portion of it below. But you can view the full entry on Trove here. In 1923 I found two references to Anzac Day in the newspapers. On the 16th of April 1923, The Advertiser has a brief report of the more formal and solemn...

ANZAC Day Blog Challenge: Restyn Walter ‘Pete’ Randell...

April is here, which apart from Easter, is the month to commemorate Anzac Day (at least for us here in Australia and New Zealand) and Auckland Libraries have issued the Anzac Day Blog Challenge again. You know it was this time last year when they held the same Blog Challenge that it made me realise  just how little I knew about my military ancestors. Who of them actually went to war? Where did they go? What was their rank? … and so on. So I made it my mission over the past year to rectify that. And while I’m no expert on any of them yet, I did kept the folk at the National  Archives of Australia busy by ordering copies of a heap of my reli’s which I’ve been going through slowly. So for this year’s blog challenge I’ve chosen my great uncle Restyn Walter Randell (aka Pete Randell), one of my grandma’s brothers, because I’d seen a photo of him in his airforce uniform (as below), and it always had me intrigued. So after obtaining his military records (of which there was a heap – 72 pages in fact), it told me that he initially signed up for the army, and then transferred to the airforce a few months afterwards and from what I can tell (I’m still learning how to interpret military records jargon), he worked as a airforce mechanic for the RAAF at Laverton and Ascot Vale, both in Victoria. And as usual with military records, they contain a wealth of information – not just the military part – but also personal details as well. From Uncle Pete’s military records I found out all sorts of snippets that were news to me … – he...

21 ANZAC Day Facts

ANZAC Day is upon us again, so I thought I’d share some interesting and often unknown facts about ANZACS and ANZAC Day, so others will understand why we honour this national day. The ANZACs were all volunteers. April 25, Anzac Day, was the day the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula in 1915. 25 April, was officially named ANZAC Day in 1916. The first dawn service on an ANZAC Day was in 1923. AIF is an abbreviation for Australian Imperial Force. There is no town called “Gallipoli”. It is the name of an area. Visitors to Gallipoli usually stay at nearby towns – like Ecubeat. ANZAC Day was not a public holiday in New Zealand until 1921. ANZAC Day was not a public holiday in Australia until 1921. However it was not observed uniformly in all the states. The Gallipoli Peninsula is very near the famous ancient city of Troy. The term ANZAC is protected under Australian law. More than 11,000 ANZACs died at Gallipoli and more than 23,500 were wounded. Services are held at dawn because in battle, dawn was the best time to attack the enemy. Soldiers would wake in the dark so at the first signs of light they were alert and awake. The original Anzac biscuit was known as an Anzac wafer or tile and was part of the rations given to the ANZAC soldiers during World War I. They were included instead of bread because they had a much longer shelf life. Anzac biscuits were created by wives of soldier’s who wanted to bake healthy goodies for their men. They lacked egg and milk, so kept for a long time and didn’t spoil during transport. The Poppy as a...

Anzac Day Blog Challenge: He Was Proud to be Australian...

When Auckland City Libraries put our the call for the Anzac Day Blog Challenge again, I just had to accept. I would like to introduce you to my Great Grandpa … Otto Rafael Winter … he was a proud Australian. Born in Helsinki, Finland in 1880, at age 22 Otto chose to leave his family, friends and life as he knew it to become a seaman. This was not only his way of getting to see the world, but also it was the best way to escape compulsory conscription to the Russian Army. Having worked on cargo ships for a number of years, in 1907 Otto jumped ship in Australia to start the next phase of his life. Why he chose Australia is one of those questions that sadly I’ll never know. But I do know that he adopted Australia as his new home, and in 1909 chose to become an Australian citizen. To further prove his allegiance to his adopted homeland, in 1916 he signed up with the Australian Imperial Force, was assigned to the 50th Battalion, 1st AIF, and was stationed at Marselles, Belgium. He was wounded several times, including being  shot in the stomach and poisoned with mustard gas while tunnelling at Ypres. Despite this, he survived and made it home in 1919 to his young wife (Irene) and baby boy (Harold). Australian patriotism was shown yet again when World War II broke out when Otto signed up in 1942 for the Volunteer Defence Corps. He did some further training in Australia during 1943, but wasn’t called up to go to the battlefields this time, and was discharged in late 1945. While there is still much for me to learn about my great grandpa’s life, thanks...