Anzac Day: A Message from the Battlefield...

For Anzac Day this year I’m focussing on Ypres, a city in Belgium that’s on the French border. A prosperous place that in 1914 had a population of around 18,000 people. Just for reference, Ypres is the Belgian version of the name, while the Australian Diggers knew it as as “Wipers”. And nowadays it is often known by it’s Dutch version, “Ieper”, which is pronounced as “ee-per”. From November 1914 through until November 1917 Ypres was devastated by war and as you would expect, deserted by its inhabitants. Over that 4 year period, there were over 38,000 Australians who were killed or wounded in the Ypres battles, while the total number of casualties for all sides climbed into the many hundreds of thousands. Captain Frank Hurley was an Australian official military photographer who was in Ypres during 1918 and captured many unforgettable images of the destruction and the lives of the Australian soldiers during the Third Battle of Ypres (also known as the Battle of Passchendaele). The photograph at the top of this post is one of his very well-known ones. The State Library of New South Wales has a large collection of his war photographs (and diaries) online, so if you’re interested feel free to click here to view them. Anyway this year I’m remembering my great grandpa, Otto Rafael Winter. I have written about him before, including his service with the Australian military, but this time I’m highlighting a family heirloom. The postcard pictured below is one of the very few heirlooms that exist from my Winter family, and it’s a postcard that Otto sent from Ypres, Belgium (one of the places he was deployed to) to his parents-in-law, John and Margaret Daley, in South Australia. The postcard itself...

Remembering Tarakan, 1 June 1945...

Anzac Day, a day of remembrance of those who fought and died for our country. Whether they lived or died, nothing was ever the same again for those who went, as well as those at home. For today’s Anzac Day post, I looked at those from my own family who were involved in war – there have been many over the years in the various wars, but this times I’ve chosen to write about Harold Roy Winter, my grandma’s brother who was involved in World War 2. I’ll start off by saying that the military knows him as “Roy Harold Winter”, rather than “Harold Roy Winter”, simply (or so the story goes) as there was another person already signed up with that name so he switched it, so for this purpose I’ll go with the military version. Born in Victoria, he grew up in Adelaide, and signed up as a young 25 year old ready to fight for his country. He was assigned to the 2/48th Battalion Australian Infantry Battalion, and got to see to world … and war! Reading through the letters he wrote to family while he was in the army, he describes going overseas as a great adventure, as well as describing the monotony of army life. He also writes about the strength of the hospital staff … “The efficiency, determination and sacrifices to their job are a magnificent credit to them, and only we who have experienced it can give a true value to their worth. In many cases, patients were being attended by orderlies who were just as ill, or in some cases even worse. Such is to the spirit of the A.I.F. and it will keep all of us going till we die or...

Finland Day 2 and 3: Churches, Cemeteries, a Mental Hospital and Family...

My adventures in Finland continue and cover churches, cemeteries, a mental hospital and family. Sounds like an interesting mix. Right? Friday 30 June 2017 The day was cool and cloudy, and rain was forecast, still my cousin took me touristing again. This time to the Rock Church in Helsinki. I found this listed on a number of “things you must do in Finland” lists, so asked if we could go there. The Rock Church is a modern church, built in the 1960s that has been built into rock and largely underground. I know my photos don’t do it justice, so here’s a link to find out more about it. It is a big tourist attraction, and yes it even costs to enter (3 Euros/person). Next stop was the Helsinki cemetery. I visited this cemetery a couple of years ago and was shown some relatives graves then, so it was an interesting challenge to see if we could locate them again from memory. Yay for us, we did, though we pretty much walked the entire cemetery looking for them. But since it’s a spectacular cemetery, and the rain held off it was lovely to just wander. I know a cemetery wouldn’t be on most tourist’s itinerary, but you know it’s what us genie folk LOVE, so I was pleased that we got there.   Following on from visiting a church and a cemetery, my cousin took me to a mental hospital which is now partly a cafe … you’d never guess it from outside would you? Saturday 1 July 2017 Yesterday was seeing the ancestors, today was seeing the cousins. Today was an ‘at home’ day, so I don’t have any interesting place pictures to show you. But we did...

Heading to the Other Side of the World...

The trip of a lifetime is what I’m calling it. In just a couple of days I will be doing something I’ve dreamed of for years, and that is heading to Finland to visit my relatives over there. Having corresponded with them for many years, I had the opportunity to meet them very briefly (8 hours or so) when I was on Unlock the Past’s Baltic Cruise back in 2015 when our ship stopped at Helsinki for the day (you can read about that here and here). That was super awesome, but nowhere near long enough. So since then I’ve been saving my dollars and am now actually going … and I’m rather hyper excited about it? Can you tell? Anyway for those who don’t know, I am 1/8th Finnish, the rest being a mix of English and Irish. Otto Rafael Winter was my Finnish great grandpa who became seaman as a way of getting out of compulsory service to the Russian Army.  And after sailing the world on cargo ships for a number of years, he jumped ship in Australia in 1907, settled in South Australia, got married and had a family … and interestingly enough even signed up to fight in both WW1 and WW2 as an Australian. For a change this is not a work trip for me, but rather an actual holiday, though I am hoping to hit the National Archives of Finland for a little research and suss out the National Library of Finland as is one library which is always on the “libraries you you must see lists” while I’m there. But other than that I’m playing tourist, taking in the sights, scenes, and daily life of Finland, as well as generally just taking a break. While I’m...

Genealogy Close Calls

I was inspired to write this post as a result of reading Heather Rojo’s blog, Nutfield Genealogy, when wrote about her “Top Ten Genealogy Close Calls“. The title alone intrigued me, as I wasn’t quite sure what she meant by ‘genealogy close call’. But she explains it well: “What’s a “Genealogy Close Call”? It happens when I research an ancestor and realize that if fate didn’t intervene I wouldn’t be here today. Some of our ancestors narrowly escaped disasters, only to live on and produce a descendant that led to YOU. “ So that got me thinking. Did I have any “genealogy close calls”. My initial thoughts were no, but as the day progressed I remembered the following incidents: MY GENEALOGY CLOSE CALLS WILLIAM KENNARD ELPHICK (c1815-1869)  – Survived the voyage and wife SUSANNA ELPHICK (nee ELLIOT) (c1812-1899) William and his wife Susanna married in London in November 1838, and then immediately boarded the ‘Plantar’ ship to start a new life in Australia. The journey which on average takes about four months, took almost six months partly due to the captain’s incompetence – missing a port where they were meant to collect supplies, and having to stop elsewhere as a result, together with other misadventures such which included much of the crew being lost, as were some passengers and most of the livestock. Eventually a new crew was acquired and the journey continued. For more on their story click here. The Elphick family settled in Adelaide, and had numerous children. The Elphick’s are Mr Lonetester’s 3x great grandparents. While not everyone survived this journey, they did, and if they hadn’t he wouldn’t have be here. OTTO RAFAEL WINTER (1880-1961) – WW1 injuries Otto Winter was born in Finland and spent 7...

Looking Back: Photos of My Grandmas...

I’ve been good recently and have been scanning a few more old family photos. Scanning isn’t the funest job in the universe. In fact it’s rather a drag. But still it is nice to have a few more done. And they are nice high res ones, named, and filed appropriately, ready for when I need to access them again in the future. But while I was scanning some photos of one of my grandmas, I thought I’d like to share them so came up with an idea to do a mostly pictorial blog post of both of my grandma’s (maternal and paternal), and in another one I’ll show you my four great grandma’s. So let me introduce you firstly to Evelyn Hannaford (nee Randell) my maternal grandma (1916-2006) And that brings me to Valda Phillips (nee Winter), my paternal grandma...

It Took 113 Years

Previously I wrote about my day in Finland in an overview form, but reality I glossed over the best parts because I was saving it for this post. First off, let me start by telling you my connection to this country comes through my great grandfather, Otto Rafael Winter who was born in Helsinki, Finland in 1880. The third of six children, he was the son of a cigar factory worker, and in 1902, 22 year old Otto left Finland to become a seaman. After sailing around the world for five years or so, he jumped ship in Queensland (Australia), and over the course of the next few years he made his way down to Sydney, before making his was to Adelaide, which my home city. It is here that he met the love of his life, Irene Daley. And it is here where they settled. I won’t go into detail about his life as I’ve written about him before, but needless to say that while he did write to his family back home, he never actually saw them again. So now on with my story … Sunday, 19 July 2015 Sunday, 19 July 2015 is one of those dates for me. You know the ones I mean. A day when something significant happens (good or bad), but either way it is memorable, and that date just sticks with you. This date was significant for me, because I FINALLY got to Finland. To say that this has been on my bucket list forever is an understatement. So just to get there was exciting. But while we (my parents and I) were there, we also met a number of relatives – the living ones as well as the dead, walked...

Movember Ancestors #4: Gustaf Adolf ‘Gösta’ Winter...

For this Movember Ancestor picture we head to Finland. My great grandpa Otto Rafael Winter was a seaman who arrived in Australia in 1907, leaving behind his whole family in Finland.  So I am one eighth Finnish. Otto was of six children. He had two older sisters and three younger brothers. Gustaf who was generally known as Gösta was one of his brothers. Gösta has a fairly standard “English” style moustache in this picture. It is very neat, and goes well with the smart, distinguished look he has here. The inscription on the bottom of the photo says G.A. Winter, Helsingfors (which is another name for Helsinki in Finland) and is where the Winter family came...

Great Grandpa Winter and his Tattoos...

I have written from time to time about  my great grandpa Winter (see the links below), and was inspired to do so again after reading an article today. Although the article was about convicts their tattoos, it reminded me of Otto Winter’s tattoos which I found out about from his military records. The image below is  portion of a page from Otto Winter’s WW1 records which are held at the National Archives of Australia – which lists his tattoos in his distinguishing marks. I remember being totally stunned when I read it purely as I hadn’t considered that he would have them. But there on his arms are an American flag, clasped hands, a basket of flowers and on his chest the Australian Coat of Arms which is an interesting mix – and I’d love to know the reasons behind them, particularly the basket of flowers. As he was a seaman I shouldn’t be surprised, because has there ever been a seaman that didn’t have tattoos? So you have to LOVE military records not just for the detail about the military history of the person, but also the personal details they include! And I couldn’t have a story about great grandpa without including a photo of him, so I’ve included the picture below. I don’t have many of him at all. And in fact it’s the one side of my family that I have VERY few photos unfortunately. And for anyone that is interested in more about Otto Rafael Winter, here’s links to the previous posts I’ve written about him: Anzac Day Blog Challenge:He Was Proud to be Australian Family History Through the Alphabet: F is for Finland and Football Is this Otto Rafael Winter?  ...

Is This Otto Rafael Winter?...

Do you have an ancestor or two that you are totally fascinated by? And by that I mean you spend ten times as much time on just that one person, than you do for whole other branches. Well I do. I have two of them in fact, and great grandpa Otto Rafael Winter is one of them. I have written before about Otto Winter (see the links below), though not for a while as I’ve not done much research on him for quite some time, but I have recently come across a ‘new-to-me’ photo which I think may be him. Anyway back to my fascination and a little intro: So why him? Well possibly because he’s from Finland for a start, as opposed the most of the rest of my ancestors who were largely from the UK, so researching him has been quite different. But also because there’s so few photos of him, and he wasn’t a diary-keeper, he’s always seemed a bit of a mystery.  So I’ve had to piece what I know of him from records, as well as my grandma’s memories. Otto was the third of six children, but the first son. As I find seeing a chart easier to read, than writing who was who, and where they fit in, I’ve included a little chart to show the family details. He left his home in Helsinki, Finland when he was young and made a life for himself working on cargo ships around the world as it was a way to avoid to joining the Russian Army which was compulsory for all young men at the time. He jumped ship at least twice, once in England and the second one being in Queensland, Australia. From there...