Trove Tuesday: The Saddest News of All

While ‘Troving’ for one of my family surnames recently, I came across an article that was just heart-wrenching, and have decided to share it with you as a Trove Tuesday post. It is an article which advises that Charles Spurgeon McCullough, the son of my son of great great grandparents the Rev. Robert McCullough and his wife Eva (nee Richardson), had been killed in action in World War 1.

Having never been exposed to the atrocities of war other than reading about it in history books, and seeing it on TV, I don’t pretend to have any real concept of the feelings of how my family (or any family for that matter) felt when their son left for war. Let alone getting the news that he’d been killed in action. And how the family dealt with this afterwards? But you can get a small sense of it from the article.

Article on Trove announcing the death of Charles Spurgeon McCullough. BIOGRAPHICAL PARTICULARS. (1915, August 9). The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1889 - 1931), p9.

Article on Trove announcing the death of Charles Spurgeon McCullough.
BIOGRAPHICAL PARTICULARS. (The Advertiser, Monday 9 August 1915,  p9.

As the text is somewhat blotchy, here is the transcript of what it says:

Private C. S. McCullough, who left with the 4th Reinforcements for the 6th Battalion of the A.I.F., was killed in action on July 13. He was the second son of the Rev. R. and Mrs. McCullough, who recently left the pastorate of the Mitcham Baptist Church for Burnie, Tasmania. Private McCullough was just over 20 years of age, and was educated at Queen’s School (Hobart) and Parkside School, and after leaving his first employment was with Messrs. Cowell Bros. and James Marshall & Co. Prior to offering his services to the army he had been with the Union Steamship Company. He left four sisters, Mrs. Ralph Hannaford, Narracoorte; Mrs. P. Willmott, Sydney; Nurse McCullough, “Walwa” Hospital, Fullarton; and Miss E. McCullough, Burnie; and two brothers, Mr. R. L. McCullough, of Messrs. Elder, Smith, & Co., Adelaide, and Corporal A. G. McCullough, who left this State with the 3rd Expeditionary Force.

My McCullough family isn’t one that I have researched to any real degree, so trust me I am no expert on this family in any way. But I did find Charles’ military records on the National Archive of Australia’s website, which showed just how quickly the McCullough family’s lives were changed forever.

Charles S. McCullough - NAA Military Service documents

Charles S. McCullough - NAA Military Service documents pg23

Charles signed up to the army in January 1915, and passed his medical in March that year. He was then assigned to the 6th Battalion AIF, 4th Reinforcements, and in May 1915 embarked and headed for the Dardanelles, and on 17 June 1915 he joined his unit in Gallipoli.

It was a mere days later he was killed in action, and has been buried at Shrapnel Valley Cemetery in Turkey.

My McCullough family, together with the many thousands of others who lost loved ones through war, had their lived changed forever. Great Uncle Charles McCullough signed up to serve for his country, and sadly he died for it too. But he will be remembered.

10 Responses to “Trove Tuesday: The Saddest News of All”

  1. Kerryn says:

    So sad and so young. My grandparents lost quite a few of their young cousins in the war and the stories are heartbreaking with some families losing more than one son.
    We will remember them.

  2. The Reverend and Mrs McCulloch must have been fans of Charles Spurgeon to name their son after him. It’s so sad to read of his death, so young and so far from home.

    • Alona says:

      The first son was named Robert Luther McCullough, with the second being Charles Spurgeon McCullough … so you think there’s a bit of a religious influence going on there in the names they’ve chosen??

      • Geraldene Meredith says:

        Rev Robert McCollough was a student in Spurgeon’s College London. I’m sure Charles Spurgeon was a lasting influence on his students, and thus the names passed down to family members. We have a great Christian heritage; how the prayers of these ancestors have borne fruit in the lives of family members today.

  3. Barry Light says:

    It is almost impossible to imagine what they went thru. His sister (my grandmother) Enid MCullough also lost her first husband during the War. She married in Aug 1916, he joined the army in Sept 1916 and was killed in France 12 months later.

    And she never spoke of it. It wasnt until after she passed away in 1982 the we ever found out she had been married before.

    • Alona says:

      Barry, thanks for your comment, and that would have been devastating for your grandma to have lost a brother AND her husband. It’s something that in the current world we live in, we have no concept of the reality of it. While while it’s good that we haven’t been exposed to the true horror of war personally, it also doesn’t make us appreciate those who did, and what people and families went through.

  4. Laurie Rowston says:

    I have done extensive research on the Rev Robert McCullough, see my MA “Spurgeon’s Men: The Resurgence of Baptist Belief and Practice in Tasmania 1869-1884” and “One Hundred years of Witness”, the story of the Hobart Baptist Church.

    • Alan Phillips says:

      Laurie, I have a copy of your thesis, as well as two of your books. Alona (lonetester), my daughter, who submitted the original post, probably wasn’t aware of these. But with the digitising of newspapers – and now Baptist periodicals like the Australian Baptist and Southern Baptist, as well as family and other archives I hold – she is encountering much of this history for the first time. As I am too with the more recently digitised material.

  5. Geraldene Meredith says:

    You have done an enormous amount of research Alona. I’m just beginning to get interested and have enough time to delve and read a bit more. Keep up the good work.

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