Friday, 18 May 2018

#52Ancestors, Week 20, Another Language


Nau mai haere mai

Te reo Māori has been recognised in New Zealand as an official language since 1987. For many years speaking it was almost outlawed, but slowly it has been revived and continues to become stronger.

When I was at primary school we learnt to count, sang songs (waiata), days of the week, colours, played stick games (ti rākau) and learnt simple weaving (raranga) and poi. We grew up using words as part of our everyday language that I didn’t even realise were Te Reo until I was an adult. There are plenty: e hoa, taihoa, ka pai, pakaru, kai, waewae, taringa, aroha, hikoi even before all of the place names and landmarks.

Nowadays, there are totally immersive preschools and schools like Kōhanga Reo. Most schools have kapa haka groups. Haka is well known around the planet, especially associated to sport like rugby. It is just part of who we are, as New Zealanders,  no matter whether we are Māori or not. Our pronunciation has improved and changed over time as we become more aware of HOW words should be pronounced and of the rhythm of the language.

At school, children learn their mihi, a short introduction about themselves; where they come from and what they identify with, who their parents are. These are often developed over time and may be used outside of school in workplaces and other meetings as adults.

Tēnā koutou katoa

Ko Taupiri tōku maunga
Ko Waikato tōku awa
Ko Oriental tōku waka
Ko Les tōku pāpā
Ko Lis tōku māmā
Ko Claire tōku ingoa

Nō reira tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.

First you greet everyone, then you name your mountain, your river and sometimes your sea or lake; the places that you identify as home.

Then you say how you or your family travelled to New Zealand (Aotearōa), traditionally by ship (waka), and what your tribe (iwi) is, if you have one. Then who your parents are, then finally your name. (often at school you will also say the name of your school)

When reciting your mihi you always come last, because without all that comes before you – your parents, your family, the land and river to which you belong – you are nothing.

A more complex mihi is a pepeha where your entire family tree (whakapapa) is recited. Māori was not a written language before European settlement. For Māori knowing their whakapapa is integral to knowing where they belong; who they are. It was all passed on generation to generation orally.

I have written a very simple mihi pepeha (hopefully correctly) to demonstrate.

Ngā mihi nui kia koutou katoa

Ko Taupiri tōku maunga
Ko Waikato tōku awa
Ko Whanganui-a-Tara tōku moana
Ko Oriental tōku waka
Nō Kirikiriroa ahau
Ko Davys tōku whānau
Ko Les tōku mātua
I te tahi o tōku mātua
Ko Ruth tōku kuia
Ko Walter tōku koroua
Ko Lis tōku whāea
I te tahi o tōku whāea
Ko Elsie tōku kuia
Ko Albert tōku koroua
Ko Claire tōku ingoa
Ko Bendigo tōku kāinga
Ko taku hiahia ko te whakapapa

Nō reira
Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.

Warm greetings to everyone

My mountain is Taupiri
My river is Waikato
Wellington Harbour is my sea
The Oriental is my ship
I am from Hamilton
My family is Davys
My father is Les
In my father’s family
Ruth is my grandmother
Walter is my grandfather
In my mother’s family
Elsie is my grandmother
Albert is my grandfather
My name is Claire
I live in Bendigo
My hobby is genealogy

That is all
Greetings to you all, greetings to you all, greetings to you all.

I’m never sure 100% sure about my mountain. My grandfather was born near Mangawara Stream at the base of Taupiri Mountain. The mountain is sacred (tapu) to Māori, and driving past always feels like I am arriving or leaving the Waikato region.

The Waikato River flows through Hamilton, where I was born, and north past Taupiri; so it has to be my river.

I spent my teenage years in Wellington, and I love that harbour and coastline, so I identify with that as my body of water.

The Oriental was the sailing ship which bought the first of my families from England to New Zealand -to Wellington in fact.

Going back up my family tree each of the previous 2-3 generations would likely have had different mountains, rivers and ships to which they identified, some even back in England or Ireland. 

Māori have a much longer association with Aotearōa. Even if they have moved about more recently, they still identify with a marae or river or mountain that has been significant to their whānau for generations.

I love the richness of Tikanga Māori and the tapestry that is woven into our lives too.

Saturday, 12 May 2018

#52Ancestors, Week 19, Mothers' Day


Last year, I shared memories about my Mum and both of my grandmothers. Great grandmothers then - there are four, and all DNA confirmed. This could be a long post.

Sarah Hall 
was born 2 June 1862 in Boagh townland in the parish of Drumgoon, County Cavan Ireland. The closest market town was Cootehill. Boagh is located close to the county border with Monaghan and not far from the border that now separates the Emerald Isle into two countries. With more English sounding surnames it could be supposed that her forebears may have been among the English who settled and took up land overtime, and became known as Anglo-Irish.

As if Irish records weren’t difficult enough to find and unravel, especially from afar, her mother’s maiden name was also Hall. She had nine brothers and sisters and six of them accompanied her and their parents when they emigrated to New Zealand in 1876. They left Gravesend on 27 November 1876 on the Oxford and arrived in Auckland on 1 March 1877. The family lived for a time in Papakura. William and Anne, her parents later moved to Hamilton near to where she and her husband were living. One of her mother’s sisters also emigrated to New Zealand in the 1880’s.

Sarah married my great grandfather Francis Davys in Papakura on 15 December 1885. They began their married life near Dargaville, perhaps farming, but by the time their 2nd child was born they were again living in Papakura. By 1898 they had relocated to Taupiri where Francis was operating a sawmill with some of his brothers. At the end of 1907 they moved again, to Tamahere, where they lived until the end of 1913. In March 1914 Francis died in Hamilton. By now a grandmother, Sarah lived on to see her younger children marry and welcome more grandchildren. She died on 26 February 1938.

I don’t know too much else about her. Did she have an Irish accent ? or had that disappeared as so often happens with child immigrants.

Emma Louisa Bartlett 
was born in the Waitohi Valley, near Koromiko or Picton, Marlborough, New Zealand on 12 September 1875. She was a 2nd generation New Zealander, both her parents had been born in the colony to settlers or the children of settlers. She was the 3rd daughter in a family of eleven. About 1883 her parents moved their young family of five to North Island, initially in Foxton, then Otaki and Manakau.

She and her siblings were amongst the first pupils at Manakau School when it opened in 1888 soon after moving from Otaki. Emma did not start with her 2 younger sisters, joining them a few months later. Her elder sisters did not return to school in Manakau, likely their mother needed their help at home with younger brothers and sisters. However, Emma didn’t spend long at school, it is unclear exactly when she left but the note “Home” suggests her assistance was again required at home. Her two elder sisters were married by 1891 and she herself married William Cooper on 24 January 1894 in Manakau.

Their first three children were born there before they moved to Levin in 1899 where William was employed as a builder. In around 1910 they moved to the Waikato, where Emma’s parents had moved earlier. They farmed at Elstow near Te Aroha until about 1918 when they moved further north to Auckland, before moving to Hamilton in 1921. They spent most of the 1930’s farming again near Katikati, then returned briefly to Hamilton where George had built houses. He also built a home in Mission Bay Auckland and they lived there for a couple of years, returning to live in Hamilton in 1943. Their children were all grown and married by this time with their own children and even grandchildren. Emma and George celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary in 1944. She died on 7 January 1945.

I don’t know too much else, except my Dad says she was “just lovely”, that my daughter calls her “pretty Emma” and that she called eggs “haighs” – where does that come from ?

Laura Ellen Kelsey 
was born on 17 July 1878 in Wolverhampton, Staffordshire. Her mother died when she was ten months old. Her father worked for the Great Western Railway, so she and her brother went to live with their grandfather in Dudley until their father remarried.

I imagine her early life was a little unsettled, but she had some strong figures in her life; her grandfather and her aunt. Her stepmother died, leaving her father with three more young children in 1890. I imagine Laura may have been expected to help with them at home until he remarried for the 3rd time. She was a housemaid before she married in 1901 and had moved to Leamington Spa in Warwickshire by then. Whether this was her first position I do not know, and when she moved is unknown as well. Her father died in 1898, perhaps stepmother #2 had no time for extra children and that was the catalyst to move away. More than likely though, she would have been in service and away from home before this anyway.

Laura married George Timms on 1 July 1901 in Old Milverton where George was employed as a coachman at Cranford House. Their first two of their four children were born there before they moved back into Leamington. Life threw Laura a few curve balls resulting in her becoming an absent parent and spending twenty years in an asylum. She died on 20 September 1935.

Edith Lilian Vose 
was born on 9 February 1881 in Templeton, near Christchurch, Canterbury. She was the fifth child in her family, but she was the first to be born in New Zealand. Her parents and elder siblings had immigrated in April 1879 from England. They were market gardeners. In England her father had been a labourer and stoker with the Royal Arsenal. Her grandfather had been in the Royal Engineers. Her mother came from rural Wiltshire but had worked at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London before marrying.

After some years in Templeton her parents moved to Prebbleton and to Christchurch itself, before returning to Prebbleton later in life. Edith’s elder brother Samuel owned some land in the Wharenui settlement later known as Upper Riccarton, Christchurch. He too, was a market gardener and built a small cottage there. Edith lived with him and kept house. Samuel died in 1900 aged 28 and left the property to Edith who was then aged just 19.

Nine months after Samuel’s death Edith married John William Fuller on 8 May 1901. John lived in the same street and had been living with his married brother. He worked for the railways and would walk past Samuel’s property each day. He was a lot older than Edith and six years older than Samuel. My Nana would say that he thought he was on to a good thing, marrying the young “heiress”. I like to think it was less calculated. Maybe John was friends with Samuel and wanted to take care of his young sister for him, maybe she was a friend of his niece Elsie, maybe they just fell in love.

They lived their entire married life on the property which had been Samuel’s and raised a family of five. They grew raspberries and fruit and had their own milk cow for many years. John died in 1942 but Edith remained in the little cottage with her youngest daughter, growing raspberries, gardening and enjoying her grandchildren and great grandchildren. She died on 10 April 1963.

Thursday, 10 May 2018

#52Ancestors, Week 18, Close Up


Close up; like in focus ? Or close up; like a clam. Hmmm.

As a researcher I come across plenty of both. Sometimes I get so engrossed with researching a particular person, I really get to know them. Close up. I want to know every detail that I can, where they lived, what the village/town/city was like – what does it look like now, who were their neighbours, friends. I want to understand what life was like for them. If I can go to the place where they lived and have a nosey around; walk the streets and laneways which they walked, all the better.

Then there are the other things, obstacles, brickwalls, secrets. Where everyone you ask knows nothing – or if they do it is a bunch of chinese whispers; or they just close up; like a clam.

But I have to know.

It is heart wrenching that so many things which we hardly blink an eye at today, caused so much distress and shame in the past. People – our flesh and blood – suffered; keeping secrets, not letting their guard down, not giving anything away; when sharing may actually have been cathartic.

I always wonder when I find the clue, or the answer to the riddle. Wouldn’t they be SO amazed to learn what we have found – once they get past the piece that caused the hurt in the first place.

Some things, like having a convict in your past, are even welcomed and celebrated by researchers.

#52Ancestors, Week 17, Cemetery


I’m not sure why, but I like wandering through cemeteries. The first one I remember going to was Hamilton East, with my Dad one evening. That memory stuck with me and I was able to relocate the resting place of my great-grandparents with not too much difficulty some 45 years later.

Wandering around churchyards and cemeteries is common place for many genealogists, so there are a number of special places I have come across.

One which I especially enjoy wandering through is Bolton Street in Wellington. On the side of a hill rising above The Terrace, it is one of the oldest cemeteries in Wellington and consequently is the resting place of many early settlers.

In the 1960s part of it was dug up and the graves re-interred to make way for the motorway which now runs relentingly through the middle. A pedestrian bridge crosses above the motorway so that you can walk down from the Seddon Memorial near Anderson Park and the Botanic Gardens, or up the hill from the Bolton Street entrance where the chapel and sexton’s cottage stand.

My great great great grandparents are buried there, or at least memorialised on the headstone for one of their sons. Others too, sisters of my great great grandmother. Most are in the new memorial lawn where a lot of the re-interred souls were buried. A bench sits near this site, behind the chapel commemorating the arrival of the Barratt family (my great great great grandparents) in Wellington in 1842.


The cemetery at Kilmaillie near Fort William, Invernesshire was one we explored while in the UK in 2014. We went early one morning and wandered in the dewy grass looking for a headstone with McIntyre on it. There were quite a number of them, and Cameron too since we were at the heart of clan Cameron country.

Finally, there it was. Almost obscured by trees which have been growing for almost 200 years. Lauren’s great great great great great grandparents. Reverend Duncan McIntyre of Lochaber, Camusnaherie (Rev of Kilmaillie) 1757-1830 and his wife Jean, the daughter of James MacIntyre of Glen Noe – the 3rd of that family 1777-1855.

very hard to read in the shade - will have to go back again I guess, one day.

A bit of Scots royalty there – Jean’s great grandfather was Ewen “Dubh” Cameron, Locheil 1629-1719.

Also spotted there, this one !


In Memory of John Telford, first engineer on the western end of the Caledonian Canal. That amazing engineering feat which includes Neptune’s Staircase and was designed by James Telford. John and James are thought not to be related. The work was difficult and detrimental to his health and he died in 1807, fifteen years before the canal opened. There is more about the construction and some photos of this grave (referred to as dilapidated but not looking as overgrown as my photo) here.

Next on my list – Melbourne General Cemetery, to see if I can locate the resting place of my great great grandmother.

Sunday, 29 April 2018

#52Ancestors, Week 16, Storms


I love a good storm. Right now I am missing them a lot. Where I live currently, they don’t seem to get anything except blue sky and incessant sunshine.

My Mum talks about some storms she remembers when she was a child. So, I thought I’d see what I could find in newspapers about them.

There are several events which occurred in the short time they lived at Highbank, near Methven, Canterbury. They had moved there in early 1943. My grandfather had been working at Waitaki Power Station near Kurow during the final stages of construction and then for almost nine years after it was commissioned and opened.[1]

Their relocation was linked to his job, and the construction of the Highbank Power Station. Highbank sits by the side of the Rakaia River near Methven. The intake to the power station comes from a diversion to the Rangitata River, down the hill in the pipeline to the station and then the tailrace takes the water to the Rakaia.[2]

I found some notes of Mum’s that augment my memory of the stories she has told us, and I have also spent some time searching on PapersPast to see what I could find to establish the exact dates. Some of the events don’t appear to have been reported at all – or more likely haven’t yet been digitised. (How I wish the National Library of New Zealand would adopt the model for digitising used in Australia by Trove).

During the night of February 22nd, 1945 floodwaters on the plain above Highbank breached the wall of the diversion channel and water poured down the hill to the station.[3] The overseer was awoken at 3am to the noise and rallied a team together who worked against time in the wind and rain to build a stopbank in an endeavour to save the power house and pipeline.[4] While the power house was saved, the slip still happened, racing down the hill; almost completely destroying the access road and burying 5 of the 7 houses in the village below. Remaining men and wives and mothers gathered their children and made for the relative safety of the power house. Afterward, women and children were sent away for a few days while the clean-up ensued. Mum went with her siblings and mother to stay with their grandmother in Christchurch. 

The station had been scheduled to open in March, but this was delayed so that the road could be repaired and the clean up completed.[5] All of the shingle needed to be dug out of the houses; drapes, furniture, carpet and belongings cleaned. Cars too, buried in the pile were dug out and stripped down, cleaned and reassembled.[6] Temporary housing was supplied as well, while a new village was constructed on the valley floor a little way from the power house.

Bert Fuller, Highbank slip damage to housing, c23 February 1945, digital image, personal collection.

Bert Fuller, Highbank slip damage construction village and river plain, c23 February 1945, digital image, personal collection.

In Mum’s notes a bailey bridge was installed at this time, which would make sense with the road gone.[7] This enabled the school bus to come down to the construction village to collect the children and take them to school in Methven. Before this, they needed to walk up a zig zag path to the top of the hill. However, the only newspaper account I have found mentioning the bridge, documents its removal in March 1945, having been put in place to give construction workers access following a washout before Christmas.[8] But perhaps it was a separate bridge to the one required after the slip and which features in photos belonging to my grandfather.

Bert Fuller, Highbank Bailey Bridge, cFebruary 1945, digital image, personal collection

Bert Fuller, Highbank Bailey Bridge, cFebruary 1945, digital image, personal collection.

The next storm, also involved a night time move to the powerhouse, so infers that it occurred before the village was relocated further down the valley. (Maybe not ? I may need to make some corrections in the future.) Families were awakened by the wind roaring through the valley, as they are apt to do in Canterbury.

“In a small construction cottage, wind tore through the gap under the door, rattled at the windows. Suddenly a tremendous roar; the roof peeled off and was hurled through the air. The windows blew in, shattering glass everywhere.”[9]

Removed to the relative safety of the powerhouse, the quiet was soon disrupted by the fury outside when another gust blew the huge roller door in like “a piece of paper”.[10] What a sight in the morning, toppled trees, roofless homes, curtains flapping in the breeze, torn.[11] I can’t find any account of this storm in online newspapers at all, or none that truly connect a gale to these events.

The other event much talked about was a big snowfall. I had always imagined this was the 1945 snowfall which is often compared with recent falls.[12]

unknown, Edith Fuller at Christchurch, cJuly 1945, digital image, personal collection.

But, I think from looking at photos and reading the old papers, that it was most likely in 1943.[13] That snowstorm was compared, at the time, to heavy falls in 1918.[14] Mum and her family were in Christchurch, visiting their grandmothers when the snow came.[15] Her father needed to get back to Highbank for work, but driving was not possible. He travelled by railway jigger to Methven and was met by a farmer who lived near the top of the access road. The road was not passable, so he walked/clambered down the hill alongside the pipeline (or where the pipeline was being constructed) to the power-house.[16]

 Bert Fuller, Methven Hotel, cJuly 1943, digital image, personal collection

 Bert Fuller, Highbank Power House from top of the pipeline, cJuly 1943, digital image, personal collection.

 Bert Fuller, Highbank construction village, c July 1943, digital image, personal collection.

Bert Fuller, Top of access road, cJuly 1943, digital image, personal collection.

unknown, workers at Highbank, 6 July 1943, digital image, personal collection.

The idea of travelling by jigger was met with some envy by Mum and her siblings; and with fascination by us hearing the story. But I bet it was freezing cold, and not actually that much fun at all – you’d keep warm though keeping it moving I suppose.





[1] NZ History, ‘Waitaki Dam’, https://nzhistory.govt.nz/media/photo/waitaki-dam, Accessed 29 April 2018.
[2] Unknown, Highbank Power Station, R.E. Owen, Government Printer, Wellington, New Zealand, 1965, pp.1-4.
[3] Damage at Highbank, Houses Buried In Shingle, Press, 24 February 1945, p.6.
[4] Saved Power-House, Evening Post, 3 March 1945, p.8.
[5] Saved Power-House, Evening Post, p.8.
[6] Elisabeth Davys, The Years from 0-10, circa 1974, original held in author’s possession.
[7] Elisabeth Davys, The Years from 0-10, circa 1974.
[8] General News, Bailey Bridge Dismantled, Press, 27 March 1945, p.4.
[9] Elisabeth Davys, Wind, circa 1974, original held in author’s possession.
[10] Elisabeth Davys, Wind, circa 1974.
[11] Elisabeth Davys, Wind, circa 1974.
[12] Christchurch Libraries, ‘Snow Days’, https://my.christchurchcitylibraries.com/snow-days/, Accessed 29 April 2018
[13] The Snowstorm, Press, 10 July 1943, p.3.
[14] The Snowstorm, Press, p.3.
[15] Elisabeth Davys, The Years from 0-10, circa 1974.
[16] Elisabeth Davys, The Years from 0-10, circa 1974.

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

We will remember them. Lest we Forget.

Since it is ANZAC Day, I thought I would share the essay I wrote for my recent Diploma Unit; Families at War. A very gruelling task, but I now think I will try to write similar essays about other soldiers in our tree. The majority of whom did not come home. The soldier I have written this biography about is my daughter's 1st cousin 3 times removed in her paternal grandmothers family. 




William (Bill) Henry Irvine Gibson SERN 5103 was a young man with a keen interest in the military.[1] He was a member of the Senior Cadets and the local Militia in Kiama.[2] With the support of his family, community and much of Australia he departed full of promise and enthusiasm.[3] If not for World War One, his affinity for the military may have led him to have had a long successful career as a soldier. It was not to be. He was killed Pozières.[4]

Bill was born in Jamberoo, New South Wales on 15th August 1895.[5] He was the eldest son of William and Vergetta Gibson with four sisters and a much younger brother.[6] In addition to the Senior Cadets and Militia, he was a member of the church choir, the rifle club and the Loyal Orange Lodge No. 140 at Jamberoo. He also assisted with the women’s lodge No. 415 and was a member of the local Grand United Order of Oddfellows (GUOOF) lodge.[7]

Local newspapers reported and advertised recruitment and fundraising meetings in the Illawarra starting soon after war was declared.[8] Meetings were often held at mines where a large proportion of men on the South Coast were employed.[9] Jamberoo was a dairy farming settlement though and Bill was a labourer, possibly assisting his father on a local farm. Even without an avid interest in the military it would be difficult not to be swept up in the clamour to join in the “fun”, snowballing as it did; mate encouraging mate, brothers together on an adventure.[10]
Bill joined the Waratah March which left Nowra on 30th November 1915 led by Captain Blow of Gerringong, when it passed through Jamberoo on the way to Sydney.[11] The 37th Illawarra Infantry had marched to meet the Waratahs on the road from Gerringong and escorted them to Kiama.[12] Bill’s attestation papers are dated 2nd December at Kiama, suggesting that he signed up while in Kiama that day and joined the march the following day.[13] Some reports identify him as the only recruit to join the march at Jamberoo, others suggest more but their details are vague.[14]

The march reached Jamberoo for lunch and entertainment; the ladies of the Red Cross provided water, towels and soap for the men to wash before they departed for Albion Park.[15] Waratah recruits wore civilian clothes, white hats and a waratah badge. They arrived in Sydney on 17th December more than tripled in number and made their way to camp at Liverpool.[16]

Despite his rank with the Militia being Company Sergeant Major, Bill was a Private with the Waratahs, and again with both ‘E’ Company, 1st Battalion and the 16th Reinforcements, 1st Battalion.[17] His record notes that he was Acting Corporal on 1st March 1916 and he is listed as such on the embarkation and nominal rolls in April.[18] The local newspaper account of a farewell held on 22nd January refers to him as Corporal Gibson, although this was earlier than his records indicate a promotion.[19]
Recruits would usually undertake three months basic training at Liverpool, followed by a short period of leave before departing Australia. However, the January farewell held in Jamberoo suggests that Bill may have returned home after arriving in Liverpool in December; returning in the new year for training.[20] A number of other farewells were held for him and other Waratahs in Kiama and Jamberoo where they were wished well and presented with gifts and mementos.[21] He left Sydney on 1st April on HMAT SS Makarini bound for Suez. Arriving there on 2nd May and a week later leaving from Alexandria on the HMT Caledonia for Marseilles.[22] After arriving there on 17th May they then made their way by train to Étaples, in the north of France.[23]

Étaples was an old fishing town on the mouth of the River Canche. The Étaples Army Base Camp was adjacent to the town with ready access to railways, canals and roads as well as to the port. Étaples was also a supply depot with hospital facilities and a detention centre for prisoners of war.[24] For the new reinforcements it was a training camp where they would spend their first month. Most likely it would have also been an opportunity to write letters home and receive their first mail since leaving Sydney.

On 25th June, Bill joined the newly formed 1st ANZAC Entrenching Battalion leaving Étaples for Bailleul.[25] They spent the following two weeks setting up camp near Dranouter. On 11th July, Bill was a member of the group of eight officers and 141 ordinary ranks despatched as reinforcements to join the 1st Battalion.[26] The 1st Brigade of which the 1st Battalion was part, was on the move from near Fleurbaix or Armentières to Allonville, where they would arrive on 13th July after travelling mostly on foot.[27]
After three days in Allonville the Brigade moved on to Albert and into position south of the village of Pozières.[28] Once in position they worked to strengthen and deepen the trenches in preparation for the attack which commenced shortly after midnight 23rd July.[29] Bill was one of the 92 ordinary ranked soldiers of the 1st Battalion killed between 23rd-25th July 1916.[30] His death came just nine weeks after arriving in France and four weeks before his 21st birthday.[31]

News of his death reached Australia in August. Tributes and notices appeared in the newspapers.[32] In September a letter from Private Bedford appeared in the local newspaper. It gave a little information about the battle, “the bombardment was awful, too terrible to write about”, but mentions the fate of Bill and other Kiama boys.[33] Letters from other Kiama soldiers also appeared soon after, with similar reports.[34] A relative, Private S E Denniss, was one of his comrades who gave an account of his death to the Australian Red Cross.[35] Others spoke of how well liked he was. Bill was buried “in the vicinity of Pozières” and is memorialised at Villers-Bretonneux.[36]

In Australia at this time the conscription debate was gaining momentum. The Prime Minister attended a meeting rallying support in Wollongong and there was plenty of anti-conscription sentiment too. Women still knitted socks and raised money for the War Chest and Red Cross, although the constant news of casualties and death must surely have diminished the resolve for some of them.[37] When Armistice came in 1918 it was met with jubilation and celebration in Wollongong. While the community continued to welcome back their returning soldiers, it must have been bittersweet for Bill’s family to experience.[38]

There are no copies of correspondence in Bill’s file from his family. There are copies of official letters to his mother enquiring whether his father was still alive, as if a mother was a second-rate citizen; her loss dismissed.[39] None of his personal effects were returned through official channels. It is noted though, that the GUOOF wrote requesting a copy of a death certificate and that his mother was in receipt of his pension. Given that the medals have numbers allocated they must have been issued and any related correspondence simply did not survive.[40]

An Honour Board was installed inside the church at Jamberoo and his mother donated brass vases to the church which were dedicated to his memory, to be filled with flowers by his sisters each week.[41] Bill’s contribution to the war, and the loss of his life, was acknowledged in newspaper notices in 1916 at, ANZAC Day 1917 and on the anniversary of his death in 1917.[42]



“A year has passed and still we miss him,
Friends may think the wound is healed,
But they little know the anguish,
That is within our hearts concealed.
There's a certain consolation,
Which cannot be denied,
He was a true born Australian son,
And earned his country's pride.
He died as he wished - a Soldier.”[43]



[1] ‘Pvte. W. Gibson', Kiama Independent, and Shoalhaven Advertiser, 23 August 1916, p.2.
[2] Service Record of William Henry Irvine Gibson, p.1., B2455, National Archives of Australia.
[3] 'Farewell to Captain Gibson', Kiama Independent, and Shoalhaven Advertiser, 26 January 1916, p.2.; ‘Farewell to Waratahs', The Kiama Independent, and Shoalhaven Advertiser, 22 March 1916, p.2.
[4] Service Record of William Henry Irvine Gibson, p.9., B2455, National Archives of Australia.
[5] Service Record of William Henry Irvine Gibson, p.1.
[6] Death Certificate of William Gibson, died 17 June 1949, Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages New South Wales, 12155/1949.
[7]New South Wales Lodge News. No 140, Pacific, Jamberoo. A Tribute to a Hero.', Watchman, 7 September 1916, p.6.; ‘Memorial Service. ANZAC Day, Jamberoo', Kiama Independent, and Shoalhaven Advertiser, 2 May 1917, p.3.
[8] ‘Patriotic Wollongong’, South Coast Times and Wollongong Argus, 9 July 1915, p.9.; ‘Patriotic Wollongong’, South Coast Times and Wollongong Argus, 20 August 1915, p.9.; ‘The Appeal For Recruits. Meeting in Martin-Place. Don't Cheer-Enlist. State Campaign', Sydney Morning Herald, 28 October 1915, p.8.; ‘The Route March’, Illawarra Mercury, 29 October 1915, p.4.; ‘Recruiting Association’, Kiama Independent, and Shoalhaven Advertiser, 4 April 1916, p.2.; ‘Recruiting’, Illawarra Mercury, 16 February 1917, p.7.
[9] ‘Corrimal. Recruiting.’, Illawarra Mercury, 10 December 1915, p.2.
[10] ‘Coming of the Coo-ees’, The Sun, 12 November 1915, p.6.; ‘Patriotic Wollongong’, South Coast Times and Wollongong Argus, p.9.; Bill Gammage, The Broken Years: Australian Soldiers in the Great War, Canberra, Australian National University Press, 1974, p.7.
[11]Route Marches. Fifty Strong. Waratahs Coming to Sydney', Sydney Morning Herald, 1 December 1925, p.13.
[12]Route Marches. The Waratahs. On the Way to Sydney. A Festive Time', Sydney Morning Herald, 3 December 1915, p.7.
[13] Service Record of William Henry Irvine Gibson, p.1.
[14]Route Marches. Recruits on the Road. North-West Contingent Sets Forth', Farmer and Settler, 10 December 1915, p.3.; ‘The Waratahs. Gratifying Results at Kiama', Sydney Morning Herald, 4 December 1915, p.17.; ‘The Waratah's. Now 75 Strong', Shoalhaven News and South Coast Districts Advertiser, 4 December 1915, p.2.
[15] ‘Waratahs' Route March', Shoalhaven News and South Coast Districts Advertiser, 27 November 1915, p2.; ‘The Waratahs. Gratifying Results at Kiama', Sydney Morning Herald, p.17.; ‘Jamberoo Jottings', Kiama Independent, and Shoalhaven Advertiser, 8 December 1915, p.3.
[16] Historic Helensburgh, 'Files, The Waratah March 1915', www.historichelensburgh.org.au, Accessed 5 March 2018.; ‘Waratahs. Arrive in Sydney Today', Sydney Morning Herald, 17 December 1915, p.9.; Kiama Library, 'South Coast Waratahs', www.library.kiama.nsw.gov.au/index.php/south-coast-waratahs, Accessed 6 March 2018.
[17] Service Record of William Henry Irvine Gibson, p.1.; Service Record of William Henry Irvine Gibson, p.4., B2455, National Archives of Australia.
[18] Service Record of William Henry Irvine Gibson, p.8., B2455, National Archives of Australia.; Australian Imperial Force Nominal Rolls, 1 Infantry Battalion - 13 to 23 Reinforcements (December 1915 - November 1916), AWM8 23/18/4, p.116. (original page), Australian War Memorial.
[19] 'Farewell to Captain Gibson', Kiama Independent, and Shoalhaven Advertiser, p.2.; ‘N.S Wales Lodge News, No.140, Pacific, Jamberoo, Send-off to Corporal Gibson’, Watchman, 27 January 1916, p.8.
[20] 'Farewell to Captain Gibson', Kiama Independent, and Shoalhaven Advertiser, p.2.; Service Record of William Henry Irvine Gibson, p.3., B2455, National Archives of Australia.
[21] ‘Local & General News’, Kiama Independent, and Shoalhaven Advertiser, 15 March 1916, p.2.; ‘Recruiting Association’, Kiama Independent, and Shoalhaven Advertiser, 16 February 1916, p.2.;’Send-off to Recruits’. Kiama Independent, and Shoalhaven Advertiser, 19 February 1916, p.2.
[22] Service Record of William Henry Irvine Gibson, p.9.;Waratahs in France. Silly Rumors Denied.' The Shoalhaven Telegraph, 9 August 1916, p.5.
[23] Service Record of William Henry Irvine Gibson, p.9.
[24] Through These Lines, 'Research, Etaples', http://throughtheselines.com.au/research/etaples, Accessed 5 March 2018.
[26] Service Record of William Henry Irvine Gibson, p.9.; Australian Imperial Force Unit War Diaries, 1st Anzac Entrenching Battalion Unit Diary, AWM4 23/78/1, June-July 1916, p.2, Australian War Memorial.; Australian Imperial Force Unit War Diaries, 1st Infantry Brigade Unit Diary, AWM4 23/1/9, July 1916, p.5, Australian War Memorial.
[27] 1/19 RNSWR Association Inc, 'First World War History', www.rnswr.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/THE-FIRST-WORLD-WAR.pdf, Accessed 6 March 2018.; Australian Imperial Force Unit War Diaries, 1st Infantry Brigade Unit Diary, AWM4 23/1/9, July 1916, pp.1-6., Australian War Memorial.
[28] Australian Imperial Force Unit War Diaries, 1st Infantry Brigade Unit Diary, AWM4 23/1/9, July 1916, pp.8-11., Australian War Memorial.
[29] Australian Imperial Force Unit War Diaries, 1st Infantry Brigade Unit Diary, AWM4 23/1/9, July 1916, pp.12-15., Australian War Memorial.; Australian Imperial Force Unit War Diaries, 1st Infantry Brigade Unit Diary, AWM4 23/1/9, July 1916, pp.140-148., Australian War Memorial.
[30] Service Record of William Henry Irvine Gibson, p.9.; Australian Imperial Force Unit War Diaries, 1st Infantry Brigade Unit Diary, AWM4 23/1/9, July 1916, p.15., Australian War Memorial.
[31] ‘War Casualties’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 25 August 1916, p.8.
[32] ‘Pvte. W. Gibson', Kiama Independent, and Shoalhaven Advertiser, p.2.; New South Wales Lodge News. No 140, Pacific, Jamberoo. A Tribute to a Hero.', Watchman, p.6.; ‘Roll of Honour', South Coast Times and Wollongong Argus, 22 September 1916, p.13., ‘Jamberoo Council, Vote of Sympathy’, Kiama Independent, and Shoalhaven Advertiser, 23 August 1916, p.2.
[33]Soldiers Letters. Pte W Bedford.', Kiama Independent, and Shoalhaven Advertiser, 23 September 1916, p.2.
[34]Soldiers Letters', Kiama Independent, and Shoalhaven Advertiser, 27 September 1916, p.2.
[36] Service Record of William Henry Irvine Gibson, p.9.; Service Record of William Henry Irvine Gibson, p 12., B2455, National Archives of Australia.
[37] ‘Local & General News’, Kiama Independent, and Shoalhaven Advertiser, 24 June 1916, p.2.; ‘Liberty. Those Against Conscription. Rowdy Miners Meeting', Sunday Times, 13 August 1916, p.2.; ‘Municipality of Wollongong. National Service Referendum', Illawarra Mercury, 6 October 1916, p.7.; ‘South Coast Organisation', Australian Worker, 6 December 1917, p.4.; ‘Recruiting’, Illawarra Mercury, p.7.; ‘Jamberoo Red Cross’, Kiama Independent, and Shoalhaven Advertiser, 27 July 1918, p.2.; Joan Beaumont, ‘Australians and the Great War; Battles, the Home Front, and Memory’, Teaching History, Vol. 49, Issue 1, March 2015, pp.22-25.
[38]Peace Rejoicings at the Port ', Illawarra Mercury, 15 November 1918, p.2.; ‘The Good News. The Signing of the Armistice. How It Was Received In Wollongong', Illawarra Mercury, 15 November 1918, p.4.; ‘Peace Celebrations’, Illawarra Mercury, 11 April 1919, p.6.; ‘Jamberoo Welcome’, Kiama Independent, and Shoalhaven Advertiser, 12 January 1918, p.2.; ‘Jamberoo’, Kiama Independent, and Shoalhaven Advertiser, 21 August 1918, p.2.
[39] Service Record of William Henry Irvine Gibson, p.20., B2455, National Archives of Australia.
[40] Service Record of William Henry Irvine Gibson, pp.21-27., B2455, National Archives of Australia.
[41] ‘At Jamberoo', Kiama Independent, and Shoalhaven Advertiser, 18 April 1917, p.2.; Memorial Service. ANZAC Day, Jamberoo', Kiama Independent, and Shoalhaven Advertiser, p.3.
[42] ‘Pvte. W. Gibson', Kiama Independent, and Shoalhaven Advertiser, p.2.; ‘Roll of Honour', South Coast Times and Wollongong Argus, 20 July 1917, p.13.; Memorial Service. ANZAC Day, Jamberoo', Kiama Independent, and Shoalhaven Advertiser, p.3.; ‘ANZAC Day', Kiama Independent, and Shoalhaven Advertiser, 28 April 1917, p.2.; ‘In Memoriam', Kiama Independent, and Shoalhaven Advertiser, 28 July 1917, p.2.; ‘Roll of Honour', South Coast Times and Wollongong Argus, p.13.
[43] ‘In Memoriam', Kiama Independent, and Shoalhaven Advertiser, p.2.