Monday, December 15, 2014

My World War 1 Soldiers (4) - Lawrence Seabrook

Lawrence Seabrook  1898 - 1951

This is the fourth post in a series of posts over the next few years to remember all the men in my extended family who enlisted in World War 1.

Originally I had identified 26 soldiers who enlisted between 20 August 1914 and 2 November 1918.  However, with more careful checking this number has now risen to over 35. Of these five were killed overseas or died here in Australia.

Lawrence Seabrook was the sixth son of William Alexander Seabrook and his wife Eliza Grant Lumsden of Hobart. Like the majority of the Seabrook family Laurie worked in the building trade. By November 1914, he had been apprenticed to his father as a bricklayer for 12 months and had been a member of the Naval Reserve.

His enlistment papers state that he was 19 years old. However, his actual birth date was 10 November 1898, so in fact Laurie was only 16 years old. 

This attestation paper was signed 30th November 1914 and Laurie was assigned to the Field Butchery. It appears as though his correct age may have been discovered as the attestation paper has the words "discharged unsuitable 12/3/15" written in blue pencil across the page. Laurie was to reenlist later in the war.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Lady Catherine and the Real Downton Abbey

Yesterday I was in my local bookshop and I saw the book, Lady Catherine and the Real Downton Abbey written by Fiona Carnarvon, the Countess of Carnarvon.

Highclere Castle - 2005

I had to buy the book, not just because of my love of the series, but simply because one of my family may be mentioned in the book. Sure enough, the index indicated a hit. Page 82 has a mention of Dick Dawson. So even though the reference to Dick was one sentence in the book it had to become part of my personal collection.

One of Porchey's first decisions was to build up his brood mares and then send his youngsters to be trained by Dick Dawson at Whatcombe, who trained the Aga Khan's horses.......

The horseracing, breeding and training world is full of dreamers and eccentrics, driven men (it is usually men, and certainly was in Porchey's day) whose existence has been overtaken by the hope that one day, one of their horses may win a Grand National, or an Epsom Derby, and become a household name. The sort is full of individualists from all walks of life: thrill-seekers and gamblers, canny businessmen and sportsmen devoted to the turf. p. 82-82

Reading between the lines on page 84 is also a link to Dawson. The author, the Countess of Carnarvon discusses the Newmarket sale of the horse Blenheim to the Aga Khan. Blenheim was sired by Blandford who was owned by Dick Dawson and his brother Sam. Blandford is known in racing circles as one of the greatest sires of all time. Blenheim went on to win the Derby for the Aga Khan being trained by Dick Dawson. (Obituary of R.C. Dawson, London Times, 17 September 1955).

I have some photos taken from images at Highclere in 2005 showing Lord Carnarvon and Dick Dawson but am unsure whether I can produce them here. One is of the two men in front of a plane. Another is a caricature of both men which form part of a much larger number of caricatures.

It's always exciting to add books that have family mentioned in them to add to my collection.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

My World War 1 Soldiers (3) William Vesey Dawson

William Vesey Dawson (390)  1892 - 1974

This is the third post in a series of posts over the next few years to remember all the men in my extended family who enlisted in World War 1.

Originally I had identified 26 soldiers who enlisted between 20 August 1914 and 2 November 1918.  However, further checking has now revealed a total of thirty five enlistment.  Of the thirty five, five were killed overseas or died here in Australia.

William Vesey Dawson was the fifth child of William Henry Dawson and his wife Bridget Mylan.  Twenty two year old Bill enlisted in Casino, NSW on 25th October 1914,  just a month after his older brother Ernest. Bill worked as a saddler and a general farm labourer. Like many young men from the north coast of NSW Bill (No 390) became a member of the 5th Light Horse.

William Vesey Dawson No 390
(Dawson family collection.)

Brothers, William Vesey Dawson and Ernest Lee Dawson. Photo taken at Alexandria
prior to embarkation for Dardanelles 9 July 1915. (Photo: Dawson family collection.)

Brigadier L.C. Wilson who later wrote The Fifth Light Horse Regiment, 1914-1919 stated that men were selected to join the Light Horse after tests in horse riding and shooting. 

Six weeks after enlistment on 12th December 1914, the Bill's Regiment went to Liverpool in Sydney and on 20th December they embarked on the SS Persic Transport No A 34. After a voyage of 42 days they arrived at Alexandria and immediately went to Maadi, near Cairo. It was here that the 5th Light Horse undertook training for mounted operations.

On 15th May, 1915 they left Maadi for Gallipoli and arrived at Cape Helles on the evening of 18th May, 1915. At 6:30 pm the next day they arrived at Anzac Cove. Troops were successfully landed on the morning of 20th May 1915 with no casualties. They spent the first day digging in and establishing communication trenches.

Wilson (p. 22-23) describes life on the Peninsula :

Normal life on the Peninsula embraced night post duty, night patrols, day observation, sniping, digging, wiring, ration and water carrying.... Night post duty insisted of watching tactical points or the trench system, to stop a rush, give the alarm and serve and listen for enemy movement...All ranks were ordered to sleep in their boots and clothes during the whole time we were on Gallipoli...It must be remembered that from the end of May, when we first went into the trenches, until the morning of the 20th December,...the Regiment was never for a day out of the front firing line, and that line was, in parts, only a matter of seconds from the enemy trenches.

While at Gallipoli Bill was part of the B Squadron Cookhouse. 

Informal group portrait of five cooks at the 5th Light Horse Brigade's B Squadron cookhouse. The cookhouse consists of an uncovered wooden structure built into a mound of earth. Hanging from the roof are four sides of mutton or goat. Identified is 390 William Vesey Dawson (later DCM), B Troop, B Squadron, 5th Light Horse, left, holding a knife and sharpening steel. A photograph in an album relating to the service of Captain Edward Oswald Straker, 5th Australian Light Horse (5ALH).

Bill Dawson was one of only 49 men from the 5th Light Horse who remained on the Peninsula from May until December. He was listed to evacuate on the night of 18-19th December.

He was later involved in military operations which culminated in the capture of Jerusalem in December 1917. It was here that he was awarded a Distinguished Conduct Medal.

Acknowledgment was sent to his father William Henry Dawson. Unfortunately Harry had been dead for 2 years and the letter would have been received by his wife Bridget. 

4 October 1918

Dear Sir,

I have much pleasure in forwarding hereunder copy of extract from fourth Supplement, No 30664 to the London Gazette, dated 30th April, 1918, relating to the conspicuous services rendered by your son, No. 390 Company Sergeant-Major (temporary) W.V. Dawson, Camel Transport Corps (5th Light Horse Regiment)


"HIS MAJESTY THE KING has been pleased to award the Distinguished Conduct Medal to the undermentioned non-Commissioned Officer for gallantry and distinguised sservice in the Field: -

No. 390 Trumpeter (remporary Company Sergeant-Major)

W.V. Dawson

For conspicuous gallenty and devotion to duty. He showed great initiative and skill during the operation and set a splendid example to his men."

The above has been promulgated in Commonwealth of Australia Gazette, No. 150, dated 24th September, 1918.

Yours faithfully
Officer i/c Base Records.

Bill Dawson finally returned to Australia aboard the Argyllshire and arrived in Sydney on 13th April, 1919. He had spent 4 years and 138 days in the army. All but 80 days were spend abroad.


Brennan, S 1992Kilronan to Franklin and beyond - The story of Dr William Lee Dawson and his descendantsAM PrintingTamworth, NSW.

Wilson, L. Brigadier-General 1926The Fifth Light Horse Regiment, 1914-1919, Sydney.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Letters of 1916

A couple of days ago I came across the Letters of 1916 website. I was quite excited when I read about this project.

The Letters of 1916 project is the first public humanities project in Ireland. Join the hundreds of people who are helping us create a crowd-sourced digital collection of letters written around the time of the Easter Rising (1 November 1915 – 31 October 1916) by contributing copies of letters to the database or transcribing previously uploaded letters.

In my collection of letters written from Ireland by my Dawson family I have two letters that fit the timeframe. The first written in November 1915 from Eleanor Dawson to her niece Louisa Spinks who lived in Whittlesea north of Melbourne. The second, was written in June 1916 by Eleanor's daughter Maude to her cousin Louisa.

Today I added the first of these letters to the website. My only disappointment so far is that I can't seem to be able to transcribe my own contribution. Hopefully it will be available for transcription soon.

Monday, August 25, 2014

My WW1 soldiers (2) - Ernest Lee Dawson

Ernest Lee Dawson (500) (1885 - 1968)

This is the second post in a series of posts over the next few years to remember all the men in my extended family who enlisted in World War 1.

So far I have identified 26 soldiers who enlisted between 20 August 1914 and 2 November 1918 and I feel sure I have missed some. Of the twenty six, five were killed overseas or died here in Australia.

My aim is to publish these posts on the 100th anniversary of their enlistment.

Ernest Lee Dawson (my great uncle) was the eldest child of William Henry Dawson and his wife Bridget Mylan. He was born in the Cooma district of NSW in 1885.

On 25th August 1914, less than three weeks after the outbreak of the First World War Ernie, a farmer who lived at Old Bonalbo enlisted in the 2nd Light Horse Regiment in Lismore.

Ernie had previous military experience. In 1906, he answered an advertisement to join the Shanghai Municipal Council Police Force, as a recruit. He was appointed on 10th January 1907, with four others, for an initial three year contract. This was part of a big increase in the force, sixty being recruited that year, as part of a total overhaul of its structures and procedures. The Shanghai Municipal Police was a British run police force founded in 1854 to police the International Settlement at Shanghai. This area was administered by international merchants and bankers who paid taxes to, and controlled the municipal council.  The role of the police

was to provide an orderly environment for Shanghai’s foreign trade and commerce.     Their prime responsibility was to collect intelligence on political demonstrations, strikes, labour and social unrest, foreign and domestic subversive activities and areas of dispute between the International Settlement and the Chinese government 

Reference (This link is no longer appears current)

Captain's Parade at Shanghai Racecourse

Ernie would have learnt to speak Shanghainese, as this became compulsory in 1903. Men were expected to study for an hour each day in their own time, and were given an extra day’s leave each month. Cash bonuses were received when they passed language exams. Language proficiency was a requirement for promotion. (Bickers, R. Empire Made Me, p. 80-81). Ernest was appointed Sergeant in 1909 and became a 2nd Class Sergeant before he left Shanghai in 1912. (Bickers, R. Correspondence with Sharon Brennan). 

Ernest Lee Dawson, 2nd Light Horse Regiment

The 2nd Light Horse had been raised at Enoggera in Queensland on 18th August. Most of the recruits came from Queensland but many, like Ernie were from northern New South Wales. They sailed from Brisbane on the transport ship Star of England on 25th September and disembarked in Egypt on 9th December. 

The 2nd Light Horse Regiment deployed to Gallipoli without its horses and landed there on 12th May 1915, joining the New Zealand and Australian Division. It played a defensive role for most of the campaign but did attack the Turkish trenches opposite Quinn’s Post, one of the most contested positions along the ANZAC line. The first assault was mown down and fortunately the officer commanding the attack had the wisdom and courage to call it off. The 2nd was withdrawn from the front line in September and left the peninsula on 18th December. (Australian War Memorial)

Suffering from enteric fever (typhoid) Ernie Dawson was evacuated from Gallipoli on 5th August 1915 and taken to No 21 General Hospital in Alexandria. He was then transferred to London aboard the Letitia on 2nd October and admitted to the Royal Victoria Hospital at Netley England on 12th October. He also spent time at Perham Downs, a small brigade camp hospital. He was reported ill in The Sydney Morning Herald on 12th November, 1915.

Ernie was later transferred to the Australian Army Ordnance Corps (AAOC). The AAOC were responsible for providing Ordnance support to Australian operations in Egypt, Gallipoli, France, Belgium and Palestine. Although most soldiers were returned to Australia very quickly at the end of the war, as a member of the AAOC Ernie Dawson was required to remain and assist with collection of all equipment. As a result he did not return to Australia until  6 May 1920 aboard the Ceramic. (Reference)

Ernest Lee Dawson and Walter Waldo Seabrook were 3rd cousins, great grandchildren of  Henry William Seabrook and his wife Sarah White.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

My WW1 soldiers (1) - Walter Waldo Seabrook

Walter Waldo Seabrook (1894 - 1971)

This is my first post in a series of posts over the next few years to remember all the men in my extended family who enlisted in World War 1.

So far I have identified 26 soldiers who enlisted between 20 August 1914 and 2 November 1918 and I feel sure I have missed some. Of the twenty six, five were killed overseas or died here in Australia.

Walter Waldo Seabrook (1894 - 1971)

My first post is for Walter Waldo Seabrook (107) who joined the 3rd Field Company Engineers  on 20th August 1914, less than three weeks after Australia joined the war. Walter,19 years old was the third child of Alfred and Emma Seabrook and was born at Augustus Terrace on 23rd September 1894. He had been named after his uncle Walter Waldo Kennedy who had died, aged 13 while boarding at The Friends' School in Hobart.

Walter's attestation papers state that he had spent 1 year in the Junior Cadets and 2 years in the Mililtia and he worked as a clerk. He was only 5 foot 6 inches tall and weighed 10 st 4 lbs. He was fair with blue eyes and brown hair. 

Walter was appointed to the 3rd Field Company A.I.F., 1st Division Engineers. Just over one month later Walter departed Melbourne aboard the Geelong on 22nd September 1914. 

While at Gallipoli he spent time suffering from influenza, bronchitis and pneumonia aboard the hospital ship Franconia. 

In September 1917 he was admitted to Northampton War Hospital, Duston, England suffering a mild gunshot wound to his left hand.

Walter was mentioned twice in dispatches.

On the evening of August  15 (1918) this NCO was engaged in running out direction tapes through the maze of trenches near Lihons Wood to the from line positions - finally marking these out also - in order to guide the troops of the relieving Division. A minor advance in the afternoon had extended the former CT 800 yds. In spite of enemy counterattacks with consequent shelling he reconnoitred the new positions and after being twice stopped by continuous enemy shelling successes in establishing complete communications to the rear. His devotion to duty and coolness under fire has continually been a fine example to the men under his command (AWM Honours and Awards.)

During the period 16th/17th September, 1918, and to the cessation of hostilities, Lance Corporal SEABROOK has done valuable work in organising parties and in the running out of direction tapes, in order to guide roops of relieving units. he has done reliable and constant work in reconnoitring of positions and securing valuable information in connection with water supply and material. His energy and devotion to duty has been a fine example to the men under his command (Commonwealth Gazette No. 113 6th October 1919, p. 146, London Gazette 3 June 1919, p. 6918, AWM Honours and Awards & Australian Honours List.) For this he was awarded The Meritorious Service Medal.

After the war, Walter took up land at Dover in Tasmania as a soldier settler. He married Kathleen Eady and they had three children. Walter enlisted again in the Second World War on 24th April 1942 and was discharged on 15th January 1946, as a Lieutenant from the 1st Battalion. He died while on holiday at Broadbeach, Queensland on 27th August 1971, aged 76.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

My World War 1 Soldiers

I have decided to write a series of posts over the next couple of years to highlight all the men in my extended family who enlisted in World War 1.

So far I have identified 26 soldiers who enlisted between 20 August 1914 and 2 November 1918 and I feel sure I have missed some. Of the twenty six, five were killed overseas or died here in Australia.

At this stage, I don't have information about them at my fingertips. I don't know if they were all single or if some were married with children. I have photos for some of them, but not all. They enlisted in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania.

My aim is to post on the 100th anniversary of their enlistment.

My first post will be on 20th August 2014 and the final one in the series on 2 November 1918.

30 August
Tonight I have found another soldier. So my tally now is 27 soldiers of whom 6 were killed.