More Family Heroes in World War I – Sherwood and Bell

It is Anzac Day again and my thoughts return to our family war heroes.

Last year I wrote about my husband’s family, the “ Stapleton bothers’ and their enlistment in World War I and II. This year I am writing about some of my family who answered the called to arms in the defence of the British Empire..

This year we decided we would make the pilgrimage to the World War I Australian Battle Fields to honour the many family members who enlisted in the AIF, some of whom made the ultimate sacrifice.

In this blog I’m concentrating on my maternal grandmother’s family lines of SHERWOOD and  BELL The following men were all cousins of my grandmother.

Robert Edward Sherwood, was born in 1885 near Wilcannia in western New South Wales, the son of William Edward and Margaret Lillian Sherwood (nee Ross), who had married earlier in the year at Bourke. William Edward Sherwood (known as ‘Will’ had a team and was a carrier between Bourke and Wilcannia

In 1898, the summer had been hot and dry, but significant rains had fallen in early February.The annual flooding of the Darling River from above Bourke and and heavy rainfall in western New South Wales caused the river to rise quickly to record heights. William Edward Sherwood had his loaded waggon on the river bank at Tilpa where the river had risen to over 24 feet by the 25 February, and was still rising. It is not known how ‘Will’ was caught in the flood waters but his body was retrieved by the police on 28th and at the inquest a verdict of accidental drowning was given.

I have not yet established where his wife ‘Lillie’, and thirteen year old son, Robert were living it this time, but by 1900 they had moved to Broken Hill. Lillie married William Oliver there in that year.

Robert Edward Sherwood married Mary Ellen Butler at Broken Hill in 1912 and had a daughter Doris Mary, who married Hugh Gannon.

Robert Edward Sherwood enlisted in the Australian Infantry Forces on 22 June 1916 at Broken Hill. His full service records can be found at www.naa.gov.au . He was killed in action on 2 September 1918 a few weeks before the end of the war. By the Commonwealth Graves Commission website at www.cwgc.org/ I know he is buried at the Peronne War Cemetery in the same section as James Joseph Stapleton, one of my husband’s family heroes, whom I wrote about last Anzac Day.

As we are visiting these graves later in the year I wanted to find out as much as I could about what happened in early September 1918.

The Australian War Memorial at www.awm.gov.au can help fill in the story. On their website they now have the WWI War Diaries. These are the official records of the daily diaries of each Battalion, and gives a incredible insight of what was happening at the battle front.

From his service records I knew that Robert Edward Sherwood served in the AIF 27th Battalion.

On the Australian War Memorial website I looked for Australian Imperial Force Unit War Diaries- Infantry- 27th Battalion- September 1918. There are some 93 pages in this file with all kinds of information. Here follows some extracts-

The 7th AIF Brigade will carry out an attack on the morning of Sept 2nd. 1918.”.. with the objective ….”Capture of Allaynes and Haut Allaines”…

Battle plan for early September -” The attack will be made by three battalions 26th, on the right, 25th in the centre and 27th on the left……

28th Battalion will follow 1000 yards behind the rear of the attacking battalions.”…..

After very heavy fighting the attack was successful and the commanding officer later reported “In the opinion of the G.O.C this fight is one of the most brilliant achievements of the Brigade”.

A report of this action stated there were 1 officer and 36 of other ranks killed; 8 officers and 138 other ranks wounded; with 1 officer and 3 other ranks dying of wounds and 2 of other ranks missing.

A few days later a report was entered that crosses were to be erected for the fallen.

Crosses for the following men of this battalion have been completed and will be taken forward tomorrow morning 14th instant at 9 am.

Then were listed 12 names including that of “ 6327 Pte Sherwood, R E of B Company.

Permission will be given to any NCO or man who desires to accompany this party to HAUT ALLAINES.”

Originally Robert E Sherwood had been, “buried in an isolated Grave in a Field in a Shell Hole just south of Allaines and one and three quarter miles north of Peronne, France. He was later transferred to Peronne Cemetery.”

These diaries and papers are well worth wading through as you can find so much information about what your soldier was experiencing. There are a few surprises too, such as inter Brigade Sports Days where not only the schedule is given but who won each contest. No doubt a welcome break and distraction in the midst of war.

On my maternal family line of the Bell family there were several members who enlisted, but I have only listed a few from one section of the family here.

. William James Allen and Louisa Mabel Bell (nee Day), who resided near Gundagai in western New South Wales, had three sons who went to war.

James Joseph Thomas, known as “Tom” joined up on 1 September 1914. He was at Gallipoli and was severely wounded on 26 June 1915,. and died on board ship on transfer to Alexandrina. He was buried at sea and is memorialized at the Lone Pine Memorial at Gallopoli.

Their second son Louis Alexander, born 1893, was known as ‘Jack’. He enlisted at Gundagai on 18 Aug 1915 a couple of months after the death of his brother ‘Tom’.He was killed in action on 26 October 1917 and is buried Perth Cemetery (China Wall) at West Vlaanderen, Belguim.

Their third son James Allen Bell born 1897, and known as ‘Jim’ enlisted on 2 June 1915 and fought on the Western Front where he was wounded and gassed several times. He survived the trauma of war and finally returned to Australia in 1919.

Alfred and Elizabeth Jane Vincent (nee Bell) also had three of their five sons enlist.. They were also first cousins to the above mentioned Bell brothers. The father Alfred Vincent had died in 1910.

Alfred James, born 1880 the third child, and eldest son, enlisted on 1 January 1916. He was severely wounded and was invalided to Australia and arrived home soon after 28 July 1917.

Philip John Vincent, born 1895, the youngest son was known as ‘Jack’. He enlisted on 14 March 1916 and was killed in action about 5 May 1917. He is commemorated on the Villers- Bretonneux Memorial in France.

I have not identified the third son of this family who went to war, but know he survived and returned to Australia.

I was able to follow the stories of these soldiers, as well as other family members who went to war, through their personal papers at the Australian Archives, their place of burial through the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and their unit history through the Australian War Memorial.

I also found several items through several newspapers in the Historical Newspapers on Trove at the National Library of Australia. These were particularly of interest as many of the letters written home to their parents were published in the local newspapers and are in fact the words of the soldiers themselves recording their thoughts and experiences.

All these can be accessed free online at the above mentioned websites and have been invaluable in our preparation for our forth coming trip to the Western Front.

The centenary of World War I is upon us and I encourage all family historian not to just add birth and death dates to your family tree, but to research these men and women lives. They are all heroes.

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Family and Local History Research Tool- Index of Births, Deaths and Marriage in Sydney Newspapers 1830-1840

Of the seventy odd publications I have written and self published, only four have had anything to do with our families. All the rest have been to assist the local community to tell their story or to assist other family historians access records to further their research. Many of the publications are available on my website ( http://www.heritagepath.com.au/ ).

However this will be changing over the next few months. I have decided to up date and rebuild my website over the coming months. A few publications will remain available and new ones will be added, but many will be removed and integrated into databases which at sometime in the future I hope to have available for researchers to access.

Some twenty years ago I spent many months extracting and indexing all the birth, death and marriage entries in some nine Sydney newspapers, copies of which have survived the ravages of time and have been microfilmed. I purchased copies of these microfilms from Pascoe and Company in Sydney.

The surviving issues of the following newspapers have been used in these indexes; Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser; The Sydney Herald; The Sydney Monitor; The Australian; The Colonist; The Sydney Times; The Australian Chronicle and The Sydney Standard and Colonial Advocate.

Not only the Birth, Death and Marriage notices but inquest reports, death reports, court reports, overseas items recorded in other countries. Many of these people are not recorded anywhere else.

This series called Index of Births, Deaths and Marriages in Sydney Newspapers covers the period 1830-1840. There are six volumes in all. Volume 1: 1830-1832;Volume 2: 1833-1835; Volume 3: 1836-1837;Volume 4: 1838;Volume 5: 1839 and Volume 6: 1840;

As you will note, the first two volumes cover three years of papers, the third volume two years, while the last three are yearly volumes. Each volume is in four sections. The first three cover the Birth, Death and Marriage Notices in each paper and the fourth section records deaths from the news columns and includes reports of death, inquests, funeral notices etc

I choose this time period because many historians were very frustrated that there were few records available for researching in this time frame, which was the last ten years of convicts and the first ten years of free immigrants into New South Wales.

Some interesting examples include:

Marriage: Volume 5 1839, p27

JOUBERT – BOUNEFEU, Married on 23 November 1839, at Kororarika at the Catholic Chapel, by Bishop Pompalier, D N Joubert, merchant of Sydney, to Louise Marie, eldest daughter of Piere Bounefeu.”

References- Australian, 24 December 1839; Sydney Gazette, 24 December 1839 and Sydney Monitor 25 December 1839.

Death; Volume 5 1839, p 54

“SKINNER Hughina, wife of Alexander Skinner, late Surgeon Superintendent of the government ship Lady McNaughton, and daughter of the late John Clarke, Sutherland, Scotland, died 7 April 1839, at Jerry’s Plains, Hunter River.”

Reference- Sydney Herald, 1 May 1839

Many of the libraries throughout the world, including Australia and New Zealand purchased copies of these indexes, as did many family history societies. I received hundreds of letters and emails from all over the world thanking me for compiling the indexes, as many people were able to find details of their ancestors, which they could follow up in other records if they have survived.

I published this series in book, microfiche and e-book format.

In the last few years the National Library of Australia has scanned these microfilms of each of these newspapers and digitally released them on their website under Trove, in their Historical Newspapers section. In theory this makes my indexes obsolete as the word search facilities of the National Library site makes all the records available at the press of a button.

However, as I have often stated, any family historian who relies on the computers facilities to find all their family history entries will often be very disappointed. Often many thousands of possible entries have to be sieved through to see if your family is indeed there. Also, the text recognition program used, although very helpful cannot hope to be 100% accurate. The printing of these early newspapers range from very dark and easy to read print to very faint and impossible to read. It needs the human eye to interpret those dark and smudged, as well as those faint broken text words. I have spent some forty years working with early 18th and 19th Century newspapers from all over the world, and have had much experience in working out those troublesome words.

I would use the National Library of Australia newspaper website everyday, but always consult my indexes if working in the 1830- 1840 time frame, as it saves me many hours of time. I immediately know if there is an entry, and in which newspaper I should be looking in.

Why not give these indexes a try, as you just never know, they just may solve your research problem.

Family and Local History Research Tool- Index of Passengers and Crew In and Out of Sydney from Sydney Newspapers 1830-1841

When your ancestors arrived in Australia they could have come as :

a) Seaman/wife of a seaman or family of a seaman

b) Soldier/wife of a soldier or family of a soldier

c) Convict/ wife of a convict or family of a convict

d) Assisted Immigrant

e) Unassisted immigrant

f) Government Official/ wife of official or family or a servant of an official.

They could only have arrived by ship until after the mid 20th Century when air travel was possible.

Firstly, you need to consider from what port, or via what port, they may have come. Many immigrants did not come directly to Sydney. For example a large number of unassisted immigrants came via Tasmania, where they got off the ship, looked around for several weeks or months before deciding to board a coastal ship to Sydney. Others may have joined the big rush to America before re-emigrating and finally settling in Sydney. Just be aware of possibilities.

I have compiled indexes from the shipping and news columns of at least two and sometimes as many as four Sydney newspapers. The newspaper entries are compared for the most informative entry to be added to the index. If there is a variation of the spelling of the Surname in the various papers, all variations are added. The newspapers used are theSydney Gazette; Australian; Sydney Herald and Sydney Monitor.

Passengers

Incoming passengers- Although shipping passenger lists have survived for incoming passengers into Sydney, for this period can be found on the State Records of New South Wales, they are thought to be incomplete. Many names can be found on these indexes which do not appear on the archive lists.

Outgoing passengers- There are no outgoing passenger lists at the State Records of New South Wales for this period. This is the first known index to fill this important gap in the records.

Crew

In this time period very few crew lists were prepared, only four are known to survive in the State Records of NSW. Included in my index are mention of crew named in inquests, court reports, news items etc. Any additional information on the passengers is also included.

Incoming crew- Although there is at the State Records of New South Wales, an unpublished card index for ship’s captains arriving in Sydney in this period, there are no lists for crew. All mention of members of any ship’s crew through newspaper items such as wrecks, inquests, death reports and court cases are listed in this indexes.

Outgoing crew- The only known lists for ship’s Captains and crew leaving Sydney at this time. Again these lists have been compiled from all sections of the newspapers.

The information includes Surname, Christian name or initials ; Title;Ship; Date of arrival in Sydney; Date of departure from original port and other ports of call; Date of departure from Sydney and destination port; Ship’s status of person named; remarks and notes as well as full references.

Example: Volume 2

Entry

Name

Ship

Date of Arrival

From Ports

Date of

Departure

To Port

Status

Remarks

Reference

Other Notes

2271

FENNELL, Mr Richard

Ann

13/11/33

London/ Hobart Town

01.05.1833/ 28.10.1833

Sydney

Passenger

SMH 14.11.1833

There are in excess of twenty thousand persons in this series of indexes for the 1830-1840 period.

Volume 1 1830-32; Volume 2 1833-35; Volume 3 1835-37 were published in book, microfiche and e-book form. The index is arranged alphabetically by Surname and then Christian name of Passengers and Crew arranged in one table.

Volumes 4, 1838; Volume 5, 1839 and Volume 6 1840 are arranged in two parts. Part 1-arranged alphabetically by Surname and then Christian name of Passengers and Crew.

Part 2-Arranged alphabetically by ship for Crew

Entry

Ship

Name

Date of Arrival

From Ports

Date of Departure

To Port

Status

Remarks

Reference

Other Notes

101

Caledonia

BROWN, William

17/12/38

Madras/King George’s Sound/Port Phillip

20.08.1838/07/12.1838

Sydney

Crew

Seaman

S G 15.01.1839

Court Case

Here is also a special index for 1841. This year didn’t feature in my time original period of my 1830 to 1840 indexes. Pastkeys, a research business based in Sydney had compiled a set of indexes for immigration into New South Wales after 1842, which then left a gap in indexes to surviving records. After consultation with Pastkeys I agreed to fill the gap for 1841 from the Sydney newspapers, so Volume 7 was compiled also following the same guidelines as Volumes 4-6 in two parts.

Example: Volume 7

Entry

Name

Ship

Date of Arrival

From Port

Date of Departure

To Port

Status

Remarks

Reference

Other Notes

7488

YULE, Robert

HMS Erebus

14/07/41

Hobart Town

07/07/41

Sydney

Crew

Second Master

SMH 15.07.1841

On Scientific voyage of magnetic observation

In the last few years the National Library of Australia has scanned these microfilms of each of these newspapers and digitally released them on their website ( https://www.nla.gov.au ) under Trove, in their Historical Newspapers section. In theory this makes my indexes obsolete as the word search facilities of the National Library site makes all the records available at the press of a button.

However, any family historian who relies on the computers facilities to find all their family history entries will often be very disappointed. Often many thousands of possible entries have to be sieved through to see if your family is indeed there. Also, the text recognition program used, although very helpful cannot hope to be 100% accurate. The printing of these early newspapers range from very dark and easy to read print to very faint and impossible to read. It needs the human eye to interpret those dark and smudged, as well as those faint broken text words. I have spent some forty years working with early 18th and 19th Century newspapers from all over the world, and have had much experience in working out those troublesome words.

I would use the National Library of Australia newspaper website everyday, but always consult my indexes if working in the 1830- 1841 time frame, as it saves me many hours of time. I immediately know if there is an entry, and in which newspaper I should be looking in.

These indexes are copyright to me and cannot be found on Ancestry.com, findmypast.com or any other website. Check them out at my website heritagepath.com.au

Why not give these indexes a try, as you just never know, they just may solve your research problem.

My Up and Coming Overseas Research Trip to Britain and Europe.

In a couple of months or so I will be on board the Marco Polo, cruising around Great Britain. I am attending an Unlockthepast Family History Conference Cruise and am particularly looking forward to the many presentations on a great range of topics. Check out http://unlockthepast.com.au/ for all the details.

As a large number of my husband’s, as well as my ancestors are from the Emerald Isle, I will be attending as many of those presentations with an Irish connection as I possibly can. I also believe a couple of my Irish families originally came from Scotland, so I will hopefully gain some ideas from the Scottish presentations too.

It is not only the lectures that attracted me to this Family History Conference Cruise, but a daily segment called ‘Research Help Zone’, which is a one on one or small group session with an expert, which is designed to help conference participants break down those stubborn ‘brick walls’. Helen Smith’s excellent  blog at ( helenvsmith.blogspot.com.au/) informs us about the Research Help Zone and advice on how to prepare for this segment of the cruise. It is great advice for everyone wanting to get the best from the cruise.

This is not my first cruise with Unlockthepast and Gould Genealogy. I attended the 2nd Cruise, Auckland to Sydney in 2011, which also had a Scottish and Irish Theme with many wonderful presenters over 14 days of cruising.

I not only gleaned many research follow up ideas from the lectures, but I also participated in the Research Help Zone sessions and received great advice from Perry McIntyre, Keith Johnson and Chris Paton, which enabled me to make further progress with my Irish research, when I returned home.

I also caught up with many friends made over forty years on my family history journey, as well as making many new ones. Many people are happy to attend conferences on land, but these are always very busy and somewhat rushed as everything has to run to a strict timetable. On a cruise there is a timetable, but you can always find time after hours to continue to converse with like minded people on your favourite topic and of course listen to others family history stories and problems. Sometimes you can even make some suggestions which might help them in their ancestor hunt too.

Over the next few weeks I will be sharing with you how I am preparing for not only the Unlockthepast Cruise, but other tours in Britain and Europe and extensive research sessions in libraries and archives I’m planning, especially in London.