Edward Herbert Vidler, born 1883, was the second son and the third child of Thomas Nathaniel and Margaret Jane Vidler (nee Goodwin). In the family he was known as ‘Bert’.

He had grown up in the Shoalhaven area and migrated with the family when they moved north to settle on the north arm of the Tweeds River. The family took up land at Chillingham.

He enlisted in Brisbane on 27 October 1916, along with his younger brother Sydney Vincent, and went into Ennogera Camp. Their cousin Frederick Cecil Vidler, known as ‘Fred’ and also of Chillingham, enlisted the following month.

An article in the local newspaper the Tweed Daily, stated

“SEEING IT THROUGH

The following names are those, of local and district- boys, who, preferring the “wents” to the “sents,” have after ‘attestation; voluntarily enlisted’ for active service abroad” …. H. Vidler, S. V. Vidler, …. F. C. Vidler… and are now in the A;I.F.”

After several weeks of training Bert Vidler was attached to the 47 Battalion and embarked on the troopship Ayrshire on 14 January 1917, for England. When he arrived on 12 April he was sent to Codfield, on the Wiltshire plain for further training, before being sent to France on 16 July, along with his cousin ‘Fred’.

Within three weeks they were sent to Belguim and were engaged in the trenches in the lower ground west of the Passchendaele Ridge. Three months of constant shelling had made this flat landscape a crater filled no-mansland. On the night of 4th October it began to rain which made the whole area a quagmire, and movement of men and equipment nearly impossible, although the German defences continued to shell constantly.

Bert Vidler was severely wounded in the left hand and was evacuated through Ypers to the coast. He embarked on the Peter de Conick for the 3rd Auxilary Hospital at Dartford in England. He was later sent to Weymouth Convalence Camp No 2 to recover before being sent to Sutton Vesy No 1 Australian Command where there was a hutted military hospital of more than 1200 beds.

Appauling wet weather set in and he hadn’t been there long, when he became ill with a sore throat and cold, which turned into bronical pneumonia. He didn’t recover in the cold damp English weather and it was decided he was to return to Australia for a warm dry climate.

Bert Vidler embarked on the Suevic on 25 April 1918. On arrival in Australia he was discharged as medically unfit for any further service.

It is particularly sad that more than a hundred Australian men and women who had survived the terrible conditions and slaughter of the battlefield were to die at Sutton Veny of sickness, many on their way home.They are buried in the Sutton Veny Australian War Cemetery, which is administered by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

DSC02798

Advertisements

World War I, Family Hero – Sidney Vincent Vidler

Another blog in my series of family heroes.

Just as everyone’s challenges and experiences in life are different, so are the stories of our soldiers. Some died on the battlefield; some drowned in the water filled trenches and shell- holes; and others survived the terrible carnage, and came back to their families horribly ‘broken’; although few families realized how ‘broken’, as they still had all their limbs. However, they may have been ‘gassed’; or had been prisoners of war and been starved and beaten; or they may have been so traumatized by years of ‘soldiering’ that they could no longer live in the ‘ordinary’ world as their minds would not allow them that peace.

Few ever considered the lives of those young men, who didn’t want to go to war. They were branded as cowards by both friends and family and were often sent ‘white feathers’, most anonymously. They felt coerced or compelled to ‘volunteer’ especially as the war dragged on for yet another year. Some were so desperate they injured themselves, so they would not be accepted into the military.

Then there were others who ‘volunteered’ and genuinely met with an accident whilst training. They were ‘injured’, so they were not accepted into service,and were sent home as medically unfit. Sadly these men were often treated with suspicion and were accused of ‘ducking’ military service, and then were unfairly targeted. Although, I do not know for sure, I believe we had such an case in our family.

Sidney Vincent Vidler was born in 1885, the third son, and fourth child, of Thomas Nathaniel and Margaret Jane Vidler (nee Goodwin). He spent his early childhood on the South Coast of New South Wales near Kiama, and migrated north with the family to northern New South Wales in the early 1890’s. The family settled at Chillingham on the North Arm of the Tweed River.

‘Sid’ as he was known in the family, started assisting on the farm at an early age, and didn’t return to school after the family moved north. He continued to work on the family farm, until his father sold and moved to Queensland in 1916.

Sidney Vincent Vidler enlisted on the 27 October 1916, along with his brother, Bert, (Edward Herbert Vidler). Their younger brother, Harold Frederick Vidler, had enlisted more than twelve months before, and their first cousin, Ashley Haydon Vidler, who lived nearby, had also enlisted the previous year. Ashley’s younger brother, Frederick Cecil Vidler enlisted in November 1916.

See former blogs World War Family Heroes, Harold Frederick and Edward Herbert Vidler posted on 11th and 14th November 2015, respectively, and Frederick Cecil Vidler, posted 25 April 2015..

Many war tales had reached Bert and Sid Vidler, by the time they signed on as volunteers in Brisbane, October 1916.

Military training was going well at the Enoggera Army Camp, when there was an accident at the rifle range on the 18th December, and Sidney Vincent Vidler was shot in the foot. He was admitted to hospital, where it was found that a bullet had entered his left foot and lodged in the bone. The wound healed in a couple of weeks, and he returned to Enoggera, where his brother, Bert and cousin, Fred,(Frederick Cecil Vidler), had nearly completed their basic training, and were preparing to leave by troop-ship for England.

However when Sid resumed training it was found he couldn’t march or undertake further training due to pain in the foot, and he was returned to hospital. It was suggested he undergo surgery for removal of the bullet, but it was explained that it was a very risky procedure at the time, as chloroform could be lethal, and there was no real guarantee that they could extract the bullet anyway. He declined to have the surgery. He was a patient in the hospital for over three months with little progress with his injury, as he still couldn’t walk properly, only limp. By this time his brother, Bert and cousin Fred Vidler, had already sailed for overseas service.

There was a military inquiry in early February 1917, but I have been unable to ascertain any further details of this accident. As he was not dishonourably discharged it certainly was not a self- inflicted wound, and his army records are notated with the comment- “Good Character”, so the mystery remains.

[Ref: Personel File of Sidney Vincent Vidler, Australian Archives,website at http://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/NameSearch/Interface/ItemDetail.aspx?Barcode=8398220&isAv=N ]

He was discharged from the Australian Army on 24 April 1917, as medically unfit for duty, and returned home.

Sydney Vincent Vidler married Pearl Hayes later that year. They had several children. Their second son, Vincent Noel, enlisted in the Second World War. He died on 14 September 1944 and is memorialized on the Labuan Memorial in Malaysia.

Although, Sidney Vincent Vidler’s military story is a very brief one compared to that of his brothers’ and cousins’, I believe he should be included in the list of World War I family heroes just the same.

World War I,Family Hero- Edward Herbert Vidler

I continue to blog to honour our family members, and their story as ‘volunteers’ in the Australian Imperial Forces in World War I.

Today I am writing about another of my paternal grandmother’s brothers, Edward Herbert Vidler.

DSC02798

Edward Herbert Vidler, born 1883, was the second son and the third child of Thomas Nathaniel and Margaret Jane Vidler (nee Goodwin). In the family he was known as ‘Bert’.

He had grown up in the Shoalhaven area and migrated with the family when they moved north to settle on the north arm of the Tweed River. The family took up land at Chillingham.

He enlisted in Brisbane on 27 October 1916, along with his younger brother Sydney Vincent, and went into Ennogera Camp. Their cousin Frederick Cecil Vidler, known as ‘Fred’, and also of Chillingham enlisted the following month.

An article in the local newspaper, the Tweed Daily, stated

“SEEING IT THROUGH

The following names are those, of local and district- boys, who, preferring the “wents” to the “sents,” have after ‘attestation; voluntarily enlisted’ for active service abroad” …E. H. Vidler, S. V. Vidler,  F. C. Vidler… are now in the A.I.F.”

From his enlistment much of his story can be found in his personel file at the Australian Archives website at http://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/.

After several weeks of training Bert Vidler was attached to the 47 Battalion and embarked on the troopship Ayrshire on 14 January 1917, for England. His cousin , Frederick Cecil Vidler was also on board. When they arrived on 12 April they were sent to Codfield, on the Wiltshire plain for further training. They were transferred to France on 16 July..

We can follow the day to day action in the military diary for their unit in the 47th Battalion through the Australian War Memorial website at https://www.awm.gov.au/

Soon after landing in France the 47th was sent to Belguim and were engaged in the trenches in the lower ground west of the Passchendaele Ridge. Three months of constant shelling had made this flat landscape a crater filled no-mansland, but still it was under heavy bombardment from the German trenches.

The allied attack on the Passchendaele Ridge was an attempt to break through to the Flanders coast so the German submarine ‘pens’ could be destroyed.

On July 18th 1917, a heavy artillery barrage was launched at the German line. This lasted for ten days.The wet weather was a problem, but the allied infantry forces inched forward with artillery cover. Fortunately a change in the weather brought better conditions and on 20 September the ‘Battle of Menin Road’, was a small victory for the allied forces, amid great loss of life..

The Australians were slowly moving forward towards the remnants of Polygon Wood, not far from Zonnebeke.

The 4th and 5th Australian divisions were brought in on 26 September.This was the ‘baptism of fire’ for both the young Vidler cousins.The fighting was bloody as the German concrete pillboxes were in the path of the Australians and many thousands of men fell under the heavy shelling and machine gun fire.

Bert Vidler was severely wounded in the left hand on 30 September and was sent to a field hospital. On the night of 4th October it began to rain which made the whole area a quagmire, and movement of men and equipment nearly impossible, although the German defences continued to shell constantly. The movement of casualties was also very difficult in the mud and wet weather, but Bert Vidler finally embarked on the Peter de Conick for England on 6 October, leaving his cousin ‘Fred’ behind. Sadly, ‘Fred’ was killed a few days later, although the family were not to know his fate for many months.

The story of Frederick Cecil Vidler was told in a former blog posted on 25 April 2015.

On his arrival in England Herbert Edward Vidler was admitted to Edmonton Military Hospital in London.This was one of several hospitals in England given over to the care of wounded soldiers during the First World War. It was a special surgical hospital for orthopaedic cases.

Although there are no military diaries to follow the story of a soldier for his surgery and recovery, we can gain much information from his personel file. Further information and photographs from various websites, give us some idea of his experience.

Edmonton Military Hospital was in Silver Street, Edmonton and had two large red crosses on the front gates. Today it is the North Middlesex Hospital. It’s wartime history can be found on the following website.

http://www.1900s.org.uk/1914-18-ww1-edm-military-hosp.htm

After he recovered from surgery Bert was sent firstly to Weymouth Convalence Camp No 2 – (http://weymouthanzacs.moonfruit.com/the-camps/4575540279 ) before being sent to Sutton Veny No 1 Australian Command, where there was a hutted military hospital of more than 1200 beds. (http://www.suttonveny.co.uk/1st-world-war.html )

Appaling wet weather set in and Bert hadn’t been there long, when he became ill with a sore throat and cold, which turned into bronical pneumonia. He spent several months in hospital there, but could not recover his health in the cold damp English weather.  It was decided he needed to return to Australia, to a warm dry climate.

Bert Vidler embarked on the Suevic on 25 April 1918. On arrival in Australia he was discharged as medically unfit for any further service.

It is particularly sad that more than a hundred Australian men and women who had survived the terrible conditions and slaughter on the battlefield were to die at Sutton Veny of sickness, many on their way home.They were buried in the Sutton Veny Australian War Cemetery, which is administered by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

https://suttonveny.co.uk/war-cemetery.html 

Two photographs from the above website

Sutton Veny Churchyard2Sutton Veny Churchyard

Across the Sea to Ireland-The Growcock Family of County Meath..

On my paternal line I’m only second generation in Australia. My paternal grandfather, William Growcock emigrated from County Meath, Ireland in 1891 on the ‘Jumna’

While many Irish went to USA and Canada, my grandfather emigrated half way round the world to Queensland. Although he was the only member of his family to emigrate, he already had three cousins, William, John and Michael Growcock, in Queensland.

William Growcock, spent some years in Queensland before he settled at Zara on the North Arm of the Tweed River. He can be found there on the Householders Returns of the 1901 Census among a number of settlers. He was still residing there when he married at All Saints, Church of England, in Murwillumbah, on 23 March 1910. His bride was Olive Pearl Vidler, the daughter of Thomas Nathaniel and Margaret Jane Vidler (nee Goodwin).

William and Olive Growcock, had a dairy farm at Zara, and three daughters, Myra, Doris and Merle were born while they lived there. In 1916 the farm was sold to George Angel James Vidler, a younger brother of Thomas Nathaniel Vidler.

The Growcock family then moved to another dairy farm at Tygalgah, on the river flats just out of Murwillumbah. Olive, William, Myrtle, Ailsa and Robert were born when the family lived there. Sadly their daughter Merle died of diptheria in 1920, and was buried in the Church of England section of the Murwillumbah Cemetery.

My father, William (always known as ‘Bill’) was only eight years of age when his father died suddenly,of a heart attack, on the 18 April 1929. Bill was present at the time and could recall the event in graphic detail, until his own death more than seventy years later. Although the informant on William’s death certificate, A C Pratt, was not a member of the family, he was able to give details of William’s parents, James and Elizabeth Growcock (nee Anderson). The place of birth was stated as ‘ County Meath, Ireland’ and his age as 54 years. His marriage certificate confirmed his parents as James and Elizabeth Growcock (nee Anderson), but gave no clues to where he was born in Ireland.

William Growcock’s immigration records in the Queensland State Archives only gave ‘Meath, Ireland’ as his place of origin.

The fact that we had no idea where in County Meath to look for the birth certificate of William, the son of James and Elizabeth Growcock was a stumbling block for our research for some time. Then in 1973 my brother, Allan, was sent to Dublin for work. He searched the whitepages phone book and was able to identify one person, living in the County of Meath with the surname,and set out to meet with him. George Growcock, knew little of his family heritage, but he was able to give Allan his sister’s name and address and Allan then went to see her. Sarah Buchanan (nee Growcock) was delighted and most interested to hear about the Australian connections. She was able to tell Allan, the Growcock family had been settled in the parishes of Rathcore and Rathmoylan since before the 19th Century and the original parish registers had survived and were still held in the local church. Although the parish minister was not residing the parish, Allan was finally able to contact him and make arrangements for the extraction of details on the persons with the Growcock surname. Sarah Buchanan’s daughter, Mary who had children about the same age as our children started corresponding with me and we are still in touch today.

Then as often happens in the ‘family history’ research a chain of serendipitious events was set in motion. Within three weeks of Allan’s visit, George Growcock, had another visitor, Mary Turner (nee Growcock) who was also seeking her Growcock ancestors. Sarah Buchanan was able to give Mary my address and we have continued to correspond. Sarah and Mary had addresses of Canadian Cousins, William Bosworth, Robert James, and Margaret Growcock ,which they passed on. I corresponded with William’s daughter until her death.

I was also able to trace and make contact with the families of John and Michael Growcock, the Queensland cousins of my grandfather, William Growcock.

After Allan’s visit to Ireland we were able to apply to the Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths in Dublin and get our grandfather, William Growcock’s birth certificate. We found he was born on 12 January 1867 and he was some years older than he let be known in Australia.He was actually 62 years at the time of his death in 1929, not 54 as stated.

Over the years I have able to get birth, marriage and death certificates of many other Growcock family connections in Ireland.

So having collected family documents and photos from all over the world I am now putting together the family story.