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Celebrating the end of WWI, Bega, 1919

Celebrating the end of WWI, Bega, 1919

What was life like in  the Bega Valley during World War One? Do you have any old photographs showing life on the home front such as local end-of-war celebrations, soldiers home on leave or women helping with the war effort?

We would love donations of old photographs from people for the 2015 local history calendar. The theme of the calendar will be ‘The World War One Years’. In the next few years, Australia will commemorate various World War One milestones, marking 100 years since Australia’s involvement in the war.

The aim of next year’s calendar is to acknowledge peoples’ varied experiences of World War One. So many went overseas to fight but there was a home front as well where a lot of the war effort was focused for those family members left behind. Families waited anxiously at home, people held fundraising events to support the war and towns organised homecomings for returning soldiers. Life continued while the war was on and we particularly want to capture the day-to-day life on the home front for the 2015 calendar.

Memento showing grave of local man T. Corporal Bernard Joseph Heffernan.

Memento showing grave of local man T. Corporal Bernard Joseph Heffernan.

We already have some suitable photographs like one of people gathered on the corner of Carp and Gipps Street, Bega in 1919 to celebrate the end of the war, but we need lots more to make a full calendar.

We aim to put out a calendar that represents the whole shire and we would love for everybody with photographs of the Great War to share this important part of the shire’s history.

Photographs can be loaned or donated, and for people lending images we just digitise and return the original to you. If you have a photograph that fits the theme then please contact Linda Albertson on 6499 2127.

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1st Bega Troop 1936
This wonderful photograph of the First Bega Scout Group is a recent addition to our photographic collection. It has a studio mark embossed on the corner from ‘Dimond Studio 150 Rundle St. Adelaide’. What was the Bega Scout Troop doing in Adelaide and when were they there?

The SA Memory site provides some clues. A Scout Jamboree was held near Adelaide in 1936 to commemorate 100 years of European settlement in South Australia. Known as the ‘Centenary Corroboree’, a six day camp of 4,000 scouts was held in the Belair National Park from 28 December 1936. Scouts came from all over Australia, including Bega, as well as from South Africa, Sri Lanka, the Solomons, Rabaul and Nauru. What a trip for our local boys back in 1936!

Does anyone recognise the Scout leader? Or any of the boys in the photograph? If you can shed any more light on the people in this photograph, please make a comment.

Sources: The Corroboree Advertiser at http://www.samemory.sa.gov.au/site/page.cfm?c=5383#

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Corner Eden and Upper Streets, old cemetery site Bega.

Corner Eden and Upper Streets, old cemetery site Bega.

In 1905 the good people of Bega found themselves “in between” cemeteries. The ‘old’ cemetery, located where the present day public high school is, was de-commissioned on 7 June 1905. However, the transition to the ‘new’ cemetery wasn’t a smooth one according to a report in the ‘Southern Star’ on 14 June 1905.

The Bega Municipal Council gave three months’ notice making burial in the old cemetery illegal after 7 June 1905. It seems that the work in preparing the new cemetery didn’t progress very quickly. So when a death occurred on 11 June, “nobody knew what to do about a grave.” The undertaker instructed a man to dig the grave in the old cemetery since the new cemetery was not fully prepared. The digging was soon stopped by the Inspector of Nuisances with a threat of prosecution. An appeal was made to the Mayor who was unable to authorise a breach of by-laws so the only thing left to do was to start digging a grave at the new cemetery.

The problem was that the new cemetery hadn’t been properly marked out into religious denominations so no one knew which area was Roman Catholic, Anglican, Prebyterian, Methodist and so on. In addition, the land was used as a cattle run at night time. Eventually, permission was obtained from Mr Blomfield, secretary to the cemetery trustees, to bury the deceased in the new cemetery. However, as the land hadn’t been pegged out the grave had to be dug in a remote corner.

The writer of the article (anonymous) is clearly indignant at the lack of foresight from authorities in organising the transition between one cemetery closing and the other cemetery coming into use. As to the identity of our poor deceased person, they are only referred to as a “stranger”.

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Bega War Memorial

Bega War Memorial

There are many projects underway in conjunction with anniversaries of World War One events. One such project is the State Library of NSW’s WWI website which is a useful resource for starting your own research. The site will be expanded in the next month or so with curated stories and links to curriculum resources.

The State Library holds the diaries and letter collections of over 500 service men and women who served in World War One. The diaries aren’t online yet but the State Library is fast-tracking its digitisation program of WWI material so let’s hope that will include these diaries. You can search the diary collection here. Maybe you’ll find an ancestor? I did a quick search on the place name Bega and discovered that the diary of a Bega-born man called Roy Frederick Arnold is part of the State Library’s WWI diary collection.

The other exciting thing is that the WWI website will become a space for community created content. So if you do find your ancestor’s WWI diary, you can upload a photo of him/her or letters or other mementoes to add to their story.

Lastly, if you just want a little diversion browse the WWI enlistment posters on the State Library’s Pinterest site.

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Bega  Standard office about 1899. This image is from the collections of the State Library of NSW. At Work and Play – 02227

Bega Standard office about 1899. This image is from the collections of the State Library of NSW. At Work and Play – 02227

One of Bega’s historical newspapers, the Bega Standard, is now searchable online for the years 1876-1884 through the National Library of Australia’s Trove discovery tool.

Beginning life in 1868 as the Southern Standard, the newspaper was sponsored by Robert William Sharpe and began operating in opposition to the established Bega newspaper of the time, the Bega Gazette. In 1872, Mr P. Quinlivan purchased the Southern Standard. This was about the fourth change in ownership since its establishment 4 years earlier.

In 1873, Fred Berne bought the newspaper from Mr Quinlivan.

In 1870, Laurence John O’Toole arrived in Bega from Wollongong. He had previously worked as a journalist for the Illawarra Mercury. O’Toole worked for Fred Berne at the Southern Standard, which, after Berne’s accidental death by drowning in 1874, was bought by William Neilley. O’Toole joined Neilley as a partner a few months later and they changed the name to the Bega Standard. At that time the newspaper boasted a circulation of 400 copies.

O’Toole left the Bega Standard in 1875 and went to Sydney working for the Sydney Evening News. He was sent back to the South Coast to report on the recently discovered gold fields near Bermagui – the Montreal fields.

In the 1870’s the Bega Standard was published once a week, every Saturday morning. By the end of 1882 publication had increased to twice a week with a Wednesday and Saturday edition. A quarterly subscription to the paper cost 4s., 6d.

Walter Archibald Smith joined the Bega Standard as an apprentice aged 14 in 1888. In the late 1890’s, ownership of the newspaper changed to William Duff and in 1901, the Bega Standard was bought by Harry Jardine. The Bega Gazette was struggling so Smith bought it out with Mr P. W. Tarlinton and they changed its name to the Southern Star. After a few years Smith bought Tarlinton out and gained sole ownership.

In 1923, Smith and Jardine worked together to buy out the Bega Budget. They then successfully amalgamated their newspapers (Southern Star and Bega Standard) to form the Bega District News which still operates today.

The Bega Standard’s offices were originally located in Auckland Street, Bega and later moved to premises built by Jardine on East Carp Street.

SOURCES
W. A. Bayley, 1987, History of Bega, G. G. Monaghan, 1987
Florance, Sandra, 2001, Howard’s Way: The Howard Families of Bega 1800 – 2000, Numbugga, N.S.W. : S. Florance.

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Image

Bega Valley Shire Library collection 008-00016-D

In deference to ANZAC Day on Friday, I’m sharing this photograph from our library collection. It shows a large crowd assembled on the corner of Gipps and Carp Street in Bega as part of the Peace Day Celebrations to mark the end of World War I.

The Peace Day Celebrations took place on Tuesday 11 November 1919 and was a result of many community meetings held over the preceding months. The Celebrations were planned for earlier in the year but had to be postponed due to the influenza epidemic.

Schools within a radius of 15 kms of Bega were allowed to close for the day (Bega Budget, 5 Nov. 1919). On 15 November 1919 the Bega Budget gave a full report on the Celebrations. As well as a procession, a full day of sporting events, children’s events, refreshments and entertainment was organised including a night time dance and of course, fireworks. Every child received an Australian flag or a Union Jack.

The stately looking building on the corner is located where the Bega District News building is now.  Apparently, it was one of Bega’s first banks (not the Bank of NSW which was on the opposite corner).

 

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I love this photograph of a Bega women’s cricket team from long ago, maybe around the turn of the 20th Century. Imagine playing cricket in such long dresses; bowling, batting, running!

“The ladies had been in active practice for some weeks, and the game was anticipated to be close.” So reads the write-up in the Bega Budget of Wednesday 23 October 1907 describing the Country vs Town ladies cricket match. The game was organised by Mrs Evershed (pictured in this photo wearing black) and Mrs Ormiston as a fundraiser for the local Agricultural, Pastoral and Horticultural Society.

It was certainly an entertaining encounter and the “batladies … smashed up the bowling and the reputation of the bowlers.”
I can see the ladies on this cool and cloudy October afternoon in 1907. The Country team “wore badges of blue” and the Town team wore red and white dresses, brightening the day with their colours and spirits.

The match raised £7 for the AP&H Society with the Town team winning by 23 runs and everyone “left the ground happy in the knowledge that ladies score as heavily on the cricket field as in the ball-room.”

I wonder how often these ladies met up to play cricket? Were there teams from other areas? I have found references to Candelo/Bega women’s cricket games and from this Bega Budget article there was certainly some talent around!

This image is from the collections of the State Library of NSW. At Work and Play - 02104

This image is from the collections of the State Library of NSW. At Work and Play – 02104


Source: Bega Budget Wednesday 23 October 1907, page 4

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