First World War Australian Tunic – a curatorial interpretation of an AIF Universal Pattern Uniform

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The original of this photograph appears on the Facebook page of the Moruya & District Historical Society.  Please click on the fore mentioned link to view the original image and make comment.  Whilst conducting a tour of the Moruya Museum on Remembrance Day 2017, I was asked to explain the intricacies of the Australian uniform worn by our diggers during the Great War.  As a result, I have borrowed this image as an example of the Australian ‘Universal Pattern’ tunic worn during 1914-1918.

This is a curatorial interpretation of an Australian First World War 'Universal Pattern' tunic as worn by Australian solidiers at Gallipoli and on the Western Front.

This is a curatorial interpretation of an Australian First World War ‘Universal Pattern’ tunic as worn by Australian solidiers at Gallipoli and on the Western Front.

The first thing I look at when I view such historic photographs – is the uniform and any embellishments which are evident. Based on past experience, the general look of this image immediate told me it was a photograph of a WW1 digger, however ….. Please see my interpretation here which leads me to believe the photo was likely taken late 1914 or early 1915.  I have numbered the breakdown from 1 through to 5 to correspond with the below paragraphs:-

1. A brass buckle is evident on his tunic waist belt. This brass buckle is synonymous with First World War tunics (both WW1 & WW2 Australian tunics were referred to as ‘Universal Pattern’ tunics). But the presence of a brass buckle clearly dates the tunic to the 1914-1918 war. The waist belt of the tunic was actually sewn into the tunic itself.  So the belt was not detachable.  However the small brass ‘slider’ buckle could in fact be removed.  The buckle was simply attached to the open end of the belt, by way of a small button.  Undo the button  …. and the buckle could be removed.  I will update this blog in the near future to illustrate this.

Remains of an AIF epaulete recovered from 'Bloody Angle' at Gallipoli (a short distance from Quinn's Post) and held in the Australian War Memorial Collection.

Remains of an AIF epaulete recovered from ‘Bloody Angle’ at Gallipoli (a short distance from Quinn’s Post) and held in the Australian War Memorial Collection.

2.  The number ‘2’ which I have drawn on the Moruya & District Historical Society photo show the epaulete portion of the tunic.  His epaulete shows the standard, curved metal ‘Australia’ title which was made in copper with a black anodized finish. It is a symbol of the AIF or Australian Imperial Force raised for overseas service in both World Wars. Second World War militia diggers serving in the Militia forces from 1939-1945 were NOT entitled to wear this symbol. Unless of course they were members of the AIF serving in a Militia unit … but that is another story. Of great interest in the MDHS photo is the existence of metal “numerals” which were a precursor to the colour patch identification system and tell us which unit he is currently serving.  Unfortunately the Moruya & District Historical Society photograph does not clearly show what numeral is on this soldier’s uniform.  Hopefully the M&DHS can produce a high resolution copy of this image which will tell us more about which unit this soldier served.   Please view the adjacent image of an example from the Australian War Memorial which shows the number “16” which pertains to a unit from Western Australia.  It also shows the ‘Australia’ title.

An example of the 'Australia' copper shoulder title and 29th Australian Infantry Battalion colour patch of the uniform worn by Private C.J. GILES . This excellant example was obtained by Charles Bean who established the Australian War Memorial and now forms part of that collection.

An example of the ‘Australia’ copper shoulder title and 29th Australian Infantry Battalion colour patch of the uniform worn by Private C.J. GILES . This excellant example was obtained by Charles Bean who established the Australian War Memorial and now forms part of that collection.

3. Where I have drawn the number ‘3’ is usually the position on the digger’s tunic where a unit colour patch would be attached. This colour patch would be indicative of the battalion or unit which the man is currently serving. The origins of the colour patch system  started at Mena Camp (Cairo) just prior to the Gallipoli campaign. So based on the fact our soldier is wearing “numerals” (see explanation no. 2) and combined with the fact that he is NOT wearing any colour patch identification, lends weight to the possibility of this photo being taken in Australia circa 1914/1915 prior to overseas deployment.  To illustrate the correct positioning of a colour patch, I have included an opportune image which I managed to take whilst working as Assistant Curator at the Australian War Memorial annex in Mitchell when the uniform of Private C.J. GILES was being conserved prior to display in the new AWM First World War gallery.

First World War style mounted pattern breeches with bedford cord reinforcing on the inner thigh. Note the method of fitting and securing the lower leg opening by way of laces.

First World War style mounted pattern breeches with bedford cord reinforcing on the inner thigh. Note the method of fitting and securing the lower leg opening by way of laces.

4.  This man in the MDHS photo is wearing mounted pattern breeches. This is evident by the eyelets and laces on the lower leg portion of his trousers. All mounted pattern breaches had this style of fastening. Mounted breeches were generally made of Bedford Cord and also had some type of reinforcing materiel sewn into the inner thighs to protect the wearer when in the saddle for extended periods of riding. This reinforcing could be either bedford cord or leather.  Non mounted pattern (i.e. Infantry, Engineers or Pioneers just to name a few) were generally fastened with buttons instead of laces. Non mounted pattern breeches also did not have the reinforcing materiel sewn into the inner thigh area. However be warned that the type and style of breeches a man is wearing could simply be explained by what any given unit Quartermaster had in stock at the time of issue …. or what happened to turn up in supplies. As an example, the breeches on display at the Australian War Memorial as issued to C.J. GILES of the 29th Infantry Battalion have black leather inserts to the inner thigh area and appear to be mounted pattern breaches. The subject in the MDHS photo is also wearing 1903 Pattern leather leggings (commonly and mistakenly called “Light Horse” leggings by modern collectors). Whilst it is true they were generally worn by the Australian Light Horse, they were issued to all mounted troops. Bearing in mind that the Artillery and Army Service Corps were all horse drawn during this era.

A rare Great War photograph of three diggers of the Australian Field Artillery AIF taken in Australia prior to overseas deployment. Of particular interest is the fact they are displaying both issue of headwear ... the famous Australian Slouch Hat and the Peaked Cap issued to drivers, artillerymen and other corps including Infantry.

A rare Great War photograph of three diggers posted to the Australian Field Artillery AIF. The photo was taken in Australia prior to overseas deployment. Of particular interest is the fact they are displaying both issue of headwear … the famous Australian Slouch Hat and the Peaked Cap which was issued to drivers, artillerymen and other corps including Infantry. Those of you with an eye for detail will note the brass slider belt buckle of the man who is seated.

5. Lastly, this digger is wearing a “Peaked Cap”. Inexperienced and modern collectors sometimes claim only officers wore peaked caps. This is very far from the truth. Rather, the peaked cap was a very common item of head wear issued to the AIF and in fact, many troops who landed at Gallipoli wear wearing the peaked cap … rather than the famous Australian slouch hat (Hat, Khaki, Fur Felt). But that too is a whole separate story. All in all …. if I was to tie myself down for a definitive answer …. it is possible the digger subject of this photo is a “Driver” (of horses/wagons) or a member of the Artillery and the photo may have been taken in Australia prior to his embarkation for overseas service.

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Remembrance Day 2017 – Free Battlefield Tour of Moruya RAAF concrete Bunkers

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In terms of Australian history, the township of Moruya has long been recognized for the quarry site which provided granite for the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Underground Operations Building - No 11 Operational Base Unit RAAF (Royal Australian Air Force) Moruya established circa 1942

Underground Operations Building – No 11 Operational Base Unit RAAF (Royal Australian Air Force) Moruya established circa 1942

However as a coastal town, it also has a wartime history which placed it in the front line during the Second World War.  Old time locals have known for years of the existance of a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) base which sprung up during the dark days of 1942 and 1943.  However new time residents may be surprised to learn that a system of old concrete bunkers exist in and around the modern day Moruya Airport.

Moruya & District Historical Society and the Moruya RSL Sub-Branch invite interested parties to join them for a FREE guided tour of the RAAF bunker system which are stark reminders of when war came to the south coast.

Concrete bunker of the No. 2 Bomb Dump - No 11 Operational Base Unit RAAF at Moruya established circa 1942

Concrete bunker of the No. 2 Bomb Dump – No 11 Operational Base Unit RAAF at Moruya established circa 1942

This tour offers unprecedented access to all four concrete bunkers which are home to certain community or sporting groups within the Eurobodalla and are not normally open to the general public for casual inspection.

Your guide for the event is Military Historian Gary Traynor who only last month completed his 18th crossing of the Kokoda Trail.  Gary is a former Assistant Curator and Tour Guide of the Australian War Memorial.  He specializes in 1942 related history; in particular Papua New Guinea and the Malayan Campaign including the Thai Burma Railway.  He also is a historian for a number of tour companies and leads guided tours to Gallipoli and Kokoda.

As stated, this event is FREE and open to the general public.  It is a ‘walking’ tour and will follow the 11am Remembrance Day Service at Moruya hosted by the R.S.L. Sub Branch.  (NOTE:  The Moruya Remembrance Day Service commences circa 10.30am  on Saturday 11th November 2017.  Please consult your local newspaper for further details or contact the Moruya RSL Sub Branch).

No 11 Operational Base Unit RAAF (Moruya aerodrome) circa 1943 AWM photograph P02393.007

No 11 Operational Base Unit RAAF (Moruya aerodrome) circa 1943 AWM photograph P02393.007

Participants will attend the Moruya & District Historical Society ‘War Room’ (85 Campbell Street Moruya) after the Remembrance Day morning tea and the tour will commence from there around 12 midday.  Your own vehicle transport will be required from the Moruya Museum to the airport precinct.

This is a rare opportunity to inspect all four RAAF bunkers and is a local event in recognition of the 75th Anniversary of 1942 when war came to Moruya.

ITINERARY:- Saturday 11th November 2017

  • 10.30am – Moruya RSL Sub Branch Remembrance Day Service.  Citizens and ex-service personnel gather to recognize the 11th hour of the 11th day in the 11th month.  LOCATION Moruya RSL Hall, Page Street Moruya  (followed by a small morning tea)
  • 11.30am – Moruya & District Historical Society ‘War Room’.  See local relics and displays relating to the wartime military service of citizens from our district during two World Wars.  LOCATION Moruya Museum 85 Campbell Street Moruya.
  • Circa 12.30pm – Visitors make their own way to Moruya airport precinct.  All interested parties will temporarily meet at the turn off to Moruya Race Course (Jockey Club turnoff) Donnelly Drive, Moruya (off George Bass Drive – North Head Moruya).
  • Circa 12.45pm – Bunker # 1 (currently operated by Moruya Pistol Club)
  • Circa 1.10pm – Bunker # 2 (location of Moruya Surfair Speedway)
  • Circa 1.30pm – Bunker # 3 (location centre grounds of Moruya Race Track – Jockey Club)
  • Circa 2pm – Bunker # 4 (location swampland north of Moruya Race Track) NOTE that access to this point is generally 4WD required.  However access via a walking track is possible.  Visitors may be required to leave vehicles a short distance from this location.

RECOMMENDED:-

  • Stout walking shoes essential.
  • Sun hat and outdoor style clothing highly recommended.
  • Water and snacks to be provided by you.
  • Own transportation to and from Airport precinct required.

CONTACT:- Gary Traynor ph. 044 969 2401 for further details email customerservice@medalsgonemissing.com

Moruya Museum Campbell Street. The starting point for the free guided tour 'When War Came to Moruya'.

Moruya Museum Campbell Street. The starting point for the free guided tour ‘When War Came to Moruya’.

Huon Hassall or David Montgomery – Moruya & District Historical Society

PLEASE NOTE:- This is a free event hosted by volunteers as a community service to promote the local history of Moruya.  The intent of this event is to recognize those servicemen and women who served at Number 11 Operational Base Unit and Number 17 Radio Direction Finding Station.  The grounds upon which participants will walk is rough in some places and pose a minor hazard.  Participants will enter these enclosed lands at their own risk.

LINKS:-

NSW Office of Environment & Heritage

Australian War Memorial

Broulee Bay Folklore Myth and Legend

Christian Today

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/canberra-life/tim-the-yowie-man-20151228-glvnhh.html

 

 

 

 

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Military Medal of John MACINNES sought by family

British-FlagThe family of John MacINNES are on a mission.  To locate the missing Military Medal and accompanying First World War trio which may have been sold by a previous generation when hard times fell upon them.

The son of John MacINNES lived in the London region until he died. Unfortunately once his estate was assessed, his father’s war service medals from the Great War could not be located.  Upon reflection, it appears the medals may have been sold for one reason or another.

The Military Medal, 1914 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal, similar to that awarded to John MacINNES. His descendants are desperately seeing these missing medals and are willing to compensate whoever may have these awards in their collection.

The Military Medal, 1914 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal, similar to that awarded to John MacINNES. His descendants are desperately seeing these missing medals and are willing to compensate whoever may have these awards in their collection.

The descendants of John MacINNES are desperate to track the missing medals down and there is a reward for the location of the awards. The medals were last seen in a frame.   The Military Medal should be accompanied by The 1914 Star, British War Medal and The Victory Medal.  All four medals including the Military Medal should have their Grandfather’s name impressed upon them, which was the custom for all British Commonwealth medals for service during World War One.

The medals are incredibly important to the descendants of John MacINNES as he was the only one of his brothers to return from The Great War. He was part of the 6th Battalion of The Cameron Highlanders.  One of his grandchildren has contacted Medals Gone Missing and implores anybody to contact him if they have any knowledge of the whereabouts of the missing medals.   To reinforce the assertion made by the family of John MacINNES,  there is a reward for their return and compensation will be negotiated.

It is hoped the medals can be returned to their father before he passes as he is very ill. The family of John MacINNES wish to thank in advance, anybody who can assist.  Any lead is helpful.

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Father & Son – William LAHN and Lancell LAHN – Medals Missing from two World Wars

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The family descendants are attempting to locate the missing war service medals of their ancestors; William LAHN and his son Lancell Bernard Joseph LAHN which have been missing for over twenty years.

William LAHN, Service Number 19252 was a saddler by trade from Echuca in Victoria.  Enlisting into the AIF during April of 1917 he was entitled to the British War Medal and Victory Medal for his service during the First World War.

The British War Medal and Victory Medal similar to that awarded to 19252 William LAHN. These medals were sold by a relative many years ago and it is hoped a very kind collector may consider selling these medals back to the family.

The British War Medal and Victory Medal similar to that awarded to 19252 William LAHN. These medals were sold by a relative many years ago and it is hoped a very kind collector may consider selling these medals back to the family.

When the Second World War erupted, his son Lancell Bernard Joseph LAHN also answered the call to arms.  Lancell enlisted into the Engineers and was allocated the service number VX110551.  According to the World War Two Nominal Roll his posting upon discharge was the 11 Australian Workshops and Park Company.

The descendants of Lancell Bernard Joseph LAHN discovered that his full medal entitlement had not been claimed.  As a result, they successfully acquired his 1939-1945 Star and 1945-1975 Australia Service Medal.

It is a sad fact that sometimes members of a family see fit to sell their ancestor’s war service medals.  All too often, this is done without the full consultation or knowledge of the extended family.  It appears that the missing war medals of William LAHN and Lancell LAHN were sold circa 1994 in Bendigo, Victoria by a relative.  The missing medals were possibly sold via Nobles Auctions who have not assisted or been forthcoming in ascertaining who purchased these medals.

The colour patch of the RAE (Royal Australian Engineers) Line of Communication Units 1942-1945 as worn by Workshop and Park Companies; which may have been worn by Lancell LAHN during his service.

The colour patch of the RAE (Royal Australian Engineers) Line of Communication Units 1942-1945 as worn by Workshop and Park Companies; which may have been worn by Lancell LAHN during his service.

As a result, members of the LAHN family are seeking the First World War Medals of William LAHN and the Second World War medals of Lancell LAHN which consist of the Pacific Star, Defence Medal, 1939-1945 War Medal and 1939-1945 Australia Service Medal.

If these medals are in your collection, would you kindly consider selling these medals back to the family?

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Commemorating the men of HMAS Kuttabul – 75th Anniversary Cruise – March Newsletter

British-&-Australian-flagsMarch newsletter

Please click on the ABOVE LINK to view our March newsletter.

The 75th Anniversary of the Japanese midget submarine attack upon Sydney Harbour is just two months away. #HMASKuttabul #Japanesemidgetsubmarine #SydneyHarbour

On 31st May 2017 we shall commemorate the 21 allied sailors who lost their life aboard HMAS Kuttabul during the Japanese midget submarine attack. View our newsletter to learn more.

On 31st May 2017 we shall commemorate the 21 allied sailors who lost their life aboard HMAS Kuttabul during the Japanese midget submarine attack. View our newsletter to learn more.

  • – PAGE 1:- On 31st May 2017 we shall board the ‘Bella Vista’ for a four hour Sydney Harbour cruise bound for HMAS Kuttabul and lay a wreath on the water near where the depot ship was lost.  A Royal Australian Navy bugler will sound the Last Post and Historian Steven Carruthers will take us back to that night in 1942 when war came to Sydney.
  • – PAGE 2:- Tragically 21 allied sailors lost their lives, but amid the turmoil and horror of that night, some men survived against the odds.  Read the story of Stoker Ray MAJOR (service number B2993) as told by Historian Steven Carruthers.
  • – PAGE 3:- Tickets are now on sale for the Kuttabul Commemoration cruise to take place on Wednesday 31st May; 75 years to the day when Japanese midget submarines stole into Sydney Harbour.
Stoker Ray MAJOR survived the sinking of HMAS Kuttabul and thankfully went on to live a full life. Read about Ray in our March letter by scrolling to the top of this blog and clicking on the link titled 'March newsletter'

Stoker Ray MAJOR survived the sinking of HMAS Kuttabul and thankfully went on to live a full life. Read about Ray by scrolling to the top of this blog and clicking on the link titled ‘March newsletter’

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