Wednesday, 23 January 2019

The Campbelltown Reserve Infantry Corps

In 1885 a Reserve Infantry Corps was formed in Campbelltown in a fervor or patriotism, probably fuelled by the Sudanese uprising for independence from Egypt. How did this affect a small town in New South Wales? The British, who supported the Egyptians, decided to allow the Sudanese self-government. General Charles Gordon was sent to oversee the withdrawal of the Egyptians from Khartoum. Unfortunately Gordon ignored his orders and resolved to crush the Sudanese to ensure stability in the region. The city of Khartoum was then besieged by the Sudanese for almost a year, finally falling in January 1885. Gordon, his garrison, and over 10,000 civilians were massacred. British public opinion forced the reluctant British government to send an expeditionary force to Sudan. The Attorney General of NSW and acting Colonial Secretary, William Bede Dalley offered to send a contingent, making the colonial army of New South Wales the first Australian contingent to fight for the British in an imperial war.
The men of Campbelltown, including the bank manager, storekeepers, farmers, tradesmen and labourers signed up for the Campbelltown Infantry Reserve Corps. 1886 saw the Corps practicing battalion drills, participating in shooting competitions, and competing in military games with other Corps from neighbouring areas. In September a ball was held to celebrate their first anniversary, and an encampment was held at Campbelltown. The volunteers had raised enough money to defray the expense of undergoing a course of training "under canvas". This was highly successful, with prominent citizens such as Mr Gilbert of the Forbes Hotel, and Mr Gore of the Commercial Bank being strong supporters. Men from Picton, Hay, Albury, Narrandera, Young, Braidwood and Mittagong were in attendance at the camp, where military style exercises, marching drills and other manoeuvres were practiced.
A detachment of the Picton and Campbelltown Mounted Infantry
(Town and Country Journal 4.10.1890)
Early in 1889, the Volunteer Infantry Corps from Campbelltown became a Mounted Infantry Corps and it, along with mounted corps from other areas including Camden and Picton, became the N.S.W. Regiment of Volunteer Mounted Infantry. The Campbelltown contingent, under Captain Moore, were the D Company. The Corps attended a camp at Dawes Point, where they were sworn in as special constables, completing ceremonial duties, escorting dignitaries, and peacekeeping, as well as sending teams to various rifle shooting competitions around the state.

A section of the camp of mounted special constables at Dawes Point 1890
(Town and Country Journal 4.10.1890)
 In 1893, the NSW Mounted Infantry was restyled as the NSW Mounted Rifles. In 1894, Captain Moore died, having been with the Corps since its inception in 1885. Early in 1895 the Campbelltown Corps disbanded, and was absorbed into the new Camden Half-Company. Activities continued, with manouevres, drills and a large mock battle held at Sugarloaf. This was attended by His Excellency the Governor Viscount Hampden, and Major General Hutton. Hundreds of locals turned out to witness the action.
 A group of the Rifles and their horses were sent to attend the 60th Jubilee Celebrations of Queen Victoria in England, in 1897. They acquitted themselves very well, described as having "soldierly bearing and exemplary conduct". Prior to returning home, 36 of their horses were sold at Tattersalls for an excellent price. One mare, owned by Private Moore of Campbelltown, was purchased by the Earl of Jersey for 110 guineas.

Next week - The NSW Mounted Rifles and the Boer War.

Written by Claire Lynch

Bicentennial History of Campbelltown - Carol Liston
Campbelltown and the Boer War - Jim Munro and Jeff McGill
Australia's Boer War  - Craig Wilcox
Town and Country Journal

Monday, 7 January 2019

The Daruma gift

Campbelltown officially formed a Sister-City relationship with the Japanese city of Koshigaya in April 1984. A number of gifts were exchanged including a Daruma doll pictured below.

In Japan, the tradition is to paint one eye of the Daruma doll while praying for fertile crops, prosperity, good luck or fortune. If wishes are fulfilled the other eye will then, and only then, be painted.

The doll is inspired by the Buddhist monk, Daruma-Daishi who brang Zen Buddhism to Japan in the 5th century. Legend tells of him meditating for nine whole years and in so doing losing the use of his arms and legs. The Daruma dolls represents this steadfast determination. Many are weighted so that if it topples it will right itself. A good symbolic gift from our sister city.

Mayor Bryce Regan (2nd from left) with guests from Koshigaya in April 1984, two years after the idea was first mooted in Tokyo.

Koshigaya's reciprocal park named aptly, "Campbelltown Park"

P. Staats B.H.S.
Local Studies Pamphlet file.
by M Sullivan

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Reverend Canon William Stack

William Canon Stack was born in Ireland, eldest son of Rev. Edward Stack, a clergyman in the United Church of England and Ireland, and his wife Tempe Bagot. William was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, and was ordained in Ireland.

Reverend Canon William Stack and his wife emigrated to Australia, arriving on the 31st October 1837 on the ‘Andromache”, taking up an appointment on January 1st at West Maitland Anglican Church. He was then transferred to St Peter’s Campbelltown in about 1847, where he remained until June 1855, when he was transferred to Balmain. The Stack’s had 13 children.

William was described as having a manly character, earnest in the cause of religion, frank and genial manners, and universally beloved and respected. To all classes he was peculiarly courteous and gentle, yet remarkably firm and fearless where conscientious scruples had to be maintained. He was the first clergyman advanced to the dignity of the title Canon ‘by the suffrages of his brethren’.
Reverend Stack is pictured in the middle row on the right.

For 32 years he fulfilled the duties of his profession in New South Wales. He was constantly moving among his congregation, and visiting the poor and the afflicted. On Sunday June 11th, he preached on the words “I have glorified thee on Earth, I have finished the work which Thou gavest me to do.”. The following day, June 12th, he and Mrs Stack embarked on a trip to visit their son in Walgett, who had met with an accident that threatened to prove fatal. Early on the morning of Tuesday 13th, an accident occurred when the wheels of the coach in which they were travelling went into a rut, and the coachman was thrown from the coach. The horses took fright and bolted, and Mr Stack, in an endeavour to seize the reins, was also thrown off. The coach passed over him and crushed him beyond any surgical aid. At the Coroner’s Inquest held on 14th June, 1871 at Murrurrundi, a verdict was given of ‘died of injuries accidentally received’. His body was brought to Balmain for a funeral service, and then taken for burial at Campbelltown.

Tragedy came to the Stack family when their two infant daughters died. The church burial register recorded: Tempe Stack, 2 years 8 months died 1 June 1852 and Olivia Bagot Stack 4 years 4 months died 17 August 1852. A tablet in memory of the children was placed in the church on 20 December 1852, on petition of the churchwardens. The story passed down by parishioners is that the little girls drowned in the well beside the old parsonage, but, by the two different dates on the register, it was either two separate accidents or one of the babies must have lingered for several weeks. The parsonage, built slightly to the south of the present rectory, was built around 1840 and demolished around 1887.

During his time at Campbelltown, another daughter died and was interred at St Peter’s with Tempe and Olivia, and a son died whilst he was at Balmain and was returned to St Peter’s for burial. With his last words, Reverend William Stack requested to be buried at St Peter’s. His wife Mary lived to the age of 83 and was also buried at St Peter’s.

Reverend Stack's monument in St Peter's Anglican Cemetery

Monday, 3 December 2018

KO'd by his Uncle

It's summer time again and many of us will head to the beach, pool or one of our local waterways. Unfortunately hazards come with swimming, like drowning, being stung by blue bottles, swallowing nasty pathogens or...being knocked out by your uncle!!

One stifling hot day in early January 1966, a family were spending a relaxing and fun picnic at the Georges River at Macquarie Fields. Twelve year old Mark Payne from Goulburn was swimming in the river, when all of a sudden his uncle fell on him from a tall tree above the river. The uncle had climbed the tree on the eastern side of the river bank in order to put up a swing. As he bent forward to adjust a rope, he lost his footing and fell directly on to his nephew.

Mark lost consciousness, was pulled from the water, and a member of the party set off to call an ambulance. The ambulance soon arrived together with two policeman from Ingleburn. On arrival, they stripped to their underclothes and swam with a floatable stretcher to the far side of the river where an unconscious Mark was lying. He was brought back to the other side of the river bank.

At Liverpool Hospital, an examination revealed he had sustained a fracture at the base of his skull. He was reported to be still in a serious condition at the end of the next week. No further reports in the weeks after the accident could be found. I wonder did Mark recover and I wonder, in the days and even years that followed, what the relationship between Mark and his uncle, R. Bowerman of Sefton, was like? Perhaps someone out there knows or knew them?

In an interesting sidebar, the two policeman involved in the rescue had to be taken to hospital to treat severe and large blisters on their feet. The barefoot constables had to walk over searing black sand at midday after swimming to the boy.

Beach area on the Georges River at Macquarie Fields taken in 1999 by Stan Brabender

Monday, 26 November 2018

Disappearing Street

Howe Street in the Campbelltown CBD once ran from Broughton Street to Cordeaux Street. The part of Howe Street that once ran from Browne Street to Cordeaux Street is now part of Mawson Park.

The closure certainly didn't happen overnight. St Peter's Anglican Church first sent a request to Campbelltown Council in June 1962 to consider closing the street from the bowling club to Cordeaux Street. Council investigated the costs and sought feedback from the public. The only negative response came from a J. Moore who complained that it was too close to the main shopping centre and would reduce valuable parking. So council approved the proposal subject to the church providing an area for parking adjacent the bowling club.

For reasons unclear, the project stalled for most of the 1960s. It did reappear in council minutes in 1965, after the proposal was listed in the Government Gazette. The Minister for Lands was of the opinion that "it was expedient to close that section of Howe Street, Campbelltown, separating "Mawson Park" reserve for public recreation." Objections were again sought and a notice placed in the local media. It appears nobody objected this time. Still, it was 1968 before things started to move. Towards the end of 1968 a draft agreement for a six foot strip of St Peter's Church land for car parking opposite the bowling club was drawn up. In July 1969 the resubmission of the proposal was received. It aimed at having the work completed before the bicentenary celebrations in April 1970. Council approved the proposal.

The park was extended and more car parking space was made available in Cordeaux Street. The street was blocked off and grass planted for a public reserve. It was hoped that the warmer summer conditions would aid in the growing of the grass. The work was completed in early 1970. A number of houses in Cordeaux Street, including Lysaght's "Rosangeles" on the corner of Cordeaux and Oxley Streets, were demolished for extra parking.

An undated photograph of Billy Rixon in Howe Street. This is long before the street was closed off from Browne Street. In the background are numbers 7 and 9 Cordeaux Street. Number 9 belonged to Dr Mawson.
The road closed in late 1969. (Campbelltown and Ingleburn News)

Thursday, 15 November 2018

Percy and Lionel: Two Local Heroes

Last Sunday marked the Centenary of the Armistice. The ceremony at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra was very moving, but no more than the deeply moving ceremony at St Patrick's College for Girls last Friday. A number of stories of soldier's experiences in the Great War were told by the students of St Pats, who had family connections to soldiers, and many a tear was shed. The girls did their school proud. They inspired me to do some research into some of the area's own soldiers and I came across two brothers whose story I had previously been unaware of. Most of their story comes from Lauren Hokin's comprehensive book "ANZACS of Macarthur".

Percy McDonald was 26 when he enlisted in the AIF. He was living in Atchinson Road, Macquarie Fields. Percy was joined by his brother Lionel, who signed up the following day. They both left Sydney on the 8th of October 1915. Things started to go wrong immediately after they arrived in Egypt, when Percy was admitted to hospital with mumps. In June the following year their battalion proceeded from Egypt to the Western Front in France. Shortly after arriving in the frontlines, they participated in action during the horrific Battle of Fromelles. Tragedy was to strike between the 19th and 20th July when Lionel was reported missing in action. Despite his brother's disappearance, Percy had to continue with his duty. Percy and his family hoped against hope for any news. Percy survived Fromelles and by August 1916 had been promoted to Sergeant. Sickness was to follow, including hydrocele and later hospitalization from a hernia from an undescended testicle. On the 4th of May, he was sent back to Australia for home service. He was later considered medically unfit and discharged in August 1917.

Percy McDonald (National Archives of Australia

Percy returned with his new bride to the Ingleburn area. They lived in a house in Fawcett Street, Glenfield named Tillicoultry. At the time, the McDonalds received news that a Court of Enquiry had concluded that Lionel was killed in action in July 1916. Witnesses stated that they had seen him lying dead in the German first line trench. This resulted in years of correspondence and paperwork that had to be filled out and forwarded to the army and other institutions. In 1921 Percy contacted the army and requested that all correspondence be sent to him, as it was "opening old wounds" and he feared for his father's health.

Percy decided to take up arms again in the Second World War! His twin brother Ernest signed up in 1942 and Percy joined him a week later. He was appointed Lieutenant of the 11th NSW Battalion Volunteer Defence Corps. He resigned the following year.

Percy was a keen artist and his unique drawings and paintings were often seen on exhibition. He passed away on the 18th of May 1964. The location of Lionel's remains are unknown.


HOLKIN, Lauren 2016
ANZACS of Macarthur: the men and women who served in The First World War
Campbelltown: Veterans Recreation Centre

Friday, 9 November 2018

Avoca Vale Public School

Occasionally I come across information that I was completely unaware of- just when I think I knew everything about Campbelltown there is to know! When researching an enquiry for someone, I discovered there was a school in the area named Avoca Park Public School. This school operated for a very brief period. It was established in 1881 and closed down about 1910. So where was it? Further research revealed that it was situated next to Kilbride homestead, today part of Kilbride Nursing Home in Rosemeadow. A parish map in our collection shows where the school was located: between Appin Road and the water race that ran close to Kilbride.

Amazingly, a search of our photograph collection resulted in a photograph of this school! Taken in about 1909, the faded and grainy image shows a group of children from a different age. A time when the world seemed more innocent. When the pace of life moved so much slower. When World War I had not yet arrived to scar and destroy families from throughout Campbelltown and the country. In front of the photograph are a couple of straw hats and perhaps a cap. I wonder what lives these innocent children were to have?

A search of the Government Gazette on Trove revealed some of the teachers at the school. A Mr Walsh moved there in 1885, followed by John Bath, Miss Crouch, Miss Dash, Miss O'Reilly and Miss McManus in 1908. The children are unidentified, although it is possible that a Haydon girl (later Mrs Jackson) is in the photo. An alderman on Campbelltown Council by the name of Roy Fitzgibbon also attended the school.

Nothing remains of the school today.