Sunday, 5 February 2023

JJ's on Tour - Victoria & New South Wales, Australia

Our first port of call when we landed in Australia was the city of Melbourne where we enjoyed the Xmas Test Match at the MCG as well as exploring some of the city's other cultural and historic landmarks, covered in the link to the post below.

JJ's Wargames on Tour - Melbourne, Australia

However we wanted to get a feel for the wider state of Victoria away from the city as well as exploring the route we planned to take on our journey to our next stop, Canberra, the federal capital on our way through New South Wales.

One of the most famous places of natural beauty in Victoria is its Great Ocean Road, a 151 mile length of oceanside road, listed by Australian National Heritage that was built between March 1922 and finally opened in November 1932, following the south-eastern coast of Australia between the cities of Torquay, I wonder where they pinched that name from, to Allansford.

The road typified the post First World War era, when a glut of returning ex-servicemen were in need of employment, and major infrastructure projects were a great way of providing such employment for thousands of men, that also helped to ease the worries of families struggling to get through the depression of the late twenties and thirties.

We also planned to add another day to our exploring by including a trip to the nearby Phillip Island 'March of the Penguins' where visitors can see the natural beauty of the island itself, some of the Australian wildlife we were keen to get familiar with as well as the nightly return of hundreds of blue or little penguins from a busy day at sea catching small fish for young eagerly awaiting a meal in their burrows that cover the nearby dunes.

The watching of the penguins is facilitated by a large beachside seating arrangements to allow the public to sit and watch the small birds appear at the waters edge in clusters called 'rafts' to waddle through the darkening light across the beach to follow paths up, under and around carefully placed boardwalks that the visitors can use to observe their progression.

The coastline around Phillip Island in beautifully rugged, and a perfect haven for the wildlife that enjoys this habitat, with carefully thought through coastal paths that keep people separate from important nesting and foraging sites, but able to enjoy the views.

A colony of greater crested terns could be first smelt, before being heard and then seen

To our great pleasure, not all the penguins were at sea when we headed down to the beach to take our night viewing seats and so I managed to get some great close up of these small penguins, first encountered off Stuart Island off South Island, New Zealand.

The Blue or Little Penguin, Eudyptula novaehollandiae. We first encountered this, the smallest penguin, in NZ off Stuart Island, although these, the Australian birds, are considered a separate species since 2016

Interestingly, the Australian species display peculiar habitual landing en masse on beaches in the evening, a strategy thought to have evolved to avoid predatory marsupials, not needed by their NZ cousins, Eudyptula minor, which have not had to contend with a similar threat.

As well as the penguins we got time to take in other local wildlife in a nearby park as well as those creatures flying wild such as the little corrella's seen below that the Aussies on our tour simply ignored, but that captivated both Carolyn and me, still not afflicted with familiarity.

These Little Corella's were  everywhere in small groups and populated the treetops whenever we stopped along the road.

This koala, Phascolarctus cinereus, was seen in a park, but it would not be long before we got to see them in the wild as well.

Likewise the Red Kangaroo, Osphranter rufus, is fairly common and on arriving in Melbourne our taxi driver warned us about night time driving in the countryside, when most of the car strikes can occur, evidenced as we would later see, by the number of dead 'roos' littering the hard shoulder.

The dingo, Canis dingo, reached Australia 3,450 years ago, based on fossil records, introduced by the people who accompanied them.

The Tasmanian Devil, Sarcophilus harrisii, is a carnivorous marsupial, once only found in Tasmania, but now reintroduced to New South Wales. Its large head and stocky neck allows it to generate one of the strongest bites per unit of body mass of any existing predatory land mammal 

The emu, Dromaius novaehollandiae, the second tallest bird in the world, only topped by the ostrich, now uncommon on the east coast, and I wasn’t sure if we would get to see this classically Australian bird in the wild.

After the fun, the day previously, getting to see the penguins on Phillip Island, we were off the next morning to explore the Great Ocean Road, backwards along the route, so as to hopefully avoid the bulk of tourists drawn to this part of the coast and its attractions, coming the other way.

The twelve apostles are a series of magnificent lime stone rock stacks created by the effects of the stormy southern ocean began ten to twenty million years ago with the effects of wind and waves forming caves, later eroded into arches only to erode further into the stacks seen today.

Below is the remarkable Loch Ard Gorge, so named after the ship of that name that was wrecked close by on the 1st June 1878, after a three month voyage from England to Melbourne, with only two survivors from the 54 passengers and crew.

The two survivors, ship’s apprentice, Thomas Pearce and passenger Eva Carmichael, emigrating with her family, both 19 years old were washed ashore here, with Pearce rescuing Carmichael from the water after hearing her cries for help.

Three months later, Carmichael, who lost seven members of her family in the disaster, retuned to Ireland, whilst Pearce was hailed a hero and awarded the first gold medal from the Victorian Humane Society, living to the age of 49 and was buried in Southampton Old Cemetery, England.

The Loch Ard, 1620 tons, built in Glasgow in 1873.

Another remarkable stack is the Razorback, seen below, gaining its title from the jagged narrow formation that juts out into the tumult below.

As well as enjoying the coastal scenery, I was of course on the lookout for bird life likely to inhabit this very special area, and I was not disappointed.

Singing Honeyeater, Gavicalis virescens, one of the many varieties of honeyeaters found in Australia, often having a fine brushed tipped tongue that enables them to take nectar, but with some also including insects in their diet, whilst the Singing Honeyeater will also take fruit, grubs and berries.

John Gould’s ‘Birds of Australia’ and an 1840’s illustration of the
Black-Shouldered Kite seen below.

Black-Shouldered Kite, Elanus axillaris, seen almost hovering over the cliffs on several journeys along coastal paths, with introduced house mice forming 90% of its diet, and I regularly observed these birds dropping rapidly, similar to kestrels at home, after spotting a suitable prey target.

I didn’t know it at the time but Carolyn and I would be spending a lot of our time looking upwards to spot the source of a certain raucous call or high pitched squeak, with the occasional fly past by what seemed like a red and green tracer bullet, with Australia blessed with a multitude of multicoloured small parrots, that are simply stunning to see flying wild.

The Australian King-Parrot, Alisterus scapularis, is endemic to eastern Australia, and was first described in 1818 by the German naturalist Martin Lichtenstein.

The Red Wattlebird, Anthochaera carunculata, is the second largest species of Australian honeyeater, and first described in 1790, with the ‘wattle’ referring to two small hanging pieces of red flesh at the throat of the bird.

This day was also an opportunity to see the native koala wild and up in the eucalyptus trees that are so important to its diet.

A wild koala, doing what it does most of the time, sleeping to allow its body to go to work digesting the poisonous eucalyptus leaves that form its rather unique diet.

As the day progressed and we worked our way back to Melbourne the Great Ocean Road also rewarded us with a change in the weather from the rather overcast and blustery morning we experienced at the twelve apostles to the glorious hot sunshine at Teddy's Lookout.

A great way to end our day exploring The Great Ocean Road with wall to wall blue and glorious hot sunshine over Teddy's Lookout.

Whilst in Melbourne visiting the State Library to get a better understanding of the look of the early city, I also made it an objective to see a very important artefact in Australian history that is held there.

Edward 'Ned' Kelly was a bushranger, outlaw and convicted police murderer, hanged in Melbourne gaol on the 11th November 1880 at the age of 25 after being apprehended as the sole survivor of his gang that fought a shoot out with police in the tiny railway stop of Glenrowan in Victoria on the 28th June 1880.

His two year crime spree might have just been a footnote in the history of goldrush Victoria and no more had it not been for the focus he and his gang put on the discrimination suffered between the 'haves' and the 'have-nots', only accentuated by the massive increase in wealth generated in a relatively short period by the goldrush, causing some, like Kelly, his associates and friends to decide to rebel against the authorities at the point of a gun.

Ned Kelly, photographed at Melbourne Gaol 
on the day of his execution

Prior to coming on this trip I put in some pre-reading to better understand the story behind, perhaps still the most polarising of figures to this very day, romanticised by filmmakers, admired by some as the epitome of the independent, maverick Australian whilst to others, a murdering thug responsible for deaths of three police officers and adding to the myth of, what is obvious to see from all the writings, a very charismatic young man.

The life decisions Kelly ended up taking from the age of fourteen, becoming a protégé bushranger under the tutelage of the so-called 'Gentleman Bushranger', Harry Power, committing a series of armed robberies and attempted gold thefts put him well on the road to Glenrowan and his final showdown with the authorities determined to bring his campaign of law breaking to an end and the creation of that iconic suit of armour.

The fact of the matter was, once he and his gang started to kill police officers and informers such as Aaron Sherritt, making themselves effectively judge, jury and executioner, there could only be one winner between the gang and the state, and the suspicion is that Kelly and his lieutenant Joe Byrne decided to take things to the next level by leading an insurrection of supporters after ambushing police at Glenrowan in an attempt to declare a defacto breakaway state, a full on rebellion, raising the stakes still higher for the authorities themselves now keen to end matters perhaps not entirely to the letter of the law.

However, as the old biblical saying goes, 'he who lives by the sword, dies by the sword', and it seems that Kelly probably knew that would be the result as he turned at bay, wounded, to face his pursuers in that final shootout that would lead to his capture, trial and execution.

Armour worn by Ned Kelly at the Glenrowan siege on 28th June 1880

The Kelly suit of armour. fashioned from plough blades, now expertly tested to show that they were constructed in a bush forge far from prying eyes, preserving the surprise and shock for the police that faced the gang as they came forth in this heavy bullet proof protection under long riding coats, but that dramatically reduced their situational awareness and ability to move.

Alongside the armour is the Snider-Enfield 0.577 calibre long rifle belonging to Ned Kelly before 1880.

The effectiveness at stopping what would have been several killing shots is demonstrated by the hit marks on the torso plate and helmet, but of course leaving the legs and feet, as exemplified by the boot, exposed to a disabling shot once the firers had worked out what they were up against.

It was great to see this authentic piece of history early on as on our travels through the state we were constantly presented with replicas on display, none of which had the authenticity of this perfectly restored and presented artefact.

Whilst in Melbourne we also headed over to the former gaol, now opened to the public as an informative if rather morbidly depressing monument to the use of capital punishment; recounting the long history of its use in the state until its final abandonment, recounting the many infamous murderers brought to book together with post mortem death masks and of course those unfortunates who were entirely innocent of the crimes they were charged with but who also met their sad demise at the end of the hangman's noose.

The main point of interest was to see where Ned Kelly's career path finally led to and the myth of the man reaching a crescendo with the improbable debate that lingers to this day as to what were his final words prior to the drop.

The Hangman's Box, ropes, nooses and shackles, all original items on loan from the Sheriff's Office

The accounts from pressmen and the warden all vary with the one that captures the public imagination if the number of tattoos I've seen recounting it is;

'Such is life'

However nothing is certain or clear-cut when it comes to describing Ned Kelly, even in the hour of death, with other reports saying he commented as the rope was placed around his neck;

'Ah well, it has come to this'

Whilst the warden reported that when asked for his last words, Kelly mumbled something indiscernible.

A very sad story and a sad end to a man who had clearly much to offer but whose life was directed down a path that would make its mark in history for all the wrong reasons.

Ned Kelly's death mask presented in the gaol

A Colt revolver believed to have belonged to one of the police officers, Sergeant A. L. M. Steel, responsible for capturing Ned Kelly.

After seeing where Ned Kelly ended up, we were both keen to see where his career reached its deadly conclusion in the town of Glenrowan, very much aware of its place in Australian history if the modern town that has grown around the new road running parallel to the old railway is a sign.

Our drive to Canberra was to take us along the M31 Hume Highway, which we planned to break up along the route with an overnight stay in Albury as we crossed the state line into New South Wales but that would mean we would be passing through the heart of Kelly Country with the towns of Euroa, Benalla and of course Glenrowan along our route.

The Ned Kelly industry thrives on the shoot out and that 'suit of armour' and it can be fun to indulge in the Hollywood fantasy for a while providing one is aware of the brutal reality of the subject one is engaging with and as historical wargamers, we are aware of that probably more than other members of the general public.

A Ned Kelly industry has grown around the infamous deeds of Victoria's most well known bush ranger, and Glenrowan proclaims its role in his final demise.

Whilst in the town we took in a rather theatrical presentation of the events leading up to the final clash with lots of bangs that kept the kids jumping out of their seats, supported by an interesting museum of artefacts associated with the Kelly gang.

In addition we were keen to get away from the theatre of the shoot out and see the actual ground over which the little battle occurred to better understand the events recounted in the several books and accounts I had read prior to arriving in Glenrowan - as I always say, there is no substitute for walking the ground when it comes to understanding how a battle was fought.

North Star Figures

I mention the hobby in particular, as the possibilities of wargaming Ned Kelly's career was front and centre for another small project when I get home and with figures from North Star to aid and abet such a project - don't you just love our hobby!

To help those more interested in the history rather than the drama, the town has placed several guide markers along the route that leads visitors to the key sites and that helps explain the events that occurred in any particular place highlighted, and this was really great for Carolyn in particular who was getting her head around this part of the story for the first time.

The contemporary drawing below comes from one of the town markers and perfectly gives a layout of the place in 1880 together with key geographical features, such as Morgan's lookout used by bushrangers to monitor traffic along this key route.

This illustration identifies the key buildings involved in the battle, with the railway station, and Anne Jones’ Glenrowan Inn in the centre, next to the road leading up from the rail crossing.

The Siege of Glenrowan as it became known, was an ambush scenario that went wrong, a plan created by Kelly and Byrne to dispose of an informer within their ranks, Aaron Sherritt, a former Greta Mob member and lifelong friend of Byrne’s who had accepted money from the police for accompanying police watch parties and for providing information on bush ranger movements; whilst at the same time dealing a massive blow to the Victoria State Police, by killing a large number of officers charged with apprehending the gang, but up to that point floundering around in their attempts, but likely to muster a large force to go in hunt of them once they were aware of the murder of Sherritt.

Rightly expecting the police to sally forth along the railway from Melbourne in hot pursuit, the gang planned to get one step ahead of likely events by securing the little stop of Glenrowan, and taking hostage those who might warn their pursuers, whilst destroying a section of the track close by to derail the train and kill or injure many of those onboard, before sallying forth themselves, clad in their new armour to surprise the survivors and kill the rest of the police party.

The murder of Aaron Sherritt

The gang then planned to ride to Benalla, the main local base for police operations against them, now likely left undefended, to rob banks, destroy the court and police headquarters, release prisoners from the gaol and cause as much havoc as possible before returning to the bush.

On the evening of the 26th June 1880, Dan Kelly and Joe Byrne kidnapped Anton Wick, a neighbour of Aaron Sherritt and at gunpoint used him to bring Sherritt to his door, which on opening it, Byrne shot him in the head and chest with his shotgun.

Ned Kelly oversees the railway platelayers work to remove the track section near Glenrowan

While Dan and Byrne were occupied with killing Sherritt, Ned and Steve Hart were at Glenrowan attempting to damage part of the track, which they failing to do so, Ned rounded up at gunpoint two railway platelayers, camped at the stop, to do the job for him, stating that he intended to send the train and its occupants to hell.

In the meantime, Dan and Byrne had ridden into Glenrowan and together the gang took control of the railway station, the stationmasters home, and Anne Jones’ Glenrowan Inn, opposite the station and about a mile from the main town.

The replica station building stands on the site of the original 1880 building.

The arrival of the police took longer than the gang anticipated, and they, together with a few local sympathisers, were forced to guard their hostages, some sixty-two local people, in the Glenrowan Inn, for a whole day, plying them with drink and entertaining them with songs and music, as they waited for news of the police train.

The Railway Station and Jones' Glenrowan Inn. The station became a refuge for the press, being somewhat safer than being out in the open.

By the late afternoon twenty-one of the most trusted townsfolk were allowed to leave, and one in particular, the local schoolmaster, Thomas Curnow, who had gained the gang’s trust by helping them to detain the local policeman, Constable Hugh Bracken, was allowed to leave on the pretext of returning home to see his wife in their house close to the railway, but in fact he used the opportunity to await the train at about 02.30 am the next morning, flagging it down and warning the police of the trap ahead.

This was where Ned Kelly was taken to receive medical attention after he was shot and captured before taken by special train to Melbourne.

As the police party, seven regular troopers and Superintendent Hare, five Queensland Aboriginal troopers and sub-Inspector O’Connor and a few journalists and attached civilians, made their way on foot to the station, the gang were warned that they had arrived and donning their armour prepared to meet the police, unaware that Constable Bracken had managed to escape and get to the station to warn Hare of the gang’s presence.

A birds eye view of the Railway Station and Gelenrowan Inn, with the tented camp of the railway platelayers- Thomas Carrington, 17th July 1880, Illustrated Australian News. 1. Mrs Jones' Inn, 2 Outhouse, 3. Railway Station, 4. Station Master's House, 5. McDonnell's Hotel, 6. Gravel Men's Tents. 7. Positions taken by police, 8. Post taken by Sub-inspector O'Connor and the black trackers, 9. Spot where Superintendent Hare was shot, 10. Paddock where horses were shot, 11. Tree where Ned Kelly was captured, 12. Road to Glenrowan police barracks, 13. Carrington believed the rails were torn up just over half a mile from this point. 

The gang positioned themselves in the shadow of the verandah of the inn as the police approached to about thirty yards from it before opening fire, it was by then 03.00 am.

The ground behind the sign is where the Glenrowan Inn once stood.

As the police charged the Glenrowan Inn, where the Kelly Gang and their hostages were ensconced, a volley from the veranda greeted them. Flashes of gunfire revealed the unearthly foursome in their armour. 

The opening fire saw some 100 to 150 shots exchanged in about fifteen minutes, leaving Hare wounded in the wrist and forced to retire for medical aid, Ned Kelly wounded in the left hand, arm and right foot, Byrne wounded in the leg and forced to retreat into the inn and three hostages fatally wounded in the inn, most likely by police fire.

In a lull in the firing, most of the remaining hostages escaped from the inn, whilst Ned Kelly retreated behind it and further into the bush beyond, whilst the three other gang members, Joe Byrne, Dan Kelly and Steve Hart took cover in it as the police surrounded the building and continued their fusillade, that would at 05.00 am see Byrne fatally wounded by a shot to the groin that nicked the femoral artery causing the man to bleed out in minutes.

The Glenrowan Inn is beginning to burn, with the railway gravel men's tented camp in the paddock

The area where the police took up positions to fire into the Glenrowan Inn is marked by the interesting marker poles seen in the picture.

Between 05.30 to 07.00 am police reinforcements arrived under Sergeant Steele and Superintendent Sadler bringing the police strength up to forty and with the coming of dawn, the badly wounded Ned Kelly emerged from the bush behind the police line, armed with three handguns and began to fire at them.

The vision of Kelly emerging through the early dawn mist clad in his shape distorting armour was a shock to all those who witnessed it.
'It was the most extraordinary sight I ever saw or read in my life, and I felt spellbound and wonder, and I could not stir or speak.'

The ground where Ned Kelly made his final stand

The vision of Kelly emerging through the early dawn mist clad in his shape distorting armour was a shock to all those who witnessed it with journalist Tom Carrington writing his impression of the sight;

‘With the steam rising from the ground, it looked for all the world like the ghost of Hamlet’s father with no head, only a very long thick neck . . . It was the most extraordinary sight I ever saw or read in my life, and I felt spellbound and wonder, and I could not stir or speak.’

Fortunately there were more sturdier souls than Carrington among the police contingent who immediately returned Kelly’s rather inaccurate fire as the bush ranger fought the effects of loss of blood from his wounds and having to aim and move within the confines of his heavy armour, with the police hits impacting on his armour feeling as he later described ‘like blows from a man’s fist’.

Even in the height of summer a little water still flows in the creek over which Sergeant Steele brought the fight to an end

The gun battle lasted under half an hour with intermittent support fire from Dan Kelly and Steve Hart coming from the inn until Ned Kelly was finally brought down by two blast to his legs from Sergeant Steele’s shotgun firing from the opposite side of a small creek, after which Steele and railway guard Dowsett rushed in and disarmed the badly wounded Kelly.

Witnesses differed in their accounts of how Ned was finally captured, after being shot down by Sergeant Steele, with Steele claiming that he alone wounded, unmasked and disarmed Ned Kelly, but with other men saying that they helped to wrestle him down and remove his armour, whilst some claimed that they were convinced Steele meant not to take Kelly prisoner and that they had to come between him and the wounded villain, with Constable Bracken exclaiming;
'I'll shoot any bloody man that dares touch him!'

For the rest of the day Dan Kelly and Steve Hart continued to resist the police from the inn, during which the remaining hostages made their escape, and with Sadlier unwilling to loose men storming the place and with talk of bringing up a cannon to bring the battle to a close, the decision was made to burn the defenders out by setting fire to the Glenrowan Inn.

Both Dan Kelly and Hart died in the subsequent blaze although their burned corpses, discovered when the fire died down at about 16.00 in the afternoon, prevented a precise cause of death being ascertained.

Some men from the Benalla contingent (Constable Bracken is second from the left) display their weapons, 5th July 1880.

Police items from the period on display in the museum at Kelly Land, Glenrowan

The body of Joe Byrne was dragged from the burning building along with the seriously wounded hostage Martin Cherry who died soon after, and the body of Byrne was displayed to the public the next day in Benalla, strung up against the door of a lockup for his final portrait.

Joe Byrne's body photographed the next day, on public display in Benalla

Joe Byrne's shotgun, used to murder Aaron Sherritt, a double barrelled side by side shotgun made by Hollis and Sons, London, on display in Kelly Land Glenrowan.

Aaron Sherritt, murdered with the weapon seen above

The Kelly Land Museum of period items and their animatronics display using moving figures with some having superimposed graphics of talking faces to allow some of the characters in the display to tell the story of the events of the siege proved very entertaining.

The scene of drink and song in Anne Jones' Glenrowan Inn before the arrival of the police train from Melbourne.

On leaving the Glenrowan Inn visitors find themselves rather like the accompanying journalists in 1880, serving the role of onlookers to the police and the Kelly Gang exchanges of fire outside the inn.

One of the local towns to feature in the Ned Kelly story was the provincial town of Euroa which would have the dubious pleasure of a visit from the Kelly gang between the 8th and 9th of December 1878, during which their local bank was relieved of £2,260 of valuables as the raiders sought to replenish their coffers having been on the run and supported by sympathisers since 26th October 1878 when they ambushed and murdered Sergeant Kennedy, and Constables Lonigan and Scanlan at Stringyback Creek.

We however were drawn to stop in Euroa on our way to Canberra having seen its Victoria Cross Memorial Garden and thought we might as well combine a tea and natural break in our journey and visit the garden at the same time. 

One of the aspects both Carolyn and I really appreciated was the way recipients of the Victoria Cross are memorialised in Australia, with our road journeys revealing the placement of similar gardens of remembrance to the one we saw in Euroa, to service areas along major highways named after other recipients, with a detailed account on display to visitors highlighting their valour and the associated history, often with a back story of their links to the local area.

This is something we might think of doing in the UK, rather than some of the banal uninteresting names we give to our service areas and I'm sure towns and villages in Britain would benefit from a similar exercise in attracting passing visitors to stop and spend time there, whilst taking an interest in the deeds of these very brave folks.

Euroa is rightly proud of its three VC winners, with display boards featuring their photographs and information boards detailing the various campaigns they were involved in, Australia's wider involvement and how they came to be awarded the VC together with their fates.

Lieutenant Frederick Tubb was born in Longwood, Victoria in 1881 and enlisted as a second lieutenant in the A.I.F in August 1914, later promoted to lieutenant in February 1915.

He was posted to Gallipoli in July 1915 and was gazetted captain on August 8th, taking over on that day a vital section of trench line at Lone Pine, with orders 'to hold it at any cost'.

Major Frederick Harold Tubb, VC

Early the following morning the Turks launched a massive attack, advancing along a sap barricaded with sandbags. Although Tubb was blown from the parapet and the barricade repeatedly wrecked, each time it was rebuilt. At one point a large explosion blew in the barricade and Tubb, wounded in the arm and scalp, was left with Corporals Alexander Burton and William Dunstan. He led them into action, shooting three Turks and providing covering fire while the barricade was rebuilt. 

After the attack Tubb was evacuated to Britain to recover, and was awarded the Victoria Cross.

Rejoining his battalion in France in 1917, he took part in the Menin Road attack in Belgium in September. Again Tubb showed great courage, leading his company to its objective, but he was mortally wounded by shell-fire.

Alexander Burton was born in Kyneton, Victoria in 1893 and was working as an ironmonger when war broke out.

He joined the AIF and was posted to the 7th Battalion. Although he missed the landing on Gallipoli on 25 April 1915, he watched it from the deck of a hospital ship, where he was being treated for a throat infection. A week later he was in the trenches, fighting with the 7th Battalion in a number of different areas.

Corporal Alexander Stuart Burton, VC

In the early hours of 9th August, at Lone Pine, the Turks launched a strong counter-attack on a newly captured trench held by Burton, Lieutenant Frederick Tubb, Corporal William Dunstan, and others. The Turks advanced up a sap and blew in the sandbag barricade but Burton, Tubb, and Dunstan rebuilt it.

The enemy twice more destroyed the barricade but each time was driven off and the barricade rebuilt. Burton was killed by a bomb while he was building up the parapet. He has no known grave, but his name is commemorated on the Lone Pine Memorial, Gallipoli, and by an oak tree and bridge at Euroa, Victoria.

Leslie Cecil Maygar was born near Kilmore, Victoria, on 27 May 1868. He was farming at Euroa when he volunteered for service with the Victorian Mounted Rifles and served in the South African War. It was during this conflict that Maygar was awarded the Victoria Cross for the rescue of a fellow soldier under heavy fire. After the war he returned to farming and once again volunteered for military service when the First World War broke out, enlisting with the Australian Imperial Force on 20 August 1914. Maygar departed Melbourne with the 4th Light Horse Regiment aboard HMAT Wiltshire on 19 October 1914.

Whilst serving on Gallipoli in 1915 Maygar was promoted to the rank of major and in October that year was appointed to command the 8th Light Horse Regiment. In December 1915 he began to document his experiences in a series of letters home, recalling in great detail the evacuation from Gallipoli, which he deemed "a marvellous piece of military strategy probably never equalled in all the annals of history." Maygar was in command of the last party to withdraw from the trenches at ANZAC Cove.

Lieutenant-Colonel Leslie Cecil Maygar, VC

Rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel, Maygar distinguished himself as a fine leader and horseman in the desert campaigns of Sinai and Palestine, during which he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order. Maygar continued to document his experiences, in particular the extensive preparations for the second battle of Gaza in April 1917. He died on 1 November 1917 from wounds sustained at the battle of Beersheba the day before. Leslie Maygar is buried at the Beersheba War Cemetery in Israel.

Finally, after a night stop at Albury, we were somewhat surprised to see signs pointing to the Submarine town of Holbrook, the surprise being that Holbrook is a long way from the sea in New South Wales, and both of us were left wondering what it could possibly have to do with submarines.

On entering Holbrook we were greeted with the astonishing sight of a very much landlocked Oberon Class submarine, HMAS Otway, the second of six such types built for the Royal Australian Navy between 1966 and 1979, but the model below explains the reasons for submarines and their association with Holbrook.

A one fifth scale model of the B11 submarine commanded by Lieutenant Norman Holbrook, R.N. during WW1. Holbrook sailed into the Dardanelles through minefields just off the coast of Turkey, into Dardan Bay, where he torpedoed and sank the Turkish battleship Messoudieh. He returned to saftey through the minefield with a severely damaged compass, staying submerged for a record nine hours, in a submarine with a normal battery life of just two hours. Lt. Holbrook was awarded the first VC for a submariner and his crew the DSM. Following the event the town, formerly known as Germanton changed its name to Holbrook in his honour.

Lieutenant Norman Douglas Holbrook VC
after whom the town of Holbrook is named. 

The Ottoman Ironclad Mesudiye or Messoudieh sunk by the B11 on 13th December 1914

HMAS Otway was decommissioned in 1994, and was sold initially for scrapping, until the Holbrook Submarine Project got in contact with a plan to make a waterline display of the old boat.

HMAS Otway is a mixture of steel and glass reinforced plastic purchased and reconstructed by the citizens of Holbrook Shire, with additional finance of $100,000 provided by Gundula Holbrook, widow of the late Commander Norman D. Holbrook, VC, RN.

A Mark VIII 21 inch torpedo that first entered service in 1927 with the Royal Navy and was their principal torpedo throughout WWII, culminating with their use by HMS Conqueror on the 2nd May 1982 to sink the Argentine cruiser ARA General Belgrano during the Falklands War.

The Holbrook Submarine Museum hosts a 3D holgram show of Commander Holbrook's run into the Dardanelles, together with the reconstructed control room of HMAS Otway and working periscope.

From Holbrook we continued our journey on to Canberra and the next post will take a look at this most interesting capital city and the sights that caught my attention during our stay.

More anon


  1. Replies
    1. Hi and thanks for your comment. Yes indeed, much fun had by all with lots of new memories created.