ARTICLES FROM THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD
Friday Nov 5, 1915
HOW THE CAMP HAS GROWN
Liverpool Camp is not what it was. One cannot visit it to-day without being struck by the wonderful
improvements that have been made since the war first called it into being. It appears to have come to stay.
We have learnt the lesson that the best way to ensure peace is to be prepared for war; and when the Prussian
giant is overthrown Liverpool Camp will remain as the great training ground of our future soldiers. Else,
why the splendid roadways, why the planting of the trees skirting the camp roads, why the many permanent
buildings that have been and are still being erected?
But whatever may happen to Liverpool Camp, there is one thing we may be sure of—the Red Cross
organisation will remain with us. It was with us before the war began—though but a little time before—and
it will be with us after the war ends. The women and men who have made the Red Cross society in Australia
will not abandon it. The girls of the V.A.D. will remain girls of the V.A.D. perfecting themselves in their
training, and ready to render aid at any moment should the call ever come again.
While the military authorities have been busy, the Red Cross Society has been no less busy, and to-day the
men in the field hospitals lack little in the way of comforts. One could not help noticing yesterday the great
improvements that have been made at the Liverpool field hospital.
An excellent change has been made at Liverpool in regard to the laundry arrangements. Owing to the
inadequate facilities at the camp the washing from the field hospital is now sent twice a week to the State
Asylum in a Red Cross cart, the military supplying the horse. In the old laundry tent you may now see quaint
“home-made” chairs for shaving purposes, etc. These chairs are the work of the “pioneers”, a body of men
who are expert at carpentering and other “handy work.” They are in charge of Sergeant Ayre an ex-police
officer. The Rev. Mr Cross from time to time, makes the “pioneer” small grants of timber.
Excellent shower-baths, both hot and cold are now available at the field hospital. Another improvement is
the fine, large cook-house, with its splendid range; and the grease traps for the kitchen waste give sufficient
grease to make all the soap required for scrubbing and similar purposes.
What has been done for Liverpool Camp by the Red Cross Society has been done, on a smaller scale, for the
other camps. At Holdsworthy and at Warwick Farm there are the same evidences of kindly thought for the
comfort of our soldiers in training: and it will be the same at Casula, the new camp that is now being
established on the high land beyond the Liverpool Camp. Many tents have already been erected, and next
week, when the cooking and other necessary arrangements have been completed, 6009 men are to go there.
Within the last few days the men who were encamped at Warwick Farm, to the number of about 2000, have
been drafted to Liverpool, following on the departure of 3000 reinforcements; but others will be taking up
their quarters on the old racecourse, for the recruits continue to arrive. In a few days the Gilgandra
contingent will help to swell the numbers.
Saturday January 1, 1916
A Preliminary meeting of the Wombats „Comforts‟ Fund (Mining Corps) will be held at the Town Hall on
Wednesday, at 2.30 pm. Relatives and friends of the members of the corps are invited.
Saturday January 22, 1916
THE MINERS’ BATTALION
The Australian Miners‟ Battalion will be entertained in the Ashfield Town Hall tonight by the Mayor and
Monday January 24, 1916
FOR THE FRONT.
MAJOR DAVID’S ADDRESS
THE INSPRIATION OF ANZAC
“Well, it really is a man‟s life—this life,” said Major David, during the course of a vivid and stirring account
of camp scenes with the new military unit, the Australian Miners‟ Battalion. The major and some hundred of
his brother officers and men were on Saturday evening accorded a most enthusiastic “send-off” at the Town
Hall, Ashfield, where Professor David has lived for the past 20 years. From special knowledge in his
possession Major David also gave several descriptive snapshots of thrilling incidents in the Allies‟ fighting
lines, and quoted a passage from the recent writings of a well-known German authority to support his
argument that the Allies were engaged in a fight of humanity against brutality, the Germans having decided
to conduct the war in a spirit of calculated and atrocious cruelty.
There was a very large attendance, and the proceedings were most enthusiastic.
Alderman J.H. Hammond, the Mayor of Ashfield, who presided, said it was his privilege, on behalf of the
citizens to say au revoir to the men of the Australian Miners‟ Battalion. Ashfield from the outbreak of the
war had been characteristically Australian (Applause.) in addition, the battalion numbered in its ranks one
who had been an honoured and respected resident of the municipality for many years. He referred to
Professor—or rather, Major David. (Loud applause.)
Major Fewtrell, replying on behalf of the battalion, said that they were proud of the fact that they were the
most representative battalion that had ever been formed in Australia. There were six parts of them—one-
sixth from each state. The organisation of the battalion had been due alone to his very much-respected
brother-officer, Major David. (Applause.) He also thanked Mr G.W. Brain, of Ashfield, for assistance
rendered to the battalion.
Major David, on rising to speak, was accorded an ovation, the audience rising and singing “For he‟s a jolly
good fellow.” After saying how touched he was by the extremely kind welcome, he referred to the formation
of the battalion. “It is,” he explained “a new unit and I want to say at once that the idea of forming a body of
miners for use at the front—and our miners yield to none in any part of the world—(loud applause)—
originated with a well-known mine-owner in Western Australia, Mr J. Thompson, who is now at the training
school for engineers in Sydney. (Applause.) He should have full credit for this. He made a patriotic offer
that he would get together 200 Western Australian miners for service at the front. I was not aware of that
patriotic offer until a few weeks later. It occurred to me that surely, seeing that mining was bulking larger
and larger progressively in importance as the warfare became more and more a permanent trench warfare,
there was scope for a large representative body of Australian miners. Accordingly, I went over to see the
Minister for Defence, Senator Pearce, and I would like to say that right away, the very day that Senator
Pearce accorded me an interview, he called the Military Board together, and they considered the questions,
appointed a committee, and decided that very day to carry the scheme forward and initiate the action in
getting the men together. (Loud applause.) We have 1150 in this battalion now. (Renewed cheering.)
“They represent the pick of the miners from all over Australia and Tasmania. They are a fine body of men.”
After praising the choice of their commander, the Major added, “I need not say much about the officers. You
have them on the platform. They are a grand-looking lot—(loud laughter)—and they will do, I feel
confident, as handsome as they look.” (Applause and laughter.)
“We have heard a good deal in the papers about the naughty, wicked things the soldiers from Liverpool and
Casula do—(laughter)—but we are not naughty boys all the time. (Laughter.) In fact, I think the naughtiness
has been grossly exaggerated. (Hear, hear). I will just give you one instance of the sort of temper that our
mining boys show. It was urgent that we should carry out a certain bit of tunnelling just before Christmas,
just at the time when this holiday was before the men, with all the delights of Sydney in front of them to
choose if they wished. What did they choose? We called for volunteers to help us along in this work, and
these men worked, right up to midnight to carry it out instead of having a holiday. (Applause.) Our life out
there at the camp is a very happy one indeed. Reveille comes about half-past 5, I think it starts before the
milkman has come round—(laughter)—and then you know it is very stirring to hear those bugles sounding in
the morning. It brings a kind of lump into my throat to think that that sound goes right round the world
wherever the Union Jack floats. It reminds me of the song “On English Bugles Blown.” Then the band
strikes up, and the drum says “Come” to remind us of our duty. The first duty is to get under the showers.
(Laughter.) Certainly at present we have a little grievance. It is a case of the early bird catching the water.
(Laughter.) Many cases have occurred where we have most conscientiously and scrupulously and thoroughly
soaped ourselves all over from head to foot, and then stood under the shower, and no water has come forth.
(Great laughter.) Then, after a good deal of drill on top of the ground and under the ground and a certain
amount of meals and more bugles, the time comes for a evening mess and “smoke-oh” and then the
recreation tent. I would like to say what a boon to our mining corps the recreation tent has been. (Applause.)
There the men gather in hundreds and hundreds. They don‟t need to go into pubs when they have this feast
of reason and art combined, and bright electric lights, thanks to Mr Brian and his officers.
Major David explained why military training was necessary in the case of miners going to the front. “On one
of our fronts not very long ago 1000 miners were sent over to do the kind of work they were accustomed to
do. They had not been disciplined: they hadn‟t military training, and what happened? Within a day or two
out of the 1000 miners 800 were either killed or wounded, because the poor fellows didn‟t know how to
defend themselves. We only hope that our efforts, which are very real and sincere and concentrated, will, if
we are spared to reach the front, be of some use towards helping our old comrades and our brave allies to win
this terrible war.” (Cheers.)
He mentioned that his son, born in Ashfield was at the front serving with the Cameron Highlanders. The
Cameron Highlanders recently took part in the capture of Loos from the Germans, and held on to it though
decimated. His son was the only one of five officers left, and said that every one of the Camerons deserved a
V.C. The colonel who fell was awarded the V.C. “One man,” said Major David, “whose face was nearly
shot away, asked my son, „Are we still advancing?‟ That is the sort of man. (Applause.) My son-in-law is
doing his bit at the front, too. (Applause.) “And,” proceeded the speaker, with great emotion, “my wife is
fighting the enemy in our midst with a magnificent heroism and devotion.” (Loud cheering.)
“Just now the sky is rather dark. Serbia has gone the way of Belgium, Montenegro is all but gone and
Gallipoli has gone. But don‟t ladies and gentlemen for a moment suggest that the lives of those gallant boys
of ours have been given in vain at Gallipoli. Never, never will their fine example perish from the earth. The
inspiration carries on for ever. I am sure it has helped to bring many of you here to this hall to-night to help
us in the work we are about to undertake. In all times the heroism of the Anzacs will be recorded as one of
the brightest names in Australian history. (Loud cheering.) We have brave Allies, who are going to stand by
us and fight this out to the last man, and amongst them we have—perhaps we do not realise how much she
has helped us—that brave little country, Japan, and we are honoured to-night, with the presence in this hall of
the Consul-General for Japan. (Great applause.)
“It would seem that in this coming spring there will be a change, another turning of the tide like there was at
that famous battle of the Marne, that battle which some military authorities say has lost Germany this war.
Let us hope that that will be true. (Applause.) I feel confident it will prove true, if not immediately, in the
long run. We stand in this conflict for humanity against the inhumanity of our arch enemy.
“Whether,” concluded Major David, “We win this war immediately, or whether it will be prolonged, of one
thing we can be absolutely assured, and that is that this devil-worship, because it is nothing else that
Germany has been going in for, will go down before the worship of all that is good and godlike.
(Tremendous cheering.) God will last, in our own part will do our best to do our duty.” (Loud and
Major David read a message from Mr Peter Bowling, who was present: —“Peter Bowling wishes Godspeed
and of a safe return to the miners‟ corps.” (Loud applause.)
Tuesday January 25, 1916
The tanned sheepskin clothing committee has this season disposed of 75,396 waistcoats for distribution to
Australian soldiers, chiefly 60,795 waistcoats and 50,400 pairs of insoles. 14,510 waistcoats were given
before December to soldiers leaving for the front by their friends. Since December, Christmas has loomed so
largely in everyone‟s pocket that the soldiers of the reinforcements who is leaving now or shortly is in danger
of not being provided with this garment. There has never been such an urgent call for everyman leaving for
the front to be provided with a sheepskin vest as now, and because hot days are upon us, never was there the
same likelihood of our men being seriously affected by such a change if unprovided with a waistcoat. Should
a month or even a fortnight of real winter be experienced, the sheepskin vest will have more than repaid the
cost. The tan sheepskin clothing committee has a number of single waistcoats ready for sale at 7s each
(below cost), 8s inclusive of postage within Australia, 10s Egypt or London, 11s France. It makes an urgent
appeal to battalion committee to see that the men do not leave without the waistcoats, and to everyone to
send subscriptions, in order that all requirements may be met.
Monday January 31, 1916
SCENE AT THE TOWN HALL
APPEAL FOR FUNDS
A military tattoo was held in the Town Hall on Saturday in aid of the Comforts Fund for the Australian
Mining Battalion, the hon. Secretary of which (Mrs C.J. Royle) issues the following simple appeal—“This
corps, which is composed of men from all Australia is not a wealthy one, as the members are nearly all
working men, and we are badly in need of funds.”
The officer commanding the corps, Major Fewtrell, first of all extended a hearty welcome to the consul of
Japan and France. He announced that the Institute of Mining Engineers of Melbourne had equipped the
battalion with a brass band. Miss Ruth White, of Muswellbrook, was thanked for the gift of a gramophone,
Mr Hugh Dixson had given a piano, “and,” added the major, “It is going to be taken to the front as far as we
can take it.” (Applause) The corps was much indebted to Mrs Blain, who had forwarded several
consignments of biscuits for the use of the camp at Casula. “I might tell you,” explained the O.C., amid great
laughter, “the men are pretty big eaters, and the ordinary rations, do not go very far with them.”
The brass band opened the tattoo with an overture, Sapper C. Shore, who is going to the front with the unit as
a stretcher-bearer, rendering the next item, a piano selection, and after hearing him one could well understand
why the gift instrument would be wanted by the men as long as military regulations would allow them to
hold on to it.”
Captain Chaplain James Wilson was introduced by the chairman as one who had witnessed a great deal of the
horrors that were perpetrated on the Western Front. “I want first of all,” said Captain Wilson, “to bring my
flags to you. I hold in my hands the principal flags which represent the British Empire. At no time in the
history of the Empire has Britain been so welded together as it is to-day.” (Loud applause.) He mentioned
that when in England he was informed by a competent authority that it would be about the end of the second
year before Great Britain would be fully prepared for the field, and then she would have, exclusive of the
overseas forces, 4,000,000 of men. (Loud applause.) In the second year of the war the Allies would have
30,000,000 men mobilised, “and,” said the chaplain, “every day Germany is growing weaker, and every day
our Allies are growing stronger.” (Loud applause.)
There was much interest manifested when the chaplain exhibited the helmet of a German soldier, which had
cost him £6, but it had, he said proved a good investment, because at lectures he had been delivering on the
war he had collected, £350 in it for war purposes. He showed how cleverly the helmet was made, and said
that the pains bestowed upon its manufacture were typical of the German war machine we had to fight. The
miners of Australia were going to help to smash the machine of Germany. (Applause.)
Major David, whom the chairman said, was “Beloved in his corps from the commanding officer down to the
drummer boy,” delivered an address entitled “Whither?” This, he stated was the occasion of the send-off of
the first really thoroughly representative unit of the whole Commonwealth. “There are,” he declared, “no
more loyal, staunch men in the British Empire than the miners.” He thanked the Railway and Tramway
Department for the help extended to the corps. “If,” said Major David, “you put in a little contribution to the
Comforts Fund and we miners when at the front strike a rich reef we will put you on to a good thing,”
(Laughter.) They had seen from Captain Wilson‟s illustrations something of the horrors of war and the
pitiless way in which Germany had outraged the inhabitants of the territory she had over run; but as sure as
there was a God in heaven a day of reckoning would come for this „inhuman monster.‟ (Cheers) “We want,”
added Major David, “all your hearts and all your prayers with us, helping us to do our neatest duty. We
cannot hope for anything more than to do daily the duty that is put before us.” (Loud applause.)
The programme included many good items and the tattoo was a distinct success.
Monday 21 February, 1916
PARADE IN THE DOMAIN
The inspection of troops held by the District Commandant in the Outer Domain on Saturday afternoon was of
more than usual interest, for it was Sydney‟s public and official farewell to the Miners‟ Battalion, of which
so much has been heard. Added interest was lent to the event in fact that the originator of the corps,
Lieutenant J. Thomson, of Western Australia, was present at that saluting base to see the realization of his
Long before the advertised hour of the inspection — 4.15 — a large crowd of relations and friends of the
departing battalion lined the four sides of the parade ground, the saluting base being at the harbour end.
Inspectors Nolan and Barry had a force of 60 police : while Sergeant-Major Harber, of the Garrison Military
Police, was present with a hundred of his men to keep the crowds within bounds. The scene was an
inspiriting one. On the extreme right flank, facing the saluting base, were companies of the Rifle Club
School; next came a detachment of the 4th King‟s Shropshire Light Infantry, then the bands of the Light
Horse, Liverpool Depot, and the Miners‟, and on the left rank upon rank, the Miners‟ Battalion. The dull
khaki of the hundreds of men exactly matched the stone columns of the Art Gallery, showing through the dull
green of the shade trees lining the eastern side of the ground; while the solid tower of St Mary‟s Cathedral
and the graceful outlines of the building were the Registrar-General‟s Department is now housed made a
background only a shade lighter.
On his arrival at the saluting base Colonel Ramaciotti, accompanied by his orderly officer, Lieutenant
Brodziak, Major Sadler, general staff officer, Major Warden, of the Engineers, and Lieutenant Donald, of the
staff, proceeded to inspect the various units, while the bands played martial airs. At the conclusion of the
inspection the Commandant returned to the saluting base, and was joined by a number of distinguished
guests. These included
In the march past the Miners‟ Battalion held pride of place, moving as men whose physique was perfect,
whose limbs were supple, and who had a just pride in their regiment. It was remarked on all sides that their
faces and arms were as brown as their uniforms; and as they swung past in long lines of easy quick step
round after round of applause greeted them. Their commanding officer Colonel Fewtrell, having passed the
saluting base, wheeled and joined the group at the saluting base, but when the crowd caught sight of Major
(Professor) T. Edgeworth David, marching just behind the last company, a special round of cheering was
In their lighter khaki and tropical helmets and those shorts which make so much for freedom of movement
came the Shropshires, their bayonets flinging sparks of light and adding a touch of realism which means so
much in a military inspection. They moved past as one man, their lines perfect, and their bearing as such
delighted the onlookers, and also drew hearty applause.
The Miners‟ Battalion Band had the regimental mascot, Puncher, a fine bulldog, with them. Puncher took up
his stand in front of the band while it played, and a huge mastiff of another unit, took up its position at the
head of the next band during the march past. At the conclusion of the inspection the troops on parade
marched to the Agricultural Show Grounds, via College, Oxford, Bourke and Fitzroy streets.
Wednesday July 19, 1916
LIEUT. O. WOODWARD
AWARDED MILITARY CROSS
Mr Woodward, storekeeper, has received a cable message that his son, Lieutenant Oliver Woodward, in
France, has been awarded the Military Cross for good work on June 11. The town is elated at the news.
Lieutenant Woodward, who is a native, left Australia with Professor David‟s Mining Engineering Corps. A
letter received from this corps shows that he became detached from this corps, and that he was given a
commission in the Royal Engineers in England. Prior to enlisting Lieutenant Woodward had an unusually
brilliant career in the mining profession, and he graduated at the School of Mines at Charters Towers, and
afterwards his services were in great demand by large companies in the northern State.
Friday July 28, 1916
Military Crosses have been awarded to the following Australians for conspicuous gallantry: -
Lieutenant Oliver Woodward, of the 1st Tunnellers‟ Battalion. He succeeded in difficult circumstances,
after repeated attempts, in blowing up a house 120 yards away from our trenches, which was frequently used
as a sniper‟s post.
Wednesday August 9, 1916
MINING CORPS IN FRANCE
The following is an extract from a letter from France, received by Mr O.W. Brain, electrical engineer for
railways and tramways, from an officer, who is an officer of the department: —“You have every reason to be
satisfied with the result of the work turned out for us. Sergt Norfolk is doing very good work; am sending
him for a rest for a week or so. It takes a very strong and younger constitution to fight against the odds of
this rough work. It‟s a treat to see the way the men work under such conditions. We are well posted, English
papers the same evening. The Australian papers are plentiful. I cannot give much news; all are very fit, the
Colonel, Major David, and others of the staff asked me to remember them to you. One little incident may
interest you, we took a certain town which was supplied by a town in the Boche‟s hands with current; the
town was in our hands a month before the Boche discovered that he was supplying us with electricity.
Tuesday August 22, 1916
SAPPER MYER J. ISAACS
Sapper Myer J. Isaacs, who has been wounded, is the youngest son of Mr Joseph Isaacs, manufacturing
confectioner, of Redfern, and has a wife, and two children, who reside at Stanmore.
Tuesday September 12, 1916
SAPPER M. SHIELDS
Sapper Michael Shields, son of Mrs Elizabeth Shields, Rozelle, died in France on August 24, from wounds.
June 14, 1917
A PROUD DAY FOR AUSTRALIA
The story of Messines will long live in British annals, and for us in Australia it will go down as one of the
great days in our history. There have been many great battles in this greatest of all wars, and it is our proud
boast that Australian troops have taken part in some of the most famous of them. They do not share in the
glory of the wonderful retreat from Mons, when British soldiers in this war first showed how they could fight
and how they could die. They had no part in the early battles of the Yser and of Ypres. There were no
Australians in France when the German hordes were defeated on the Marne. Verdun—most glorious of all—
belongs wholly to the French. But Pozieres, Bapaume, Bullecourt—these are famous names to all
Australians, and now has come Messines.
Gallipoli was an epic, heroic, and sublime; and it marked the real birth of Australia‟s nationhood. It was
Gallipoli that taught us that, born and bred here in the distant land, our sons had lost none of the heroic spirit
of our forefathers; and it introduced a new word into the English language, to remain there for all time—the
There are Anzacs fighting to-day in France and Belgium; but there are tens of thousands of other Australians
and New Zealanders also fighting there who are not Anzacs. But they are of the Anzac breed; and Messines
is proof of it. Not that all the glory of this battle belongs to them, for there were brave men from Great
Britain and Ireland in it, too—like Major William Redmond, M.P., who gave his life for the great cause. It is
enough, however, that our troops had a share in it.
And it was a great share. Little more than a year ago we saw two Australian officers ride into the Sydney
Domain at the head of a body of Australian miners. The officers were Colonel Fewtrell and Major David and
the miners at whose head they rode—picked men, the best Australia had, men who had gathered together
from all parts of Australia—had become soldiers. They had spent a great part of their lives digging in the
bowels of the earth, and become of this they were selected to journey to the other side of the world to dig
there, with men from Cardiff and other parts, where strong men live and dig. And those who saw them that
day when they were reviewed in the Sydney Domain, remember them as the biggest, strongest men in
Australia‟s army. Not a great many of them, but men who knew how to dig; men who know what tunnelling
was, and how to lay a charge of explosives; above all, men who had no illusions, and knew where their duty
So they went forth, this mining corps, to France. And there, under Colonel Fewtrell and Major David—
Professor David, of the Sydney University, noted geologist and Antarctic explorer—they “dug in.” They dug
into the bowels of the earth again, as they had been used to doing at home—in and in, and still in. Now and
again letters have been published telling how the Australian Mining Corps had been digging and laying
mines, and making raids at this place and that place. But of Messines never a word. Yet they were
tunnelling all the time at Messines, with those other strong miners from the old land. For twelve months.
Tunnelling under Hill 60.
In all the history of war there is no chapter more thrilling than that which tell of the working of these miners,
day after day, night after night, under the British battle lines, under no man‟s land, under the German lines,
under the many strongholds that dominated the “Ypres Salient.” Sometimes they stopped, strange sounds
coming to their ears away under the surface of the earth. Once or twice, thick guttural sounds—human
voices—came to them through the earth. German miners working a few feet away. So they dug down and
down, and under, and across the enemy‟s tunnels.
For twelve months. And then, their work done, the charges laid—tons and tons of explosives, under Hill 60
and all the known fortresses of the enemy—they came out and waited in the light of day for the fateful hour
fixed by General Sir Herbert Plumer for the pressing of the button, the touching of the cap, that was going to
set the man-made earthquake going. We have been told that the suspense was terrible, and these men waited
with bated breath as the last few seconds were ticking off. And then—in a second—the result of the 12
months‟ work was seen—a terrible and appalling sight. The earth for many miles around was shaken, and
the sound of the terrible explosion was heard in England. The very geography of the country was changed,
and the “Ypres salient,” which had enabled the enemy to watch the movements in the British lines for the
past two years was done away.
To those who were there and saw the uplift of the earth, and the flashing of the giant fires into the air, who
hard the awful roar of it, and then, on top of that, the road of the guns in this greatest of all bombardments—
those who saw the 7000 German prisoners come in, and knew that somewhere under the earth, in trenches
and dugouts and fortresses, that no loner existed, were hurled thousands of men, who, a few seconds before,
had no thought of the sudden death that was coming—Messines will be at once a grand and terrible memory.
It is a battle of great records. The tunnelling was a record of wonderful patience and endurance. The
quantity of explosives laid—as much as 35 tons in a single chamber—was a record. The bombardment was a
record in intensity, as many as 6,000,000 shells being fired. And there has been nothing to suppress the dash
and courage of the infantry who completed the great victory. Although Messines will be historic as the most
gigantic artillery and engineering victory, in which were employed more explosives and a greater quantity of
powder than had ever previously been seen in warfare, the mighty concussions would have accomplished
little unless the troops followed up and took possession of the demolished land.
Among those who witnessed this great day—“The phrase on everybody‟s lips is: „It was a great day.‟”
Writes Philip Gibbs—was, we doubt not, Major David. He had seen the miners‟ work begun, and had
watched the progress of it, and recently he had been on leave in England. His leave was up about a month
ago, and in a letter to a friend in Sydney, he stated he was about to return to France. Professor David, not too
old at 60 to serve his country, has added to his own fame, and won further honour for his country.
BRILLIANT WORK ON THE WEST FRONT
Sapper Hammond, a giant, measuring 6ft 6ins in height, who left here in February last year, with the No. 1
Mining Corps, and who was recently invalided to Sydney, describes part of the work in which the men were
engaged. He is a native of U.S.A., but was employed in railway construction work in this State when he
enlisted. The corps left in command of Lieutenant-colonel Fewtrell, with Major T.W.E. David as geologist,
and many of the officers were electrical engineers specially selected on account of their expert knowledge.
“We were eventually divided into three tunnelling companies,” Sapper Hammond explained, “and after
being reinforced by a number of British troops, were distributed along a distance of approximately 25 miles.
At intervals we sank shafts and, drove a series of tunnels in the direction of the German lines.
Communication was established between the various shafts by means of crosscuts.
“As each tunnel was completed mines were laid in readiness to be exploded by electricity. The work was in
progress for 12 months, and many of the mines were laid six or seven months ago. A new explosive is being
used. It is a British invention, but I do not know the constituent parts, except, of course, that gun cotton is
used. It is far more powerful than gelignite or nitro-glycerine, and does untold damage.
“When I left the front one company was operating at Hill 60, where we have since achieved such remarkable
success. The Australians commenced tunnelling under Hill 60 as far back as May of last year.
“At one place the Australians were very fortunate, for work was carried on month after month without
arousing the slightest suspicion on the part of the Germans. They never discovered what we were up to, and
so the Australians continued to tunnel straight ahead. Our shaft was 35ft deep, and we succeeded in
extending several tunnels for a distance of 1400ft under the German lines. That work had been accomplished
when I left in November last, and other preparations were in progress for the great offensive. We tunnelled
right under the German lines, under their supports, their dugouts, and their machine gun emplacements
without our work being discovered.
“The Australian Mining Corps has already done great work, and is prepared and anxious to achieve still
further success. My only regret is that, owing to an accident to one of my legs, I had to be invalided to
England, and then to Australia.”
Tuesday October 16, 1917
Lieutenant Arthur Elton Tandy has been killed in France. He was born in East Maitland and after winning a
bursary entered the High School. Later he joined the staff of the Lands Department, and afterwards entered
the School of Mines at Ballarat, where he passed the examinations with honours. Eventually he was
appointed mine manager at Mount Oxide, from with place he enlisted and went to the front. He was
mentioned in despatches. He married Isabel Writer in 1913, second daughter of the late John Writer of
Rockley, Ballarat. One brother, Corporal Frank Tandy is in France, and was wounded and recommended for
the Military Medal. Another brother Percy F. Tandy is in the Engineer Officers‟ School at Roseville.
Died Apr 25, 1917 No 1 Coy No 1 Section.
Monday October 22, 1917
Major N. Macrae, who was killed in action on October 2, of Toorak (Vic), and went on active service in
March, 1916 with the Australian Mining Corps, as captain and adjutant. He received part of his education at
Sedbergh School, Yorkshire and obtained his degree of B.Sc. at Glasgow University. Before leaving for the
front he was engaged in survey work in New South Wales.
Wednesday November 14, 1917
Sappers Chardivone and Hopper returned to Brisbane on Monday.
Monday December 3, 1917
Mrs Mestrez of Ravenswood has received a letter from Sergeant A.F. Barnes relating to the death of her son
Charles who was killed in France on the 25th August. He wrote in glowing terms of the bravery and loyalty
to duty of Charles Mestrez and of his loss to the regiment and sent home his personal belongings. Sgt
Barnes is a Charters Towers boy and Mrs Mestrez is very grateful for his thought and kindness in writing her
Wednesday January 9, 1918
Captain Sleeman Anderson, a son of the Bishop of Riverina who attached to the Engineers in France has
been awarded the Military Cross.
(Lt E.S. Anderson No 2 Company transferred April, 1916 to Adjutant no 1 Company.)
Tuesday January 29, 1918
AUST SOLDIERS ABROAD
Major Edgeworth David has been in London at a conference for the discussion of the utilities of water power.
Wednesday January 30, 1918
Mr Rawson Moody, of Kent-street, has received a cablegram stating his brother Staff-Sergt Arnott Moody
has been awarded the Distinguished Conduct medal and promoted to the rank of sergeant-major for his
services in France. Sergeant-Major Arnott Moody enlisted in September 1915 and left Australia with the
Wednesday April 10, 1918
The death from bronchitis in France is announced of Sapper C.C. O‟Connell, of Orange, 40 years of age, who
joined Professor David‟s Mining Corps over two years ago. His brother, Donald, enlisted at the same time.
Their father the late John O‟Connell was associated with the historic Ophir field, and the family has been
associated with local goldfields ever since.
Monday June 24, 1918
ARE WE GOING TO LOSE?
DANGER OF DISLOYALTY
CHAPLAIN WILSON’S FORCIBLE ADDRESS
In a long and spirited address delivered in the Lyceum Theatre yesterday afternoon Captain-Chaplain Wilson
discussed the question, “Are we going to lose the war?”
Extracts from his address that concerned Tunnelling Company.
During the operations of one of our Tunnelling companies on the Western Front the men used a canary for
detecting foul air in the saps. One day the canary escaped from its cage, and flew into the small shrub in No-
Man‟s Land, where in all its delight at its new found liberty it chirped out its little song. This incident would
have been of little moment in normal conditions but in the circumstances its chirping would reveal the fact
that sapping was in progress in that part of the line. The sappers would be played on by artillery; the position
was serious, and the bird‟s liberty had to be interfered with. Our snipers tried to kill it with their rifles, but it
was not harmed and as a last resort a trench mortar had to be called into use, and bird and bush alike blown
out of existence.
“If conditions were normal,” said Captain Wilson, “I would allow these birds to chirp in the Domain to their
hearts content, because I believe they really do enjoy it, but in wartime they are a danger, and unless they are
dealt with you may depend upon it this country will be plunged into civil strife, and what the end of it will be
God alone knows.
I am not wanting any sympathy with the working class, I myself was the son of a working man. When I was
12 years old I was at the roadside with pick and shovel helping support my widowed mother. But I say
again, I was in France in 1914 and again with the Australian Miners in 1916 and 1917. I have seen with my
own eyes what Prussians ? and what it does and what I saw turned me into a soldier.
Wednesday July 17, 1918
Mrs O‟Toole of 434 Moore Park-road, has been informed that her husband Sapper Michael Patrick O‟Toole,
was killed on April 24. He was a gold miner for some years in Western Australia and Tasmania and at the
time of enlisting was employed by the Great Cobar Gold-mining Company at Cobar. He was 45 years of
age, and was attached to the Tunnelling Corps.
Thursday April 24, 1919
Captain-Chaplain Wilson will conduct a short service at the Waverley Cemetery at 3 p.m. Anzac Day.
Masks must be worn. Hymn books provided. Donations of flowers thankfully received and may be left with
Miss Horsley, Rocky Pt Road, Rockdale, Mr Dudley George, Bookstall, Railway Station Rockdale, the
Returned Soldiers Rooms, Macdonnell House, Pitt Street, Sydney or they can be taken direct to the cemetery.
Returned Soldiers are specially invited to attend this service.
Saturday April 26, 1919
On the brow of a hill in Waverley Cemetery dotted the graves of many a soldier who died after returning to
Australia, a service was held in memory of Anzac. Numerous floral tributes were received, some being from
returned men in remembrance of their mates. Early in the morning the members of the St George‟s Centre
for Soldiers Wives and Mothers had visited the graves and placed over 100 wreaths on them. The hymns
were: “Lead Kindly Light”, “Peace Perfect Peace” and “Nearer my God, to Thee”.
Captain-Chaplain Wilson who took as his text “Death is yours” said there were many people who regarded
Gallipoli as one of the great blunders of the war, they seemed to look upon it as a tragedy that so many of our
boys had fallen there. When the full history of Gallipoli became known they would probably find that it was
anything but a failure. His son Sergeant E.H. Wilson who had just returned from the Dardanelles where his
regiment had been on garrison duty, told him that he had been assured by one of the correspondents who had
returned from Constantinople that there were no less that 300,000 Turkish Army destroyed at Gallipoli. That
information came from an official source and when his son and others afterward conferred with a Turkish
officer at Chanah who spoke fluent English, he assured them that it was perfectly true the flower of the
Turkish Army was practically lost in the Gallipoli campaign. It would, therefore, be somewhat consoling to
the relatives who were present at the service, and who were mourning the loss of their men to know that they
had fought against and overcome, one of the most brutal nations whose record of blood and outrage was a
stain upon the history of the world. It would be a tragedy if they had to look upon the men who were
sleeping there that day as having gone out into the night, and extinction. He believed in the great march of
life. They all took comfort in the fact that death might be regarded as a blessing in disguise. The men of
Anzac had not died in vain.
May 6, 1919
THE POWER OF CEREAL GRAINS
Sometimes the bore at the bottom of the shaft struck artesian water which would jet powerfully up to a height
of 6 or 7 feet above the shaft and if left, would fill it rapidly causing vital delays.
Small calico bags some with oats, some with wheat and some with rice were rammed one after the other into
the 1 inch bore-hole and held in place with steel rods for two hours allowing the grains to swell so that they
gripped the sides of the borehole stemming any upward flow of water. As soon as this was checked the rods
were removed and replace with some small bags of Portland cement, topped with a plug of Baltic deal. No
bore-hole ever leaked and impeded progress.
Mentioned in interview given by Major David
Friday August 31, 1934
"FUNERAL OF MAJOR T.W.E. DAVID
Just before the service commenced a little company of tunnellers who had been associated with Sir
Edgeworth David in the Mining Corps at the war filed silently past the coffin and laid at the head of it the
companies flag with the letter “T” in the centre, and bearing the inscription Tunnellers, A.E.M.M.and B Co.
“The coffin-bearers were members of the A.I.F. Tunnelling Companies‟ Old Comrades Association,
consisting of Major J.B. Shand, Major R.B. Hinder, Captain F.G. Phippard, Lieutenant W. Manton,
Lieutenant J. MacD. Royle, Lieutenant J.C. Close, Lieutenant H.V. Searle and Lieutenant J.E. Armstrong."
(both above articles Abridged)