Sepia Saturday 195: 21 September 2013

Little Nell from Sepia Saturday introduces this week's post as follows: 

"It is not enough to teach children how to read, write and count. Education has to cultivate mutual respect for others and the world in which we live, and help people forge more just, inclusive and peaceful societies." 

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon; 100-day countdown message to the International Day of Peace

This Saturday co-incides with the International Day of Peace and more specifically to Peace Education; this is too good an opportunity to miss. It is often said that we learn so much from Sepia Saturday, both as participants and visitors to each other's blogs, so now is our chance to embrace the theme and do our bit for this important day observed throughout the world. The splendid photo above comes from the archive of the Library of Congress and features  the American delegates to the International Congress of Women, held in the Hague in 1915. One of the delegates, Jane Addams, was the first American woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Activities around the world this year will include; ceremonies, prayers, choirs, tree-planting, art exhibitions, lighting candles and peace walks. Your response could be one of these from the past, historical or personal, or you may like to go with the Nobel Peace Prize or Peace Education.

I'm very excited about this week's theme because of a recent find in our small corner of the world which seems very suitable to share with you this week.  My very lovely sister-in-law, Pat (or Miss Pat as she is fondly called, even though she shacked up with the lovely Terry so very long ago) was tidying up her mother's papers recently and found some postcards addressed to her paternal grandmother Dolly Daw or Dolly Hinde as she was then.  I've always been a bit envious of other Sepians' collections of postcards over the months...well now, hoorah, I can show off our postcards.  Here they are in all their glory. By the way, go to the toilet now as this is a very, very, long post...

February 6th 1917

Back of February 6th 1917 postcard

France Feb 6th 1917 Dear Dolly a card in answer to your very welcome letter and was very pleased indeed to hear from you. Would like to write you a letter but it is to cold just at present & is freezing for all it is worth, I am getting along tip top Doll & am on Duty again after a spell in hospital. We are still at the same place & are quiet safe from front for the present will write later Doll so ta ta for the present and I'll remain your sincere ??? Thanks for papers. J Cole

February 22nd 1917

France Feb 22nd 1917 Dear Doll a card to let you know that I'm still doing well. The worst of the winter seems to be over, so we are beginning to live in comfort again. We are still at the same place with plenty of work to do. And manage to knock up a little sport among the Froggies whenever we have a few spare hours to ourselves. Thanks very much Doll for the present & remain your sincere friend Jack Kind regards to all at Mudge (crossed out) Gilston papers which I receive regularly there is a thousand things I would like to tell you Doll. But of course we are not allowed so I'll have to.....

France April 2nd 1917 Dear Dolly A card to let you know that I'm quite alright at present & still dodging Fritzie.  Ours Lads are in Great heart now that there beginning to get their own back on the Boche & if things only keep going for a few months more the way they are doing a present I reckon some of us should see home again before the year is out.  had a letter from C. Mills a few days ago he is still In bed but Doing well hoping this card will find yourself & all at home well & happy I'll say ta for the present & Remain your sincere Friend J. Cole.  Kind regards to all at Gilston

June 6th 1917

France June 6th 1917 Dear Dolly a card to let you know that I'm still doing O.K. & am having a fairly easy time of it considering the circumstances & am a Decent Distance from the firing line. Had a letter from C. Mills a few days ago. He is still in the Hospital. But says he expects to be out again in a couple of weeks. Charley was hit pretty bad & I myself do not expect to see him oer here again. There is no news worth giving you that we are allowed to write so hoping this card will find my Dear little friend & all at home well & happy. I'll say ta ta & Remain your affect chum Jack Cole

Oct. 30th 1917

France Oct 30th 1917 Dear Dolly a Card to let you know that I'm still quite alright & in fairly good health.  The weather here has taken a great change lately & it is getting quite cold. so I suppose now we can settle down to six or seven months real misery.  I suppose C Mills will be home long before you get this card.  So it will not be a very great time before you know as much about France and the war as we do over here, I'll write you a long letter next time Dolly so hoping this card will find yourself and all at home well and happy I'll say ta ta & remain your sincere friend Jack Cole.

Not quite sure what this translates to but something like "Happy Birth - Like a sleeping flower, at last I unfurl; my godfather is love, my godmother, the Dawn."

France Nov 15th 1918 Dear Dolly Just a card to let you know that I'm still doing well & am in the best of health, have not heard from your for a long time, But as there is a mail in I expect our letters shall arrive shortly, had news a few days ago that Both Jack and Dan Barton had been killed, hard luck for the poor lads wasn't it, especially as the war was so near an end, shall write again when I hear from you doll.  So ta ta for the present & I'll remain your sincere friend Jack Cole.

France Decr 1st 1917 Dear Dolly a card to let you know that I'm still above ground and Doing pretty well, we are still camped at the same old place and as far as I know are likely to be here for a long time, have not had my furlough yet., But will do so as soon as I get better news from home, had a letter from old Sandy this mail, the first since I came over here, I was quite pleased, have not saw any of the Mudgee lads yet, & do not expect to while we stay here, will write you a letter next mail, so ta ta & I'll remain yours Sincerely Jack Cole

France 24 March 1918 Dear Dolly was pleased to hear that you had received my letter dated October 30th and am pleased to say that I received yours today dated 7th Jany and of course am gold to know that you are all doing well.  So Charlie Mills has arrived home at last.  Well thank goodness for that give him a good time Doll for poor chap had a Develish rough up while he was here although of course he might not say so.  you say you have had no definite news of Darcy Berg yet.  Well Dolly Dear if the information I had is correct I'm sorry to say that poor old  

Back of waves postcard - date stamped Milano 3-5-17 Darcy has gone west a long time since when I wrote you last Doll.  Things were very quiet this way.  But for the past few days it has been fair h... not so much for us as for the lads in the trenches although god along knows it has been bad enough for us for the past day or two.  It is the biggest stunt of the war by a long way.  I could tell you two thousand wonderful things Doll.  But as usual Mum's the word here so hoping this short letter will find my little Friend and all at Gilston well and happy.  I'll say ta ta and remain your affect chum.  Jack Cole Gold bless you all.

Okay - so who were all these people?

Dolly was my husband's paternal grandmother.  Her maiden name was Hinde and she was born in 1901 so would have been about 16 or 17 years old when these postcards were written.

Here is a not very good copy of a photo of her on her wedding day in 1927.  She married Robert William Daw.  

We had never heard of Jack Cole until the discovery of these postcards.

After a bit of digging around we think he is likely to be John Patrick Cole who was born in Lismore in 1887.

In the 1913 Electoral Roll, Jack was listed as a labourer at the Mudgeeraba Hotel.

Mudgeeraba Exchange Hotel 1915 copyright expired courtesy of Picture Queensland

We searched military records on the NAA website and reckon this is his military record here.  He is described as a fruit grower from Ballina, Richmond River NSW.  He was 29 when he enlisted on 15 Jan 1916.  I think the signature on his attestation closely matches the signature on the postcards.

I contacted a fellow researcher on Ancestry and he tracked down the military records of the other chaps mentioned in Jack's postcard.  You can see their military records here.

I am editing this as I go....looking at Jack and Daniel's records...they were twin brothers.  Daniel was 2 inches taller than Jack.  Daniel was a teacher at Mudgeeraba School and Jack was a railway porter.  Here is a link to a monument about them.  

Here is the newspaper article announcing the death of Jack.

courtesy of Trove The National Library of Australia The Brisbane Courier 19 Feb 1919
They were barely 20 years old if indeed they reached their 20th birthdays.

and last but not least 

Not quite sure who Old Sandy is but I think it might refer to a Duncan as Dolly's mother was a Duncan and there was an Alexander Duncan on that side of the family so it might have been an uncle.

I haven't had a chance to read all of their records yet.  Darcy was described as a barman at the Commercial Hotel Nerang on his attestation.  He was 21 years old.  I think I found his mother and father on the 1913 Electoral Roll.  His father was a hotel keeper at Logan Village in 1913.  Matilda, his mother, is listed as home duties.  
Commercial Hotel Nerang 1884 copyright expired courtesy of Picture Queensland

By 1919 Matilda is listed as Commercial Licensed Victualler at the Commercial Hotel Nerang.     
Enid Healy, Darcy's cousin, wrote from the Commercial Hotel in Nerang 9 May 1917 to ask of his whereabouts as he had been missing for 6 months.  

Here's the list of all of the 13th reinforcement of the 26th Battalion.

Here's his name in the Roll of Honour published in The Queenslander 18 August 1917.

courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

It seems he was killed in the Battle of Gueudecourt according to this website.

You can read more about the battle here.

If you visit the Australian War Memorial and want to see his name on the Roll of Honour check this handy map first.

Darcy is buried at Warlencourt British Cemetery - Plot 2, Row J Grave 7.  If anyone out there in blogland can find a photo of his grave, I would be most grateful.  There's a nice bit of a blog about what happened round that area here.

Just so you know, the bureaucracy wrote to Darcy's Mum in January 1922 to check if she really was his next of kin...even though it said so on his papers....before they sent her his medals because strictly speaking the order of next of kin goes like this:


The bureaucracy just wanted to make sure that his father wasn't alive.

She wrote back in October to let them know she was a widow.  Her husband died in 1913, I think according to what I can find on the likes of Ancestry and Find My Past.  

This whole male/female order of precedence thing has been in the news a bit of late...don't get me started....

Here is a map showing the location of Darcy's grave on the other side of the world.

View Larger Map

That's enough from me now...I could go on forever....but I'm feeling very glum and need to cheer myself up by visiting my best mate.  

For other posts promoting the cause of Peace visit Sepia Saturday....


La Nightingail said…
What an interesting post. So many questions. How did Dolly come to be writing to Jack Cole & he to her? Did they know each other? Or, I suppose they had letter writing campaigns back then as they do now to try to keep servicemen's spirits up by bringing a bit of 'home' to them through letters - even from strangers? I very much enjoyed reading your blog. An apt post.
Boobook said…
You've done a power of work here Alex. It's marvellous what you can learn from the clues in just a few postcards. And aren't the cards beautiful.
Anne Young said…
What a fantastic set of postcards. Amazing that the twins were killed the same day. Thanks for a most interesting post.
Anonymous said…
Words fail me on this one. Fantastic cards. Lucky you. Fantastic piece of research. Completely interesting and absorbing. It was like script for a TV rom/dram. Can't you just imagine your imagination running riot and writing a script around those cards. Rose looks like a sweet little thing. Who could play her, or Jack ! Loved the zeppelin !
ScotSue said…
What a wonderful find and the postcards are so beautiful - a great source of future blog stories.
Unknown said…
Nice work, Alex! Piecing together all those bits of information into a cohesive blog seems a lot of research and work -- but it certainly paid off! But I understand: it IS depressing, isn't it, that we never seem to learn that war is not the answer...
Alan Burnett said…
Thank you for sharing your postcard find, and for the fascinating post which put them in context so well. With their combination of words and images, postcards really were the precursor of blogging weren't they?
Postcardy said…
I like the style of the old French postcards, but it is the correspondence that makes them especially interesting.
Little Nell said…
You've done them proud Alex, with a roll of honour all of their own.
Kristin said…
Very interesting set of cards and very depressing outcome. Good post!
Sharon said…
A wonderful and informative post. I got goosebumps reading about the twins. They were certainly linked in both life and death.

Glad to see that you got the maps working :)
Alex Daw said…
Thanks Gail. Yes, I suspect that Jack may have worked for or been a friend of Dolly's father or one of her many brothers.
Alex Daw said…
Thanks Boobook for seeing the work in this post. I can't believe how long it took me and I feel I have only scratched the surface. Yes, the cards are beautiful.
Alex Daw said…
Dear Anne - thank you for your kind comments. I know...very sad about the twins. I feel there is more to this story but as yet I have to uncover it.
Alex Daw said…
Dear boundforoz...I feel the same way...that there could be a mini-series in it. The zeppelin is pretty fab!
Alex Daw said…
Thank you ScotSue - yes a treasure trove indeed.
Alex Daw said…
Dear Deb - thanks! It was a lot of work and I feel there is yet more to be done. As indeed all over the world with regards to keeping the peace.
Alex Daw said…
My pleasure Alan...I hadn't thought about postcards = blogging...but I guess you're right in a way.
Alex Daw said…
Thanks postcardy....yes, they are nothing without the words are they?
Alex Daw said…
Thank you Little Nell !
Alex Daw said…
Thanks Kristin...very sobering indeed. Lest we forget and all that....
Alex Daw said…
Dear Sharon - I am eternally grateful to you for the tips re inserting maps into posts....fear not...I shall be using this feature regularly :)
Jofeath said…
Great research into all those men mentioned in Jack Coles' 'dispatches', on those lovely French postcards he sent home to Dolly, who he must surely have known quite well. Amusing how he wrote upside down on the top parts of the cards. At least Jack himself survived the war, and from the Queensland BDM records, I can see he only died in 1966. I hope he found someone nice to marry on his return.
Alex Daw said…
Dear Jo - thank you for your kind comments. I believe he did marry shortly after his return.
I am late in catching up on everyone's posts as we were in Columbus OH.
I just love reading the different approaches Sepians take to these challenges. Makes us all think!

I am jealous of your great find!!!!
Alex Daw said…
Dear Jackie - It's exciting isn't it? I'm glad you enjoyed the post.
You did quite the job here, and I've enjoyed reading these. Good for him to have a pen pal. Wish you could find some of Dollies' letters to him, to come full circle. Indeed, this could spin into many more stories, but I'll leave that to your discretion...

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