Monday, March 30, 2015

Canberra and Congress

water mall with carp next to walkway

I must say that it was very difficult to leave my accommodation every morning in Canberra.  I was just in love with University House.  It won the Sulman Award for Architectural Merit back in 1953.  I suspect it is heritage listed.

The Queen size rooms are capacious.  The bathrooms have been updated except for the terrazo floors ...and there is a beautiful library....see...

So I was very happy with my accommodation and there were lots of other people there doing conferency things too.  It was about a 20-30 minute walk to the Convention Centre which I needed and for which I was grateful, sitting on my bottom for the rest of the day.  And I got to see lots of lovely sculpture as I walked along.

Sunday was full on at Congress and I might leave my account of that for another post when I'm not so tired.  

Today was spent going to the National Archives, the Australian War Memorial and the Noel Butlin Archives.

I didn't find anything at the National Archives really although I did take a few photos of things and the staff were all very helpful and friendly.  It was much quieter than I expected.  The Without Consent exhibition is definitely worth seeing and very moving.

Then I went to the Noel Butlin Archives.  What a giggle.  I disobeyed all instructions and did not have time to look up where it was before I went.  

This is where I stayed ...okay?

What a nice view I thought to myself as I stood on the verandah.  Guess what the view was?

You guessed it....the Noel Butlin Archives.  Talk about thick.  Anyway, here's my tip for those like me who are going to the Noel Butlin Archives.  When you look it up on the internet (as you're trying to tell the cabbie where it is) - it says that it's on the 2nd floor.  So when I walked into the Menzies Building I looked for a lift and went to the 2nd floor.  When I got out all I could see were stacks and stacks of Large Print.  And then I saw a sign saying "4th Floor" - huh?

So, when you walk into the Menzies Building you are actually on the 2nd floor already.  Talk about traps for the unwary.

This is the entrance to the Menzies.  Just walk in the front door and keep walking straight ahead.  

Honestly, for a librarian I am absolutely hopeless at asking for directions.  

2nd tip for newbies.  They only do one delivery a day at the Noel Butlin Archives so I ordered stuff but it wasn't ready til 2:30pm.  So ...

Off I trotted to the War Memorial - yippee!

I put a poppy next to Royston George Duncan's name in the wall...

I oohed and aahed over the WWI exhibition.  Whoever curated that should be very, very proud.

The Ben Quilty exhibition was simply stunning too.  I spent far too much money at the shop but it's all for a good cause, eh?

Then back to the Noel Butlin Archives.....didn't really find anything although I would like to go back and spend more time on a couple of the boxes, now I have the lie of the land, so to speak....

Raced out the airport only to discover the flight had been delayed...poop!

Finally on board an hour later.

The sun started to set...

Up we went over the sheep plains...

Up into the  clouds

And finally home to Brisvegas.

I'm knackered!

Sunday, March 29, 2015


Can you guess where I am? old home town for the 14th Australasian Congress on Genealogy and Heraldry.

It's a bit chillier than Brisbane...but nicely so.

Yesterday I attended 7 sessions.

Josh Taylor was first up with a keynote address. Josh is the President of the Federation of Genealogical Societies and the Data Strategy Manager US and Canada for findmypast.  What an engaging speaker he is. He spoke about how to engage 21sters in family history. The answer? Share your stories. Make it social.

Next session was with Carole Riley about following the gold. I suspect that my ancestors were at the diggings in some capacity...either digging or profiteering from those who were digging.I learned the importance of investigating place names and going wider in your research rather than just your direct ancestors.

Cora Num's session on workplace choices was pre-recorded due to last minute misfortune and Cora's inability to attend in person. What a great session! It was the first time I had seen Cora in action and I love her sense of humour and generosity of spirit. Interestingly her session ended with the word SHARE too.

David Rencher Genealogical Officer for FamilySearch at the Family History Dept of the LDS Church spoke about Irish census and census substitutes. Wow! Have I got an enormous list of leads to follow up! David's takeaway line was "each record will take you to another."

Richard Reid's keynote session "If you ever go across the sea to Ireland" gave us an insight into the profile of Irish emigrants and some great tips for useful references in Irish research.

John Blackwood President of the Genealogical Society of Victoria spoke about separation and divorce in Scotland in 17th to 19th centuries. It was a fascinating overview of the social/cultural and religious conventions of the time with some useful references to English conventions to highlight the differences.

Last but not least the effervescent Helen Smith spoke about Friendly Societies. I was so interested in this area as I discovered through Trove that my great grandfather was actively involved in the International Order of Oddfellows. Helen introduced us to some of the terminology used in the different societies eg trees, groves, lodges. She also put them into historical context for us and gave us hints as to where we might find their records.

Jill Ball spoke at Speakers Corner about the benefits of blogging and gave me a set of blogger beads. Thank you Jill! I caught up with lots of fellow bloggers and society members. All in all a fab day and our hosts HAGSOC should be very proud.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

National Archives of Australia preparation and findings

display case at RSL Museum Redcliffe featuring rifle and hat propped in bed of sand with bullets in front of cross
RSL Museum Redcliffe

It's been another busy week at work preparing for the WWI commemorations; working on digital presentations to go with physical display items.  This is a photo of one of the displays at the Redcliffe RSL Museum which is worth a visit. You can have a cup of coffee or lunch afterwards at The Point - which just opened recently; all very swish.  The photos on their website/Facebook page don't really do it justice.  Go and see it for yourself.

Today I have been preparing to attend Congress next week and have just ordered some items to view in the National Archives Reading Room in Canberra. In the process I created a template for a form which I have called National Archives of Australia Advance Records Request.  It's for when you are requesting multiple items. Probably someone has already created this template but if you think you might use it in future you can download it here.  I've shared it on Dropbox.  I'm not the world's most advanced Excel user so if you think you can improve it, please go right ahead.  If you want to view items at the NAA while you are at Congress, you really need to get onto this NOW as they do like 5 working days notice.

Photo of printed files from National Archives of Australia
Printed files from NAA

And so today I wanted to report on the files I recently acquired from the National Archives with regard to the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation.

I ordered the following on 18 January this year:

Barcode number: 401104
Series number: M274
Control symbol: 13
Item title: Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation Aircraft Engine Factory, Lidcombe
Access status: Open

Barcode number: 3305912
Series number: MP959/57
Control symbol: 280/F/653
Item title: Future of the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation Engine Factory Lidcombe

Access status: Open
Barcode number: 3305999
Series number: MP959/57
Control symbol: 280/L/721
Item title: Representation on behalf of retrenched employees at Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation Lidcombe for payment for Long Service Leave

Access status: Open

NAA replied 4 February (10 working day turnaround which I think is very good) advising me that I could view the records in the North Melbourne reading room or order electronic or printed copies.  I ordered electronic copies at a cost of $62.70 the next day.  Printed would have cost me $89.70.  

I received the links to view them 17 March (approximately 6 week turnaround) which I guess is how long it takes to digitize 58 pages.  I'm just one of many family historians badgering poor Archives I suppose.

Now that I've ordered them, you can view them for yourself at the hotlinks indicated above.  That's my contribution to the unveiling of Australian history.  You're most welcome.

A search of the National Archives of Australia for "Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation" gives 501 results.  I confess that I haven't searched all of these results properly.  Maybe about 300 or so results.  It all takes time.

The Archives are spread across Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney repositories.  

You could search by the term "CAC" which is how many people refer to it.  That produces 382 results.  However, there is the risk that it could be confused with the Civil Aliens Corporation (now there's a whole other interesting story) or indeed the Commonwealth Archives Committee.

I was really interested in the Lidcombe Engine Factory because that was where my grandfather worked from 1942 to 1956 to the best of my knowledge.

The search term "CAC Lidcombe" produces 23 results.

The search term "Lidcombe engine" produces 70 results.

The search term "Lidcombe engine factory" produces 61 results.

You can see where the time goes.

Anyway so what did the files I ordered reveal?

You might remember from a previous blog post that I found a photo of my grandfather with some fellow chess players including a W.R. Pye.

There's the signature on the back. Well I have to assume it's a signature.  I have no way of knowing who wrote the name.  

I ordered some of the files from the National Archives because in the item record it says that they feature representations by Mr R W Pye.  I thought that was too close to be a coincidence.  I hoped to compare signatures on documents or something like that.

Now let's look at the signature on the correspondence to Archives in the item with Barcode number: 3305912.

Sigh.  What do you think this looks like?  Could it be a RW Pye?  The more I look at it the more I think it says R.D. Pye.  

A search of Ancestry found a William Robert Pye at Cabramatta described as a sheet-metal worker and if you check him on Trove he seems to win the problem solving competitions in the Sunday Herald on a regular basis.  So I think that's the person that my grandfather knew through chess.  WR Pye of course could also have worked at C.A.C. as a sheet metal worker.

A search of an R.D. Pye on Trove find a chap who hails from Rabaul originally and who studied Industrial Management at Technical college.  

I think we have two different people. Oh well.  

Back to the files!

Barcode number: 401104 or PDF
Series number: M274
Control symbol: 13
Item title: Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation Aircraft Engine Factory, Lidcombe

Warning:  This file doesn't print out very well from the PDF.  The paper is very dark and you might want to try adjusting the print quality if you can.  

68 pages in length.

This file basically contains the report by Mr E. J. L. Gibson -the Engineer in charge of construction of the Aircraft Engine Factory at Lidcombe which suggests the procedure to be adopted with regard to the building program.  

If you wanted to get an insight into what it took to set up an aircraft engine factory in the 1940s, this has all the detail you need.  

It was suggested that the procedure used to build the G.M.H. Plant at Pagewood be followed, to the extent that it was recommended that Mr. J.E.R. Doig - Chief Architectural Draughtsman of the Pagewood Plant and Miss L. Loftus, Secretary at G.M.H. also be employed because of their previous experience.  Furthermore "it is strongly recommended that, in general, the Contractors, sub-contractors and suppliers of material employed by G.M.H. Ltd at Pagewood by employed on the Lidcombe works without further reference."

From Zero Hour, the factory was expected to be completed in 24 weeks according to the Time Schedule.  The preliminary estimate of costs was £151,760 of which £77, 480 was for the engine factory, £16,570 for a club house building (including servery, cloakrooms, washrooms and shower rooms for 450 men) and £2,000 for a gate-house building including employment office.  The engine test house, where my grandfather worked was allocated £15,000 and was calculated to be 2, 600 square feet in area.

For someone who is employed now in estimates on a construction site, this might provide amusing reading.  For example, the cost of wiring all telephone connections was estimated at £100, £500 for timekeeping equipment and £300 for a bicycle shed.

There is an analysis of tenders for the structural steel contract.  Tenders were received from Bernard Smith Pty Ltd, Sydney Steel Co, Morris & Co, Hurll & Douglas and C.E. Goodwin.

Then follows a list of machine tools and equipment for the twin row factory not yet delivered and a list of machine tools and equipment on loan from Hastings Deering and Broken Hill Pty Ltd. Then follows a list of £316,082 worth of equipment shipped from R.W. Cameron & Co. as at 4 October 1940.

Then a breakdown of "S" orders.  I assume "S" in this instance means suppliers.  Once again if you wanted an idea of which companies supplied aircraft manufacture this gives you a great overview.  We're talking lathes, grinders, drills, patterns, gears.  So not my thing.  But an insight nevertheless.

Barcode number: 3305912 or PDF
Series number: MP959/57
Control symbol: 280/F/653
Item title: Future of the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation Engine Factory Lidcombe
Access status: Open

Warning : there are the usual duplicates to be found in Archival documents so just check before you print that you only print the pages you need!

42 pages

This file features correspondence between a Mr R.D. Pye of 17 Squire Street Ryde to The Hon. Howard Beale, then Minister for Supply from November 1956 until April 1957.

"Howard Beale" by Australian News Information Bureau - National Library of Australia. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons -

Mr Pye does not reveal what position he held at C.A.C. He just says that he was employed there for 16 years and "held staff positions of responsibility."

It is difficult to summarise all the points he raises but chiefly he is concerned with what he perceived to be the lack of proper planning which led to not only swift and unexpected retrenchments but also many people leaving as a result of the instability.  Here are some quotes to give you a flavour of the three page letter:

"One of the greatest blows and most politically damaging actions was the sudden closing down of the Apprentice School.  The Management asked for £2,700 to carry on the School until the end of this month in order to permit the 1st, 2nd and 3rd year boys to complete their examinations.  This was refused and instead instructions issued to give teachers and boys one weeks notice to finish on 9/11/56."


"Mr Holt publicly state that skilled people would be easily absorbed in private industry.  He was probably right if he was thinking of people under 40.  Some highly skilled people from here are finding it very difficult indeed to find jobs - the over 40 ones.

In the unskilled class i.e. people not tradesmen, but who through long schoolig here became skilled in their own particular job, are in a situation that is more than difficult." (I think my grandfather would have been classed in this category)

(Yes, Loani - this photo is for you - read caption carefully...perhaps another angle for Julian to follow up???)


"I and my friends have been liberal all our lives and a number of us have been fighting communism in various ways.  It is galling to see smiles on the faces of communists over the actions of a liberal government and have to remain silent and red faced in the presence of labour-socialists."

There then follows correspondence between the Minister and the Acting Assistant Secretary of Aircraft Production Mr E.A. Simmell and and the Secretary of C.A.C. (Shannon?).

Salient points to note from the Minister's final correspondence to Mr Pye are:

  • 309 workers left the Lidcombe factory from January 1st to September 30th, including those employees on engine servicing who were retrenched in March and April 1956
  • retrenchment of employees on servicing work was brought about by the decision of the R.A.A.F. to discontinue allotting twin row Wasp and Merlin engines to the factory for attention.

Barcode number: 3305999 and PDF
Series number: MP959/57
Control symbol: 280/L/721
Item title: Representation on behalf of retrenched employees at Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation Lidcombe for payment for Long Service Leave

11 pages

This file includes correspondence from the C.A.C. Combined Unions Shop Committee (A.D. Roberts) and The Secretary of the Amalgamated Engineering Union (J.D. Garland) to Mr Howard Beale, Minister for Defence Production from 3 July 1957 to September 1957.

Both unions wrote to the Minister regarding the delay in payment of long service leave to ex-employees of the plant who had been retrenched.  

The issue was resolved to the satisfaction of both unions.

There is mention of a court case which seemed to delay the process W.N. Haylor against T.A. Robinson & Sons Pty Ltd.  I'm not sure if that is worth following up or not.  

The letter from the CAC Combined Unions shop committee refers to:

"200 employees who were dismissed last October as a result of your Governments reorganiation of the military aircraft industry."

So - what have I gained?  Well some insight into what was going on for my grandfather during his working life at C.A.C.  I still haven't found official documents that confirm his employment there.  I'm not sure if I ever will but I will keep hunting.


Commonwealth Electoral Roll, 1930, District Parramatta, Subdivision Liverpool, Bankstown, p. 68, 4008, Pye, William Robert Australia, Electoral Rolls, 1903-1980 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2010

"CHESS." The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954) 13 Jun 1950: 12. Web. 21 Mar 2015 <>

"CHESS." The Sunday Herald (Sydney, NSW : 1949 - 1953) 18 Jun 1950: 12 Supplement: Features. Web. 21 Mar 2015 <>

"CHESS." The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954) 25 Sep 1951: 12. Web. 21 Mar 2015 <>.tle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate (NSW : 1876 - 1954) 1 Jan 1953: 4. Web. 21 Mar 2015 <>.

"DEPT. OF INDUSTRIAL MANAGEMENT." The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954) 7 Jan 1946: 7. Web. 21 Mar 2015 <>

"Speaking Personally." Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate (NSW : 1876 - 1954) 1 Jan 1953: 4. Web. 21 Mar 2015 <>.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Brown paper parcels

Tee hee!  I can almost smell the Congress now!  Networking cards have arrived from Vistaprint.  

And whilst they didn't arrive in brown paper parcels, the links to my requested files arrived from the National Archives this week.

They proved very interesting reading but I need the weekend to digest them and work out how best to present the information.  

There was no mention of my grandfather but it is definitely around the time he was retrenched from C.A.C.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Resolution check

8 bells in a display case at Port Arthur
Bells at Port Arthur

Aren't these nice bells?  What do you call a group of bells I wonder?  One website suggests a peal.  The bells are apropos of nothing.  I just think it is important to have pictures in blog posts to arouse interest.  

Here's a photo of the didactic that is on the display case in case you want to find out more about them thar bells...

"Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee" John Dunne. Indeed.  

And so I look at what I have achieved as we hurtle towards the end of the first quarter of the year.

These were my New Year's Resolutions:

  1. Review magazines/books on my blog.
  2. Go on more genea-adventures
  3. Publish a journal article or equivalent.
  4. Participate properly in a Google Hangout.
  5. Listen to Genies Down Under podcasts.
  6. Catch up on Gene TV shows.
  7. Report on study I have undertaken

Well I have participated in 2 Google Hangouts now - here and here - I don't know whether I participated properly but they were better efforts than previously.  At least this time I seemed to be able to provide audio occasionally.

I'm about to go on a genea-adventure - i.e. Congress in Canberra at the end of the month so that just scrapes in.

I think I'd better report on study undertaken through UTAS over Xmas/New Year on this post.

Right - so, despite having "done" family history for probably 30 years, I firmly believe that you can always learn more so I signed up for the free (if you were an Australian citizen and applied for a HECS Waiver) Introduction to Family History course offered by UTAS over the Xmas break.  

There were plenty of students in the course who had not studied since forever - and that was perfectly fine - but it did make for a lot of angst at the beginning as people found their feet and dealt with new technology and "virtual" learning and all that entails.  This was my fifth online course so I was pretty relaxed but also amused that no matter how many online courses you do, it's always a challenge to navigate your way round a new platform.  So, my advice is, if you are considering online learning and haven't studied for a while, go for it.  Just be prepared to face some hurdles/challenges in the first few weeks but don't give up - persist!

I think UTAS must have been blown away by how many students signed up for the course.  It was very popular indeed.  I reckon there were over 500 students and that made for a lot of unread messages on the forums.  I think I finished the course with distinction but still had 10,000 unread messages on the course website.  That didn't mean I didn't keep up with course content but it gives you an idea of the volume that UTAS were dealing with over the period.

The course went for 9 weeks.  It started 8 December and finished 13 February.  
Topics covered included: 

  • Oral History
  • Planning Your Research
  • Conducting Your Research
  • Problem Solving
  • Presenting Your Research and 
  • Becoming an independent researcher

Assessment items included an oral history interview, a research plan and a research report as well as participation in the discussions online.

I was so pleased we had to do an oral history interview.  

Oral history interviews are something that you always mean to do but never get round to doing.  I think there is a certain coyness about doing them.  Perhaps because you wonder if the person you ask to interview thinks "Sheesh!  Do I look like I'm about to drop off the perch?"  It's a delicate affair.  And then, depending on who you want to interview, there are all the other things that go with that.  I wanted to interview my father or my husband's aunt.  But I really wanted to interview my father.  But there's a whole heap of baggage that goes with that too.  I am a daughter.  It doesn't matter how old you are, you're still a daughter.  There are questions you can ask and questions you can't or won't.  It's about respect in the end I suppose.

We also had to find a mutually convenient time to talk.  Don't think for a minute that retired folk have all the time in the world.  They're busy people too.  We settled on 6:45am my time/7:45am his time for a convenient time.  Obviously this interview was long distance which brought it's own challenges.  At first I thought we would do it on Skype but he baulked at that.  Not that he's not au fait with technology - he often outstrips me in this regard - but he wasn't happy with it.  

So we did the interview by phone which I actually think worked better.  I wasn't distracted by the visuals and nor was he.  We could focus on what was being said.  I put my mobile  on speaker phone and recorded the interview on an Olympus Digital Voice Recorder WS-831 which came with a USB interface for easy transfer to my PC.  The interview was not too long - 15 minutes all up but I can safely say that I got some "gold".  I'm sure we're all guilty of "hearing" our parents talk but not really "listening" to what they say.  I swear he told me stuff in that 15 minutes that I haven't heard before.  Anyways, I don't think the experience was too painful for him and hopefully we can do it again soon.

Next came planning the research.  Oh boy!  I'm a frog remember so this was an exercise in staying focused and persisting with a line of enquiry.  

My goal was to find out more about my grandfather's working life.  I thought he might have worked for De Havilland.  He was profoundly deaf when I knew him and I thought it might have been as a result of working closely with the manufacture of aircraft engines during the war.  At least that's what I remember my mother telling me.  

I blundered about trying to find what sources might be able to help me.  I got so confused that in the end I used a mind mapping tool called Coggle.  I have never been into mind mapping before but this was an absolute lifesaver and really helped me structure my thoughts and approach.

Here is my mind map.

I hope it makes some sort of sense to you.


Next was the Research Report.  Much of the material that I ordered from Archives didn't arrive in time (I'm still waiting for it).  As luck would have it, much of what I needed was right here at home.  My mother was an assiduous correspondent with her father (remember he was deaf).  So I have in my possession their correspondence from before she was married right up until just before he died.  At the eleventh hour I discovered a letter from him to her and a statement (possibly for worker's compensation purposes) outlining his position at the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation and the incident that caused the deafness.  This was truly a light-bulb moment for me.  I love ferreting around in Archives and Newspapers and the like but the reality was that critical information was right here at home.  I still need to back up this information with other sources but I really have to say that if I hadn't done this course I may not have found this information.

So all in all - well worth it and kudos to the teachers who made it happen!

This is my final report in case you would like to read it:

Research Aim

·         Where did Thomas McLoughlin work?
·         Who was his employer?
·         What was his position?
·         What was it like working where he worked?
·        Was his deafness the result of an industrial accident?

Biographical Report – 

Thomas Joseph Benedict McLoughlin

In order to discover more about Tom McLoughlin’s working life, several types of sources were explored, including electoral rolls, birth and marriage certificates, newspapers and family papers.  Questions were also posted to social media forums, correspondence was conducted with family members and organisations such as museums and historical societies were investigated.  Published histories and journal articles were also scanned for more information.


The following photograph features Tom posing with other work colleagues around an engine.

The back of the photo is dated March 1946 and has the signatures presumably of everyone in the photo.

Family lore indicated that Tom may have worked for De Havilland. The photo was posted to the de Havilland Aircraft Heritage Centre aka Mosquito Aircraft Museum Facebook page and produced some really interesting feedback, particularly the following:

It is definitely a Pratt and Whitney R-1830 built under licence in Australia by Commonwealth Aircraft (CAC) at their engine factory on Birnie Avenue Lidcombe NSW Australia. If my Guess is right this photo was taken in front of the engine test cells at the De Havilland engine factory across the road from CAC on Burnie avenue.
                                                Stuart Armytank

Unfortunately, not knowing Stuart Armytank’s credentials or background made it difficult to be confident of the veracity of the information.

Electoral Rolls and Certificates

Electoral rolls and certificates were studied again to confirm Tom’s occupational status. 

Tom married Kit or Katherine Forfar at the age of 36 in 1934. Tom’s usual occupation was listed as clerk.  A year later, Tom and Kit registered the birth of their only child, Barbara.    Again, Thomas’ occupation was listed as Clerk. 

The 1949 electoral roll shows as an “aero eng. ex.”  This description continues h up to and including 1968 electoral rolls.

Archives, Museums and Websites

The BeaufortRestoration website provided images of the Lidcombe Engine Plant and a twin row Wasp radial engine which looked like a match for the one in Tom McLoughlin’s photo.

Tom’s Mobilization Attestation Form was most useful because it gave evidence of employment. Tom described himself as an” Asst. Ammunition Inspector”. 

Files in the National Archives confirmed that in 1940, the United Aircraft Corporation of U.S.A. granted The Commonwealth Aircraft Company licence to manufacture twin row Wasp series “C” engines and spare parts.    They also confirmed that the Army Inspection Branch had taken over offices at 149 Castlereagh Street as per Tom’s identity card.  An impression of office space at the time was able to be obtained via images from the State Library of NSW on Trove.

A film from the Australian War Memorial’s website produced circa 1940 gave an overview of the manufacture of a Pratt and Whitney engine, although it was at the C.A.C. factory at Fisherman’s Bend in Melbourne.

Published Histories, Journal Articles and Newspaper Accounts

Newspaper advertisements for work at the Commonwealth Aircraft Co. provided an insight into working conditions, enticing prospective employees with promises of air-conditioning, proximity to the train and access to “the finest collection of machine tools” and training.  

Working as an aero engine examiner would have had its drawbacks though.  

Here is a description of what it was like to work in similar factories during WW1 according to Heald:

‘the great wall of noise -- the crashing, tearing, rattling whirr of machinery that seems to rise and confront one like a tangible substance.'

Brian Hill’s Wirraway to Hornet provided another photo of a P & W R.1830 Twin Wasp engine produced by C.A.C. at Lidcombe which matched the original photo in Tom’s collection.  Whilst the history had some great information in it, including photographs, appendices and an index, referencing of sources was limited to an acknowledgement of access to files at Hawker de Havilland in Victoria in the preface and held by an individual called Dennis Baker. 

Dennis Baker’s holding of C.A.C. Archives was further confirmed in a recent ABC Radio Program Canvas Wings.

Family Papers

The most helpful of all sources, however, were family papers including Tom’s identity card, Barbara’s letters to her father and consultation with other family members.  It was through these that references to both the Tax Office and C.A.C. were confirmed. 

Correspondence from Barbara to her father in the 1960s indicates previous employers as the Tax Office and C.A.C.

Correspondence in 1975 unearthed a letter from Tom which referred to a compensation claim, followed by a statement of the circumstances that led to his hearing loss. 

In October 1948 I was employed as an Inspector in the Test House at the Commonwealth Aircraft Factory at Lidcombe.  I had been employed there since 1942.  In the third week of October an engine was being tested and at the stage where we were assimilating altitude (about 40,000 ft) an explosion occurred in the intake of the engine which caused a screaming noise in the test room as the air rushed back into the engine after which I suffered an attack of nausia (sic).  When the engine had been "pulled down" it was discovered that the throttle had been bent into a letter "S" from a straight. 

These letters were not meant for publication and the statement is a form of aide memoir.   Tom’s deafness made the letters a vital form of communication – much the same way the telephone or SMS is used today. 


Family history research takes time and needs to be planned and tracked assiduously to ensure all sources are considered and discovered.

Family papers are an invaluable source of information regarding facts that might not be easily obtained from other sources, if at all.  Business records can be jettisoned without thought for posterity as described in a recent interview with Denis Baker on ABC Radio’s Canvas Wings program.

Further questions to be explored are whether there exist any records of Tom’s claim for compensation and to confirm his membership of the ASE. 

Noel Butlin Archives at ANU in Canberra has supplied an itemised list of the records of the NSW Branch of the Australasian Society of Engineers records 1906-1990. However a copying service is not available so a researcher will have to be employed or the Archives visited in person.

Key Sources

Primary Sources: Australia, Electoral Rolls, 1903-1980 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2010.(HTTP:// accessed 1 February 2015), entry for Thomas  McLoughlin ; citing 1949, District Parkes, Subdivision Summer Hill No. 3889 on page 66 Australia, Electoral Rolls, 1903-1980 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2010. .(HTTP:// accessed 1 February 2015), entry for Thomas  McLoughlin ; citing 1968, District Parkes, Subdivision Summer Hill No. 1019 on page 33

Conner, B.H. (Blakehurst, NSW) to “Dear Dad” [Thomas Joseph Benedict McLoughlin], letter, 26 March 1961; Daw Family Papers, 1959-, privately held by Alex Daw, Chapel Hill, Queensland 2015

Conner, J.R. Sydney to Alex Daw, e-mail, 18 January 2015 , “Tom McLoughlin”, McLoughlin file; privately held by Alex Daw, Chapel Hill, Queensland, 2015

Hood, Sam, The office area, Oddfellows' Building (for Building Publishing Co), Hood Collection part I : Sydney streets, buildings, people, activities and events, c.1925-1955, State Library of NSW

McLoughlin, T.J.B., photograph, March 1946; digital image 2015, privately held by Alex Daw, Chapel Hill, Queensland, 2015.

McLoughlin, T.J.B., identity card, April 1942, privately held by Alex Daw, Chapel Hill, Queensland, 2015.

McLoughlin, T.J.B., (Summer Hill, NSW) TO  “Dear Barbara, Jim & Alex” [Barbara, Jim and Alex Conner], letter, 27 February 1975; Daw Family Papers, 1959-, privately held by Alex Daw, Chapel Hill, Queensland 2015

McLoughlin, T.J.B., statement regarding employment and accident at C.A.C., located in 1975 correspondence to daughter, privately held by Alex Daw, Chapel Hill, Queensland, 2015.

Malcolm, George D., Australia has wings, A Department of Information film made by the Commonwealth Film Laboratory for the National Film Council of the Motion Picture Industry, 1940-1941 accessed 8 February 2015

National Archives of Australia: 2 Echelon, Army Headquarters; B884 Citizen Military Forces Personnel Dossiers, 1939-1947; N468311MCLOUGHLIN THOMAS JOSEPH BENEDICT : Service Number - N468311 : Date of birth - 07 Jul 1898 : Place of birth - BATHURST NSW : Place of enlistment - NSW : Next of Kin - MCLOUGHLIN KATHERINE 1939 – 1948

National Archives of Australia: Defence Estate Organisation, Sydney West Regional Centre; sp16/4; Property files for sites in NSW hired or acquired for the Department of Defence during World War II, 01 Jan 1940 - 31 Dec 1948];771 Hire of Room 4, 6th Floor, Grand United Building, 149 Castlereagh Street Sydney by the Australian Military Forces. Property owned by the Grand United Order of Oddfellows and required as office accommodation by the Army Inspection Branch

National Archives of Australia: Department of Defence [III], Central Office; MP450/1; Development of the manufacture of aircraft engines in Australia and matters associated therewith -[Notation by DAP, 16 August 1943, on twin row Wasp engine production, Lidcombe] 1943-1943

NSW Marriage Certificate 1934/14009 Waverley Municipality Thomas Joseph Benedict Mcloughlin and Katherine Helen Forfar

NSW Birth Certificate 1935/3647 Drummoyne Municipality Barbara Helen McLoughlin

1940 'Advertising.', The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), 23 November, p. 12, viewed 1 February, 2015,

Secondary Sources :

Heald , H. For England's Sake. History Today [serial online]. October 2014;64(10):28-35. Available from: Australia/New Zealand Reference Centre, Ipswich, MA. Accessed February 1, 2015.

Hill, B. , Wirraway to Hornet: A History of the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation Pty Ltd 1936 to 1985 (Melbourne, 1998)
accessed 8 February 2015

Not Determined