James Marshall MacDonald

What can I say about a man, born in 1891 in the small town of Bundaberg Queensland, who started school in the tiny community of Mt Perry, who went through childhood in Bundaberg and through his teenage years in Toowoomba. What can I say about a man who joined the Queensland Ambulance Transport Brigade at a young age, who joined the 14th Australian Light Horse (QMI) probably in his late teens or early 20’s, and after moving to Brisbane was again associated with the QATB as an ambulance bearer. What can I say about a man who failed to hesitate to enlist when WW1 was declared, who enlisted so quickly that he received the military service number of 19, a number that was 4 less than his own age of 23.

Awarded the DCM - Corporal J MacDonald -002 What can I say about a man who was assigned to the Australian Army Medical Corps attached to the 2nd Light Horse Australian Imperial Force, and sent overseas almost immediately. What can I say about a man who left his fiancée at home, telling her he’d be home before Christmas and that all the fuss would be over and done with before they even got there.  What can I say about a man who saw action at Quinn’s Post, who was wounded in the line of duty at Gallipoli, not once but twice, and carried with him the shrapnel for the rest of his life, a man who was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for “Conspicuous gallantry on several occasions notably when he dressed wounded men during heavy bombardment“, a medal regarded as second only to the Victoria Cross in prestige. What can I say about a man who continued to do his duty, his calling, and was awarded the Mention in Dispatches, not once, but twice, and a man who was regarded with some affection if the diary of the battalion priest was interpreted correctly.

What can I say about a man, who on returning home married his sweetheart, the girl he had left behind some 5 years before, the girl who had waited for his return. What can I say about a man who very quickly became the Officer in Charge of Sandgate Ambulance Station, who raised funds for new equipment and vehicles, who delivered babies in the back of the ambulance while transporting the mother’s to hospital, and who remained on duty 24 hours a day 7 days a week for many years. What can I say about a man who even when playing lawn bowls at the club next door, would leave the green mid-set to go and attend to those in medical need. who held the position of Club President and Treasurer at different stages, and who was awarded Life membership and honoured with a Perpetual Shield Trophy. What can I say about a man who retired from the QATB after 50 years of service.

What can I say about a man who was a devoted husband and father, and who would not apply for transfers or promotions if they would have meant interrupting his children’s schooling. What can I say about a man who was a grandfather and great grandfather, who just loved to jog upon his knee a new great grandchild.

What can I say about a man who died aged 85 in 1976 in Brisbane, and whose wishes were that his ashes were scattered with no permanent marker to be placed.

All I can say, is that he is my great grandfather, and I am proud of him.

James Marshall MacDonald 1891-1976

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Samuel Whitehead

Samuel Whitehead, seventh child and third son of William Whitehead and Marianne Carter, was born in June of 1853 in the town of Finchingfield in Essex England.

Although it is recorded on the 1861 census that Samuel was a scholar, he signed his marriage register with his mark and also signed as witness the marriage registers of two of his children, using his mark each time. As a farm labourer and horseman, he would have worked hard, and is recorded in later life as a Retired Parish Bailiff, although it is not known how long he held that position for, or in what exact capacity.

Samuel died in September 1934 in the home of his son in Bournemouth, and was buried in North Cemetery in a grave that is now unmarked.

Samuel Whitehead 1853-1934
My Great Grandfather

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WW1 Missing in Action DNA Legacy Project

Family Tree DNA has a project called “WW1 Missing-in-Action DNA Legacy Project” which is hoping to serve both as a commemorative project, and as a potential source of DNA for those who fell in action and whose final resting place is unknown.

The project Description reads:

The 28th July 1914 marks the start of The Great War – World War One. It lasted for four years, three months, and two weeks, claiming the lives of over 9 million soldiers. Many of those killed still lie on the battlefields of the Western Front. From the UK alone, it is estimated that the remains of 500,000 soldiers have never been recovered and are buried there to this day. The remains of these missing soldiers are occasionally uncovered during road building or farming activity, and it is possible in many cases to identify these remains using traditional identification methodology. Occasionally DNA has been successfully extracted and can prove useful in identifying remains. However, DNA testing does not form a routine part of the investigation process and there is no systematic policy of collecting DNA samples from those remains that cannot be identified by traditional means.

This project serves several chief objectives:

  1. to serve as a “Legacy Project” so that those whose relatives are among the missing can leave a “genetic remembrance” to the service of their relative
  2. to allow relatives of the missing to leave their DNA in a public database in case it may prove useful in the future for identification purposes – these relatives will share some of their DNA with the missing soldiers
  3. to support the adoption into official policy of DNA testing when other methods of identification have failed
 My own relatives are listed on my Missing in Action page.

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William James Mabley

For one family in Bewick Street, South Shields, in Durham England, Thursday October 16th 1924 would become a day of sadness and ongoing remembrance. William James Mabley, aged 58, a coal merchant, died of Lobar Pneumonia and Heart Failure (1). William was survived by his wife Florence Mary (nee Barnes), his newly married daughter Florence (now Mrs Thomas Wood), daughters Caroline, Olive, Dorothy, and Edna, and sons William (from his first wife Hannah), Sydney & William. He was pre-deceased by his first wife Hannah (nee Forester) and their second son Henry, by his parents William Mabley & Elizabeth (nee Hins), and two children from his marriage to Florence, George & Audrey.

Although recorded as a coal merchant at the time of his death, William had worked since a teenager as a Lath Render (2, 3, 4), and in later years as both a Lath Render & Builders Merchant (5). He is also recorded as being an Employer (4, 5), indicating he may have owned or managed a business. Probate records indicate that he left effects valued at over £4,000. (6)

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William James Mabley
born about 1866 Woburn Sands, Buckinghamshire, England
died 16 October 1924, South Shields, Durham, England
My Great Grandfather

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There are two definitions of a Lath Render, which is the more accurate for William’s line of work is unknown.
Lath Render: Someone who rends/rives (i.e splits) wood to form laths. (7)
Lath Render: Someone who worked in building industry, as a plaster’s assistant, applying the first layer of plaster to the lath. Laths were used mostly for interior walls and ceilings. They were strips of wood which were nailed to the wall studs, which allowed the plaster to be applied more effectively. (8)

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1) England and Wales, death certificate for William James Mabley, died 16 October 1924; citing 10a/773/444, December quarter 1924, South Shields registration district, South Shields Second sub-district; General Register Office, Southport.
2) 1881 census of England, Bedfordshire, Woburn, folio 16, page 26, William Mabley; PRO RG 11/1637
3) 1891 census of England, Durham, Westoe, South Shields, folio 142, page 43, William J Mabley; PRO RG 12/4160
4) 1901 census of England, Durham, South Shields, folio 70, page 25, William Mabley; PRO RG 13/4731.
5) 1911 census of England, Durham, RG 78 PN 1745B, RG 14 PN 30336, registration district (RD) 556, sub district (SD) 1, enumeration district (ED) 77, schedule number (SN) 345, 17 Bewick Street South Shields, William James Mabley.
6) Ancestry.com, England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966 (Ancestry.com Operations Inc)
7) Michael & Janet Wood, Obscure Old English Census Occupations (http://www.worldthroughthelens.com/family-history/old-occupations.php : accessed 27 Aug 2013), http://rmhh.co.uk/occup/l.html.
8) Family Tree Service, Family Tree Service Census Occupations (http://www.familytreeservice.co.uk/census%20occupations.html : accessed 12 Jul 2014), http://www.familytreeservice.co.uk/census-occupations-l-Lath-Render.html

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Did he come before, or did he follow later?

On 25 December 1885, the Parramatta made port in Sydney New South Wales, Australia. On board were a crew of 55, passengers numbering 59, (1) and a general cargo valued at £20,900 (2). Among the passengers there is a family listed: Fanny Holden and her children Harry, Fanny, Ellen K, Ethel, May, and Howard. But, there is a notable absence from this list. Where is Fanny’s husband, and the father of the children? Where is Henry Howard Holden?

The voyage was described in the Evening News (3) newspaper on 26 December 1885 as

Captain Goddard of the well-known trader Parramatta, which arrived yesterday morning from Plymouth, September 19, reports passing Madeira on the ninth day out, and carried brisk north-east trades to latitude 18deg north, fifteen days out. Thence to the Equator light baffling winds prevailed. Crossed the line on October 21, thirty two days from Plymouth. With moderate winds and very fine weather the meridian of the Cape of Good Hope was passed on November 14, fifty-six days out, and an extremely pleasant run of twenty-four days was had along the parallel of 40deg south to longitude 123deg east. Thence to the end of the passage nothing but light and contrary winds were experienced. On Monday, December 11; when in 40deg south, and 131deg east the wind set in at north-east, taking the ship south of Tasmania. On the south coast had extremely fine weather, but wind almost calm. Passed Cape Pillar on the 19th; the wind and weather on the east coast have been very unsettled and warm. On the 24th at 5 a.m. when off the Dromedary, a southerly set in which took the ship to the Heads. The vessel brings a large number of passengers, and comes into port in her usual good order. Two passengers died of consumption. Mr. A. G. Mickley on October 7, and Mr. John Spicer on December 12. The voyage with this exception, has been a very pleasant and social one, and the passengers speak in high terms of the kindness and courtesy shown to them by Captain Goddard and his officers.

After a voyage of just over 3 months with children aged 11, 9, 8, 4, 3 and 18 months, spending Christmas Day on board ship but in sight of the new country, probably knowing no-one in the unfamiliar town before her, probably not knowing where her husband was, knowing that two men had died of a potentially contagious illness while on the voyage, what sort of thoughts and feelings would Fanny have had as the new year approached.

Why did her husband Henry not travel with her? Did he come ahead to find work, find a home, and establish connections with others who could guide them in this new country? Did he stay in England to finalise matters there and follow at a later time, hoping that his wife and children would be able to find themselves a home at least in New South Wales?

Henry Howard Holden, when and how did you arrive in Australia?

(1) Mariners & ships in Australian Waters, PARRAMATTA, http://mariners.records.nsw.gov.au/1885/12/127par.htm
(2) MONETARY AND COMMERCIAL. (1885, December 26). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), p. 6. Retrieved May 21, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article13607659
(3) ALONG THE WHARVES. (1885, December 26). Evening News (Sydney, NSW : 1869 – 1931), p. 4. Retrieved May 21, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article111345173

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