Tag Archives: Australia

Epic stories of Irish Emigrants

Writing this blog has led me to keep an eye out for topics that interest me and which may be of interest to those who visit these pages. Many of my family are modern day emigrants who live in far flung places across the globe, so it has been interesting  to discover connections with Irish emigrants of earlier decades and the impact they have had on places where they ended up. So these ‘pioneers’ and ‘trailblazers’ feature on my blog from time to time as I believe they deserve to be better known at home. (See link to Irish People who made a difference page).

annie-moore

The Moore Children Statue at Cobh Co Cork, point of departure for many emigrants from these shores. Annie Moore was the first immigrant processed at Ellis Island, New York  in 1892. (Image thesilvervoice)

Last year Dublin acquired a new  21st Century  interactive visitor experience with the opening of  EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum on Custom House Quay. Dedicated to the millions who left these shores, it celebrates our diaspora in a number of virtual galleries in historic vaults on the bank of the River Liffey. The varied and complex story of the 10 million people who left Ireland over the centuries  and how they changed the world is captured here. Now tens of millions proudly claim a degree of Irish Ancestry. From Grace Kelly the Hollywood actress, to Ned Kelly the Australian outlaw; from Patrick Cleburne, Major General in the Confederate Army of the American Civil War to Admiral William Brown, father of the Argentine Navy; from the poor starving masses who left on famine coffin ships for America to the young so-called ‘Orphan’ girls who were shipped out to Australia to become domestic servants and to marry: It’s all here!

william-brown

Admiral  Brown from Foxford in Mayo, revered in Argentina as father of the Argentine Navy (Image thesilvervoice)

And they went and they made a difference, building and navyying and dying in tunnels in Scotland and England; they fought and they died in wars with Australian and other other armies; they saved lives, they brought expertise, literature, engineering, arts, religion, science,politics and  dedication to every corner of the world. The story of our emigrants is  a rich and a proud one and deserves to be well known.

img_0008EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum and the Irish Independent Newspaper have come together in an exciting project to spread the word about the Irish Emigration experience. A very impressive four part Magazine Supplement will come free with the Friday edition of the newspaper. A further  5 free copies of the magazine will be delivered to every second level school in the country where it is hoped it will be used as a learning aide by students who wish to know more about our people who changed the world.

I was delighted to be asked to contribute a short piece on Dave Gallaher, who left Ramelton in my native Donegal as a young boy and who became world famous as the captain of the first ever All Blacks Rugby team. Last weeks supplement looked at the impact of the Irish abroad.

img_0006

The cover of last week’s magazine supplement

And my piece ..img_0005

The subject of our diaspora and what became of them is dear to my heart. My son writes extensively about the Irish who moved across the Atlantic in their droves in search of better lives and of the impact of that migration on both the modern day United States and the social and financial fallout for family members who stayed behind here in Ireland. He makes the point that we Irish tend to leave the memory of our emigrants at the quayside and that we as a nation do not engage with preserving their memory or celebrating the enormous contribution they made on both sides of the Atlantic. This wonderful collaboration between Irish Independent and EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum will I hope, help change that view that we hold of those who had to leave our shores. We need to be proud of them.
forgotten-irish
References
Wikipedia.

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Filed under American Civil War, Emigration from Ireland, Ireland, Ireland and the World

The sun never sets …on Donegal places?

 

image

Sun setting over Bushland in Australia

In James Joyce’s Ulysses,Mr.Deasy asks Stephen Dedalus what an Englishman’s proudest boast is. Stephen replies:“That on his empire..the sun never sets”. The saying came to mind on a recent trip to Australia as I came across a brand new development of some 250 houses in a relatively remote area.

The phrase ‘the sun never sets’ is familiar to many. Early reference was in relation to the 16th Century Spanish Empire that had extended well beyond its own borders and included vast tracts of Europe,North Africa,the Philippines and the Americas. Francis Bacon wrote :both the East and the West Indies being met in the crown of Spain, it is come to pass, that, as one saith in a brave kind of expression, the sun never sets in the Spanish dominions, but ever shines upon one part or other of them which, to say truly, is a beam of glory”. In the 19th Century it was the British Empire on which the sun never set.

Fast forward to more recent times, we now speak of globalization, emigration, diaspora.These concepts have largely replaced the might of empire,of conquest and supremacy. We Irish have down the centuries, spread out across the globe with tens of millions now claiming Irish descent.We have become people of influence in far-flung places and communities. Historically, invaders and conquerors applied their own placenames to their new lands – for example New York, Norfolk Island, San Francisco. Nor is there anything new about places being named from areas where immigrants settled, whether they arrived there involuntarily or otherwise. New York State has an Ulster County,Pennsylvania has a Dublin and Limerick is to be found in about 10 different locations in the USA.

In Western Australia the school attended by my grandchildren is at the edge of bushland, on the outskirts of a small village nestled under the Perth Hills, about 45 kilometers north of Perth City. Here kangaroos roam in the evenings,emus wander about and parrots make their noisy presence felt. Part of the bushland near to the schoolgate has now been cleared to make way for a housing estate. Not just any housing estate,but a housing estate whose roads and streets are named after villages I know well in my native Donegal, Ireland, some 10,000 miles away! Where snakes emus, cockatoos, scorpions, ants and a huge diversity of species roamed and foraged in a rich scrubland of eucalyptus, acacia, and tussocked grasslands, there now will be Donegal Entrance,Ballybofey Loop,Fintown Street,Killybegs Street,Doochary Street,Letterkenny Road, Ardara Road,Bundoran Street,Lifford Street,and Narin Loop! (Narin I presume began life as the correctly spelled ‘Nairn’)

 

While I do wonder that indigenous and local names might be more appropriate, I can’t help but also wonder if the residents will ever know the origins of their street names and the beautiful places they represent. Will they ever know that  Fintown sits on the shores of the dark waters of Lough Finn; that the beach on Narin is one of Ireland’s most beautiful; that Killybegs is famous for its fishing fleet; that Donegal refers to an entire county in the north-west of Ireland,as well as a town,and that the town has a castle; that Ballybofey sits on the banks of the River Finn; that Doochary is derived from the Irish language and means ‘the black weir’ and that here Irish is the spoken language; that Ardara has one of the most amazing views in the world at Glengesh Pass; that Bundoran is spectacularly situated on Donegal Bay on the world famous Wild Atlantic Way; that Lifford is the county town and dates from the 16th century; that Letterkenny is County Donegal’s largest town and is perched on a series of hills and has one of Ireland’s largest Celtic Crosses?  Probably not! And in all probability too the new local pronunciation will make the street names unrecognizable to anyone from Donegal.

I am assuming that the developer has a connection with Donegal or at least with Ireland. He has ensured that the names of these Donegal beauty spots will become part of the lives of  over 200 families,and perhaps even some from those very places, some 10,000 miles away.

Is this a ‘beam of glory’ for Donegal people? Should we be proud that our global reach is such that we now influence naming of places,without having had to conquer,or intimidate,or arrive as convicts. Instead we are just settling in and settling down in places where we have actually chosen to live? Before long perhaps, the sun will never set on Donegal placenames!

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Filed under Emigration from Ireland, Ireland, Ireland and the World, Irish Australian, Irish Diaspora, Irish diaspora in Australia

ANZAC Day

On April 25th each year, Australia stands still. This is ANZAC  Day, ANZAC being  an acronym for Australia and New Zealand Army Corps. Across New Zealand and Australia tens of thousands of people will proudly remember all those countrymen who gave their lives in military service. While April 25th marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War. On this date in 1915  the ANZACs went ashore in Gallipoli, to fight the Turks. ,  the commemoration has now been broadened to recognize not only the Gallipoli fallen, but those from both nations who have served in all theatres of war. 

A feature of ANZAC day is the Dawn Service. At the State War Memorial in Kings Park ,Perth, Western Australia, a crowd of 50,000 is expected, making it the world’s and Australia’s  largest dawn event, beginning at 4.30 am. Across the nation, in small towns and capital cities a nation will remember its military as the sun rises.

Gallipoli Day is also remembered in Ireland as it is estimated that some 3,000 Irishmen lost their lives in that awful place, many of them in the 10th Irish Division fighting alongside their ANZAC comrades, according to historian Jeff Gildea  “Overall, the Irish lost more men than New Zealand at Gallipoli throughout the course of 1915,” Mr Kildea told the Irish Echo in 2010.

One of our best known and loved folk singers, the late Liam Clancy, brought the Gallipoli story to many thousands who would not otherwise have known of this awful episode.  His memorable and moving rendition of Eric Bogle’s The Band Played Waltzing Matilda can be heard by clicking on the link. A grim reminder of the awful cost of war.

It is estimated that more than 6,000 Irish-born men and women served in what was known as the Australian Imperial Force during the First World War, with about 1,000 of them dying in action or  as a result of their battle wounds.  There is no doubt but that many thousands of Irish-born have followed them since. It is appropriate that we join our ANZAC friends in remembering this day too.

On a recent visit to Australia, I visited the Queensland State Memorial at Anzac Square in Brisbane and share some of the photographs below in remembrance of them.

2014-02-19 067

Shrine of Remembrance in Brisbane’s ANZACs Square

 

Another view - with the Eternal Flame burning in the centre, the  18 pillars represent 1918 .

Another view – the 18 pillars represent 1918

 

World War 2 Memorial

World War 2 Memorial

Detail from the World war 2 Memorial

Detail from the World war 2 Memorial

Vietnam Memorial

Vietnam Memorial

My favourite memorial honours participants in the South West Pacific campaign. A Papua New Guinean helps a wounded Australian soldier descending the Kokoda Trail ….

 

..while a fresh and resolute soldier forges on into battle..

The Korea Borneo Malaya Memorial

The Korea Borneo Malaya Memorial

The Eternal Flame at ANZAC Square Brisbane

The Eternal Flame at ANZAC Square Brisbane

As WB Yeats wrote in his poem An Irish Airman Foresees His Death:

“Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,

Nor public men, nor cheering crowds,

A lonely impulse of delight

Drove to this tumult in the clouds.”

References:

http://www.irishecho.com.au/tag/gallipoli

http://www.historyireland.com/revolutionary-period-1912-23/anzac-day-irish-perspective/

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Filed under Emigration from Ireland, Ireland, Ireland and the World, Irish Australian, Irish Diaspora, Irish History

Waltzing Matilda. A tale of love and murder?

A small village in the north-west corner of Ireland, the U.S  Marines, a dead sheep, mighty battle maidens! An unlikely combination, yet they are inextricably linked in the oddest of forms – an Australian bush ‘ditty’ that has become known and recognized the world over. The ‘ditty’ is Waltzing Matilda,the unofficial National Anthem of Australia, sung very proudly on many occasions, and one of the most recorded songs worldwide.

Banjo_Paterson

Andrew Barton ‘Banjo’ Paterson

Waltzing Matilda was written by Andrew Barton Paterson, (1864–1941). Otherwise known as ”Banjo” Paterson, he was a prolific Australian poet, journalist and author.The nickname ‘Banjo’ came from one of  his favourite horses – he wrote bush poems under the pseudonym ‘The Banjo’ for some time. Banjo’s great-great grandfather was General Charles Barton of Waterfoot, near the small village of Pettigo, Co Donegal, Ireland. The Bartons were a well-to-do family with a record of military service. General Charles Barton’s son Robert, had a daughter Rose Isabella who married Andrew Paterson and Banjo was their son, the ‘Barton’ part  of his name coming from his mother’s family.

Banjo Patterson was engaged to Sarah Riley for about 8 years. On a visit to the Dagworth sheep farm in Western Queensland  in January 1895, Banjo met Sarah’s friend, Christina MacPherson. Christina introduced Banjo to the tune ‘The Craigielee March’ which was a variant of a Scottish song , and he then wrote the lyrics to Waltzing Matilda to fit the tune.

The song that is familiar to us is something like this:

”Once a jolly swagman (a travelling worker who carried his possessions in a swag, or cloth) camped by a billabong (a water hole)
Under the shade of a coolibah tree, (a type of  Eucalyptus tree)
And he sang as he watched and waited till his billy (a tin can) boiled:
“Who’ll come a-waltzing Matilda, with me?”

Waltzing Matilda, waltzing Matilda
You’ll come a-waltzing Matilda, with me
And he sang as he watched and waited till his billy boiled:
“You’ll come a-waltzing Matilda, with me.”

Down came a jumbuck (sheep) to drink at that billabong.
Up jumped the swagman and grabbed him with glee.
And he sang as he shoved that jumbuck in his tucker (food) bag:
“You’ll come a-waltzing Matilda, with me.”

Waltzing Matilda, waltzing Matilda
“You’ll come a-waltzing Matilda, with me”,
And he sang as he shoved that jumbuck in his tucker bag:
“You’ll come a-waltzing Matilda, with me.”

Up rode the squatter (land holder), mounted on his thoroughbred.
Down came the troopers (police), one, two, and three.
“Whose is that jumbuck you’ve got in your tucker bag?
You’ll come a-waltzing Matilda, with me.”

Waltzing Matilda, waltzing Matilda
“You’ll come a-waltzing Matilda, with me”,
“Whose is that jumbuck you’ve got in your tucker bag?
You’ll come a-waltzing Matilda, with me.”

Up jumped the swagman and sprang into the billabong.
“You’ll never take me alive!” said he
And his ghost may be heard as you pass by that billabong:
“Who’ll come a-waltzing Matilda, with me?”

Waltzing Matilda, waltzing Matilda
“You’ll come a-waltzing Matilda, with me”,
And his ghost may be heard as you pass by that billabong:
“Who’ll come a-waltzing Matilda, with me?”

‘Swagman’, ‘billabong’  ‘coolibah’ ‘jumbuck’ – such strange words yet they trip off our tongues the world over. ‘Waltzing Matilda’ is probably derived from the German ‘auf der walz’ which means ‘to take to the road’, while ‘Matilda’ was the name  given to female camp followers who accompanied soldiers during the Thirty Year wars in Europe. ‘Matilda’ came to mean ‘to be kept warm at night’ and later to refer to great army coats or blankets that soldiers used. These were rolled into a swag and tossed over a shoulder while marching. The meaning of ‘Waltzing Matilda’ evolved into going  walkabout with the tools of your trade.

The song ‘Waltzing Matilda’ tells the tale of a swagman and petty thief  who stole a young sheep and to avoid capture  jumped  into a billabong.  In the 1890s there was widespread industrial unrest among Australian sheep shearers,reportedly akin to civil war in some places. Having no fixed abode and  unable to vote, trade union membership  gave the shearers a voice. When improved pay rates were demanded, sheepowners  brought  non-union labour in to replace them and widespread trouble erupted, with shootings and burning of buildings. In 1894 at Dagworth Station in Queensland, sheds were burned down and sheep were burned alive. Hoffmesiter was found dead and the story was that he had committed suicide. Some months later, in January 1895, Banjo Patterson visited Dagworth Station, owned by the MacPherson family . His fiancée Sarah accompanied him – she was a close friend of Christina MacPherson.

In his book, ‘Waltzing Matilda – the secret history of Australia’s favourite song‘ author and songster Dennis O’Keeffe tells us that 20 years of research have led him to believe that Waltzing Matilda is a song with 2 stories: political comment on the Shearers strike on one hand, while  the chorus is a flirtatious reference to Christine as the pair had become romantically involved during the visit.

Waltzing_Matilda_Manuscript_-_Taken_in_National_Library_of_Australia_Gallery

Waltzing Matilda manuscript. Image Wikimedia Commons.

In this manuscript, the lyrics  have ”Matilda, my darling.” O’Keeffe says that this is a reference to Christina. Another manuscript he has inspected has the line ‘Who’ll come roving Australia with me’, and the words  ‘roving Australia’ have been crossed out and replaced with ‘waltzing Matilda’. The love affair between Banjo and Paterson, in the presence of Sarah,caused a great scandal and caused heartache and deep embarrassment to all three of them. Paterson  had to leave Dagworth in disgrace. O’Keeffe goes so far as to say that it  ‘ruined the lives’ of the two women, who never married. The scandal also caused Paterson to distance himself from the song for many years afterwards.

O’Keeffe has researched the events at the billabong on the Dagworth sheep farm and has discovered that  Hoffmeister , who was a union shearer, torched a sheep shed at Dagworth resulting in the deaths of about 150 sheep.  The following day Hoffmesister’s body was found near a billabong. He had gunshot wounds. The inquest brought in a verdict of suicide  but O’ Keeffe  thinks that he was  more than likely murdered by policemen and that  there was a cover-up.  The theory is contested, but in general there seems to be agreement that the song is a political commentary on the shearers strike at that time.

Notwithstanding the darker side of the story of Waltzing Matilda it is a rousing song  that is sung with great gusto.  The lyrics were altered in 1903 when it was used in an advertising campaign for Billy’s Tea. It was this advertising campaign that led to it becoming widely known.

Waltzing Matilda became an anthem and battle cry in  the 2nd world war . The story is told of a platoon of Australian soldiers who were pinned down by the Japanese, but in a last corageous act he Australian soldiers sand Waltzing Matilda as they charged to their deaths. After  a 6 month-long struggle against the Japanese at Guadalcanal and Tulagi, and after taking over 3,000 casualties, the 1st Division  US Marines were sent to Australia for rest and recovery. It was here that they heard ‘Waltzing Matilda’ and immediately adopted it as their marching song. To this day ‘Waltzing Matilda’ is  played as the US marines are being shipped out.

A jolly ditty, a stirring marching song, a national anthem, a tragic love story, industrial turmoil,  a political comment, a murder story or a suicide, – regardless of  its origins Banjo Patterson’s Waltzing Matilda is loved the world over and its true meaning has probably been lost in the mists of time.

References :

Waltzing Matilda – the secret history of Australia’s favourite songby Dennis O’Keeffe.

http://www.waltzing matilda.com/wmbirth.html

Wikipedia. 

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Filed under Emigration from Ireland, Ireland, Ireland and the World, Irish Australian

Ireland Calling: The Gathering 2013

In the closing days of 2012 we read that our young people are leaving this country at the rate of 200 a day, a level of emigration not experienced since the great famine. They head off to Britain, Canada, United States of America, New Zealand, many parts of Europe or as in the case of my family, to far off Australia. Although 46,500 Irish-born  left us  in the year to April 2012, these new emigrants have opportunities to stay in contact with brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, cousins parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents and friends through social media and the irreplaceable Skype.  Long ago – and indeed not so long ago – when our family members departed these shores, it was often a challenge to stay in contact; people did not have telephones, for those who did, phoning was expensive;  people either could not write or were not good at writing letters.

Today New Year’s Day, marks the beginning of The Gathering 2013, a year-long series of events celebrating our heritage, our musical and literary traditions and our sense of fun all arranged to tempt our departed kinsfolk to visit the land of their fathers.  We Irish have a natural instinct to gather, rooted perhaps in the old rural tradition of the ‘meitheal’ where neighbours came together as a team  to help with the harvest or some other major event and where firm friendships were shaped.

Spike-island-aerial

Spike Island (Cork County Council)

This afternoon, a 21 gun salute resounded out over the splendid Cork Harbour,from where countless thousands left here by choice or necessity down the ages. The 21 gun salute was heard here for the first time in almost 30 years. Spike Island in the Harbour is the site of  one of only two fixed national saluting stations in Ireland, the second being on the end of the East Pier in Dun Laoghaire, appropriately enough also at the point of departure of tens of thousands of Irish seeking better lives abroad.

The sounding of the 21 gun salute is a tribute to all the people who have left Ireland, and while it  also symbolizes a ‘caoin’ from the heart of those of us who are left behind, it is a mighty symbolic call  to Ireland’s emigrants to come home, a symbolic call that has been sent out across the oceans, across continents to all parts of the world where Irish have settled to remind them of their heritage and to come back and share in some of it .

Mouth of Cork Harbour photographed from Cobh

Mouth of Cork Harbour photographed from Cobh, from where thousands of Irish left to take up new lives.

2013 is set to be a spectacular year-long celebration.

Taragaí linn. Beidh failte roimh gach duine  in the wonderful year that is planned!

References:

Central Statistics Office 

History of the 21 Gun Salute

24 Comments

January 1, 2013 · 10:25 pm

20 Minutes of Terror: 1942 Bombing of Broome Western Australia

With the temperature gauge in the car registering 41.8 degrees C  (107 F) I recently embarked on a mission to find some specific graves in  the biggest cemetery in Western Australia, having the beautiful name of Karrakatta. Needless to say some thought I probably needed to be delivered to a home for the bewildered, venturing out on such a hot day!

Almost a quarter of a million burials and cremations have taken place at this vast graveyard at Karrakatta, so my visit required some forward planning. Having (eventually!) found the ‘target’ plots, I noticed reference to a Commonwealth War Graves section on the cemetery map  and decided to take a look as I had never been in a war graves cemetery outside of the United States of America.

The seemingly endless rows of identical grey headstones, each one representing a unique life lived then lost. (Image: Thesilvervoice)

The War Graves cemetery is dominated by a tall central ‘Cross of Sacrifice’. The manicured  lawns and  straight lines of almost 500 grey granite grave-markers are a poignant sight. When visiting any memorial, I like to read as many names as I can. Here are the tombstones of 16 WWI Veterans,  477 WW2 Veterans and 4 Veterans of the Vietnam War. Walking along the rows I became aware of a great blaze of colour off to one side of the main section. I wandered off to investigate and was truly  astonished at what I found.

I entered an enclosed area marked ‘Dutch War Cemetery’ and surmised that perhaps floral tributes had been placed to mark a day of significance to the local Dutch community. There was a number of small neat gravestones – each with a single rose, already fading – with some already displaced by the wind.  I was puzzled to see children buried here – one headstone for a child aged 1, another for a child  aged 15, the latter with a bunch of fresh flowers wrapped in a sunshine yellow  bouquet.

The Netherlands Annex to the Perth Commonwealth War Cemetery (Image Thesilvervoice)

Fresh wreaths and floral bouquets decorated with the national colours of the Netherlands.(Image Thesilvervoice)

Still puzzled, I made my way towards the formal wreaths placed  below a wall plaque..

THIS MEMORIAL IS DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY OF DUTCH REFUGEES AND CREW MEMBERS WHO PERISHED ON 3RD MARCH 1942 WHEN SEAPLANES OF THE ROYAL NETHERLANDS NAVY WERE ATTACKED AND SUNK IN BROOME HARBOUR BY JAPANESE FIGHTER AIRCRAFT.THE VICTIMS WHOSE BODIES WERE NOT RECOVERED ARE LISTED BELOW…..

I had not been aware until recently that Australia had suffered any enemy bombing during the Second World War. I was informed otherwise in a recent post in an excellent blog that I follow, entitled Family History Across the Seas. Read here. A  post in February was on the commemoration of the bombing of Darwin  in 1942 in which  about 250 people died and several hundreds were injured. Just 12 days after the bombing of  Darwin, the town of  Broome  in the northern part of the vast state of Western Australia was targeted.

Broome was then a small pearling town that had become a staging post for hundreds of refugees fleeing the advancing Japanese in Indonesia. Indonesia as we now know it, was then a Dutch Colony known as the Dutch East Indies. Singapore had fallen on 15 February and as the Japanese advanced on Java, the evacuation was hasty with little time for recording names of refugees. It is estimated that up to 8,000 arrived at Broome from Java in the two weeks before March 3rd 1942, having been brought there by planes of  the Dutch, American and Australian military as well as on civil aircraft. On one day no fewer than 57 aircraft arrived in Broome.

Many of the evacuees would have breathed a sigh of relief to have reached the safety of Broome as it was considered to be beyond the range of Japanese aircraft. Packed into flying boats, they remained on board  while being refueled  before flying south. They remained on board as there was insufficient accommodation in the tiny town to facilitate the large numbers of people passing through.On the morning of March 3 1942, there were 15 flying boats in Broome for refuelling, each one ‘packed to the brim’ with Dutch people. Just after 9 am, nine Japanese planes attacked, and within 20 minutes had destroyed every aircraft in Broome harbour as well as those on the airstrip.

The burning waters of Roebuck Bay were filled with screaming men women and  children. Many who survived the strafing drowned in the fast flowing currents, were incinerated or taken by sharks as they tried to make it to shore. It is not known precisely how many died on that day or who they were, as there were inadequate passenger lists. Also killed were passengers and crew of an American aircraft  shot down shortly after taking off. The number of victims varies between 80 and 100 but the exact number and the identity of some of them will  never be known.

Twenty-three-year-old Pilot Officer Frank Russell was aboard one of the flying boats. Soon afterwards he described, “a scene of ghastly devastation! Our flying boats all over the place were sending up huge clouds of black smoke. Burning petrol in sinister patches floated all over the sea … All around us there fell a ceaseless stream of tracer bullets. Several of the Dutch Dorniers had been full of women and kids, waiting to take off to … safety.”

The Japanese flew 97 air-raids over northern Australia during World War II. The bombing of Broome was ‘hushed up’ for some time as the authorities did not wish to cause alarm to the residents of Australia.

In Broome at very low tide, the wreckage  of the destroyed aircraft can be seen – a poignant reminder and  memorial of that terrible day.

The Dutch bodies recovered were first buried in the Broome War Cemetery but were removed and reburied in a special area in the Karrakatta cemetery in Perth in 1950. I have been unable to discover the reason for this other than Perth possibly being  more accessible for relatives who may wish to visit the graves.
Many are commemorated in Karrakatta. Those known to be buried here are :
Name Age
Sergeant Albert van Tour 35 RNN
Catharina van Tour 8 Civilian
Sergeant Johannes Gerardus van Aggelan 32 RNN
Johanna van Aggelan 32 Civilian
Luitenant ter zee Pieter Johannes Hendrikse 51 RNN
Loes Heidsieck 25 Civilian
Henri Rudolf de Sera 21 RNN
Hendrik de Bruyn 4 Civilian
Alida Brandenburg-Trumpie 30 Civilian
Jenny Hendrikse van der Putte 28 Civilian
Johannes van Tuyn 1 Civilian
Maria van Tuyn van Gelooven 28 Civilian
Elizabeth Kuin 5 Civilian
Anna Maria Dorothea Kuin Sturk 29 Civilian
Cornelius Piers 14 Civilian
Frans Piers 7 Civilian
C.G.E. Piers Morien 42 Civilian
Johanna Borsch Baas 36 Civilian
Adri Kramer 17 Civilian
Abdul Hamed bin Juden 36 Civilian (killed in raid March 20 1942 )

Another three graves are marked “Unknown Dutch lady”, and two are marked “Unknown Dutch child”.

This story struck a chord with me as it is about emigration, one of the key themes of my blog. I concentrate on the Irish diaspora and in so doing I am even more aware of  other great movements of people – migrations –  across the globe. Many went on to better lives and many also endured terrible suffering, and many more gave their lives because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. I salute the Dutch men and women who lost their lives or who lost family members in this great tragedy. I was happy to have made this serendipitous discovery and to walk among their graves in Karrakatta  cemetery, to remember them and their families who still honour them and leave  floral tributes at their graves.

Addendum:

Just a few weeks ago in February 2017, the following comment was added to this post:

Nancy Gleason

My father, Capt. Harry W. Markey, was aboard the American plane that was shot down. He was killed, age 29. The Japanese pilot who shot down that plane was shot down and killed by a Dutch gunner on the ground.
Nancy Gleason
In memory too of Capt. Harry W Markey and all those who lost their lives on that tragic day.

References

Information on burials taken from Mervyn W. Prime, WA’s Pearl Harbour: the Japanese raid on Broome (1985).

http://www.awm.gov.au/exhibitions/alliesinadversity

http://library.thinkquest.org/10236/

http://www.abc.net.au

Family history across the seas Blog

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Filed under Emigrants from other countries, Family History, Genealogy, Oral History

White Star Line’s ‘First Titanic’: RMS Tayleur

The Tayleur. Sank on her maiden voyage January 1854

In the 1850s the Australian Gold Rush was in full swing with thousands clamouring for passage. From 1852 to 1857, 226,000 left Britain to seek their fortune – 60,000 of whom were Irish. It is estimated that in a single month in 1853, 32,000 people departed Liverpool for Australia’s gold fields. Large, fast ships therefore were urgently needed to meet demand on this route.

On October 4, 1853  thousands cheered as a new iron hulled ship slipped from her dry dock into the water for  the first  time, in Warrington on the River Mersey. The ship was named for the Tayleur family who owned the iron foundry that had previously built paddle steamers. (In the 1820s the Tayleur iron foundry in Warrington, England had produced sections for Telford’s famous Menai Straits Bridge, well known to tens of thousands of Irish emigrants travelling onwards from Holyhead in Anglesey, North Wales.)

The Tayleur, reckoned to be the biggest and fastest ship of her type, was chartered by the White Star line to ply the lucrative Liverpool to Melbourne route.

On January 19, 1854 the Tayleur  departed Liverpool on her maiden voyage with up to 600 passengers plus crew on board. When sailing down the Mersey, the pilot noticed that the compass readings were slightly askew, but she continued on her way. Her route was to take her south along the west coast of Britain, but very shortly after departure she hit rough weather. On January 21 a squall developed and it proved almost impossible for the crew to steer the ship. Instead of travelling south, she had in fact been travelling due west and in the gale that blew up she found herself along the shores of Lambay Island, just 10 miles or so from Dublin, Ireland. Anchors were weighed but the lines snapped and she was dashed against the rocks. Some passengers managed to scramble ashore and climb the steep cliffs to safety but, in a short time, the Tayleur slipped under the waves with a loss of about 40o lives.

The Illustrated London News,  on January 28, 1854 carried the following report:

”The most desperate struggles for life were made by the wretched passengers, great numbers of women jumped overboard, in the vain hope of reaching land; and the ropes were crowded by hundreds who, in their eagerness, terror, and confusion, frustrated each others efforts for self-preservation. Many of the females would get half way, and then become unable to proceed further; and, after clinging to the rope for a short time, would be forced from their hold by those who came after them. Three women only, out of 200, were saved. One of those had got part of the way across when her legs fell, and she hung for some time by her two hands over the foaming waves; her husband then came on the rope, and managed to assist her to the shore. Two men came on shore with children tied to their backs but of the whole who fell into the water not above five were saved. I saw one fine girl, who, after falling from the rope managed to get hold of another one, which was hanging from the side of the ship, and which she held on to for more than a quarter of an hour, the sea every moment dashing her against the side of the ship: but it was impossible for us to lend her any assistance. Someone got a spar out, by which several got on shore; but it soon broke; and now might be seen hundreds hanging on to the bulwarks of the ship, each struggling to get on shore. I saw one young woman hanging on the middle of the rope for some time by her two hands, but those pushing to get on shore soon sent her to her doom”.

Some 100 were buried on the island, others were buried where they were washed up on the mainland, but for many the sea was the last resting place. Of the 200 women on board, 100 were believed to be Irish. The style of dress that prevailed at that time  – large billowing skirts – was considered to have been a contributory factor in the loss of so many females, together with the ferocity of the undercurrents and the high seas that bashed the ship off the rocks on Lambay.

A Board of Trade enquiry into the disaster found that several factors contributed to the disaster:

The iron hull had caused the compasses to read incorrectly and there were issues with the rigging and the sails that made it difficult to handle the ship in the high wind. The rudder was of a new design that had not been tested and there had been no sea trials carried out on this new type of ship – she had gone from being fitted-out straight  into service.

The Tayleur Medal. Awarded for bravery in sea rescue.

Donations flooded in for the survivors. The residue of the fund was set aside to be ‘available at once for such shipwrecked strangers as may become future claimants on the generosity of the citizens of Dublin’ and so the Tayleur Fund Medal was inaugurated. The medal bears an engraving of the Tayleur and the inscription ‘TAYLEUR FUND FOR THE SUCCOUR OF SHIPWRECKED STRANGERS’. It was awarded to 44 people before the fund was wound up in 1913  and the residue donated to the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) in exchange for a motorized lifeboat for the Dun Laoghaire Lifeboat Station.

The Tayleur was largely forgotten until the late 1950s when a sub aqua team went in search of the wreck. Local fishermen had reported that lobster hauled from a particular location had red undersides as though they had lived on a rusting wreck. The lead was followed and the wreck was located. In 1963 her bell was discovered and raised to the surface and is now in the Maritime Museum  in Dun Laoghaire.

Artefacts found at the wreck site of the Tayleur

Many artefacts such as these patterned jugs and dishes have been recovered. One of her two anchors is displayed in Rush Co Dublin, where regular commemorations take place.

The White Star Line which had chartered the Tayleur would later get into financial difficulties. In 1868 Ismay bought the trade name and the logo at a liquidation sale. Almost 60 years  after the launch of the Tayleur – the biggest fastest ship of her time – registered in Liverpool and proudly flying The White Star  flag on her maiden voyage –  another ship also registered in Liverpool – big, fast and unsinkable, would leave port flying The White Star flag on her maiden voyage and, like the Tayleur, just days later, would end up on the sea floor with heavy loss of life.

Incredible coincidence.

A list of passengers of the Tayleur can be seen here

References

http://tayleurarms.co.uk/history.html

http://www.mii.connect.ie/history/Tayleur/Tayleur.html

http://www.rnli.org.uk

List of recipients of Tayleur Fund Medals here

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