Studio portrait of Major General Sir William Bridges KCB CMG. Photographer: Alice Mills, Melbourne. (AWM A02867)
“Anyhow, I have commanded an Australian Division for nine months…”
These are the reported last words of Major General Sir William Throsby Bridges on board the hospital ship Gascon en route to Cairo on the 18th of May 1915. In the words of C. E. W Bean, “he knew he was dying.”
A few days earlier, he had been picked out by a sniper in Monash Valley. The bullet had severed several major arteries in his thigh. Now gangrene had set in. His doctors knew that immediate amputation for this 53 year old man would be fatal, and it was better for nature to take its course, which in William Bridges’ case was 3 days.
His last recorded instruction “was that his regret should be conveyed to the Minister for Defence that his dispatch concerning the landing was not complete — he was too tired now.”
We can only surmise as to the mental processes of this proud man as he slipped in and out of consciousness. He may have remembered his life experiences and those closest to him, memories of time spent with his family and friends around Sydney’s foreshores, in particular his posting to Middle Head.
The World’s News: a record of notable events was a Sydney newspaper issued from the office of Watkin Wynne’s Daily Sydney Telegraph running from 1901 to 1955.
It was full of anecdotes, news stories on current events, editorial comments and instructions on how to make things ranging from a rubber stamp to glass cutting machines.
While undertaking some research I came across a catalogue entry at the State Library NSW describing a photograph album created by a local man.
It was titled With the Australians on the Western Front / compiled for the Mitchell Library by J. M. Hamilton, Lavoni Street, Mosman out of his collection of photographs.
Curiosity aroused I consulted the People section of Doing our bit and could not find Hamilton listed. I then undertook all the usual searches and was finally able to find him on the AIF project site.
In 1915 Hamilton had enlisted at 38 years in the 18th Battalion, 10th reinforcement and returned to Australia in 1919 with a British War Medal and a Victory medal.
A few weeks ago I received an email with information regarding, Reginald Victor Fusedale, and a request to add him to our records on Doing Our Bit.
We receive a great many emails like this suggesting names for inclusion and if there is a Mosman connection they are added to the site.
Valentine William Kelly — a slim, dark-haired draper from Victoria — was 25 when he signed up for the Australian Imperial Force (A.I.F.) in July 1915. His parents James and Emily Kelly lived in Mosman at a house named “Alda” in Calypso Avenue.
Local philatelist Andrew Brockett recently came across some poignant postal covers that tell something of his story.