A sort of living war memorial

Bernard, 14 August 2012 · # ·

At the Build-a-thon on Saturday, Tim Sherratt told this story beautifully captured in Gavin Souter’s Mosman: a history.

Among the wounded who made their homes in Mosman after the war were […] two close friends, Frank Morris and Frank Cluett. Morris, who had been blinded at Passchendaele soon after his twentieth birthday, had met his future wife while learning to type at St Dunstan’s Rehabilitation School in London. Back in Australia, they rented part of Cluett’s home at Balmoral on the corner of Almora Street and Lawry Parade (later The Esplanade). The older Frank Cluett had been hit by machine-gun fire at Gallipoli, which left him permanently paralysed from the waist down, but that had not stopped him marrying the matron of an English hospital to which he was sent for rehabilitation.

The two Franks, one blind and the other paralysed, became a familiar sight in Mosman, indeed a sort of living war memorial. They had a motor bike and side car which Cluett, an engineer by training, had modified so that he could drive it while sitting in the side car, with Morris on the bike saddle. They also went fishing together in a launch called The Digger, which the Royal Sydney Yacht Club had presented to them and which Jack Joel, a more fortunate survivor of Gallipoli, allowed them to keep moored beside the pontoon of his Balmoral boat shed. Morris used to wheel Cluett to the pontoon, carry him on to The Digger under his sighted friend’s direction, and then off they would go, with Cluett steering and Morris doing the manual work. Cluett died in 1940 and Morris in 1985, the latter being survived by his wife, a son and three daughters.

Souter, Gavin 1994, Mosman : a history, Melbourne University Press, Carlton, Vic

As well as being a cracking tale, it’s a fine demonstration of the historian’s art. Lists of names don’t tell these stories, and Tim challenged us to think about interfaces that will bring out human connections in the data.

The Sydney Mail – Sep 21, 1927


Bob Meade · 14 August 2012 · #

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Great story.