Thursday, April 25, 2019

Unintended Victim of War

Hector Vasyli
He was only 10 years old (1), but he was indirectly killed due to the war.  He did not have the
opportunity to meet the girl of his dreams, marry and have children,  but his memory lives on.

"They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn" (2)

He was only 10 years old (1), but he was indirectly killed due to World War I.  He did not have the opportunity to meet the girl of his dreams, marry and have children, but his memory lives on.

On Easter Sunday (21st April 2019), my husband and I were walking across the Victoria Bridge in Brisbane, as we have done on many occasions.   It was starting to rain and we were heading for the train station, but for some unknown reason,  I walked off the main pathway to read the plaque on the stone archway at the end of Victoria Bridge.

Hector Vasyli Memorial Tablet
Old Victoria Bridge Abutment, Brisbane

I wanted to know more about poor little Hector.

Hector touched the souls of many, in his short life. "He devoted his Sunday to the heavenly things instead of spending his time in idleness and earthly amusements" (4). He was an altar boy at the Anzac Church."He had friends amongst yellow, black and brown people, and a little black boy was his most devoted and affectionate friend.  At his coffin tears were shed by white and coloured people.  Many an old invalid got some food from him.....and many poor souls blessed the little hand of this good-hearted dear boy.
His patriotism to his country and its brave soldiers was a great example indeed.  He did his bit for every patriotic fund, collected money, sold badges.......There were his little hands working in the interests of our soldiers, to make their return to home sweet for them.  He saved every penny (he was a paper boy), not to buy sweets for himself, but packets of cigarettes for our returning heroes....He would have loved to buy a football, but instead of saving his pennies for that purpose he spent them in the soldiers interests".(4)
Hector "never missed an opportunity of greeting returning soldiers as they proceeded from Central station to the Kangaroo Point hospital.  All his savings were spent in purchasing flowers, cigarettes and other things, which he gave the men as they passed by.  And he met his death while carrying out his noble service". (5)

At the time of his death,  Hector (age 10) (1) was the only son of Mabel Hannah (nee Hatton) and Dessa George Vasyli, who operated a fish and oyster saloon in West End.
Hector had two older sisters, Netta (age 15), Kathleen (age 13), a younger sister, Daffodil - aka Daffidal (age 6) and another sister, Olga, died at 11 months of age in 1911.(6)

Hector was killed by a motor-car while welcoming home soldiers. "This little silent worker, it is sad to say, met his end on such a good-hearted mission."(7)

"On that fatal Sunday he had four packets of cigarettes and a bundle of wattle, and stood there, waiting for the soldiers, to show them his respect and affection" (4) 

There was a procession of more than 60 vehicles taking wounded soldiers to the Military Hospital at Kangaroo Point. A group of four or five boys, including Hector were stationed at the side of the bridge. One of the cars in the lead slowed down suddenly (reportedly to avoid a lady crossing the road), which resulted in a following car, containing several returned soldiers, swerving to the left avoid a collision with a car ahead. Unfortunately, the car knocked Hector down and the wheels ran over him.  Hector hit his head on the pavement, fractured his skull, fractured his right arm and had many abrasions and contusions.  He was immediately picked up and taken at speed to the Mater hospital, but he had already passed.

The high number of articles, appearing in Newspapers all around Queensland, is a reflection of how much Hector's tale impacted people. 

The memorial tablet was unveiled on Sunday 8th December 1918 in front of a crowd of over 1000.  It was originally erected at the Brisbane end of the old Victoria Bridge, near where Hector died.  The memorial tablet was moved to its current location on the Victoria Bridge Abutment in 1971. (9)

In addition to the memorial tablet, on 10th July 2018, a memorial service was held at the South Brisbane Boys' State School (now the Brisbane State High School on Merivale Street) and a fig tree was planted to perpetuate the memory of Hector Vasyli (10).  I drove past today and there are two big fig trees at the school.  I shall try to find out if Hector's memorial tree remains.

On the 21st August 1919, Mr & Mrs DG Vasyli had the greatest pleasure to announce the birth of a son named Hercules.
"which event they regard to be a consolation granted to them by the Lord.  In His mercy for the loss they suffered when He called up to Him their dear beloved boy, Hector." (11)

"In loving memory of my little friend, Hector Vasyli, who was accidentally killed 9th June 1918, while welcoming returned soldiers home.
One of the best that God could send,
Beloved by all, a faithful friend,
Called home from those who deeply love,
To gain a glorious life above.
With aching hearts and tearful eyes
We linger where our dear friend lies,
And breathe those sacred words once more,
Not lost, but only gone before"
Christie and Charlie Marneros
The Telegraph, Brisbane
Monday 9th June 1919, Page 4

(1)  Hector was reported as being 11 years old at the time of death, but his birth record 1907/B015210 indicates that he was born 6th July 1907 and the death record 1918/B027344 show his date of death as 9th June 1918, so he was10; one month off turning 11 years of age.

(2)  From the fourth stanza of the poem, Ode of Remembrance, by Englishman Laurence Binyon

(3) The spelling of citizen is incorrect on the memorial. 

     The Daily Mail (QLD 1903-1926), Friday 21 June 1918, Page 7

    The Telegraph (QLD 1872-1947), Thursday 11 July 1918, Page 2


    The Brisbane Courier (QLD 1864 - 1933), Thursday 13 June 1918, Page 6

    The Telegraph (Brisbane QLD 1872 - 1947), Monday 9 December 1918, Page 5


    The Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld. : 1872 - 1947), Monday 8 July 1918, page 7

      The Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld. : 1872 - 1947), Saturday 30 August 1919, page 6

Other Resources

Sunday, August 6, 2017

The Ancestral Places Geneameme

National flags of the different countries of the world in a heap. Top view

Alona from Lone Tester blog has set us this geneameme for National Family History Month. The rules are as follows:
What places do your ancestors come from?
Using the alphabet how many letters can you name ancestral places for? Some you will no doubt know well, some you may not … at least not yet (see my letter ‘I’ and ‘N’ examples below). I still have more research to do on those lines.
It doesn’t have to be where your ancestors were born, but it does have to be a place that they were associated with. For instance they lived or worked (or died?) in that place.
Most of the places that I have listed,  relate to direct line Ancestors.  Hopefully,  someone searching Google will find this post and contact me!

A = Aspatria, Cumbria, England (John Walker)
B = Bet Bet, Victoria, Australia (Samuel Mottram)
C = Creswick, Victoria, Australia (Elias Jones)
D = Devon, England (Richard & Charity Barrett)
E = Edinburgh City, Scotland (Catherine Glass)
F = Fife, Scotland (John Glass)
G = Galway, Ireland (Richard Foy)
H = Havelock, Victoria, Australia (Ambrose Frank Walker)
I = Ireland (Mary Conroy)
J = Jeparit, Victoria, Australia (William Adam Bisset Scott)
K = Kangaroo Flat, Victoria, Australia (Eva Jean Scott)
L = Leith South, Scotland (Donald Scott)
M =Munich, Germany (Alois Fritz)
N = Nhill, Victoria, Australian (Pilgrim & Bound Families)
O = Oxley, Queensland, Australia (Agnes Drayton)
P = Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US (Samuel Drayton)
Q = Quethiok, Cornwall, England (John Congdon)
R = Rathscar, Victoria, Australia (Thomas Rowe)
S = Scaldwell, Northampton-shire, England (Binyoun Warner)
T = Tavistock, Devonshire, England (Charity Richards)
U = United Kingdom (Many)
V = Victoria, Australia (Many of the Modern Family)
W = Wales, UK (Elias Jones)
Y = Yorkshire, England (Abel Cartwright)
Z = Zeehan, Tasmania, Australia (living cousin)

Monday, May 15, 2017

She had the light of battle glimmering in her eyes


Experienced picturegoer
 Mary Walker
From silent films, to 'talkies, to  colour
In the long queue that tensed as the box office opened to book the first reservations for the new Civic Theatre, Moe, on Tuesday, there was the oldest and keenest movie fan in the district, and perhaps, all of Gippsland.

With the lively intention of getting a seat in a position most closely alike to the one she had occupied in the old Mechanics' Institute picture show for 30 years, she had the light of battle, should it be needed, glimmering in her eyes.

Mrs M. Walker, a film-lover to be respected, of the Princes Highway, who was 78 years old on January 20, knew what wanted and got it.

Before being satisfied with picked positions offered by the theatre staff, Mrs Walker several times inspected the actual seats and finally had the assistance of the proprietor himself, Mr Rex Hamilton.

He ensured that Mrs Walker secured an end seat that pleased her, on her chosen aisle, where she will be as contented and considerably more comfortable than in "L-1" in the Mechanics Pictures.

"I think this is something beautiful" said Mrs Walker to an "Advocate" representative, as she looked happily around.

The old lady became a regular customer early in the same seat very soon after the opening of Moe's first picture show; and having seen through 'twenties', occupying the same [seat, she has seen] stars come and go on the silent screen and sat through the development of talkies, and now will see the wide screen usher in a new era.

Asked what films she preferred, she replied, "I like religious pictures, and romantic ones, but I don't think much of those that have a lot of shooting."

So tonight, when Moe sees its first Cinemascope widescreen film in color in the town's new, modern, airconditioned theatre, there will be among those present the little lady who admits her greatest love is the 'movies' and who probably knows as much about them as any picturegoer in Gippsland.

She'll be there alone - but just exactly where, we are not telling.

Source: Narracan Shire Advocate - March 18th, 1955

Mary Walker (nee Mottram) is my great grandmother
Born 20th January 1876, Timor, Victoria, Australia
Married 21st May 1902, Havelock, Victoria, Australia to Ambrose Walker
Died 1st July 1958, Yallourn, Victoria, Australia

This post was inspired by Sepia Saturday
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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Remembering Roy

Take a few moments to have a good look at the photo below.  

What are your thoughts?  How do you feel?  What do you see?

Taken by Unknown Australian Official Photographer 28th September 1917.  Belgium: Flanders, West-Vlannderen, Ypres
Stretcher bearers of the 57th Battalion, at Polygon Wood in the Ypres Sector.  This area was subject to almost continual shellfire, the front line, then about 300 yards away, having been established only the morning before, following the attack on this vicinity by 4th and 5th Division
This is likely the final resting place of my first cousin (twice removed), who died at Polygon Wood three days before this photo was taken.  He was only 20 years of age.   The photo above shows other members of his Battalion, scouring the battlefields, searching for survivors.

Private Roy Weir was never located and his memory is now preserved on panel 164 at the Australian War Memorial and also on Panel 29 at Menin Gate, being the memorial for soldiers whose graves are unknown.

Roy Weir in 1906
A book was also amongst his
 final possessions
Richard Royal James Weir
1897 - 1917
Richard Royal James Weir (aka Roy) was born at the small farming community of Kinimakatka, in Western Victoria, Australia on the 21st August 1897.  He was the third of the four children of James Weir and Catherine "Amy" Page Pilgrim.

Roy would have been the "man of the house" from a young age as he was only six years old when his father died.  He became a plumber prior to his enlistment.
Although he listed his age as 18 years and 11 months when he enlisted for duty in 1915, he was actually a year younger but he had the written approval of his mother to join up.1

Roy was a small man, standing at 164cm (5ft 4in) and weighing about 56.4 kg (8st 12lb) with blue eyes like his mother, brown hair and a ruddy complexion.1

Nhill Free Press (Vic. : 1914 - 1918),
Friday 4 October 1918, page 2
The same page also included memorials
 to two cousins

After his death the local paper reported "He was very popular amongst the young folk of Nhill, who deeply regret the passing of a sterling young comrade.........The flags in Nhill were flying at half mast on Tuesday as a tribute of respect for the gallant young soldier, who made the supreme sacrifice while fighting for his king, country, and those who stayed at home" 2

I cannot begin to imagine how his mother felt, when nearly 12 months later, she received a package containing her late son's belongings; 2 torches, a razor, brush, 2 maps, a book and a belt.1

Amy Weir remembering her son, Roy.
The brooch is his image.

Today, on this ANZAC Day3, nearly 100 years since the death of Roy Weir,  I remember my cousin, who would have seen unimaginable horrors at such a young age and who did not get the opportunity to have children or to live a full life.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

1 - Series Number B2455 and Item Barcode Number 8380249 - Nhill Free Press (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), Friday 26 October 1917, page 2 
3 ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.  Australian and New Zealand soldiers became know as ANZACs during the war.  ANZAC day is the 25th April every year.  It marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by the ANZACs in World War 1.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Regina Zelicz?

Back: Katharina Fritz, sister Maria
and Alois Fritz
Front: Josef (son of Maria) Adolf, Victor Fritz  
and Friedrich Fritz

I deliberated before completing this post as nothing in it has been verified and I have been told conflicting stories, so do not know what to believe!

I am hoping that someone who is related will read it and correct me or assist me!

My husband's family could not tell me much about their family.  I find it very difficult to understand that you would not know the names of your grandparents!  When we visited Germany in 2006, we were provided with conflicting information, which I been unable to verify.

I was told that Alois Fritz was married to Regina Zelicz. However Regina is not named as being in the photo?  Had she already died and therefore is it  Alois' mother is pictured?  There are more children than kids named?

Back in 2006, when I received the information,  I was early in my genealogy journey and didn't notice the anomalies or ask the right questions!  I look forward to getting back to Germany (and visiting Romania and Poland) and potentially finding out more!

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