Author: Peter McCullough

THE Country Fire Authority recognises the contribution of its volunteers by making awards for length of service, starting with the 12-year service badge. These awards are made at regular intervals and occasionally a volunteer might be the recipient of a 50-year long service medal. To receive a 55-year medal would be unusual; the 60-year long service medal would be almost unique. At the Hastings Fire Brigade Awards Night held on 12 October John Watson received a medal for 60 years of service to the CFA. The award was presented by CFA Commander Paul Carrigg and the evening was attended by…

THE edition of Western Port News dated 30 August, 2011 told of the enormous contribution made to the Tyabb Football Netball Club by the Hose family: parents, Neil and Joyce, and their four sons, Darren, Brett, Fraser, and Mathew. It seemed at the time that an era had ended: Mat had announced his retirement after 252 senior games which included six club best-and-fairests. Together with 1 Reserve game and 41 in the Under 19’s, this brought his tally to 294 club games. Our report stated: “Overall the four Hose boys played together in the senior team on 19 occasions. Between…

OBITUARY Nick Columb, 1946-2018 Journalist, racehorse owner, football club president By Peter McCullough SPORTING identity Nick Columb died on Friday 10 August while holidaying in Spain. He was 72. For many Mornington residents he will be remembered as the former owner of Morning Star Farm (originally ‘Sunnyside’) just off Nepean Highway between Mornington and Mt Eliza. Built for the Gillett family in 1867, the property lay vacant for some years after the departure of the Franciscans who had converted it into a “training farm for boys”. On 4 November, 1986 The Age reported the change of ownership: “Nick Columb, 41,…

OBITUARY John Aylmer Leaver AO RFD ED 1930-2018 School chaplain THE Reverend John Aylmer Leaver AO RFD ED died on 15 May at the age of 87. It was estimated that more than 900 attended the memorial service which was held at The Ansett Hall, Peninsula Grammar, on 24 May. Best known as the chaplain at Peninsula Grammar, a position he held for 24 years, the Rev Leaver also played a key role in the setting up of a number of Christian schools and he was a long-time chaplain in the Army Reserve. In 2000 he was awarded the AO…

ABOUT 300,000 Australians volunteered to serve their country between 1914 and 1918; this from a nation of fewer than five million people. Most saw service on the Western Front: in Belgium (Flanders) or along the River Somme in France. About 52,000 died and are buried there. In the postwar years in Australia, whenever a new area was being developed it was common, almost mandatory, to honour our war dead by naming the streets after famous Western Front battles in which Australians had participated. The trapezium-shaped area in Bittern bordered by South Beach Rd (to the west), Disney St (south), Trafalgar…

AT the John Coleman coterie luncheon held on 26 March, Hastings Football Club stalwart John Watson was elevated to “legend” status. He is the third person to receive this honour, the previous two being Richard Everist and Peter Hibbert. John Watson played his first senior game with Hastings in 1961 and soon attracted the attention of VFL scouts, particularly Collingwood. However he remained with Hastings and played a total of 278 senior games which include three HFC premierships. He won two best-and-fairest awards, was captain/coach of the senior side, and served for 17 years as a MPFL director, advocate and…

HASTINGS resident Joy Coleman passed away on 21 August after a short illness. She was 87. A memorial service was held at Holy Trinity Anglican church, Hastings, on Tuesday 29 August with the Reverend Tim Anderson officiating. Joy’s children, Cathie and Rohan, were responsible for the eulogy which was to a large extent based on her book “Days of Joy”, published in 2003. Tributes were given by her nephew, Michael Nolan, and niece, Kaye Campbell, and three long-time friends: Patsie Coates, Lois Carter, and Shirley Davies. There were also family readings by Joy’s granddaughter Charlotte Coleman and her father, Rohan.…

DURING the 1960’s the Prahran Methodist Mission, assisted by the local community, undertook this project which involved thousands of working hours freely given by children, teenagers, and adults. Origins In 1958 77-year old John Barclay made available his farm at Tyabb to the Prahran Methodist Mission and Christian Community Centre to assist them in their youth programme. The farm, which had been in the possession of the Barclay family for 100 years, consisted of 75 acres, 34 acres of which was uncleared. The property abutted the sea and a further 25 acres along the water’s edge, subject to tidal variation,…

ALAN Day, pictured, was last week again preparing to join the ranks of veterans being driven around the MCG before the traditional Anzac Day clash between Collingwood and Essendon. It is the second time that he has been invited to be a passenger aboard the cavalcade of cars once reserved for veterans of the Gallipoli landings. However, with survivours of that campaign long since gone, the role has fallen to survivors of other landings. In Mr Day’s case it was Balikpapan on the east coast of Borneo when the Australian Seventh Division struck on 1 July, 1945; he represents all…

FORMER Peninsula Grammar headmaster Harry Alexander Macdonald, passed away on 3 April at the age of 86. Mr Macdonald was the second headmaster at Peninsula and led the school for almost 20 years (1971-1991). His time of leadership saw the school go from strength to strength; it became a centre of academic excellence with an outstanding co-curricular program. Glenmaggie, the school’s Outdoor Education Campus, became an important part of every student’s program. The H A Macdonald Pavilion and oval at the school are named in his honour, and in 1972 he received the Order of Australia for “services to education.”…

FRANCES Josephine Wattis was born in Ballarat on 30 November, 1916 to Charles and Patricia. Those were the days prior to the SEC and each town generated its own electricity. Charles Wattis was an electrician employed by the company which supplied power to Ballarat. Frances had one sister, Dorothy, and they attended Loreto College. On leaving school at 16 Frances worked in a chemist shop. At a dance in Ballarat, Frances met Thomas Robert Bruce who was employed by a local company as a graphic artist. Much of their work was advertising for theatres. Frances also had an interest in…

They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old. Age shall not weary them or the years condemn At the going down of the sun and in the morning We will remember them. On every Anzac Day it is customary for these solemn lines, known as “The Ode of Remembrance”, to be recited. Quite often a speaker will then inform the assembly of Australia’s contribution to what was known as The Great War; of how a country of less than five million could put 416,809 men in uniform, over 60,000 of whom were not to return. Official…

OF the 120 listed on the honour roll in Mornington’s Memorial Park, a number were decorated for bravery under fire. One of those was Robert Bates of the Australian Army Medical Corps who returned home with a Military Medal (won at Lone Pine) and  Bar (won at Pozieres.) What makes his record different to the other 119 is that he was a pacifist and never fired a shot during his years of service. ROBERT Bates was born at Kew in 1887, the only son of Alfred and Isabella (nee Bartlett). The war was only a few weeks old when Robert…

BEFORE moving to Mornington the Bates family lived in Frankston and Robert played for that team. The Mornington Standard of 7 September, 1912 carried a lengthy report of proceedings before the Frankston Court of Petty Sessions where “Leonard Incigneri, captain of the Hastings team, and captain of the Richmond team in the League competitions last year, was charged with unlawful assault during the progress of the Frankston and Hastings match at Somerville on 24 August.” The player subject to assault was Robert Bates. Dr Charles Maxwell, the first witness, gave the following evidence: “… Saw the incident that Bates and…

THE father of Robert Bates, Alfred Edward Bates was the son of Robert Jackson Bates, a leading English cotton manufacturer. Born in Manchester in 1850, Alfred Bates came to Australia in 1875 and worked as a commercial traveller for wholesale drug houses for a number of years before buying a farm at Moorooduc. The family eventually settled in Mornington where Alfred became a shire councillor and was treasurer of both Mornington Progress Association and the fire brigade. With the outbreak of war the whole family, which included three daughters, became heavily involved in the Red Cross as a support to…

IN a quiet corner of the Tyabb cemetery in Hastings can be found the grave of Leading Signalman Albert Norman Charles Thomson. For decades the grave had no means of identification but about eight years ago a headstone was erected. So much time had elapsed since Thomson’s death in 1922 that an error has occurred and he is identified as “Norman Albert” instead of “Albert Norman.” However the line below the name reflects the role that this sailor played in our history: he was a submariner on the AE2 and, subsequently, a prisoner of war in Turkey. What was the…

HMAS Goorangai was the first Royal Australian Navy ship lost in World War II, the first RAN surface ship lost in wartime,  and the first RAN surface ship lost with all hands. What makes this tragedy of special interest is that it occurred inside Port Phillip. Origin THE Goorangai was built in Newcastle in 1919 for the New South Wales government, then sold in 1926 to Cam and Sons where it was refitted as a fishing trawler. At the outbreak of war the Goorangai was one of 35 privately-owned vessels requisitioned by the RAN as auxiliary minesweepers.  Eight of these…

IN his book “Those We Forget”, published in 2014, David Noonan comments on the “casualties” which occurred after the cessation of hostilities in 1918 amongst the AIF men who were wounded or gassed: “… it is estimated that they now number 62,300 (plus or minus 400), about 550 by their own hand, mainly in 1919 and 1920, and a further 8000 men would die a premature death due to war-related causes in the post-war years.” In 1918 an entire government department – subsequently the Department of Veterans’ Affairs – came into being in Australia to try to look after…

AFTER a twelve month battle with cancer Ben Mayne, a highly-respected citizen of Hastings, passed away on 18 February, 2016. Holy Trinity church was packed to overflowing for the funeral service on 25 February with the Rev. Alex. Packett officiating. The eulogy was given by Ben’s life-long friend and brother-in-law John Watson, supported by daughters Cindy, Vicki and Jackie, grand-daughter Emily, and brother, Bob. On completion of the service the cortege passed through a guard of honour formed by members of the CFA and the football club. This obituary is based on the eulogies given during the service. *** MAURICE…

DON Prout moved to Tyabb when he completed his electrical apprenticeship at the age of 21. For the past 66 years he has conducted his business as an electrician in the district, although these days he is “more-or-less” retired. Over the decades he has been involved in a variety of community activities with Rotary being a special interest. This is Don’s story. Earlier Prouts Don’s knowledge of his grandfather, Samuel Prout, is limited other than he spent some time in South Africa where he managed a gold mine. He was a keen musician as evidenced by the photograph of the…

WORLD War II survivor Keith Stevens once remarked that he did not get too upset when things went wrong in business, or life, because of the situation he found himself in after being shot down during a night bombing raid over France. “I always look back to the time when I was shot down and was sitting under a tree in a foreign country – an enemy occupied country – and I didn’t know the language, and I had nothing to eat. I look back at that and think nothing could get as bad as that. Life could never get…

EILEEN Elizabeth Clarke was born in Somerville on 5 January, 1916 at the private hospital run by Sister Hodgins. In 1940 she married a Hastings fisherman, Norman Herbert Francis, who died in 1999.Eileen lived in the house that she and Norm built in Tyabb in 1953 until she passed away on 19 April, 2015. Holy Trinity Anglican church was filled on 27 April for Eileen’s funeral service which was conducted by Rev. Alex. Packett. The eulogy was given by Richard Francis who was supported by his daughters Libby Gaynor and Debbie Francis, and his granddaughters Courtney and Taylah Gaynor. From…

LONG before the extensive and frightening casualty lists monopolized the Melbourne papers in the years 1914 – 1918, there were occasional casualties which occurred in a training context. The town of Hastings was saddened by two of these. Both occurred long before the Gallipoli landings and both were the consequences of the perceived threat of invasion of the Mornington Peninsula. The Hastings Battery The threat of invasion by the Russians and/or French, whether real or imaginary, sparked a flurry of activity in various parts of the Peninsula in the 1880’s. Tensions rose when a Russian trawler paid a visit to…

LATE in 2014 Keith Stevens, DFM, a long-time resident of the Village Glen at Rosebud, was informed that the President of the Republic of France had awarded him the highest level of chevalier (or knight) of the French Legion of Honour. The award is recognition for “..risking your life for the liberation of our country 70 years ago.” This latest honour adds to those previously received: the Distinguished Flying Medal (DFM), which was presented by the King at Buckingham Palace, and some 20 others from UK, French, Polish, and Australian governments. Created in 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte, Keith’s Legion of…

MONTAGUE Romeo was born in Hastings to Charles and Katherine (nee Howard) Romeo in 1894. He first enlisted in Hastings on 11th September, 1914 but was discharged on 5th October, 1914 as being “unlikely to become an efficient soldier.” No reason was given in the official records for this assessment although his medical inspection noted “lower teeth deficient.” Moreover his height was only 5 feet 2 ¾ inches and in 1914 the army was seeking men of a minimum of 5 feet 8 inches. After several more unsuccessful attempts to enlist, Montague Romeo was finally accepted on 28th September, 1916.…

1. BULLECOURT – Arnold Roy Bartram, KIA 13th May, 1917. BULLECOURT was the scene of two costly battles for the AIF, the first beginning in the bitterly cold dawn of 11th April, 1917 when, after a night lying in the snow, Australians of the 4th Division were ordered to attack the main German defensive position, the Hindenberg Line. They were supposed to be backed up by British tanks and military, but neither of these eventuated. Although tanks had been used in the Battle of the Somme six months earlier, they were relatively untested. However the “mastermind” of the First Battle…

Frankston’s Avenue of Honour In her book “Echoes from the Front”, Val Latimer tells how as early as 1917 a committee was formed to honour all those from the Frankston District who served in World War One. This was to take the form of an Avenue of Honour along Melbourne Road, now the Nepean Highway. Trees were planted and brass plates were fixed to posts in front of each tree. By 1957 work was underway for the construction of a new six lane highway: the trees were removed and the plates placed in storage. Of the original 216 name plates…

EXPERIENCED tradesman Alan Mott of Hastings recently placed a small advertisement in The News for Al’s Jobbing Shop. There appeared to be nothing unusual about this until you discover Mr Mott is aged 85. The advert was the first step in a return to work that had been forced on him by financial circumstances. Mr Mott was born in West Melbourne in 1927. He went to local schools, finishing at Footscray Tech where he completed his Intermediate Certificate. He started an apprenticeship in fitting and turning at a paper mill in Fairfield where his brother had also trained. After the…