History Week 2014 wrap up – WW1 walking tour Balmain

Both History Week Walking Tours were a great opportunity to explore the honour boards and memorials of Leichhardt and Balmain the weather was brilliant and an engaging group of attendees enjoyed the tour.

Balmain WW1 walking tour began with a tour of loyalty square which claims the fame of being the first memorial to be erected in the midst of WW1. It was unveiled on 23 April 1916 just before the first anniversary of the Gallipoli landing.

Stop 1. Balmain Loyalty Square

This is possibly Australia’s first memorial to WW1 soldiers, unusual because it lists only those killed in action prior to the involvement of the AIF on the Western Front in France.  It was unveiled on 23 April 1916 just before the first anniversary of the Gallipoli landing to record the names of soldiers form this district who have fallen in the service of the Empire. It was the subject of a a Balmain Council design competition in 1915.

A functional structure it was built as a drinking fountain with a circular base and steps of Bowral trachyte and a four sided superstructure of Pyrmont Sandstone.  Balmains dead 38 at the time of its completion are honoured on four marble tablets, below which are four bowls . It is interesting that on later honour roll honour in the Balmain Town Hall there were then 1500 names of serving soldiers.

memorialOur 2nd stop was at the Balmain Rowing Club which displays an honour roll with 73 names of Balmain Men who were members of the Balmain Rowing Club including 11 of which were killed in action including John Booth who lived at 54 Glassop Street, Balmain, Sydney, New South Wales and who enlisted on 16 March 1915.honorboard

john-booth-1Private John Booth was a shipwright of Balmain, Sydney, New South Wales was 28 years old when he enlisted at Liverpool, 16 Mar. 1915. He embarked from Sydney on board HMAT A35 Berrima, 25 June 1915 and served with the 20th Battalion, 5th Machine Gun Company A.I.F. at Gallipoli and in Egypt and France. He was killed in action in Belgium, Oct. 1917

JOhn Booth

His Diary can be found on the State Library NSW Website here

A full list of the men mentioned on the Balmain honour board can be found here.

Stop 3: St Andrews Church Balmain – The Soldiers Memorial Hall

St Andrews Congregational Board

St Andrews Presbyterian Honour Board

19 Men are recorded on the St Andrews Church honour Board, they were members of the congregation. Approximately 1300 Men from Balmain are recorded as enlisting for WW1 on the AIF Records, this figure is increased when navy and figures are added bringing it closer to 1800 men.

St Andrews WW1 Honour Board




Below are the details of three men listed on the honour roll.

Thomas Rodger MACNEE

Place of birth Balmain, New South Wales
Religion Congregational
Occupation Civil servant
Address ‘Currawinya’, Elliott Street, Balmain, New South Wales
Marital status Married
Age at embarkation 26
Next of kin Wife, Mrs Myra Kathleen Macnee, ‘Currawinya’, Elliott Street, Balmain, New South Wales
Enlistment date 16 September 1915
Rank on enlistment 2nd Lieutenant (Quartermaster)
Unit name 36th Battalion, Headquarters
AWM Embarkation Roll number 23/53/1
Embarkation details Unit embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on board HMAT A72 Beltana on 13 May 1916
Rank from Nominal Roll Captain
Unit from Nominal Roll 36th Battalion
Recommendations (Medals and Awards) Mention in Despatches

Awarded, and promulgated, ‘London Gazette’ No. 30706 (28 May 1918); ‘Commonwealth Gazette’ No. 165 (24 October 1918).
Fate Killed in Action 12 April 1918
Age at death from cemetery records 29
Place of burial Heath Cemetery (Plot VIII, Row J, Grave No. 18), Harbonnieres, France
Panel number, Roll of Honour,
Australian War Memorial
Miscellaneous information from
cemetery records
Parents: James and Mary MACNEE; husband of Mrs M.K. MACNEE
Other details War service: Western FrontMedals: British War Medal, Victory Medal
                                                       John GOODSIR
Regimental number                                668
Religion Church of England
Occupation Bank clerk
Address Town Hall, Balmain, Sydney, New South Wales
Marital status Single
Age at embarkation 21
Next of kin Father, John Goodsir, Town Hall, Balmain, Sydney, New South Wales
Previous military service 44th Howitzer Batt
Enlistment date 19 June 1915
Rank on enlistment Private
Unit name 30th Battalion, C Company
AWM Embarkation Roll number 23/47/1
Embarkation details Unit embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on board HMAT A72 Beltana on 9 November 1915
Rank from Nominal Roll Sergeant
Unit from Nominal Roll 30th Battalion
Fate Effective abroad (still overseas)


Robert Balmain MILNE

Regimental number 58608
Religion Presbyterian
Occupation Engineer
Address Balmain, New South Wales
Marital status Single
Age at embarkation 19
Next of kin Aunt, Jessy Milne, 5 Alexander Street, Balmain, Sydney, New South Wales
Previous military service 37th Field Company Army Engineers
Enlistment date 11 May 1918
Rank on enlistment Private
Unit name 1st to 15th (NSW) General Reinforcements
AWM Embarkation Roll number 23/111/5
Embarkation details Unit embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on board A40 Ceramic on 22 December 1914
Embarkation details Unit embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on board HMAT A18 Wiltshire on 19 June 1918
Embarkation details Unit embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on board SS Feldmarschall on 19 June 1918
Rank from Nominal Roll Gunner
Unit from Nominal Roll 3rd Field Artillery Brigade
Fate Returned to Australia 6 September 1919
Miscellaneous details (Nominal Roll) *Noted Robert NR

WW1 Scanathon

It is the beginning of the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I, Leichhardt Library is inviting the community to bring in family heirlooms to be photographed or scanned and added to a new online resource which is being developed here. A “scanathon” of images, postcards, documents, diaries or personal mementos relating to WWI will take place at Leichhardt Library in History Week on Thursday, September 11 from 10am-4pm

ww1 ScanathonThese images and photographs of memorabilia will be added to the Leichhardt 3000 Weblog.

When: Thursday September 11
Time: 10am – 4pm
Entry Fee: Free Event
Express your interest at: at Scanathon
Blog: www.localnotes.net.au
The Leichhardt 3000 project is a joint partnership between Leichhardt Council, HGOLD (Heritage Group of Leichhardt District) the Balmain Association, and the National Archives of Australia.

The Weblog Leichhardt 3000 is a community project that will become a resource for local school students, families, researchers and will be an ongoing project throughout ww1 commemorations.

For further information contact Amie Zar, Local History librarian at Leichhardt Library on 9367 9335 or email: leichhardtww1@lmc.nsw.gov.au

WW1 and WW2

Recognition of War Memorial – Callan Park

April 18, 2013

Friends of Callan Park (FOCP) want to see the unique ‘Harbour Bridge’ War Memorial at Callan Park conserved and protected.

The memorial is a replica of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and was completed in 1931, the year before the actual Sydney Harbour Bridge was opened.

It was unveiled by the Governor of NSW, Sir Philip Game, on 4 August 1931 on the Veterans site.

The memorial is currently located in front of Repat B Ward on the southern side of the Waterfront Oval.

Douglas Grant, an Indigenous WW1 veteran, designed the memorial and constructed it with the help

War Memorial

Photo: J Ridding, 2007

of other veterans residing in the Repatriation wards at Callan Park. A number of wards were built along the foreshore specifically for war veterans.

“Friends of Callan Park have been active in seeking the care, restoration and protection of this wonderful memorial to our ex-service personnel. We have arranged for temporary protection of the memorial but are seeking assistance from Council to ensure the appropriate ongoing recognition and protection of the memorial.” according to the Acting President of FOCP, John Stamolis.

Many of the buildings in this part of Callan Park housed repatriation soldiers, men who returned from war suffering from shell shock – often described as chronic nerve cases.

Douglas Grant (of the 13th Battalion, like W. T. Shirley who built the Sphinx memorial at Turramurra) lived at Callan Park and built a replica of the Sydney Harbour Bridge as a War Memorial and, with other patients of B Ward, erected the Memorial.

On 4 August 1931, the 17th anniversary of the beginning of the war, the Governor, Sir Philip Game, unveiled the memorial. He declared it was a symbol of unity and hoped it would stand for years ‘as an inspiration to you all to do what you did during the four years of the war, and have been doing ever since – sticking it out in the good old Australian and British way’. Patients applauded and the Governor planted a wattle.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 5 August 1931 – Douglas Grant second right

The Sydney Morning Herald, 5 August 1931 – Douglas Grant second right

Douglas Grant was a man of Aboriginal parentage and white Australian upbringing who joined the AIF and became a prisoner at Bullecourt. After the war he worked as a labourer at Lithgow and was secretary of the loc

al RSL. Douglas Grant drank heavily and the cottages at Callan Park were a sanctuary for he and the other men of the Lost Legion.

He was bitter about the fate of returned soldiers and Aborigines and wrote about “A Broken Pledge”.

Extract from Sacred Places, War Memorials in the Australian Landscape, K. S. Inglis assisted by Jan Brazier, Miegunyah Press at Melbourne University Press, 1998, p243

World War 1 and World War 2 Links

Register of War Memorials in NSW

Australian War Memorial