Down the years: Attack fails in the mud of Passchendaele

100 years ago

Australian troops pictured during the Battle of Passchendaele by photographer Frank Hurley.

Australian troops pictured during the Battle of Passchendaele by photographer Frank Hurley.

CULTIVATOR NEWS: Deeply overshadowing local news, Australia’s Prime Minister’S speech at Bendigo was written up as straight and great by the public there. The policy speeches of men in high places are often considered as stereotyped journalese – he made home trusts that should go straight to the heart and brain of every loyal Australian. He said the present war was a world war, a terrific life and death struggle between two great ideals. Private Roach wrote home that he had served nine months of hard service in France, they had gone out to attack Fritz but in the dark he had got tangled up in barbed wire and is now suffering from septic poisoning. He wrote: “You people 15,000 miles away don’t realise the awful murderous ways of war, I can crawl through some of the guns that fire tremendous shells, I will be content to leave my body here with the thousands of others if it keeps you safe dear mother from the cruel Germans.” (14.11.1917)

LOCAL NEWS: The gangers have been cleaning the channels on their various sections as the rapid growth of weeds is considerable – most earth ditches have needed to be done again. Owing to leaks in the Deakin Avenue main that plant had to be shut down, part of the problem was sugar gums’ tree roots and white ants. The Otis had to be shut down on the 6th to repair a split steam pipe. Mr H. Casey said over 60 pounds was raised by the Lake School Floricultural Show and Bazaar for the patriotic fund. Tenders are being called to build a new isolation ward at the Mildura Hospital. Particulars and conditions may be learned at the Mildura Police Station. Ladies working for the Lucky Bag appeal on behalf of the blind 

and permanently disabled soldiers anticipate the assistance of every block holder, their workers, every firm and their employees and householders to make or buy a bag, minimum value is one shilling.(14.11.1917)

WAR: Voluntary enlistment should continue – the number of reinforcements required was 7000 monthly, compulsory reinforcements would be called up by ballot for single men aged 20 to 44 including widowers and divorcees without children dependent on them. The East Yorkshires took prisoners at Fresnoy.  The Turkish Army is retreating northwards and is being bombed by British planes. Our forces advanced from Gaza, capturing the north bank of the Wadihesi and Hebries reaching the railway. The Superior War Council of Entente will now meet at Versailles where the Inter-Allied General Staff will be established. Field Marshal Haig reports an attack on our position on high ground north of Passchendaele completely failed. The German crossing of the Zenson is a direct thrust against Venice 20 miles distant. The enemy is using balloons, bursting showers of leaflets offering peace without annexation and urging soldiers to throw off British tyranny. Cinemas and theatres are closed in northern cities. (14.11.1917)

 75 years ago

MARY: A few friends of the late Princess Mary Woorlong attended her funeral conducted by Canon Horner at the Mildura Cemetery. He thanked them for their attendance and tributes of affection. The casket featured a gilded boomerang – she was a descendant of royalty, The daughter of the last Aborigine Chief Woorlong and Minnie, last of the Mildura Tribe and loved friend of many residents in this district. Although known affectionately to may as “Black Mary” she died without means, a faithful servant to many. There were many floral tributes including two with 12 names of patients in the hospital on each – they wished to see the unique emblem, the boomerang and inscription as she was endeared to many, it was shown to all by the sister-in-charge. E. York and Son attended to the funeral arrangements. She achieved fame when the story of her life was published in a famous London publication. (12-18.11.1942)

WORLD WAR II: Vichy radio reports that the occupation of France has been completed. Reports from La Linea say a convoy has arrived at Gibraltar, consisting of five aircraft carriers, two battleships, four cruisers, 14 destroyers, five transports and 38 merchantmen adding that air activity at Gibraltar was unprecedented in magnitude. Rumanian and Hungarian railways are crowded, German troop trains are passing in the direction of Greece and Italy. German troops have appeared on the French/Swiss frontier severing Switzerland’s remaining passage to the outside world-frontier barriers have been strengthened. Mr Churchill said “ We are entitled to rejoice only on the condition that we do not relax”, his speech lasted 75 minutes, he was warmly cheered at the end. The Prime Minister said the battle of Egypt must be regarded as an historic British victory. (18.11.1942)

LIBRARY: Cr Henderson addressing the animated debate on a part of the Carnegie Library being used by the Tourist Bureau, said an inspection had been made of the building and the Tourist Bureau section could be made available for additional accommodation for the children’s library section as that was the specific purpose that Carnegie’s donation was for and the facility should be capable when desired of being supervised by one person. (14.11.1942)

50 years ago

WATER: Most of the ratepayers of the First Mildura Irrigation Trust are apparently pleased with the trust’s four general irrigations a year and the date of the final one so they are here to stay. (14.11.1967)

COD: The latest of a number of giant Murray cod was caught by Mr Jim Oliver, of Wentworth, and Mr Cardy Stubbs, of Merbein, who caught the cod on a spinner in the Rufus River above Lock 9. They thought it was a snag, when cleaned the giant weighed 70 pounds. (15.11.1967)

CARDROSS FLIER: A nine-year-old Cardross girl is the talk of the town today as on Monday Debra Cors travelled 300 miles to compete in the 75-yards event of the Combined School Sports in Melbourne. The small Aborigine girl with the mischievous grin ran the event in 9.8 seconds, faster than the previous record. Debra is an extremely likeable girl with plenty of friends and an aptitude for schoolwork and athletics. (15.11.1967)

25 years ago

CITY OVAL: A long track event that is expected to draw a crowd of 5000 speedway fans will be held at Mildura’s City Oval when former world champion speedway rider, turned promoter Ivan Mauger entertains fans. The track is perfect, the inside rail will be removed for riders’ safety and the speed of the riders is expected to exceed 150km/h. Drag spokesman Mr Gavin Walker said all is in readiness for the Black Friday event. (12.11.1992)

LOCAL MEN: Formally known as the Mayor of Hattah, Ben Eggleton is a prolific author whose love of the harsh Mallee Sunset country has led him to produce a series of books on the area. His family had land near Turriff in 1910 and in the Depression his family left but he stayed and trapped rabbits by kerosene lantern for a living. His book “The Littlest Village” is based on Hattah. Mildura man Barry Sanderson who began writing music seriously less than two years won the Senior Encouragement Award for a song he recorded in 60 minutes in a caravan. His song writing had always been treated as a joke by friends and family prior to winning. (12.11.1992)

ROLL: A special unveiling by Mr Milton Whiting of a roll of honour for Merbein residents who served in World War II and subsequent conflicts was the focus of Remembrance Day. The work was started by Mr S. McCarthy, secretary of the Merbein RSL five years ago – 609 names, a huge job, luckily they found a book from the Old Father’s association which had a lot of the names needed in it. (12.11.1992)

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