Down the years: Merbein South’s school handles squeeze

 100 years ago

Members of the Women’s Land Army in Britain in World War I.

Members of the Women’s Land Army in Britain in World War I.

WARTIME: Australian patrols in the Somme often produce good stories, this one is of a young Queensland officer who observed a party going across “No Man’s Land” – he disposed his men in ambush and awaited the German approach. Advanced enemy scouts drew the Australians’ fire and the whole party ran back, except one scout who began crawling away. “Surrender you illegitimate” called out the officer. A voice in the darkness replied: “Very good sir.” The officer demanded: “Who are you?” The German replied: “I am a waiter in a London hotel, sir. Don’t kill me.” There were 1250 recruits for this week but 27,000 men are required for reinforcements up to the end of May. Returned soldiers on today’s train were Gunner Allan Perry, Bombadier Tom Kaighan and privates Bert Clifford, “Bob” McInnes and “Jock” Evans. (15/18.5.1918)

ATTIRE: All the workers wear the Land Army uniforms of breeches, leggings, linen coat and soft felt hat. One girl had a funny experience when passing through a very small village, perhaps they knew the war was on but had never seen a land girl before. An old lady came out of her cottage, stared in amazement at the girl’s costume and recovering her breath she gasped: “Well, you are a saucy little madam.” With that she sidled back into her cottage and produced about 12 children who stood in a row open-mouthed and watched the wretched girl out of sight. Brides who still favour flowing veils the fashion for coloured veils is being revived – recently mauve, blue and pink veils have been worn with good effect.(18.5.1918).

SCHOOL: Oh, that South Merbein School is overcrowded, South Merbein shouldn’t be so populous, it isn’t the Education Department’s fault – really? It was never built to accommodate so many, especially when about 70 children are crammed into a space that was built to accommodate 50. The school is progressive and happy, a neat little building with well kept grounds in which teacher and pupils take great pride. (18.5.1918)

 75 years ago

ORIGINS: An effort is being made in Britain as to who invented the “white line” down the middle of a road, which most countries seem to have adopted. It was discussed in America but there were no responses but many to the inquiry in Britain. The earliest date so far is May 1903, when Lt Col C.J. Fox, chief officer of the London Salvage Corps, suggested the division by a single white-washed line leading to Ranelagh where a motor gymkhana was to be held. Bitumen had not come into general use then so a three-inch white tape was nailed to the centre of the gravel road. Hitchhiking has little to do with a jerky thumb held up at a motorist. When two men with only one horse wish to take a journey, one of them would mount the nag and ride on it, the other footed it. When he had ridden a mile he would dismount and hitch the horse to a tree and continue on foot. The first walker on reaching the horse would mount it and ride until he had overtaken the hiker – hence the term “hitch and hike”. (15/17.5.1943)

WAR NEWS: The attack on the Centaur was on a clear weather, good visibility night and the Red Cross on the white-painted ship would have been plainly visible to the enemy commander – no opportunity was given to abandon ship and the loss was appalling. The city of Denver, Colorado, has installed the most powerful air siren ever built. It was designed by the Chrysler Corp in collaboration with Bell Laboratories. The siren can break the ear drums of any person standing near-by and weighs 2½ tons. The first Australian to pass a university examination while a prisoner of war is Flt-Lieut  F.R.G. Evans of Launceston, Tasmania. He is interned in Oflag XXIB in Germany and sat for part B of the University of London matriculation exam, one of 100 successful candidates in various German camps through the Educational Book Section of the British Red Cross Society for correction by university examiners. On January 30, Sgt N. Simpson, Mildura, who died in an air oper­ation in Germany, was buried in the English section of a German cemetery. (14/19.5.1943)

 50 years ago

FORCE: Australian troops in Vietnam have suffered their second-heaviest casualties of the war with 11 dead and 17 wounded in a six-hour clash with the Vietcong. Sergeant-in-charge at Wentworth Police Station has one of the best and most valuable collections of guns. He was stationed at Rockley, NSW, where the surrounding district was well known for bushrangers including Ben Hall. He bought and was given firearms by people who had kept the weapons like the 18th century flint-lock pistol in their families for years. A Parramatta motorist who was stopped for questioning here told a policeman that he had drunk methylated spirits had said: “Hell, I needed that!” (15.5.1968)

MR GREEN: A mechanical street sweeper uncovered a small piece of Mildura’s history, a gold medallion which was spotted in the gutter by Mr Max Topp. The Working Man’s Club medallion, engraved “Mildura WMC J.W. Green, Pioneer 1895” was made of nine-carat gold, one of about 50 given to each foundation member. The club was formed in 1894 – the foundation members breached their first keg under a peppercorn tree on the site now occupied by Horne Bros’ store, corner Madden Avenue and Eighth Street. (13.5.1968)

GROUPS: Mildura Bowling Club’s May Carnival ended in a blaze of glory for Les Arthur, of Belmont, when he became the first player to capture a treble at the tournament. An officer with the Commonwealth Office of Education, Mr Collyer who is here for the May Bowling Carnival, took time out to attend a migrant English class at Mildura West State School. The Birdwoodton Scout group may have to go into recess unless more interest is shown by parents. Murrayville is to get a high school, it will benefit students and stem the gradual population drift away from the area. Mildura High School matriculation student John Crebbin was selected to represent Australia at the Lions World Youth Congress in Dallas, Texas. He was selected for his leadership, personality, knowledge of local, national and international affairs and public speaking ability. (13/15.5.1968)

 25 years ago

HISTORY: Irymple district Guides and Brownies are busy preparing for their 40th birthday celebrations with the opening of the new Guide hall at Henshilwood Reserve. The facade of the Nichols Point Hall, constructed in the 1950s, has been given an update with the installation of new aluminum doors. Sunraysia Daily opened its doors to the public as part of the National Newspaper Week activities. The tours included a look inside the editorial, advertising and production departments. Walking History author  Mr Glen Miller is featured with Mrs Thea Cornell near the Deakin Avenue rotunda, which features in the book that entails five 30-minute walks around town, it is available for $2. (13/14.5.1993)

RESTART: A young Mildura photographer who became a quadriplegic in a motorcycle accident is determined to walk again. He is the only person in the Austin Hospital who became a quad through falling off a bike – the majority are from swimming and vehicle accidents. Peter Harding goes to the gym every day and each day he says the targets get easier. (16.4.1993)

ROOM: There is a last-ditch effort to save the ambulance station’s control room at Mildura, which will also shed eight jobs due to budget cutbacks of $873,000 and a projected revenue shortfall of $311,000. Echuca and Swan Hill control rooms will also be closed. (18.5.1993).

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