This blog provides information, stories, links and events relating to and promoting the history of the Wimmera district.
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Thursday, 19 November 2015

From Horsham to see the King

At the National Archives of Australia in Canberra, to view the “Life interrupted -Gallipoli Moments : stories of our soldiers at Gallipoli – in their own words".
The exhibition allowed you to embark on a journey with the soldiers at Gallipoli. From the excitement of enlisting, to the reality and terror of battle. Original diaries, photos and personal letters, give a glimpse of the Gallipoli campaign through the eyes, and in the words, of those who were there.
The material from the State Library of New South Wales reveals captivating personal experiences of servicemen and nurses. Service records from the National Archives remind us that everyone was a volunteer, and they came from all walks of life to serve their country. 
King's Threatre poster (NAA exhibition)
Amongst all the photos and extracts was a threate poster >> and staring out from it was the word Horsham.
One of the members of the Anzac Coves was J.Davey a baritone from Horsham, Vic.
Jack Leslie Davey was a member of the Hospital Transport Corps from May 1915 to September 1918. He embarked on 17 July 1915 on the HMAT Orsova from Melbourne. Aged 24 he had been a storekeeper, his father John lived in Baillie Street in Horsham.
The “Anzac Coves” was an Australian Pierrot entertainment troupe, consisting entirely of soldiers. Established after the Gallipoli Campaign, they performed in many places on the Western Front – in barns and sheds, often just behind the trenches.
With a lively sense of humour, the troupe satirised military life. The Coves were so popular they toured Britain in 1918.
The Coves had played in the King's, Court and Ambassadors theatres, and at Buckingham Palace before the King and Queen and the Prince of Wales.
An informal photo of the troupe in uniform (NAA exhibition)
Below is a studio group portrait photograph of the troupe taken in London, from April 1918 "'The Anzac Coves', 1st Australian Headquarters Pierrot Troupe. Direct from the firing line ‘Somewhere in France’”. This concert party was to perform from 29 April 1918 at King's Theatre, Hammersmith, with proceeds to go to the Australian Repatriation Fund for Discharged Soldiers.

Third row, left to right: unidentified; unidentified; Harry Ross (tenor); unidentified; 7461 Private (Pte) Benjamin Joseph Davies (second tenor); unidentified. Second row: 6313 Pte Frank Harold Crossley (comedian and raconteur); 4027 Driver Frank James Donovan (pianist); 1992 Lance Corporal Harold Frederick Shaw (comedian); 9619 Pte Ralph Lyn Sawyer (female impersonator and dancer); probably 9129 Staff Sergeant Rannall Carlsile (manager); A Roberts (comedian); 1955 Pte Hugh Gannon (ragtime and light comedian); 264 Sergeant Jack Leslie Davey (baritone). Front row: Fred Reade (light comedian and dancer); J Gibb (monologist); 2664 Pte Leslie Herbert Williams (bass). Also identified is W J Smith (mechanic) position unknown.
Biographical information on Jack Davey from "Strewth" -  Jack was a draper, who had lived all his life in Horshjam, with previous military experience with the Horsham Cadets. In November 1916 Jack was sent to France and attached to the 7th Field Ambulance. In January 1917 he was detached to the Theatre Corps. He returned to Australia in May 1919. He married Mary Stoddart Fenton. Jack had an excellent singing voice and frequently performed in Australia. Jack died in Hamilton in 1970.
This photograph was part of "Our boys at the Front" series of postcards, no. 19. From a set of official photographs by special permission of the Department of Defence, proceeds from sales went to the Australian Comforts Fund. It was taken on 23 November 1917 from an unknown Australian Official Photographer, taken in Nord Pas de Calais, Nord, Steenwerck, France. It was titled - 'Anzac Coves' Concert Party in a theatre erected in a French village. Identified left to right, standing: (Pte) Reade; (Pte) Ross; (Pte) Gibb; Gunner Williams; (Sgt) Davey; (LCpl) Crossley. Sitting: (LCpl) Shaw; (Pt)e Roberts; (Sgt) Cannon; (Driver) Donovan (at the piano).

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