|Pte. E. J. BEASLEY
Jean McPaul Collection, Eden Killer Whale Museum
These two letters below were written by E.
J. Beasley (above) who died fighting in WW1.
Original letters held in the collection of Eden Killer Whale Museum
TOWAMBA WAR LETTERS (Spelling as written)
Address: Dearest Cousin
New South Wales Tuesday, November 23, 1915
Just a few lines to let you see that I have not forgotten you altogether. Well dear Cousin I was in the mumps hospital five weeks. I had the time of my life while I was in there, nothing to do but eat and drink. I was a bit soft for a while when I first came out but I am going good again now. I don't think I ever felt better than that I do at present. My company has all gone, except a few that was left behind like myself. I am with the details and we have to drill with the 9th of the 9th. They have got others to be ready to go to the front at any time. We have got to go with them I only wished we were gone long ago. We are sick of here. Well, dear Cousin, poor old Hampden (Beasley) left for the front before I got out of the hospital and I never saw him but I hope to see him over there I have never run against a man that I know yet and you see hundreds of them. Well dear Cousin the war is getting worse and worse every day. We are waiting anxiously, to see which way Greece is going to go anyway its to be hoped that they will go with the allies because it will end the thing a lot quicker. By Jove, it is wonderful to see where some of the returned soldiers that has been wounded have been hit and not killed you would think it impossible for a man to live the way some of the bullets have gone through them. Well dear Elsie, by the time you receive this letter and card I might know what its like to be wounded perhaps I will know nothing its what ever your lucks to be I suppose. I expect you will be feeling the effect of the plum puddings, cakes and etc, by the time you get this letter anyway I hope that you have enjoyed yourselves and while you were eating them, that you thought of me. I expect you are beginning to get some hot weather. We will be going into a pretty cold place when we land on the peninsular. I wrote Mrs. Binnie a letter I hope it arrived. I have posted Ethel a book of views. Well Elsie I expect the boys have nearly all gone to the war. I bet theres some hair pulling amongst you girls to see whos going to have whats left. Well Elsie I would very much like to know how they are all at home I have never heard from them since I left Brisbane. I had one letter from Elsie Targett, Lochiel and one from the Pendergasts . Well dear Cousin I will sign off.
Your ever lovin Cousin, E. J. Beasley.
June 17th, 1916
Just a few lines to you to let you see I have not forgotten you you will have to forgive me this time Elsie its a case of better late than never. Well Dear Cousin Since I last saw you I have done quite a lot of travelling and by Jove I have seen sights which if I am lucky enough to go through this war I shall never forgett. I did not think when I left Towamba that I would ever get this far away from Home. But never the less here I am right amongst the din of shot and shell. Just at present as I write you this letter the guns are booming away for all they are worth. The noise would nearly deafen you you can hear the shells screaming through the air in dozens right over our heads. The airoplanes are very busy to, fritzy is shelling them them for all he is worth but I have never saw one brought down yet. Talk about brave its no name for our airman its lovely to see them up in the air. They have got fritzy properly bluffed. By Jove Elsie when the big high explosion shells start falling around about you they do shake you up. The nearest I have been to one yet was to get mud thrown all over me. I dont mind the mud as long as I can duck the pieces of shell its quite a dangerous place here Elsie especially at night time when we are on fatigue duty, rifle and machine gun bullets are flying every where we have seen a fair bit of experience in the firing line but I expect it will be a mere trifle to what we will see before long if we are spared. It would do your eyes good to see the lovely grass it looks beautiful after being so long on the sands of Egypt. I should reckon this a very pretty country in peace time it would make you cry to see the lovely homes that have been destroyed where the fighting as been. Some people are still living in old ruins although the shells are falling round about almost daily.
They take the risk of being killed sooner than leave the dear old home. They do pretty well out of the soldiers with eggs, bread, butter, beer, wine and etc. I have seen brother Arthur several times since we came to France. He has got very fat but I have not seen Hampden since he left Tel-el Kebir(?) Egypt. They wasnent camped very far away either but then its hard to find anyone because there are so many. I hope the other three brothers get across safe. I was sorry to hear that Alf had enlisted because he was such a good help to his mother. By Jove they must of missed him at home. The Towamba boys responded to the call well. I never thought they would let George Dickie go being the only son. He must of talked his mother over somehow. Well Elsie, I hear that Lizzie beat you for first place. I wish them all good luck and prosperity on their achievement. I suppose you will be next. I dont no if you are still at Dunblane anyway I address it to there if you aint I know you will be sure and get it. I wrote a letter to your dear mother a few days ago also one to Aunt Mary Targett. I asked them to be sure and remember me to all. I only hope they receive them. I would like you to remember me to one and all I would be very pleased if you would remember me to Auntie Agnus and poor old granmother Lis I quite forgott them in your mothers letter. I must drop them a few lines if I am spared. I receive my letters pretty regularly from Bertha sometimes a card from dear little Edna she says that she his keeping all the kisses I send her until I come home. I would very much like one of her photos. I would give anything for one I have one that was taken when we were out at Nungatta. I would like to see how she has been growing anyway I live in hopes of being able to get back again some day you never know your luck do you Elsie. I would of sent you a card but there aint any to be got just here. I have received some nice letters from the Targetts at Lochiel via Tantawanglo also some from Inda (?) and Connie Dickie and a very nice one from Thelda Hartneady. Well Elsie I will ring off for this time,
with love from Ted. XXX. (Beasley)
Be sure and write soon - address
No. 2555 Pt. E. J. Beasley, A Company. 9th Battalion, 3rd Brigade. France.
EXCERPT FROM 'THE VALLEY GENEALOGIST'
Further to the letters of Ted Beasley; his body was never recovered but his name is listed on the memorial to the missing on the Villers Bretonneux Memorial. Pvt. Beasley died at Pozieres in the Somme area. Villers Bretonneux is a village 16 kilometres east of Amiens on the straight main road to St. Quentin. The Memorial stands in Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery, which is about 2 kilometres north of the village on the east side of the road to Fouilloy.
It may not be generally know that 11,000+ Australians were missing in France and names are on this memorial. Another 7,000+ missing in Belgium are on Menin Gate Memorial and another 300+ on the V.C. Memorial at Fomelles.
The Edna referred to in Ted's letter was his daughter by May Parker. May died on 18 September, 1909 at or close to Edna's birth, hence the absence of a mother. When the Towamba War Memorial was dedicated in 1925 Edna was presented as the only child of a fallen soldier in WW1 in the Imlay Shire.
Mr. Lang (Laing)
It has fallen to my lot to convey to you, the sympathy of the officers and men of the 2nd Brd, in your recent loss. Your brother 6607 T. Lang (Thomas Laing) was liked and respected by one and all. During the attack and capture of Hermies on Easter Monday morning your brother met his fate. You have this satisfaction, he fell fighting hard. Right in the front rank of the charge. As his Platoon Officer, I miss him, he was a soldier all through and was popular with all. He is buried on the field of victory.
R. Raunard. Lt.
|Photograph found at Mr. & Mrs. Laing's
The men are unknown.
Photo courtesy of L. Macey
|Greeting card sent home
from perhaps Hector Laing,
to Towamba from Britain
after the WW1
READ HECTOR LAING'S OBITUARY
IN 'OBITUARIES'. LINK ON INDEX
Excerpt from 'The Pambula Voice' insert in the Magnet Newspaper, April-May 2002
When John Hampden Beasley of Towamba enlisted
to fight in the First World War, he was a
willing volunteer, as were his four brothers
Alf, Harry, Arthur and Ted. Arthur, the youngest,
had to put his age up to be accepted as a
soldier. All five saw active service, Ted
being killed in France. Hampden was the only
one of the brothers to find himself at Gallipoli
when the landing took place on April 25,
Mr. and Mrs. Grant agree that Hampden never liked talking about his war experience, particularly at Gallipoli. (Hampden Beasley was Gloria Grant's father).
"He used to say that Kitchener pulled them out because they weren't doing any good there," Mr. Grant recalls. "It was the done thing for young men to volunteer - you couldn't have stopped them."
The Beasley brothers wrote to the girls back home in Towamba. "All the local girls used to write to the boys who were on active service," Mrs. Grant said.
Hampden sent postcard snap-shots of himself to Thelda Hartneady, who lived at the Towamba Stores. One is of himself in front of the Pyramids while he was stationed at Cairo, and a second from Harefield in Middlesex, England, while Hampden was recovering from a gunshot wound to his hand received while he was in France.
"He came through Gallipoli without a wound," Mrs. Grant said. "He was really lucky. Then he went over to France because Ted was over there. Ted was killed the day before he arrived, and then Dad was wounded."
On the back of the postcard showing himself with his arm in a sling Hampden wrote to Thelda "Dear Thelda, I have been moved from Nottingham Hospital to 4 Kent Street, Harefield. The doctor came around this morning and had a look at my hand. He marked me down for a month's home service. I have to pass the Board. If I succeed I'll be back sooner or later my hand's nearly alright but I can't close it just move the points of my fingers. Well I must bring this card to a close hoping it finds you all well as it leaves me that way at present."
Thelda Hartneady wound up marrying Jack McLeod, Mrs. Grant's mother's brother. Hampden returned and married Maud McLeod, Mrs. Grant's mother.
Life wasn't easy for the young returned soldiers. They had been promised land, but they didn't get it. "Dad wound up picking up rocks and sticks on a property on the Monaro," Gloria said. "They used to get there on pushbikes and they had to come down Big Jack Mountain on the way home. They'd have a log tied to the back of their bikes to act as a brake and slow them down."
Later Hampden worked for the Imlay Shire Council, eventually living in Wyndham and ending his days with Mr. and Mrs Grant.
After seeing an article in the Bega Times Mrs. Grant sent away for Hampden's Gallipoli Medal, which came with a certificate stating "In Commemoration of the heroic deeds of the men of Anzac Gallipoli in 1915 and in recognition of the great debt owed by all Australians. With the compliments of the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia.
Hampden's discharge papers were signed on Parchment - a deed that Mrs. Grant still has. They state that his conduct while on service was "good", and that he was discharged honourably with a gunshot wound on the back of his hand, his age being 22 and 4 months when discharged.
Like so much of Hampden's war history, it does not say enough. The postcards from the front join Mr. and Mrs. Grant's other treasured possessions, mementos of a man who did what he knew he had to do with quiet courage and good humour, but seldom spoke of it.