Westgarthtown & WWI

 

DOCUMENTARY

GUMLEAF GERMANS

ENLISTEES

Ewert family

 

 

Carl Ewert, from Torpin in Pomerania, arrived in Melbourne on the Electric in 1856 and lived first at Janefield, near Westgarthtown. In 1858, he was joined by his brother Friedrich and their parents, Joachim and Sophie Ewert, who all arrived aboard the Dorothea. In 1859, Carl married Maria Rosel of Westgarthtown, then in 1860, Friedrich married Friedericke Günther. Both Friedrich and Friedericke were then living at Westgarthtown and in 1861/62 Carl and Maria Ewert also moved there, leasing Maltzahn’s Farm until 1866.

Carl and Maria Ewert and Friedrich and Friedericke Ewert both raised large families. In 1866, Carl and Maria moved to a farm he purchased in Bindt’s Road, Wollert, where they lived until their deaths during the 1890s. They are buried at Westgarthtown, along with several of their children, as well as Carl’s mother Sophie. Friedrich and Friedericke Ewert are believed to have lived at Epping and South Morang from the early 1860s, before he selected land at Tamleugh near Violet Town in northern Victoria in 1873. Carl Ewert also selected land nearby at Riggs Creek in 1877, although he retained his farm at Wollert, where he lived while his eldest sons worked his selected land.

During the 1890s, several of Carl and Friedrich Ewert’s children moved to Western Australia, settling in the Greenbushes area. One of Carl’s grandsons – Ewen Charles Ewert – enlisted from Western Australia during World War 1 along with two of Friedrich’s grandsons –brothers Charles Edward John Jones and Frederick George Sweeney Jones. Four of Friedrich’s grandsons also enlisted from Victoria – brothers Alfred Stanley Ewart, Herbert Frederick Ewart and Walter Arthur John Ewert - and Norman Louis Ewert. Of these, four were killed in action – Ewen Ewert, Alfred Ewart and Charles and Frederick Jones – and Herbert Ewart lost a leg.

 John Sweeney Jones, the husband of Friedrich Ewert’s daughter Caroline and father of Charles and Frederick Jones, tried to enlist in 1915 but was rejected as medically unfit because of defective teeth. He tried again in 1917, but after being accepted and having 12 teeth removed, it was discovered that at 44 he was overage so he was discharged before being sent overseas.

Alfred Edward Cook, son of Friedrich Ewert’s daughter Auguste, who married George Cook in 1889, is said to have tried to enlist but was rejected because of problems with his teeth. He was, however, accepted during World War 2 and served at Tobruk and Egypt. He lost his false teeth swimming in the Dead Sea while on leave to Palestine and was unable to dive down to retrieve them.

Two of Friedrich and Friedericke Ewert’s sons were Victorian policemen. Interestingly, one, August Henry Albert Ewert, was posted to Doncaster in 1914. Early in the war, he was given the task of reporting on the loyalty of German descendants living there, until it was discovered his own father had been born in Germany. 

Ewen Ewert

Ewen Charles Ewert (1890-1915) was born at Riggs Creek near Euroa on 11 July 1890, the son of John Charles Henry and Christina (née Robertson) Ewert. His father was born at Westgarthtown and mother at Breadalbane Homestead, Eden Park near Whittlesea, owned by her father Ewen Robertson.

In 1899, Ewen Ewert’s family moved to Western Australia, where his father first farmed at Balingup, then ran a butcher shop at Greenbushes, where Ewen attended school. When he enlisted the Ewert family was farming at Torbay Junction. He gave his religion as Church of England.

Ewen enlisted at Albany on 28 August 1914 but only completed his attestation papers at Helena Vale on 16 October 1914. He was aged 24 and gave his occupation as farmer and trade as butcher. He was allocated to the 12th Battalion, Private No. 1160, 3rd Infantry Brigade and after training in Western Australia and Broadmeadows in Victoria, left Melbourne aboard the Themistocles on 22 December 1914. After further training in Egypt, he embarked at Alexandria for Lemnos Island on 2 March 1915, where his brigade practised landings at Mudros Harbour, sleeping in their ships.

The 3rd Brigade was chosen to land first and act as covering force for the remaining Australian and New Zealand troops. At 4.30 am on 25 April 1915 the first troops landed at what soon became known as Anzac Cove and Ewen was killed that day. Over six years later, Ewen’s father was still trying to discover the circumstances of his son’s death. On 27 July 1921, he wrote to the army stating:

‘…my son was reported missing at the landing. J. Smith who was wounded in the boat when being towed ashore told me that he saw my son last in the ship when they were preparing to land. My impression is that my son was in one of the boats which broke away when being towed ashore and possibly got shot and fell overboard. He may have got killed inland as I understand that they got several miles beyond the line the first day.’

Officially reported missing on 2 May 1915, an army Court of Inquiry on 5 June 1916 initially concluded Ewen had been killed in action between 25-28 April 1915. His date of death was later amended to 25 April 1915.

Ewen Ewert is commemorated on the Lone Pine Memorial at Gallipoli; on Panel 65 at the Australian War Memorial; and at Mt. Clarence at Albany.

The Ewert/Ewart Brothers

In 1882, Friedrich and Friedericke Ewert’s eldest child Carl Johann (Charles) Ewert married Bridget Sheriff at Benalla, in northern Victoria. Charles and Bridget had a farm at Tamleugh near his parents’ property Inverleigh. After his mother died in 1897, they farmed both properties, milking cows, cropping and grazing sheep. Charles and Bridget raised eight children at Inverleigh, including three who enlisted in World War 1 – eldest child Bert, second child Walter Arthur John and second youngest child Alf. Bert lost his left leg during the war and Alf was killed in action in 1916.

Charles and Bridget farmed at Inverleigh until about 1915, when they moved to Violet Town, where Bridget died in 1917 aged 56.  Charles sold the farm, which he had purchased when his father retired, after Bridget’s death. Charles died in 1937 aged 77 and was buried with Bridget at Violet Town.


Herbert Ewert (left) with his brother Alfred.
Photo: Jennie Thomson.
Herbert Frederick (Bert) Ewert/Ewart (1883-1963) was born at Tamleugh near Violet Town on 9 January 1883 and educated at Tamleugh State School. He was working on his father’s farm when he enlisted on 7 February 1916, aged 32. Like his brother Alfred, he enlisted using the Scottish spelling (Ewart) of his surname rather than the usual German spelling of Ewert. He gave his religion as Church of England.

Bert was allocated to the 22nd Battalion, the 14th Light Horse Regiment and the 46th Battalion, before finally being posted to the 13th Reinforcements, 24th Battalion, Private, No. 5014, 6th Infantry Brigade. He trained at Royal Park, Seymour and Broadmeadows until he embarked aboard the Themistocles on 28 July 1916. Just prior to leaving for Europe he married Annie Robina (Nance) Wilson.

Bert arrived at Plymouth in England on 11 September and proceeded to France on 16 November. He was taken on strength of the 24th Battalion on 21 December 1916. On 3 May 1917 the 24th Battalion participated in the second battle of Bullecourt and suffered almost 80% casualties. On 23 September 1917, Bert was appointed Lance-Corporal, then Temporary Corporal the following day, but shortly after at Ypres on 4 October he was badly wounded in both legs by a German shell. In a letter of 22 November 1917, from hospital at Southall in London, he wrote:

‘This is a fine hospital and there are about 600 patients in it. The sisters here are very good to us, and we have all Australian staff here. The hospital I was in in France was an American one, and it was an American doctor who amputated my leg.  I got wounded on the 4th October, as we were hopping over that morning at Ypres…at about 20 minutes to six o’clock we were waiting for our time to come, when Fritz’s artillery opened up on us – shells bursting all round us, screaming over our heads, machine gun bullets whistling all round – but the boys all lay in wait for our barrage, and, as it’s now six o’clock our barrage opens. In four minutes our battalion and those on our left and right are up and away, and go, wave after wave for Fritz’s front. Well I had only stood up with the Lewis gun on my shoulder and got my section of men out, having already lost two of them, but hadn’t gone far when a Fritz shell fell about ten yards behind me, and I got it in both legs. I then crawled to a shell hole, and, luckily there were three of our stretcher bearers bandaging up some of the wounded…The war seems to be a long way from being over yet, as the Americans cannot do much before next spring. I had just been made Corporal seven days before I was wounded.’

Bert was invalided to England on 20 October and admitted to hospital at Plymouth two days later. On 8 November he was transferred to Southall. On 16 March 1918, he embarked aboard the hospital ship Wandilla for Australia and eventually arrived back in Melbourne aboard the Kanowna on 22 May 1918. He was discharged from the AIF on 22 August 1918.

Bert applied for a Soldier Settlement block and received a very hilly dairy farm at Trafalgar South. He and Nance, along with his brother Arthur and his wife Maud, Nance’s sister, moved there, but found it could not support two families. It was also too difficult to work for a man with a wooden leg, so they left the farm and opened a bakery at Moe. Bert helped with the baking, Walter delivered the bread and their wives served customers in the shop.

The Ewerts then moved to Whittlesea where Bert became Registrar of Births and Deaths. During World War 2 they moved to Ascot Vale. Nance died in 1950 and in 1959 Bert retired to Parkdale. He died in 1963 at Heidelberg aged 80 and was buried with Nance at Fawkner Cemetery.

Walter Arthur John Ewert (1885-1965) was born at Tamleugh near Violet Town in December 1885 and educated at Tamleugh State School. He was 29 and employed as a cable tram gripman when he enlisted in Melbourne on 14 July 1915. He gave his address as Brighton and religion as Presbyterian. Arthur, as he was known, married Maud Wilson in 1915 and his brother Bert married Maud’s sister Nance in 1916.

Arthur was allocated to the 11th Reinforcements, 24th Battalion, Private No. 438 at Seymour. However, a knee injury ended Arthur’s army career and he did not serve overseas. In February 1915, prior to enlistment, he had suffered a locked knee while gardening. His knee soon recovered and he had no further trouble until August 1915 when he tripped at Seymour and the knee locked up again. Despite an operation in September 1915, then further treatment and rest at Broadmeadows, Ascot Vale and Macleod, he was discharged on 24 June 1916 as medically unfit for military service, because of ‘Internal derangement of left knee’.

After the war ended, Arthur and Maud farmed a soldier settlement block at Trafalgar South with Bert and Nance. Later they opened a bakery in Moe. By 1931, Arthur and Maud had moved to Port Melbourne, where he worked as a pastrycook. They remained there until the mid 1940s, then moved to Essendon North, where he was an aircraft worker. By 1954 he had retired to Frankston, but soon after moved to Mentone, where Maud died in 1956. Arthur died at Mentone in 1965. Their only child Keith, a public accountant, was the Labour MHR for Flinders from 1952-54.


Alfred Stanley Ewert. Photo: Australian War
Memorial.
Alfred Stanley Ewert/Ewart (1896-1916) was born at Tamleugh and attended school there. He was employed as a railway porter when he enlisted in Melbourne on 28 July 1915. Although only 19, he gave his age as 21 and also spelt his surname Ewart rather than Ewert, presumably to avoid questions about his German ancestry. He also stated he had served for 12 months in the 55th Battalion, Citizen Forces. He gave his religion as Church of England.

On 13 October 1915, Alf was allocated to the 6th Reinforcements, 24th Battalion, Private, No. 2626, 6th Infantry Brigade and embarked aboard the Ulysses on 27 October 1915.  He was hospitalized with mumps at Abbassia in Egypt on 6 February 1916 and not discharged to duty until 2 March. On 21 March he left Alexandria for France and disembarked at Marseilles on 27 March 1916.

On 25 May he was taken on strength of the Entrenching Battalion and served with that unit until 3 August when he returned to the 24th Battalion. Two days later he was reported ‘Missing in Action’ at Pozieres. A Court of Enquiry held over a year later, on 15 September 1917, concluded Alf had been ‘Killed in Action’ on 5 August 1916. He was then aged 19.

Details of his fate were provided by Lance-Corporal J. Mills who stated:

‘I knew casualty well. He came from my district in Victoria. He was killed behind Pozieres Ridge…Casualty was in the act of running past a section of the road where I had a machine gun concealed, when I saw him destroyed by a H. E. shell. I went up to the body immediately and we buried him where he fell. About three hours afterwards when the fire slackened we put up a cross to mark the spot with his bayonet alongside it.’

Alf was later reinterred at the Serre Road Cemetery No. 2 near Beaumont Hamel. He is also commemorated on Panel 101 at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra and has a memorial headstone in the Violet Town Cemetery.

Norman Ewert


Normal Louis Ewert. Photo: Nelva Griffiths
Norman Louis Ewert (1895-1925) was born at Tamleugh in August 1895 and attended school there. The son of Louis Ernest Christian Ewert and Margaret Byrnes, who married in 1893, Norman was a cousin of Fred and Alf Ewert/Ewart. Norman’s father Louis was Friedrich and Friedericke Ewert’s fifth child, born at Epping in 1871.

Norman was employed as a fitter and turner in Melbourne when he enlisted there on 15 May 1915, aged 19.  He had two years previous military experience as a Senior Cadet with the 58th Battalion of the Citizen Forces. He gave his relgion as Methodist.

He was accepted on 20 May and trained with the Field Artillery until 20 September 1915. The following day he joined the 1st Reinforcements, 4th Field Artillery Brigade, Driver, No. 9305. He embarked aboard the Wiltshire on 18 November and disembarked at Suez on 15 December 1915, by then allocated to the 10th Battery. After further training he left for France and disembarked at Marseilles on 19 March 1916.

In August 1916, Norman was hospitalized for a week with enteritis then rejoined his unit, but was back in hospital again in April 1917 with exhaustion and debility from bronchitis. On 9 July 1917 he missed a parade and forfeited 10 days’ pay and was transferred to 2nd D.H.C. as a Driver. He was granted two weeks’ leave to England from 27 February 1918 and on 28 April transferred to the 4th Field Artillery Brigade’s 11th Battery as a Gunner.

Early in December 1918, following the Armistice, he was posted to England. In January 1919 he forfeited two days’ pay for leaving a parade without permission. On 19 February he embarked on the Orca and arrived back at Port Melbourne on 7 April. The Violet Town Sentinel noted ‘There was a record gathering at the Violet Town railway station on Tuesday evening last [8 April] to welcome back three returned heroes’, one of whom was ‘… Dvr. Norman Ewert.’ He was discharged from the AIF on 30 May 1919.

In 1919 Norman’s parents moved from Violet Town to Drouin in Gippsland, then in 1920 to Trafalgar. Norman worked at the butter factory there as a bookkeeper and at other jobs, but is said to have been ‘mentally scarred’ by the war and found it difficult to settle. He visited Western Australia and stayed with his aunt Caroline Jones. While there he became engaged to marry, so returned to Trafalgar to settle his affairs, then travelled back to Perth by train. On arrival there he was unwell and died at Perth Hospital a few day later, on 6 August 1925, aged 29. He is buried at the Karrakatta Cemetery.

 

The Jones Brothers

Fred, Charlie and John Jones. Photos: Kerry Adrichem and Nelva Griffiths.

In 1888, Caroline Johanna Fredericke Ewert married John Sweeney Jones at Euroa in Victoria. Known as Caroline, she was the daughter of Friedrich and Friedericke Ewert and had been born in 1862 at Epping and baptized at Westgarthtown. John and Caroline and their four children moved to Western Australia during the late 1890s and settled on a selection near Greenbushes. Her brother Charles and five Ewert cousins also lived nearby.

Two more children were born in Western Australia, where John Sweeney farmed, worked at the local tin mine and also cut timber. After the war he and Caroline moved to Balingup and later retired to Donnybrook. Caroline died in 1953 aged 92 and John in 1955 aged 91. They are buried at Donnybrook.

Both Frederick and Charles Jones, who served with the 51st battalion, were killed in action together at Mouquet Farm in France on 3 September 1916. The news must have been devastating for their family. The boys’ grandfather, Friedrich Ewert, then a widower aged 81, is said to have exclaimed in despair ‘All mein friends [in Germany] are killing all mein relatives’.

John and Caroline’s eldest surviving son, John Leslie Jones, also tried to enlist in both 1916 and 1917 but was rejected as medically unfit because of endocarditis.

Frederick George Sweeney Jones (1889-1916) and Charles Edward John Jones (1891-1916) were John and Caroline Jones’ two eldest children, born near Euroa. Fred was born on 15 September 1889 and Charles on 28 October 1891. Both were sleeper hewers when they enlisted at Greenbushes on 25 September 1915 and both had previously served with the 25th Light Horse, Machine Gun Section of the Citizen Forces. They gave their religion as Church of England.

After initial training, Fred and Charles were allocated on 1 November 1915 to the 8th Reinforcements, 28th Battalion. Fred was Private No. 3557 and Charles was Private No. 3554, 7th Infantry Brigade. They embarked for Egypt on the Borda on 7 January 1916 and at Zeitoun on 3 March 1916, were transferred to D Company, 51st Battalion, 13th Infantry Brigade at Tel-el-Kabir.

The 51st Battalion left Egypt for France on 5 June 1916 and arrived at Marseilles on 12 June. Less than three months later, on 3 September 1916, Fred and his brother Charles were killed in action together at Mouquet Farm. They were first reported as ‘Missing in Action’ but a Court of Enquiry held on 23 April 1917 concluded they had been ‘Killed in Action.’  Charles had been hit by a shell and badly wounded in the right arm and leg and it is presumed Fred suffered a similar fate. Their gravesites are unknown.

Fred was 26 and Charles was 24. The boys’ mother was granted a pension of £4 fortnightly from 7 December 1916.

Fred and Charles are commemorated on the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial in France; on Panel 153 at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra; and at Balingup.