Westgarthtown & WWI

 

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GUMLEAF GERMANS

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Winter family

 

 

Friedrich and Maria (née Techel) Winter, from Neu Buckow in Mecklenburg, arrived in Melbourne aboard the Pribislaw in February 1850 with their four children - Johann, Maria, Louise and Dora. They were foundation settlers at Westgarthtown, establishing a dairy farm on their 50 acres.

A further six children were born in Australia – August (1851), Eliza (1852), Heinrich (1856), Emma Bertha (1857), Emily (1859) and Heinrich (1861) – two of whom (Heinrich (1856) and Emma Bertha) died in infancy.

In 1858, Friedrich Winter leased his farm at Westgarthtown to neighbour Johann Maltzahn and moved to 480 acres he had leased at Epping. Friedrich died in1866 and was buried at Westgarthtown. Friedrich and Maria’s sons Johann, August and Heinrich continued to work the farm at Epping until 1880, when they returned to their farm at Westgarthtown.

The Winter family remained at Westgarthtown for another 70 years. Maria Winter died in 1898 and was buried with Friedrich and her children who predeceased her – Heinrich (born and died 1856); Emma Bertha (1857-58); Maria Jr (1841-61 m. 1859 Joachim Dau); and Johann (1839-91 bachelor).

Friedrich and Maria’s other children were Louise (1844-74 m. 1865 Heinrich Bollmann); Dora (c. 1849-1925 m. 1869 Joseph Hill); August (1851-1923 bachelor); Eliza (1852-1935 spinster); Emily (1859-1921 m. 1879 John Ward); and Heinrich (1861-1904 bachelor). As well as Friedrich and Maria Winter, all their children except Louise and Dora are buried at Westgarthtown.

None of Friedrich and Maria’s sons married, so there are no descendants with the name of Winter. However, there were many descendants through their daughters and seven enlisted in World War 1. Of these, four were great-grandchildren – brothers Andrew August Leslie Condon, who was killed in action in 1917 and Francis Thomas Condon and brothers Percival Albert Lehman and Rupert Clarence Lehman. The remaining three soldiers were step-grandchildren – brothers Arthur Herbert Dow; Charles William Dau, who died of wounds in 1918; and Walter Albert Edward Dau.

The Condon Brothers

In 1859, eldest daughter Maria Winter married fellow Mecklenburger Joachim Dau, a stonemason/farmer who lived at Somerton. A child, Louisa, was born at the ‘Merri Creek, Kal Kallo’ on 14 July 1861, but her mother Maria died soon after on 26 July 1861.  Joachim Dau remarried in 1865 to Martha Rye and later moved to Wandong, where they raised a large family.

Louisa Dau married Richard Condon at Campbellfield in 1885 and they had two sons – Leslie and Francis – who both served in World War 1. Louisa also had a daughter, Myra, born in 1883. Richard and Louisa had separated by the time their sons enlisted and he lived at Epping and she at North Melbourne.

Andrew August Leslie Condon (1886-1917), known as Leslie, was born at Epping and enlisted in Melbourne on 30 October 1915, aged 29. He was single, lived at George Street, Fitzroy and gave his occupation as a horse driver. His religion was Roman Catholic. After first training at Royal Park and then Bendigo, he was allocated to the 15th Reinforcements, 7th Battalion, Private No. 4762, 2nd Infantry Brigade at Broadmeadows on 12 January 1916.

On 7 March 1916, Leslie embarked at Melbourne aboard the Wiltshire for Egypt and soon after his arrival there on 17 April, he transferred to D Company, 5th Pioneer Battalion, his brother Frank’s unit. In May 1916 at Ferry Post, he forfeited two days’ pay for being absent without leave and in June at Moascar, he missed a parade and was docked a further one days’ pay. He then embarked for France, where he arrived on 25 June 1916. He was again in trouble on 7 July at Lynde for destruction of private property and being drunk and forfeited 21 days’ pay.

In January 1917, he forfeited 14 days’ pay for being absent without leave, before being admitted to hospital with defective vision on 16 January. He rejoined the 5th Pioneer Battalion on 24 January, but went absent without leave on 15 March, for which he forfeited 22 days’ pay and from 27-30 April, for which he forfeited a further 32 days’ pay.

Leslie Condon was killed in action on 10 May 1917 during the Second Battle of Bullecourt. He was buried in the Vaulx Australian Cemetery, 2¾ miles north east of Peronne. His mother was granted a pension of 14/- per fortnight and his medals went to his father. He is commemorated on Panel 174 at the Australian War Memorial and the Honour Roll at the Epping RSL.

Francis Thomas Condon (1887-1921) was employed as a labourer at Leongatha when he enlisted there on 29 June 1915, aged 27. Known as Frank, he was born on 23 October 1887 at Wandong and was single. His religion was Roman Catholic. On 19 July he was allocated to the 9th Reinforcements, 5th Battalion, Private No. 2805, 2nd Infantry Brigade and embarked for Egypt aboard the Star of Victoria on 10 September.

Frank joined the 5th Battalion at Tel-el-Kabir on 7 January 1916, but transferred to the 57th Battalion at Serapeum on 17 February, then finally the 5th Pioneer Battalion on 4 March 1916. Frank and his brother Leslie, who joined the 5th Pioneer Battalion on 17 April, embarked for France on 19 June and arrived at Marseilles on 25 June 1916.

On 5 September he was promoted in the field to Lance-Corporal, but from then on, like his brother, was continually in trouble and lost his Lance-Corporal’s stripe on 20 October for being drunk on duty. On 7 January 1917, he was detached to the 17th Anzac Light Railway as a fettler and served with it until 16 June, when he returned to the 5th Pioneers.

On 19 September 1917, Frank was treated by the 5th Field Ambulance for a self-inflicted bullet wound to his left hand, then transferred to hospital at Eastbourne in England. At a Court of Enquiry held the day he was wounded, he was charged with ‘neglect to the good order and military discipline by negligently handling his rifle thereby wounding himself in the hand and rendering himself unfit for service.’

Frank testified that:

‘After breakfast on morning of Sept. 19th I commenced cleaning my rifle, as I generally rub it over daily. I was kneeling on the floor supporting the rifle, at the top with the left hand, and cleaning with an oily rag round the magazine, when the rifle exploded and shot went into second finger of my left hand.

I did not notice that the rifle was cocked, and cannot account for the cartridge in chamber, excepting that about two days before, when working on gun pits, we had some shooting at an aeroplane.’

After considering the evidence given by Frank and four other witnesses, the court found him guilty. It considered that:

‘Gross negligence was displayed by Pte. F. T. Condon in having his rifle in the living quarters, loaded and cocked. Further that from the unsatisfactory manner in which Pte. Condon gave his evidence, and the peculiar way of holding his rifle during cleaning, we are of the opinion that the wounding was a deliberate act.’

Frank remained in England until 1 February 1918 when he returned to France under escort to face a 15th Infantry Brigade General Court Martial on 23 February, which confirmed the previous decision of guilty and fined him 14 days’ loss of pay.

On 16 April 1918 he forfeited a further eight days’ pay for being absent without leave. Following the Armistice, he was transferred to the Australia Corps Headquarters on 14 December 1918, then on 19 April 1919 embarked aboard the Sardinia for Melbourne. He was discharged from the AIF on 31 July 1919.

Frank, then a farm labourer at Newry in Victoria, died on 17 December 1921 aged 34. His name is included on the Honour Roll at the Epping RSL.

The Lehman Brothers

In 1869, Dora Hanna Sophia Winter married Joseph Stringer Hill, at Somerton. Dora, aged 20, had been born in Germany just prior to the Winter family’s emigration to Australia.  Dora and Joseph Hill raised a large family at Somerton, the eldest being a daughter, Martha. In 1890, Martha Hill married Johann Friedrich Reynold Lehman, a local farmer’s son and they had five children, including four sons, two of whom enlisted for service during World War 1.

Percy Albert Lehman (1893-1953), was born at Somerton and employed as a farm labourer when he enlisted on 19 September 1914, aged 20. He had previously had six months’ training as a blacksmith at Northcote. He gave his religion as Methodist. He was allocated to A Squadron, 8th Light Horse Regiment, No. 173 and trained at Broadmeadows until he embarked for Egypt aboard the Star of Victoria on 25 February 1915.

When the 8th Light Horse Regiment left for Gallipoli on 15 May 1915, Percy was assigned to ‘Details’ at Heliopolis and remained in Egypt throughout the Dardenelles campaign. On 9 October he was admitted to the 1st Australian General Hospital with appendicitis. He rejoined the 8th Light Horse Regiment on 27 December 1915 on its return to Egypt after the evacuation.

The 8th Light Horse Regiment, which formed part of the 3rd Light Horse Brigade, marched out to Serapeum on 26 February 1916. Percy served with the 8th Light Horse Regiment in Sinai and Palestine until August 1917 when he had ten days leave at a rest camp at Port Said. He then returned and served with the 8th Light Horse Regiment in Palestine until 24 March 1918 when he transferred to the Anzac Provost Corps at Moascar and Suez. On 21 May 1918 he was posted to Desert Mounted Corps Headquarters, then on 11 August transferred to 4th Light Horse Brigade Headquarters at Cairo. He was briefly hospitalized in September 1918.

Percy was promoted to Corporal on 10 February 1919, then embarked for Australia aboard the Malta on 3 July 1919. He arrived back in Melbourne on 7 August and was discharged from the AIF on 6 October 1919. In 1923 he married Gladys Glendinning of Korumburra and lived there for the rest of his life. A railway employee, he died on 21 January 1953 aged 59 and was cremated at Springvale.

Rupert Clarence Lehman (1898-1960) was born at Somerton on 24 March 1898 and employed as a farm labourer when he enlisted in Melbourne on 10 October 1918, aged 20. He gave his religion as Church of England. He commenced training at the Recruit Depot at Broadmeadows on 20 October but was demobilised on 24 December 1918 following the Armistice.

The Dau Brothers

Following Maria (née Winter) Dau’s early death in 1861, Joachim Dau remarried in 1865 to Martha Rye and raised a large family, first at Somerton and later at Wandong. One son, Frederick, served with the 5th Victorian Mounted Rifles during the Boer War and was killed in action in South Africa in 1901 and three others  - Arthur, Charles and Walter - served in World War 1. Charles died of wounds in 1918.


Arthur Herbert Dow.
Photo: Frangipani01 via Ancestry.com
Arthur Herbert Dow (1891-1979) was born at Wandong on 23 July 1891. Spelling his surname Dow rather than Dau, he first enlisted in the Commonwealth Military Forces on 16 November 1908, for five years. He was then 18 and gave his occupation as blacksmith’s apprentice, at Warburton. He was appointed as a Sapper to the Royal Australian Engineers and by 1 June 1913 had reached the rank of Warrant Officer. In November 1913 he renewed his enlistment for a further three years.

Arthur enlisted in the AIF on 10 September 1914, shortly after the outbreak of war, aged 23. He gave his occupation as Military Staff Clerk and religion as Church of England. He was appointed Engineers Clerk with the rank of Warrant Officer, 1st Australian Division. His regimental number was No.1. He embarked at Melbourne aboard the Orvieto on 21 October 1914 and arrived at Alexandria in Egypt on 8 December 1914.

Arthur left Egypt for Gallipoli on 5 April 1915. He watched the landing on 25 April but did not go ashore until several days later. He served at Gallipoli until he fell ill on 14 June and was hospitalized at Lemnos. He was discharged on 18 June and returned to his unit at Anzac Cove the next day, however, he was detached for duty in Egypt on 26 July and arrived at Alexandria three days later. He did not return to Gallipoli.

Arthur was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant at Tel-el-Kabir on 5 March 1916 and transferred from the Australian Records Section to Headquarters, 4th Australian Division Engineers. On 25 April 1916 he was promoted to Lieutenant and Adjutant and on 2 June embarked for France. On 13 November 1916, he was Mentioned in Dispatches by General Sir Douglas Haig for ‘good general service in France from 15 June 1916 to 6 October 1916’.

On 16 June 1917 he was promoted to Captain and Adjutant. On 20 August, he transferred to the 12th Field Company Engineers, then on 22 September transferred to the 4th Division Engineers Headquarters.

After leave in early December, Arthur was seconded to the Engineers Training Depot at Brightlingsea in England. On 3 May 1918 he left for France and was taken on strength of the 4th Field Company Australian Engineers. In March 1918, Arthur was recommended for the Military Cross and his award was gazetted on 3 June 1918. The citation read:

‘For conspicuous energy in forwarding Engineer material to the front zone in the YPRES fighting from 24-9-17 to 24-10-17. His organization of the convoys was well thought out, and his attention to the details of handling was such as to greatly reduce the time convoys were in the shelling area. On every occasion the stores reached their destination. His zeal and organizing abilities have been conspicuous since the commencement of warlike operations. He has a thorough knowledge of his work and has proved resourceful and reliable under arduous conditions. His devotion to duty has at all times been most marked.’

On 10 August 1918 Arthur was wounded in action, receiving gun shot wounds to his hand and leg, but remained on duty. On 27 September 1918 the 1st Division was granted home leave to Australia and he embarked aboard the Port Sydney at Taranto on 8 October. He arrived home on 2 December 1918 and was discharged on 31 January 1919.

Arthur volunteered his services again during World War 2. On 28 May 1940 he enlisted at Caulfield and was appointed to the rank of Major in the Royal Australian Engineers, No. VX18193. By then he was 48 and a civil servant who lived at East St. Kilda. He had married Edna Charlotte Caroline Ford in 1919 and they had two children. 

On 1 October 1940, Arthur embarked for the Middle East, arriving in Palestine on 3 November. He served there until 11 August 1942 when he left to return to Australia, arriving back on 10 October. He served for the remainder of the war in Australia and was discharged on 1 February 1946. He died in Brisbane in 1979 aged 88.


Charles William Dau.
Photo: Frangipani01 via Ancestry.com
Charles William Dau (1885-1918), born at Wandong on 6 July 1885, enlisted at Hamilton on 4 February 1916, aged 30. He gave his religion as Church of England. A railway ganger, Charles had married Edith May Patton at Wandong in 1908. He commenced training at the 14th Depot Battery at Ballarat, but on 22 March was transferred to Broadmeadows and allocated to the 16th Reinforcements, 8th Battalion, Private No. 5073, 2nd Infantry Brigade.

Charles embarked at Melbourne aboard the Suffolk on 1 April 1916. On 28 May he embarked at Alexandria for England with the Engineers Training Depot and after further training as a Sapper, left for France on 23 September. By 2 October he had reached Belgium and was transferred from the 2nd Field Company Engineers to the 6th Field Company Engineers.

In December 1917 he had leave in England, then continued to serve with his the 6th Field Company Engineers until 25 June 1918, when he was briefly detached to Divisional Headquarters for guard duty.

On 1 July 1918 he rejoined the 6th Field Company Engineers, but was gassed in France on 22 July and admitted to the 6th Australian Field Ambulance. He was then transferred to the 47th Casualty Clearing Station and from there to the 41st Stationary Hospital at Pont Remy, where he died of wounds on 26 July 1918.

Charles’ brother Walter wrote from England seeking further details of his death. In response, the hospital reported that Charles:

‘was gassed at 10.30 pm on 22-7-18 and admitted to this hospital on 23-7-18, suffering from Gas Shell Mustard and Phosgene. On admission the disability was of a serious nature, and on the days following his condition became very much worse. On 25-7-18 Broncho Pneumonia – following Gas Shell Poisoning – supervened; and with respiratory distress having increased, death took place at 8.45 am on 26-7-18.’

Charles was buried in Pont Remy British Cemetery, 4½ miles south-east of Abbeville. He left a widow and three children – Thelma, Frederick and Lily.


Walter Albert Edward Dau.
Photo: Frangipani01 via Ancestry.com
Walter Albert Edward Dau (1889-1974), born at Wandong, enlisted at Altona on 1 November 1916, aged 27. A motor driver, he gave his address as Balaclava, the home of his widowed mother. He gave his religion as Methodist. He was posted to a medical company, then 6th Reinforcements, 37th Battalion, before being allocated to the 19th/21st Battalion Reinforcements, Private No. 6790, 6th Infantry Brigade at Royal Park. He embarked aboard the Ascanius on 11 May 1917 and arrived at Devonport in England on 20 July.

Walter was first posted to the 6th Training Battalion at Rolleston, but on 7 August he was admitted to hospital at Fargo for nine days, with synovitis. On 26 October 1917 he travelled to Codford for testing as a Signaller, then on 31 October, he transferred from the 21st Battalion to the Machine Gun Corps Details at Grantham.

On 20 January 1918 Walter was admitted sick to hospital at Grantham and was not discharged until 4 April. After further training, he finally left for France on 28 November 1918, by which time the war was already over, the Armistice having been signed on 11 November.

He joined the 2nd Machine Gun Battalion at Camiers on 1 December. On 24 January 1919, however, he transferred to the 2nd Australian Motor Transport Company and was appointed as a Driver.  He served with that unit until 22 May when he joined the 4th Australian Motor Transport Company.

On 1 September 1919 he was found guilty at a court martial of ‘conveying food, the property of civilians in a motor lorry without authority’ and forfeited 42 days’ pay. On 18 November 1919 he was detached from the 4th Australian Motor Transport Company to the Monumental Graves Services Section and served with that unit in France until he embarked for Australia aboard the Medic on 1 September 1922.

Walter finally arrived home on 22 October 1922 after more than five years overseas. His family believe he was the last Australian soldier to return to Australia after World War 1 and he is said to have brought back chains which now surround the Mont St Quentin display at the Australian War Memorial.

Walter was discharged from the AIF at Sydney on 19 December 1922. He worked as a driver in Melbourne for a few years, then as a labourer in Gippsland, before moving to New South Wales in the late 1940s and finally to Queensland in the 1950s. He died at Charters Towers on 28 February 1974 aged 84.