Westgarthtown & WWI





Ziebell family



Christian and Sophia (née Oldach) Ziebell and at least eight of their nine children arrived in Australia aboard the Pribislaw in February 1850. They came from Neu Buckow in Mecklenburg, where Christian was a pork butcher. He established a dairy farm at Westgarthtown on 102 acres.

Christian and Sophia Ziebell had ten children, nine of whom survived to adulthood – Johanne, Maria, Louisa, Heinrich, Elisa, Fredericke, Carl, August and Caroline – and all married. Some lived at Westgarthtown, or nearby places such as Somerton, while others loved further afield. Christian died in 1882 aged 82 and Sophia in 1888 aged 86.

Three of Christian and Sophia Ziebell’s great-grandsons are known to have served in the AIF during World War 1 – Albert Frahm, Adolph Schmutsch and Albert Ziebell. Another great-grandson, Julius Peters, who served in the Boer War with the 5th Victorian Mounted Rifles, joined the New Zealand Expeditionary Force and served in New Zealand during World War 1. Ernst Ziebell, a nephew who Christian brought to Australia when he returned home in 1856 from a visit to Germany, also had three grandsons named Brew who enlisted during World War 1. Other Ziebell relatives by marriage, such as the Unmack and Schleicher families, also had sons serving in the AIF.

One of Christian and Sophia’s great-grandsons, Charles Ziebell, was a chemist at Fitzroy when World War 1 began. He was said to have had a good business when the war broke out but was then boycotted and business fell. By 1918, he was doing little business and killed himself later that year. The fact he was said to have been ‘strongly pro-German and had a picture of the Kaiser in his shop’ would not have helped business. Charles’ brother Julius was falsely accused of disloyalty in 1915 and their cousin Charles Bernhard Emil Ziebell, who ran a pork butcher’s shop at Windsor, also had his business ruined by the war.

Carl Oldenburg, a saddler married to Christian and Sophia’s granddaughter Wilhelmina Karsten, decided early in 1916 to sell his saddlery business at Northcote and move to the more tranquil surroundings of Woori Yallock until the end of the war.  Wilhelmina’s sister Ernestine was Adolph Schmutsch’s mother.

On 7 May 1920, Adolph Schmutsch’s younger brother Frederick changed his surname by deed poll from Schmutsch to Shaw, having experienced anti-German sentiment during the First World War. In a letter published in the Perth’s Sunday Times in 1916, he described how members of the Albany Lumpers’ Union of Workers had refused to work with him because he was German-born, even though he had arrived in Australia as an infant and had a brother fighting for Australia.

On 3 October 1939, shortly after the start of World War 2, Albert Ziebell’s brother Archie changed his name by deed poll from Ziebell to Bell. His father had lost his job during World War 1 because of his German name and Archie decided he would not face the same fate. His brother Albert, however, retained his German surname.

Albert Frahm. Photo: Tasmanian Archives &
Heritage Office.
William Albert Hermann Frahm (1888-1939) was born at South Melbourne in 1888, the only son of Hermann Charles and Mary Jane (née Davies) Frahm, who married in Adelaide, South Australia on 14 December 1883. During the early 1890s, Albert’s family moved to Tasmania and his father was caretaker and scenic artist at Hobart’s Theatre Royal for 20 years.  Hermann died in 1924 and Mary in 1938.

Albert’s grandfather, Carl Frahm, was born at Ribnitz in Mecklenburg in about 1827. He arrived in Australia aboard the Pribislaw in February 1850 and lived first at Westgarthtown. His occupation was given as farmer when he was naturalized in 1852 but by 1854 he had a hay and corn store at Collingwood. On 20 June 1855 he married fellow Pribislaw passenger Friedericke Ziebell of Westgarthtown and they went on to raise a large family.

In September 1855, Carl took over the Northcote Arms Hotel, but during the late 1850s and early 1860s his address was variously given as Bendigo, Avoca and Westgarthtown. By 1862 he operated the Thomastown Dairy in Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne, which retailed Westgarthtown’s milk, butter and cheese. By 1864, he had a fruit shop in Swanston Street, then added fruit, oysters, wine and confectionary to his range of products. In 1870, he was also running a luncheon business in Collins Street, then the Temple of Pomona Hotel in Bourke Street.  He was declared insolvent in 1873 owing over £2,000 to his father-in-law, Christian Ziebell, among other creditors.

Carl is said to have joined the rush to the Palmer River goldfields in North Queensland, which began in 1873, but by 1879 he had the Academy of Music Café and Restaurant in Adelaide. The building in which his café was located was burnt out several times during the 1880s causing him substantial losses. For four years during the late 1880s and early 1890s, he ran a produce business and café in Sydney, then he returned to Adelaide and ran restaurants again until his retirement in 1908. He died at North Unley in 1912.    

Albert Frahm enlisted twice for military service during World War 1. He was living at Paddington in Sydney as a glass cutter when he enlisted in the Australian Naval and Military Expedition’s 1st Australian Expeditionary Force on 16 August 1914. He was 26 and had previously served for 3½ years in the Field Artillery’s 41st Battery, Citizen Forces. He gave his religion as Roman Catholic. He embarked aboard the Berrima at Sydney on 19 August as Private, No. 834, H Company of the A. N. & M. E. F. and arrived at Palm Island on 24 August.

On 11 September 1914 the A. N. & M. E. F. landed at New Britain and hoisted the British Flag at Rabaul the following day. By 17 September the terms of capitulation of German New Guinea had been signed and four days later the German and native forces surrendered at Herbertshöhe. On 24 September the A. N. & M. E. F. occupied Madang.

On 11 October the A. N. & M. E. F. captured the German naval yacht Komet and then occupied New Ireland on 17 October; Nauru on 6 November; The Admiralty and Western Islands on 19 November; and the German Solomon Islands on 9 December 1914. Early in January 1915, the A. N. & M. E. F. left New Guinea and Albert was discharged on the 18 January after serving 154 days, his term of enlistment having expired.

Albert then enlisted in the AIF at Claremont in Tasmania on 8 March 1915. He was assigned to the Australian Army Medical Corps, C Section, 7th Field Ambulance, Private, No. 3766. He embarked at Brisbane aboard the Aeneas on 29 June and reported for duty from Suez on 4 August 1915. He left for Gallipoli on 4 September and served there until 5 November when he was admitted to the 16th Casualty Clearing Station with jaundice. He was evacuated to Mudros the next day, then transferred to hospital at Malta on 12 November where he was treated for enteric fever. On 7 January 1916, he left for Egypt where he was admitted to the 2nd Auxiliary Convalescent Depot at Heliopolis with paratyphoid on 11 January.

On 28 January 1916 Albert embarked at Suez ‘for three months change’ in Australia and was admitted to the Hobart General Hospital on 10 March. On the voyage home he also had an operation for appendicitis. From 28 March to 29 June he was treated for enteric fever. With general debility and rheumatism he was finally discharged medically unfit from the AIF on 14 August 1916 and granted a war pension of £1.10.0 per fortnight from 29 August 1916.

Albert was army area officer in Hobart during 1917 and at Zeehan in 1919-20 and when he left the army he had reached the rank of Lieutenant. In January 1921 he married Elsie Young at Hobart. He worked in the drafting office of the Electrolytic Zinc Company at Risdon for nine years, then for the Agricultural Bank and Farmers’ Debt Adjustment Board. Shortly before his death at the Hobart Repatriation Hospital on 9 March 1939, aged 51, he had been appointed Council Clerk at Richmond, near Hobart.  He was cremated at Cornelian Bay. Albert was survived by his wife Elsie and a daughter Helen. He is commemorated in the Hobart Garden of Remembrance at Cornelian Bay.

Julius Peters. Photo: National Boer War
Memorial Association.
John Julius Peters (1879-1967) was born at Westgarthtown on 3 July 1878, the son of Julius and Alice (née Wilson) Peters, who married in 1877. Julius’ parents were Daniel and Louisa (née Ziebell) Peters, who arrived on the Pribislaw in 1850 and married in Melbourne in 1851. Louisa died in 1856 aged 28 and Daniel in 1876 aged 55. Both are buried at Westgarthtown.

Julius and Alice Peters lived at Westgarthtown until about 1881, when they moved to North Melbourne, where Alice died of typhoid in 1889, having borne six children. Julius remarried soon after and enlarged the family to 11 children.

John Julius Peters, also known as Julius, served in the Boer War. He enlisted with the Victorian Mounted Rifles in January 1901 aged 22, having previously worked at droving and other jobs in various places, including Albury, Mildura, Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie. As Private, No. 1266, 5th Victorian Mounted Rifles, he embarked for South Africa on 15 February 1901. At Wilmansrust, on the evening of 12 June 1901, the Boers ambushed his unit and the surgeon and 18 other men were killed. Julius is said to have ably supported Captain Sherlock, the 5th Victorian Mounted Rifles’ wounded veterinary officer, who took charge of 40 other wounded men.

Julius returned to Australia in 1902 and was discharged after one year and 102 days’ service. His descendants say his father strongly disapproved of him having fought against the Boers. By 1905 he had moved to the Waikato district of New Zealand and in 1906 married Lydia Clark at Te Awamutu and proceeded to raise a family of ten children.

On 13 October 1915, Julius enlisted in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, aged 37. He gave his religion as Church of England. He passed his medical examination the following day, but there is no further information in his file, suggesting he did not serve overseas. His family believe he trained mounted recruits in New Zealand. At the time of his enlistment he was a wellsinker living at Pirongia.

On his wife’s death in 1925, he was left to raise the six youngest children. Three sons served in the New Zealand Army during World War 2. Julius died at Hamilton, New Zealand on 20 June 1967, aged 78.

Adolph (Dolph) Schmutsch (1881-1951) was born at Heiligenhafen, Schleswig-Holstein in Germany on 18 October 1881, the son of Adolph Schmutsch, a ship’s captain and Ernestine Karsten, daughter of Heinrich and Marie (née Ziebell) Karsten of Westgarthtown. Ernestine, born at Westgarthtown in 1859, apparently met Adolph when his ship visited Melbourne and they married in 1879, after which they lived in Germany.

Four children were born in Germany, but one died there in infancy. When her husband died in 1887, Ernestine decided to return to Australia with her three children, arriving back aboard the Habsburg in September 1887. Her youngest child, 6-months-old Heinrich, died during the voyage. Travelling to Australia with Ernestine was her sister Minnie and husband Carl Oldenburg and their young son. They had also been living in Germany, where they had married in 1885.

In 1888, Ernestine married Hamburg-born Friedrich Riebling in Melbourne and another son, Frederick Riebling, was born later that year. Dolph and his younger brother William attended Thomastown State School from 1887-90, then the family left Westgarthtown and eventually settled at Albany in Western Australia.

Early in 1901 Dolph, then a tramway trackman in Melbourne, travelled to South Africa and enlisted in Tullabardine’s Scottish Horse at Cape Town. He later joined the 1st Australian Commonwealth Horse and saw further service in South Africa. He received the Queens South Africa Medal with clasps for Cape Colony, Orange Free State, Transvaal, South Africa 1901 and 1902.

Dolph is said to have served in the fort at Albany between the Boer War and World War 1 but when he enlisted on 18 August 1914 he was a ship’s fireman in Melbourne. He gave his religion as Church of England. Earlier in 1914 he had married Mary Monteith and they lived at Northcote. He was assigned to the 2nd Field Artillery Brigade Ammunition Column, Gunner, No. 1495. He was 32. He gave London rather than Germany as his birthplace, no doubt to avoid problems relating to service then by those born outside the British Empire or with parents born in enemy countries. Military Intelligence, however, checked his background and commented ‘as this man is unquestionably OK there appears to be no reason why he should not be allowed to go.’ Dolph celebrated by being absent without leave for two days.

Dolph embarked at Melbourne aboard the Southern for Egypt on 20 October 1914. His unit reached Egypt in December 1914 where he was soon in trouble again for being absent without leave, and also disobedience, habits he maintained throughout the war.

Dolph landed at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915, or soon after, as he received a gunshot would to the left side of his face in ‘April 1915’ and was off duty for ‘about 10 days.’ On 11 July he was admitted to hospital at Lemnos with a back injury. He was discharged on 20 July and returned to Gallipoli. On 26 July, he was transferred to A Company, 6th Battery, then on 11 August he was wounded in action again, receiving a bullet wound to his left buttock at Gully Beach. He was evacuated to Malta, then to the 1st Southern General Hospital at Birmingham, England in September 1915.

In May 1916 Dolph was posted to France, where after further service, he was granted two weeks leave to England in August 1917. On 27 September he was transferred to the 1st Field Artillery Brigade’s 101st Battery but received shell concussion and gassing on 13 October 1917. On recovery, he was posted to Belgium, where he served until June 1918, when he was transferred to England for home leave. He embarked aboard the Carpentaria on 8 July and arrived back in Melbourne on 4 October 1918. He was discharged from the AIF on 3 December 1918.

Dolph joined the Victorian Railways in January 1921 and he and Mary lived at Richmond in Melbourne. At the outbreak of the Second World War, Dolph is said to have tried to re-enlist and screamed ‘blue murder’ when he was told he was too old at 57. Dolph and Mary had moved to Bendigo by 1942, where he died on 20 July 1951, aged 69. Mary died in 1949. Two sons  - Arthur and Ronald (Adolph) - served during World War 2 and both were taken prisoner in Crete. Dolph’s mother Ernestine died in Melbourne in 1944 aged 85.

Bert Ziebell (left) with an army friend, England
1918. Photo: Janet Hubbard.
Albert Thomas Charles (Bert) Ziebell (1896-1960) was born at Woodstock on 22 March 1896, the eldest son of Albert Heinrich Christian and Amelia (née Bodycoat) Ziebell, who married on 13 June 1894. He attended primary school at Thornbury and later studied at Collingwood Technical College. He then served his apprenticeship with A. Lugton Engineers and Boilermakers and was employed as a fitter there when he applied to enlist at Melbourne on 22 August 1916. He was 20, single and lived at Northcote. He gave his religion as Church of England.

Bert had previously served with the Cadets and Citizens Forces. He was accepted on 23 September 1916 and allocated to the 23rd Reinforcements, 8th Battalion, Private, No. 6456. He trained at the Royal Park Depot until 3 November when he was transferred to the 18th Reinforcements, 22nd Battalion. He embarked aboard the Hororata at Melbourne on 23 November for England and was appointed acting Corporal. He arrived at Plymouth on 29 January 1917 and was posted to the 6th Training Battalion at Larkhill where he was acting Corporal until 9 March.

On 9 May 1917 Bert left for France, where he was taken on strength of D Company, 22nd Battalion on 14 May and promoted to Lance-Corporal on 24 May. He served on the Western Front in France and Belgium. On 4 October 1917, he was wounded in action at Broodseinde, near Ypres in Belgium. He was admitted to the 32nd Stationary Hospital at Wimmereux with a gunshot wound to his left shoulder, then transferred on 7 October to No. 2 Military Hospital at Canterbury in England. The following day he was transferred to the 3rd Auxillary Hospital at Dartford.

Bert was transferred to the Weymouth Depot on 17 October 1917. On 5 December 1917, he wrote a very interesting letter to his cousin, Irene Bodycoat.

‘Just a few lines dear Cousin to tell you I’m in the best of health except for one thing, & it’s this. These last few days my shoulder has been very painful & when I move it, it grates and cracks & generally acts the fool. So I thought that there is either a piece of broken bone or a piece of steel, so this morning I went up to see the quack (Dr) & he said that he is going to operate on it, which I hope he will, for two reasons. (1) is that I don’t want a sore shoulder for the rest of my natural [life] & (2) is that by an operation I’ll be a few more months away from those cursed trenches & death traps – savvy? – and I’m just going to keep at the ‘quack’ till I get that operation too, I don’t care how much it hurts, for I’m not keen on spending the winter in the trenches. I know what it’s like, I wouldn’t mind going back if it wasn’t in the winter, I’m not afraid of the bullets or shells or death, I’ve faced it too often now to be afraid of it Irene, but the snow, the ice, the wind & water up over your knees is no joke is it, so if I can work my ticket I’m going too, & and I don’t care a hang who knows see…

…When a chap is wounded he doesn’t say “I’m hit”, but “Hurrah!, I’ve got a Blighty” meaning a wound that will take him to England. You know it’s the happiest moment of a man’s life over here when he has a good knock for he knows that he will get away from that murderous line for a few months, maybe get home. I think I would go mad with joy if I were coming home to see all your dear faces once again, & all the familiar houses and streets etc. How we all yearn for it, but please God it will come some day, when I don’t know, but I’m convinced that we won’t be the victors as Old Fritz is too hot for us. At present, as we stand now, he would never break our line on the western front but now those cursed Russians have thrown down their arms, & reneged, it relieves at least 200 German Divisions which is 2,000,000 men, to say nothing of guns etc. Well I think with all those extra men, which of course he will bring from Russia over against us, he will make it hellish rough for us. But then again, we have such a preponderance of artillery that will blow him to hell if he attempts a break…

Bert went on to describe in detail his experiences, such as German bombardments; Hell-Fire Corner; the Menin Road; and fighting on the Front Line. He concluded his letter by stating ‘…You can’t sleep in the line no matter how tired you are, unless you are in a “pill-box” or a “dug-out”, & even then your mind is always wondering when will the next shell come in & blow you to atoms. That is your continual thought – The Next Shell – Where will it land?’
Soon after, Bert’s doctors decided he should return to Australia ‘for a change’ and he embarked aboard the Euripides on 30 January 1918 and arrived back in Melbourne on 21 March. He was posted to the 16th Australian General Hospital at Macleod then discharged from the AIF as medically unfit on 4 July 1918.

When he had recovered from his wounds, Bert returned to work at Lugton’s. On 9 October 1920 he married Ellen Turner and they raised three children – Albert, Stanley and Mervyn – at Northcote before Ellen died in 1948. He served for several years in the Militia Forces during the early 1930s and in 1937 he and a business partner purchased Lugtons, at which he had been foreman for many years. He remarried to Susan Sherry in 1950. Bert died on 9 September 1960 aged 64 and is buried at the Epping Cemetery. 

The Brew Brothers

When Christian Ziebell arrived back in Australia on the Helene in 1856 from a visit to Germany, he brought several relatives and family friends with him. One of these was his nephew, Ernst Ziebell, aged 16.

Ernst was a butcher and living at Epping when he married Rosanna Brady from County Cavan, Ireland on 1 April 1869 at the Trinity Lutheran Church, East Melbourne. Ernst and Rosanna had a large family of 12 children. At least four were born in Epping or Somerton before the family moved in about 1874 to 69 acres Ernst had selected at Tamleugh in northern Victoria. Several of his neighbours there – Ewert, Lehmann, Garlepp and Seeber - were also from Epping or surrounding areas. Ernst later farmed at Caniambo, then moved to Albury, where he died on 24 April 1910 aged 72. Rosanna died in 1916.

Ernst and Rosanna Ziebell’s third child, Mary Ellen, born at Somerton in 1873, married Thomas Brew at Kojonup in Western Australia in 1893. Three of her four sons  - Edward, Robert and William - served in World War 1. Mary Brew died in 1928.

Edward John Brew (1895-1958) was born at Sugarloaf Creek near Seymour, Victoria on 28 September 1895. He was a labourer, living at East Sydney, when he enlisted at the Sydney Town Hall on 20 August 1915. He was only 19 but gave his age as 21. His religion was Roman Catholic. Along with his brothers, Robert and William, he was assigned to the 12th Reinforcements, 2nd Battalion, Private No. 3706.

The Brew brothers embarked for Egypt aboard the Medic at Sydney on 30 December 1915 and were taken on strength of the 2nd Battalion at Serapeum on 17 March 1916.  Five days later they left Alexandria for France and arrived at Marseilles on 28 March.

Edward was wounded in action at Pozieres on 22 July 1916, the 2nd Battalion’s first major action in France. He was admitted to hospital at Rouen the next day with a gunshot wound to his right arm and buttock. After recovering, he rejoined the 2nd Battalion on 24 November 1916. In May 1917, he was granted two weeks furlough to England, then had a week’s leave to Paris in early September. He returned to fight with the 2nd Battalion near Ypres in Belgium, before furlough to England again in February 1918. On his return he rejoined the 2nd Battalion on the Somme in France.

On 30 June 1918 he was admitted to hospital with a sprained ankle, then transferred to England on 7 July. Early in August, Edward forfeited three days’ pay for being absent without leave in England and was then admitted sick to hospital on 21 August 1918. After four weeks, he was discharged to convalesce. On 8 January 1919 he was invalided to Australia aboard the Orsova and arrived back at Sydney on 3 March 1919. He was discharged medically unfit from the AIF on 4 May 1919.

Edward married Margaret Ann Papps at East Sydney on 27 September 1919. They lived at Darlinghurst West and raised three sons. He died at Long Jetty on 13 June 1958 aged 62.

Robert Henry Brew (1896-1949) was born near Seymour, Victoria on 31 December 1896 and was a council labourer living at Auburn in Sydney when he enlisted at the Sydney Town Hall on 16 August 1915, aged 18. His religion was Roman Catholic. He was assigned with his brothers Edward and William to the 12th Reinforcements, 2nd Battalion, Private No. 3707.

The Brew brothers embarked aboard the Medic at Sydney on 30 December 1915 and were taken on strength of the 2nd Battalion at Serapeum on 17 March 1916. They left Alexandria for France five days later and arrived at Marseilles on 28 March. In late April, he fell ill with influenza, then between 22-27 July 1916 he was wounded in action at Pozieres. He was evacuated to England on 30 July with a gunshot wound and sprained back and admitted to the 1st Southern General Hospital at Birmingham.

On 31 August 1916 Robert was transferred to a convalescent hospital at Epsom. He was granted furlough on 30 September, then posted to Wareham on 27 October. On 25 January 1917, a court martial found him guilty of being absent without leave from 21 December 1916 until 3 January 1917 and carrying irregular documentation. He was sentenced to 30 days’ detention and forfeited 65 days’ pay. On 23 March 1917, he was transferred to the 61st Battalion, where he was soon in trouble again, being absent without leave from 27-31 May. He received a further three days’ detention and forfeited eight days’ pay.

On 9 October he left for France and rejoined the 2nd Battalion in Belgium on 15 October 1917. The 2nd Battalion returned to France early in 1918 to fight against the German Spring offensive on the Somme in March and April. On 3 April 1918, he was admitted to hospital sick and evacuated to England on 11 April with trench feet, where he was again admitted to the 1st Southern General Hospital at Birmingham.

Robert returned to France on 26 June 1918, but was gassed on 11 August and did not rejoin the 2nd Battalion until 3 November, shortly before the Armistice. He remained in France until 24 February 1919, when he left for England. He embarked aboard the Boonah on 20 April 1919 and arrived back in Australia on 11 June 1919. He was discharged from the AIF on 3 August 1919.

In 1921 Robert married Laura Farve at Sydney. They had a son before her death in 1926. He remarried in 1935 to Frances McGuire and re-enlisted during World War 2 (N100524). He died at Paddington, Sydney on 16 August 1949, aged 52. He is commemorated in the New South Wales Garden of Remembrance at Rookwood.

William George Brew (1894-1962) was born near Seymour, Victoria in 1894 and was living at Woolloomooloo in Sydney when he enlisted at the Sydney Town Hall on 16 August 1915, aged 21. He gave his occupation as driver and religion as Roman Catholic. He was assigned with his brothers Edward and Robert to the 12th Reinforcements, 2nd Battalion, Private, No. 3708.

The Brew brothers embarked aboard the Medic at Sydney on 30 December 1915 and were taken on strength of the 2nd Battalion at Serapeum on 17 March. They left Alexandria for France on 22 March and arrived at Marseilles on 28 March.

William, like his brothers, was wounded in action at Pozieres, on 25 July 1916. On 6 August he was evacuated to hospital in England with shell wounds to the chest, arm and hands. On 2 October, while convalescing at Pertam Downs, he missed a parade. He was also found guilty of neglecting to obey an order and sentenced to 120 hours detention.

He was granted furlough from 7-24 October and on 23 March 1917 was transferred to the 61st Battalion. Two days later he was charged with having by neglect lost a bayonet scabbard while on guard duty and fined. In April, he was sentenced to a further 96 hours of detention for disobedience and false statements, then hospitalized with an unrecorded condition.

An injury to his left knee caused William to be invalided home ‘for a change’ aboard the Euripides on 21 July and he arrived back on 18 September 1917. On 24 September he was recommended for discharge. He was duly discharged from the AIF on 9 October 1917 as medically unfit and awarded a war pension of £1.10.0 per fortnight from 17 October 1917.

In 1918 William married Mary Ann Tobin at Sydney and they had at least two children. He died in Sydney on 12 August 1962 aged 67.