More World War One memories from family members

Died in the war: Sydney William Estick.
Died in the war: Sydney William Estick.

From Anthony Estick, Harbury, UK

Who served: Gilbert Estick and Sydney Estick

My discovery of Gilbert Estick and Sydney Estick of Crystal Brook.

I was unaware of having any relation who fought in either the First or Second wars, until late last year. I had a letter from The Royal British Legion asking me to remember a particular serviceman they had selected for me - Lance Corporal  Sydney William Estick, who died in May 1918.

A relation unknown to me until fairly recently, and who has done quite extensive research into the family, sent me information about Charles Estick and Sarah Williamson, who in February 1862 sailed from Plymouth to Freemantle in Australia. They had a family of six, of which Charles was born 1872.

Charles was the father of Gilbert and Sydney. Gilbert survived The Great War and lived till 1957, but Sydney who enlisted as a 21-year-old died one year later in 1918.

Sydney Estick lies in La Kreule Military Cemetery, Hazebrouck, France. I made the trip to La Kreule Cemetery to see his resting place, it is a beautiful and very moving place.

I thank him for his sacrifice that 100 years ago and my thoughts are with any of the family that may still be in South Australia. 

Memory: Gilbert Victor Estick.

Memory: Gilbert Victor Estick.

From Michael Ryan

Who served: Private Thomas Ryan

My uncle was Private Thomas Ryan, O/N 5201. Unit: 14th Bn. AIF.  He died of wounds on February 5, 1917, aged 20 near  Bapaume, France. 

Thomas is the son of Thomas Nicholas and Mary Jane Ryan of Casterton, Victoria. He was born at Bahgallah, Victoria. 

The following article about Thomas Ryan was written in the Casterton Free Press and Glenelg Shire Advertiser on Thursday June 7, 1917.

Killed While Rescuing A Comrade - A Hero’s Death

Soldier “Watty” Norris, at the front, has written a letter to Mrs Ryan (says our Sandlford correspondent in sympathetic allusion to the death of her son [Thomas], which occurred near to where the writer was in action at the time). He recounts the circumstances as follows: 

“Tom lost his life while carrying out the duties of stretcher bearer under a most terrible artillery fire. I never saw him after we got into the line, but I was told by other stretcher bearers that he was hit by a shrapnel burst, the metal hitting him in three places on head and shoulders. He was wounded some time in the night and died next morning at the first dressing station on the field. It was a night never to be forgotten, nothing but bursts of flame and smoke all along the line. We went in about 200 strong and came out about 70. We were supporting an attack right in front of Bapaume.”

The writer makes the following solacing remarks in the course of the letter. 

“It will be a great consolation for you to know that Tom lost his life while gallantly carrying out the duties of stretcher bearer under a most terrible artillery fire. Try to bear up under the terrible blow and think of him as a hero who has given his life so gallantly, attempting to rescue his wounded comrades.  Although overwhelmed with grief, I am sure you will be proud to know that you had a son to go forth in this greatest of all wars and sacrifice his life in such a noble manner.”

Thomas Ryan memorial is at the Bernafay Wood British Cemetery, Montauban. France.

From Nick Goddard, Killara

Armistice in Paris: Herbert Goddard

Armistice in Paris: Herbert Goddard

Herbert Goddard

Personal account of being in Paris on 11/11/18 written by my Grandfather, Herbert Goddard 7-33rd Btln

Armistice night in Paris.

Being the only Forbesite in Paris when the memorable news was received that the armistice had been signed, I will give a few impressions of how it was received in the great French capital.  For some days before while the terms were being transmitted to the enemy government there was an air of expectancy that before long hostilities would cease, and it was noticeable that a great number of the business establishments were doing a good trade in flags and bunting.

The signing of the armistice was announced to Paris soon after 11 o’clock in the morning by a salvo of five guns from the forts, and in the twinkling of an eye the entire aspect of the city changed.  The incubus of four years war fell from the shoulders of the capital like a discarded cloak.  Flags appeared from everywhere and the roadway was taken possession of by triumphant processions of men, women and children carrying the banners of all the Allies and singing “The Marseillaise”, “God save the King” and “The Brabanconne”.  Paris without hesitation decided to do no more work for the day, and many of the business houses closed their doors.  It was a great and glorious crowd of humanity which surged along the grand boulevards.  Everyone in khaki was enthusiastically cheered, and the whole-hearted manner in which the civilians grasped you by the hand, uttering a few words, showed the respect and honour they felt towards the man in uniform.  It was soon apparent that the host of city workers intended to give up the day to rejoicing.

It was the night, however, which for anyone to have witnessed, will forever live in their memory.  Arc lamps and signs which had not been used for four years shone forth and the crowd stimulated even more by the artificial light which had been denied them gave vent to all the feelings which the emotions of the day suggested.  Cheering echoed and re-echoed through the streets and there was great rejoicing on all hands.  Soldiers and civilians embraced to an extent that probably Paris had never before witnessed.  French and other allied officers arm in arm with singing girls, yanks, poilus and “diggers” bearing flags of all nationalities, were jostled, pushing, and there is no harm in saying it, kissed and cuddled as they had never been before.  It was indeed the sight of a lifetime.  The crowd took possession of taxicabs, lorries, or any other vehicles happening along.  They climbed on to the roofs, clung to the footboards, and bestrided the bonnets.  Much amusement was even caused by dragging some of the big 5.9 guns which were on exhibition at the Concorde along the Boulevards crowded all over with a happy joyous throng.

There were many soul-stirring scenes a the Place de I’Opera – it was just black with people and all the good old patriotic songs of France, England and America were sung and re-sung.

It was previously arranged that if the armistice was signed that day all the “Aussies” in Paris would congregate at the Follies Bergere theatre where “Zig Zag” was holding sway.  No doubt it was the “Aussies” night out – not matter from where any flag might be hoisted it was not long before an “Aussie” flag found even a higher point of vantage.  When Daphne Pollen, one of the chief artists, appeared on the stage wearing one of our felt hats, with our flag and badge in her dress, and commenced to coo-ee, needless to say our boys showed their full appreciation.  At half-time the “diggers” simply took possession of the stage and gave to good effect some of their favourite old songs, and in particular  “Australia will be there” rang out all over the spacious theatre.   Meanwhile, some ingenious “Aussie” had tacked up a few well worded posters around the promenade such as “Say, digger, who’s your lady friend”, “Long life to the allied soldiers, beaucoup long life to the Aussies” which caused a good deal of amusement.

To be in Paris just at this time was an event of a lifetime and shall never be forgotten by those who took part in the festivities.