Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Honorary Colonel Herbert Trangmar Allan MC, OBE(M)

Service numbers N60005 and  NX12229


Much is on the internet about Herbert - This blog concentrates on and commemorates 75 years since the War came to New Guinea and his achievements there.

At 45 years of age Herbert Trangmar Allan was willing and ready to sign up at the start of World War II. Born in 1895 in Woolwich Sydney “Blue Allan” as he was known due to his fiery red hair was a gold miner in Wau in the Territory of New Guinea. He had had a distinguished career in World War I receiving a Military cross and many “mentioned in dispatches” awards.

He was awarded his military cross during WWI on 25 September 1917 when he was a Lieutenant Colonel with the 2/17th A I F. His leadership was rewarded after an attack at Passchendaele Ridge. He was the sole surviving officer of two commands.

After returning from WWI he completed his studies in Arts and Law majoring in Military Science with first class honours at Sydney University. After university he worked as a Gold miner in the New Guinea Territory until the break outbreak of World War II where he signed up again for service at the commencement of WWII.

Again in overseas service he showed his bravery and leadership. Herbert was granted an OBE (Military) for distinguished service in the Middle East from the period April to October 1941 in Tobruk.


However with the war moving to our near neighbour his previous experience in Papua New Guinea was useful. Back in Sydney around 1943, he trained soldiers for jungle warfare. The Australian Dictionary of Biography describes his contribution.

“In June he was promoted temporary lieutenant colonel and proceeded to Papua as Australian Army Representative, Staff of Co-ordination, Milne Bay. It was probably a private arrangement that enabled him to accompany the 20th Brigade in the landing at Finschhafen, New Guinea, on 22 September. He quickly made contact with the luluai (headman) of Tareko to arrange for carriers and observers to report on Japanese movements.

As the army advanced along the northern coast, base sub-areas were established and Allan successively took charge of several. Promoted temporary colonel, he commanded the Pacific Islands Regiment from October 1945 to February 1946; he was mentioned four times in dispatches for his service in World War II and transferred to the Reserve of Officers on 7 May with the rank of Honorary Colonel.

'A burly, muscular man who radiated confidence', Allan was 5 ft 11 ins (180.3 cm) tall. He was a courageous and practical leader, with a 'strong personality concealed under a cloak of irresponsibility'; he loved whisky and smoked heavily.”[1]

One of his Mentioned in Dispatches Awards for Service in the New Guinea Territory[3]

After the war he was demobilised to Rabaul on 20 March 1946 were he commanded the headquarters of the Pacific Islands Regiment prior his initial return to Australia.  Later he managed a transport company in Rabaul before returning to Australia.

Herbert married Gertrude May Hodge in 1929. However the couple remained childless. He retired with Gertrude to a banana farm at Mullaway in New South Wales where he died on 23 May 1967.

[1]Australian Dictionary of Biography viewed  19/5/2017   http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/allan-herbert-trangmar-9331

[2] Australian War Memorial webpage viewed 27/5/2017 Public domain photograph 075552 https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/075552/

[3] Australian War Memorial webpage viewed 27/5/2017 https://www.awm.gov.au/images/collection/items/ACCNUM_LARGE/RCDIG1068966/RCDIG1068966--662-.JPG

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

#TroveTuesday - Kit Gadsby Leading Lismore Hairdresser

My mum was always fond of her Auntie Kit   I remember her a little as a bit fashionable and “out there”.  Well, the Gadsby girls did pass the 6 weeks of their passage to Australia in 1912  reading the latest edition of the Girls Own Annual with its Edwardian fashion sketches and tips.

She earned her living in dressmaking, hairdressing and hospitality.

After a stint at dressmaking she learnt the trade of hairdressing from her little sister Eadie. For a while they were in business together until Eadie and her husband Harry moved away. Eadie and Jack Jacob returned to the business in 1947. 

One of the many ads in the Northern Star
Gadsby’s  was established in 1934, Kit went from strength to strength showing her business acumen and opening a string of salons  in Lismore, Kyogle, Bangalow, Byron Bay, Ballina, Grafton and Casino. Later she had sister Maud offering “Chiropodist” services from the shop in Magellan St Lismore. In 1936 she married divorcee Victor Waters and he managed the multiple businesses which had the motto “Old customers we keep, new ones always stay.”

She received patronage from “discriminating matrons and misses of Lismore and surrounding districts “with her offerings of All Electric Permanent Waves, Electric combination, Non Electric and Oil waves.

Other beautifications included shampooing, resetting, Henna and Chamomile rinses, Bleaching, Eyebrow arching, Scalp Treatment, tinting, dyeing and facials.

Later the “Leading Hairdresser on the North Coast “ opened a College of Hairdressing above the Lismore store “offering a written guarantee of proficiency” to students.

Sadly her husband and business partner died in a car crash while returning from a business trip.  She remarried on the rebound to a much younger Phil Barrett but the marriage was short lived.  He got the salon in Lismore as part of the settlement and it was renamed Barrett’s of Lismore. 

Kit attempted to get some other relatives to take over the chain after the war. Later she returned to Sydney where she tried her hand at running  a reception house called Abbotsford at Cremorne choosing Abbotsford because she’d be first in the telephone book .  Before opening she learnt the trade by working in a competitor’s reception centre in Chatswood.  In learning how the industry worked she also saw how staff could steal and cheat the business. In the end, when she opened her business she stole the staff from Chatswood. 

Eventually her brother William partnered with her especially when she became ill. Often it was all hands on deck from her many relatives when staff were required for functions. Even my mum’s wedding photo was used for promoting the Wedding Photographer. 

Kit was known in the family to be a committed communist like her brother Jack who had been ill on and off since doing his duty in the Great  War. 

Mmm....a committed communist capitalist known to make the most out of her workers.
Kit and her brother Jack - committed comunists!


Thursday, 29 June 2017

Leading Aircraftman Joseph Hudson Ford 7/8/1916-23/7/2007

Army no N104952 Discharged 27/10/1943 from Australian General Transport Company as Lance Corporal NX142444  and Enlisted 28/10/1943 Melbourne RAAF No 443474 to 6 Squadron  and  Discharged 9/10/1945

After leaving school at age 15 Joseph worked as a storeman and packer. He enlisted in Army at age 25   on 22/6/1942 serving in with the Australian General Transport Company in the Northern territory rising to the rank of Lance Corporal.

He was in Darwin during the bombing where he lost his slouch hat. His replacement hat was in fact made by his soon to be wife who at that time was working as a milliner at Henderson’s in Broadway. Traditionally the girls slipped their name in the hat they were making Joe and Wynne somehow met and eventually married in June 1944.

 Commemorating 75 years since the war came to New Guinea

Joe transferred to the RAAF and completed training in 1944 in Sydney.  
Then he was ready for his overseas posting to New Guinea.

He served with No 6 Squadron RAAF (28.10.1943 to 15.2.1945). No 6 Squadron flew Hudson bombers initially and in Joe’s time flew Beaufort bombers. Beaufort bombers were built at Mascot and were nick-named the ‘Flying Coffins’. No 6 Squadron was mainly engaged in reconnaissance and bomber support and anti- shipping attack roles.

During his time with the Squadron, he was based in New Britain on Goodenough Island, Jacquinot Bay, Dobodura and Raboul airfields. Mainly Dobodura. His patrol areas covered Aitape-Wewak area of New Guinea.

They flew regular courier flights between Dobodura and Milne Bay in New Guinea. The Squadron saw little combat during late 1944 to 1945 as there were few targets within range of Dobodura and a shortage of bombs. It was during this time that he became a keen vegetable gardener, mainly to ward off boredom.

Joe left the RAAF as a Leading Aircraftsman (Armourer).

A man from humble beginnings, he was totally unpretentious and simple in his tastes and personal aspirations. He had no airs and graces. When he bought his house in Eastwood his pride and joy was his vegetable garden from which came enough produce over the years to feed a small army. (Chris Ford – Joe’s obituary)


Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Celebrating Cemeteries

After discovering the Strelleys back to 1066 I had been itching to visit their ancient land. In 2014 I was able to spend several days in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire rediscovering Strelley territory. In honour of the blogger’s Cemetery Day, now declared 18 June, I've put together a few of the Strelley discoveries from that trip.

Who were the Strelleys? This knightly family featured prominently in the history of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. They hail from a place called Strelley. It's a parish about 5 miles north west of Nottingham.  Strelleys became tenants of the land around the time of the Norman Conquest. They built churches and took over monasteries all over the area. Here the relatives have built not only headstones for their mortal remains but effigies of their forefathers (and mothers).

Here are a few examples I love from All Saints Church Strelley built around 12th Century by the Strelleys.  

Memorial to John and Sanchia's children-  James and Sanchia

Stone Tomb of Sir John Strelley d 1501 and Sanchia D 1500
Several brasses are laid in the floor for Sir Robert de Strelley d1487 and  Isabel d 1458

All Saints Church Strelley  c12th Century
Tomb of Sir Sampson  d 1390 and Elizabeth de Strelley died 1405

Newstead Abbey was the home of Sir John Byron and Alice Strelley.
Remains of Newstead Abbey

Painted tomb of Sir John Byron and Alice Strelley

Painted tomb of Sir John Byron and Alice Strelley

More recently the family moved to Derbyshire and I found these more recent graves on a visit to Saint Mary the Virgin Church in Belper. Here we discovered some of the relatives of Robert and Elizabeth Strelley nee Clayton my 4th Great Grandparents the owners of Waingroves Hall. See previous blog on Waingroves Hall.

The following were grandchildren of Robert and Elizabeth

Caroline Bridger Pittis 1823 - 1898 married William Roby Strelley 1820 - 1858

Georgina Grace Eckersley nee Davonport 1817-1896  and her brother Robert Strelley Parker
1807-1883 . Robert was the family solicitor
Finally a passing glimpse of the name Strelley at another family plot, 5th cousin, Greg Strelley and I discovered the very weathered grave of Elizabeth Parker 1811 - 1862. She was another granddaughter of Robert Strelley  and sister to Robert Strelley Parker and Georgina Grace Davonport.

This grave took us by surprise and in trying to work out the inscription I wondered whether Greg and I with our scraping, wetting and rubbing were doing more harm than good.
Elizabeth Parker's weathered grave - before

End result

Here's a few tips for visiting old graves

  • When visiting a grave be prepared with some water and a soft brush.
  • You may want to do a little weeding to improve the photos but any major repairs may have to be referred to the trustee of the cemetery and perhaps a stonemason.
  • Take a few flowers (fake or otherwise) to place on the grave.  (I've even been tempted to plant a note on the grave for any future relatives who may be passing through)
  • Try to photograph the headstone using shadows to your advantage.
  • Refer to Cemetery websites for previous photos or inscriptions which might be available.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

DNA - 12 months down the track

So it’s 12 months since we received our Ancestry DNA results. How are we dealing with the Ancestry DNA matches?

What was I expecting? 

I wanted to check my tree and confirm a few issues of ethnicity.  I suspect I have Huguenot relatives so I should have Western Europe.    

Also my Scots/ Irish relatives were suspected to be originating from the Ulster Plantation i.e. English origin so the 34% Irish shouldn’t be as high as it is. I have more Irish than my husband with less long termers from Ireland. If my Irish ‘plantation’ people in my history are not as believed and if I count them as Irish instead then the Irish percentage makes sense.    This then agrees with the English 58 %. My husband as you can see from my previous blog  as you can see from the blog is devastated.

I’m no closer to solving these dilemmas.

  What were the surprises?

I alone have around 10,000 matches all up and increasing daily. As the match confidence diminishes after 275 I’m exploring “confident level” results. My best results are Extremely High match=1, Very High = 1 and High = 6.

Keep an eye on the updates on your home DNA page

My DNA circles have appeared and disappeared and I have some random people who bear no resemblance in a section at the bottom of my page. My husband got some leaf hints which were quite helpful.

Here are a few hints to get you through the early days.

1. DNA terminology takes a bit of getting used to, the numbers are mind boggling. Google and YouTube are a good fall back.

2. I recommend joining Facebook genealogy and DNA groups such as:

DNA help for Genealogists

Strictly Scottish Genealogy  

DNA help for Genealogists UK

Using DNA for Genealogy in Australia and NZ

Genealogy –My Ancestors Came to Australia

Hint: before you request membership change your profile to show an interest in genealogy and family history. Join a few groups to show you are a genuine user.  Obey their rules and be courteous especially to newbies. You will be blown away by the generosity and assistance of the members. I guarantee you will get answers to any questions.

These groups are particularly helpful when you come across disappointments such as lack of response to your messages on Ancestry message service, matches with no trees and big fat locks on trees that are there. Remember its early days for DNA, people are testing with different goals in mind to you and we’re all entitled to determine our own privacy levels.

3. Don’t rely on the matching surnames on the trees that are there. Notice most people only have a handful of surnames but potentially there are many more.  

4.Don’t be disheartened.  Work through your own research systematically. Familiarize yourself with your 32 great great grandparents, their origins, paternal and maternal lines.

Sample Kinship Report

Printout or generate a kinship report from your family tree software.  This identifies cousins, great uncles, great grandparents etc

5. Expand your tree especially where relatives might have migrated.  E.g. who might have gone to work in cotton mills in USA or who might have been interested in migrating after navy or army service. I lucked upon two lots of relatives going to East Coast of Canada to the expansion of the railway and canals plus development. Three million are supposed to have gone there between 1900 and 1920. Canada and America have great online Birth, Deaths and Marriages (with detailed parentage) records plus great census records. Some are available on Family Search or else try World Wide ancestry at the library.

6. Make your tree public and add as many generations as you can.

7. Compose a suitable message with a few surname and location suggestions. Include an invitation to collaborate and don’t forget your email address.

So …… the successes….
I’ve confirmed I’m a Kerr back to my 3x great grand aunt –sister of my 2x great grandfather. Take heart- this related cousin had a tree with 5 people, three surnames and a couple of privates. I recognized them and emailed her within 24 hours of her result.  She was blown away. After emails were exchanged I remembered I had her long lost cousin’s email and a reunion across the waters with 4 cousins resulted.  – And she managed to get me photos!!    

My Kerr DNA match with  Elizabeth Ross provided this photo of my great grandfather's cousin  Maggie Revington Tinman with husband William Burbidge

In addition I’m a confirmed Kelf back through to my 3x great grandparents. This was from some helpful information from a relative, Bill- took a few days and a false start.

My husband has sound matches through his Fords and Barters.

With his maternal great grandmother match (the two sisters marrying two brothers) Ancestry actually threw up a relationship chart in hints- a no brainer
Helpful tree hints can be displayed
Our big success story since the weekend has had me crying, smiling and emailing all week. A fellow wrote to my husband  about his match mentioning his mother’s and grandfather’s name – had a tree with one surname and a private- We had only just discovered this Ford great uncle had not died and sea but in fact had 5 daughters –some of who had married American soldiers. The stars were aligning with this guy – now everyone is eager to share info with me so I can get my family story straight- photos –stories you name it. There have been tears- some cousins had never even met each other!  It’s a combination of Ancestry trees, my blog and the DNA results. I love my obsession hobby.

 “Thank you Robyn for your dedication to pulling together the family history so beautifully! I can't imagine the number of hours you put into the task. Your efforts are greatly appreciated.” Mark

Another tip…..

Upload you results to GEDmatch- it’s a free site where serious DNAers who have tested over a variety of companies are using the data base provided. (More on this in a future blog)

This enables you to do a quick comparison with other users especially if they haven’t used Ancestry.

What was my biggest learning curve?

There is a big brick wall between English and American. Americans dominate the DNA bandwagon. They usually have big trees often stretching back to settlement but with no hint of origin from England. Therefore even if their surnames match ours we are none the wiser.

How often do I check the DNA results?

Weekly is all I’ll admit to (remember I'm obsessed) . I keep tabs on the numbers of 4th cousin matches I have and I check GEDmatch maybe weekly/fortnightly)

I'm trying some new strategies to speed up the results which I'll report on later Until next time...Happy Sleuthing.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

A baby cries... tragic accident- William Herbert Robey Strelley Harris 1899-1902

Emily heard her baby son cry. She had only been at the door talking to a neighbour such a short time. She should never have left little William sitting quietly by the fire while she answered the door.
She heard her son cry again in agony. Somehow he had tumbled in backwards into the pot of boiling caustic soda and water.
He was frightfully scalded all over and the cries grew as she took his clothes off and peeled his baby skin with them.
Oh how he suffered and screamed until evening when he succumbed to his injuries and death gave him relief.
His cries on that February day in 1902 were replaced by those of his recently widowed mother Emily Ann Harris...
Ironically more tears would be shed when she suffered accusations from the Strelley and Harris families in the old country who accused her of “disposing” of little William Herbert Robey Strelley Harris, heir to his father’s fortunes. Behaviour unbecoming of the fine family whose names he bore.
Known as “the case of the boiling baby” in family circles for over 100 years, Emily has since been vindicated. Tears of joy replace the heartache as Ancestry.com has reunited the Strelley and Harris relatives and the true story of that tragic accident has been unfolded thanks to Trove.

The Trove article from the West Australian 20 Feb 1902

Sunday, 26 February 2017

A Conversation takes place  between Alf Kerr and Sidney Strelley somewhere between 4th May 2008 and January 2013 inside the Pearly Gates……

This story was originally written in 2013 in jest after Strelley family brickwalls were broken down- Do you think we get clues from above?

Scene :Pearly Gates
Sometimes I think a discovery is a message from above

Alf Kerr was an affable man- quick to strike up a conversation.  One day he meets a man called Sidney Clayton Strelley …..

" Good Day.  Sidney Strelley” he says holding out his hand.  Alf would have been on the lookout for anyone by that name and Strelley wasn’t really a name like Smith so his ears pricked up. He honed in .

“Strelley – that was my family name. We are from Scotland” remarked Alf.

“No Sir”  “I’m from Derby- but actually the Strelleys originated from Nottingham – long history- Knights, Sirs, Sheriffs of Nottingham. Used to own Strelley Hall until Nicholas gambled it away. Then we moved to Oakerthorpe and stayed around Derby.  “ Sid always resented the loss of the family fortune.

“ Yes” said Alf “ They were the only Strelleys I ever found.  Every time I searched the internet I found something on Strelley Hall.”  Alf was dogged in his lifetime and dying wasn’t going to stop him. Heaven is a genealogists dream. He made more enquiries searching for everyone who made a connection with Strelley name. There was a bunch of them from Glasgow- tangled up with the Mc Hardys too and Strelleys dating back to 1100 – this was a find. 

Alf never organized his information-  he only collected.

One day he met up again with Sid. “Been looking into the Strelleys,  Sidney?”  
Sidney told Alf of the stories of lost fortunes, his missing grandfather, being on the wrong side of money and then he had a thought ” I say is that an Australian accent?  Maybe you are related to the Strelleys who went to Western Australia”.

Alf was in.  “Actually Strelley comes up as a town in Western Australia when you do an internet search for Strelley”.

Sidney had neglected to say that it was really Lucy Harris nee Strelley who went to Australia and that it was a long and complicated story of  conspiracy theories regarding disputed wills and accidental death.  But Alf did like the bit about Houghtons winery being in the family and finding minerals before Gina Rinehart. Perhaps we are related he thought. She’s the richest woman in the world.

As the National Broad band Network  doesn’t operate too well in Pearly Gates  and Ancestry.com hasn’t managed to buy access to the records yet Sidney and Alf hatched a plan.

“I guilted my daughter, Robyn, into working out my tree. She’s just finalized her mother’s side and she’s been putting me off- I still think I can find a connection back to you people in Strelley. Help me out here  and I’ll get her to sort the Western Australia thing out” volunteered Alf.

Sidney replied.  “ OK she looks like she’s been channeling dead people.  Get her to do one more search on Strelleys of Oakerthorpe- Rev Kerry’s family tree of the Strelleys- The Heavenly News mentioned it’s  been digitized. It will set her in motion.  Is she internet savvy?”

“Yes, pretty good” said Alf proudly.

“ OK well, Jill Sparrow’s stories on the Strelleys and the  one called Curses, Cannons and Robin Hoods Bow in Bygone Oakerthorpe should be the shot.  Should be on that Google thing.  Jill will tell Greg and next there’s a connection.” Sidney enthused.

“ Yep I know she’s been trying all ways to make contact- for sure she will get onto Jill and Greg.” Alf replied.

"I guilted my daughter, Robyn, into working out my tree."

“ Greg is the proud custodian of Strelley name and history- an unbroken history of males we have.” said Sidney.  “Robert and Elizabeth recently contrived to have their portraits given to him. For once a Strelley relic landed in the right hands. That business of the obelisk  going off to France- disgraceful.  Hard work fighting all the injustices- lost money.” And I remember the stories of when my granny told ‘em all what for.  Wore a red dress to the funeral you know. Ha ha”

That did the trick and connection was made. Over the months Sid (Aussies like to shorten names)  and Alfie ( and another term of endearment is to add an “ie” to a name) watched in awe as Robyn, Greg, Jill and Richard networked.  Greg feeds Robyn bits and off she goes.

 “She’s a doer your daughter- a bit of a dog at a bone like her old dad but a bit more organized I might say” chuckled  Sidney.

Within weeks she had cracked the case about the Strelley connection to Derby, That rascal of a great great grandfather, William the Doctor was in awe too that she managed to find the army records William Strelley his son and sort through all the poor handwriting of the census documents to find Matilda and the kids- and his bankruptcy case-oops… and the “housekeeper” in Derby. And then she found the missing  Richard Clayton…not in Australia but in NZ and he died several years after they thought. … Sid and his father Frederick were able to stamp that one “case closed”.

Sid during their regular updates had mentioned another case to Alf. It  been bothering  him and Greg. They had discussed it many times- the case of Harold the lunatic. There was something in a Derby newspaper about him murdering someone. “Disgraceful. Why wasn’t he looked after at home”. “ I’ll get Greg to mention that”  But Robyn was already aware of him- a Strelley criminal lunatic in the 1851 census.  With lightning speed, a few pounds changing hands and a couple of photocopies later they all were viewing records written in the 1850s –“Ha Ha” said Sidney “… they said his father and grandfather showed signs of madness. Never- surely not a Strelley trait!”.

Greg was still raging about Emily and her attempt to collect the Strelley Harris fortune in WA. Well she did marry William when he was 79.  They were together long enough to father two children one of which died a horrible death. Greg was disparaging but Robyn was more charitable.  

Finally the Western Australia Story was falling into place. Robyn had just about completed the research and written her story.  One day Alf and Sid met a couple of men who had Strelley and Roby in their  Christian names. They were from WA.  “That’s funny we’ve been looking into Strelley in Western Australia… any relation?”  Well it all panned out. They worked out the connection.  “I’ll get my people to talk to your people” said Alf jovially. 

The rest is history. Robyn made contact with William’s wife’s grandsons by her second husband.  The Anderson’s had been there for our relative- William’s daughter, their step sister was deaf, never married  and needed care. They looked after her until her death. They donated William’s painting to the WA Art Gallery for all to see.

 Strangely the Andersons are looking for the Strelleys and the Harris family of Derbyshire.  Alf and Sid set off to find Lucy and Joseph......

With kind regards


The story of the Strelley family  has been documented in the blog previously. The Harris/ Anderson story will come in parts over the next few days or so.