Saturday, October 27, 2012

Author Q&A :: Eureka Stockade by Gregory Blake

From time to time, we'll be talking to great Australian authors about their local history and what inspired them to start researching and writing their stories.

This week we talk to Gregory Blake, author of Eureka Stockade - A ferocious and bloody battle. Gregory Blake was born in Melbourne in 1955. Since a very early age, he has had a keen interest in military history and has written numerous articles on the subject, for publications in Australian, the UK and the US. Greg is a secondary school teacher and tutor at the Australian Defence Force Academy. Greg served with the Australian Army Reserve during the 1970s and 1980s. He is an accomplished artist and in addition to illustrations in this book, has contributed his talents to magazines and instructional texts both in Australia and overseas.

Diggers swore their oath beneath the Southern Cross flag
Artist: Charles Doudiet | Courtesy of the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery

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IHM. Q. What inspired you to start researching and writing?
  • Greg: There are so many stories in Australia’s history that have remained undiscovered or remembered only as a collection of myths, legends and fallacies. One of these is the story of the Eureka stockade. I have always admired how similar stories to the Eureka Stockade have been portrayed in other national histories and around 2004 I stumbled across a little book that had within it a collection of firsthand accounts of what occurred at Eureka. I am a keen student of military history, especially that of the mid C19th. With this knowledge I began reading these accounts of Eureka and the penny dropped and I realised that there was a great deal about this conflict that we simply did not know. This excited me and so I began digging. Four years and a mountain of research later I had uncovered an amazing story which, unlike many of the commonly accepted stories, was based on hard evidence and logical informed deduction. This story bore little resemblance to the collection of myths and misunderstandings that have characterised the Eureka story for generations and it was a story that needed to be told.
IHM. Q. Which resources did you find most helpful?
IHM. Q. What resources did you come across when researching your books that hasn’t been widely used by others? 
  • Greg: The transcripts of the State Treason Trials for the accused Eureka diggers held by the Supreme Court of Victoria are a treasure trove of material for primary source material related to the military aspects of Eureka. I believe I am the first to have made use of this resource for the military information contained within it. 
IHM. Q. Was there any information you uncovered that stopped you in your tracks? Which stories affected you the most from your research? 
  • Greg: No one thing but more of an overall realisation that so many ordinary men were willing to take up arms, risk their lives and all they had to defend an ideal of personal independence and liberty they held precious. It made me wonder how many would do the same these days if faced with the same circumstances as the Eureka diggers.  
Which stories amused you the most in the course of your research? 
  • Greg: The sheer pomposity and arrogance of the colonial ruling classes and their utter unwillingness to accept that their world had changed. 
IHM. Q. If you could track down one thing you haven’t yet managed to find out, what would it be? 
  • Greg: The pre Eureka story of James McGill the leader of the Independent Californian Rangers Revolver Brigade. McGill was significant figure amongst the Eureka diggers at the Stockade and while his post Eureka story is well enough known but his pre Eureka story is a mystery.  
IHM. Q. What’s your best tip for people wanting to write a history book of their own? 
  • Greg: Be passionate about your topic, have a firm goal in mind to guide the direction your research takes, keep an open mind and follow leads that you may not have anticipated, have the patience to keep searching, be absolutely meticulous with your records, cite everything you use – so many ‘history’ books fail to do this. Let people know what you are doing; you will be pleasantly surprised by the interest and support they will show. 
IHM. Q. How did you go about bringing the characters to life? 
  • Greg: The characters really did this for themselves. These were passionate and colourful people living in a passionate and colourful time and all one needed to do was to tell their stories.
IHM. Q. How do you know when you’ve written a good book? 
  • Greg: Good reviews are nice. Pats on the back are nice as well. The best thing though is to know you have done the best you can, to have covered all the bases and presented an account that is readable and informed.
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Image courtesy of Big Sky Publishing. Click to look inside or buy

"Eureka Stockade: A ferocious and bloody battle, is the epic account of the attle for the Eureka Stockade, an iconic moment in Australian history. On the chilly dawn morning of 3 December 1854 British soldiers and police of the Victorian colonial government attacked and stormed a crudely-built fortification erected by insurgent gold miners at the Eureka lead on the Ballarat Gold Diggings. The fighting was intense, the carnage appalling and the political consequences of the affair profound. This book, for the first time, examines in great detail the actual military events that unfolded during the twenty minutes of deadly fighting at Eureka. Many of the old assumptions about what occurred that day are turned on the heads, raising in their places provocative questions. Were the intentions of the Eureka diggers as pacific as tradition insists? How was it that men supposedly poorly armed and taken completely by surprise in their sleep were able to deliver ‘sharp and well directed’ fire on their attackers? How close, in fact did the assaulting infantry come to failing in their task, and why has the pivotal part played by the police in the battle been ignored in every retelling of the Eureka story? Why have the Americans, who played a decisive part in the defence of the stockade been all but ignored? The author argues convincingly that Eureka was not a wanton massacre of innocents, as it has been portrayed. Rather it was a hard fought military engagement. 

Eureka was a decisive moment in Australian history and in this book it comes alive in a rousing and original manner".

Friday, October 26, 2012

WDYTYA Series 5 lineup announced!

The Who Do You Think You Are? series 5 cast for 2013 has been announced! This season includes:


But wait there's more! Series 5 will have 8 episodes instead of the 6 previously and the other 2 cast are yet to be announced but I'm sure our friends at SBS Australia will update us all soon. Pretty exciting!

Until then, you'll have to either get the Series 4 DVD or look out for the regular re-runs on SBS1!



Rathmines Catalina Festival :: 3 Nov 2012

Did your relatives travel or fight in a flying boat? Yes? You'll like the Rathmines Catalina Festival on the NSW Central Coast at Lake Macquarie on November 3.

The Rathmines Catalina Festival is an annual celebration of the rich history of the WWII RAAF Base.  Now in its 6th year, the festival promotes the significance of the base both locally and nationally. The Rathmines RAAF base reached its peak strength of almost 3,000 RAAF personnel in 1944-45. It comprised 230 buildings and marine facilities and there were forty aircraft in service. The event serves to commemorate the significance of the former RAAF Base during WWII and pay respect to those who served at the Base and lost their lives through the war effort.

Date: Saturday 3 November 2012
When: 10 AM to 3.00 PM
Where: Rathmines Park Dorrington Road Rathmines
Cost: $5 for adults, children under 12 are free

Visit the website on www.catalinafestival.com.au 
Or Like it on Facebook: Rathmines Catalina Festival 

The Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) plans to fly its fully restored Consolidated PBY Amphibious Catalina (Registration VH-PBZ) from Albion Park to the 2012 Rathmines Catalina Festival. HARS plan to alight the Catalina on Lake Macquarie at approximately 10:30am, and then taxi up the ramp onto the hard stand at the former RAAF base. HARS will open the Cat to the public for inspection at the Festival. The aircraft will depart from Lake Macquarie at approximately 3pm for its return flight to Albion Park.

There will be RAAF Balloon and an authentic Beaufighter cockpit section, along with 10 light amphibious seaplanes flying in and parking on the hard stand at the Festival. These will include Lake Buccaneers, Super Petrels, and Seareays.  De Havillland Tiger Moths from Luskintyre plan to flypast the Festival as a salute to the former RAAF base. Paul Bennet will fly an aerobatic display in his Pitts Special aircraft.  All this and food stalls, playground for the kids and live music. The day has something for everyone.


Other places the flying boats flew from or to in Australia.




Thursday, October 25, 2012

Expert Q&A :: What's new at Ancestry.com.au

This week we talked about what's new at Ancestry.com.au with Brad Argent. Thanks again to Brad for sharing his knowledge and for agreeing to visit us again for another Facebook Expert Q&A on Thursday, 20th December. Please find the transcript of the Q&A and links.

Don't forget our Expert Q&As happen every Thursday night on the Inside History Magazine facebook page.

When: NSW - ACT - VIC - TAS: 8:30-9:30pm AEDT | QLD: 7:30-8:30pm | WA: 5:30-6:30pm | NT: 7:00-8:00pm | SA: 8:00-9:00pm

Brad Argent is content director at Ancestry.com.au. Australia’s leading family history website, with more than 10 billion searchable records in its Australian, NZ, UK, Europe and US collections.

Top tips from Brad Argent:
  1. Make the most of wildcard searching; use an * and three letters either side or replace a single character with a ?
  2. Think outside the box you live in; if you keep getting a hint or search result that suggests your ancestor was in another country – check it out to rule it out.
  3. Use other people’s trees with caution – their research might not be as thorough as yours. Think of them as signposts on a journey – they point you in a direction but they shouldn’t stop you going there yourself to check it out.
  4. If you get stuck use the customer service line - 1800 251 838 – you pay for it so make the most of it!
Summary of links from:

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Transcript of Expert Q&A - how to get the best from Ancestry.com.au:

Our Expert Q&A with Brad Argent, from Ancestry.com.au starts at 8:30pm AEDT. Tonight we’ll be discussing what's new at Ancestry.com.au and how to get the best from it.

Comment: IHM: Reminder: Keep refreshing your browser to see the answers & questions as they appear. Welcome everyone, thanks for joining us tonight. Brad is here to answer your questions on all things Ancestry.com.au. Welcome Brad!

Q. Hi Brad, we were wondering what's your favourite story from the new NSW Police Gazettes 1854-1930 collection?
A. Brad: Hi everyone! As for the Police Gazettes there are so many great stories – every page is full of stuff. When we were testing the collection I asked one of the guys in the office to give me the names of their ancestors to check. First cab off the rank and – jackpot. This colleague’s ancestor was arrested for doing something rather ‘unsavoury’. I won’t go into details but it was something of a surprise– they’re saving the story for the Christmas dinner table. Needless to say it’s riddled with my ancestors, but then I already knew who the dodgy ones were.
A. Leonie: Hi Brad, just dropped in to say "Hi"!
A. Brad: Hi Leonie :-)
Q (b). Chez: Hi Brad...<3 that the police gazettes came on line today...did a precursory search this morning and will be going back to really look later tonight - what advice can you give as to the best way to search this new resource
A. Brad: Hi Chez, This collection was indexed by the community and they recorded names dates ages (if given) locations and 'type' of mention. If you see your ancestor come up in a search with Theft next to their name it only records the age (estimated) of the perpetrator - everyone else listed is usually a victim. BTW Chez, these records make great browsing material.
A. Kerry: Just a quick hello from me too Brad - unfortunately i have to be somewhere else shortly. I was thrilled to find a couple of records where a direct ancestor was being sought, for the physical descriptions included. Also interesting was to find my g.grandfather's shop was robbed, for the list of items taken & values.
A. Christine: OMG I knew of one theft my GGGrandfather did but I have just had a look and he has a long history with the police haha
A. Brad: Hi Kerry. Thanks for the feedback.
A. Seonaid: Just a quick hi from me too Brad. Am off to bed, nearly 11pm here. Our favourite database is the Birmingham, Warwickshire, England, Pub Blacklist, 1903-1906 - a really quirky one with photos we like to look at.
A. Brad: I love that one Seonaid!
A. Seonaid: Anyway, Keep up the good work, love the new data coming through! Good night all.
A. Beverly: Hi Brad, love your work and ancestry.com.au. Can't wait to go for a search in the Police Gazettes as I'm sure there's a few of mine in there.
A. Brad: Hi Beverly, with over 1.5 million people listed in the Gazettes I'm sure you'll find someone - even if they were just a victim. I always find it interesting to see what was stolen and what it was worth - who'd have thought that it was worth going to the police over a stolen bucket ?

Q. Hi Brad, after the success of the Police Gazettes project, what's your next crowdsourcing project for the World Archives Project
A. Brad: As for the next crowd-sourcing project well there’s always a heap of projects on offer. I’ve got two really big ones coming up for Australia – Fairfax Public Notices (18?? – 2009) and Col Sec Papers (1826 -1856). Lookout for these in the first half of 2013.
A. IHM: Here's the link to the World Archives Project for everyone :: http://community.ancestry.com.au/awap

Comment - tip: Wendy: My tip of the day to Ancestry users is , before you save a 'document' to your tree , save it to your hard-drive !! My sub has run out so I have Trees full of census , bmd reg , shipping records , etc that I can't access .... very annoyed with myself.
A. Brad: Good tip Wendy. Online trees are for sharing - not storage!
A. Kerry: My tip to Ancestry users is to follow up when Ancestry advises you that someone else has saved or downloaded a record about your direct ancestor. I followed up one such recently & found a new 3rd cousin, with info solving one of my puzzles.

Q. Pam: Hi, I looked up the Londonderry Journal but cant read it, I know my ancestors appeared in another early Londonderry paper, can I print it out?
A. Brad: Hi Pam, You should be able to print out any records you find on the site but remember the resolution will only be as good as the source. As the Newspaper comes from microfilm the images can, at times, be hard to read. If you’re having trouble you can call Customer Services on 1800 251 838.
A. IHM: Here's the link to the Ancestry.com.au How To YouTube videos as well :: http://www.youtube.com/user/AncestryAU
Q (b). Chez: Brad talking about printing , sometimes when printing the document is hard to adjust size wise....suggestions? Even if saved to the computer if enlarged, with some images pixelate when enlarged to read on the computer
A. Brad: Hi Chez, There's so many variable when it comes to printing. I usually download the image and then print it, rather than printing from the screen as it gives me more control. Give the Customer Service team a call next time you get stuck and they can talk you through your specific issue (1800 251 838).
A. Chez: Thanks Brad....as the trouble actually occurs after downloading and trying to print!
A. Brad: Sounds odd, Chez. Give the Customer Service people a ring and see if they can fix it...

Q. Pam: I wrote to ancestry once and told you your Griffiths valuations are not complete for Tyrone, and I dont believe it was fixed
A. Brad: Hi Pam, with 10 Billion records maintenance takes a little time. I'll have to check back with the team in the US to see where we are at with that particular update. As always if you see an issue please let us know.

Q. Andrew: Hi Brad, is there any new WA content coming on soon that you can hint about!?
A. Brad: Hi Andrew - we're working on the Perth Rate Books. Might take a while but will be an fantastic asset once it's up and running.
A. Andrew: Thanks Brad! Myself and the Carnamah Historical Society & Museum will be looking forward to that addition.
Q (b). Hi Brad, that sounds exciting about WA. We get lots of questions about Tasmanian content, can you hint about any future projects from the apple isle?
A. Brad: I'd love to do some more stuff from Tassie - indexing their fantastic collection of colour convict records for a start. It's definitely on my list.
A. IHM: Here's a link to the Tasmanian Archives Convict Index
A. Wendy: Another really interesting site for Tas Convict info is this project , they have combined all their records so you can find info like family members .... http://foundersandsurvivors.org/

Q. Hi Brad, we've had a question from twitter. Q. Any advice for checking the accuracy of data on personal family trees?
A. Brad: Great question. With Trees multiplying at a terrifying pace one is best served by treating them with caution. Any online family tree (Ancestry or anywhere) one should always check to see that the data is sourced and then CHECK THE SOURCE. Online trees are a great way of finding stuff out but they are not substitute for doing your own research. Think of them like a map that guides you to a destination, but you still have to do the travelling.

Q. Andrew: Hi again Brad, another question! Are there plans to index digitised records that are presently un-indexed?
A. Brad: Hi Andrew, which records in particular?
A. Andrew: For example, only some years of the Australian Electoral Rolls are name indexed.
A. Brad:  Funny you should ask that Andrew... :-) That project is underway right now.
A. Andrew: That's exciting! It will be amazingly useful to more closely track the movements of people. Any additional years being added!?
A. Brad: Not yet Andrew. 

Q. Hi Brad, we know that the Irish love a good craic, what's your favourite story from the 30 new Irish newspapers [1763-1890] just added to Ancestry :: http://ancstry.me/UoOQnz.
A. Brad: I came across an interesting wedding notice. The bride was 16. The groom, 92 was carried into the service in a chair. Can’t be sure if it was a real notice or just…Irish…
A. IHM: lol, leave them laughing we say :) Thanks again Brad for joining us tonight and giving us your tips and hints about the future!
A. Brad: Always a pleasure.
A. Andrew: Thank you Brad, Ancestry.com.au and Inside History Magazine! Will be keenly following new additions :)
A. IHM: We’ll publish the questions, answers and links from tonight’s session in a blog post this coming week. Visit http://www.ancestry.com.au for a free 14 day trial or share your stories and ask your questions on https://www.facebook.com/ancestry.com.au. Brad will be back in December for another Q&A.

Next Week: Who's joining us for next Thursday's Expert Q&A? Lisa Murray from the City of Sydney & the Dictionary of Sydney. Find out how to research cemeteries in Sydney & NSW. Dr Lisa Murray is the City Historian for the City of Sydney & is currently the Chair of the Dictionary of Sydney.


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Read the previous Expert Q&A transcripts:
[1]  Thursday, July 26 :: How to get the best from Trove Australia
[2]  Thursday, August 16 :: How to get the best from BDM Certificates
[3]  Thursday, August 23 :: Getting the most from NAA
[4]  Thursday, August 30 :: Interpreting photographs for family history
[5]  Thursday, September 6 :: How to get the best from Ancestry.com.au
[6]  Thursday, September 13 :: Using Trove for research
[7]  Thursday, September 20 :: Today's toolkit for the digital historian
[8]  Thursday, September 27 :: Preserving your artefacts with NAA
[9]  Thursday, October 4 :: Studying and doing research at UNE
[10] Thursday, October 11 :: How to research war graves and Anzac ancestors
[11] Thursday, October 25 :: What's new at Ancestry.com.au
[12] Thursday, November 1 :: How to research cemeteries in Sydney & NSW
[13] Thursday, Nov 8 :: Australian War Memorial - Lost Diggers
[14] Thursday, Nov 15 :: Getting even more from Trove
[15] Thursday, Nov 22 :: Getting the most from findmypast AU & NZ
[16] Thursday, Nov 29 :: Using NAA defence records
[19] Thursday, Dec 20 :: What's new at Ancestry.com.au

Friday, October 19, 2012

Author Q&A :: Unnatural Habits by Kerry Greenwood

From time to time, we'll be talking to great Australian authors about their local history and what inspired them to start researching and writing their stories.

This week we talk to Kerry Greenwood, author of the Phryne Fisher novel Unnatural Habits released by Allen & Unwin and we're giving away 5 copies of her new book over on our facebook page. Click here to enter!

The Phryne Fisher series includes Cocaine Blues, Flying too High, Murder on the Ballarat Train, Death at Victoria Dock, Blood and Circuses, The Green Mill Murder, Ruddy Gore, Urn Burial, Raisins and Almonds, Death Before Wicket, Away with the Fairies, Murder in Montparnasse, The Castlemaine Murders, Queen of the Flowers, Death by Water, Murder in the Dark, Murder on a Midsummer Night and Dead Man's Chest.

The Phryne Fisher series (pronounced Fry-knee, to rhyme with briny) began in 1989 with Cocaine Blues which was a great success. Kerry says that as long as people want to read them, she can keep writing them. Find out more about the series at: www.phrynefisher.com and follow the brilliant ABC TV series, Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries.

Below we asked Kerry about her writing and happily she answered. You can also find more from Kerry Greenwood in our Issue 10: May-Jun 2012 edition, where Emma Sutcliffe spoke with Kerry about Phryne Fisher and her adventures. Click to buy Issue 10.

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IHM. Q. What inspired you to start researching and writing?
  • Kerry: I have always loved stories, and history is a collection of fascinating stories, so I combined the two - and when I have researched enough, the story demands to be told. It's intoxicating.
IHM. Q. Which resources did you find most helpful?
  • Kerry: Newspapers. Extra information. What Umberto Eco calls the 'relished inessentials'.
IHM. Q. Favourite website? Kerry: Trove
IHM. Q. Favourite library? Kerry: State Library of Victoria

IHM. Q. What resources did you come across when researching your books that hasn't been widely used by others?

  • Kerry: People. I got to interview people who were around in 1928. So I listened to the voices, the accents, the slang, and I also had the privilege of asking questions.
IHM. Q. Was there any information you uncovered that stopped you in your tracks?
  • Kerry: I found a brave policeman in Castlemaine who stopped an anti-Chinese riot. He had no name, just a number from a system of which all records were lost, but I found him, gave him his name, and he has a plaque on the wall at the new Castlemaine police station. Until I found him and named him his courage was forgotten...
IHM. Q. Which stories affected you the most in your research?
  • Kerry: The miserable cruel lives of the women in the Magdalen Laundry. Reduced me to pulp, and I had to keep on reading.
IHM. Q. Which stories amused you the most in the course of your research?
  • Kerry: I really laughed at the method of producing ortolans en brochette in Australia. And I found a minties ad of one man hanging on to another man's shoe which is coming off as they both dangle from a girder high up above the ground. The caption is 'Stop laughing, this is serious!' There's something very Australian about it.
IHM. Q. If you could track down one thing you haven¹t yet managed to find out, what would it be?
  • Kerry: I won't know until I start researching the next Phryne. There is always something... Do I get a wish?
IHM. Q. What¹s your best tip for people wanting to write a history book of their own?
  • Kerry: Read novels set in the time, then read all the newspapers and magazines you can find, before wandering in and out of a few museums... and see how many voice/oral history tapes you can find. Voices are important. And if you are writing your own memoirs, consider what your audience wants to know ie. what you had for breakfast, who cooked it, what was your school uniform like, how did you get to school, who were your friends... all that sort of thing - and how you FELT... rather than a potted history of your time. There are plenty of them but only you know how you hated wearing gloves, and how that starched collar scored your neck.
IHM. Q. How did you go about bringing the characters to life?
  • Kerry: They tell me how to write the book. Imagine them well enough and for long enough, and they'll start talking to you.
IHM. Q. How do you know when you¹ve written a good book?
  • Kerry: Someone else tells me and people buy them. I have no judgement at all about my own books.

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"The attack came suddenly. Out of the hot darkness in the notorious Little Lon came three thugs armed with bicycle chains. The tallest lashed his against the crumbling side of a building. It hit a metal sign advertising Dr Parkinson’s Pink Pills for Pale People, which rang like a drum.
‘An ominous noise,’ commented Dr Elizabeth MacMillan.
‘The natives are restless,’ agreed her companion. 
She was the Hon. Miss Phryne Fisher, five feet two with eyes of green and black hair cut into a cap. They were not the target of this assault. They were blamelessly approaching the Adventuresses Club bent on nothing more controversial than a White Lady (Phryne) and a dram of good single malt (Dr MacMillan) and an evening’s exchange of views on weather, politics and medicine. But Little Lonsdale Street was always liable to provide unexpected experiences. However, the person who was fated for a good shellacking appeared to be lone, female and unprotected, which could not be allowed. Phryne turned abruptly on her Louis heel and, putting both fingers in her mouth, whistled shrilly. 
‘Look out, boys!’ she yelled. ‘Cops!...........'"
From Chapter 1 of Unnatural Habits. Click here to read more from the Unnatural Habits, from our friends at Allen & Unwin

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Expert Q&A :: How to research Anzac war graves & ancestors

On Thursday, October 11 we were lucky to have the dedicated military historian and war graves researcher, Matt Smith, join us for an Expert Q&A on how to research war graves and Anzac ancestors. Please find the transcript of the Q&A and links.

Don't forget our Expert Q&As happen every Thursday night on the Inside History Magazine facebook page.

When: NSW - VIC - ACT - TAS: 8:30-9:30pm AEDT | QLD: 7:30-8:30pm | WA: 5:30-6:30pm | NT: 7:00-8:00pm | SA: 8:00-9:00pm | Weekly Thursdays

Matt Smith's project, Australian War Graves Photographic Archive, began in 2000, and is committed to procuring a digital photograph of every Australian War Grave and Memorial Commemoration worldwide. This commitment stems from a labour of respect dedicated to the supreme sacrifice made by our Australian military personnel. The searchable database at the core of the site was formally launched for Remembrance Day 2011. The site displays images of the commemorations, and offers a range of free resources to families and researchers of our war dead.

Summary of links from the Q&A:
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Transcript of Expert Q&A - How to research Anzac war graves and ancestors, with Matt Smith

Our Expert Q&A with Matt Smith starts at 8:30pm DST. Tonight’s topic: How to research war graves and Anzac ancestors. Please ask your questions for Matt in a comment below & he will answer in a following comment.

Q. Sharon [October 10]: I might miss this week's session. My relative made it home but there is much of his life unknown. He enlisted for WW1 from Torrington, NSW. He came home, spent time in Cessnock. We have his war records but would like to know more of his life story. We know some up until Cessnock but then he moved to Perth and was at a distance from the family in Cessnock. He served in WW2 in and around Perth. I have had trips to Perth but never had time to investigate. He died in Perth. His war medals have gone missing for WW1 and he appears to have died with no money and no possessions. Nothing was sent to the family and it appears the family didn't ask. He is in an unmarked grave in Karrakatta. I have had a memorial done in Rookwood NSW so the family can visit but the details on the plaque are wrong and I haven't had a chance to correct them. So, my questions are - can I do any online searches on my uncle regarding his life in WA? How do I get the memorial fixed? Would it be the war graves people as they approved it? His name is Jack Warland. Thanks.
A. Matt: Hi Sharon, I am getting in early here before the Q and A starts officially. Firstly because I can't help myself and secondly because you might miss the session. That said, I can tell you that John (Jack) Warland was wounded during WWI, but after the war he was a member of the Australian Graves Detachment from April - August 1919. He was burying the dead in France and assisting with the development of the war cemeteries. As you mentioned, he served during WW2 in WA and was discharged in 1946. The first thing that I would do is to contact the Office of Australian War Graves - www.dva.gov.au - (02) 6289 6510 and ask the questions about the status of his war grave in Karrakatta. That will determine if he should have an official headstone or whether the family opted out. If he should have a war grave, then they should provide one. You would need to have him assessed with birth certificate etc etc. Then I would check the census records for WA to see if they have him recorded and where he is recorded. There was a census in 1947, 1954, and 1961, following which it was every 5 years. If you can locate him, you can track him. Also the Births, Deaths and Marriage records would be the next step.

Q. Cheryl: Hi Matt, my great, great uncle emigrated from London to Australia. He died whilst in service with the 52nd battalion AIF on 4 Sept 1916 nr Moquet Farm. 760 Sergeant Charles Emerson Watling. I have his medal awarded in death (was hung in my dads room while he was young but he never asked who it belonged to!) and a photo of his grave. I have tried to search myself for a photo of Charles or even of his battalion for quite some time without success. Your help or advice with this would be so appreciated. Kind regards, Cheryl x
A. Matt: Hi Cheryl, Obviously the first place to start would be the Australian War Memorial collection - http://www.awm.gov.au/search/collections/Then, I would follow with a simple Google Search - try some combinations of his name i.e. Charles Watling or Watling 52nd Battalion. Then I would try http://ww1wa.gravesecrets.net/w.html - Faithe Jones is the lady at the end of this one. Then follow the other leads such as Broken Hill connections, 52nd Battalion history, WA Archives - remember that the 52nd Battalion came from the 12th Battalion, so that is another connection. Hope that helps?

Q. Wendy: Hi Matt, I have been doing my family history for 2 yrs now and found information on my maternal grandfather Albert James Byron who went off as a cook in WW1 at age 44 in 1916 on the SS Afric, my mother was only 9 when he died and I have never ever seen a picture of him. I did manage to find he is buried in an unmarked grave at Rookwood and I did send off a letter last year to the War Graves Commission and have only just got a reply saying he is not entitled to have his grave site marked with a plaque as he did not see active service or died from war related injuries which I was disappointed to hear. Is there any other places I could try and find a photo of him? I would be very grateful for any assistance, thank you
A. Matt: Hi Wendy, great to hear from you. The Office of Australian War Graves should not have told you that he did not see active service, as that is totally untrue. He was on active service for two years overseas during WWI. And he served in the Boer War, albeit with a non-Australian unit. Here are two links for further research into his Boer War Service. He served in Kitchener's Fighting Scouts. His Boer War service is listed on this web-site - http://www.angloboerwar.com/component/content/article/5-south-african-unit-histories/350-kitcheners-fighting-scouts. - Albert James Byron 2236 Trooper Served in 1st KFS. Joined Durban 16 Apr 02 Discharged 7 Jul 02 disbandment Johannesburg
Source: Nominal roll in WO127 OR - Victorian Wars Forum. A really common story, and very frustrating. Of course the Australian War Memorial is the first port of call for WWI photos, but if no luck there, try this book - Give Me Back My Dear Old Cobbers - 58th & 59th Battalions AIF, Robin Corfield. There are a lot of other connections if you need them. As the for his grave in Rookwood, I would ring DVA Office of Australian War Graves with some more evidence and check availability for a grave again. If they still say no, then contact Rookwood and place one yourself. I hope that helps?

Q. Linda: I have just checked the Commonwealth War Graves website, and was wondering what the 'Civilian War Dead" covered. I was particularly looking for Louie Riggall, a woman from Maffra, Victoria, who died France at the end of WWI. She was a VAD in the British Red Cross, working in a military hospital at Rouen, when she died of fever. After much controversy, she was NOT included on the Shire Honor Roll, as she was not considered "enlisted". Her family had considerable resources, and donated a plaque that is now in the Maffra Library (click for photo on flickr). On my search, I could not find a listing for her. I was wondering if she came within the scope of "Civilan War Dead", if she was in a military or civilian cemetery, and if the War Graves Commission cared for her grave.
A. Matt: Hi Linda, Lousia Riggall is listed under the CWGC. Click for her direct link. The Red Cross, YMCA, VADs etc etc are usually all listed as Auxiliary or quasi-military units.

Q. Christine: Do you happen to know of any records relating to pilgrimages by Australians during the inter-war years? 1919-1939. George Risdon Grimwade, there is a letter written about his death, where would I find this, please?
A. Matt: Christine Alexander, the best place to find these records is the National Archives of Australia. Go to www.naa.gov.au and search for 'Pilgrimage' with the dates 1919 - 1939. I did a simple one just now and came up with some great ones. Not all are digitised, but it is a start! :-)
A. Matt: Christine, Not sure about the letter, but I have found this link: http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/grimwade-george-risdon-14824
A. Matt: Christine, http://www.smythe.id.au/letters/
A. Christine: thank you, I wish I could remember the site, it is a collection of letters written by fellow soldiers and officers, about how their loved ones died and where and if they were buried. I actually know a lot about George, his parents carried a 70lb piece of granite to Gallipoli when they visited his grave in 1922.

Comment: IHM: Welcome everyone, thanks for joining us tonight. Welcome also to Matt. Please ask your questions for him in a comment below. Don't forget to keep refreshing your browser to see the answers and questions from others as they appear.
A. Matt: Hi Everyone!! Thanks for having me!
A. Matt: Hi All, It is easier to answer questions regarding individuals if you can provide a name and/or service number. :-)

Q. Link: I'm looking for info on my great grandfather, I have correspondence from the armed forces saying he was part of 1st battalion field artillery but when I search his name on the war memorial website I get nothing! I can find battalion history but no record of him, any suggestions?
A. Matt: Link, Can you throw a name our way??
A. Matt: Link, have you tried NAA for service record ? www.naa.gov.au
A. Link: Hey Matt, His name was Earnest Walter Stanborough, His allotted army number: 205, rank of gunner and he enlisted on the 28th August 1914, He sailed to the mediteranean on the HMAT Argyleshire with the 1st Field artillery brigade! This is all we have!
A. IHM: Hi Link Miller, have you checked the Australian War Memorial Embarkation Roll :: http://www.awm.gov.au/research/people/nominal_rolls/first_world_war_embarkation/
A. Link: No, I haven't checked this page, I've looked on the service roll! Is that "Allotted Army Number" the same as a service number? I'll have to check the embark list tomorrow, unfortunately I have to go to work shortly :(
A. Link: Thanks for your help guys, gotta go to work now, the search continues!!!!
A. Tim: A message for Link Miller - Your GGrandfather is recorded as 205 Ernest STANBROUGH (note the spelling of the surname). And also depending on who transcribed the documents his middle name varies between 'Walter' and 'Walker'. He also served in WW2 and both his service files have been combined into one at the National Archives. Click here to see the record.
A. Matt: Thanks Tim! Great Wingman!
A. Wendy: Yes and a very good 'digger detective' :)
A. Tim: I only hope Link returns here to view the information so his searching doesn't continue fruitlessly.

Q. Sheryl: Hi Matt, I am looking for a photo of Clarence Raymond Rudolph Gosper b.1889 5th June Australia. d. France (Bullecourt) 3rd May 1917 and haven't yet been successful. Any advice for me would be appreciated. Hi Matt, Sorry. Clarence Raymond Rudolph Gosper 6025 b.1889 5th June Australia. d. France (Bullecourt) 3rd May 1917
A. Matt: Hi Sheryl, It is difficult to locate images of individuals unless obvious like the AWM website. He is a Richmond NSW boy, so I would take that track - http://www.hawkesbury.net.au/memorial/richmond_war_memorial/rrwm080.html. Perhaps approach a local Richmond Genealogist or historical group!

Comment: IHM: There's lot's of useful tools on the Australian War Memorial site :: http://www.awm.gov.au/research/


Q. Carmel: Looking for William George Fox of SA. He died 11 Nov 1917. Egypt would love to find a photo. He was the son of William George Cuttle but took on his stepfather's name. I am not able to find William George in the archives but have newspaper reports of his death.
A. Matt: Carmel, try this link - http://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/scripts/Imagine.asp?B=4019564
A. Matt: Carmel, contact the Australian Light Horse Studies centre website - australian.light.horse.studies@gmail.com
A. Carmel: Thanks Matt, but why was my searches not finding him? I have found others without issues. Also I found records of one of my uncles, killed in WW1 which was the same as an inquest, with witnesses and details of his death. I believe it was a Red Cross record and found online. It usually takes me some time to track this record down, do you know if these are available for all who were killed?

Q. Monica: Do you have photos of men who served in WW1, e.g. enlistment photos?
A. IHM: Hi Monica Chappell, you can search the Australian War Graves Photographic Archive online at http://www.australianwargraves.org
A. Matt: Hi Monica, the Australian War Graves Photographic Archive holds photos of the war graves and memorial commemorations. Individual portrait images are being collected, but one of the best sources of 'catalogued' images after the AWM collection is here - http://www.gravesecrets.net/wwi-pictorial-honour-rolls.html
A. Monica: Thanks for the links but no photos for me there. :(
A. Matt: Monica, quite often to find a portrait photo of an individual we need to search at a town or suburb level, rather than a national or state level. Find a location that can link to the person and start there.

Comment - tip: Wendy: AIF Project is also a handy resource and Mapping Our Anzacs for photos in the Scrapbook, although they can be a little out with transription :) For eg, looked up a bloke from Picton NSW and MOA had Picton Cananada, when clearly his record stated NSW :) Google is great for Battalion pages and ancestors who have put war diaries and letters etc online. I've found some amazing stuff while researching :)
A. Matt: You are right Wendy!! We have to approach research with open eyes and don't always believe everything that you read or see in the first instance. Find some back up research or data to support.
A. IHM: Here's the link to the AIF Project for everyone here :: http://www.aif.adfa.edu.au/index.html
A. Matt: The best thing about the AIF Project is the Embarkation Roll links and the fact that we can now search for a place of birth or origin. For that ease of research I am happy to trawl through a few mistakes. Great site! I use it daily.
A. Wendy: Agree Matt :) Have you looked up where you live now?
A. Wendy: Totally agree with you Matt, I was knocked over by how many photos were at our Historical Society when I started researching Wedderburn's WW1 Diggers and if there isn't one in uniform you may find them in Cricket or Footy Team photos or the Firebrigade it was popular with our lads. Please also contact the RSLs associated with your digger before and after service, have come across incredible portrait dedications. Our local CFA has huge portrait pics of their boys who served and a local flour mill even built their own memorial. If they were a teacher in Victoria check out Victoria Educations WW1 Book or contact me and I can look them up .... I know where 2 copies are :) Newspapers also printed lots of photos of Diggers so check "TROVE" under name and Battalion. Will list any more avenues when I think of them :)
A. IHM: Great advice, Wendy Stewart - I think we have to mention your FB page if we're talking about your research :: http://www.facebook.com/WW1lostboys And another resource is ANZACs Online :: http://anzacsonline.net.au

A. Wendy: Thanks IHM We Will Remember Them is the page for our local reasearch project using the Wedderburn, Korong Vale and Woosang Memorials as a basis. WW1 LB began as a means to identifying the other 13 Tunnellers in the profile pic with my Great Grandfather Mannie Penneyston, he's front and centre. I may have id the young man at the back 2nd on left, he's missing half of his index finger and joined within days of Mannie. Anyway the page has grown beyond anything I imagined thanks to some wonderful people who are happy to share knowledge on all things military. I have had the great pleasure of sharing so many stories and have helped family 'discover' who the Digger is in their family :) On the project side I have been blessed with meeting several sons and daughters of 'Our Diggers'.

Q. Matt, What would be your top tips for researching your military ancestors?
A. Matt: First and foremost, have an idea of what it is that you are trying to achieve!!!! Do a Google search!!! :-) If it is an ancestor who died, check on the Australian War Memorial website – www.awm.gov.au, or the Australian War Graves Photographic Archive website – www.australianwargraves.org – to see if they died or survived the war. Or go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission - www.cwgc.org. If your ancestor survived or died, then the AWM is your best start. Then do a search on the National Archives website - www.naa.gov.au for their service record. Then, in the service record, look for ‘place’ locations that you can identify in current Australia, or on the battlefield areas. These will assist with making sense of service. Look for the Red or Blue handwritten text in Service Files. This can provide the key for research links. Use other individuals that may have been in the same unit or at a location at the same time as your ancestor to assist with filling in missing information. Look to the Red Cross Wounded and Missing Files at the AWM website - https://www.awm.gov.au/research/people/wounded_and_missing/. Treat them with caution as to accuracy, but if you can corroborate a number of eyewitness accounts then there is a fair chance that the story is accurate. It is all relative though.

Q. Matt, What do you have in the pipeline that we should be excited about?
A. Matt: The biggest thing at this stage is the photos of the individual war graves and memorial commemorations of Australia’s War Dead that are being prepared for upload to the Australian War Graves Photographic Archive website – www.australianwargraves.org. It is a slow process, but will be great when completed. I am undertaking research on the Australian Graves Detachment, Australian Grave Services and Imperial War Graves Commission between 1919 and 1926, which is turning up some great connections. And, for anyone interested, I will be leading a battlefield research tour to ANZAC Day at Villers-Bretonneux, France in April 2013. All are welcome. We will also be at Gallipoli for 10 days after that in mid-May. Contact me for details - australianwargraves@bigpond.com. Still in preparation stage but I can furnish details.

Q. IHM: Thanks for joining us Matt Smith. Well, we're out of time, we'll finish with one last question: What is your favourite or most moving story you’ve found in your research?
A. Matt: Thanks Inside History Magazine, I do have one favourite story that has stuck with me all these years of research and contact with people regarding military history.....A few years ago I was contacted by an elderly lady in Brisbane who was seeking information about her brother who was killed in WWII. She mentioned that he had been killed near the Philippines but she didn’t know any more than that. I was able to do a quick search and found out that he was buried in Sai Wan War Cemetery in Hong Kong. Sai Wan Cemetery was the nearest main Commonwealth War Graves receiving cemetery to the Phillipines at that time. He had been killed on a Merchant Navy vessel during the Battle for Leyte Gulf as an Australian Army anti-aircraft deck gunner. I mentioned to the lady that I had a photo of her brother’s grave and then I asked if she was ‘Letty’ or ‘Brenda’. She asked me how I knew her name. I explained that there were names listed on the grave within the epitaph. She was amazed to think that her mother had included the names of her and her sister on the grave in their shortened versions, when her whole life she was discouraged from being called anything except ‘Violetta’. So Letty was linked to her brother’s grave in perpetuity. I think that is priceless!!!
A. IHM: I have a feeling that you don't want to stop answering questions! Thanks again for joining us tonight! We'll get to any questions that need follow-up tomorrow and publish the answers and links from tonight’s session in a blog post this coming week. Thanks Matt.
A. Matt: Thank you Inside History Magazine and thank you everyone. If you have photos of war graves or memorial commemorations, get on touch at australianwargraves@bigpond.com. We can use them on the website!
A. Sheryl: Thank you Inside History and thank you Matt Smith.


Q. Kerryn: Both WW2 and WW2?
A. Matt: Fire away Kerryn!
A. IHM: What is your grandmother's brother's name Kerryn Taylor?
A. Kerryn: Morgan ADAMS. Regimental number 1903. He came home but died a couple of years later
A. IHM: Hi Kerryn Taylor, here are the details for Morgan ADAMS - Regimental number 1903 in the National Archives of Australia WW1 records. Click for record.

A. Kerryn: Thanks I have his service record he was 5th reinforcements 7 battalion but I can't find a company number. Perhaps there isn't one?
A. Wendy: Kerryn Taylor here's a link to the other guys that went over seas with Morgan. I had a quick look at his file and could not see a 'Company' just 7th Bn but I would imagine that some became his good mates :) http://www.aif.adfa.edu.au/showUnit?unitCode=INF7REIN5
A. Kerryn: Thanks Wendy
A. Matt: Well done Wendy, that was my next suggestion for Kerryn!! Thanks!
A. Kerryn: I just found info on my 1st cousin twice removed on the Red Cross search link you gave. I put his picture on this wall earlier. They described him as dark haired and dark complexion ... Bugler William John Pike Morgan
A. IHM: That's great news Kerryn Taylor, time for a little happy dance? :)



Killed in action in the Australian Armed Forces Private William John Pike Morgan was in the 14th Battalion No 893 and was killed in Gallipoli 8/8/1915 - he was 18 years and 3 months old. He lived at McGuinness Street, Euroa with his mother and father Thomas Fitzherbert II and Sarah (nee McNay) and attended Euroa State School before joining the Victoria Railways in Seymour, Victoria. William belonged to the 10th Unit Volunteer Cadet Corps Jnr and Snr. William's brother Private Benjamin Robert Morgan, killed in Gernamy as result of P.O.A in Crete. William is bured in 6 Lone Pine memorial Panel 73. Source of Information: AWM 145 Roll of Honour cards, 1914-1918 War, Army.
From Kerryn Taylor, October 11 on Facebook. Lest We Forget.

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Read the previous Expert Q&A transcripts:
[1]  Thursday, July 26 :: How to get the best from Trove Australia
[2]  Thursday, August 16 :: How to get the best from BDM Certificates
[3]  Thursday, August 23 :: Getting the most from NAA
[4]  Thursday, August 30 :: Interpreting photographs for family history
[5]  Thursday, September 6 :: How to get the best from Ancestry.com.au
[6]  Thursday, September 13 :: Using Trove for research
[7]  Thursday, September 20 :: Today's toolkit for the digital historian
[8]  Thursday, September 27 :: Preserving your artefacts with NAA
[9]  Thursday, October 4 :: Studying and doing research at UNE
[10] Thursday, October 11 :: How to research war graves and Anzac ancestors
[11] Thursday, October 25 :: What's new at Ancestry.com.au
[12] Thursday, November 1 :: How to research cemeteries in Sydney & NSW
[13] Thursday, Nov 8 :: Australian War Memorial - Lost Diggers
[14] Thursday, Nov 15 :: Getting even more from Trove
[15] Thursday, Nov 22 :: Getting the most from findmypast AU & NZ
[16] Thursday, Nov 29 :: Using NAA defence records
[19] Thursday, Dec 20 :: What's new at Ancestry.com.au

Author Q&A :: The Kokoda Campaign 1942 by Peter Williams

From time to time, we'll be talking to great Australian authors about their local history and what inspired them to start researching and writing their stories.

This week we talk to Peter Williams, author of The Kokoda Campaign 1942: Myth and RealityPeter is a researcher for the Defence Honours and Awards Tribunal and is a military historian for the Darwin Military Museum. His new book combines narrative and detailed analysis, to re-evaluate the Kokoda campaign of 1942 and should be considered a must-read for anyone who is interested in Kokoda.

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IHM. Q. What inspired you to start researching and writing your book on Kokoda?
  • Peter: I wanted to write books on the most famous episodes in Australian military history. My first book was about Gallipoli. These days Kokoda comes second on the list but it wasn’t always so. When I first went to New Guinea in 1980, to visit Australian battlefields, I remember Kokoda was not foremost in my mind as a place to go. 
IHM. Q. What resources did you come across when researching your books that have not been widely used by others? 
  • Peter: I went to Tokyo and spent a month in their military archives looking at Imperial Japanese Army documents from 1942. I don’t know of any other Kokoda author who has done that, which is possibly why other books on Kokoda have got much of the story wrong.
IHM. Q. Why is your Japanese evidence so important to the book. 
  • Peter: I don’t think you can explain a military campaign, who won and why, without looking at the evidence from both armies. You wouldn’t try to explain the outcome of a game of cricket by only discussing the vice and virtues of one team.
IHM. Q. What is the main point you make in The Kokoda Campaign 1942, myth and reality?
  • Peter: The usual explanation for the series of Australian defeats that occurred when the Australians were driven back along the Kokoda track, from July to September 1942, is that they were so greatly outnumbered by the Japanese no other outcome was likely.  The main thing I discovered in the archives in Tokyo is that the Japanese did not outnumber the Australians at all.  It’s hard to believe, as so many books have stressed the huge Japanese numerical superiority, but it is simply not true that they were in superior strength. So if that’s not the explanation for our series of defeats, what is?
IHM. Q. Which stories amused you the most in the course of your research?
  • Peter: Australian veterans of New Guinea often told me, ‘You couldn’t see them in the jungle, the Japanese soldier was a master of camouflage’.  Then I went to Japan and interviewed a dozen veterans there. I was surprised to hear many of them say exactly the same thing. ‘Those Australians were very good at hiding in the jungle, you couldn’t see them.’ In fact neither side had any special training in jungle warfare, I think it was rather the jungle itself. It was easy to hide in, but the men on both sides concluded that the enemy must be masters of jungle war. 
IHM. Q. If you could track down one thing you haven’t yet managed to find out, what would it be?
  • Peter: I still have not figured out why the Kokoda story is so popular now. When I was a kid Kokoda wasn’t a famous Australian battle. That has changed in the last 20 years. Now thousands of us walk the track every year. 
IHM. Q. What’s your best tip for people wanting to write a history book of their own? 
  • Peter: Be prepared to work hard for a long time. Hank Nelson, a wonderful historian who died in February, once told me ‘a page a day is a book a year’. He meant do not be discouraged, do not give up. Do a little every day, just keep plugging away.  
IHM. Q. How do you know when you’ve written a good history book? 
  • Peter: In my book title there are the words ‘myth’ and ‘reality’. If you write a history book that challenges what people have always believed about a well-known subject, then you get a bit of criticism from those who do not want to let go of the old version, the myth. I have had a few unpleasant emails from readers who prefer the myth and do not like the new evidence I have found about Kokoda. But that’s good in a way, when you get flak you know you are over the target.

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Extract [Page 1] from The Kokoda Campaign 1942.Myth and Reality, Cambridge University Press, 2012 by Peter Williams
"This book is an examination of the Kokoda campaign – from the Japanese landing in Papua in July 1942 and their advance along the Kokoda Track, to their defeat at Oivi–Gorari in November. The Kokoda campaign is catching up with Gallipoli in popularity, as is apparent from the number of books on it that have appeared in the past twenty-odd years and the thousands of Australians who now walk the Kokoda Track each year. As the events of 1915 pass into distant memory, it is possible that Kokoda might come to rival Gallipoli as the representative Australian military experience. While there are positive aspects to this, as its popularity increases errors in the Kokoda story have a tendency to be repeated until they take on the outward appearance of fact. Other aspects of the campaign, some arising from Australian wartime propaganda, have not been subject to postwar investigation. These two strands combine to create the Kokoda myth. Recent popular accounts, concerned more with colour than precision, perpetuate the myth.

The core of the Kokoda myth is that during the Japanese advance towards Port Moresby the Australians were greatly outnumbered. Those in the front line were convinced of this, and their word has been accepted. Japanese veterans often say the same thing – that the Australians significantly outnumbered them. It may be that in jungle fighting, where the enemy is rarely seen, there is a tendency to imagine that he is in great strength. In truth, during the Japanese advance, the Australians were rarely outnumbered by their enemy. While Australia’s 39th Battalion and the Papuan Infantry Battalion faced superior numbers in the small July clashes, it was not as many as two to one. The forces engaged at Isurava, the first large action, have always been thought to have been at the very least three to one against the Australians and perhaps six to one. In fact the numbers were equal with about 2300 being engaged on either side. With the exception of the first Eora–Templeton’s Crossing fighting, where the Japanese did have almost twice as many troops as the Australians, the Australians fought the Japanese at one to one until Ioribaiwa in September, where it was the Australians who outnumbered the Japanese by two to one, yet the Australians were still defeated. During the Australian advance after Ioribaiwa they always maintained a great superiority of numbers over the Japanese.

Numbers are important in war. To have a good prospect of success the attacker should usually have more men than the defender. The firepower of modern weapons so advantage a defender that a three-to-one local superiority is said to be needed to be reasonably certain of success if all other factors are equal. A two-to-one advantage provides a lesser chance of success but will sometimes be enough, and one to one is usually not enough for the attacker to prevail. When numbers alone do not explain victory or defeat – and it is rarely as simple as that – we look to the quality of the troops, their weapons, morale and supply, and how well they were commanded. Each of these elements can powerfully increase fighting power or, to use terms not in use in 1942, they are force multipliers that enhance combat effectiveness. For example, if the attacker’s men were of higher quality than those of the defender, or if the attacker had much more artillery or was better supplied, then he might not need any superiority in numbers to win. According to the Kokoda myth, it was the large Japanese numerical superiority that enabled them to advance as far as they did towards Port Moresby. If that is not true then other reasons for the series of Australian defeats on the Kokoda Track between July and September 1942 would be required. One possibility is that the Japanese were qualitatively superior to the Australians.

A central fact of land warfare in the first year of the Japanese offensive in the Pacific from December 1941 is that, man for man, the Japanese proved to be better soldiers than those who opposed them. The proof is that up to the second half of 1942 the Japanese rarely had superior numbers engaged in land battles, yet they rarely lost one. They achieved their victories in Burma, the Dutch East Indies, during the Malayan campaign, in the final battle at Singapore and in the Philippines without a numerical advantage. Only when the Allies had a very considerable superiority, as at Milne Bay and Guadalcanal, were they able to defeat the Japanese. The Kokoda campaign fits this pattern.

It might not be too much to say that most issues of the campaign ought to be reappraised if it can be shown that the Japanese engaged in the battles along the Kokoda Track were many fewer than has been believed. This word engaged holds a clue because, while the Nankai Shitai was more than 16 000 strong, the number the Japanese actually committed to battle on the Kokoda Track, which runs from Kokoda south over the Owen Stanley Range towards Port Moresby, was much smaller.  The problem for the myth is that of a 16 000-strong Japanese force, of which 7000 were fighting troops, no more than 3500 of these actually advanced along the Kokoda Track.

What has occurred in postwar Australian historiography might have something to do with the saying that the victors write the history. This is true as far as it goes, but much of what the victor later writes might not be accurate as it can arise out of his own wartime propaganda. The defeated too has wartime propaganda, but this is swept away postwar as it is immediately seen for what it usually is – falsehood. The victor’s propaganda is not subject to the same rigorous reassessment and has a chance to seep into later accounts and, over time, become entrenched there. Two examples of Australian wartime propaganda still read today, and which stress the Japanese numerical superiority, are George Johnston’s New Guinea Diary and Osmar White’s Green Armour, published in 1943 and 1945 respectively.

The attempt to debunk Kokoda myths is not intended to denigrate the Australians who fought on the Kokoda Track. Their bravery and fortitude is not in question. It is rather that the current interpretation of the campaign is invalid. The Kokoda Campaign 1942, myth and reality, is an attempt to set aside the myth of Kokoda and replace it with the reality and, as the evidence that undoes the myth comes mainly from Japanese sources, it follows that more than half the book concerns the Nankai Shitai. The unfortunate contribution of Australian popular military history to the strength of the Kokoda myth was discussed earlier, but the problem is broader than that. The Kokoda myth has arisen because there exists a gap in Australian historiography: a wide range of Japanese sources have not hitherto been examined, although Raymond Paull, Lex McAulay and Paul Ham have all made some effort to do so. The result is a lack of balance in our understanding of the Kokoda campaign, a natural outcome, for if we try to explain an historical event involving two belligerents using sources from only one of them, then we should hardly expect to get it right".