Kiama’s Joseph Thomas Cooper.

Private Joseph Thomas Cooper (SN 5067), born in Gerringong, was a labourer from Barney Street Kiama, who took part in the famous Waratah March of 1915. His parents, Thomas and Mary did not stop the 19 year old, who showed great patriotism and heart.

Corner of Barney and Shoalhaven Streets at the time Joseph Cooper enlisted.

Corner of Barney and Shoalhaven Streets, Kiama, at the time Joseph Cooper enlisted.

Cooper embarked at Sydney on SS Makarini on 1st April, 1916 as part of the 1st Australian Infantry Battalion.

Troops on board SS Makarini prior to departure.

Troops on board SS Makarini prior to departure.

Disembarking at Marseilles the day after his birthday, on 17th May 1916, Private Cooper reported to 1st Australian Division at Base Depot, Estaples.

Private Cooper was involved in the Battle of Pozières, primarily remembered as an Australian battle. The cost had been enormous, and in the words of Australian official historian Charles Bean, the Poziers ridge

 “is more densely sown with Australian sacrifice than any other place on earth.”

The Battle Of Poziers.

The Battle Of Poziers.

Here, Private Cooper was wounded somewhere between 22nd and 25th July 1916. He died of these wounds to his arm, face and leg, a few days later, on 29th July 1916, at No.1 Stationary Hospital. Thomas and Mary, like many at the time, found it difficult to obtain information regarding their son’s death. This was until an Australian nurse, Sister Fairland, wrote to the family, informing them of the last days of their son.

Kiama Independent. 4th October 1916.

Kiama Independent. 4th October 1916.

According to the Kiama Independent at the time, Private Cooper was the first of the Waratahs to fall.  Returned to his family were a cigarette case, testament, metal watch, wallet and cotton bag.

Kiama Independent. 9th August 1916.

Kiama Independent. 9th August 1916.

Private Cooper is buried at St. Sever Cemetry, Rouen.

St. Sever Cemetry, Rouen. Grave reference B. 34. 21.

St. Sever Cemetry, Rouen. Grave reference B. 34. 21. Courtesy CWGC.

A touching poem dedicated to Private Cooper was published towards the end of the war in 1918.

Kiama Independent. 31st July 1918.

Kiama Independent. 31st July 1918.

Private Joseph Thomas Cooper.

Private Joseph Thomas Cooper.

Tragically, soon after the news of the death of their son Joseph, the Coopers were to receive further bad news when their ten year old son Frank, died of meningitis. A favourite of Kiama Public School, Frank was a clever scholar, always at the head of his class.

Kiama Independent. 19th August 1916.

Kiama Independent. 19th August 1916.

A Victory Medal was awarded to Private Cooper’s Father, Thomas, in 1923. The Victory Medal was authorised in 1919 to commemorate the victory of the Allied Forces over the

Victory Medal.

Victory Medal.

Central Powers. Each of the Allied nations issued a ‘Victory Medal’ to their own nationals with all of these having the figure of Victory on the obverse as a common feature. Australians were awarded the medal issued by Great Britain.

P.S. From my research, it appears Joseph Thomas Cooper was the cousin of John William Donovan (also mentioned in this blog), who died at Gallipoli in 1915.

Document showing the possible relationship between Cooper and Donovan.

Document showing the possible relationship between Cooper and Donovan.

Keith Wickham Allen

Keith Wickham Allen was the grandson of Walter Allen and Charlotte Dunster of Shellharbour.

Walter Allen established a general store and residence in Shellharbour Village in 1868. He operated the post office adjacent to the store until his death in 1876. Mrs. Charlotte Allen and members of the family continued the business for many years as Allen Bros. Clothing and other goods were often ordered by catalogue through the Post Office, and arrived by boat, train or mail.

The following article details Keith’s time at war. it is taken from the Goulburn Evening Penny Post 21 January 1919

Keith Wickham Allen

Tongarra Museum has in its collection a wonderful photo album from the Allen family of Shellharbour. The following photos of Keith are from that album.

Keith Allen_0001

Keith Wickham Allen of Shellharbour

Kaleen and Keith Allen

Keith Wickham Allen and his sister Kaleen (right) at Shellharbour.

The James Girls

Eva, Miriam and Beatrice James were Red Cross nurses during World War One. They were the daughters of Thomas and Rachel James who lived at Rosemont farm, Dunmore. Their grandfather, William James, was one of Shellharbour’s first European settlers, and the James family were known for their kindness and generosity to others.

William, a stonemason, arrived in Australia in the 1850s. He settled in Shellharbour at Dunmore and built his home “Bravella”. He purchased breeding stock from local farmer Andrew McGill and established the James Family dairy herd. William was an Alderman on the first Shellharbour Municipal Council in 1859 and served as Mayor 1870-1871.
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Eva, Miriam and Beatrice James, Red Cross Nurses c.1920

Shellharbour Honour Roll

The Shellharbour Rolls of Honour and Memorials to the the Great War 1914-1919 and World War II 1939-1945 were originally placed in Little Park, Shellharbour.

They were later relocated to Caroline Chisholm Park in Addison Street and incorporated with the Atchison Boer War Memorial and the Memorial to the wreck of the Cities Service Boston.

Below is an account of the unveiling of the captured German trench mortar and honour roll commemorating the men from Shellharbour who served in the Great War, and a photograph of Rose Fisher at the original memorial at Little Park.

Kiama Reporter 28 June 1922.

Shellharbour Honour Roll Kiama Reporter 28 June 1922

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