James Dobing

James Dobing was born to Christopher and Elizabeth and raised in Keiraville. He attended Keiraville Public and lived with his parents at Parson St, Zlotkowski via Wollongong.

He was a wheeler prior to enlistment.

James Dobing

James Dobing

James enlisted on 19 January, 1916. He enlisted with and joined the same battalion as Matthew Tubman: 36th Battalion, Infantry. They were both embarked on 5 July, 1916 from Sydney upon HMAT Ajana 31.[1] James, along with Matthew was subsequently killed in action on 22 January 1917.[2]

According to the Australian War Memorial, James was only 24 at his death.  He is buried at the Cite Bonjean Military Cemetery.

An obituary was subsequently posted in the Illawarra Mercury:

DOBING-IM 9 FEB 1917 P2[3]

Memorial Service- A largely attended and impressive service was conducted in the Keiraville Methodist Church on Sunday afternoon in connection with the death of Privates Mat Tubman and James Dobing. The Honour Roll, on which the names of the two heroes are inscribed, was draped in black. The Rev. F. Duesbury’s remarks were appropriate to the occasion and special hymns were rendered by the choir. The member of the Glen Wollongong Druid’s Lodge, of which Private Tubman was assistant secretary, were present in regalia.[4]


[1] Australian War Memorial, First World War Embarkation Rolls – James Dobing, Australian War Memorial Canberra, 2014, <http://www.awm.gov.au/research/people/nominal_rolls/first_world_war_embarkation/person/R1987134&gt;, viewed 29 January 2014.

[2] Australian War Memorial, Roll of Honour – James Dobing, Australian War Memorial Canberra, 2014, < http://www.awm.gov.au/research/people/roll_of_honour/person/R1725619/&gt;, viewed 29 January 2014.

[3] ‘Roll of Honor,’ Illawarra Mercury, 9 February 1917, p. 2.

[4] ‘Keiraville,’ Illawarra Mercury, 23 February 1917, p. 2.

NAA: B2455, DOBING J

Edward Clifford

Edward Clifford was born in Dapto on 17 January, 1894 to Joseph and Mary Clifford. Prior to the war, he worked as a fisherman.

Edward enlisted on 11 September, 1916 and joined the 12th Light Horse Reinforcements as did his brother, Thomas Clifford. Edward did not get the chance to embark as he fell gravely ill with meningitis.

Edward Clifford

Edward Clifford

Edward Clifford died on 9 October, 1916 at Prince Alfred Hospital; he was only 22 years old. He is buried at Brownsville (St Luke’s) Cemetery, NSW and is located on the Roll of Honour at panel 186 in the Commemorative Area.[1]

MATTH_GD1-02

On his circular, it states that he had a cousin named Abraham Joseph Clifford who was killed in France, 11 November 1917.[2]


[1] Australian War Memorial, Roll of Honour – Edward Clifford, Australian War Memorial Canberra, 2014, < http://www.awm.gov.au/research/people/roll_of_honour/person/R1712434/&gt;, viewed 29 January 2014.

[2] Australian War Memorial, Circulars – Edward Clifford, Australian War Memorial Canberra, 2014, < http://static.awm.gov.au/images/collection/pdf/RCDIG1068859–670-.PDF/&gt;, viewed 29 January 2014.

Jenkin Rees

Jenkin Rees was born 27 March, 1892 in Wollongong to Edward and Amelia (nee Brown) Rees. They lived at the Cordeaux River and worked as a market gardener at Windy Gully. Jenkin used to cut “pit props” for the coal mines.

Family Bible (1803)

Family Bible (1803)

Family Bible (1803)

Family Bible (1803)

He enlisted at the age of 23 joining the 1st AIF 13/23 Reinforcements and sailed from Sydney on Euripides, 9 June 1916. He arrived at Plymouth, England on 26 October, 1916. Subsequent to his arrival, he was posted at France. Jenkin was wounded in action between 5th and 8th, May 1917 and was taken to hospital in England via Boulogne.

He returned to Australian 6 June, 1918 and was awarded the British War and Victory medals.

'Welcome Home,' Illawarra Mercury, 9/08/1918, p.7.

‘Welcome Home,’ Illawarra Mercury, 9/08/1918, p.7.

Jenkin had one daughter, Joyce.

In 1928 a fire destroyed his home and all his possessions. He wrote to the Base Records office in attempt to retain his military documents which was approved. The form can be found on the National Archives of Australia.

Embarkation records on the Australian War Memorial list his name as Jenken Rees.

Unknown soldiers

The items below which have been shared with Wollongong City Libraries, were salvaged from a metal trunk in Hamilton St. There was no family connection and no information regarding the items.

The items are linked to number of people, Eric Hamilton Thomas, Roy Alexander Ziems, Joe, Ralph and a woman by the name of Miss Mant. They include postcards, letters and photographs.

Roy Alexander Ziems was living at Newtown, Sydney Newtown when he enlisted. He was 23 years of age and employed as a teamster. Roy’s next of kin was his father, William Julius Ziems whose address was Coramba via Coff’s Harbour. He joined the 2nd Infantry Battalion 13-23 Reinforcements and embarked on 8 November 1916 from Sydney on SS Port Nicholson. [1]His enlistment records describe him as 5”9 ¾ in height with fair hair and blue eyes. He was promoted to Corporal during his service.

Roy returned to Australia on 6 July, 1919 and was officially discharged 5 October, 1919. He was awarded the British War and Victory Medals.

The letter below was written to Miss Mant from Roy dated 16 March 1917. He begins by thanking her for a pair of socks she knitted him which are appreciated due to the difficult climate. He writes of his landing at England on 8 January in midwinter and that it is a wonderful country and lists famous historic landmarks he’s seen. In the letter, asks about Dapto and asks Miss Mant to relay his letter to his aunt and uncle, Mr and Mrs Moorhead.

LEMONVA-06.1LEMONVA-06.2

According to the Australian War Memorial and the National Australian Archives, Eric’s father was John Thomas and Eric was 20 years of age and an engineer student living at Muswellbrook at the time of his enlistment.[2] He was described as having a sallow complexion with grey eyes and brown hair.

Eric embarked from Sydney on 22 December, 1915 on HMAT Suffolk A23 after joining the 4th Field Company of the Australian Engineers as a Sapper and was soon promoted Corporal and then again to Lieutenant.

He was killed in action on 2 May, 1918 at France. Records state he “died of wounds received in action (Hostile Aircraft)”. He is associated with Molong, NSW and is buried at Aubigny British Cemetery, France.

He is listed on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial .

Like Roy Ziems, Eric also shared a connection with Miss Mant.

LEMONVA-04.1LEMONVA-04.2

LEMONVA-05.1

LEMONVA-07.3LEMONVA-07.2LEMONVA-07.5Lastly, a number of postcards signed either Ralph or Joe were included in the findings.

We need your help. The Australian War Memorial and National Australian Archives can only provide so much information. If you have any information on any of these men, please do not hesitate to contact Wollongong City Libraries either through the contact page, in person at Wollongong Reference Library or calling the Reference Library on (02) 4227 7414.

NAA: B2455, THOMAS E H
NAA: B2455, ZIEMS R A


[1] AWM, Embarkation Roll – Roy Alexander Ziems, Australian War Memorial Canberra, 2013, < http://www.awm.gov.au/research/people/nominal_rolls/first_world_war_embarkation/person/R1809905/&gt; viewed 22 January 2014.

[2] AWM, Roll of Honour – Eric Hamilton Thomas, Australian War Memorial Canberra, 2013, < http://www.awm.gov.au/research/people/roll_of_honour/person/R1670199//&gt; viewed 22 January 2014.

Robert Sparkes Best

Robert Sparkes Best was born in 1890 in Thirroul to Frederick Best and Agnes Rebekah Reid (nee). He was a builder prior to the war. He enlisted 4 December 1916 at Thirroul at the age of 26. Robert joined the 1st Pioneer Battalion 6-10 Reinforcements and embarked from Sydney on 24 January, 1917 on HMAT Anchises A68.[1]

Robert Sparkes Best

Robert Sparkes Best

Robert and his sister, Mary Best.

Robert and his sister, Mary Best.

Robert was discharged on 11 August, 1919. He subsequently received the British War and Victory medals for his service.

He married Mary Smith (nee) and together they had two children.

Robert Best died in 1962 at Bulli.

Victory March through London. 3 May 1918.

Victory March through London. 3 May 1919.


[1] Australian War Memorial, Embarkation Roll- Robert Sparks Best, Australian War Memorial Canberra, 2014, < http://www.awm.gov.au/research/people/nominal_rolls/first_world_war_embarkation/person/R2048111/&gt;, viewed 29 January 2014.

NAA: B2455, BEST R S

Dorothy Gwendolen Cawood

Dorothy Gwendolen Cawood was born on December 9, 1884 in Parramatta.[1] She was the seventh child of carpenter, John Cawood and his English-born wife, Sarah Travis Garnett (nee).[2] She commenced her nursing training in 1909 and subsequently registered with the Australasian Trained Nurses’ Association on 14 May 1913.[3]

On November 14, 1914, enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force and subsequently embarked. On July 22, 1917 whilst part of 2 Australian Casualty Clearing Station at Armentieres, Dorothy, along with sisters Clare Decon and Alice Ross-King, evacuated patients from burning buildings during a bomb attack. All three sisters were awarded Military Medals for their valiant rescue.[4] When stationed at the 6th Australian General Hospital, Dorothy was mentioned in dispatches for “distinguished and gallant service in the field”.[5] [6] Not long after, Sister Cawood was transferred to the 38th Stationary Hospital, Genoa, Italy. She was hospitalised with tonsillitis for a few months in 1918 but her service in Genoa lasted until January 1919.[7] After that, she was transferred to England where she was attached to the 3rd and 2nd Australian Auxiliary Hospitals at Dartford.[8]

Sister Cawood returned to Sydney in May 1919 and successively joined the nursing staff at Liverpool State Hospital. In 1928 became matron at the David Berry Hospital, Berry; she kept the position until her retirement in 1943. In 1944, she moved back to her old home in Parramatta and died on 16 February 1962.[9]

Dorothy was awarded with a ‘Military Medal.’


[1] Abbot, Jacqueline, Cawood, Dorothy Gwendolen (1884-1962), Australian Dictionary of Biography- Australian National University, 1979, <http://www.womenaustralia.info/biogs/AWE0419b.htm&gt; , viewed 15 January 2014.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid

[5] AWM, Honours and Awards- Dorothy Gwendolen Cawood, Australian War Memorial Canberra, 2013, < http://www.awm.gov.au/research/people/honours_and_awards/person/R1518975/?roll_type=Awards&gt; viewed 8 January 2014.

[6]Australian War Memorial, People profiles: Sister Dorothy Gwendolen Cawood MM, AWM Canberra, 2013, < http://www.awm.gov.au/people/1078495.asp >, viewed 22 January, 2014.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Abbot, Jacqueline, Cawood, Dorothy Gwendolen (1884-1962), Australian Dictionary of Biography- Australian National University, 1979, <http://www.womenaustralia.info/biogs/AWE0419b.htm&gt; , viewed 15 January 2014.

Norman McLeod Smith

Norman McLeod Smith, alderman and Mayor of Wollongong enlisted on 10 September 1917. He was born in December 1884 to James and Margaret Anne Smith. After attending the local school he began a career in the public sector until he was appointed as an alderman for Wollongong Council around 1910. Norman was elected Mayor of Wollongong in 1916 and held that position for approximately fourteen years. He was active an active member of the public sphere and engaged in a number of activities such as becoming a member of the Masonic Lodge, Vice President of the Amalgamated Railways and Tramways Union as well as President of Wollongong Bowling Club.

Ald. Smith obtained a leave of absence to join the front in 1917; he was 32 years of age at the time, The Illawarra Mercury reported the incident (21 September 1917), stating that the most recent Council meeting would be Mayor Smith’s last as he was expected to be in the Military Camp by the time of the next scheduled meeting. The issue of whether he would retain office once he returned was also on the agenda. Thus, the council appointed a deputy mayor in his steed meaning that once he returned from the front, he would be able to return to his position. The motion was carried unanimously highlighting his popularity.

Portrait of Norman Smith.

Portrait of Norman Smith.

He joined the 19th Infantry Battalion, 18 to 21 Reinforcements and embarked from Melbourne on 28 February 1918 on HMAT Nestor A71. During his time on active service, he was reported as having trench foot. He returned to Australia on 4 April, 1919. Norman was awarded the Victory and British War medals.

Norman Smith first on the left.

Norman Smith first on the left.

On his return, as agreed upon, he returned to his appointed position as major. Mayor Smith was instrumental in instating public utilities in Wollongong such as the electric light, sewerage as well as the opening of Wollongong’s new, Town Hall in 1927. He married Shannon in 1922, of the Nursing Staff of Wollongong Hospital; together, they had two children.

He died on Friday, 25 May 1928. The Illawarra Mercury contains an extended obituary.

Illawarra Mercury: 25 May, 1928.

Illawarra Mercury: 25 May, 1928.

The whole article can be read on TROVE.

AWM, Embarkation Roll – Norman McLeod Smith, Australian War Memorial Canberra, 2013, <http://www.awm.gov.au/research/people/nominal_rolls/first_world_war_embarkation/person/R1865874/ > viewed 15 January 2014.

‘Death of Mayor of Wollongong,’ Illawarra Mercury, 25 May 1928, p.14.

‘The Mayor Honoured,’ Illawarra Mercury, 25 January 1918, p.8.

‘Wollongong’s Mayor Obtains leave of absence,’ Illawarra Mercury, 21 September 1917.