Martin Luther Dyer

Martin Luther Dyer’s photos and memoir have been shared with Wollongong City Libraries by his relatives. The memoir was written following his retirement and contains a great deal of information regarding his service at the front as well as details of his life. Below is and excerpt of the memoir.


Life Story of Martin Luther Dyer Born at Cables Siding (Penrose) On the 30th August, 1893.

At the age of four my parents moved to Woonona, after a short stay moved to Bulli and Wollongong, for a period of approx. 28 [?] months. Thence leaving for Blayney, where I commenced school at the age of six. In 1901 we moved to Lithgow for a short period again returning to Woonona, where my father died at the age of 50. I left Woonona Public School at the age of 13 years and 9 months. With my mother, sister and two brothers, again moved to Lithgow where I commenced my first employment in a store at a weekly wage of 2/6.

After twelve months, I transferred to […] Store. Nathan Basser, who shortly after secured the contract for the supply of foodstuff to the 400 navvies, constructing the ten tunnels to replace the Great Western Zig-Zag for the Department of Railways. I was given the job to collect and deliver all goods over a period of 3 years. This entailed riding on horseback & driving through rugged mountain country in all weather. I had two attempts on my life while carrying money from the camps, but came through without injury. One occasion, a stout rope had been tied to two trees across a mountain track. I was riding a powerful horse through driving snow, the horse saw the rope and threw his head down suddenly, pulling me on to his neck, the rope scraped along my back but otherwise it was my lucky break, saved by my horse.

Shortly after the outbreak of World War I, I moved once again to Wollongong where I set up in business. In 1916 I arranged for a brother to take over, and I enlisted in the War in the 7th Australian Light Horse. After a short period of training we embarked on the [HMAT] Boorara en-route for Egypt. Owing to a submarine scared put into Port Melbourne for a few weeks. It was a nightmare voyage. The Captain stated it was the roughest trio he had ever made, mountainous seas and no lights at night and everyone on the alert. Before reaching Egypt an epidemic of mumps broke out, and I was one of the unfortunate ones. In my case it took a serious turn and I was taken off by stretcher and placed in the Egyptian Gov’t hospital at Port Tewfik, with little hope of survival. However, I pulled through and was sent to the Moasca[sic] training camp in the desert.

Shortly after, we moved to the combat area to make our acquaintance with the enemy…

Martin Luther Dyer in uniform.

Martin Luther Dyer in uniform.

Eventually the Authorities decided to form a train of mule and horse transport to speed up supplies. They selected a number of expert horsemen to return to Moasca[sic] where wagons, mules and horses were awaiting. I was one of the Company… A lot of the time had to be done at night for fear of air raids. Pulling through the deep sand taxed the animals but they stood the test well. We first made contact with our Companies near the Sinai Peninsula.

Our Unit was named the Anzac Mounted Divisional Train… Our first encounter with the front line was near Beersheba where some fierce fighting was taking place. We had to drive at night without lights, which was most hazardous, enemy dead were laying everywhere. Next village encountered was Gaza and from there on we entered the fertile country. Orange groves, vineyards and olive grove were plentiful. After existing on very little but tin ‘Bully beef’ and biscuits for months, a change of fruit and some vegetables plus an issue of wine worked wonders with the health of the troops. Village after village fell to our troops in quick succession – Richon Le Zion, Jaffa, Ludd (or Lydda). Here we had a respite for some weeks as the enemy were entrenched in the hills ahead.

Martin Luther Dyer on his horse.

Martin Luther Dyer on his horse.

Finally, we started the ascent towards Bethlehem and Jerusalem. Here we encountered heavy rain and cold weather. It snows in the mountains at Winter. Being unprepared coming off the desert, colds and pneumonia were prevalent. We took every opportunity to see as much as possible of the Ancient Biblical Scenes…

"Souvenir de Jerusalem " Souvenir book: cover made of wood and contains various images and dried, pressed flowers.

“Souvenir de Jerusalem “
Souvenir book: cover made of wood and contains various images and dried, pressed flowers.

Tragedy struck in another form. Dysentery and malaria broke out, and took a heavy toll. I became a victim and was taken by ambulance to a hospital at Jerusalem and the by hospital train back to the 14th Australian General Hospital at Port Said, where I was a patient for 3 months. Leaving hospital I was sent back to Moasca[sic], prior to going back to the front line. Meanwhile, word arrived from Cairo and the principal City of Egypt for someone with clerical and story ability to go and make an inventory of surgical supplies and equipment. I was selected and arrived at Cairo and completed the job. Just prior to finishing, the War ended, so for a few weeks I had the opportunity to visit some of the principal places of historic interest the great Pyramids, Sphinx, Ali Mohommed Mosque, one of the most beautiful in the world, also many others. Leaving Cairo I returned again to Moasca[sic] to await embarkation for home.

"Rachel's Grab."

“Rachel’s Grab.”

In early February 1919, the long awaited word arrived and we proceeded by Lighter to board the City of Exeter. We had a good top home, called at Colombo for a day and inspected some tea plantations in Ceylon and other interesting sites, arrived in Sydney 19th March and realised there is no place like home…

I went back to business after a brief holiday and on the 13th September 1919, was married at Lithgow by Rev. RC Oakley. On the 3rd July 1920, our first child was born, Winifred Lily and soon gave up the business and moved to Nowra as a representative of a Sydney Firm. On the 9th of May 1922, our second child was born, William Morris. After some months we returned to Wollongong where I entered business until 1924 when I took a position with the Wollongong City Council as a Traffic Inspector and Ranger.

…I became absorbed in various additional positions as years went by, Clerical Assistant, Health Inspector, Building Inspector etc. On the 25th October 1929, James Henry was born. I finally retired on 29th August 1959 after 35 years with the Council. I received a beautiful presentation and a testimonial dinner on retiring.

Martin on his retirement from Wollongong Council.

Martin on his retirement from Wollongong Council.

I was a foundation [sic] member of Wiseman Park Bowling Club and have been in Office for 12 years in nearly every position up to President.

According to the Illawarra Mercury, Martin owned a grocery business on Crown St Wollongong. The article also states that he was the sole supporter of his widowed mother and sister and that he had two brothers, one being in Queensland and the other was his business partner.

Martin Luther Dyer died in April 1971.

"Flowers of Mount Olive."

“Flowers of Mount Olive.”

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, <;, viewed 29 January 2014.

NAA: B2455, BEST R S

Oliver Holmes Heard

Oliver Holmes Heard, born in 1893 at the Railway House, Bulli to Roger and Sarah Heard was a woodworking machinist prior to the war.

Oliver enlisted on 22 July, 1915 at the age of 21. Initially he joined the 17th Battalion and was later transferred to the 11th Battalion.

Oliver Heard, 1918.

Oliver Heard, 1918.

His diary from the Front begins in October 1915 and ends in 1916. It contains names and addresses  of friends in Wollongong and entries regarding the war and service details.


Oliver returned home from the war in 1919 and subsequently married Elvira Nellie aka Vera Wakeford, sister of Muriel Wakeford. Together they had three children and lived on Staff St, Wollongong. Oliver then worked at Boyded Industries. He received the Victory, Star and British War medals as recognition for his service in the First World War.

Below is a photo of Vera on the left and Oliver on the right in his WWI uniform, taken around 1940.

Vera left, Oliver right. c1940.

Vera and Oliver in his WWI uniform, at their Staff St. home c1940

Oliver Heard died in 1967 at the age of 74 at Wollongong.

David John Morgans

David John Morgans was born in Glamorganshire, Wales. He moved to Australia and lived on Main Rd, Bulli with his wife, Edith Emma Morgans.

David John Morgans

David John Morgans

David enlisted in April 1916 at the age of 25 years and 1 month; he was a miner prior to the war. Records show he enlisted in Kiama.

He embarked from Sydney on 9 September 1916 on HMAT Euripides, A14. He was a private in the 13th infantry Battalion, 19-23 Reinforcements (August-November 1916). He was appointed Lance Corporal on 1 January, 1918.

David John Morgans, front row, first from right.

David John Morgans: front row, first from right.

While on service, David received a cablegram in February 1917 regarding the birth of his daughter.

Group photo on a postcard.

Group photo on a postcard.

David disembarked on 12 June, 1919 returning to Australia. On his return, he was issued with the British War and Victory medals.

David’s family have kept and preserved photos, letters and postcards which he sent from the front. As well as his diary from the front which is still intact in its original leather case.

David John Morgans' diary from the front.

David John Morgans’ diary from the front.

Records of David John Morgans not only remain with the National Archives and Australian War Memorial but also with the ‘Bulli Black Diamond Heritage Museum’ and the ‘Illawarra Historical Society.’