Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Slip Carr's WW2 army record

The National Archives of Australia (NAA) emailed me today (1 October 2013) to say that they had put a digital copy of my grandfather Edwin William Carr’s WW2 army record on their website.

His record of service in the First World War has been available on the NAA website for many years but not the WW2 record.
Slip re-enlisted in the Australian Army in March 1940, at the age of 41. He served, with the rank of Lieutenant, then Captain, as an instructor with the Army's School of Physical & Recreational Training at Frankston, Victoria in 1940.
Find grandpa’s WW2 record on the NAA website. His Service Number was N60390.
A fellow instructor at the school was the legendary Don Bradman. Here’s a photo of grandpa and the Don in 1940.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Visiting Hay in the sunshine

We went on an eight day road trip in early July 2013. It was nearly 3,000kms all up - to Broken Hill, via the Murrumbidgee River and Lake Mungo, then home along the Barrier Highway via Wilcannia, Cobar and Nyngan.

Julie, near Silverton
There’s so much to see out west, from colonial history to even older Indigenous culture and history, from kangaroos, eagles and herds of cattle and sheep to the quirkiness of Broken Hill and White Cliffs. It’s also nice to experience the peaceful, vast emptiness of the outback – out of mobile phone range.

This was my first visit to Hay, where my grandmother, May Queenie Tyson, was born in 1901. Hay is in the western Riverina region of south-west NSW, described in Wikipedia as “the centre of a prosperous and productive agricultural district”.
We drove 170km to Hay from Narrandera on a crisp, sunny winter morning, through very flat country along the Murrumbidgee river. Hay is smaller than I imagined but is busy and lively.

With the kind help of Pat Howard at the public library in Lachlan Street, we found and visited a number of sites in town with Tyson associations. Some descendants still live in the Hay district, including Beverley McGuffick. Beverley is featured in a book Pat showed us - The river people (Cowan and Beard, Reed, 1983).

At the Hay Shire Council building we were kindly shown a painting of “Riverton”, in South Hay,  the home of my great grandfather James Tyson (1841-1901) and great grandmother, Jane Georgina (nee Sturkey). My grandmother, Queenie, and her brother and sisters lived at Riverton as children.

James Tyson was a nephew of the other James Tyson (1819- 1898), the famous pastoralist. The nephew was a wealthy man, having been involved in his uncle’s business, then inheriting some of his estate. The nephew James’ deceased estate file makes interesting reading (the file in the NSW State Records Office detailing his assets for the assessment of NSW estate duty).

We drove to Boon Street, South Hay, at the end of which was the site of Riverton. The original house had been replaced by a new one, with the same name. There is also a B&B on a subdivision of the old block. Even though the house is long gone, I have a precious few minutes of B&W film taken in 1935 (I think) of a family gathering at Riverton, to celebrate my father’s seventh birthday.  

Murrumbidgee River, Hay, 1935. My father, Edwin (foreground).

Riverton, Hay, 1935. Back row from left: Queenie, with Edwin jnr; Rose Tyson; unidentified girl. Front: "Wooz" (Ethel Carr); Alice Tyson with Tom Carr.



Thursday, 20 June 2013

The wish list

That’s the list of the projects I’m trying to finish. There are three of them. The problem is, I keep getting diverted around corners and down interesting rabbit holes.

(1) The sporty Carrs

I started by researching my father’s family – his mother and father, May Queenie Carr (nee Tyson) and Edwin William ("Slip”) Carr - and my great grandfather and great grandmother – Thomas Peter “TP” Carr and Harriett Carr (nee Augood).

I have a lot of information about many members of this group, especially Slip Carr and his father and brothers, who were outstanding sportsmen. Slip represented Australia at Rugby Union and competed at the 1924 Paris Olympic Games. I decided to research and write his and their stories.

(2) The early Carrs

Then I discovered my great great grandfather and gx2 grandmother – Henry William Carr and Maria Carr (nee Lillyman). Henry had come out to Australia from Ireland when very young, most likely in the late 1850s, and settled in Wee Waa, New South Wales (pronounced “we wore”). There he met and married Maria Lillyman, an immigrant from England.

I decided to research these “first arrivers” from Europe and the founders of the Australian family. I would write their story up to the end of the 19thC and then move seamlessly back to project (1). Good plan.

(3) The Irish Carrs

But no. While doing that, I discovered that William Henry Carr had several brothers and sisters who had also come out to Australia in the 19thC. There were clues to them in a mysterious letter written by an Irishwoman, Mrs Magill, to a distant Australian relative, Fred Carr, in the early 1920s. The letter turned up in my grandfather’s trunk in 1994 (see “How the journey started”).

Who were these Irish immigrants? I had to find out. I delved some more, the list grew and I learnt there were still more siblings in Ireland. Also, a gx3 grandfather and grandmother, Frederick and Elizabeth Carr. They may have had 16 children or more.

I thought I had gone as far as I could with the Irish Carrs. But then, earlier this year, I made contact with other descendants of that big Irish family and found out more (see "Advertising works”).

So I have some partly written manuscripts, a growing pile of research and a whole lot of new questions.

One day maybe, I will find out more about my mother’s family tree - the Camerons and Davidsons - and about the Tysons – the family of my grandmother, May Queenie Tyson.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Letter from home 1918

My grandfather, Edwin William "Slip" Carr, enlisted in the AIF in October 1917 and sailed from Sydney to Egypt in the Troopship Darwin in April 1918. He was a Trooper (No 4481) in the 2nd Australian Machine Gun Squadron, part of the famous Australian Light Horse Brigade. He spent nearly a year in the Middle East, returning to Sydney in April 1919.

His family wrote him many letters and he wrote back. We have the letters he received because he kept them in a calico bag and brought them home. I have only one page of a letter which he wrote home, which is a shame.

He was 18 when he went away and his family and friends must have worried terribly. The news was very bad from a war that dragged on interminably. So many young men (mostly) were killed or maimed, at Gallipoli and on the Western Front.

His older brother Ernie wrote more letters than anyone, giving him the news from home. Here is the first page of a letter Ernie wrote in August 1918.

Ernie said:

My Dear Brother,

            We received your welcome and interesting letter dated 30.8.1918. It was very good of you to write under such difficulties. My word you seem to be in the thick of the fighting. Hope you come through safely old man. We are all very worried about you. It is all a matter of luck & fate as you say. All the old towns must be very interesting. You will have some tales to tell us on your return. Take great care of yourself. In my last letter I enclosed a 10/- note. Hope it reaches you safely. Will do that now and again. Leo sent you a £1.0.0 note.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Advertising works

As a member of the Society of Australian Genealogists, you get to place one free "Enquiry" in the quarterly journal, Descent, each year. I did that for the first time, last March (2013). Here's the ad:

My copy of Descent arrived and I had just opened the plastic wrapping on my copy and checked that my enquiry was in it when the first reply came in - an email popped into the inbox on my screen!

In a matter of weeks, I had been contacted by the following people who were descendants of those listed in the ad:
  • BM (Sydney, NSW) of the Blake family into which John de Burgh Carr married
  • HC (Coffs Harbour, NSW). Her daughter-in-law is a descendant of Ernest Henry Carr
  • RJ (Petwood, South Australia), researching John Stanley Carr.
A gentleman from Newbury, Vermont (Mr P-H) had seen the ad and wrote. He is a descendant of a Parker Carr whose family came from Ireland.

Around the same time as hearing from these people, I made contact with Gillian Johnson - a fourth cousin in Wales, UK I never knew I had. She is a descendant of Charles Andrews Carr and Margaret Carr (nee McDermott) and a keen genealogist who is researching the Carrs in Ireland and her own branch of the family that settled in Liverpool, England. She, in turn, put me in contact with LG, a granddaughter of Augustus Edward Stanley Carr, on the NSW South Coast.

So I have finally contacted the living descendants of some of the siblings of my great great grandfather. I always knew they must exist. They, like me are researching their family history. This has provided a wonderful burst of new discoveries which I am still trying to digest.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Protecting privacy

People are concerned about their privacy on the internet.

I have come up with the following provisional “rules” for protecting the privacy of family members and others who could be mentioned on this blog.

  • I won’t mention the name, or other identifying details, of anyone living, without getting their consent
  • The same goes for photographs
  • I’ll try to avoid revealing someone’s identity indirectly
  • I may refer to living people by an alias or by initials, if that’s not too revealing.
What do other people do? I will look at other blogs to get an idea.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Census Sunday – vanishing ancestors

This point is so simple, I’m wondering if I should even mention it.

About a year ago, I was looking for information about the family of James and Lucy Augood who were Londoners, in English Censuses from 1861 to 1911. James and Lucy’s daughter, Harriett, is my great grandmother.

To my bewilderment, I could find not a single reference to any Augood when searching the Censuses online (on ancestry.com). Could they somehow have dodged every census for 50 years? No they hadn’t.

The key was to look for alternative spellings (Angood, Argood, Aregood, etc). Doing that, I found them in every Census in that period. I must acknowledge the help of Sylvia Murphy, a lovely lady and volunteer at the Society of Australian Genealogists library (and an authority, among things, on researching British and other ancestors in India).

I assume the problem is that words in handwriting on a document like a census page can be keyed or captured incorrectly. Here’s an image of one of the census pages with the name “Augood” on it. Or is that “Angood”?

Ancestry gives the option to Add Alternate Information, allowing you, as they say, to “not only set the record straight, you help other researchers find this person.

ANZAC centenary project 2015

Ku-ring-gai Historical Society in Sydney (KHS) is commemorating the centenary of ANZAC day in 2015 with an interesting project.

ANZAC stands for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps which came together to fight in WWI. On 25 April 1915, British, ANZAC and other allied forces, including the French and Indians, landed on the shores of Gallipoli to open up a new front in the war with Turkey and the Germans. It ended months later in bitter defeat, with a hasty retreat and a terrible loss of life on both sides.

ANZAC Day is one of the most important days for Australians and New Zealanders. It means different things to different people but for me it is a time to remember so many people who have suffered in times of war and who gave their life or made other sacrifices. And not only those in uniform but their families who also suffered and sacrificed with them.

KHS will publish a book in 2015 to commemorate the people of the Ku-ring-gai area (on the North Shore of Sydney) who served in WWI. Their names have been compiled from the many monuments to the “Great War” in the district. Volunteers from KHS (including me) are researching and writing 500-word stories of the soldiers, sailors and nurses who served. However, because there are so many names, the book will be limited to those who did not come back and those who were decorated.

There are many free websites for researching the stories of these people, including:
I am enjoying being involved in this project. It is a good way to honour the sacrifice made by these people and their families and to learn more about the past.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

So what’s he actually done?

The journey started nearly twenty years ago (see post 23 May 2013). I have been researching and writing, on and off, since 1994:

  • Go through the trunk belonging to my grandfather, Edwin William “Slip” Carr, sort and conserve
  • Transcribe letters to Slip from family and friends when he was away at the First World War in the Middle East (1917-1919)
  • Sort, transcribe and catalogue scrapbooks, letters, postcards and photographs from Slip’s sporting career (1916 to 1924). Slip represented Australia in Rugby Union and at the 1924 Paris Olympics. He equalled US sprinter Charlie Paddock’s 1920 OR for 100m in 1923 and set a WR for the 60m sprint twice that year.
  • Research the vital records of the Carr line, up through my father, Eddie, my grandfather, Slip, and my great grandfather, TP Carr and their families
  • Gather stories from my father, aunts and uncles and other family members about this line of people; receive precious gifts of photos, objects and documents from family
  • Some research into my grandmother’s people – the Tysons. Her maiden name was May Queenie Tyson. A lot of work has been done by other genealogists on the Tyson family in Australia. Isabella Tyson, the matriarch, was a convict. One of her sons, James, became a fabulously wealthy pastoralist, known as “the Cattle King” - a wonderful “rags to riches” story. Click here for more about James Tyson in the Australian Dictionary of Biography.
  • Convert my father’s and grandfather’s 16mm home movies (some filmed in the 1930s) into digital format
  • Discover my great, great grandfather, William Henry Carr, who was born in Ireland and who emigrated to Australia in the 1850s. The family of William’s wife, Maria Lillyman, has extensively researched the Lillyman family
  • Discover that William Henry Carr had up to 15 brothers and sisters (wow), about eight of whom also migrated to Australia and New Zealand in the 19thC; research their descendants
  • This year (2013), I came into contact with some of the descendants of the siblings of William Henry Carr, expanding my knowledge of the extended Australian family
  • Another person contacted is GJ, a fourth cousin in Wales, UK who has generously shared her research and information about the Carrs back in Ireland. She also unlocked many of the secrets of a mysterious letter I found in Slip’s trunk. Written in the early 1920s by a distant Irish relative, it potentially expands significantly the Irish family tree.

[Photo: Slip Carr, Copenhagen, 1923]

Friday, 24 May 2013

Uncle Leo

Here's that photograph of Uncle Leo in his RAN officer's uniform (see post 23 May 2013). The badge on his sleeve looks like that of a Commander (See RAN ranks).

Leopold James Phillimore Carr (1892-1970) was the second son of TP and Harriett Carr. He had a distinguished career as an Engineer in the RAN, serving for 35 years from 1915. He reached the highest rank possible for a Navy Engineer and was awarded an OBE for service in the Atlantic during WWII.

Check out his entry on the WWII Nominal Roll.

He never married. He was an intelligent, kind and generous man who had a good sense of humour. I plan to do more research into his life... some day!

Thursday, 23 May 2013

How the journey started

I kept in touch with my uncle Stewart Brown in the years after Aunty Ethel died. In 1994, he was living down at Palm Beach in the old house in Florida Road where Grandpa Slip Carr had lived. He told me that he had some things that belonged to Grandpa that I might like to have. Things like photographs, letters, postcards and other memorabilia. I was interested and promised to come and get it.

I did nothing about it for a long time. Finally, more than a year after we had first spoken, my wife and I drove down to Palm Beach one Sunday morning in March 1994. She took our three girls to the beach for a few hours. I stayed up at the house with Stewart. I remember standing on the big, wooden balcony that faced a wall of trees and vines. You could just make out the sea through gaps in the green. It was hot and the birds and cicadas were almost deafening.

Uncle Stewart ushered me from the balcony into Slip’s old, dimly lit bedroom – the one nearest the front door. When my eyes got used to the dimness, Stuart showed me a big iron trunk, brown with rust. It was filled with mouldy, books, newspaper cuttings, framed photographs, smaller boxes and metal chocolate tins that held more photographs. Apart from the trunk, there was a cardboard box or two with more of this ancient stuff.

Stewart picked out a few things and told me something about them. A dirty bag with a red cross on it held a wad of letters written by family and friends to Slip when he was a soldier in World War I. A set of photographs of Grandma Queenie and her sisters as young girls. One, in a heavy metal frame, of a youthful Uncle Leo in his naval officer’s uniform. Stewart pointed out a photo of Slip in 1940 in Australian Army uniform, with Don Bradman, signed by both men. Stewart said this was one of Slip’s favourites.

I remember my growing feeling of excitement at being given this amazing treasure chest. I will be forever grateful to Stewart for passing it on to me.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Carr family history blog begins


This is my first post on Blogger.

I want to:
  • record my family history research and discoveries
  • connect with family and others interested in this tree
  • share information and start conversations
  • have fun.
Looking forward to telling my family stories.