Directed and Edited by Joel Checkley and Produced by Belinda Ensor for Museums Australia (Victoria), 2013
Reproduction of this content for public purposes must be approved via Museums Australia (Victoria).Copyright
Museums Australia (Victoria)
One hundred years since the First World War, local collecting organisation Victorian Interpretive Projects, in conjunction with Ballarat Ranges Military Museum, is asking local residents and relatives of former Ballarat miners to share their photographs, objects and stories.
This is the story of the miners who left Ballarat to fight in the First World War. It is also the story of the people seeking to commemorate them through research and family history, enabling an ongoing legacy through contributions to the public record.
Thank you to Yvon Davis, Di Campbell, Clare Gervasoni, Dot Wickham from Victorian Interpretive Projects, Neil Leckie from Ballarat Rangers Military Museum and the City of Ballarat.
Back’s Against the Wall, written and performed by Judah and the Lion, The Music Bed
1. Photograph - black and white - Ballarat School of Mines, Lydiard Street, Ballarat, c1909, Object Registration 00490, Federation University Australia Historical Collection via Victorian Collections. 2. Photograph (Black & White) - Ballarat School of Mines Anatomical Laboratory, Object Registration 00297, Federation University Australia Historical Collection via Victorian Collections. 3. Image (printed photograph) - Ballarat School of Mines Blacksmithing Students at Work, Object Registration 00743, Federation University Australia Historical Collection via Victorian Collections. 4. "Working Miners" Claim Ballarat [picture], Accession no(s) H2038, State Library of Victoria. 5. Photograph – France, 1916, H07196, Australian War Memorial. 6. Sturt Street, Ballarat, Accession no(s) H2013.223/51, State Library of Victoria. 7. Ballarat [picture], Accession no(s) H92.301/224, State Library of Victoria. 8. Unidentified group of soldiers standing to attention with rifles at their sides, Ballarat [Vic.] [picture], Accession no(s) H94.64/7, State Library of Victoria. 9. Officers school, Ballarat [Vic.] [picture], Accession no(s) H94.64/6, State Library of Victoria. 10. Negative - Parade of Soldiers of the 39th Battalion, Ballarat, Victoria, circa 1915, Reg. No: MM 001041, Museum Victoria. 11. Photograph - The main road through Zillebeke, southeast of Ypres, 1917, C00466, Australian War Memorial. 12. Photograph - Infantry of the 3rd Australian Division marching through Ypres on the way to the front line to take part in the great battle of 4 October, 1917, C00447, Australian War Memorial. 13. Images - World War One images relating to Tunnellers, Object Registration 00126, Victorian Interpretive Projects via Victorian Collections. 14. Photograph - Unidentified wounded soldiers being treated at an advanced field dressing station, 2nd Australian Division, 1917, E00672, Australian War Memorial. 15. Photograph - Two unidentified members of the 2nd Australian Tunnelling Company working by candlelight on a tunnel, 1917, E04621, Australian War Memorial. 16. Photograph - View of the entrance of a tunnel in the sand at the Belgian town, 1917, E04632, Australian War Memorial. 17. Photograph - One of the three electrical switches that officers of the 1st Australian Tunnelling Company used to detonate the massive explosive charge in a mine under Hill 60, 1917, P02333.004, Australian War Memorial. 18. Photograph - Near Loos, France, 1918, E04561, Australian War Memorial. 19. Photograph - A heavy French Army trench mortar bomb bursting close to German Army positions, H12404, Australian War Memorial. 20. Image courtesy Yvon Davis. 21. Photograph - Digital - Arthur Elton Tandy, Object Registration 00141, Victorian Interpretive Projects via Victorian Collections. 22. Correspondence - Digital - Correspondence from Arthur Elton Tandy, 1916, Object Registration 00140, Victorian Interpretive Projects via Victorian Collections. 23. National Archives of Australia: First Australian Imperial Force Personnel Dossiers, 1914-1920; B2455, Tandy Arthur Elton, 1914 – 1920, 8098136. © Commonwealth of Australia (National Archives of Australia) 2014.
My name is Yvon Davis and I’ve officially been named the Project Manager for Mining Mud and Medals, all about the tunnellers of World War 1 from the Ballarat electorate and where we are today, ah where we’re sitting here, is part of the old School of Mines and so the people we are researching and hope to find out more about either went to the School of Mines, or came from Ballarat surrounding area.
I hope by the end of it we can do them all justice and people in Ballarat will say – look this is part of our history, you know, this is what these people did. They went to, the Schools of Mines or they were miners, and they came here for the gold rush initially and ended up fighting at the Western Front or elsewhere.
Today we have asked people in the public in Ballarat, or wherever else they came from, if they have any mementos that they would like scanned, or find out how to care for them. A lot of people might have photographs or papers or letters and people don’t always realise how to look after them.
I’m Sharon Upham and from my mother’s side of the family I’ve brought my Grandmother’s two brothers, who went to the First World War.
My name’s Steve Hunter and I’ve brought along a viewfinder that belonged to my Grandfather, it’s about 100 years old. It shows 3D photographs of the horrors of war and other different things that are on there.
So today was the day where people could bring in stuff, find out how to look after it and have it for the next couple of generations. As well as people came in today to find out where they could find out more about their relatives by way of computers.
I’m Neil Leckie and I’m the manager of the Ballarat Ranger Military Museum. And my connection with the Military started in 1968 when I got called up for National Service.
Ballarat in 1914, Ballarat was a big regional city. It was the biggest regional city in those days, just bigger than Geelong. There were around 6,000 men who were enlisted who claimed to be born in Ballarat.
Quite a lot of men would have trained at the School of Mines because it was a mining college and they would have gone off into the tunneling companies. We know that quite a few from Ballarat were there at Hill 60 and they would use their mining skills down there.
When you look at the Western Front in the First World War, there was nothing left standing. Buildings were gone, there wasn’t even a tree in sight quite often. So the only way to get to the enemy was to go underground.
And it’s not as simple as it sounds because you can’t just dig a hole and tunnel underground. In Flanders for instance, they had blue clay, so quite often they were called the ‘Clay Kickers’, some of them, because they had to really kick with the machine to get the clay out and they tunnelled underneath the German lines in France and Flanders, also a little bit in Gallipoli, but mainly the Western Front and because everything was quite secretive, you know, nobody wanted to know where they were or what they were doing, because you don’t want to give away the game, so we don’t know a lot about them, and Ballarat with it’s mining history we already knew of a few tunnellers, but now we’re still finding more and it’s just great to be able to acknowledge them, and be in touch with the Cemetery Trust or the Arch of Victory people to sort of say, look we’ve found another person who is from Ballarat and hasn’t been acknowledged.
A lot of the time the tunnellers lay on their back to push the shovels in, because they didn’t have a six foot tunnel to work in, it would have been a lot narrower than that.
Quite often they were called the ‘Clay Kickers’, some of them, because they had to really kick with the machine to get the clay out and they tunnelled underneath the German lines.
Well the aim of the tunnellers was to make tunnels where you could get underneath the enemy and plant mines. Now, they called it a mine but these mines were just tons and tons of explosives. So they had to have these big holes in the ground, get the explosives underneath it and then they would all get out and get a long way away and then press the button and it would explode. Some of the mines that were exploded were so large that they were actually heard in England, when they went off.
We already knew of a few tunnellers, but now we’re still finding more and it’s just great to be able to acknowledge them. I’ve always felt it was a bit of a lost history, so it’s nice to be able to work on a project for the next couple of years to get the history, to get the background, to get photos and little personal stories. It’s those little bits and pieces that make a person who they are and it’s just really nice to find out and then we also have eight members of one of the tunneller’s families that’s come down from Queensland. And to meet them and to see a postcard that he’s written to the family is just, you know.
Nothing much was said about Arthur Elton Tandy in our family, I supposed because my father was much younger than he was. It just so happened that we came into possession of a number of letters that he wrote from France and Belgium in 1916, 1917.
We brought the letters today and have had them scanned and recorded. The reason we came today – I found out through Judy this whole weekend was on – and that’s why we’re here.
And it gives this, this human insight. It’s not just a name anymore that’s written on a gravestone, it’s a person.
So the tunneling company that Arthur Elton was a Leftenant in was the company that did Hill 60.
And our other link with Ballarat of course was that he attended the School of Mines in 1902, I think.
And I said to them ‘you’ll have to wander round the area because this is where he would have studied all those years ago, this is the place where he came to’.
4,000 men enlisted in Ballarat and unfortunately of those 4,000 around about 400 didn’t come home.
The impact of losing these miners, mining engineers, electricians and carpenters would have had to have an impact on the city at the time.
So there were some effects on Ballarat when you take away up to 4,000 men, a lot of them who were hands on workers.
I think people came today because they had the opportunity to find out about their World War 1 ancestors.
If we don’t have our ANZAC Day commemorations continue and we don’t keep showing things to people to see what the men and women did in those battles, in those wars, then it will all be forgotten.
And I think it’s important that every generation keeps that in mind and never forgets what they done. Ever. Should never ever be forgotten.