Researching Family: The Tickle Sisters
Avalon and Isabel Tickle talk about researching the wartime records of their relatives, Military Cross recipient Frank William Tickle and William Thomas Yates, who both served in WW1.
-I'm Isabel Tickle.
-And I'm Avalon Tickle.
-And I researched my great-grandfather Frank William Tickle for the National History Challenge and the Victorian Spirit of the Anzac prize.
-And I researched my great-great-uncle for the National History Challenge. I chose to research William Thomas Yates because recently, before I started doing the project, we'd gotten a-- we just found a heap of letters that he'd written home to his family from the war. And so it was a good firsthand knowledge of what he'd been through and things that he'd seen while he was there.
This is one of the letters that he sent home to his brother, Ted. This was from Gaba Tepe. He sent most of his letters home to Dora, who was his sister. It was a really good way to learn about the war and everything. Like, sometimes you can just read it off the internet and it's just kind of what people think happened. But this is really what he went through and everything. And yeah, it was just-- it was really sad, like, to hear all the things that he had to go through and just, like, all the people that he had to see, like, die and everything. Like, in one of the places, there was 2,000 casualties or something in two hours.
This is a photo from Egypt of him and some of the other captains. He enlisted on the 19 of August, 1914. And he was a farmer in Camperdown and he sailed to Egypt in October of that year. And from there, he fought in places. He fought in France on the Hindenburg Line and in places like Somme and Gallipoli. When he was fighting on the Hindenburg Line, he was shelled. And everyone thought he was dead, so they sent two men out to bring him back on a stretcher for a decent burial. And when they were bringing him back, they also got shelled. And one of the, like, the stretcher bearers, Private Carrington, he died that next day from the wounds that he received and Will survived.
This map was from when he was fighting on the Hindenburg Line, when he got shelled. As you can see on the back, it's got some of his blood. And it's got a little bit of something from the blast. You know, it just kind of shows half firing, everything he had to walk, and how well they had it all planned out and everything. He sent this home with one of his letters to show where he'd been and what happened to him.
ISABEL TICKLE: I'd-- I'd heard about Frank from my dad and my grandpa, but no one in the family really knew anything about him, because when he came back from war, he'd been injured. So his leg was always playing up. And he had post-traumatic stress, so he never spoke about any of his experiences.
I started off here, just trying to find out what I could from the War Museum. I interviewed my grandpa, but he wasn't really that helpful, because my great-grandpa hadn't talked much about anything. I spoke to some other family members who didn't really know anything, either. So I started with his defense service records. They were really helpful in piecing together his experiences. I also researched the battalion war diaries that had just been digitized.
Frank enlisted in 1914 when he was 26. He was at the Gallipoli landing. And within three days, he'd been promoted to sergeant, because obviously, someone had died. He was admitted to hospital with jaundice within the first couple of weeks and was then injured again when he came back on duty, but stayed on duty. Then, a couple of weeks later, he was shot in the leg and had to go to hospital for a couple of months.
In 1918, Frank was in Ypres and he won the Military Cross for bravery. And there's a letter here in the museum that was sent to his father. It was a report on why he'd won it. "For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in an attack. He led his men forward with great gallantry and personally killed the entire gun crew and successfully captured the position. He set a splendid example of courage and determination."
Just knowing what Frank went through in the war was-- we could-- my family could finally understand why he had post-traumatic stress and why he struggled to talk about his experiences.