Friday, April 24, 2015

Olive Street in the News

Since releasing the Olive Street results, the project has been travelling far and wide! Here are some of the places it will appear- to be updated with links as each is complete.

City of Subiaco- Subiaco Museum exhibit, When the Great War Came to Subiaco

The City of Subiaco has an exhibit running at the moment, featuring great work by museum coordinator Erica Boyne, Gallipoli Dead from Western Australia coordinator Shannon Lovelady, and many others. It also features a large panel that details some of the early work on the Olive Street story, and the exhibit gives great additional context to the research.

Well worth a visit, and free. See here for more details, including opening hours.

City of Subiaco- Lunchtime Talk in the Library

I went along to the Subiaco Library on Friday 17th April to talk about the Olive Street research, and we had around 50 people in attendance. A very nice afternoon, and good to see many community members interested in the project. We'll be aiming to do more of these at different times in coming months.

Interview with Nathan, Nat and Shaun on Nova 937- April 24th

Leading into the centenary of the ANZAC landings on April 25th, I chatted to breakfast radio crew Nathan, Nat and Shaun on Nova 937. They are an absolute delight to speak with, and it was a much appreciated opportunity to tell the wider world about the Landscape of Loss project and the Olive Street outcomes. Below, the two interview segments are embedded, with kind permission of Nova.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Coverage in The West Australian, Saturday 25th April 2015

Journalist Katherine Fleming wrote a beautiful piece about Olive Street for The West Australian's ANZAC Day Centenary issue, which also resulted in me getting to meet Murray Kerrigan, the grandson of Olive Street soldier (and Military Medal nominee) Tom Kerrigan. Both the online and print editions go into a great level of detail, including a graphic that shows the toll suffered by Olive Street residents. Having the added information about Tom Kerrigan's life from his direct descendants is a great addition to the overall Olive Street story, and I really appreciate Katherine's fantastic work in bringing it all together.

Check out the full story here.

State Records Office Family History Discovery Day

On Sunday 26th April, I'm one of several local historians presenting our work at the State Records Office First World War Family History Discovery Day in Perth's Cultural Centre. We'll be at the State Theatre complex from 10am to 4pm, and I'm speaking at 2pm about the Landscape of Loss, and how you can find your own family's place in it.

More information here.

Blackboy Hill is Calling

On May 3rd at 3pm, the social history of the Blackboy Hill training camp, titled Blackboy Hill is Calling, will be launched by the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers' Centre group up at Greenmount. I've contributed a chapter on brothers who trained at Blackboy Hill.

There's also an earlier launch and a talk at the State Library on Monday 27th April at 11am.

See the details of both here.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Landscape of Loss: Olive Street Stories

This is the third of three posts about Olive Street in Subiaco, Western Australia.  The introduction can be found here, some statistics and examples here, and a map here.


Throughout the fifty houses on Olive Street, there were an untold number of stories about how the war was felt in Subiaco. For every person who went to war, there were several left at home to wait, worry, and mourn if they did not return. For every person who came home, there was a lifetime of reckoning their First World War experience, and some found it considerably harder than others to get back to life as they had known it.

Picture the entire street from the records available, and you will see neighbours of every variety. Professional and working class, Church of England and Roman Catholic, born overseas or interstate or locally, and working all across Western Australia in a range of jobs. Some were married with families, and some still lived with their parents. There were larger than life characters scattered up and down Olive Street, and the war affected them in many different ways.

Fathers and Sons: The Durkin Family of 22 Olive Street

Nicholas Durkin was one of the tallest men to enlist from Olive Street, standing over 6’ in height. He was a prospector and miner who worked in some of Western Australia’s most remote outposts, and he was accordingly as rough and ready as you might expect.

In the earlier years of the 20th century, wife Mary Ann had raised their six children, including sons Vincent and Bernard, in the Goldfields centre of Kalgoorlie. During the same time, Nicholas had worked in places as remote as Roebourne and Carnarvon, and his behaviour raised the occasional eyebrow.

In 1910, after the success of a prospecting venture at Bullfinch, Nicholas commenced a six-week celebration comprising “one continual drinking bout”. During this time, Nicholas declared to many fellow guests at the Oddfellows’ Hotel in Fremantle that he and the married proprietor Mrs. Purcell had spent some time in the bedroom together. Mrs. Purcell denied this, and with many witnesses on her side, Nicholas was charged with defamation, and was convicted. The details of the case were widely reported in newspapers around the state.

Mary Ann remained loyal, and the family moved away from the Goldfields and into Olive Street in 1914. When war was declared, Vincent was the first to enlist in 1915, followed shortly after by Bernard. Never one to shy away from adventure, Nicholas wasn’t going to be left behind- he reduced his age by ten years, from 52 to 42, and put his own name down as well.

After many charges of being Absent Without Leave before even departing Australian shores, it must have been clear that military discipline and Nicholas Durkin were not an ideal combination. But it was on arrival in England that Nicholas wasn’t able to complete the basic drills and marches due to his age, and at that, he was discovered, sent home, and discharged. Vincent and Bernard fought out the remainder of the war, and returned home in 1919.

Nicholas died in 1930, aged 67. Bernard married and had a child, but was only 54 when he passed away in 1942. Vincent would later go on to serve in the Second World War, and acted as Secretary of the North-East Fremantle Sub-Branch of the RSL. He is pictured on the left at the 1920 wedding of his sister Fayne (far right), with his future wife Florence Hollins standing behind him.

(Courtesy: Flo Montgomery)

The family’s relationship with housemate George Hunter is unclear. He was a contractor working on a farm in the country town of Wagin, and his wife Ada Allison Myrtle Hunter gave 22 Olive Street as her next of kin address when George enlisted, one day after Vincent Durkin. George was injured a number of times, including one occasion where he slipped off a duckboard and landed on a concealed, upright bayonet, which pierced his foot. Like the other residents of number 22, he survived the fighting and returned home in 1919.

Brothers in Arms: The Rogers Family of 23 Olive Street

Directly across the road from the Durkin home, at 23 Olive Street, the four soldier sons of George and Annie Rogers all enlisted between November 1915 and April 1916. In short order, they were off to the Western Front, ready to do their bit for the war effort. The oldest, miner George, was 24- the youngest, labourer William, only 18.

After enlisting, George married Stella Adella North. Their son, also named George, would be born in his father’s absence- and they would never get to meet. George was killed in action at Passchendaele in 1917, leaving Stella a widow at just 21 years of age.

David Rogers also died a few months later, killed during fierce fighting at Dernancourt. Witnesses said he had gone to the aid of a fallen soldier, only to be struck by a bullet, grenade or shell in the stomach. He was seriously wounded and would not allow anyone to touch him, so had to be left where he was in a position where the German Army would shortly overtake the ground. Many assumed he must have become a prisoner of war, but there was no record of that- he was eventually listed as killed in action after an inquiry.

James Rogers returned home early with gunshot injuries to his hand, while William was also shot in the hand and head, but fought on to the end of the war.

There were many sets of Olive Street brothers who enlisted and fought together, including the three Rankin brothers who lived at 27 Olive Street, a couple of houses up from the Rogers family. Most lost at least one sibling to the fighting.

Luck and Lack Thereof

Wally D'raine was a well-known character around Perth, having been born in the north of England and having come to Western Australia via the United States. He was a successful butcher with several stores, and he approached his work with a salesman's enthusiasm and flair. No publicity was bad publicity for D'raine, who fell out with both his brother and his wife in very public ways.

He was living at 74 Olive Street in 1915 when he enlisted for war, initially becoming a sergeant in the 10th Light Horse Regiment.

Wally D'Raine

Wally also had a combination of luck that was at once terrible and fortunate. He was being treated for bronchitis at the 53rd Casualty Clearing Station near Bailleul in 1917 when an enemy plane dropped a bomb, resulting in serious injuries from shrapnel. After six months of treatment for wounds to his shoulder, chest, face and leg, he was invalided back to Australia and took no further part in the war.

A similar piece of terrible luck befell Ernest Lyndon Menagh, whose brother John Wilson Menagh had lived at 31 Olive Street. A corporal with the 4th Divisional Ammunition Column, he was billeted in a three-storey house near Peronne, and was asleep when an air raid scored a direct hit. He received serious wounds to the legs and abdomen, and died three days later at the 35th Casualty Clearing Station.

Above and Beyond the Call

Three residents of Olive Street were recommended for or awarded medals for bravery during the First World War.

KERRIGAN, Thomas Michael (74 Olive Street)- Military Medal

The Kerrigan family were well-known in the Kulin area, where father John was a local publican. After their son Tom enlisted in 1915, they moved into Olive Street for the remainder of the war years.

At the infamous battle of Pozieres in July 1916, where numerous other Olive Street soldiers were wounded or killed, Tom’s efforts under fire earned him a recommendation for the Military Medal.
At Pozieres from 22nd to 26th July 1916, Pte Claude Tasman JACK and Pte Thomas Michael KERRIGAN continuously carried despatches from Bde Hqs to firing line over country which was continuously swept by heavy machine gun and shrapnel fire. Both men were seriously wounded but sent the despatches which they were carrying at the time back to the Bde Depot Office thus ensuring their ultimate delivery.
Tom was wounded during the battle, and much more seriously the following year, when he was shot in the neck. He recovered and returned to Western Australia, where in 1920, John Kerrigan bought the new Kulin Hotel. Tom took over the Billiard Table and Wayside House licenses from his father in 1921, and married Florence Robinson in 1923. He was active in the local RSL in the district, and raised five children with his wife. He died in 1974, aged 80.

GWYTHER, Edward McKinnon (87 Olive Street)- Distinguished Conduct Medal and Military Medal

Edward McKinnon Gwyther was a 19-year-old clerk who had lived in Olive Street and worked in Kalgoorlie, and he was amongst the first to enlist in August 1914. After several bouts of serious illness during the fighting at Gallipoli, he rose through the ranks to become a sergeant. He was awarded the Military Medal for gallantry and devotion to duty at Jeancourt in September 1918, and also recommended for the Distinguished Conduct Medal:
On the night 17th/ 18th September 1918 and throughout the operation on 18th Sept. 1918 at JEANCOURT Sgt. GWYTHER and Cpl. JONES were in charge of Brigade and Group Artillery communications and showed great gallantry and devotion to duty in laying and maintaining communications throughout the night previous to the advance and throughout the advance.
When our barrage opened the enemy put his barrage down on Group Headquarters, cutting all the artillery and infantry lines. These N.C.Os went out under this barrage and worked for 8 hours mending broken lines, thereby making it possible for communication being kept with the advance, enabling orders to be given to the Artillery and information sent back.
On his return, he married twice and had children, largely living in the Shenton Park area until his death in 1972.

HENDERSON, William John (86 Bagot Road)- Distinguished Conduct Medal

William Henderson was an accountant and legal manager who lived at 86 Bagot Road, on the corner of Olive Street, with his wife Annie. His brother George, a 21-year-old labourer, gave the same address when he enlisted in 1914, and also listed William as his next of kin.

William was an experienced soldier, having previously fought in the Boer War for two years, and his application for a commission with the 10th Light Horse Regiment in 1914 saw him given the rank of Sergeant. He fought at Gallipoli, where in August at the infamous battle of Hill 60, his extraordinary efforts would see him Mentioned in Despatches and awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal.
For conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty on the 29th and 30th August, 1915, at Hill 60 (Dardanelles). During the operations Sergeant Henderson rendered most valuable assistance to his Commanding Officer, and when the latter was wounded and ordered away he remained, with one other man only, and successfully held an important section. Finally, when relief arrived, he volunteered to remain, and was in the trench for thirty-seven hours, during which period there was almost incessant hand-to-hand fighting. He proved untiring, and displayed a courage and devotion to duty beyond praise.
The Commanding Officer referred to in the citation was Captain Hugo Vivian Throssell, who was awarded the Victoria Cross for his part in the same action.

The story of Henderson's 37-hour hand-to-hand fight to hold a trench is inspiring enough, but his service record reveals that his actions required double the effort. From the moment he arrived in Egypt, he was suffering a recurrence of long-term health problems with his digestive system that saw him taken out of the line multiple times. He had only been back in the line for a brief time from his latest illness when called on to fight at Hill 60. No longer able to digest the field diet, he returned to Australia for change in 1917. But unwilling to remain at home, he went back to Egypt at the end of that year. He saw no further fighting, and returned to Australia again within the month.

William was an active advocate for returned soldiers, and after moving back to his home state of Victoria, became the General/ Federal Secretary of the RSSILA (Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia, later to become the RSL). In 1921, after years of battling the same problems, he was finally too tired to fight on. He died in the No 11 Australian General Hospital in Melbourne in March that year, with his cause of death given as intestinal obstruction and exhaustion.

His brother George, also resident at 86 Bagot Road, was killed in action at Messines in 1917.

A World of Grief at Number 90: the McKinnons and the Sampfords

Though many houses in Olive Street suffered losses, the home at number 90 received a much larger share of bad news than most.

Two different families were associated with the house throughout the war years- first, the McKinnons from 1915- 1916, and then the Sampfords from 1917- 1918.

David Stanley McKinnon in 1915

Annie Catherine “Kit” Fitzgerald married husband David McKinnon, a well-known soccer player for the Caledonian team, after he enlisted in 1915. By the time he departed for war with his brother Daniel, she was expecting their first child.

Tragedy struck early at number 90. Baby David Joseph McKinnon was born in January 1916, and died within a few days. Kit was left to mourn the loss of her baby alone, and her grief would expand in July that year, when David was killed in action at Pozieres. His brother Daniel died one day later in a German Prisoner of War camp of wounds received at Fromelles. The following year, Kit’s closest brother Frank Fitzgerald was also killed in action. On the second anniversary of her husband's death, Kit (by then living around the corner at 82 Bagot Road) placed a newspaper notice mourning all three.

She never remarried, and upon her death in 1962, she was reunited with her son, buried in the same grave at Karrakatta cemetery.

Like the Durkin family at the other end of Olive Street, the Sampfords had a lot of character. Ernest Sampford was a father of seven children between the ages of 9 and 27, and he enlisted with three of his sons to fight.

Arthur was the first son to enlist at the outbreak of war in 1914, and he landed at Gallipoli with the rest of the 11th Battalion. He was seriously wounded within days, with a gunshot wound to the face and an un-united compound fracture of his arm resulting in his return home.

Not long before Arthur arrived back on Australian shores, 21-year-old Charles and 23-year-old Billy enlisted on the same day in July 1915. They fought with the 48th Battalion at Pozieres, where Billy was killed in action. Charles survived the fight, but ran into trouble not long after. While on active duty, he left his post contrary to orders, and at his subsequent court martial was sentenced to ten years of penal servitude. This was commuted to two years of imprisonment with hard labour, but after a year in prison, Charles was released early and returned to the Front. Within weeks, he too was killed in action at Jeancourt.

44-year-old carpenter Ernest was the last to enlist in November 1915, following his sons across to the Western Front. He spent just six days in the field before being urgently removed to hospital with bronchitis and pleurisy. With old age listed as the reason, he was discharged from the AIF and returned to Australia. He later returned to London as a munitions worker for a brief period, before coming back to Australia. He died at the Edward Millen Home in Victoria Park in 1925.

On the Home Front

From 139 Barker Road, enthusiastic volunteer Arthur Tyrrell Williams went to Gallipoli with the 10th Light Horse Regiment. But in 1915, he was wounded in action and forced to return to Australia. On the home front, he became a fervent campaigner for recruitment in Western Australia, speaking at rallies and even writing a patriotic song, The Gallant Light Horse, with his pianist wife Nellie.

The Gallant Light Horse, by Williams and Williams

Arthur was not just a man of words. He was also prominent in working to assist returned servicemen, becoming Western Australia’s secretary of the RSSILA (RSL), and proposing a settlement scheme for the Riverton area. When that failed, he commenced a business in which wounded soldiers made and distributed sandwiches to offices in central Perth.

Beyond the War

Many Olive Street soldiers had a difficult time after their return from war. Some were arrested for public drunkenness, abusive language, and running betting operations. Others were divorced or separated, or charged with the maintenance of illegitimate children. Many of those who made it home died far too young, within a decade of their return.

Amidst the difficulties, there was also hope. Widows like Stella Rogers remarried and began new families. New careers began for many whose physical capacity had been altered by their war experiences, and some achieved great success.

The Landscape of Loss study seeks to examine the long-term social change that resulted from the First World War, and over time will bring together as many stories as possible of life after the war. Most of those who had been resident in Olive Street during the war years had moved elsewhere by 1920, but during those years, the residents had suffered together and pulled through. For many, their challenges were just beginning.

Welcome Home to Returned Subiaco Servicemen
(Courtesy: City of Subiaco)

Landscape of Loss: Olive Street Statistics

This is the second of three posts about Olive Street, in Subiaco, Western Australia. The introduction can be found here, additional stories are here, and the map is here. This post discusses the statistics about enlisted men associated with Olive Street, and provides the stories behind the numbers.


The 49 men who successfully enlisted from Olive Street are but drop in the bucket of the total Australians who went to war between 1914 and 1919. Official statistics state that around 420,000 people enlisted from a nation of 4.9 million; around 38.7% of all men aged between 18 and 44 at the time. From Western Australia, more than 32,000 men went to war.

Olive Street represents only 0.01% of the national total, just 0.15% of the state total, and around 2.5% of the 2000+ Subiaco men I predict will feature in the Landscape of Loss study over the next three years. So, the statistical data gathered through this study is of little immediate relevance to the national context, or even the wider local context, taken as it is. The sample is too small to draw any strong conclusions of relevance to anywhere but Olive Street itself.

And therein lies the value of the study. While it may be a small portion of the overall whole, the numbers here represent as many Olive Street soldiers as possible. The representation for the street itself should be somewhere near 100%, which provides quite a comprehensive picture of the war experience of these residents. In time, as additional streets are investigated, a picture will begin to build of the impact of war on one complete suburb of Perth.

The information used to generate the statistics below has been collected from a wide range of primary resources, including WWI service records, Births Deaths and Marriages records, cemetery records, newspaper family notices, and so on.

Age at Enlistment

The average age of enlistment for Olive Street soldiers was 27.5 years of age, and recruits in the street ranged from 18 through to 52 years of age.

A number of people over the years have investigated and detailed the age ranges of recruits to the First Australian Imperial Force, including Bean, Robson and McQuilton. McQuilton provides a clear table of the statistical analysis of age ranges in Robson's work, and the Olive Street percentages (shown also in the chart below) are provided for comparison:
Most of the numbers match the standard seen across Australia during that time period. The major point of interest in Olive Street is the comparatively high enlistment (double the usual statistic) of men over the age of 40. 

Seven different men aged 40 and above went to war from this road, including the oldest- 52 year old Nicholas Durkin- who lied about his age to enlist. That represents 14% of total enlistments from the street.

Of those seven men, one enlisted early enough in 1915 to see service at Gallipoli; as might be expected, all of the others enlisted after June 1915, the point at which enlistment standards were relaxed to allow an upper age of 45 (rather than the 35 it had initially been from August 1914).

In terms of family situation, five of the seven men were married, most with children, which is a significantly different proportion to any other age group in the study. Five (including one unmarried) enlisted after close relatives- sons or sons-in-law, younger brothers, or nephews- went to war. One of the men, John Christian Monson, was the only man in the street listed as legally separated from his wife, and a great deal of public conflict had occurred within the family in the years before he enlisted (see Marital Status, below). Others, such as Nicholas Durkin and John Mackie, had also been in the news for marital problems prior to enlisting.

Six of the seven men were engaged in heavy physical work at home, including mining, railway construction and carpentry, and no doubt felt their experience and physical capacity would be as valued on the front as it was in their regular occupation.

Two were declared unfit (due to advanced age) before they saw any service. Two were killed, and the other three all returned to Australia wounded or ill. One, Ernest Sampford, died only a few years after the war in the Edward Millen Home in Victoria Park, which treated soldiers who suffered, as he did, from ongoing respiratory problems.

The youngest man to successfully enlist on Olive Street was Eric Armstrong Simons, of number 84. In February 1917, his parents signed permission for him to go to war, swearing that he was 18 years and 4 months of age. However, Eric was actually only 17 years and 10 months of age. He'd been a keen cadet in the 87th Infantry Citizen Forces for four years, and was well-known around camp, so he didn't get away with it.

He was, though, allowed to join the 5th District Guard for home duty at Karrakatta, and in April 1918 finally achieved his goal of embarking with the 28th Battalion.

By the time he arrived in England to join the training camp, the war was coming to a close, and he saw no active service, instead being attached to the AIF Headquarters in London until late 1919. Simons presents as a fiercely motivated individual, who started as a junior clerk in the Lands and Surveys department at 16 years of age. After the war, he and his wife Kathleen, who he married when he was still only 18, moved out to Serpentine to become settlers on the land. By the 1930s, they had returned to Victoria Park, where Simons worked again as a clerk.

When the Second World War began, he was 40 years of age and a father of nine, and he was straight in line to participate, joining the 10th Garrison Battalion on 9th October 1939. He served as the quartermaster and adjutant of the Northam training camp in 1940 before transferring to Perth Headquarters, rising to the rank of Captain by 1945. After some time working to oversee prisoners-of-war, he travelled overseas again in 1946 as a guard transferring released Italians back to their homeland.

Marital Status

Around 63% of Olive Street soldiers were single, and 33% were married.

One soldier, John Monson, had legally separated from his wife Laura after a tumultuous few years that included bankruptcy and the loss of a child. Monson listed his eldest son Kelvin as his next of kin at the family's Barker Road home. Kelvin was aged just 13 in 1916 when he received the news that his father had died of wounds received at Pozieres.

Over the following years, Laura worked independently as a typist to support herself and her four younger children, eventually reaching a stage where she was able to buy her own property in what is now Perth's London Court. They stayed in the house on Olive Street until 1922, becoming some of the longest remaining residents from the First World War years. There was a large movement of people in the years following the war, with very few Olive Street residents remaining in the same homes beyond 1920.

Kelvin Monson fell in with a bad crowd and turned to a life of crime, becoming something of a celebrated burglar in Perth, known not only for his crimes but for his good looks and smart wardrobe. His notoriety grew to nation-wide status in 1926 after he escaped the famous Pentridge Gaol in Melbourne, managing to evade searchers for several weeks by stowing away on a ship to Fremantle, where he was eventually re-captured.

Another soldier, Samuel Edward Byrne Grimwood, was a widower- his wife Mabel had died tragically from an accidental poisoning at Cottesloe's Ocean Beach Hotel in 1912, mistaking his Lysol-laden hair tonic for her headache preparation. In 1918, after a period of time commanding the 10th Light Horse regiment in the Middle East, Grimwood married Florence Mary Duder in Egypt, and they returned home and settled down to new life in Western Australia.


Olive Street residents were employed in a wide range of occupations, some of them very manual in nature, and others more professional. While a range of occupations was evident all throughout the street, there was a higher proportion of professional workers living at the southern/ Bagot Road end, and a larger number of manual workers at the northern/ Hay Street end. This accords with impressions of Subiaco at the time, in which those homes in the south of the suburb were "characteristically larger and more expensive." (Spillman (1985), pg. 177). Spillman goes on to note that:
By 1911, the contrast between the residential areas south and north of Bagot Road was perceptible enough for 'Vindex', the aggrieved letter writer of the time presumably resident in the north, to write:
The upper portion of Subiaco - mostly occupied by villas... is well cared for, but the lower thoroughfares - those from Bagot Road to the railway station - are in a state that beggars all description.
The most common professions were Clerks (almost 20%) and Labourers (16%). The street also included three miners, three people working in tailoring, four people working in farming or on stations (and others with country associations), and two carpenters. Representing government workers, there was a postal official, a telegraphist, a policeman, and a civil servant from the Lands Department. On the professional side of things, the street included an accountant, a sharebroker and a bank officer, as well as a dentist. A saddler, a harnessmaker and a horse driver showed the continued importance of horse-drawn transport in Perth at the time.

Several of the labourers worked in the Goldfields, or on the Trans-Australian railway construction that was taking place at the time. Many of them listed Olive Street as their permanent residence while working many hundreds of kilometres away, perhaps indicating an early version of the Fly-In, Fly-Out work so common in Western Australia's resources industry today. In most cases, a parent or other relative continued to live at the Olive Street address, creating a home base to which they could always return. This would continue to be the case for many who went to war.

Place of Birth

Spillman (1985, pg. 87) writes that,
A typical Subiaco family during this period [c. 1898]... probably hailed from Victoria and very likely consisted of a youngish couple and several small children.
Some fifteen to twenty years later, many of those small children had grown into men, and they were amongst those to enlist in the First World War.

Statistics around the place of birth of Olive Street soldiers show that Victoria was overwhelmingly the largest single origin point of men enlisting in this street- some 40% had been born in that state, with a large number of others also coming from New South Wales, and others from even farther afield in England and Ireland.

Only 12 had been born in Western Australia, and just one single Olive Street soldier identified as having been born in Subiaco itself- John Wilson Menagh (Jnr), whose father (who also enlisted) had been Victorian-born.


The majority of Olive Street soldiers identified as followers of the Church of England, with large numbers also following the Presbyterian and Roman Catholic faiths. Single soldiers were Methodist, Wesleyan, Congregational, Church of Christ, and Jewish.

The only Jewish soldier on Olive Street, Leopold Gluck, was the eldest son of Harriet and Albert Gluck, and the family had lived at the house called "Mirrojen" on the corner of Barker Road and Olive Street since 1910.

Leopold Joel Gluck (11Bn)

In 1911, Albert Gluck passed away, and over the following years the other children of the family moved out to make their own homes. When Leopold enlisted in 1914, it was just he and Harriet still living on the corner of Olive Street, and after he departed with the 11th Battalion, she moved in with another brother in Mt. Lawley.

Leopold Gluck was killed at Gallipoli on May 2nd 1915, in particularly harsh circumstances described by a friend:
"Gluck went to sleep one day having a rest, and while in that position he was shot through the head. He never woke again."
He had been a talented violinist and yachtsman, a tailor's cutter, and a much loved son. He is commemorated today on the Jewish War Memorial in Perth's Kings Park.

Height and Weight

There was a wide range of physical stature evident up and down Olive Street, with heights ranging from 5'4.25" (163.2cm) to 6'2" (187.96cm), and weights ranging from 49kg (108lb) to 92kg (203lb). The average height of Olive Street soldiers was 5'8" (172.7cm), and the average weight was 65kg (143lb).

The shortest man on the street was James Rogers, of number 23, who was a 20-year-old horse driver. He was not the lightest, though- that dubious honour belonged to 18-year-old tailor's cutter Robert Hutchinson, of number 85, who made it through the enlistment process only to be discharged for "poor physique".

 James Rogers, the shortest man on Olive Street

The tallest man associated with the street was Charles William Grimwood at 6'2", and the heaviest man was his brother, Samuel Edward Byrne Grimwood, who was just a shade shorter at 6'1 1/2", and weighed in at 203lb (92kg). Sam Grimwood was a large person in all respects- his resting chest measurement of 41.5" was 1.5" greater than the fully expanded chest measurement of the next nearest man.

Portrait of Grimwood (may be Sam or Charlie), 7th May 1917

Sam Grimwood was also a character who, like his father before him, was well-known in Perth's sporting circles. Grimwood had spent his entire life around horses, with his father having been a Melbourne Cup jockey in the early years of the race. At the time of his enlistment in 1914, he was a sharebroker and a partner in a finance firm, and also Stipendiary Steward in charge of the WA Turf Club's races. He rose rapidly from 2nd Lieutenant in the 10th Light Horse to become a Captain, and then a Major, and in 1917 was for two months Lieutenant-Colonel in command of the entire regiment.

Lt-Col Todd addresses the 10th Light Horse (Sam Grimwood on far left) in Egypt in 1917

Grimwood was seriously wounded on numerous occasions, suffering gunshot and shrapnel wounds to each knee in separate incidents at Gallipoli, and he was ill many times, including a bout of appendicitis that required surgery. His large stature and physical strength seem to have been an advantage throughout, and he must have been quite a formidable person.

Interestingly, in addition to the Grimwood brothers, there were four other men in Olive Street who served with the legendary 10th Light Horse regiment. Combined, their average height was closer to 5'10". This is going to be an interesting statistic to watch as additional information is gathered about the full cohort of Subiaco soldiers- were 10th Light Horse soldiers physically different to the rest of the Western Australian battalions? Were there any other patterns across battalions? How did changes in the enlistment standards affect the averages in different years?


New studies have recently suggested that the official casualty numbers for Australian troops in the First World War are not quite accurate, recording far too few injuries and falling short on deaths.

Nonetheless, the numbers provided by official sources show that of those Australians who went to war, around 60,000 died, and a further 155,000 were wounded in action. From 420,000 enlistments, over 430,000 instances of illness were recorded, demonstrating the tough time that Australian troops had with disease.

The official percentages equate to 14% loss of life, or 3 in every 20. 35%, or an additional seven in every twenty, were wounded. This gives a casualty rate of around 50%, or one in five, not including illness and non-battle injury.

In Olive Street, the war losses were significantly higher than average. 37%, or almost four in ten (a total of 18 people), died during the war, with several others passing away within a few years of their return. 39%, another four in ten (19 people), were invalided or discharged early, which includes wounding, illness and general lack of fitness for service (poor physique and advanced age being two of the many reasons given). Only two in every ten men returned home after 1919 in relatively fair health.

Examining the service records, though, shows that only four of 49 men who embarked for war were never ill, injured, or died. Two of those were discharged and returned early because of age. Two were seconded immediately into work in London, and never saw active service. All of those who made it as far as the frontlines were therefore injured, ill, or died at some point in their service.

The Gallipoli Dead- and the rest

One aim of this study is to look at the bigger picture of the impact of war in Subiaco, and that includes understanding which parts of the war most affected the population.

Today's commemorations centre heavily on Gallipoli, and as the first moment of conflict for many young Australians, there is no doubting the significance, nor the lasting effect it had. Many of the subsequent impacts of the Western Front were likely still tied to Gallipoli for those who enlisted after hearing of family or friends wounded or killed in Turkey, or for those who had served and survived.

However, in examining these records, it has become quite clear that other moments in time had an even greater impact on Olive Street than the first year of Australia's war.

Statistically speaking, of the 49 soldiers who enlisted from Olive Street:

11 (20%, or 1 in 5) fought at Gallipoli
Only 2 (4%) were killed there- Leopold Joel Gluck, and Thomas Edward Byrne
Of the 9 who survived, 3 more were subsequently killed in action on the Western Front.

By contrast, 16 (32%, or 1 in 3) were killed in action or died of wounds received in France and Belgium. More soldiers died on the Western Front than the total number of those who served at Gallipoli, and the death toll was eight times greater over the subsequent three years.

Olive Street's Darkest Days

By far the greatest impact was seen in the three months from July to September 1916.

The battles at Fromelles and Pozieres were Australia’s first experience of the Western Front. Between 19- 20 July 1916, an estimated 5,500 Australians were killed or wounded at Fromelles, described as "the worst 24 hours in Australian history". A few days later the Battle of Pozieres began, extending through to the Battle of Mouquet Farm. Between 23 July and 26 September, over 23,000 Australian men were killed or wounded.

During those terrible months, five Olive Street soldiers were killed in action, and five were seriously wounded. Those ten casualties represented 20% of enlisted soldiers for the street.

Pozieres after artillery bombardment, August 1916

Long after the evacuation at Gallipoli was complete, Olive Street soldiers and their next-of-kin continued to suffer losses. More detail on some of their stories is provided in the next post, Olive Street Stories.

Landscape of Loss: Olive Street Introduction

For 2014, the Landscape of Loss project looked at a larger and more comprehensive sample of the Perth suburb of Subiaco than last year, in the form of an entire street.

This is the first post of three.
The second post, on statistics, is here.
The third, on stories, is here.

This year, the outcomes of the Olive Street study are also viewable on a detailed electronic map with a number of information layers, linked here and embedded below.


Olive Street is a relatively short thoroughfare that runs north-south between the larger arteries of Hay Street and Bagot Road, also crossed by Barker Road and Park Street in between.

Cancelled townsite plan of Subiaco, c. 1910
(Courtesy: State Records Office of Western Australia)

Since the mid-1920s, the end nearest Hay Street has also been bisected by Churchill Avenue (formerly Perth Street), and most of the buildings have been replaced by modern structures.

Olive Street from above- 1965 and today
(Google Maps)

The end nearest Bagot Road, though, retains many of the houses that were present in 1914. The street itself holds an extraordinary quantity of First World War stories. From around 50 houses that existed at the time, there were at least 49 associated enlistments.

Of those men, 18 never returned. 19 returned ill, injured, or were discharged early, unfit for further service. Only 12 remained overseas to the end of the war, and almost all of those had at some point been wounded or ill themselves in the previous four years. Olive Street was represented in every arena of the war, from the first day at Gallipoli through to the Middle East and the Western Front.

Olive Street looking south near Park Street, toward Bagot Road


This year's study differs from last year's in several ways.

Last year, I searched embarkation rolls for Subiaco enlistees, and used only the stories I found there. This year, recognising the limitations of that method, I decided to use a more detailed approach.

From my original search of the Western Australian battalion embarkation rolls, I already had a number of Olive Street residents listed. To expand the final study, I began with the Western Australian Post Office Directories, available in digitised format through the State Library of Western Australia. I took each house in Olive Street and built a table of listed residents between 1914 and 1919.

I then used the names obtained from that source to search locations such as:
for both enlistments and next of kin details. The Trove digitised newspaper archives also yielded a great deal of information about Olive Street and the lives of those who lived there, as did the electoral roll and census records available through Ancestry. Ken Spillman's definitive history of Subiaco, Identity Prized (1985- UWA Press), is another important source.

Further detail will be drawn in the future from sources such as rate books and honour rolls. As with all of my Subiaco research, this is a work in constant progress, and may be amended and updated as time goes by. So, if you have any additional information you'd like to add or changes you'd like to see made to any story- please let me know! And, please bear in mind that statistics may shift and change slightly with the addition of new data.

I accessed each potential service record and looked for a mention of Olive Street, either as the residence of the soldier, or as that of their next of kin. A confirmed Olive Street address for either, at any point immediately before, during or after the period of 1914 to 1919, led to inclusion in the study.

 The Roll of Honour- Subiaco Residents- World War One
(Courtesy: City of Subiaco)

Other studies and Honour Rolls generally only include those households where a soldier was resident before or during the war years. I'm interested in the social change occasioned by the war, particularly on the home front, and therefore I intend to track the movements of anyone who had a war connection in the street during the time period. To that end, once I identified a connection in the street, I also extended to further links- siblings who may also have been enlisted, and parents and spouses who were affected.

As Spillman (1985, pg. 203) wrote,
The blood of war did not spatter Subiaco sand, but few were the homes in which tears were not shed, nor anguished cries heard, for the blood of loved ones spilt elsewhere.

The limitations of the study have been reduced, but some remain. Post Office Directory listings only provide a single name, when some households had numerous families living in them. Where a property was rented, it is not always consistent as to whether the owner or the tenant was listed. War records don't always provide a permanent address for the person enlisting, making it difficult to confirm absolutely their association. Men with the same common name sometimes enlisted from similar areas, and any who could not be definitively identified have been excluded from the study to ensure no incorrect data appears. This, however, runs the risk of missing out data.

Next of kin were immediately struck with the grief of loss, but it doesn't begin to encompass how many lives were affected. A wife who lost her husband might appear in Olive Street, but his parents, siblings, friends, and extended family may have been scattered in many other locations.

The Subiaco Fallen Soldiers Memorial drawing
(Courtesy: City of Subiaco)

Life events reported in the newspapers are generally the most dramatic- arrests, deaths, misfortunes- with less detail given on happier events such as weddings, births and notable successes.

Overall, though, the details gained through this research method provide a high quantity of information, and whether or not comprehensive, give an excellent insight into life on Olive Street during the First World War.

A General History of Olive Street

Olive Street runs between Hay Street (formerly Broome Road) and Bagot Road, intersected by Churchill Avenue (since 1924), Barker Road, and Park Street.

Subiaco’s growth as a suburban area began in the 1880s, increasing over the next two decades. The City of Subiaco's Street Names report doesn't have specific information on how Olive Street came to be named, but olives have a specific importance in the suburb due to their association with the original Benedictine monks who moved there from Italy. The City's Coat of Arms includes an olive branch for the same reason.

By 1895, newspapers listed blocks for sale in Olive Street, and the first ten residents were recorded in Wise’s Post Office Directories in 1901, all living between Broome Road and Barker Road. In 1903, the E.S. Wigg and Sons Tram and Railway Map of Perth showed that the section of Olive Street between Barker and Bagot Roads was originally named Ivy Street. By 1905, though, the entire length was named Olive Street, and additional houses were listed in the Post Office Directories on the land between Barker and Bagot Roads.

Olive Street and Ivy Street on the 1903 E.S. Wigg and Sons Tram and Railway Map
(Courtesy: City of Subiaco)

Improvements to the street were made gradually. In 1907, footpaths were approved for Olive Street. In 1910, the Lighting Committee for the Municipality requested that an electrician provide a quote for lighting. In 1913, it was recommended that a gas main be installed. The same year, the construction of a stormwater drain was approved. The street changed little from that point through to 1924, when the extension of Churchill Avenue was approved and the street was intersected at the northern end.

Olive Street on the 1905 Plan of Subiaco (Compiled from Government Records)
(Courtesy: City of Subiaco)

By the time the First World War was declared in 1914, there were 34 houses on Olive Street and 16 more on the corners of intersecting roads, for a total of 50 houses. Associated with 25 of these houses, 55 men applied to enlist in the Australian Imperial Forces, and though 6 of those were found to be unfit for service, 49 marched away to war.


For the first time this year, I've used Google Maps to plot out the information gained through this study. The map is embedded below, but also linked here.

I've been able to map layers of information onto the map itself, and you can tick a box at the left-hand side (if viewing the embedded map, click the three parallel lines at the top right to open the box) to remove and add each layer for easier viewing. You can click on each individual outlined house and each marker to view more information.

This year's layers are currently limited to:
  • Year of earliest enlistment
  • Outcome (died, early discharge through wounding/ illness/ unfit, or returned to Australia post-1919)
Other statistics are discussed in the individual posts linked in the next section.

I've also plotted the places of death of all the Olive Street soldiers who lost their lives in battle, so you can zoom right out, then skip over to the other side of the world to see where they fell. Viewing the distance between their origin and their end is a stark illustration of how far away these events must have seemed to those left at home- and how difficult it must have been to understand that sons, brothers, fathers and husbands were never coming back.

The mapping software makes it difficult to include a key, so please refer back to this guide if you need some help working out what it all means:


Due to the high volume of information gained through this study, I'll be splitting the details out across two additional blog posts, which are linked below:

Olive Street Statistics
Olive Street Stories

Some stories, I haven't covered in a great deal of detail. For many of those, I still hold a fair amount of information, so if you're interested to know more about a particular soldier, please get in touch and I'll assist however I can.

An Olive Street Honour Roll

Please see the links above to navigate to the detailed stories of Olive Street soldiers. The list below (which mirrors the embedded and linked map) includes all of those 49 serving soldiers currently identified as having an Olive Street connection, whether as resident or next-of-kin.

Those highlighted in red lost their lives during the war. Those in orange returned home before the war concluded, ill, wounded or unfit. Those in green returned after 1919, and almost all had suffered injury or serious illness during their war service. RTA is short for Returned to Australia.

21 Olive Street- LANGRIDGE, Frank Albert- Resident- RTA 1919
22 Olive Street- DURKIN, Vincent Nicholas- Resident- RTA 1919
22 Olive Street- DURKIN, Bernard- Resident- RTA 1919

22 Olive Street- DURKIN, Nicholas- Resident- Discharged 1917- Unfit (emphysema, advanced age)
22 Olive Street- HUNTER, George- NOK only- RTA 1919
23 Olive Street- ROGERS, David Owen- Resident- Killed in action at Dernancourt 6/4/1918
23 Olive Street- ROGERS, James- Resident- RTA 1916- wounded
23 Olive Street- ROGERS, George- Resident- Killed in action at Passchendaele 12/10/1917
23 Olive Street- ROGERS, William- Resident- RTA 1919
26 Olive Street- BURNS, John Victor- NOK only- Killed in action at Strazeele 8/5/1918
27 Olive Street- RANKIN, William Harper- Resident- Killed in action near Messines 7/8/1917
27 Olive Street- RANKIN, Stanley David- Resident- RTA 1920
27 Olive Street- RANKIN, John "Jack" Gordon- Resident- RTA 1919
30 Olive Street- GREEN, Albert Victor Thomas- NOK only- RTA 1917- wounded
31 Olive Street- WILSON, Horace Claude- Undetermined residency- Killed in action Bullecourt 6/5/1917
31 Olive Street- MENAGH, John Wilson (snr)- Resident- RTA 1917- wounded (loss of eye)
31 Olive Street- MENAGH, John Wilson (jnr)- Resident- RTA 1919
31 Olive Street- MENAGH, Ernest Lyndon- NOK only- Died of wounds near Peronne 9/1/1918
36 Olive Street- WRIGHT, Alfred James- Resident- RTA 1919
39 Olive Street- THOMPSON, Robert Arthur- NOK only- RTA 1918- illness
39 Olive Street- BEBEE, John Bamford- NOK (family connection)- RTA 1918- wounded
71 Olive Street- ANDERSON, Hugh Lionel- Resident- RTA 1919
74 Olive Street- KERRIGAN, Thomas Michael- Resident- RTA 1919
74 Olive Street- D'RAINE, Walter- Resident- RTA 1917- wounded
84 Olive Street- SIMONS, Eric Armstrong- Resident- RTA 1919- saw no frontline service
85 Olive Street- GRIMWOOD, Samuel Edward Byrne- NOK only- RTA 1919
85 Olive Street- GRIMWOOD, Charles William- NOK (family connection)- RTA 1919, but ill
85 Olive Street- BYRNE, Thomas Edward- NOK only- Killed in action at Gallipoli 9/5/1915
85 Olive Street- HUTCHINSON, Robert- Resident- RTA 1917- poor physique/ unfit for further service
87 Olive Street- GWYTHER, Edward McKinnon- Resident- RTA 1918- illness
87 Olive Street- MACKIE, John Charles- Resident- Discharge before embarkation- unfit
89 Olive Street- CROUCHER, Joseph Edward- NOK (family connection)- Killed in action at Flers/ Gueudecourt, 3-6/11/1916
89 Olive Street- PYKE, Henry Bertram- Resident- RTA 1917- wounded (fractured spine)
89 Olive Street- PYKE, Victor Gerard- NOK (family connection)- Killed in action at Broodseinde Ridge 4/10/1917
90 Olive Street- McKINNON, David Stanley- Resident- Killed in action at Pozieres 29/7/1916
90 Olive Street- McKINNON, Daniel- NOK (family connection)- Died of wounds at Fromelles 28/7/1916
90 Olive Street- FITZGERALD, Robert Francis- NOK (family connection)- Killed in action at Louverval 15/4/1917
90 Olive Street- SAMPFORD, Arthur Ernest- Resident- RTA 1915- Wounded
90 Olive Street- SAMPFORD, William Miles- NOK only- Killed in action at Pozieres 6/8/1916
90 Olive Street- SAMPFORD, Ernest Miles- NOK only- RTA 1916- illness/ unfit
90 Olive Street- SAMPFORD, Charles Raymond- NOK only- Killed in action at Jeancourt 18/9/1918
93 Olive Street- WESTCOTT, Joseph William- Resident- Killed in action at Pozieres 15/8/1916
139 Barker Road- WILLIAMS, Arthur Tyrrell- Resident- RTA 1916 + 1917- wounded/ ill
145 Barker Road- GLUCK, Leopold Joel- Resident- Killed in action at Gallipoli 2/5/1915
148 Barker Road- BULLEN, Harold- Resident- RTA 1916- wounded
154 Barker Road- MONSON, John Christian- NOK only- Died of wounds at Pozieres 15/9/1916
86 Bagot Road- HENDERSON, George Robert- Resident- Killed in action at Messines 6/5/1917
86 Bagot Road- HENDERSON, William John- Resident- RTA 1917- illness
92 Bagot Road- WATTS, Martin Henry- Resident- Discharged early 1916 (home service)