Eric John LIPSCOMB (1894-1917)
9th Infantry Brigade AIF

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Eric John Lipscomb

34th BATTALION A.I.F.

Private: 2348 Eric John LIPSCOMB.


Born: 24th September 1894. Normanhurst, Wahroonga, New South Wales, Australia. Birth Cert:31573/1894.

Died: 16th May 1917. Killed in Action Le Touquet, Belgium.


Father: William John Lipscomb.

Mother: Jessie Fuller Lipscomb. nee: Curtis.


INFORMATION

Eric John Lipscomb, enlisted at Gunnedah 13th July 1916; trained at Armidale and Maitland; embarked from Sydney 17th October 1916 on board the Borda - calling in at Melbourne, Durban, Cape Town, and Freetown, Sierra Leone; Disembarked 9th January 1917 at Plymouth - moved to Durrington Camp, Lark Hill, Salisbury; joined 34th Battalion, 3rd Division, AIF, on 30th April 1917 and moved to the Armentieres sector of the front; Killed in Action on 16th May 1917 at Le Tourquet in Belgium only ten days after going into action (aged 22).

Eric was Killed in Action by a German Shell at Le Touquet near Armentieres, Belgium on the 16th of May 1917 and was buried by Sergeant: 744 William DAVIES of the 34th Batalion AIF and a service was conducted by Chaplain: Captain Adam Stuart McCOOK. They also buried Private: 787 Richard HILL. C Company, 34th Battalion.

17th May 1917.

On the 17th of May the Germans tried to raid the 34th Battalion at Le Touquet. The enemy this time employed the British method of a very short, though heavy, preliminary bombardment. The preliminary registration however had been observed and the Australian counter-barrage came down within 10 seconds of the S.O.S signal fired by Lieutenant: 4559 Frederick Murchison WAUGH. M.C. 34th Battalion. A party of Bavarians attempted to enter by a gap in the front line. One climbed the parapet and said "Hands Oop!" He was at once shot, and fell dead into the trench. Lewis Guns, in particular that of Private: 1416 Joseph Edward KIRK. M.M 34th Battalion, drove the enemy off.

On the 18th of May the previous night's attempt against the 34th Battalion was repeated after a short heave bombardment. On the S.O.S. being fired by Lieutenant: 1118 William Wright EDMONDS. M.C. 34th Battalion, the protecting barrage againcame down instantly, but the enermy entered a gap near a sector in which cylinders had been installed for an impending release of gas. Working alone the line, they bombed a Lewis Gun Team, wounding three. The remaining men, Lance Corporal: 1530 James Ham D.C.M. 34th Battalion and Private 1248 Bertram Guy Taylor M.M. 34th Battalion, continued to fire, and killed all five intruders.

Lieutenant: Benjamin Greenup BRODIE and the scouts afterwards went out, driving back the German covering party and stretcher-bearers, brought in a wounded Baverian Pioneer, and evidence and identification from 11 Germans who had been killed.

( History of World War 1. Vol IV. Bean) Captain: Charles Edwin Woodrow BEAN

Tancrez Farm Cemetery

Tancrez Farm Cemetery

Richard is remembered with honour and is commemerated in perpetuity by the Commonweath War Graves Commission. at Tancrez Farm Cemetery,Ploegstert, Belgium.

17th October 1917.

Informant; Sergeant: 744 William DAVIES C Company, 34th Battalion. I did not see him killed, but buried him at ARMIENTERES and marked his grave with a cross bearing his particulars. Chaplain: Captain Adam Stuart McCOOK. 34th Battalion read the burial service. He was killed by a shell at LE TOUQUET near ARMENTIERES. I cannot refer to anyone for actual details of death.

Australian Auxilliary Hospital, DARTFORD, England.

28th December 1918.

Informant; Private: 2292 John Flecknol COURT. C Company 34th Battalion. Private: 2348 Eric John LIPSCOMB of C Company, in May at LE TOUQUET on right of PLAGE ST WOOD on right of MESSINES. He had just gone into the front line when he was killed outright by a piece shell hit in head. I did not see it happen, but was told particulars by several men in C Company. Private: 899 Sidney Harold STEWART of C Company was one, he helped carry him out to the Dressing Station. He was buried near PLAGE ST WOOD, but I have not seen his grave. LIPSCOMB came from same town as myself, Gunnedah, N.S.W. Think his people live at Waverley.

6th January 1919.

Informant; Private: 899 Sidney Harold STEWART. C Company 34th Battalion. Re: Private: 2348 Eric John LIPSCOMB 34th Battalion AIF. I can supply you the following information. He was killed on the 16th of May 1917 in a sector of the line called LE TOUQUET near ARMENTIERES, and was buried in a registered Cemetery at LE BISET also near ARMENTIERES. To the best of my belief he was in appearance about 20 years of age, medium build and had fair complexion.

C Company 34th Battalion, FRANCE.


Boy's from Gunnedah, N.S.W. Durrington Army Camp, Lark Hill; 1917

Family Information

William John and Jessie Fuller Lipscomb were married in 1892 at Burwood, N.S.W. Marriage Cert:2939/1892 and had at least 8 children. Frederick N Lipscomb born 1893 at Ryde, N.S.W. Birth Cert:31953/1893. Eric John Lipscomb born 1894 at Normanhurst, N.S.W. Birth Cert:31573/1894 and died in 1917 at Le Touquet Belgium. Neville H Lipscomb born 1896 at Normanhurst, N.S.W. Birth Cert:34588/1896. Alan P Lipscomb born 1898 at Normanhurst, N.S.W. Birth Cert:34447/1898. Alfred William G Lipscomb born 1900 at Normanhurst, N.S.W. Birth Cert:26153/1900 and died in 1973 at Normanhurst, N.S.W. Death Cert:44356/1973. Harry K Lipscomb born in 1902 at Normanhurst, N.S.W. Birth Cert:26111/1902. Colin S Lipscomb born 1904 at Normanhurst, N.S.W. Birth Cert:26491/1904. Jessie Grace Lipscomb (No Birth Record) died in 1965 at Balmain, N.S.W. Death Cert:8089/1965.

Dear David,

I have read your website - The Harrower Collection - with interest. I have 3 uncles who served in WW1: Lieut Fred Lipscomb MC (19 Battalion AIF), Gunner Neville Lipscomb (initially 1st Light Horse Field Ambulance, later 37th Battery, 4th Division of Field Artillery) and Pte Eric Lipscomb (34 Battalion AIF). Fred returned wounded in 1918, but Neville and Eric were both killed in action. Eric served in C Coy, 34 Battalion and was killed on 16 May 1917 - the same day that Pte Richard Hill was killed. They were possibly killed in the same artillery bombardment. Could you possibly shed any further light on this? I attach copies of Eric's letters that I have transcribed. You may find them interesting.

With best wishes,

Adrian (Lipscomb) 20/03/2009

Family Correspondence with Eric Lipscomb in the year 1916

Form: Letter

Date: 6 August 1916

From: Eric (aged 21)

To: Mrs W.J. Lipscomb (his mother at Normanhurst)

Dear Mum

As you see by the above I am in Armidale and jolly cold it is too although it has brightened up a bit today. We arrived here on Friday morning in the rain and it has been rain sleet & snow up till this morning when it brightened up a bit although there is a very cold wind blowing. I have not been round the town very much yet. There are some very fine churches in it. This is a very nice place games of all kind provided papers and books and a buffet and plenty of music. We have to (pay?) 1/- per month and get all writing materials free. We have general leave in this camp from 12.30 Saturday until 11 o’clock Sunday night so don’t be surprised to see me home some week end after we get our first pay that is in about a fortnights time. We are supposed to do 42 hours a week drill that is seven hours a day. Some of the men are pretty rough but on the whole they are not too bad I think there are only two out of our lot of twenty who are no good. The tucker is very fair sometimes there is a little shortage. Went to a YMCA concert last night held by soldiers in aid of the fund it was too bad at all (sic). Every Friday night there is a parade to the pictures they are given free that night to the soldiers. My address now will be No 10821, Private E.J. Lipscomb, G Company, Military Camp, Armidale. Can’t think of any more now so will close. Love to all at home from Eric.

Form: Letter with letterhead “YMCA with the Australian Expeditionary Forces” and “For God, For King & For Country”

Date: Tuesday (post-marked 11 October 1916)

From: Eric, at Maitland Military Camp, Rutherford

To: Mrs W.J. Lipscomb (his mother) at Normanhurst

Dear Mother, Received yours during the week but did not get any papers. Anyway you need not bother sending any papers as I will be down on week ends to read them and we can always get them here every morning. The paper boy goes round the lines. I was not able to go up to Gunnedah last week. Our company was on guard on Saturday & Sunday I was put on town picket on Sunday night. It was because of the other companies leaving on Sunday morning. About 600 of them went. I came across Harold Roden on Friday so I went down to see him go. Went out to Mrs Pierce’s at East Maitland on Saturday afternoon. They were very nice. Mr Pierce is treasurer of the YMCA here but he does not get out often as he has his business to look after. The train was pretty crowded the night I came up Got home about half past twelve. It comes right out to Farley or at least stops there for the soldiers. The special soldiers’ train is about a quarter of an hour or a little more later than the one I came on. It got into Farley just as we had got nearly home. I think we will get our final either the end of next week or the week after. Can’t think of anything more to tell you. Will be down on Saturday. Love to all Eric.

Form: Letter with letterhead “YMCA with the Australian Expeditionary Forces” and “For God, For King & For Country”

Date: Wednesday (October 1916)

From: Eric at Rutherford Camp, West Maitland

To: His mother

Dear Mother, Just a note to let you know that we will be leaving here on Monday morning at 11 o’clock getting into Sydney about 3 o’clock. Review at 4 o’clock and camp in Moore Park on Monday night and leaving again at 3 o’clock on Tuesday embarking at 5 o’clock and going out into the stream and leaving on Tuesday night for Melbourne. I think we get four hour’s leave on Monday night but I am not certain yet. Anyway you will see us go past somewhere about 2 o’clock or a little after. We are going in the Transport ship Borda which is I believe a very good boat to go in. We only received definite information this morning so and (sic) letting you know so that Dad will be home. Hoping to see you later. Love to all from Eric.

Form: Letter with letterhead “YMCA with the Australian Expeditionary Forces” and “For God, For King & For Country”

Date: Probably circa early November 1916

From: Eric, at sea on the Borda

To: His mother

Dear Mother, As we are nearing another post office I will take the opportunity to let you know as much as I can how things are going. I sent a letter from our last stop so I hope you received it all right. We have had very good weather so far and almost everybody has got over the sea sickness. I was very lucky I never even had the slightest touch of sickness. We have had only about 2 days really bad weather since we left. When one is down below you forget sometimes that you are on the water it is so like a house. I have taken on the job of mess orderly with another boy for our section which consists of twenty one men. We get out of all ordinary drill and guard but all the same we have plenty to do with drawing rations and washing up and cleaning the silver (! sic) etc. The heads come round and inspect every day and we are supposed to have everything spotlessly clean. We are down in the lower deck about twelve feet under what is called the well deck. Then there is the saloon deck higher up still and the boat deck right on top. The well deck is the boys promenade, the saloon belongs to the heads. It is very funny to see the boys coming up on deck after tea which we get about five. There are two stairways down and to watch them coming up puts one in mind of a rabbit burrow about sundown. First there will a mob come up and stand round the top then a few more will come up and start shoving and fooling about and then they go up and down just the same as the bunnies. We get very good tucker here better than in either the three camps I was in and there is also a canteen on board which does a great business. Must do twenty to fifty pounds a day. Anyway a terrible lot is made with soft drinks for we mess orderlies collect the bottles for which we get a penny each and between two tables we generally get from two to three dozen every day. We don’t know where we are going but it is going on nearly a fortnight now since we saw land and I know I for one am beginning to want to feel something other than planking under my feet. There is a sports tournament coming off soon in fact it has started now beginning to play off the first heats of the indoor games and the singing recitingspeeches (sic) etc. So far it has been very good. We get a few entertainments from the YMCA and we have also a band on board which gives up some music sometimes. When we first left and for about a week it was just like the side shows of a country show. There were plenty of games to win and lose money on and the owners were trying to compete one against the other for the most custom. But that was soon put a stop to and now there is a big penalty for gambling of any kind. I hope this will pass through the censor all right as they are fairly strict. Can’t think of any more news now so will close down with love to all and kisses for everyone from Eric.

Form: Postcard bearing a photograph of “Zulus at Home” (six Zulu warriors in full regalia standing outside a thatched hut)

Date: Undated - probably early November 1916

From: Eric in Durban, South Africa

To: Alan, his brother (aged 18)

Dear Alan, What do you think of these fellows. They are not quite the same as the ones we see about the towns. There they are a dirty looking lot and terribly lazy and avaricious. Of course they do most of the work that is the hard ... The middle class tradesman is nearly always indian or Indian operating for the European. The whites themselves do very little excepting looking after the natives. This is an extremely pretty place but deadly ...(slow?) Christmas greetings from Eric.

Form: Letter with letterhead “Sydney YMCA with the Australian Expeditionary Forces” and “For God, For King & For Country” Date: 19th December 1916 From: Eric at Freetown, Sierra Leone, and later (posted on arrival in England) To: His mother

Dear Mother,

(Post Script marginalia gives his return address - No 2348 Pte E.J. Lipscomb

4 Reinf 34 Batt 9 Brigade

Park House Camp

Salisbury England)

You see by the above address where we are and where we have been for the last three weeks. I don’t know when or where I will post this but will do so at the first opportunity. I suppose you are worrying at not hearing from me, but it is not my fault. Well I will try and tell all about our voyage as far as we have got. We left as you will remember on the 17th October and after three days we reached Melbourne where we stopped two days. We got leave for six hours the day we came in from four o’clock in the afternoon till 10 at night. Of course we couldn’t see much of Melbourne only the city itself which isn’t up to much. The next day we took on another 400 troops which brought our number up to 1600, 1200 having embarked at Sydney. From Melbourne we went straight to Durban somewhere about a fortnight’s travelling. We encountered a little rough weather going across the “Bight” one very big wave went right across the boat after which was a terrible big roll which sent all the crockery flying but apart from that storm lasting about 12 hours we have had extremely fine weather. We got to Durban about 10 o’clock at night and so had to wait outside all night and wait until the pilot came out in the morning to take us in. After a lot of humbugging about, the heads got us all out of the boat about three in the afternoon. We then had a route march for about two miles and finished up at Government House where after the Governor had taken the salute we were dismissed until 11 that night. Durban is a very pretty picturesque place surrounded by wooded hills. Of course the natives are very much in evidence the Europeans practically doing no work only to superintend the natives. They are divided into three classes and each class seems independent of the other. First of all are the rickshaw boys who are wholly comprised of Zulus. These Zulus will do no other work but it is wonderful the way the (sic) get over the ground pulling 2 or three people in a rickshaw quite as fast as a medium horse. Of course they were well patronised by the boys. I don’t think there was one who did not have a ride. The second class comprised the Indians who are very thick. They do most of the business of the town and all the servants of the whites in nearly all cases. The other class is the Kaffirs who do all the labouring work such as wharf labouring, railway making, etc.. I went out to see the zoo the first evening a couple of miles out of town. The trams were all free to the soldiers so it didn’t cost us anything to get about. The second day we were marched up to the same place and dismissed again about nine in the morning and we (sic) told to be back at two in the afternoon so we didn’t have much time to see much else. I spent most of the time in the surf. We left the same day and after three days travelling we steamed into Cape Town with a yellow flag up which meant quarantine for us. And the worst of it was we could never find out what was the matter for we had no sickness on board only a few cases of mumps and measles. Anyway they took us for a route march round a suburb of Cape Town called Sea Point and as I developed mumps the next day I didn’t care much what was done. I forgot to say we picked up another 50 men at Durban who had been left behind by the boat before so our family was again increasing. Well I remained in hospital ten days and got out a couple of days before we reached Freetown for the first time. We would have gone straight on only for the fact that raiders we (sic) out in the Atlantic somewhere and the Captain had orders to come in. For about three days before arriving we were travelling without lights and carrying lifebelts. We got three or four hours ashore the day after we arrived and I don’t want to go ashore again. The only redeeming feature about the place is that there is plenty of fruit: oranges, cocoanuts, bananas and other tropical fruits. The only white people on shore are about 5 or 6 Frenchmen who were (sic) the pubs and a couple of stores and the British Tommies at the Garrison and the rest are natives. There is a population here of about 35,000 made up of about 40 different tribes of natives. They have different names unpronounceable to the whites. It is a terrible place for vice of all kinds so it did not do our boys much good getting ashore. Everywhere was reeking with stinks of all kinds even the natives themselves smelt strong. I was jolly glad to get out. After about a weeks stay we made another shift and after three days we got orders to turn around and come back. I heard since that a raider was sunk about 30 miles from where we turned so it was pretty close, wasn’t it? I forgot to say before we left the first time we had another increase in family consisting of 600 troops and 50 sailors of one of the cruisers stationed here. One of the Melbourne transports broke down somewhere or other and she had to be sent into dry dock to be fixed up, so all her troops were taken off and split up amongst the other transports. There were nearly a dozen troopships here last week but all have gone these last couple of days except one other and this boat so I expect we will be following up pretty soon. I sincerely hope we do as things are very uncomfortable here as we are on short rations and there has been no money for the last month. The day after we came in the second time volunteers were called to coal the boat 850 tons being wanted. Each company sent sixty men who worked a four hour shift so we had it loaded in about thirty hours and my word we were black when we came off the lighter, just like the niggers themselves. We only wore a pair of trousers, a pair of boots and a hat - all the rest was shiny black, so you can imagine what we looked like. Well I can’t tell you much more now but later on I will send word if possible where we are and the address and I want you to send me the address of the two boys so I can look them up if ever I get a chance. I found out the other day that Lieut. Farleigh our DR is an old H.A.C. boy and knew a lot of boys that I knew. He was there in 1907, 8 & 9 and was in the football team so I suppose Alf has often seen his photo there. Another fellow whose acquaintance I have made is a Corporal Stevenson whose brother was at Hurlstone the last year Nev was there. He said he had often heard his brother speak of Nev. No more at present will finish this when an opportunity comes to post it.

Jan 4th 1917. As we are just a couple of days off England I will finish this ready to post when we get on land once again and my word I won’t be sorry to do so. We left Sierra Leone on Boxing Day and I think all of us spent the most miserable Christmas we ever had. We did not get any more leave off the boat, but the day before Christmas Day we got another 10/- per man so one man from each section was detailed to go ashore to buy Christmas dinner. But we could not get very much as the stores do not cater for the wants of white people as there are practically no white people so we did not get much. We are travelling under escort now. Seven troopships and two cruisers so I don’t think anything will happen to us now. It is getting very cold now and the days are very short. We rise about 6.30 and have nearly two hours before sunrise. No more now else letter will be too bulky but will write a little more in a letter to Auntie Gig. Love to all and kisses for all. Hoping you had a better Christmas dinner than we had here from Eric.

Family Correspondence with Eric Lipscomb in the year 1917

Form: Cablegram

Date: January 1917

From: Eric in England

To: Mrs W.J. Lipscomb, Pennant Hills Rd, Wahroonga

“Arrived safely 9th Jan after three months voyage Well. Eric Lipscomb”

Form: Letter

Date: 21st January 1917

From: Eric, B Company 4/34 Batt, 9th Training Brigade, Durrington AIF Camp, Lark Hill, Salisbury

To: Mrs W.J. Lipscomb (his mother)

Dear Mother and all at home, You will doubtless have received a letter from me posted from Park House Camp which was the first stop we made after we landed. We left Sierra Leone on Boxing Day escorted by a torpedo boat destroyer for each troopship, with a cruiser to look after us all. There were six troopships all together carrying about 12000 troops. We had it very rough nearly all the way over and it also got very cold the last week we were on the boat that with the short rations did not help to make the journey very pleasant. We got to Plymouth harbour about 12 o’clock at night on the 10th January and landed the next day but it was dusk before we got into the train. We then travelled until about 8 o’clock at night and alighted at Tidsworth on Salisbury Plain. We had a little glimpse of the country going through it is very picturesque and unique in its formation every two acres or thereabouts is surrounded by a hedge with a thick copse of trees here and there and a farmhouse and sheds at every quarter of a mile or so. the houses are all made of plaster with stones embedded with a th shed froof quite different from any in Australia. Well we got to Tidsworth as I said before about 8 o’clock. It was bitterly cold there, quite different from Sierra Leone. We were lined up and marched to Tidsworth Camp about two miles but to our dismay we were not wanted there so had to go on to Park House another 5 miles further on which we made about half past twelve at night and mighty glad we were to get there. We stayed at Park House for two days and then marched over here about 8 miles from Park House. Of course you must not think that these were the only camps on the way. All the way is one big camp it stretches for about 45 miles long and about twelve miles wide so you can imagine the number of men training about here. There is somewhere about two million men ready to go into the trenches straight away with reinforcements coming in every day. We got our four days leave (disembarkation) on Monday the 17th. Of course I went to London to see the sights and my word it makes one think that Australia is only too true a very young country when one gets into some of the old historical buildings in that city. I visited Saint Pauls Cathedral, Westminster Abbey and the Towers of London - all these dates back to the tenth century. Westminster Abbey has even a tomb dated back to 616 A.D. There were many other places that are more modern but equally of great interest such as the Albert Hall and Memorial built by Queen Victoria in memory of all the great men of the past. The Memorial is across the road from the Hall in the Kensington Gardens and is a big square pillar with an emblem of the arts on the top and all round the square are statuettes of all the great men the place was erected for. There is also the original stone from which William the Conqueror measured all roads etc from, it is situated in Oxford Street London and is a square block of stone set in a cavity in the wall in the main street. It is still used for the same purpose that it was used for years ago. Well I think that is enough for my trip to London I was very sorry to leave it as I was just getting into the way of the place when we came away. We get plenty of work here up at half past six two hours before sunrise (when it does rise) I have only seen it once since we landed. breakfast at 7 o’clock on parade at 8 o’clock then going without a stop until half past twelve, one hour for dinner, then from half past one till 5 o’clock which it darkness again (sic). The temperature is generally about 2 to 5 degrees below zero which melts the snow or really solidifies the snow into ice which makes the parade ground very hard and slippery. My word I did not know what cold was until I came here one’s feet are the worst, they get very sore and tired with the marching over frozen ground. I think we will be here for about six weeks before we are sent over. I had a letter from Fred the other day telling me of his promotion not bad was it. Officers are very scarce over here and if one is steady after some experience can get recommended very easily by the C.O. but it is a job that lots won’t take on as there is more work & risk attached to it. I received my first mail from Australia the other day and it is the only one so far. I got I think 17 letters & a few papers but only four from home I suppose a lot went down on the “Arabic” that was sunk in the Mediterranean a few weeks ago. Will close now as I will just catch the Australian mail going out to-morrow. Hoping all are well and love and kisses for everyone from Eric.

Form: Letter

Date: 2nd February 1917

From: Mrs W.J. Lipscomb (Eric’s mother)

To: Eric (Returned to sender after Eric’s death on 16th May 1917)

My dear son, Your cable came yesterday & I was indeed pleased to get it. What a long, long voyage you have had & how glad you will be to step on land again. We have had no word of you since you left Durban. Dad has returned to “Wandilly” and Alf to Richmond. School has started again. You will be pleased to hear that Colin gained his Qualifying Certificate. I am leaving him another year at Normanhurst School another year, as I dont think he would be equal to travelling up & down in the train. I wonder if you will hear from the boys in France. We received a cable a few weeks ago from Fred saying that he had been promoted to the rank of 2nd Lieutenant. I suppose that is his reward for the part he took in the “big push” at Pozierers (sic). We also had a letter this week from Nev. He writes very cheerfully from the “Horse lines somewhere in France.” I have just got a note from Flo. She writes to tell me that she heard the “Borda” had arrived safely. She did not know of course that I had rec’vd the cable from you. It is raining very hard. In a letter from Dad this week he says that he had a teamster with 12 horses to cart in the wheat & they got stuck & had to unload & take a bit at a time. We are having quite a record wet season. Linda Crisp came out to see me on Wednesday & she is still here. It has been raining ever since. However she seems to be enjoying herself. She is a very nice girl. We got out between the showers yesterday as far as Auntie Gig’s & had afternoon tea. I expect you will feel the severe winter in England. The boys said in their letters that it was bitterly cold. I told you in my last about our trips to Woy Woy. Auntie Violet has now returned home & is I think better for the change, but is far from well still. I hope to receive a letter from you soon & I hope you will receive mine. I have written a few lines nearly every week. I had a note from Mrs Harold Crapp yesterday. She asked very kindly after you. She said that she saw Fred’s name in the paper but it was you that she & Harold were particularly interested in. She wants me to call and see her soon. Now Dear Eck the mail time is about due so I shall have to close up with much love from all at home. Grace is writing to you but I am afraid it will have to go by the next mail as it is not finished. Trusting you are well in health & spirits & that you will be kept safe from shot & shell. Your loving Mother.

Form: Letter

Date: 8th February 1917

From: Alan Lipscomb (Eric’s brother, aged 18, at Normanhurst)

To: Eric (Returned to sender after Eric’s death on 16th May 1917)

Dear Eck, We were glad to get the cable from you last week saying that you had arrived in London safely. You had a rather long voyage and I expect that you were glad to see land again. We have received no other news from you since leaving Durban except the cable, but now I suppose we will begin to received them every mail. Have you settled down on Salisbury Plains yet? You will, I expect, have already heard of Fred’s promotion to second lieutenant, it will be a great lift up for him. There was a rumour going about, too, that he had gained the military cross or the D.C.M. but so far we have heard nothing further. I hope that you will have a good time while training at Salisbury, and that you have good weather; it must be pretty cold in the Winter. It has been raining here for about a fortnight and still the weather does not look too promising; the air too is quite cold, not like that of Summer. Mum asked me to tell you that she is going to send you a pair of socks by this mail and will continue sending them, now that she knows your address. You will be glad to know that Colin has passed the Qualifying Certificate, which entitles him to go to a High School; but he is staying on at Normanhurst for another year. We did not go to Berowra at all this Christmas but spent a few days at Woy Woy instead. Uncle Will and Auntie Vi spent three weeks there, living in a rented cottage. I went down every week end and Mum, Dad, Grace, Harry, Col, Alf, Auntie Gig & Dorothy each spent a few days with them. We all enjoyed ourselves but the baths are hardly big enough to have a decent swim in. We have had Linda Crisp staying with us for nearly a fortnight, she had been staying with some friends in town. Last Sunday we went to the new Methodist Church at Wahroonga for the evening service, they were holding a harvest festival. Uncle Fred Colwell preached, he still holds the position of Captain Chaplain and wears the uniform; he preached in the morning at Hornsby and came to our place for tea. I drove him to Wahroonga and returned home with Auntie Gig and Linda. Well Eck, I must now close as it is past bed time. Hoping this will find you in good health and spirits from Alan.

Form: Letter

Date: 22nd February 1917

From: Mrs W.J. Lipscomb at Pennant Hills Road, Normanhurst

To: Eric (Returned from Dead Letter Office 18 June 1918 - had arrived in Belgium after Eric was killed)

My dear son, Your most welcome long looked for letter came today, dated Dec 19th, Freetown, Sierra Leone - and finished Jan 4th when a couple of days off England. We had previously received your cable announcing your arrival in England. So you are safe across after all your hardships & unpleasant experiences so that is something to be thankful for. And I am thankful from the bottom of my heart when one thinks of the dangers both seen & unseen that you have passed through. Todays mail has brought letters from Fred & Neville. Fred is in hospital again. I told you in my last letter that he is ill. You ask for his address. I had better send his old Battalion address, as probably long before you receive this letter he will be back again in the firing line. I have written a few lines to you pretty well every week. I wonder if they reached you on your arrival in England. I have only sent one parcel of sox (two pairs) so far. Will keep on sending now that I know you are across. Charlie Beeson was here to dinner today. Did you know that he is down for doctor’s advice. Some time ago an insect flew in his ear & caused him great pain. The doctor got it out but the drum of his ear was injured & he has had to get treatment. He thinks of returning to “Leyburn” next week. Linda Crisp is still staying with us. She is going back to Cooma on Sunday night. Doris Myers has also been staying with us for a holiday. She went home on Wednesday. Dad is still at “Wandilly”. We hope to see him on Saturday. Poor old Eck you did have a bad time going across. & what a miserable Christmas. Never mind, if God spares us to meet again what a happy time we shall have. I have told you all about our Christmas in previous letters but you may never receive them, so I will repeat some news. Wet weather conditions delayed harvesting so much that Dad did not get home until Xmas eve & then he left Alf & Alan to carry on at “Wandilly”. They spent all their Christmas up there. Mrs Hall & the other neighbours were very good to them. Dad returned New Year week & has been there ever since. Alf & Harry came home a week before school started & they went up to Woy Woy to Auntie Violie & Uncle Will for fishing & swimming. Alan is still pegging away at his work. He is due for his holidays in a few weeks time, then he will get a rise of £20.0.0 per year. Alf is holding his end up at Richmond. He did very well last year coming about 4th in the college. Harry is doing good work at the T.H.S. & Colin gained the Qualifying Certificate this year. Grace is getting on well with her music. I think we told you long ago that she & Dorothy passed the Intermediate Exam, London College of Music, gaining a 1st class pass. I have told you before about Fred being promoted to the rank of 2nd Lieutenant. We gather from his letters & his diary which he posted home to me that he has gone through great danger & been in tight places. We have much to be thankful for that he is alive, & I am proud to think that he has been rewarded. I hope you will be able to meet in England. And dear old Nev too, he is still pegging away in the Gun pits. I do pray that it will soon be over, & our boys back again in sunny Australia. I will enclose the boys’ addresses, & will write again on Sunday. With fond love from all at home, a double share from your loving Mother.

2nd Lieutenant F.N. Lipscomb M.G. Section B Company 19th Battalion 5th Brigade Australian Imperial Forces on active service abroad

No 33 Gunner N. Lipscomb 37th Battery 10th Brigade 4th Division Field Artillery Australian Imperial Forces on active service abroad

Form: Letter Date: 23 February 1917

From: Private Eric Lipscomb, 4/34th Batt, 9th Brigade, Durrington A.I.F. Camp, Lark Hill, Salisbury

To: Mrs W.J. Lipscomb

Dear Mother, Received another letter from home from you also one from Harry written in the first week of December. Haven’t got much to tell you this week as camp life here is very monotonous the same thing day after day and the worst of it is there is no place to go when one does get a few hours to himself. The villages round here are very quaint sleepy little places when one has seen one of them he has seen the lot they are so much after the same style. Then again one does not get too much time to himself to see anything for there is no doubt the English system of training is quite different from the Australian. We have to put in here seven hours a day work on the parade ground and any extras have to be done at night for instance this week we have not had a night to ourselves at all. Monday & Tuesday nights we were shooting on the miniature range last night we had a bombing lecture and to-night is pay-night. I expect by the time you receive this I will be over in France for we have only about another three weeks to put in here you see it takes so many weeks to train an average soldier and as soon as he has finished the regulation number of weeks he is a trained man and is sent across. Some of the boys from the 4th of the 33rd Batt. has (sic) been gone over a week and they came over in the “Borda” with us so you see it goes (sic) not take them long to get you away if they want to. The general opinion of the papers & every body in general is that the war will end this summer but take it from me it will not be war (?) it is going to be hell let loose in about a couple of months time. People in Australia can’t realise the material etc. that is being used over here and how everything is affected by the war. A week or so ago there were a number of boats sunk in the channel by enemy submarines and it started a bit of a food scare everything was cut short and everybody was on short rations for a few days and of course we were the first to feel it but gradually we are getting used to things here. The weather here is rather trying just now where a week ago was solid frozen ground now is slimy mud four or five inches deep and it is very hard for us and it does not improve our tempers having to do squad drill etc. in the slosh. However I don’t suppose it is as bad here as it is in France, so we must not complain too much. How is everything at home and at “Wandilly”? My last letter from home I got about a fortnight ago telling me that the boys were just about to go “up above” for the holidays how I wish I were up there with them one does not know when he is well off until he comes away then he finds out my word. Any way I am with a fine lot of fellows there are thirty sleeping in a hut and I don’t think one could get a better lot of men anywhere than those in our hut. Must close now hoping you all are well and love and kisses for all from Eric.

Form: Letter with letterhead: “Y.M.C.A. - H.M. Forces on Active Service - For God, For King & For Country”

Date: 4 March 1917

From: Private Eric Lipscomb, 4/34th Batt, 9th Brigade, Durrington A.I.F. Camp, Lark Hill, Salisbury

To: Mrs W.J. Lipscomb (his mother)

Dear Mother, It is now nearly a month since I heard last from home but I think there is something the matter with the mails. The (sic) was supposed to be an Australian mail come in the early part of last week but so far we have received very little of it. Some of the boys getting one or two but nothing like what should have been received. Well I have not much to tell you this week but still I suppose it is better to send away a short note each week so as to let you know I am well and as happy as could be possibly expected under the conditions we are in. I weighed myself the other day and I turned the scale at eleven stone eight lbs so you can see I am not going back at all as when I enlisted I only weighed ten stone odd. We don’t get very tucker here but what there is is very good and as there is no place to go I spent most of my two bob a day at the canteen. The papers here are very cocksure about the war being over inside of six months if so it will be all right for the boys who are left to go back but myself I don’t think it would be over in that time unless some very powerful internal influence is brought to bear in Germany. America seems about to stir herself up and do something over these plots to bring about war between her and Japan and Mexico instacated (sic) by German agents. We have here interned about three hundred German prisoners. They get exactly the same fare as the men training here and the only work they do is a little labouring on the roads occassionaly (sic) anyway they seem rather jubilant than otherwise at being here. Of course one can’t get near them to ask any questions but we have passed them at work several times when we have been on route marches and a few remarks we exchanged then. Most of them speak very good English and a lot of them have also a bit of Australian slang. One thing I have noticed in this camp and I hope it won’t be the same over the other side and that is the Australian and the Tommy do not get on well together. The Tommy seems to have a feeling of mistrust as if we have taken something from him and he can’t get it back so has a kind of covetous illfeeling. Most of the Tommies here are A.S.C. men who have been put on that work because they had consciencious objections against going to the front, so these here may be a lot worse than the men in the trenches. I put in an application last week for transfer to the machine gun section but I have not heard anything further of it yet. I don’t think there is any more this time so with love to everybody and kisses for Grace & yourself from your loving son Eric.

Form: Letter

Date: 4th March 1917

From: Mrs W.J. Lipscomb at Normanhurst

To: Eric (Returned from Dead Letter Office 25 April 1918 - had arrived in Belgium after Eric was killed)

My dear son, I have just heard that a mail leaves Sydney tomorrow so I am writing a few lines to each of my soldier boys. We were very thankful to get your letter announcing your safe arrival in England. I wrote to you when I received it, but, as so many letters go astray I am mentioning it again! I also told you about Fred’s illness, we have heard nothing from him since. So we conclude that he is recovering. Just as we came in from Church this afternoon Willie Pollard (Bubs) arrived with Miss May Hopkins. He is on his final leave so came to say good bye to us. They expect to sail next Saturday. Linda Crisp was out again last Friday to say good bye to us. She returns to Cooma tonight. I have been busy all the week making pear jam & bottling fruit etc., The trees are breaking down with the heavy crop. Dad came home from “Wandilly” last week. He has let the place to George Lees for 12 months so that will relieve him for a while. He has been very busy ever since he came home, as the garden & lawns are a wilderness with weeds. I think I told you in my last that Charlie Beeson was up to dinner one day the week before last. He has returned to Gunnedah. Mildred was also up for a day while Linda was here. Doris Myers spent a few days with us also. The kiddies are well & send their love to brother Eck. Normanhurst School is going ahead. There are 52 on the roll now. I expect you are feeling the cold over there. The weather here now is beautiful & cool in the evenings & warm in the middle of the day. We are hoping to hear soon that the war is about over. The Germans are said to be retreating & it is stated that the people are practically starving in Germany. Dad is writing to both you & Fred to tell you how he arranged matters at “Wandilly” so I will close mine now with love from your dear ones at home & a double share from Your Loving Mother.

Form: Letter

Date: Sunday 18th March 1917

From: Mrs W.J. Lipscomb at Normanhurst

To: Eric (Returned from Dead Letter Office - arrived in Belgium after Eric was killed)

My dear son, Your most welcome letter written from Durrington Camp, Lark Hill, came this week. Also programme of concert & paper printed on the “Borda”. They were all much appreciated. I will keep them for you as souvenirs of the trip. You say that you only received 4 letters from home so far. There must be a good number astray as I have written pretty regular every week. But one hears of such dreadful mean things being done! A few weeks ago a letter carrier was arrested in Sydney & the police found a stack of soldiers parcels & mail concealed in the man’s house. Another parcel of mail matter was washed up on the rocks at South Head. These had been in the water too long for the addresses to be made out so that is some soldier’s loss. Or rather the reasons for their loss of mail. Then we hear of raiders sinking ships & so on. So I often wonder when I am writing if you will ever read the words I write. I wonder if you heard of Fred’s illness in time to visit him in hospital. We have not heard anything further than the official announcement & we are hoping that no news means good news & that he is recovering. We rec’vd letters from him & Neville also by this mail - but written of course before Fred’s illness. Both complained bitterly of the cold. I expect the weather will soon be warmer. We are beginning to feel the nights a bit cold here now. I wonder if you visited the Puddifoots. Nev said that they had written to your military address to invite you to their home. I believe they are now on their way out to Australia. I sincerely hope they wont regret the step. It is a risky thing to break up home these times & travel to a far country. Dad has been busy kalsomining some of the bedrooms & doing some painting round the house. Linda Crisp has returned to Cooma & we are alone again. Emmie Lipscomb came out for the weekend last week. I have not heard from Flo lately. I think I owe her a letter. Mildred was up a week or two ago. I think Dad is writing to you this mail so I will let him tell the rest of news of any importance. If he does not get his written in time I will add a bit more tomorrow. With much love from your dear ones at home, Mother.

Form: Letter with letterhead: “Y.M.C.A. - H.M. Forces on Active Service - For God, For King & For Country”

Date: 2 April 1917

From: Eric at Durrington A.I.F. Camp, Lark Hill, Salisbury

To: Mrs W.J. Lipscomb (his mother)

Dear Mother, Have been going to write all the week but have been able (sic) to get time until this evening Sunday afternoon. We will be leaving England any day now so in consequence we have plenty to do ordinary parade all day and night stunts as well up to about ten o’clock at night they being all the different operations which have to be carried out at night in actual warfare such as trench digging and putting up wire entanglements firing of verylights night ssentries and scouting ordinary marching and so forth. The weather has been getting a lot better lately. I think we had only one day of snow & rain this week and we have had actually a little warm sun which was very welcome I can assure you. We had one very unpleasant occurrence during the week about one o’clock in the morning we were all roused out of our warm beds out on parade and marched out on the battalion parade ground and lined up waiting for something to happen, the officers themselves did not know what was up and of course there were rumours going about as to what had happened some said it was a zeppelin raid and others that German troops had landed in Scotland and there we waited for about three hours shivering until we were dismissed to our huts again. I don’t know now rightly what was the matter but I think it was an emergency muster parade for I heard that there were over 4 million men turned out at the same hour all over England. We went through the gas chamber during the week. You have seen pictures of the helmet I suppose. Well we had to put the helmet on and go through the same gas as the Germans use. Of course it did not affect us beyond a little stinging of the eyes but it was just to show the men that the helmet is an absolute safe protection from the gas. I am sending a couple of photos in this one is of a group of Gunnedah boys and the other some of the boys in the same hut as myself. The ones in the hut read - Back row, H. Fisher (Inverell), T. John (Newcastle), myself, J. Morris (G’dh), J. Stewart (Warialda), H. Halbran (Hillgrove), E. Stevenson (Tenterfield); Middle row, J. Clayton (Newcastle), H. Smith Uralla, G. Lindrose (Newcastle), C. Elliot (Newcastle), J. Stevens (Warialda), H. Webber (Newcastle), G. Hunt (Narrabri), Front row J. Shanahan (Ncl), G. Benns (Moree), S. Bass (G’dh), F. Wallis (Inverell), H. Macguire Quirindi. These are not the lot but are all we could rake up when taken. The names of the GDH group is on the other side of page. Top row: H. Tenant, E. Lipscomb, J. Morriss, J. Warden, H. Bailey Front row: R. Cochran, E. Percy, H. Morriss, S. Bass. Plenty of love and kisses for everyone, from Eck.

Form: Letter

Date: 15 April 1917

From: Eric at Lark Hill, Salisbury

To: Mrs W.J. Lipscomb (his mother)

Dear Mother, You will be glad to hear that I have met Fred before going over the lid. It was a very near squeak that I did not miss him altogether. I had put in several applications for leave to go up to London to see him but had not got any satisfaction and being warned for draft on the 20th inst. I did not think I would be able to go, and it came rather as a shock when the S.M. told me on Tuesday that my application had gone through and I was to go on 48 hour leave that night at midnight. I also got the shock of my life when they sent for me to go down to the orderly room for something important and when I got there Fred was standing in the corner of the room waiting for me. We went down to Amesbury and Fred stayed there for the night and we both went up to London in the morning. Of course we had plenty to yarn about so we did not got out anywhere as time was so short. Fred went before a Medical Board and the verdict was that he was temporarily unfit for duty so he has been sent to a convalescent home in Kent so he ought to have a pretty good time for a while at any rate. He looks pretty good although he is not as fat as I thought he would be. He is also very keen to be back again at the front but I think he has done his bit and now if at all possible he ought to try to get home again for a spell at any rate. We had a very big review at Bulford last week. About 75,000 Australians were inspected by the King and it was a grand sight I can tell you. In the march past past (sic) I was only about four yards away from the King so I had a very good look at him, judging from outward appearances he is a very insignificant looking man and badly in want of a shave he is a very small man somewhere about 5 feet 2 inches. The Hon. Andy Fisher and Gregory Wade were also out at the inspection. They seem to be able to have a fairly good time although it is war time. Well Mum there isn’t very much to write about so you must not mind if this is short. Next week I shall be in France so I will be able to write a better letter. So with plenty of love & kisses for all from Eric.

Form: Letter

Date: 17 April 1917

From: Mrs W.J. Lipscomb, Normanhurst

To: Eric (returned from Dead Letter Office on 30 July 1918)

My own Dear Eck, Your most welcome letter dated Feb 23rd also cards to Harry & Colin came yesterday. We were very pleased to hear from you, altho sorry to know that you are suffering so much from the cold. I expect you would not mind being at Gunnedah even with the heat up to 110 in the shade. I think we are in for a cold winter here. It is already pretty chilly at nights & the early morning. But we have an abundance of good food & comfortable beds, and my heart aches for you dear boys away over there with so little comfort. God grant it will not be long before this evil war is over & you set your faces homeward again. Mrs Puddifoot & her daughter arrived here on Easter Monday. They are staying with us until they get settled in a home. They are very nice homely people. Before leaving England they wrote to you but did not receive any answer, so probably you did not receive it. Both Fred & Neville stayed with them in London & they would like to have had you also. They are favourably impressed with Australia. Mrs Puddifoot says that there will be a great number of English people coming to Australia after the war is over. Dad is writing to tell you all the “Wandilly” news & Harry is going to write also. I had a letter from Flo a week or so ago. She spoke of coming home for Easter but I don’t think she came, or I would have seen her. Mildred wrote a short time ago saying that they were all going to Blackheath for the holidays. There have been quite a number of our vessels sunk lately Mrs Puddifoot said they had several narrow escapes. I want to send you some more socks, but until I hear that you have received those I sent I don’t like chancing any more. We get various instructions through the papers re the mode of addressing letters. It is very confusing. Wednesday. Another letter today from Fred & one from Neville. Fred says in his that he had written to you & the letters had been returned marked “not in the 34th” - I wonder why that is. I always address to the 34th - My eyesight is getting very dim, so you must excuse bad writing. Fred said in his letter that he dreamed that he returned home & surprised us by walking in the back way. I do hope that you are able to meet each other. It will seem like a bit of home. The summer fruit is nearly all gone now. We only have “Granny Smith” apples left & a few china pears. I made an apple pudding for tea tonight & all pronounced it bosker. What would I not give to be able to fill your plate with some. I think I shall chance a cake this week. Surely they will forward it to you if you are in France. Lillian & Olive Wood were here yesterday & they have sent you a parcel. Harry is writing by this mail so I will close mine. With fond love from your own dear Mother.

My faith is fixed in God for thee, Since first thine infant life began, No fear shall dim my hopes for thee, As soldier boy or full grown man.

Form: Letter

Date: 19 April 1917

From: Colin Lipscomb (aged 12) at Normanhurst (enclosed with the next letter from his mother dated 21 April and returned unopened from the Dead Letter Office)

To: Eric

Dear Eck, I received your cards last Monday together with Harrys, Alans, and Mum’s. Mrs Puddifoot and Hilda arrived here last Monday week and Hilda is going to Condobolin next Sunday as governess. We are having a spell of wet weather now and cannot go out or play tennis. Dad has been going into “Wandilly” to do some painting as a new tenant who is a nurse is making it into a private hospital. Alan spent two weeks holidays last month at Katoomba and has seen nearly all the sights. Unfortunately he was a week too early to see snow as they are having there now. I suppose you have seen plenty of it by now. Alf spent his Easter holidays down here. Mrs Myres (sic) has been very bad lately and the last couple of Sundays Alf had to take the organ as Doris could not leave her. Dad went to the “Sydney show” last week and I believe they made more than they did last year. Mum says she will tell you the rest of news so will close Love from Colin.

Form: Letter

Date: 21 April 1917

From: Mrs W.J. Lipscomb (his mother)

To: Eric (returned from Dead Letter Office)

My dear Eck, I posted a letter to you a few days ago, but so many of our letters go astray so I will write again a few lines tonight to go with Colin’s. He wrote a couple of nights ago, & it is not posted - yesterday I received one from Mildred with one of your enclosed. At Mill’s request, I am forwarding it on to Flo. Mr & Mrs Beeson & Bill (?) are still at Blackheath with the children. Dad & I have been out driving this afternoon. We went past the wireless station. It was nice & cool, & I enjoyed the drive very much. I saw the Moore girls in passing. They told me they rec’vd letters from Fred & Nev last mail but none from you. Last night Lillian & Olive Wood also brought me letters to read which they had rec’vd from Fred & Nev. I cant understand why Fred should have your letters returned marked “Not in 34th”. There must be a mistake somewhere. I suppose by this time you are in France. How awful the fighting has been lately. One thing it seems to be nearing the end. Surely it will not last much longer. Hilda Puddifoot leaves us tomorrow night for Coonamble where she has taken a position as governess. Mrs Puddifoot has not got anything to suit her yet. I told you in my last that they wrote to you while in England hoping to meet you but the letter was returned to them. Have you made any friends yet? We got a cable from Fred last week in which he said “Eric & Neville are well” so I take it that you have met or written to each other. Next Wednesday is Diploma Day at Richmond College, so I am thinking of taking Mrs Puddifoot up. Do you remember Archie Howlison (stepson to Harry Provest?). He was officially reported killed last week, also Cardew and Pagon of Wahroonga who went over with Fred. We are having very cold weather for this time of year. Perhaps we too will have a severe winter but not as you poor boys having to take an axe to break the water. By this time I hope the sun is shining brightly with you. Now my dear old boy good-night. With much love from your own dear Mother. Nev said in his letter that he was trying to get you transferred to his company.

Form: Letter - On A5 sized stationery headed: “On Active Service - YMCA - With the British Expeditionary Force”

Date: 10th May 1917 (ERIC’S LAST LETTER - HE WAS KILLED ON 16TH MAY)

From: Eric in Belgium

To: Mrs W.J. Lipscomb (his mother)

Dear Mother, Well at last we are right in the midst of what we have been waiting for nearly twelve months now and I can tell you the sensation is not altogether pleasant when old Fritz begins to bark. However the old boys say one soon gets used to it so it will be all right pretty soon I think. Received a couple of “Sydney Mails” from home yesterday dated the 14th and 21st Feb. but apart from the letter I got when I first came over dated the 2nd Feb I have not received any news from home (or any where else) for nearly two months. The weather is getting fine here now we have had only one wet day since we came over and that day we had the bad luck to be in the trenches. In the middle of the day the sun gets quite hot and consequently we are all getting quite brown again. I am also getting quite hard again through the handling of the pick and shovel. Over in England I got terribly white & soft about the hands I really felt quite ashamed of them but by the way I am going here it will soon be quite the reverse. I went over to see Harold Roden the other day he is billeted not far from here. He has a sweet job he is in the Battalion band. He looks very well and has filled out a lot to what he was. George Leek is also in the same company but he had gone away for a few days rest so I did not see him but perhaps by the time we get back near them again he will be back and I may strike him then. I have not heard from Nev, but he may have written to Lark Hill and the letter may be sent on. I don’t think I will have much chance of ever finding him as he is in a different part of the country altogether to what I am. I also met a lot of Gunnedah boys I knew but I have never struck any one from around Hornsby but it is marvellous how close one can be without meeting. At the King’s Review at Lark Hill just before I left I heard that there were quite a number of boys I knew but I never struck them at the time. This country will be lovely in about a months time. even now the wild violets and primroses are out in flower and make the place look very restful & homelike. There are all kinds of berries in the woods blackberries, raspberries, strawberries and blackcurrants growing in abundance in the woods so if we are here in a couple of months time and the birds permit we should be able to get plenty to eat. My word I could do with a few now or more especially some of our good Australian fruit that is what we miss here a lot fruit & green vegetables otherwise we are pretty well off for tucker rough you know but good. Well I think I close up now. When you write again don’t put the brigade on my address as it is prohibited now just C Company 34th Batt. Love and kisses for everyone at home from Eck.

Form: Letter

Date: 5 June 1917

From: A.S.M. Cook, Chaplain, 34th Battalion, AIF

To: Wm. J. Lipscombe (sic) Esq., Wahroonga, N.S.W.

Dear Mr Lipscombe, It is with deepest sorrow and sincere regret that I write you in connection with the death of your fine young son. You will have been advised that he was killed in action on May 16th last. Though a comparitively (sic) short time with us he had already made many good friends and had shown many fine manly and soldierly qualities. All the officers and men of this Battalion deeply regret the loss of so promising a comrade. He was buried in the little military cemetery known as Tancrez Farm. The service being conducted by Rev J.W. Davis, Methodist Chaplain with this Brigade. The grave will be marked and cared for, and a suitable memorial cross will be erected over it by the Battalion, of which a photograph will probably be sent to you later on. I trust that you and all who sorrow with you may be comforted and sustained in your sore trial, and that future days may reveal that the great sacrifices have not been in vain. Yours most Sincerely, A.S.M. Cook Chaplain 34th Battalion A.I.F.

Correspondence about Eric Lipscomb after the War

Form: Typed letter (in the Australian Archives collection, WWI Personnel Records Service)

Date: 6 September 1919

From: Officer i/c Base Records (?)

To: Mr F.N. Lipscomb, Conadilby Street, Gunnedah

Dear Sir, I have to acknowledge receipt of your communication of 30th August, and to state your request for photographs of the graves of your brothers, the late No. 33 Gunner N.H.Lipscomb, 10th Field Artillery Brigade, and the late No. 2348 Private E.J. Lipscomb 34th Battalion, has been referred to A.I.F. Headquarters, London, for compliance if possible. Yours faithfully, Major, Officer i/c Base Records.

Form: Typed letter (in the Australian Archives collection, WWI Personnel Records Service)

Date: 12 January 1920

From: “Nevilleton”, Pennant Hills Road, Normanhurst

To: The Secretary, Department of Defence, Melbourne

Dear Sir, I am forwarding some notes and clippings with details concerning my late son Pte. E. Lipscomb, 34th Battalion. They may be of interest to the Historian of the A.I.F. I shall be glad to receive them back and enclose stamp for same. We have not yet received a form on behalf of mother deceased son. I am, Yours very truly, (Sgd) J. Lipscomb. (Mother)

Form: Typed Memorandum headed “Commonwealth of Australia - Home and Territories Department, Australian War Museum, 122-138 King Street, Melbourne” (in the Australian Archives collection, WWI Personnel Records Service)

Date: 22 January 1920

From: Director, Australian War Museum (NL/JLT)

To: Officer-in Charge, Base Records, Defence Department, Melbourne

I attach hereto a copy of a letter written by Mrs J. Lipscomb, “Nevilleton”, Pennant Hills Road, Normanhurst, N.S.W., which has been referred to this office for reply. The necessary action has been taken and this copy of Mrs. Lipscomb’s letter is sent to you in view of the last sentence. (signed) H.S. Gullett (?) Director Australian War Museum.

Storkey and Lipscomb in World War I

The scene was Hangard Wood (Bois de Hangard), about 2 kilometres south of Villers-Bretonneux in France, and the date: 7th April 1918. The reserve companies of both 19th and 20th Battalions of the AIF were employed; three platoons of the 19th attacked the northern part of the wood, and those of the 20th, the southern part, immediately north of the village. Some machine-guns of the 5th M.G. Company were attached. The troops were ordered to push through the wood and dig in along a road that skirted its western side. 19th Battalion, under the command of Captain C. Wallach, already tired from lack of sleep, and the 20th men, under Captain V.B. Portman, waited on the start tapes for zero hour at 4.55 am. Some, in spite of their keenness, fell asleep. Then came the covering barrage…. C.E.W. Bean in his Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-18 continues the story: Something was wrong with the barrage. On Captain Wallach’s front there was none. In case some mistake had been made in timing, he and Lieutenant Lipscomb, who was with him, decided to wait one minute before launching the advance. But still nothing recognisable as a barrage descended; such shells as arrived were few and fell raggedly. Wallach’s second-in-command, Lieutenant Storkey, had fallen asleep and roused himself to find, with a shock, that the company had gone. It was then seventy five yards ahead of him, crossing the quarter mile of open country that sloped gently down to the wood. He hurried to overtake it. The wood was entirely young growth, mostly about head high, with taller saplings here and there. Lieutenant Storkey, now commanding the company, had four of his men behind him, and Lieutenant Lipscomb, who was now with him, had six. As they plunged through the bush they were continually held up by military telephone wires, left there by one side or the other during the recent operations. The party pressed on trying to get in rear of the force, whatever it was, that had been firing at their company crossing the open. They could hear these machine-guns south of them, still working their hardest. The twelve Australians, making their way round to the east and south, suddenly came upon a clearing – probably a track through the bush – reaching to the south and rather behind them. Along the western side of it, in half a dozen short trenches – each apparently a machine-gun post – were nearly 100 Germans, riflemen and machine-gun crews, with their backs to the party, firing for all they were worth at such portions of Wallach’s company as were still struggling across the open. As the Germans were seen there was a yell, and some of the enemy looking round, caught sight of the Australians emerging into the open behind them. The situation called for instant action – either attack or be annihilated – and Storkey’s decision was immediate. Shouting as if the whole battalion was following, he at once led a charge upon the rear of the Germans, himself at one flank of his ten men, Lipscomb at the other. The Australians had only twenty yards to go. Before the nearer Germans could realise what was happening, the New South Welshmen “got in quickly”, as Lipscomb wrote, “with bombs, bayonet and revolver.” The Germans in the nearer trench at once put up their hands, but those in the farther ones hesitated. They had only to swing round one of their machine-guns and the Australians standing close above the northern part of their line could have been annihilated. But Storkey’s confident manner made them uncertain as to what forces might not be in the surrounding bush. On the first sign of hesitation to obey his order to surrender and climb out of the trench, he immediately shot three with his revolver (which then jammed) and some of his men slipped the pins from their bombs, rolled a couple in the trenches, and then ducked away to avoid the explosion. In all 30 Germans were killed, and the remainder, 3 officers and about 50 men, were made prisoners and were at once sent to the rear, the two escorting Australians carrying back one of the machine-guns.

Lieutenant Percy Storkey VICTORIA CROSS

Painted by Duncan Max Meldrum c 1920.

Lieutenant Percy Valentine Storkey was awarded the Victoria Cross. His citation reads: For most conspicuous bravery, leadership, and devotion to duty when in charge of a platoon in attack. On emerging from the wood the enemy trench was encountered and Lieutenant Storkey found himself with six men. While continuing his move forward a large enemy party – about 80 to 100 strong – armed with several machine guns, was noticed to be holding up the advance of the troops on the right. Lieutenant Storkey immediately decided to attack this party from the flank and rear, and while moving forward in the attack was joined by Lieutenant Lipscomb and four men. Under the leadership of Lieutenant Storkey this small party of two officers and ten other ranks charged the enemy position with fixed bayonets, driving the enemy out, killing and wounding about thirty, and capturing three officers and fifty men, also one machine-gun. The splendid courage shown by this officer in quickly deciding his course of action, and hisskilful method of attacking against such great odds, removed a dangerous obstacle to the advance of the troops on the right, and inspired the remainder of our small party with the utmost confidence when advancing to the objective line.

London Gazette: 7th June 1918.

Storkey survived the war to become a Judge of the NSW District Court. He died on 3rd October 1969 in England.

Lieutenant Frederick Lipscomb MILITARY CROSS

Lieutenant Frederick Neville Lipscomb was wounded later that day (7 April 1918) when an artillery shell landed in his trench. Another soldier was killed. Lipscomb sustained injuries to his knee which invalided him to hospital in England, and thence back to Australia. He was awarded the Military Cross. His citation reads: For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He had only four men with him. He joined another officer with six men, and they attacked a party of some eighty of the enemy with machine guns. He killed eight of the enemy, and, between them, his party captured a machine gun, three officers, and 50 men, and killed the remainder.

Commonwealth Gazette: 4th February 1919.

Lipscomb survived the war to become a land valuer in Goulburn. He died on 28 June 1952 at Goulburn.

Date: 18 April 1918

From: Fred at the 41st Casualty Clearing Station in France

To: Mrs W.J. Lipscomb (his mother) at Normanhurst

My Darling Mum:- Once again I’m in hospital - wounded - this time it will keep me out of mischief for a fair time I think. A shell burst right in the shelter where I was, there were three of us in there at the time: another officer, a signaller and myself*. We two officers had a wonderful escape, I got a bad crack on the left knee about the kneecap, the other officer escaped with only a severe shaking, whilst the signaller was killed instantly. By the way the signaller’s name was Barling and was some relation to the Barlings from Manilla and Wahroonga. I had only asked him about half an hour before if he was any relation to the Wahroonga people but he did not seem to know them particularly well: just knew that he had relations there. Poor laddie! He was killed instantly and had no pain. I have been in this Casualty Clearing Station now 10 days; and was operated on the first night I was admitted. They are keeping me here until I am fit enough to travel down to the Base by Hospital train - probably it will only be a couple of days now - and after that I go across to Blighty. I have to keep my leg in the same position day & night - it is in splints up to my hip, but all the same I’m feeling fairly well and the doctors & nurses are quite pleased with my progress. I forgot to tell you that just before I got my crack, our company carried out an attack on a wood occupied by the Hun, and another officer with myself and about 12 men captured 47 prisoners and a machine gun, besides settling a good number with our rifles & revolvers. Well I’ll write again shortly Mum dear as I’m a bit tired now. Trusting you are all well at home & with heaps & heaps of love from your ever loving son, Fred XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

THE LIPSCOMB BROTHERS IN THE GREAT WAR

Selected Letters.

Neville Henry Lipscomb, born 2nd October 1896 at Normanhurst; occupation: Student (at Hawkesbury Agricultural College) & Soldier; enlisted 24th August 1914 in the First Light Horse Field Ambulance direct from HAC; regimental number: 33 (ie. he was the 33rd soldier to enlist); trained at Queen’s Park, Waverly & then Broadmeadows, Victoria; departed Melbourne in October 1914 on board troopship Southern for Egypt via Albany and Colombo; observed the Sydney/Emden naval battle en route; further training in Egypt; served as a medical orderly on hospital ships Galeko, Minnewaska, Saturnia and Clan McGillivray evacuating wounded from Gallipoli; landed at Gallipoli in August 1915 and served as a stretcher bearer for two weeks until evacuated with dysentery; hospitalised at Mudros and then by hospital ship Ascarius to hospital in Malta; evacuated to England on board Hospital Ship Italia - admitted County of London War Hospital at Epsom; on recovery he departed Portsmouth in February 1916 via Troopship Saturnia and rejoined his unit at Australian Overseas Depot, Gizeh, Cairo; transferred to Artillery - moved to Camp of the 37th Battery at Seraphum, Egypt; Joined British Expeditionary Force at Alexandria and sailed for Marseilles on the Arcadian in June 1916; moved to the Armentieres Sector and relieved 2nd Div Artillery near Bois Grenier (4 km S of Armentieres); engaged at Ypres in September 1916; killed in action by artillery fire on 23rd April 1917 at the village of Ecoust, near Bullecourt - about 16 km south-east of Arras and 10 km north-east of Bapaume (aged 20).

Form: Letter; Date: 16 November 1914

From: Neville (at sea on the Southern)

To: Mr and Mrs W.J. Lipscomb (father and mother)

Dear Dad & Mum, I expect before you receive this letter my short note which I am sending also will reach you first. This one however will contain news of my doings & travel since I last wrote to you on entering Albany. I will post both tomorrow morning when we reach Columbo [sic]. Did you receive the wire & letter from Albany. I did not have another chance to write from there. We spent 8 days in port during wh. the whole of the troopships arrived & the convoy. The total number of boats in the procession is 44. 39 Australian, 10 New Zealanders & 5 warships. H.M.A.S. Sydney, Melbourne, Minotaur & two more at the back out of sight. We are arranged in three long lines with three to the front and the warships are arranged around us. The southern is situated in the second line, the centre ship exactly behind the flagship “Orvieto”. We left Albany on Sunday, 1st & will arrive at Columbo tomorrow the 17th. The weather has been very good throughout. Cold & choppy sea to begin with & now in the tropics very hot & fine, & not hardly a ripple on the sea. We call at Columbo for water & coal & only stay there a day. Only a few of the boats have to call in, the rest will lay off & wait for us. I expect by the time this reaches you you will know all the details of the capture of the “Emden” & “Koningsburg” by our convoy. Well this is our side of the story. The Emden passed us on the night before she was sunk close on our bows without seeing us. She must have just been over the horizon. She made for the Kokas [sic] Isl. close by wh. has a wireless station. She stormed the station but altho’ resisted by the operators with rifles they landed & destroyed the wireless outfits or at least 2 of them. She then departed & falling in with a collier began to coal. Meanwhile the operators unearthed a 3rd outfit wh. they had successfully hidden, fitted it up & sent out the message S.O.S. This was picked up by the boat behind us the “Pera” who forwarded it on to the flagship. The Melbourne & Sydney gave chase. After a 26 minutes scrap with the Sydney the “Emden” ran purposely to Island & beached herself. She surrendered after losing 3 funnels & 1 mast. Her crew were taken prisoners & then was sunk. The collier was chased & also sunk after crew removed. We have also received wireless messages to the effect that the “Minotaur” was captured by some of the Indian fleet but I expect by the time you read this you will have heard all about it. I am dying to hear news of outside world. I expect we will receive mails & news on arrival in port. I am hopeful of receiving one from home. A mailboat passed us on the way “The Asterley”(?) & the only news she dropped us was the winner of the Melbourne Cup, most interesting news for some of us. We also received wireless messages about the defeat off Valparaiso but the news is not confirmed. How are everybody at home. Is Gran keeping well. I expect you are all are (sic) thinking about Christmas. Have a jolly time & dont forget to treat your guests well for Nev’s sake. Well goodbye for the present. Lots of love from your loving son. Neville.

Form: Letter

Date: 25th December 1914

From: Neville, Maadi Encampment, near Cairo

To: The Lipscomb Family

My Dear Ones at Home; Tis Christmas Day & the first I have spent from home but though absent, my thoughts are all with you today. I expect Santa Claus has been busy again this year and I can imagine the usual blare of trumpet and din this morning as I write, and also the savoury odours from the kitchen. Is Fred at home for Christmas? He ought to have finished Kaludah some time now. I don’t expect Eck has managed to get away a second time this year. I have not received any news so far since leaving Albany, I have been disappointed every time the mail has arrived. I have been wondering whether any of the letters have gone astray. We are very comfortable now as far as camping is concerned. This morning is a perfect Christmas morning, fine and warm, resembling a fine Spring morning at Normanhurst. We are having no duties today excepting stables: watering horses, etc. which are necessary. There is to be a Christmas Service this morning in the Recreation Tent for other religions than C of E and Catholics at 10.30 which I am looking forward to. The Recreation Tent is a large canvas enclosure fitted up with seating accommodation & tables, kindly lent by the gentry of Maadi town. Magazines and books are supplied and writing material. It is also used as I say for Church Services. Tonight there is to be a Song Service (Alexander’s Hymns). Last Sunday morning we had Church parade at 11 am & afterwards communion wh is to be held fortnightly in the Rec. Tent. At the latter I had the honour to officiate at the piano wh I forgot to mention was kindly lent with the tents. Our Chaplains are Rev E.M. Merrington (Presbyterian) & the Rev. A.G. Plane (Methodist) both Colonels in the Queensland Light Horse & very good speakers both of them. They hold combined Services. There were only 20 at Communion last Sunday. There was a Long Service in the evening but as I went to bed early & did not hear about it till then I did not attend. We are getting quite used to the abundance of sand in our camp. In fact round about the tents & camp the ground esp. where water has been spread has set like cement & is preferable to the hard soil at Broadmeadows & the dirty black sand at Queens Park. Our sleeping tents resemble the large one we had at Berowra last year: about 14’ X 16 ft at the base & 7 ft high & ample room for the tent men it contains. The floor we have completely covered with 3 large reed mats costing a mere trifle from the natives. The native carpenters have just completed building a kitchen & a large dining hall for our use, containing 10 long tables & forms each accommodating 1 mess (or a tent-full of men). We are getting good tucker. Besides the ordinary stewed beef & potatoes, we are being supplied by the Australian government 6d worth of extras perman. Thus we are able to get butter sauce jam & preserves (& we all look pretty well on it as a result). The Men in our tent are as follows: Goodchild, Evans , Hadley, McGowen, McLachlan, Kemp & Lipscomb from the HAC; Trickett, Boucher & Corporal Broomfield from Sydney. The latter man served over 2 years in the Boer War & is the best Corporal in the Camp from my point of view. We are a very happy family. Our horses are shaping at the work & drill very satisfactorily. On the 23rd 16 Mounted Bearers represented the L.H.F.A. in a big procession thro’ Cairo during the festivities of the New Sultan’s Accession. I was chosen as one of them & we had a great ride into town & back again. There were 12,000 Australians in the Parade & the local papers related that it greatly impressed the people of Cairo. I expect you have read all about the change of rules & routine of Government & the new relationship of Egypt to England in the papers, so far everything has been settled satisfactorily & there has been no sign of uprisings to date. Still the ex Khedive was very popular amongst the Student Classes & he & the present Sultan, altho nephew & uncle, were bitter enemies. If the Army of Occupation was not present things might be different. These points were learnt from an Agricultural Student of the Upper Classes whom we made friends with on our visit to town yesterday. Yesterday, Christmas Eve, has been one of the most interesting days of my short history. It was the date of my whole day off wh. I mentioned about in my last letter. Our party, composed of 3 from our tent: McLachlan, Evans & myself, engaged a guide for the day for a couple of shillings each & left for Cairo by the 8.30 train from Maadi. Our guide Sinvell (?) is one of two brothers whose usual occupation has been acting as guides to tourists but as the war has made these people scarce this year they have turned their attention to the soldiers. They are very upright & honest fellows, very religious Moslems & fully able to be trusted as we found out by experience. He payed our expenses for the day & we settled his bill at the termination of our trip. We had breakfast in Cairo & then was (sic) led to one of the noted bazaars of the old city where I purchased the trifles wh. I sent to Mum & Gran. I hope they arrive safely. They are supposed to be work of the ladies of the Harams who have nothing to do but make similar things all day long. From the bazaar we made our way to the Museum - one of the most interesting buildings of the world. Here we were confronted with beautiful & magnificent relics of ancient Egyptian civilization. The huge statues of great Kings, beautiful carvings & heilographics (sic) writing on tablets & written on lovely polished granite & alasbaster (sic), the wonderfully preserved mummies of the noted Ramises II & other great rulers whose features are exposed to view after thousands of years in the grave. The Tomb of the sacred cow, beautifully painted, & a large reproduction carved in solid stone of the animal held so sacred by those wonderful people of many years ago. The jewels of the ancient princesses who were placed with the corpse in the tomb would make a hundred fortunes if their worth were obtained. These are shown in glass cases in a separate room. Needless to say there are plenty of attendants & guards right throughout the museum closely watching all comers. The building itself is a magnificent one & was built about 10 years ago. From the museum we took a cab to the Zoological Gardens where we had dinner. For our repast we partook of Macaroni, roast beef & chopped potatoes, stewed fruit, oranges & dates, iced lemonade to drink at cost of 10 piastres (2/-). The Zoo would make about 3 of the Sydney one in area & of much better quality. There are not many animals who could live in the climate wh. are not present. The garden is very beautiful & from the botanical point of view first class. The animals as much as possible are kept under their natural circumstances.

The Zoo is partly on the way to the Pyramids & we took the tram to complete our journey. It is on the plain beside the pyramids where the main camp of the Australian troops is pitched. The large hotel usually crowded with Tourists at the terminus & a couple of hundred yards from the Great Pyramid has been turned into a military hospital. The Great Pyramid was visited first. It was the only one we entered, as we found out, was quite sufficient for one day. It was built by King Cheops, 3733 BC. It is 805 feet long, height 465 ft. It is built of stones averaging 6 ft square & these stones were brought 100s of miles. The contents are calculated to be no less than 90,000,000 cubic ft & the top looking like a sharp point from the ground is 35 ft square. We visited the two chambers. The King’s & Queen’s Chambers. There is a small entrance on the Western side. Before entering one has to remove boots, leggings & spurs as it is impossible to grip in the footholds in the smooth alasbaster floors. The passage to the chambers is very narrow & low, often necessitating in moving on hands & knees. This sketch will give you some idea of the section of the Great Pyramid of Gizeh as it appeared to me on entering it. One must be very careful when climbing as the incline is fairly steep & the floor smooth. No less than 100,000 men toiled for 20 years in erecting this pyramid. The interior of the chambers have been extracted with the exception of 1 large stone coffin or sarcophagus of granite of King Cheops in a dilapidated condition. There are close by the large pyramid two slightly smaller & then again a very small one in comparison all built by different kings, perhaps as a monument for themselves. By the time we gained the entrances again our candles had all but burnt out & we were in a great perspiration. It was very hot inside. We next mounted on camels wh. we drove to the Spinx (sic) where we entered & examined the temple of the Spinx as well as that famous sculpture itself. The Spinx is now much mutilated. Little of its history is known. It was repaired in 1533 before Christ but was disfigured later by the Romans. The body is of a lion & the head of a man. It is partly submerged by sand. The temple is a large building near the Spinx hewn out of stone, containing niches wh. have contained mummies. It was excavated from the sand in 1853. We had our photos taken on camels with the Sphinx and Pyramid in background. I hope it turns out well as it will be a momento of yesterday’s travels. We returned to Cairo by tram about dark & had tea. Cairo was crowded last night & is very much alive. Friday nights the streets are full of Egyptian Students, intelligent fellows, Moslems mostly & very polite & obliging to the soldiers. Their day in town is on Friday. We fell in with a young chap named Mahommed Maaz, aged 22, & a student in Agriculture. We spent an enjoyable evening with him talking about Agriculture & about the political position of Egypt. It was from him I learnt that the higher class liked the Khedive. He said Egypt aims at being independent but as it is not possible in the present conditions they see it is best for England to take the upper hand. There is no doubt a great deal of jealous feeling naturally amongst the educated natives here as regards English interference altho they see it is for the best & I wouldn’t be at all surprised when the armies are withdrawn at the close of the war. England make (sic) have trouble to prevent rebellion. M. Maaz comes of very good family. He has a brother a noted doctor in France. He himself studied law for some time but his father being a well to do farmer compelled him to take up his paternal profession. He is very interested in his work, & agriculture is very different here to N.S.W.. It is on the rich Nile flats where it is practised, 1 acre costs £200 on average & it as much as one man can work. At his college where he takes the same subjects as at H.A.C. each student has 1 acre of land to work. Irrigation is one of the chief factors here. I have an invitation from my Moslem friend to visit his college. I will take the first opportunity of doing so as it will be very interesting to me. Well, this is all, till I write again soon my dear ones. I am longing to receive a letter to hear how you all are. Write about everything, as it will all be devoured from your loving one, Neville.

Form: Letter; Date: 26 January 1916

From: Neville in Hut 67, Australian Base Depot, Monte Video Camp, Weymouth, Dorset

To : Mrs W.J. Lipscomb (his mother)

Dear Mum; I am still at Weymouth but at last on the verge of departure. We were to have left last night but for some reason or other it was postponed until Friday (the day after tomorrow). I only hope it will not be postponed any more. I have not been able to get any leave for revisiting my friends to say goodbye. The draft have to be on the spot ready for leaving at 24 hours notice. I should have liked to have gone up to Watford and across to Miss Cross at Shanklin which as you will see by the map is quite close. There is very little chance of doing so, however. I still receive letters from them all also parcels of eatables, biscuits, chocolates which are greatly appreciated by the members of our hut. I am at present scraping up for a few little presents to return by way of acknowledgment. they have all been too good to me and expect nothing in return. It’s marvellous how unselfish some people are, but I hope I am not ungrateful and I like showing gratitude in some substantial manner. I should like you to write to Mrs Puddifoot and Miss Donaldson Mum. I shall enclose the addresses in case you would like too (sic). Better still drop a line to the girls thanking them for their kindness in looking after me, for really it was all their doing, the entertaining and parcels. They are just another family as the Myers girls. the four I mean. Winnie Donaldson, Joe, Doris and Hilda Puddifoot. So write to them altogether, Mum, and address it to Joe Puddifoot (as senior). Miss Cross still writes and sends the British Weekly and is very anxious for Frank & I to come across. Frank has not come down from Abbeywood yet. He is far from well and has been suffering from the effects of innoculation (sic). Well this is Anniversary Day. We thought at the beginning of the week that the draft (about 500 strong) were travelling up to London to march through the streets and be present at presentation to Georgie Reid on the resignation of High Commissioner, also a Corroboree and concert at Anzac Hall, Victoria Street, but alas it all fell through. We had to be satisfied with a grand parade through Weymouth and an entertainment at the leading concert hall in town, a little speechifying and also cheers for the Homeland & homespeople during the interval. It was a very stirring afternoon and quite worthy of Anniversary Day. The whole camp turned out in their Sunday best and marched with our noble band at the head of the column. I am sure we made quite an impression on the town people. I have not received any Australian mail since last writing but the two pairs of socks from Mildred and Mavis came to light yesterday and received with many thanks to the donors. I have quite a decent kit now to return to Egypt with. I am feeling quite well and fit. I had a fine letter from Cliff Hanleon, my companion of the photo at Alexandria. He’s a white man if ever there was one. He as far as I know was one of the original couple who escaped the sickness and stuck the Peninsular to the end. His letter dated 11th November but since I have heard he was seriously ill in Hospital at Alexandria. A case of collapse when the strain was all over I’m afraid. He was a chap to be admired for the way he stuck at his work. It makes one envious of his pluck and endurance when one compares physique. But of course he is a matured man of 28 years which makes a difference. One of the most touching scenes on the Peninsular was when we two as a stretcher party were doing our best for a collection of wounded at Chunuk Bere collecting station. One poor chap past all help, hardly recognisable for a ugly wound in the head attracted Hanleons attention. He then by the contents of his pockets recognised him as his cousin and foster brother who had joined with the New Zealanders. I dug his grave that evening and we laid him to rest between us. I shall never forget that burial. I wonder what the next few months will bring forth. I am looking forward to seeing Fred on my return. I went for a long walk last week in the company of a chum. We had a free day and decided to make a whole day ramble through rural Dorset. It was a beautiful day, and by the time we reached camp again in the evening we had travelled by the mile posts about 18 miles. We dined at a country hotel at a village Portesham by name about 8 miles from camp and circled round to Weymouth where we had tea and then walked back to Camp and tumbled into bed tired out. We were able to see some of the best flocks of Dorset horn sheep in the country and all the quaint villages about and farm houses. I wonder whether I shall ever have a chance to come back and see old England again, next time I hope in the Summer time as at present all the trees are bare and the weather very unsettled. In fact my sojourn was at the wrong time of the year for the famed English rural beauty. There are very few English trees that keep their leaves through the winter. Well Mum the next letter I hope will be from Egypt or perhaps from Salonica or Mesopotamia but I think we will be pretty sure to go to Alexandria first. I must now close & write a few lines to Richmond so goodnight all at home. Love to all from your loving son, Neville.

Form: Letter; Date: 19 April 1917 (his last letter - he was killed in action on the 22nd April)

From: Neville “In the Field”

To : Mr & Mrs W.J. Lipscomb (his parents)

Dear Dad & Mum, Just a word to inform you I am still safe sound and enjoying best of health & spirits but almost too busy with Fritz to put in much time for correspondence. You must forgive me please if my letters are brief these times, as our time thoughts and actions are needed right here at this stage. As long as you know I am safe and well, you wont mind about the rest of it will you? The Australian Mail arrived safely again this week, the latest 7th Feb from home was the one enclosing Colin’s Scout Group. Why I didn’t think old Hornsby could rake up such a huge mob of youthful warriors & dont you think young Lipscomb stands out from the rest. I do. So sorry to hear that Mrs Myers is ill again. I didn’t receive my usual from Richmond by the mail so I expect they have their hands full again. Aren’t they having a rough time of it. I received a Hawkesbury journal from a chum in another battery yesterday. It really belonged to another H.A.C. lad named Corporal Robinson who was on the C. Union Committee with me. He was killed close by a couple of days ago. Dave Evans has gone to hospital ill again. He has had a bad time with his eyes & I believe could have got a trip home some time ago but like a good soldier refused it. We will want all our soldiers to see this thing through every one of them. The last fortnight has been a lively one I can assure you. No news from Fred since he forwarded his photo. I expect he is about due for France again. I received a most welcome letter from Eck this week, written from Salisbury. What a rotten life it must be over there although he doesn’t complain but wrote quite a long nice letter. He hopes to be over here in the real thing soon. Please thank Miss Dorothy Pepper for her nice letter & congratulate the young budding poet for me for the lines on her wonderful dog. I wonder if the genius comes from Pa or Ma’s side. How are the travellers from “Home” progressing in their new environment. I hope the Winter approaching does not spoil their illusions of sunny New South Wales. By the amount of rain & cold we get here I dont think much can be left for the rest of the world. I am anxious to hear how things are with my English Home people and if they are settled down yet to their new life and like it. I suppose Grace is quite a young lady now & Mum’s right hand in the house. Well I must close now for this time. Am getting quite a lot of thrilling stories to relate to you all some day but of course Censor makes them out of question for the time being. Good-bye all Lots of love from Nev XXXXXXXXXXXXXX for Grace, my dear little Sister PS. I hope the parcel of photos have arrived safely.

Form: Letter; Date: 30 April 1917

From: Val C. Waller (Neville’s friend) - “In the Field”

To : Mr & Mrs W.J. Lipscomb (Neville’s parents)

Dear Mrs & Mr Lipscomb; Although you have doubtlessly long been in receipt of the sad news of your son I feel bound as one of Nev’s three chums on who behalf I write to try to express and offer some little of the deep sympathy we feel for you at the loss of a son who although but a boy was as much a man as any man could be. We four have been together continually for the past fifteen months so you will understand how well we knew him and what he meant to us. We had only been back in action about a fortnight after a long spell when this occurred on the 23/4/17. Typical of Nev’s whole nature it was in an effort to get another man away who had been wounded that he himself was hit - there is one thing however we have to be thankful for - he knew nothing about it. A nobler end no man could wish, for it was in the midst of doing his very utmost for a fellow countryman and his country that God took him. The day following we attended the burial service, it was held at a spot just outside a little ruined village - we have noted the spot and place and hope someday that one of us will be able to give you those details which it is at present impossible to disclose. Within a few days a cross will be erected with an inscription to mark the spot. Throughout the whole battery, in fact I can say throughout the whole brigade for being such a great footballer combined with a fine fellowship he was very well known, there was the deepest regret expressed. Circumstances permit of little more except our whole hearted sympathy for you and all his loved ones whom I am sure like ourselves will carry the memory of that noble spirit forever. With Deepest Sympathy Yours very Sincerely, Val C. Waller.

Frederick Neville Lipscomb, born 28th December 1892 at Normanhurst, son of William & Jessie Lipscomb of Hornsby. Before WWI he trained as a wool-classer at tech college, and worked at Kaludah station of a Mr Crisp of Cooma; enlisted 5th July 1915; trained at Liverpool (Sydney); Departed Australia on 30th September 1915 on the troopship Argyleshire for Egypt via Colombo; further training in Egypt; joined British Expeditionary Force and moved to Marseilles via Troopship Haverford in March 1916; served with 19th Battalion, 2nd Division, AIF on the Western Front at Armentieres, and then Pozieres; wounded several times and hospitalised at Wandsworth Military Hospital, England, where he met his future wife; later hospitalised with severe enteric gastro-enteritis; promoted from Private to Second Lieutenant and Lieutenant; won the Military Cross for an action on 8th April 1918 during which a German machine gun was captured at Hangard Wood (a fellow officer, Lieut P.V. Storkey, won the VC) - Fred was again wounded in this action; married Isobel May Ward at Weston Super Mare, Somerset, England in 1918; Fred & May came to Australia in the same year, and Fred was discharged from the Army in May 1919. They lived briefly in Gunnedah (in Conadilby Street), but Fred found that the shrapnel wound on the knee prevented him from taking on farm activities. Served as State Secretary of the newly formed RSSILA (later renamed the Returned Soldiers League) from 1921-24 and lived in Roseville; resigned in order to accept an appointment at the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley, London, where he advised prospective migrants on matters relating to Land Settlement, etc. On returning to Australia he became the RSL representative on the Soldiers’ Settlement Reappraisement Board. Despite continuing ill-health, he was appointed Federal Land Valuer of the Southern District for the Federal Land Tax Department, and moved to Goulburn in 1929. Served as OC and battalion 2IC of the Volunteer Defence Corps (VDC) in Goulburn during WWII; was a prominent member of the Church of England, a member of the Cathedral Council at St Saviour’s Cathedral and represented the parish on the Diocesan Synod. He remained in Goulburn until his death of heart failure on 25th June 1952 (aged 59).

Form: Letter; Date: 17 July 1916.

From: Fred (somewhere in France - probably close to Poziere in the Somme, possibly in the village of Albert)

To: Mrs W.J. Lipscomb (his mother)

Dear Mum:- Just a line to let you know I am still going strong; since last I wrote we have made another move near (this piece of the letter was torn off, probably by the censor - it probably read “Albert” which was near Pozieres) new front where the (ditto - this was probably “the 1st Division”) are at present doing so well and I suppose within a few days we will be in the thick of it again. We are at present billeted in a large barn in a small village and are pretty comfortable with plenty of straw to sleep on and the tucker is not too bad, we are the first Australian troops through these parts and it is a bit of a job conversing with the French people for they do not understand English at all but most of us have a pretty fair smattering of French conversation by now, the old French lady of this farm was telling me to-day that her son was killed on the Marne and she has her two little grand-children here - dear little kiddies - one 3 years old and the other 1 ½ years. Whilst we were back at our last billet a couple of days ago we held a sacred concert in the R.C. Church, the signallers and the Machine Gunners were the chief artists. - Morgan of the signallers late of St Johns Church Glebe presided at the pipe-organ and we gave the Lead Kindly Light quartette besides other hymns: the Church is very old dating back to the 15th century and a chateau adjoining dates back to the 13th century in the time of Louis XI. Your last letter I received was enclosed with one from Harry dated May 21st. I also received three parcels by the same post which came through the Battalion comforts one from Vera Couldery, 1 from the Wood girls and another from Mildred. I saw Lyle Patteron again a couple of days ago, he looks well, and is also on the move with us. Nev, I left back at our old position in the North of France, he is keeping fine & is very interested in his work. I don’t think his Brigade will be moving down this way for a while yet. Well I must turn in now. With heaps of love to you all. From your loving son Fred XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX for Grace & yourself. (censored J. F. Weidon)

Form: Postcard bearing small picture of Golder’s Cottage, Salrington Date: 7 August 1916 From: Fred (at The Grange Convalescent Home, Worthing, England) To: Grace Lipscomb (aged about 10)

Dear Grace:-Your letter arrived yesterday along with 16 others from Australia, they had been sent back from the trenches so you can imagine I put in a little time reading them. Am glad you received the little handkerchief alright. I am still having my hand massaged every morning at present cannot close it but it is gradually getting better. This place is something like Manly only the beach here is not as good and the water is calmer than our ocean beaches. Good-bye now girlie. With heaps of love from Fred.

Form: Letter bearing the logo and name of the “Soldiers’ Christian Association Camp Home”

Date: 11 August 1916

From: Fred (at Chatham Ward, Stanford Rd Hospital, Brighton)

To: Mrs W.J. Lipscomb (his mother)

Dear Mum:- Just a line to let you know I am still progressing towards recovery and expect to be moved out now anytime to either the Australian Hospital at Epsom or one of the many Convalescent Homes round about. The cut in my left hand where the shrapnel was taken out is now almost healed but my little finger is still stiff from the fracture & I suppose it will take a little time to get right. I don’t know whether I told you before that it was at Pozieres near Albert that I was knocked. We were holding the front line of trenches at the time -- that is if they may be called trenches for they were really just a succession of shell holes -- and we were under a perfect hail of shrapnel & high explosive shells all the time I was there which was two days & two nights, we had very heavy casualties all from shell fire and quite a number had to be taken away with shell-shock. but notwithstanding all our losses we are slowly but surely forging ahead and the Germans are having terrific losses both of men and big guns and if it were not for their great dugouts of which I suppose you have read in the papers they would be unable to live at all through our big gun fire for back away from the trenches we have guns of all shapes and sizes in every conceivable position ranging in size from the 18 pounders to big heavy siege guns throwing shells weighing 1200 pounds. In the German trenches that we have taken we came across some of their huge dugouts. They go down from 30 to 50 ft deep then are tunelled off into rooms and dressing stations for wounded:- one particular one that I saw had a kitchen and dining room about 20 ft down all well furnished with fine stove and room heaters installed and about 20 feet below that again were 5 or 6 bedrooms -- probably officers -- all papered with pink paper with spring mattress beds covered with sheets & pillows etc, room heaters, wardrobes etc in fact everything you would find in a comfortable home and the whole had electric light installed: they evidently thought they were going to stay there for the duration of the war but it was the biggest mistake they ever made for we have got them on the move now. I had a number of souvenirs that I had collected several from Germans we captured at Armentierres where we were 3 months, but when I got wounded I left all my equipment behind in the trenches at Pozieres with the exception of a few little things that I will send along. I have not heard how Keith & Bunny are but their battalions like ours had a pretty rough cutting up. The people are treating us famously here, they take us for car rides invite us to tea, and give us concerts so that we are indeed having a good time. Good-bye now dear ones. I sent you a cable on the 9th hope you got it alright. With heaps of love to you all from Fred. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX for Mum & Grace.

Form: Letter with printed letterhead: “Australian Imperial Force A.I.F. & War Chest Club. Behind Army and Navy Stores and opposite AIF Headquarters 97, Horseferry Road, London SW”

Date: 25 September 1916

From: Fred

To: The Lipscomb family

Dear ones at home; I have just returned to London this morning after a weekend out in the country at a place called Romford about 15 miles from the city: the people’s name is Box and they are very nice indeed. I met the daughter whilst at Worthing, she with another girl friend were down there for their holidays & she asked me down to their home when I had my furlough, so I went out on Saturday afternoon :- on Saturday night we had a splendid view of a zeppelin being brought down by one of our airmen : Mr Box is the Superintendent of the Special Police and at about 10 o’clock he had a message through to say that zeppelins had been sighted and to take precautions. shortly afterwards the search lights began to play across the sky in all directions and the anti-aircraft guns which are located all round the district began to speak. This kept up for about half an hour and then things quietened down. so thinking that they had passed over we went off to bed. and I had no sooner got into bed than the guns began to speak again so we jumped up and dressed hastily and then we saw the zepp in the light of one of the search lights floating through the air like a huge cigar. We watched it for some time and then suddenly we saw the small tail light of one of our planes right near it and shortly afterwards a light shone up from the zepp which quickly increased in size until it almost lit up the place. it then sank gradually and fell into a field about 15 miles from Romford. all the crew were of course killed some burnt & some jumped out. There were 15 zepps came over and I believe they did a good deal of damage. Mr Box was out all night watching operations, he motored to the spot where the zepp fell and brought back a souvenir in the shape of a piece of the aluminium framework. I am going out to Watford this afternoon to visit the friends that Nev made whilst over here, and on Friday I intend running up to Scotland. My leave expires on Thursday October the 5th so I’m trying to see as much in that time as I possibly can. On Sat morning I went through Westminster Abbey & heard the choristers sing. they were very fine indeed. Good-bye now Heaps of love & kisses to all Your loving son & brother Fred.

Form: Letter - with the Salvation Army logo and the Heading: “The Salvation Army - Recreation and Reading Room for His Majesty’s Troops”

Date: 19th October 1916

From: Fred in Rollestone Camp, Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire

To: The Lipscomb Family

Dear Ones at home:- Just a short note this week to let you know I am well and having as good a time as can be expected after the joys and pleasures of furlough. I shall be having another couple of days this week end I think for I shall most probably be leaving for France on Saturday week Oct 21st. to have another slap at Fritz and every man is entitled to at least a week end leave before he leaves for France so I am living in hopes. You mustn’t worry about me out in France to whichever part it is I shall be going - I believe our division is still at Ypres - I know it is only natural to worry, for these are indeed sad and anxious times for a great many homes. But I somehow think I shall be back with you all one of these days and won’t I have some great old yarns to tell you of both the humorous and tragic sides of warfare. I was so sad to hear of Keith’s death. I had a letter from Viola about a week ago and also a note from the War Office where I wrote to for information about him:- we used often to have yarns together whilst at Bois Grenier near Armentierres and the last place I saw him at was at Conzy a small village we were billeted in on our way to take part in the Big Push on the Somme. I’m afraid bunny has gone too although I haven’t received official information from the War Office yet. The last I saw of him was when we were going up to Pozieres on the night of the 25th July. I passed him as I was going up into the line with our Machine Gun and we both shook hands for we both realised that we might not meet again. He was a fine fellow, Bunny, & very popular with the boys of the Company. I had a letter from Scotland yesterday and they said they had a bunch of Scotch white heather for me and would I like it sent home, so I sent on the home address and they will send it direct - white heather is lucky they say. The Muir family are very fine people and were particularly good to me. I was just like a son and brother, although I was only with them 4 days. I would like you to drop them a line, Mum, and thank them for being so kind to this child of yours. The address is: Station House, Stirling, Scotland. I also had a letter from Doris Puddifooot a couple of days ago, she said that her Mother is writing to you and enclosing a couple of photographs of myself that they took whilst I was down there. Ernie King is here in camp with me, he is well and will be going across with me on Saturday week together with about 50 others. When I am leaving I shall send you a cable to that effect. Am glad you received the Anzac Book in good order. Your last letter arrived at the beginning of the week - dated Aug 1st - Good-night now dear ones. Hoping you are all keeping well. With heaps of love to you all from your loving son & brother Fred. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX for Mum XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX & Grace. Thanks for the piece of wattle. I have put it away in my pocket book.

Form: Letter; Date: February 1917

From: Fred at No 14 Stationary Hospital in France - with severe enteric gastro-enteritis

To: Grace (his sister)

Dear Grace:- It is just about 7.30 pm and I am sitting in my room having just finished tea & just wondering what you are all doing at home tonight - or rather it would be about 10 o’clock in the morning in Sydney now. Do you know I dreamt I was on my way home last night, & I thought I was travelling up the Milson’s Point line & could see the stations quite plainly. I seemed to have to out at Waitara and walked in the back way and took you all by surprise; but alas, it was only a dream & I awoke to find myself in bed in hospital “Somewhere in France”. I am getting along famously now and expect to go across to England for a few weeks holiday any day now, in fact I would have been across there now only that the port has been closed several days on account of some mines being loose and everything had to been (sic) cleared up by the mine-sweepers before traffic could be resumed. However the port is open again now so I may go across on the next hospital ship. We have had very cold weather lately and heaps of snow, four or five inches deep on the ground everywhere. You would be able to have some grand old games with snowballs and making snow men, also the water in ponds has been frozen that thick that heaps of people both here and in England go skating on the ice. I am almost quite well again now and am getting quite fat again. I go for a short walk every afternoon, we are quite close to the sea and it is rather nice along the beach although rather cold some afternoons. I am on chicken and fish diet - plenty of it - and plenty of custards and milk puddings. The Sisters are particularly good to us here. There are 5 on duty in this part of the hospital and 2 V.A.D.’s, one Scotch one Irish and the balance from England. I am known as Australia and when they speak to me it is “Good morning Australia” or “Hello Australia”: there are a few Australian Sisters in other hospitals close handy here and one of them came up to see me a couple of days ago, one of our Sisters had been telling her about me. She brought me up a big bunch of carnations, and we had a long yarn about Australia but she came from Adelaide so that we hadn’t much in common in our native cities. I haven’t had any mail for quite a month but I suppose there will be a budget for me awaiting me at our Hdquarters in London as I left word with my QuarterMaster Sgt to readdress them there as I did not know how long I should be in hospitals over here. Well I must close up now girlie and get to bed as I’m feeling a bit cold. Good-bye now, & stacks of love from your loving brother Fred. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX for yourself & Mum.

Form: Letter; Date: 18 April 1918

From: Fred at the 41st Casualty Clearing Station in France

To: Mrs W.J. Lipscomb (his mother)

My Darling Mum:- Once again I’m in hospital - wounded - this time it will keep me out of mischief for a fair time I think. A shell burst right in the shelter where I was, there were three of us in there at the time: another officer, a signaller and myself . We two officers had a wonderful escape, I got a bad crack on the left knee about the kneecap, the other officer escaped with only a severe shaking, whilst the signaller was killed instantly. By the way the signaller’s name was Barling and was some relation to the Barlings from Manilla and Wahroonga. I had only asked him about half an hour before if he was any relation to the Wahroonga people but he did not seem to know them particularly well: just knew that he had relations there. Poor laddie! He was killed instantly and had no pain. I have been in this Casualty Clearing Station now 10 days; and was operated on the first night I was admitted. They are keeping me here until I am fit enough to travel down to the Base by Hospital train - probably it will only be a couple of days now - and after that I go across to Blighty. I have to keep my leg in the same position day & night - it is in splints up to my hip, but all the same I’m feeling fairly well and the doctors & nurses are quite pleased with my progress. I forgot to tell you that just before I got my crack, our company carried out an attack on a wood occupied by the Hun, and another officer with myself and about 12 men captured 47 prisoners and a machine gun, besides settling a good number with our rifles & revolvers. Well I’ll write again shortly Mum dear as I’m a bit tired now. Trusting you are all well at home & with heaps & heaps of love from your ever loving son, Fred. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Eric John Lipscomb, born 24th September 1894 at Normanhurst; occupation: Farmer & Soldier; enlisted at Gunnedah 13th July 1916; trained at Armidale and Maitland; embarked from Sydney 17th October 1916 on board the Borda - calling in at Melbourne, Durban, Cape Town, and Freetown, Sierra Leone; Disembarked 9th January 1917 at Plymouth - moved to Durrington Camp, Lark Hill, Salisbury; joined 34th Battalion, 3rd Division, AIF, on 30th April 1917 and moved to the Armentieres sector of the front; killed in action on 16th May 1917 at Le Tourquet in Belgium only ten days after going into action (aged 22).

Form: Letter with letterhead “Sydney YMCA with the Australian Expeditionary Forces” and “For God, For King & For Country” Date: 19th December 1916 From: Eric at Freetown, Sierra Leone, and later (posted on arrival in England) To: His mother

Dear Mother,

(Post Script marginalia gives his return address - No 2348 Pte E.J. Lipscomb

4 Reinf 34 Batt

9 Brigade

Park House Camp

Salisbury England)

You see by the above address where we are and where we have been for the last three weeks. I don’t know when or where I will post this but will do so at the first opportunity. I suppose you are worrying at not hearing from me, but it is not my fault. Well I will try and tell all about our voyage as far as we have got. We left as you will remember on the 17th October and after three days we reached Melbourne where we stopped two days. We got leave for six hours the day we came in from four o’clock in the afternoon till 10 at night. Of course we couldn’t see much of Melbourne only the city itself which isn’t up to much. The next day we took on another 400 troops which brought our number up to 1600, 1200 having embarked at Sydney. From Melbourne we went straight to Durban somewhere about a fortnight’s travelling. We encountered a little rough weather going across the “Bight” one very big wave went right across the boat after which was a terrible big roll which sent all the crockery flying but apart from that storm lasting about 12 hours we have had extremely fine weather. We got to Durban about 10 o’clock at night and so had to wait outside all night and wait until the pilot came out in the morning to take us in. After a lot of humbugging about, the heads got us all out of the boat about three in the afternoon. We then had a route march for about two miles and finished up at Government House where after the Governor had taken the salute we were dismissed until 11 that night. Durban is a very pretty picturesque place surrounded by wooded hills. Of course the natives are very much in evidence the Europeans practically doing no work only to superintend the natives. They are divided into three classes and each class seems independent of the other. First of all are the rickshaw boys who are wholly comprised of Zulus. These Zulus will do no other work but it is wonderful the way the (sic) get over the ground pulling 2 or three people in a rickshaw quite as fast as a medium horse. Of course they were well patronised by the boys. I don’t think there was one who did not have a ride. The second class comprised the Indians who are very thick. They do most of the business of the town and all the servants of the whites in nearly all cases. The other class is the Kaffirs who do all the labouring work such as wharf labouring, railway making, etc.. I went out to see the zoo the first evening a couple of miles out of town. The trams were all free to the soldiers so it didn’t cost us anything to get about. The second day we were marched up to the same place and dismissed again about nine in the morning and we (sic) told to be back at two in the afternoon so we didn’t have much time to see much else. I spent most of the time in the surf. We left the same day and after three days travelling we steamed into Cape Town with a yellow flag up which meant quarantine for us. And the worst of it was we could never find out what was the matter for we had no sickness on board only a few cases of mumps and measles. Anyway they took us for a route march round a suburb of Cape Town called Sea Point and as I developed mumps the next day I didn’t care much what was done. I forgot to say we picked up another 50 men at Durban who had been left behind by the boat before so our family was again increasing. Well I remained in hospital ten days and got out a couple of days before we reached Freetown for the first time. We would have gone straight on only for the fact that raiders we (sic) out in the Atlantic somewhere and the Captain had orders to come in. For about three days before arriving we were travelling without lights and carrying lifebelts. We got three or four hours ashore the day after we arrived and I don’t want to go ashore again. The only redeeming feature about the place is that there is plenty of fruit: oranges, cocoanuts, bananas and other tropical fruits. The only white people on shore are about 5 or 6 Frenchmen who were (sic) the pubs and a couple of stores and the British Tommies at the Garrison and the rest are natives. There is a population here of about 35,000 made up of about 40 different tribes of natives. They have different names unpronounceable to the whites. It is a terrible place for vice of all kinds so it did not do our boys much good getting ashore. Everywhere was reeking with stinks of all kinds even the natives themselves smelt strong. I was jolly glad to get out. After about a weeks stay we made another shift and after three days we got orders to turn around and come back. I heard since that a raider was sunk abut 30 miles from where we turned so it was pretty close, wasn’t it? I forgot to say before we left the first time we had another increase in family consisting of 600 troops and 50 sailors of one of the cruisers stationed here. One of the Melbourne transports broke down somewhere or other and she had to be sent into dry dock to be fixed up, so all her troops were taken off and split up amongst the other transports. There were nearly a dozen troopships here last week but all have gone these last couple of days except one other and this boat so I expect we will be following up pretty soon. I sincerely hope we do as things are very uncomfortable here as we are on short rations and there has been no money for the last month. The day after we came in the second time volunteers were called to coal the boat 850 tons being wanted. Each company sent sixty men who worked a four hour shift so we had it loaded in about thirty hours and my word we were black when we came off the lighter, just like the niggers themselves. We only wore a pair of trousers, a pair of boots and a hat - all the rest was shiny black, so you can imagine what we looked like. Well I can’t tell you much more now but later on I will send word if possible where we are and the address and I want you to send me the address of the two boys so I can look them up if ever I get a chance. I found out the other day that Lieut. Farleigh our DR is an old H.A.C. boy and knew a lot of boys that I knew. He was there in 1907, 8 & 9 and was in the football team so I suppose Alf has often seen his photo there. Another fellow whose acquaintance I have made is a Corporal Stevenson whose brother was at Hurlstone the last year Nev was there. He said he had often heard his brother speak of Nev. No more at present will finish this when an opportunity comes to post it.

Jan 4th 1917.

As we are just a couple of days off England I will finish this ready to post when we get on land once again and my word I won’t be sorry to do so. We left Sierra Leone on Boxing Day and I think all of us spent the most miserable Christmas we ever had. We did not get any more leave off the boat, but the day before Christmas Day we got another 10/- per man so one man from each section was detailed to go ashore to buy Christmas dinner. But we could not get very much as the stores do not cater for the wants of white people as there are practically no white people so we did not get much. We are travelling under escort now. Seven troopships and two cruisers so I don’t think anything will happen to us now. It is getting very cold now and the days are very short. We rise about 6.30 and have nearly two hours before sunrise. No more now else letter will be too bulky but will write a little more in a letter to Auntie Gig. Love to all and kisses for all. Hoping you had a better Christmas dinner than we had here from Eric.

Form: Letter; Date: 15 April 1917

From: Eric at Lark Hill, Salisbury

To: Mrs W.J. Lipscomb (his mother)

Dear Mother, You will be glad to hear that I have met Fred before going over the lid. It was a very near squeak that I did not miss him altogether. I had put in several applications for leave to go up to London to see him but had not got any satisfaction and being warned for draft on the 20th inst. I did not think I would be able to go, and it came rather as a shock when the S.M. told me on Tuesday that my application had gone through and I was to go on 48 hour leave that night at midnight. I also got the shock of my life when they sent for me to go down to the orderly room for something important and when I got there Fred was standing in the corner of the room waiting for me. We went down to Amesbury and Fred stayed there for the night and we both went up to London in the morning. Of course we had plenty to yarn about so we did not got out anywhere as time was so short. Fred went before a Medical Board and the verdict was that he was temporarily unfit for duty so he has been sent to a convalescent home in Kent so he ought to have a pretty good time for a while at any rate. He looks pretty good although he is not as fat as I thought he would be. He is also very keen to be back again at the front but I think he has done his bit and now if at all possible he ought to try to get home again for a spell at any rate. We had a very big review at Bulford last week. About 75,000 Australians were inspected by the King and it was a grand sight I can tell you. In the march past past (sic) I was only about four yards away from the King so I had a very good look at him, judging from outward appearances he is a very insignificant looking man and badly in want of a shave he is a very small man somewhere about 5 feet 2 inches. The Hon. Andy Fisher and Gregory Wade were also out at the inspection. They seem to be able to have a fairly good time although it is war time. Well Mum there isn’t very much to write about so you must not mind if this is short. Next week I shall be in France so I will be able to write a better letter. So with plenty of love & kisses for all from Eric.

Form: Letter; Date: 17 April 1917

From: Mrs W.J. Lipscomb, Normanhurst

To: Eric (returned from Dead Letter Office on 30 July 1918)

My own Dear Eck, Your most welcome letter dated Feb 23rd also cards to Harry & Colin came yesterday. We were very pleased to hear from you, altho sorry to know that you are suffering so much from the cold. I expect you would not mind being at Gunnedah even with the heat up to 110 in the shade. I think we are in for a cold winter here. It is already pretty chilly at nights & the early morning. But we have an abundance of good food & comfortable beds, and my heart aches for you dear boys away over there with so little comfort. God grant it will not be long before this evil war is over & you set your faces homeward again. Mrs Puddifoot & her daughter arrived here on Easter Monday. They are staying with us until they get settled in a home. They are very nice homely people. Before leaving England they wrote to you but did not receive any answer, so probably you did not receive it. Both Fred & Neville stayed with them in London & they would like to have had you also. They are favourably impressed with Australia. Mrs Puddifoot says that there will be a great number of English people coming to Australia after the war is over. Dad is writing to tell you all the “Wandilly” news & Harry is going to write also. I had a letter from Flo a week or so ago. She spoke of coming home for Easter but I don’t think she came, or I would have seen her. Mildred wrote a short time ago saying that they were all going to Blackheath for the holidays. There have been quite a number of our vessels sunk lately Mrs Puddifoot said they had several narrow escapes. I want to send you some more socks, but until I hear that you have received those I sent I don’t like chancing any more. We get various instructions through the papers re the mode of addressing letters. It is very confusing.

Wednesday

Another letter today from Fred & one from Neville. Fred says in his that he had written to you & the letters had been returned marked “not in the 34th” - I wonder why that is. I always address to the 34th -My eyesight is getting very dim, so you must excuse bad writing. Fred said in his letter that he dreamed that he returned home & surprised us by walking in the back way. I do hope that you are able to meet each other. It will seem like a bit of home. The summer fruit is nearly all gone now. We only have “Granny Smith” apples left & a few china pears. I made an apple pudding for tea tonight & all pronounced it bosker. What would I not give to be able to fill your plate with some. I think I shall chance a cake this week. Surely they will forward it to you if you are in France. Lillian & Olive Wood were here yesterday & they have sent you a parcel. Harry is writing by this mail so I will close mine. With fond love from your own dear. Mother My faith is fixed in God for thee, Since first thine infant life began,No fear shall dim my hopes for thee, As soldier boy or full grown man.

Eric was killed on 16th May 1917.

Form: Letter

Date: 5 June 1917

From: Chaplain 3rd Class: Captain: Adam Stuart McCOOK. 34th Battalion, AIF

To: Wm. J. Lipscombe (sic) Esq., Wahroonga, N.S.W.

Dear Mr Lipscombe, It is with deepest sorrow and sincere regret that I write you in connection with the death of your fine young son. You will have been advised that he was killed in action on May 16th last. Though a comparitively (sic) short time with us he had already made many good friends and had shown many fine manly and soldierly qualities. All the officers and men of this Battalion deeply regret the loss of so promising a comrade. He was buried in the little military cemetery known as Tancrez Farm. The service being conducted by Rev J.W. Davis, Methodist Chaplain with this Brigade. The grave will be marked and cared for, and a suitable memorial cross will be erected over it by the Battalion, of which a photograph will probably be sent to you later on. I trust that you and all who sorrow with you may be comforted and sustained in your sore trial, and that future days may reveal that the great sacrifices have not been in vain. Yours most Sincerely, A.S.M. Cook. Chaplain 34th Battalion A.I.F.

(Studio Photo Courtesy Tom and Val Fearby)

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© Commonwealth of Australia (National Archives of Australia)

Under Construction; 21/03/2009-22/12/2015.


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