Twenty-nine soldiers on the Mount Hicks Honor Board: Dyer Albert Diprose (killed in action), Melville John Lockett, Sydney Arthur Tippett, William Cock, James Alfred Cock, Ernest Joseph Gasbury (killed in action), Albert B Best (killed in action), Robert Claude Lockett, Michael John Keenan (died in France of wounds), Thomas James Beamish, Allan George Cross, William Brydon, Clarence Bejent Muir, Louis Melmorth Terry (killed in action), Roy Mourdant Duniam, Hubert William Gardner (killed in action), John Leigh Wells, William James Smith, Henry John Smith, Albert George Harris, William Henry Harris (killed in action), Angus John Newton, Phillip Knight Bugg, Charles Edwin Carty, Jonathan Bugg, George Henry Bramich, Alfred Goodall, Jesse Smart (died in Egypt from wounds) and Leonard William Smart
Today is the centenary of Armistice Day, the anniversary of the ceasefire that brought the First World War to an end. 
Over 15,000 Tasmanians enlisted, of which 12,195 soldiers went to war. Around 9,000 returned, many of whom were broken in health, mentally and physically. Casualties were in the thousands.
In one small town in the northwest corner of Tasmania, the loss was felt throughout the entire community.
Prior to returning home, John Leigh Wells was among 29 local diggers whose names and photographs were arranged in a frame of polished blackwood, measuring five feet by four, with the words Mt Hicks Roll of Honour on top. This impressive and unusual tribute to the local diggers was unveiled on 6 February 1918 and now hangs in the foyer of the Wynyard RSL.
John Leigh Wells could be considered as one of the lucky ones to return home. However, eight of the 29 diggers portrayed in the Mount Hicks Honor Roll did not return.
We may wonder about the future, but when it comes to history, we often seem to need an inspirational nudge to remind us the sacrifice of those who died or otherwise suffered the effects of war. It is because of their sacrifice that we enjoy the freedom we have today.
Lest we forget.
 After the end of the Second World War, the Australian Government changed Armistice Day to Remembrance Day.
About John Leigh Wells
John Leigh Wells was the son of Emily Poke and James John Wells, born at Green Hills in the Circular Head district on 24 January 1891.
John was a 24 year old farmer when he enlisted on 24 August 1915. His application lists him as 5ft 7½ins tall, weighing 153lbs with a chest measurement of 34ins. Medium was his complexion with blue eyes and brown hair. Church of England was his faith, and a scar on his right forearm was his distinctive mark. His next of kin was his father, James John Wells, of Upper Mt Hicks.
John departed Sydney onboard HMAT Runic on 20 January 1916 arriving at Alexandria, Egypt, on 27 February 1916. Three weeks later, he was taken on strength as sapper with the 8th Field Company Engineers at Tel-el-Kabir.
On 17 June 1916, John proceeded with the unit to join the British Expeditionary Force in France onboard the troopship Manitou from Alexandria to Marseilles, arriving there on 25 June 1916. From Marseilles, the unit travelled by train to the Western Front, reaching Abbeville on 29 June 1916.
In the first week of July 1916 the company was put through gas demonstration, gas helmet practices and inspection of clothing and equipment. Thereafter, the company was engaged in clearing blocked communication trenches and general trench work in no man’s land. This was John’s first exposure to the horrors of war on an industrial scale. During the month of July the company suffered over 40 casualties including five dead and four missing.
In August 1916, John’s company was divided into multiple projects around Cellar Farm and Mine Avenue where heavy artillery had caused extensive damage, in an offensive later known as Battle of Fromelles. Most in the company were engaged in repair work, and some commenced on the construction of a concrete dugout for a Dressing Station to hold 12 stretchers. Casualties for the month of August were three wounded and one fatality.
By September the autumn rains had set in. Broken ground easily traversed in dry weather became a quagmire. Mine Avenue became almost impassable owing to rising water and there were a few small landslides in trenches after the rain, however, this was only just the beginning. Work commenced on anchoring duckboards, sinking in parapets to hold the shifting earth and replacing baggings on top of hurdles.
At this time, the 8th Field Company Engineers had over a two month period completed 152 wooden dugouts to accommodate 468 men.
On 22 September 1916 the company was marched out to Armentières in Flanders to take over an area previously occupied by the 2/2 Highland Company Royal Engineers. The general scheme of defence as laid down at the frontline trenches was organised in a series of defended localities. Between these localities were gaps, which were not garrisoned but patrolled by night. A certain amount of sniping and Lewis gunfire were done from these gaps at night to give the impression that these positions were held. When the company took over from the Scottish engineers, defended localities were found to be in a very bad state. Work commenced on remodelling these localities.
In the first week of October attempts were made with a Hydraulic Pipe Forcing Jack to cut through enemy wire entanglements. The aim was to push the hydraulic pipe 80 yards out through thick low wire entanglements to deploy explosive charges. It was unsuccessful and therefore abandoned.
During the first two weeks of October, works completed were the water supply, two concrete battery emplacements and nine concrete dugouts in addition to 73 fire bays of which 48 were completed. The remainder of the fire bays yet to be completed were handed over to the 3rd Company New Zealand Engineers.
On 14 October 1916, the company proceeded to Mametz Wood on a journey that took about seven days. The strength of the company were seven officers, 204 ranks, 19 vehicles, 77 horses and 28 bicycles. While some travelled in vehicles under the command of Captain William Gordon Farquhar, a small group was detached to proceed independently riding on bicycles.
On arrival at Mametz Wood, the scene was such as Captain Alexander Ellis described as “the most loathsome and appalling terrain in the world.”
Conditions were becoming less favourable for the Australian Divisions advancing towards the encampment. It rained almost continuously throughout October that when the first Australian units made their way across the devastated landscape between Longuval and Flers, a distance of eight kilometers, the journey took between 9 and 12 hours.
The main battle was against mud, rain and frostbite as temperatures often reached below freezing during nights.
For most of November, the 8th Company Engineers were engaged in road repairs, implementing a drainage system in order to keep the roads in a workable state. One sapper was injured by shrapnel and several more while digging strong points under the cover of darkness.
During the month of December the company was mainly engaged in building Nissen huts to accommodate men resting from frontline trenches. Approximately 200 huts were completed. The men also completed routes at Waterlot Farm and Delville Wood, placing duckboard over shell torn and waterlogged ground, which would have otherwise made the journey to and from the frontline impassable.
According to a stretcher bearer who found the duckboard a great boon, “Delville Wood is a terrible place. It was taken and retaken 27 times before the Germans were finally repulsed. Bodies lie everywhere mouldering away.” 
By end of December 1916 John had completed six months service on the Western Front. It would be another eight months before he is given a two week furlough in England.
On his return from his second furlough in Paris on 20 September 1918, John was taken on strength as driver with the same company.
After armistice, John Leigh remained in France until he was repatriated to England on 9 April 1919. Prior to demobilisation, John and his unit undertook various courses such as carpentry, mechanics, English and arithmetic on a daily basis. This was part of a Government funded training scheme in civilian occupations for diggers waiting for repatriation to Australia.
John returned to Australia onboard HT Durham, arriving in Adelaide on 16 July 1919. He returned to Tasmania about a week later.
Six months after John’s return from the Western Front, his father passed away on 16 December 1919. John continued to reside at Upper Mt Hicks with his mother and sister until his mother passed away on 27 July 1939. John was 48. Three years later he married Catherine Esther Bonhôte on 5 September 1942 at Wynyard. Catherine was the daughter of Peter Bonhôte and Eugenie Morris, born at Wynyard on 3 December 1909.
Peter Bonhôte was a native of Switzerland, born at Paseux in the canton of Neuchâtel on 13 August 1868. He arrived in Australia as a 20 year old on 5 December 1888 per the Oceanien, which sailed from Marseilles carrying cargo such as champagne, wine, liqueurs, vermouth, pianos, pipes and tobacco and cheese.
Catherine was athletic and well educated. In her teens she had been a member of the North Western Hockey Association, later becoming an umpire. Then she played badminton for several years before switching to tennis. Before long she became treasurer of the Wynyard Tennis Club. In 1935, Catherine’s clubmates at the Wynyard Tennis Club organised a bon voyage on her impending trip to Switzerland. She was away for almost 12 months.
In 1939, Catherine passed her first aid examination under the auspices of the St John Ambulance Association. After the commencement of the Second World War, Catherine became a member of the Red Cross Society organising care packages and raising funds.
During the Second World War, John re-enlisted as Lance Corporal in the Volunteer Defence Corp. It is not known which unit he belonged to or when he was discharged, however, he continued to reside in Tasmania throughout the war.
John and Catherine made their home at Wynyard, where they resided for the remainder of their lives. John was an active member of the local Masonic Lodge and the RSL and in his later years, worked as an aerodrome groundsman. He passed away on 13 February 1980. His wife, Catherine, outlived him another two years before she passed away on 12 November 1982. Both were interred at the Wynyard General Cemetery.
 Diaries of a Stretcher Bearer 1916-1918 by Edward Charles Munro of 5th Field Ambulance
Last week, Frank Poke passed away aged 95. He was the youngest son of Georgina Burgess and Alfred John Poke of Wynyard. Georgina was the eldest daughter of Harriet Ramskill and Edwin Burgess and Alfred was the eldest son of Jabez Poke and Jane Bissett.
According to his biography, Frank joined the Citizen Military Force in January 1942 and served as a signalman in the 112 Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment in the Darwin Operational Area in 1943. In 1945, he was posted to the Australian Prisoner of War and Internment Reception Camp located on the island of Morotai. In 1952, Frank transferred to the Army Reserve and retired in 1980 after numerous postings. In 1979, he was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia for services in positions of great responsibility.
Frank Poke standing at right with his nephew and brother, Lawrence Gordon Poke, standing at left circa 1939
Frank was also a Freemason and held office of Grand Master from 1992 to 1994. In an interview in 2012, Frank commented:
“I became a Freemason 62 years ago. I knew a lot of people in the town and especially admired the ones who were Freemasons; their good work and their commitment to the community.
“I was a member of the Church of England and knew of the Freemasons’ good works. Many of my friends from WWII joined the Freemasons as well.
“The values of service, voluntary work, skills, benefitting the community were all qualities that I saw in Freemasons and reflected my reasons for serving in WWII.” An interview with Frank Poke can be viewed below.
Freemasons Victoria, Past GM Frank Poke - YouTube
Last year, Frank and his wife, Dorothy, celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary, an incredible milestone.
A military funeral service will be held to commemorate Major General Poke’s life at the Anglican Parish Church of St Mary on 383 High Street Road, Mount Waverley, Victoria, at 1:30 pm on Wednesday, 14 November 2018.
Last month I posted a story about Uncle Leek’s Tea House at Mersey Bluff. The post included half a dozen photos taken between 1906 and 1910. Here is one more photo with presumably Uncle Leek himself. You can see all the wonderful details with an illustration of a bird in the top left corner, a rock garden at the bottom right and a seemingly brand new gramophone in the foreground. Clearly it was a popular and magical paradise for all to enjoy.
Bushrangers Bay in the Mornington Peninsula situated about 90 kilometres from Melbourne. The bay was so named after the notorious bushrangers, Bradley and O'Connor, who forced their way aboard the schooner, Sophia, across Bass Strait and were rowed ashore by two crewmen, who along with their rowboat, were never seen again.
John Stagg House and Eliza Turner, both of Gloucestershire, migrated to Melbourne with their four children in December 1841. Their fifth child was born a month after their arrival, in January 1842. Three years later, the family sailed to Launceston and then made their way to the Circular Head district.
Four more children followed with the youngest born in 1851.
In 1853, the entire family had the misfortune to encounter the notorious bushrangers, Henry Bradley and Patrick O’Connor. Both were former convicts working at separate farms near Launceston. Both were Ticket of Leave holders who were free to seek employment but not permitted to leave the district and who were required to report to the local police magistrate on a monthly basis.
The pair had escaped on 14 September 1853 and made their way to the Circular Head district where they began to terrorise the local population. First they raided the homestead of John Spinks where they stole a gun and tied up the family. Then they moved onto William Staines’ property, arriving there between 3:00 and 4:00 am. There the bushrangers demanded food and compelled a servant known as Long Smith at gunpoint to accompany them to John Stagg House’s farm.
At around 6:00 am, they approached the Stagg House residence and demanded entry. Six year old Thomas opened the door and was then ordered back by the intruders. Alfred Phillips, who was the fiancé of John Stagg House’s eldest daughter, rushed from his bedroom when he heard the commotion. Soon all members of the household were brought into the same room and had to submit to being tied together in pairs.
Brandishing their guns, the bushrangers demanded to see John Stagg House, who on hearing their voices had already made his escape through a window to run to the next farm for assistance. Bradley fired two shots at John as he fled from the scene. Fortunately neither took effect. Enraged, Bradley then discharged his gun at Alfred Phillip’s neck killing him instantly.
After ransacking the house, the two bushrangers made their way to Thomas Atkins’ farm where they ordered breakfast and then on to William Medwin’s hut where they took another gun and a small quantity of provisions. From there, they then proceeded to Table Cape where along the way they fired several shots at a constable, causing injury to his arm.
Immediately on the murder being known, a large party of the inhabitants started off in pursuit and although they left four of their party at the mouth of the Inglis River, Bradley and O’Connor managed to hijack a schooner and escape. One of their hostages was tied to the mast in order to keep the people onshore from firing at them.
On reaching the Mornington Peninsula after crossing the Bass Strait, the bushranger continued their reign of terror all the way up to Kyneton, a journey lasting approximately 40 days. Their intent was to reach the Victorian goldfields and continue their prey along the road to and from Melbourne.
About a dozen troopers finally caught up with them and brought them back to Melbourne where they were tried and hanged.
The trauma inflicted on John Stagg House and his family compelled them to abandon their Forest home and move to Stanley.
Many years later, Sarah Stearne, wife of Thomas Ollington, would lower her voice at the mere mention of the bushrangers’ names, and react with “a shuddering glance around the room as though she expected see them enter the house.” Such was the impact of the bushrangers’ murderous deeds across the entire community.
They say time flies when you’re having fun. Exactly one year ago today, on 23 July 2017, I hit that publish button on my very first blog.
As difficult as it was to publish the first post, I had absolutely no problem finding a subject as there were many who loomed larger than life as Pioneers of the Tasmanian Northwest. In many respects, theirs were akin to rags to riches stories, from convicts and humble tenant farmers to leading members of their respective communities, many of whom toiled the land from the Van Diemen Land Company and ultimately paved the way for future generations.
I have thoroughly enjoyed the past year and would like to thank all for following, commenting and encouraging me. I look forward to another year of researching and writing.
Keith Webb after a spill during a six day cycling race at the Sports Arena in Sydney in 1939. Lying on the track near him was New Zealander Lloyd Thomas.
With the Tour de France now in full swing, it is worth mentioning Keith Leonard Webb, a well-known cyclist who once was nominated as one of six riders to represent Australia in this prestigious race.
Commencing cycle racing in Tasmania in 1931, Keith won the Burnie 50 mile championship of Tasmania in 1931 and 1932. He then went to Victoria and as captain of the Tasmanian team, competed in the Centenary 1,000 mile road race. He finished in 14th position, at the time being 19 years of age. Later he won three major road races in Victoria, the last being the Gippsland 100 mile race. In this race he started from scratch and secured the fastest time.
In 1935, he was nominated as one of six riders to represent Australia at the Jubilee carnivals in England, in the Paris-Brest-Paris 720 mile race and in the Tour de France but was forced to decline the offer owing to the expense of such a trip. This was the first time a Tasmanian was chosen to represent Australia.
In 1936, Keith sustained serious injury after a collision in the Austral Wheel Race at the Melbourne Olympic Park. He was hospitalised for several weeks and resumed cycling four months later. Keith was determined to get back into shape to compete in the Warrnambool to Melbourne race, which he achieved. He competed in the same race in the following year and came in third.
Until his hospitalisation, Keith was highly regarded as a formidable long distance cyclist, having competed in the Shepparton to Melbourne race (120 miles), Launceston to Burnie and return (196 miles) and Hobart to Launceston and return 250 mile race.
In the late 1930s, Keith and his wife moved to NSW where he competed in the Six Day Race, officially representing Tasmania. In 1939 Keith broke an eight mile record, which he achieved in just 19 minutes and 18 seconds. The previous record was 19 minutes and 25 seconds.
When the war came, Keith joined the 2/11 Armoured Car Regiment intended to be deployed to the Middle East. However, with the threat of a Japanese invasion after the fall of Malaya, Singapore and Hong Kong, the regiment remained on Australian soil in a defensive role. The unit was disbanded in 1944 without ever seeing action. Shortly after, Keith was discharged as medically unfit.
After the war, Kevin became a cycle and motorcycle retailer at Wollongong. In 1949, he and his wife moved to Nowra where Keith became a filteration plant operator for the Shire Council. He remained in Nowra until 1954 whereafter there are no further traces of him. His wife continued to reside at Nowra until she passed away in 1970.
Keith published a book entitled Aussie Attack: Road and Track Cycle Manual, which to this day is still popular with cycling enthusiasts.
Keith was the son of Amy Gale and Charles Frederick Webb born at Elliott in 1914.
The Devonport Tennis Club played its first match in 1892. The play against the Burnie team commenced at 10:00 am and continued until 5:45 pm with Burnie securing a win with 47 doubles out of 83 and 21 singles out of 36. In the evening, dinner was held at the Mersey Hotel.
In 1927, there were 46 entries in the week long tournament, which took place on the newly laid courts on Fenton Street.
The results were a win for Misses K Pullen and J Burke in the ladies doubles, Miss W Ward and A H Lawrence in the mixed doubles and G W Murray and A H Rowe in the men’s doubles.
At the end of the tournament, a fancy dress ball was held in aid of the club and one of the prizes for a novelty dance was a free trip to Launceston and back in Sullivan’s Motor Service. The winner was Irene Doyle of Ulverstone (photos by J H Sherwood).
Ladies Doubles Final with Misses Burke, Pullen, Pemberton and Bowden with W Robinson as umpire
Men Doubles Final with G W Murray, H A Rowe, C Boyes and E Woolley
Mixed Doubles Final with H A Rowe, Miss Pullen, Miss Ward and W Lawrence
Robertson Cemetery near the edge of the Southern Highlands noted for its undulating landscape and the setting for the movie, Babe.
The sleepy town of Robertson in the Southern Highlands is a million miles away from the picturesque coastal town of Stanley, but here lies Marthann Poke, granddaughter of one of Tasmania's earliest pioneers.
The grave of Marthann Poke contains no clues as to how she came to this part of the world, so far away from her family and familiar surrounds.
Marthann was laid to rest in 1887. She was the twin sister of Emily Poke and daughter of John Poke and Marianne Gale, born at Stanley on 10 August 1863. At aged 22, she married Francis Anthony Tatlow at the St James Church in Stanley.
Immediately after her marriage to Francis, Marthann and Francis moved to New South Wales. It is not known what brought them to Robertson, however, Francis’ brother-in-law, George Eyears, came from a prominent family who farmed in the district.
Two years after the move, Marthann passed away on 9 December 1887. Two months later, her only child, Anthony Tatlow, died on 4 February 1888 aged 12 months. Both were interred at the Robertson Cemetery where their headstone remains to this day. Francis remarried in the following year to Barbara Fraser, born in Wollongong on 15 October 1849. The marriage took place at the Presbyterian Church at Moss Vale on 10 January 1889. Before his marriage to Barbara, Francis joined the NSW Regiment of Lancers. In 1891, he was promoted to the position as farrier sergeant. He remained in the service for 18 years. Then in 1908, Francis contested a seat for council at the Wingecarribee Shire and was successful. He remained with the council until around 1914, whereafter no further traces of him could be found.
The ornate headstone of Marthann Poke and Anthony Tatlow
He died at his residence at Binnaway on 8 May 1939, aged 77. He was predeceased by his wife, Barbara, who had died ten years earlier.
Marthann’s headstone is transcribed as follows: F Tatlow In Loving Remembrance Of His Dear Wife Marthann Died 9 December 1887 Aged 24 Years Also Anthony Tatlow Beloved Son of the Above Died 4 February 1888
Recently I discovered a place called Nowhere Else, situated on Lake Barrington about eight kilometres west of Sheffield. The photo depicting the signage to Nowhere Else at right was taken during the 1960s by the renown American photographer, Maggie Diaz.
Surely this would have to be one of the more quirky place names of Tasmania among which include Lake Fanny, Asses Ear and Pisspot Creek.
The locality, Nowhere Else, first appeared in local newspapers in 1909, when the Kentish Road Trust began discussing the opening of a road from Nowhere Else to Wilmot.
Several years later, a tongue in cheek article appeared in the Launceston Examiner:
“In the last resort of the Kentish Council a resolution was carried to ask that £50 be placed on the estimates to connect the Nowhere Else road with the Promised Land. The Odd Man knows of scores somewhere else who would gladly fork out the amount if the Kentish men will guarantee that they will reach the Promised Land, but joking apart, cannot the council find a name for that road? Or is it suffering from the same beggarly impecuniosity in the matter of nomenclature that is so marked throughout Australia.”
Yes, indeed, you will find the promised land in Tasmania, which is also situated in the Kentish district.
One can also be hopeful of finding Paradise in the Northwest as opposed to Satan’s Lair, Hellfire and Little Hell down in the south.
The following article is a brief overview of Devonport's history published in the Advocate in 1948:
"Patterson formed a colony at Georgetown in 1804, 12 months after the Risdon settlement. Some of Patterson's men sailed along the coast and named the Rubicon at Port Sorell, the first Western River and Mersey the second.
"In 1825, an English company was formed to develop land in the Northwest. Hellyer, the surveyor, chose land to the east of Devonport in the first instance, but later moved along to Circular Head. In the early days, a track was made through the back country through Middlesex to Hampshire. One of Hellyer's men was named Frederick and the mouth of the Mersey was called Port Frederick.
"The first land settlement in the region was at Northdown by the father of Joshua Thomas. Port Sorell was used as the port and became the administrative centre for an extensive region, taking in Devonport. Nicholls Street was named after the first magistrate at Port Sorell. The first Formby Hotel was built in 1858.
"Torquay began to take shape as a township in 1851 but in the case of Formby, not until around 1857."
Torquay and Formby, situated on opposite banks of the Mersey River, was amalgamated into Devonport in 1890.
Haines and Co. timber merchants
Devonport branch of the Commercial Bank of Tasmania
R Whybrow's cycle establishment
Bennett and Gilbert's garage
Edwards and Co. furniture warehouse
Section of East Devonport looking towards West Devonport
The North West Coast Saddlery Depot with J Thompson as proprietor
W Wade's bakery establishment
Findlay's Piano and Organs
L W Davis' groceries and crockery establishment
The Devonport establishment of Messrs McKay, Sampson and McKinlay
David Hope bookseller, library, stationery and music depot
Duncan Loane's produce establishment
Stewart Street, West Devonport
Mrs O'Grady boarding establishment, Tamahere
The Majestic Theatre
Thomas Rosevear, produce merchant
Town Hall and Public Offices
The Lookout at Mersey Bluff
View taken rom Winspear's, East Devonport, showing part of Devonport, also the Bluff and entrance to the Mersey