Author Archives: CliveM

Storytellers – BBC Recognises the ANZAC Spirit

The April Storytellers was once again an opportunity for the BBC to recognise the ANZAC spirit and memories of past wars. Janet Bagnall kindly volunteered to present the story relating back to her great-great-grandfather who came to Australia after the Crimean War.

In keeping with our theme Janet told the tale of early Australia – The Charge of the Light Brigade, hunts for Ned Kelly, a pub in northern Victoria and her family’s settling on the land in the Riverina all linking back to her great-great-grandfather Draper from the Crimean War.

Janet dedicated her presentation in memory of George Franki who assisted in the research and was such a presence in encouraging BBC members to find out about their ancestors’ military history. This year will be the first ANZAC Day we didn’t have George with us.

Thanks also to the members of the A Cappella group for coming to sing songs associated with wars. For a short time, George came and sang with the group when they first formed a few years ago and he came along when he could.

Janet set the scene by playing a recording of Peter Sculthorpe’s composition ‘Small Town’ which was inspired by a passage from the D H Lawrence book Kangaroo. It’s the description of the main street in a small country town, Thirroul. Like so many country towns, near the town centre there will be the cenotaph as a focus, with the names of those who served in the world wars and often also those who served in other wars Australia has fought in. The smaller the town the more obvious is the war memorial and quite often there will be the names of many members from the same family.

Janet showed several photographs including one of Alexander Winston Draper’s memorial at Nathalia, a small town in northern Victoria near Echuca. It was the first monument to be built in the main street (beside the big water tower) and honoured Janet’s great-great-uncle who died in the Boer War. Monuments to the First and Second World Wars were added near it subsequently. Continue reading

Storytellers – World War II in Malaysia

The March Storytellers took awhile to eventuate but was really worthwhile on the night. John Mather first suggested that Lisa Scamps and her sister present the story of their father at Storytellers way back in May 2016. Then through all manner of reasons (people living their lives) it wasn’t until this meeting that it all came together, and we heard about their father’s story as a doctor on the Burma-Thailand Railway and in particular at ” Cholera Hill “. The timing was perfect as we were able to arrange for Christopher Deane, Jenny Hole and Jimmy Arnold to follow with their talk about their 2017 trek to North Borneo following in the steps of the 1945 Death Marches.

The accounts presented by Lisa, Virginia and Marc and then Chris, Jenny and Jimmy are riveting and full of detail, far too much to include in these Minutes, but I’m sure they could be provided upon request. As a result, certain snippets have been included as follows:

Lisa and Virginia’s story was titled “Lloyd’s war….Malaya, Singapore and the Burma Thailand Railway and what he didn’t tell us”.

When the railway was completed, Cahill and the surviving prisoners were sent back to Changi in 1944. He finally returned to Australia in 1945; he landed in Darwin weighing 47 kilograms. The following year he was made a member of the Order of the British Empire for his services to prisoners of war.

They began with some background on their father Richard Lloyd Cahill. He was the eldest of 6 children to Doctor Arthur Cahill and his wife Florence. He studied Medicine and Sydney University and prior to joining the forces he was a resident doctor at St. Vincent’s Hospital. In February this year they, the Cahill family and partners were fortunate enough to embark on a private historical war tour learning all about what their father was up to during the war. The highly acclaimed War Historian – Lynette Silver was kind enough to organise and take them on this extraordinary journey.

Lisa spoke of how their journey came about:

“My first meeting with Lynette was at a coffee shop. I had in my possession some very precious POW letters that belonged to Dad along with Wartime photos. I showed her the first photo and said this was dad in Singapore I think at Raffles, where he was stationed before the fall of Singapore. Lynette very promptly said “No it’s not, this was taken by the Women’ Weekly back in 1941 in Malaya”. My hackles went up and I thought this woman has no idea about my father (how wrong was I). Anyway, I went home and told Virginia and we both agreed that was ludicrous and she had it all wrong. Despite this Marc (Lisa’s husband) assured me she knew her stuff and to bear with it and we should all make the pilgrimage. Apart from anything we as a family with partners had never been away together. So, we all agreed to go.”

Lisa explained how that Lynette was soon to realise as a group we were totally uninformed. Whilst they knew he had a remarkable war history in Singapore and the Burma-Thailand Railway, they soon discovered that unbeknown to any of them, Lloyd had spent nearly 12 months in Malaya, before fighting and retreating to Singapore and then being captured when Singapore fell on the 15th February 1942. Continue reading

Storytellers – Jacqueline Dwyer – About her book Flanders in Australia: A Personal History of Wool and War.

The Storytellers for 2018 began with a presentation by Jacqueline Dwyer – member and mother of Dominic Dwyer, who spoke about her book Flanders in Australia: A Personal History of Wool and War.

Author Jacqueline Dwyer in fine form

There were more than 60 members and friends in attendance to listen to Jacqueline being interviewed by her son Dominic. It was especially pleasing to see Francoise Gilroy present with her daughters and her brother Xavier Droulers, the son of Jean Droulers, who was also a wool buyer, Xavier worked in New Zealand and in France. His wife is French. A large contingent of Parmentier family joined in the fun too. Quite the French connection!

Jacques-Jacqueline’s father

Jacqueline told a fascinating story about her father Jacques and the background to the wool buyers and Wool Exchange in Australia, accompanied by many family photographs. An early edition of the book Flanders in Australia was released in 1998. based on Jacques’s diaries and letters to his brothers and sisters back in Australia written whilst he was serving as a French soldier in the trenches during WW1, all surprisingly in English. The trigger for writing the first edition was a school essay being undertaken by son James on WW1 using material from the diaries and letters which prompted Jacqueline to realise what treasures they were and how they needed to be preserved. Strangely enough the material had been secreted away and Jacqueline never sighted them until her father had passed away. Jacqueline returned to university to further her research encouraged greatly by dear George Franki and soon had enough material to do a thesis. Jacqueline considers the new edition of Flanders in Australia as far more detailed and thoughtful. Continue reading

Storytellers – Dolphin Adventures

Our ‘storyteller’ for the evening was Olivia de Bergerac. Olivia who has been a BBC member for 10 years shared some of her life adventures with dolphins, and told us a little about her books and her TV documentaries.

Olivia de Bergerac was born in France and grew up on the French Riviera (Antibes). The ocean has always played a part in her life with a Cousteau Diver as a big brother. With a PhD in Literature and Psychology and a Master in Business Administration (MBA), she is a Neuroscientist, a Life Coach and was instrumental in developing a sustainable Harbour Management plan for the return of dolphins to Sydney Harbour. Olivia has worked as a Management Consultant and as a Business Coach. She has worked with leading organisations on Total Quality Management, Team Building and Stress Management Programs. Her main clients included: The Australian Navy, the Australian Army, the CPA group, Macquarie Bank and Bonds to name a few. Tres impressive!!
And there’s more … Olivia is often invited to participate to conferences around the world. In the past, she has been invited to conferences in France, Germany, Egypt and Japan….and of course the highlight for her (and us) was to present at the BBC Storytellers!!!

Olivia spoke about her passion for dolphins and the studies she has conducted. She also interspersed her talk with some video footage. The first was of Bob Carr, then NSW Premier, announcing to the World on how Sydney Harbour would be cleaned up in the lead up to the 2000 Olympics. Olivia was very instrumental in talking to the powerbrokers in the State to agree to a “Dolphins in Our Harbour Conference” opened by Bob Carr with 70 participants: politicians, scientists and businesses seeking a strategic vision for an ecologically sustainable harbour management scheme. A wonderful initiative and of course it worked with the BBC members being significant beneficiaries. Continue reading

Storytellers – The Camino pilgrimage trail by Ron, Phillipe and David

BBC Members Ron Crause, Philippe Xavier and David Sumner gave a well prepared and enjoyable talk on the CAMINO. The Camino pilgrimage trail to Santiago de Compostella in Galicia, Spain is the most famous and popular trail walked or cycled in the world. There are many starting points to this trail from Ireland, England, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, etc. There are also many reasons why pilgrims undertake the very beautiful, arduous and long journey. In many ways it is also a culinary cultural experience.

Ron started by providing lots of background on the historical aspects of the walk and how it became so popular. He also explained the many ways to take part, on foot or bicycle, and the different stages and planning involved. Philippe (his first Storytellers evening) and David then spoke about their experiences and walked us through some wonderful photographs of ‘life on the trail’.

Ron, Philippe and David gave a fun, fast paced talk and between themselves covered most things a prospective pilgrim (like Denise) would want to know; the Camino Passport, Certificate of Welcome, the Markings, choosing the right route, food on the Camino, accommodation options and traps, preparation, and the importance of caring for your feet!

20 Camino de Santiago Facts

  1. Camino de Santiago means Way of St James and refers to the routes leading to Santiago de Compostela, in Galicia.
  2. Santiago de Compostela means St James of the field of stars.
  3. There are many Camino de Santiago routes, starting in France, Portugal and Spain.
  4. Pilgrims used to start their ‘Camino’ from their own homes.
  5. Continue reading