Author Archives: CliveM

Storytellers – ANZAC DAY

In keeping with previous years, the April meeting had an ANZAC DAY theme. Meredith Aveling kindly brought along sprigs of Rosemary to share amongst attendees, and with the A Cappella choir dressed in black & red with poppies the scene was set.

Janet Bagnall accompanied the BBC’s one and only A Cappella choir as they began the evening singing ‘Thank you, Soldiers’ & ‘In Flanders Field’.

Roland Longworth representing the Returned Soldiers with her Majesty the Queen in 1954

Sandy Longworth was our special ‘Storyteller’ for the evening, and had prepared a wonderful PowerPoint presentation with the help of his daughter Emma. The slides comprised some which were taken when Sandy and two of his sons, Hugh and William, took him to Gallipoli about 10 years ago. They covered the Dardanelles, Gallipoli, Cape Helles and Suvla Bay. These were all scenes of action during the Gallipoli offensive. It was a 3-day comprehensive private tour of battle sites led by Kenan Celik AM, Turkish academic from University of Canakkale who has been acknowledged by Australian Department of Veteran affairs.

Sandy spoke about:

  • the Turkey and Ottoman Empire leading up to Gallipoli Campaign
  • the Gallipoli Campaign covering British, Anzacs, French and Turkish involvement accompanied with slides
  • Sandy’s ‘hero’, his father Roley, and some of his stories (he did not speak about it much, as it was very tough, but wrote a few very informative letters which were not subject to censors when he was in hospital in Cairo)
  • his father’s life connected with Military and medicine. Roley’s life in a sense was made by WWI. He remained a devoted ‘Digger’ and was the ‘Diggers’ doctor for both WWI and WWII diggers.

Roly Longworth in the Light Horse 1939

Sandy handed out a transcript of a letter written by his grandmother requesting that her only surviving son, Roland, be granted a discharge (a copy of the original letter is included with photographs at the rear of these Minutes).

The presentation was most informative, and it was obvious that Sandy knew his subject extremely well, with hardly any need to refer to his notes to check dates and names of officers etc. As Sandy confirmed the campaign was a failure but the brilliant part from his perspective was the evacuation. Interestingly enough was how the Turks are just as keen as Australia about remembering Gallipoli. One particular photo of Sandy’s shows a huge monument dug into the escarpment.

It was on the beach at Gallipoli that Sandy reasonably speculates the origin of the expression ’digger’ was applied to ANZAC troops in general. Following the landing at Anzac Cove on 25 April 1915 General Sir Ian Hamilton wrote to General William Birdwood, the commander of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC), adding in a postscript: “You have got through the difficult business, now you have only to dig, dig, dig, until you are safe.”
The choir and audience concluded the evening singing several songs familiar to everyone:

  • ‘Lili Marlene’
  • ‘Mademoiselle from Armentieres’
  • ‘Pack-up your troubles’ & ‘A long way to Tipperary’
  • ‘We’ll meet again’
  • ‘I still call Australia home’

A special thanks to Sandy for his well-prepared presentation and to the entertainment from the A Cappella choir led by Janet B (who generously rearranged her social calendar to be present on the evening).

Storytellers – Goes to the Cremorne Orpheum Picture Palace!!

The March Storytellers was something rather unusual. We went to the Cremorne Orpheum Picture Palace!! This was new territory (literally) and we had a full-house of 120 people, a record for the Storytellers!

Activities such as the Storytellers are wonderful opportunities to naturally to listen to some of the great things that our BBC members have been doing and supporting the Children’s Cancer Institute is one such event and with the annual Swim for Cancer coming up in nearly a week’s time – Sunday 7th April, this evening’s ‘storytelling’ was even more appropriate. Continue reading

Storytellers – Hope Happens from Timbuktu to Kathmandu – and places in between

Catherine DeVrye

Catherine has addressed audiences in 31 countries and travelled to over 130 countries. Catherine was an executive with IBM for a decade where she held numerous leadership roles. Despite being expelled from English in high school, she’s written 9 books including 3 best-sellers, translated into over a dozen languages that include: Hope Happens and ‘Hot Lemon and Honey’. The late Sir Edmund Hillary said … “information in this book can lead you on the road to success”.

It must work because Catherine is a past winner of the Australian Executive Woman of the Year Award … She’s an active surf lifesaver and has completed marathons, bungee jumped, swam with sharks, cycled over the Andes. And trekked to Timbuktu and beyond Everest Base Camp … quite crazy! Yet… she believes the BIGGEST challenge she’s ever faced is coping with change daily basis.

More on:

Catherine’s theme for the evening was “Hope Happens from Timbuktu to Kathmandu – and places in between” and accompanied her story with a wonderful selection of her own photographs and motivational quotes. Catherine is certainly a seasoned storyteller and began by giving us some of her early background. Though born in Canada she is a dinky-di Aussie now! She told us all that in fact this was the second time that she had spoken to the BBC, however, previously it was with the British Broadcasting Corporation!! Tonight, she shared with our BBC some of her personal stories and some new material on travel. She used, appropriately for the BBC, the ocean as an analogy for ‘change’. It sometimes ripples and then again, it’s sometimes like a tsunami. Continue reading

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