The Treasures Found on Trove

School Children at Leadville, NSW,.. Taken about 1917/8.
Perhaps it was taken on Empire day. I believe the teacher, far left, was Mr. Matchett mentioned in the article below.
The little girl sitting sixth from the left in the second row from the front, is my maternal grandmother, Margaret Jane PARKER. 1907 – 1981.

While I was perusing the website of Trove I found some very descriptive articles in the Mudgee Guardian. I thought this one gave a beautiful illustrative view of the dedication of our forebears back in 1923.

I hope you enjoy this one as much as I did.


Empire Day at Leadville was celebrated on Saturday, 26th May, by a picnic, athletic sports for children and presentations of prize books, on the local recreation ground. The refreshments were given by the residents. Flat, long distance, three-legged, sack, and obstacle race, constituted the athletic part of the programme. During the day the machine gun, presented to Leadville by the Commonwealth Government, was unveiled, and then placed in the local public school.

The gun is a German one, and was captured by the 20th Battalion of Australian infantry at Warpsee, Aboncourt, on the Somme, on the morning of 18th August, 1918. Mr. H. M. R. Tomlinson, of ‘The Lighthorse,’ Leadville, loaned for the day a trench hat; also a German helmet and war trophies captured at Gallipoli and in France. A descriptive chart, which accompanied Mr. Tomlinson’s loan, proved very interesting. Among the souvenirs was a piece of a wrecked British aeroplane. 

Mr. W. R. Matchett, head-master of the local school, was secretary of the functions, and was assisted by a willing band of, workers. Messrs. John Scoble and Thomas Parker rendered great assistance in preparing for the day’s functions. Mr. J. G. Drummond made a suitable stand upon which the gun is mounted. He also printed the inscription describing the gun’s capture. Messrs. W. F. Dunn. M.L.A., John Scoble, P. Russell, J. Cam pie, P. Tonkin, Harold Horne, J. G. Drummond, and J. Healy were prominent in running off the various children’s events. Mesdames W. Matchett, P. Barrett, A, Rayner, Jas. Smith, C. Lonard, John Scoble and W. Corliss, assisted by a willing band of young girls, attended to the refreshments. 

At 2.30 p.m. the school children assembled and marched, four-deep, to the saluting base, where the addresses were delivered. Mr. W. R. Matchett introduced the speakers, Mr. W. F. Dunn, M.L.A., and- Mr. H. E. Horne, M.L.C., to the assembled people and children. Mr. Dunn said he was very pleased to have the opportunity of addressing the children and presenting the Empire Day prize books. He thanked the residents for their kind invitation to be present. He was a teacher once, and always appreciated the opportunity of addressing children because they would be the future men and women who would control the destinies of this grand Australia land. The day was, from a weather point of view, an ideal one for a picnic but he hoped a change to wet weather would follow quickly for the benefit of the district. This was Empire Day for Leadville; Australia was a part of the greatest Empire the world ever knew. The British Empire was great in area ‘and great’ in population. It was also renowned for its justice and freedom, and it humane treatment of conquered races. Other Empires had been great but, lacking the freedom and justice practised by the British- Empire, they had passed into insignificance. Australia was the grandest country in the world. She had more miles of railways, more sheep, more cattle, more production, and more commerce per head than any other country. Continuing, Mr. Dunn said: It is your duty to become true Australian men and women and, further improving your glorious country, pass it on to your  successors, a better place than you found it. Now let me take you to another aspect of the question wherein Australia proved her greatness. During the late Great War Australia transported across thousands of miles of ocean four hundred thousand soldiers without a single sea casualty. That in itself is a wonderful achievement. Napoleon and other great war horses that you read about never performed any deed to measure with that. To be a good citizen you must be prepared to make sacrifices. To my mind the women made the greatest sacrifices in the war because their part as mothers, wives, and sweethearts was to wait anxiously, although fearing that any mail might bring the worst tidings. 

The early Australian settlers were great men and women. They penetrated, years ago, the unknown bush, and willingly, took risks from blacks, fire, drought, floods, and lack of medical comforts, in order to found a new country for their children. Think well of the great land you have, capable of producing all manner of necessities: Mr. Dunn exhorted the children to be loyal to Australia because, if they were, it followed they must then be loyal to the British Empire, as Australia was the grandest -heritage within that Empire. Mr. Dunn then hoisted the Union Jack amid cheers from the children. The speaker then presented each school child with an Empire Day prize book. The children appreciated the complimentary remarks which accompanied each presentation. At the conclusion of the presentation the children gave three cheers for Mr. Dunn and were then dismissed. Every child under school age received a picture book. Mr. Dunn said it was one of the best school presentations he had ever witnessed.

Mr. Horne thanked the people for the honor of being allowed to unveil the presentation machine gun. He was very pleased to be present. He said that Captain Dunn had given a practical demonstration of his loyalty to the Empire, and as a result had spent nearly two years in the Randwick military hospital. He was sure Leadville would value the gun, not only as a trophy of victory, but as a constant reminder of the great part Australians had played in the war. He need not remind them how their boys had distinguished themselves, or what they had endured and suffered. ‘When that gun had rusted away and disappeared, their great achievements would  still be remembered with pride and gratitude by the people of Australia. Mr. Horne expressed the hope that the children attending Leadville school, when they looked at the gun, would sometimes think of the sixty thousand heroic young Australian soldiers whom graves lie over the sea. It was impossible to express what we owe to them. They had given up their lives and all their hopes of happiness for the sake of Australian freedom. They had died that we should remain free. We could not repay them for their logs and suffering, but we should endeavour in every way to make our land worthy of their great sacrifice. Mr. Horne then drew the Australian flag aside and showed the gun with Union Jack alongside. Mr. Reg, Brooks, a returned soldier settler on Pine Ridge, thanked Messrs. Dunn and Horne, on behalf of the residents, for their attendance and addresses. He called for cheers for them, and these were heartily given by the assembled people. Visitors were present from Merotherie, Moreton Bay, Coolah Bridge, Denison Town, Pine Ridge, Mudgee, and Inverell. It was the best Empire Day gathering held at Leadville for many years. 

Mid-day lunch was served at noon and afternoon tea at four. At night a juvenile plain and fancy-dress ball was held in Healy’s Hall. The fancy costumes were : Merleen Barrett (Maid of Mountains), Lorna Ballard -Queen of Diamonds), Thora Scoble (superstitious), Lily Martin (Poppy), Ena Hobbins (Night), Mary Dougherty (Christmas Cracker), Dulcie Dougherty (Daffodil), Mona Dougherty (Flower Girl), Dorothy Scoble (Egyptian Lady), Iro Lonard (Fairy), Laura Scoble (Fairy), Ma bel Lonard (a Rose), Olive Oldfield

(Bluebell), Bert. Smith (Sailor), Alick Barrett (Jack Frost), Hilton Scoble (Burlington Bertie), Norman Lonard (Golliwog), John Scoble (Golliwog), Dave Parker (Tramp),Floyd Green (Tramp), Ray Martin (Tramp), Irvine Hobbins (Tramp)..

The juveniles danced from 7 to 10, p.m., and the adults from 10 to 12 p.m. The music was supplied by Miss Scoble (piano), – extras being played by Misses V. Field, Grace Bratby, Mary Dougherty, Thora Scoble, Mrs. Brooking (piano), and Mr. L. Charlton (accordeon). The dance was a great success and was the best of its kind ever held here. 

Mr. Healy kindly gave the hall free. Mesdames Matchett, Barrett, A, Rayner, Lonard, J. Scoble, and W. Corliss had charge of the refresh, meats. Mr. W. Bratby also rendered assistance. Messrs, P. G. Tonkin and J. Donoghue acted as M.C. Mesdames C, Lonard and W Corliss collected the handsome amount which purchased the children’s presentation books. Councillor Ronald Bowman (McRotherie), of Wyaldra Shire, who attended, donated £1 towards the day’s entertainment.

Mudgee Guardian and North-Western Representative (NSW : 1890 – 1954), Thursday 31 May 1923.

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