Archive number: 1890
Date interviewed: 04 May, 2000
You are listening to the interview audio
NB. This transcript is of an interview filmed for the television series, Australians at War in 1999-2000. It was incorporated into the Archive in 2008.
So many things he wasn’t allowed to do.
Just a tick Annie,
I’ll just start now. Can you just tell me your name and where and when you were born?
Yes. Annie May Goward. I’ll have to give you me… when I was born like my, well, what do you call it? Come on.
Just your date of birth. Just your name and your date of birth and where you were born.
Yes, I was born on the 16th of March, 1900. And I was born at a little place called, no. I was born in Launceston, you gotta say where you were born, they tell me.
I was born in Launceston but only because my grandma had a hospital in Launceston and so we all went in there to be born, to her hospital, see. We lived in a place, but it’s in, they said I could say hospital, Launceston, because it was the Launceston vicinity. Not far from Launceston.
Can you tell me what your father did?
My father was a road overseer.
Of course he didn’t start as a road overseer, he started with a pick and shovel on the road, when he was quite a young man. He was very good and he was very good at bridges, so they called him the bridge builder. He always went, he went, he was away from home a good bit because if there was a bridge a good long way away, there wasn’t motor car, no, it was bicycles then, you know, to go to work. And of course you had to ride your bicycle to work, or
walk. And so if it was a bridge, and it could take three, a month or perhaps six weeks, he’d go and camp there.
And where was this?
This is wherever the bridge was built.
This is in Tasmania?
In Tasmania, yes. The big bridge, he built that big bridge going from Westbury out to Birralee, three bridges going out there. That was good
because that’s where we lived, you see. And then it got, he’d have to go, when he went away, like if it was a long way he’d have to go away, but he was a bridge builder, he ended up with, a road overseer he ended up with.
Can you tell me what life was like at home for you?
Well it, work. You talk about work and that was my work, at home. Were nine in our family, and I was the eldest girl, so I don’t have to tell you any
more, do I? You know how much work I’d have to do. But there was generally five and then one would go off to work. In those days, you see, you could leave school just at the wrong time it was. I had to go till I was fourteen. My brother could leave when he was thirteen. But you couldn’t leave till you was fourteen. That’s the state school. See, we had state schools then.
Forty two in the school and several teachers in the school, several rooms. Was in a little place, they didn’t have them in the towns then, they had them out of the towns ‘cause there wasn’t so much mischief for kiddies. And that was at, we had to go into Westbury when we passed our little school at Birralee, a place called Black Sugarloaf. And it was
altered to Birralee later, years later.
Can you tell me what you learnt in school? Did you learn much about Empire?
We learned everything at school. We didn’t go to school like they do know, learn three lessons. You learned everything. You learned arithmetic, writing, arithmetic,
spelling, history, geography. You learnt everything at the school. Some, each day something different. You see what I mean, you know, you had a day for your history lesson, a day for your geography lesson. And then arithmetic, that was my, I was always top of the class in arithmetic and mental arithmetic.
Can you tell me about the history you learnt?
Yes. I wasn’t over fond of it,
the history. I liked geography, that is if you visit places, isn’t it?
I get some of the names mixed now. Well, I loved geography, learning all other states. All I wanted to do was go all over Australia and which I did. Every time, later when my family grew up and my granddaughter grew up, I used to…
Used to travel?
Yes. And every time I’d save up and every time I went for my holiday, I’d go to one of the states.
Can you tell me about what you learnt about king and country, about England?
Yes. We… well there were several things about what, see there’s several things, you want to know about what they did?
Well about Empire. What were
you told about Empire? What did it mean to you?
Well, if it’s the war part you talk about, it’s, the war meant, we didn’t fight for the country. I wasn’t old enough to fight, think enough of the country to fight for it. We fought for our men that went there. You understand?
Well, he’s over there, I wonder where he is now?
Every day there’d be some, in the paper, although we only got a paper three days a week. But in the paper in each day was all the, oh, I had that word all the way too, and now it’s gone, you know what they put in the paper when they’re all dead or alive?
The casualty list.
Casualty list. That’s, the papers, we only wanted the papers for the casualty, first thing everybody
looked at was the casualty list. And to see if anyone we knew, as you see we thought the war was fighting for them, we wasn’t fighting for the Empire. Wasn’t quite old enough to understand what the Empire meant, you know. It was Empire, oh it was just England. And of course we was a bit annoyed when they wanted to fight. Oh yes, they was going to fight the Germans and then when the time come for
the actual fighting, oh no, send Australians over. We’re not going to go and fight.
Did anyone in your family go to war?
Oh, I counted nineteen. Counted nineteen the other night when I was trying to count who was there. And it was lucky I had a one, he was a runner, he was only a little fella but he could, by cripes he could run. And they,
oh he, look he went to several places and enlisted, he changed his names. So when they found out how bad he wanted to go, they let him go as a runner. He couldn’t have a weapon. But he run messages.
Where did he do that?
Now that was in, that was in, well he was Gallipoli, he was an Anzac. And he was,
he was in Gallipoli. He was in the, you know, where they landed?
Well he was in that. And he got a medal for that. He got a Military Medal, not Cross, for that. Because he, see he was used to the bush and was in a bushy place, and of course he sneaked around and got
around, sneaked round, crawled around under the things and got to this thing, carried this bomb with him, mind you. And knew he only had so many minutes to get there before it’d go off. And yet he carried that bomb and had it in his mouth some of the time, until he got to the, stood up and threw it. And threw it bang, onto the gun that was shooting them. It was a gun, you know, that kept, automatic.
And how did you get to hear about this? Did he write letters home to you?
Oh, everybody did. Oh this is, this is, we get most of this but after the war was over, we found out when they come home all the things they did. I’m only telling you what they told me. I didn’t see them do it.
What was his name and what relation was he to you?
He was my uncle. Well see, there was large families, you know, in those days. And see there was eleven, nine in our family and eleven in granny’s family, my
father’s family. Well see time, their last one was born, dad’s first one was. You understand?
And so they grew up together. Well he was, Uncle George, he grew up with us. Like he was the baby, granny’s baby. And I was Dad’s first one, you see. First girl anyway and….
So there must have
been quite a few people from just around Westbury that went to war?
Oh gosh. You wouldn’t believe. And the ones we felt sorry for was the ones that couldn’t pass. Oh, they did want to go, you see. It was the money. They was getting such a pay, you know. You only get a few pound a week, in those days, and when they got this money, they all wanted it. They didn’t know what war was like. They’d never been
to war. I don’t suppose they’d seen it, they wouldn’t see it on TV or anything would they, if it wasn’t on.
Were they ever scared that girls would give them white feathers [sign of cowardice] if they didn’t go to war?
Did you ever see that? Can you tell me about that?
Yes and the girls stopped giving them white feathers when the other girls, that had boys at the war that wanted to go and couldn’t, they picked on ‘em. My word, they was too jolly frightened to send
white feathers ‘cause the other girls would pick on ‘em. They’d meet ‘em out, three or four would be out waiting for ‘em, and give them a dashed good hiding, and go for their life. I don’t think the police tried too hard to find out who give them a hiding, because of….
Sorry, who gave a hiding?
Well, everybody, I wouldn’t give them a hiding because I wouldn’t know how. I’d
be too frightened I’d get one me self. But girls did. Say if they had a brother, two brothers, one girl had I knew, a cousin of mine and well now, she had two boys, couldn’t go to the war, they tried everything they could try and they couldn’t get to the war. In the end they, one went as a cook, he got, when he came home he got a good job as a cook too.
Did you ever give a white feather to anyone?
Never! Because I knew what it was like if they couldn’t go. And then when this voting came. Armistice? No. What was the voting for?
That’s it, conscription. And that, we fought against that. I didn’t argue with any of them much, only against that. I was against conscription. I don’t think anyone ought to have
sent them there and tell them to shoot someone if they didn’t feel like shooting someone.
And did everyone around you feel that way? Or were you the odd one out?
I don’t know. I didn’t ask ‘em. Some would say, I can’t remember that. Oh we wouldn’t all think the same, all women don’t think the same do they?
I mean if you’ve got, if you’ve got an uncle and six cousins and nine
aunt, I nearly said aunties then, at the war, it’s a different war to you than a person that’s only got people you went to school with or something like that, wouldn’t it be now? It’d be a different war altogether because you’re thinking of them. And when there’s a big attack on somewhere other, you don’t think about where the place is, you think about whether some of your people were there. Watch in the papers to see this
The casualty list.
You had nineteen relatives that went to war?
You had nineteen relatives that went to war?
I counted nineteen the other night, I could have had more. But I counted nineteen we knew well. I had a brother with a Military Medal, and a Military, a Military Cross. And he died through the war, but he got home, like, he…
World War II or World War I?
This one’s World War II.
How many of your relatives were in World War I?
Ah, I’d have to count them and that would take time, wouldn’t it?
Say half that?
There’d be, I had three uncles. Now why would they be in England? They was in England anyway. They were sent to England must have been, because they was in England, ‘cause one brought a
war bride home with him. And one died because he was gassed, but he got home before he died. And Uncle Len, oh yes, Uncle Len, he went right through it. And he only had a little cut, little cut on his thumb. So he didn’t get, he had, I had one, two, three,
four, four Anzacs. They were cousins. An uncle. No. three uncles, that’s right. You get mixed up with them, there’s so many of them there was, you know.
That’s okay. Do you remember, how did people find out if somebody in the town had died, had died in the war? How did they find out?
the parents would let, it wasn’t advertised till the parents had their, had the notification from the, from the, who would do it now?
Yes, the government did it, but I forget his name, he had a, he had a name. He was an officer of some kind. He,
if it was, he was really good too, the one in Tasmania, because if he could go to the house he’d go. He wouldn’t send no wires or letters and them sort of things. He’d go there himself and explain about it. And then he’d find out, they’d find out what happened but they couldn’t tell anybody because they wasn’t allowed to. It was restricted. They couldn’t say, tell them how they were killed, of course
we’ve learned that after the war was over.
So how did people feel about this man coming into the town? Were they afraid of which house he was going to?
I can tell you about the Second World War better with that
No, we’re just doing the First World War.
Yes. Yes, the other one was the Second World War; well you see that was so disappointing
because the first one was supposed to be, to stop all wars.
Can you tell me, sorry, just thinking, just going back to when the war broke out….
The first one?
Yes, we’ll just talk about World War I. If you can tell me where you were and when World War I broke out? When you heard about it.
Yes, I was, we was, of course it was kind of half expecting it.
See, we knew England, when England went out to it, we knew that we’d be called into it. So we’s kind of half expecting it. And my auntie, I used to stay with her a lot, she wasn’t very well and I used to, all my holidays and everywhere I went and stayed with her to help her. She was on a farm and of course I loved the farm life. And, so I was at her place. And I come,
I remember coming in and saying, “Well your tea’s all ready.” I was surprising auntie because it was her birthday, granny, because it was her birthday. And I’d put the tea on. And got it all ready, and I come in and I said, “I got good news for you.” I can remember saying that as well as it was yesterday. I said, “Now…”, and I opened me mouth to say I put the tea on, when someone
was listening in, listening to something. Like they had a man speaking. He wasn’t speaking over, it’d be a telephone wouldn’t it? Yes it’d be telephones then. I know it wasn’t wirelesses and things like that because we didn’t have them. We’re still talking about the First World War, aren’t we?
And just as I was going to say what the good news was, they said, “War’s broke out, Australia’s…”
And cripes, we forget all about the tea. I can remember that to this day. I felt real sick to think it, there was going to have a war. And I thought, oh perhaps Australia were, you know, then the first think you start to think of is, now who would have to go? How old have they got to be? See, we didn’t know any of that. And it was
eighteen. Later, they made it seventeen when they was short of men.
Interviewee: Annie Sturzaker Archive ID 1890 Tape 327
Okay, we’re ready to start now. I will just go back to where we were.
How we come to go out to Westbury was, the big bridge…..
I’ll just go back to where we were..
So, then we left Launceston and went out to Westbury to live and then we lived there for… I didn’t of course move, like the family did.
Okay. I just
thought I would go back to, we were talking about when war broke out before…
Yes, that’s right.
Do you remember what happened the rest of that night, this is the night you were saying that you heard war had broken out, and there was no….
Nobody cried, it seemed as if it was worse. It’s too bad to cry about. You know, you had to think, who’ll have to go do you think. And then of course, they was all, a lot of them were expecting it of course,
as I say. They was half expecting it and when it come out these fellas all said, “My word, I’ll go. I’ll be there, I’ll be there.” And then we was counting them up, the ones that was going to go, there wasn’t going to be any boys left. But of course, they didn’t pass. They were very fussy right at the beginning.
And how did your parents think about, what did your parents think about the war? Do you remember what they thought about it?
I’m just trying to
think. You see, my mother never talked about anything like that. She put it under, she used to call it, put it under the carpet. Anything, “Now don’t talk about the war, you hear enough of that. Everywhere, everybody talks about the war. We’re not going to talk about the war at the table.” And of course that’s where most of the talking was done in the farms, you see, because there was so many things to do. You know, there’s animals to feed and everything’d happen just at meal times.
And so she wouldn’t let us talk about the war at the table. She reckons it’s bad enough to, you know, to, don’t matter who you met, “What do you think of the war? What do you think of the war?”
Could you tell me what it was like in the town, in Westbury, what was the mood? What were people doing when they heard that war broke out, like the next time you went into town?
Yes well now, that would have to be the Second World War you see, because….
I was thinking in World War I, you know, like in…..
I couldn’t tell much about that you see only….. I passed to go to the high school. That was my disappointment. And everything was all arranged for me to go down to stay with this auntie that I used to stay with, to go to high school. And ‘cause I wasn’t allowed to go because I turned fourteen. And,
why wasn’t I allowed to go? Oh, of course you had to go to work. You had to have a war job. You had to have some sort of a war job when you was fourteen. A man or girl, you couldn’t just not do anything. They tried you to see what, the schoolmasters and that’d say what you were good at, and then you were taught for that. If you couldn’t
pass, they’d look for you for somewhere, they’d have you for a cook or a dishwasher or something, if they really wanted to go. Course they wanted to go and I will admit most of them wanted to go because of the money. They didn’t understand what war meant. And until they got there they didn’t understand. That’s why the Australians were so well liked, was because they were such good shots. Because our young
people, their entertainment was, what did they call that when, I know my husband was the secretary of it? The head of the, where you all go and learn to shoot.
The rifle range.
The rifle range. He was the head of the rifle range. But he wasn’t in those days of course, but he, they
So, young boys would learn….
All the young, that was their, every Saturday afternoon, instead of
cricket and football and that, you see, these people that love shooting, they, and they were loaned a gun and of course to get the loan of a gun, you know, anyone’d join the thing. And they got real good shots and it come in jolly handy for them when the war broke out. Because they were good shots. They all passed top marks with the shooting. Well that made a big difference.
And I guess they’re also country boys, they were pretty tough?
Yes. And you see, not only that, they could, bush boys. See there’s a terrible lot of hiding and that done, you know, at the war. I suppose you know that. They, you know, you didn’t only have to be a good shot, you had to be, be able to hide yourself, you know. Crawl and get to places and sneak and get there.
Anyone a good runner, he’d run and I didn’t think that was fair. They couldn’t have a weapon but they could run. My word, Tiddle could run too.
Your mother was religious, could you tell me about that? Your early life, did you have a lot of religious instruction?
She taught Sunday school, she had Sunday school for twenty five years. And played for the church,
for as long. And, two churches really, because the, you know, out in those country places we had two little churches, but we only had once a fortnight or once a month we’d have a service and she played for that. And when I got old enough, when I got eight, I played for the Methodists for them because they had no one.
Can you tell me what else you did as a child, as a young girl? What was expected of young girls? What did you have to do around
the house and that sort of thing?
Oh well, we had to walk three miles to school and three miles back again. Then when we got home, my brother and I, we took it in turns, one went and got two cows and they’d go and hide two, and then the other, while I, say I was out getting the cows, well Jim would have his tea. Well then, while I had my tea he’d milk the cows.
Well the next week, I had to milk the cows and he had to go and get them. So that took time, going and getting them, and milking them, and then of course we didn’t have separators in those days. We used to put the milk out in big pans and skim it. And you had to stay two days if you wanted all the cream off of it. And of course the calves had to be fed, with the skim milk.
And the time that was done, it was dark. And then you have to do your home, I always had to wash up, Mum never washed up after tea. We took that in turns and then had to do our homework. So we had a very busy life.
And what did you want to do when you grew up, did you have any…?
A nurse. Oh, I craved to be a nurse. My grandma, both grandmas were
nurses. And oh, I was going to be a nurse. Nothing was going to stop me being a nurse. And of course the Second World War did.
Your grandmothers, were they nurses in the Boer War at all?
Hm. Boer War wasn’t before then, was it?
Yeah, it was before…..
What was he one after?
1890’s, the Boer War.
Yeah, I can’t
remember anything about the Boer War.
That’s okay, you were probably a bit too young for that one.
Yes. I heard a lot about it. And then, and I heard a lot about the one after the Second World War, there was a…..
Yes, that’s right. That’s when great nieces and things went to that.
Could you tell me what, when war broke out, what did the women of the
town do? What was expected of you? Did you have to go and knit socks or get a job to help raise money for the troops?
Well, how we knew was the Church of England had wonderful bells. They were brought out from England, brought out in pieces and put together over here, a man came to put them together, lovely bells they were. Well we, ‘What the deuce is the bells ringing for?’
And wasn’t taking any notice of it and that was what was the start of it, only we didn’t know it was the start, if you understand. Because we didn’t know what the bells were ringing for. So we went down to, I know what the others did but I know what I did, I just went down to the church. It wasn’t very far. I thought I’ll soon find out what’s happening. And when I got down to, the war had been declared.
the church, the bells were ringing to announce the…
The declaration of war?
Yes. The head of the church, the head of the vestry, he went and rang the bells. But we didn’t know, but he had, he had, they’d had meetings, quiet to themselves you see. He wasn’t allowed to publish anything. They just, the men got together and, no,
it was the Second World War. That’s the Second World War.
It kinda takes you right back to then, you know.
It does, doesn’t it?
Yes, that’s why I wouldn’t think about it before.
Yeah, that’s a good idea. We’re just…. Just going back to what you did in the war, in those early war years…. the First World War….
Well then when I couldn’t go to high school because I had to, I had to do
something for the war. You had to do something. If you didn’t enlist, you had to, and so I had an uncle with a big farm and that just suited them. They had four little boys, three little boys at first. And oh, Annie can come there, she can work there. So I got out of going to the war, but by gee, it was worse there I
But you worked…
But I went down, way down to Legerwood, no, it was called Ringarooma Road then. And I went down there, I was only fifteen when I went down there. So I was there fairly soon because that’s where their farm was you see. And I stayed there for seven years, I stayed with those people, looked after those people. So I had, did I have a, no, the Second World War I was married,
Did you have to, were you involved in any fundraising at all for the war?
Oh, all the time! You never, you had to work and you only got a little bit of money, but by cripes the jolly raffles. Oh, look the word raffle was a nightmare. Because they’d think, all they wanted something, all they had to do was have a raffle. Of course now you see they get the government to give it to them, don’t they.
So what sort of raffles were they?
Just anything. They’d raffle their grandmother if you’d let them. Just anything. ‘Oh, I know what we’ll do, we’ll have a raffle.’And then someone, usually one of the bigger farmers, would donate something and they’d raffle it. No matter what it was. They raffled a cow, one time I remember because we won. My father won the cow, she was a white cow. I can remember that as well as
So that was to raise money for the troops?
Yes. It was nearly always for Australian Comfort Fund. ACF, Australian Comfort Fund. That’s what it was called. But it got looked into later, when they found that the heads of the different companies was getting the main part of it, and the boys that was out
fighting wasn’t getting it. But that, they soon stopped that though.
What else did you have to do personally? Were you, did you have to knit or sell flowers?
Oh goodness. And I could, I didn’t have to knit socks thank goodness because I could knit gloves, and not many people could knit gloves and they did want gloves. And we used to have to knit the gloves with two fingers out.
That’s for the rifle, you see. And we had to have the left thumbs, left hand as well as the right, because some of them was left handed. And I used to have to, those two fingers, knit the gloves with just the three fingers. And then other was just, don’t know what I did with other but anyway,
that was my work, gloves. Every minute you had, you never stopped to have a cup of tea without picking up your, it was just a habit of picking up your knitting. Because it was mostly knitting. Now there was something else I used to do, I can’t think of what the other was. It was a nuisance. I didn’t like doing it as well as the knitting.
Was it sewing shirts, flannel shirts, or something like that? Making shirts or….?
No it was… I know, winding puttees.
What does that mean?
Puttees. They didn’t have leggings at first. Only the officers had the leggings. And the men had to put these puttees on, great big long things about that square and you wrapped them round your, say that’s your leg, you’d go round and round and round and when it got to a certain place in front,
you kind of twisted it. I can’t think how you did it now. And it didn’t make it look nice down there, this twist coming in up there. I don’t… every time we asked what the twist was there for, ‘cause it was harder to do, it made it spongy so that it didn’t hurt your leg if you walked miles and miles and miles. You see what I mean?
like elastic. It made it go like elastic, that crossing it there.
Did you put little notes in the gloves or anything like, to the soldiers?
Oh yes, too right. And you wouldn’t believe the letters you got, too. You always put your address on it. Your name and address was in the parcel. And if you were sent to anyone sometimes,
say if you sent your uncle three or four pairs of socks, you wouldn’t send him any more, you’d send to some unknown soldier. We used to, a lot went to unknown soldiers because a lot of the soldiers didn’t have anyone there and they weren’t getting anything. And so they was called unknown, they were sent to the unknown soldiers. And you got letters back, my word, didn’t we? We wouldn’t get rid of those letters. I, a great big
pile of letters I had.
Do you remember what some of them had in them?
Thanking, thanking for the parcel and telling what they did with it. And I got a letter from one man and he said, “I just thought I’d write and let me know, he’d got, they’d got”, not wounded, they got captured and
our men were there and these men were there. And they were coming in and the head colonel he said, “Well know I’m going to surrender because,” he said, “That’s my work, to surrender. I’ve got to save these men’s lives. We could go there,” he said, “And we could shoot and all killed. But,” he said, “I’m here to stop you doing that. “But,” he said, “I’m going to turn my back away for a while, I’ve
just got to go over there for a minute or two,” he said. “If anybody feels they can get away and don’t want to go prisoner,” that’s what I was after, he said, “They can go.” And there was only three or four left when he turned back because they’d all ducked for their lives. And hid in places.
How did you get to hear about the war?
Well they told us when they come back. See we didn’t see this, of course.
We got all this when we come back. They couldn’t tell us a thing when the war was on.
Did you learn anything, hear about what was happening during the war from newspapers or anything like that?
Only after it was, now, it was called something. You weren’t allowed to put a thing anywhere, ring up or anywhere, until it was something. Passed, I used to call it but they
got another name for it.
Till the censor passed it, is that right?
Yes, the censor had to pass it. And you’d get a letter sometimes and you’d only get half the words, the others were all worked out. They had little brushes; they used to have ink that you couldn’t rub out or something, in this brush, and they’d put it through. You’d get the letter. We went somewhere or went to do something
or I met , I’ll tell you who I met. I met so and so, and that name’d be crossed out often because other people might have known where that man was. And they didn’t want anyone to know those kind of things.
And who did you write to during the war?
Oh, every night I’d have someone to write to. The people I write to. More the Second World War, of course, than the first one.
But just in the First World
War, was there anyone in particular you wrote to, like a boyfriend?
Yes. Uncle Viv, I always wrote to Uncle Viv and Uncle George, Uncle Len, three. Lou, four. Oh gosh, Tiddle, five. I counted nineteen the other day but that was both wars.
And who was Lou?
He was my husband, later.
But did you know him in World War I, before, you know,
during the war, did you know him?
All my life. I promised I’d marry him when I was about eight. We all thought he was marvellous with children and he was years older than me. And he was very fond of children. And of course, I’d always say, he’d always say, “Oh where’s my girl, I’m going to marry her one day.” You know, just joking. And sure enough,
I married him.
So was he your boyfriend? When he went to war, was he your boyfriend?
Oh, I called him my boyfriend but I’d only be fourteen. In those days you didn’t have a boyfriend then. You didn’t call them boyfriends. You were just going to marry them.
Did you write to him?
Oh yes, all the time he was away. But he was wounded you see, he was wounded very, very badly…
Years in hospital, and then in England, then he came home. And when he first was wounded they said he’d never walk again and of course the specialists, when the war was on, they did things that they wouldn’t do now. They wouldn’t be allowed to. But they just did it then, there was no one to stop them you see.
So this is…
is there two Lou’s, is there? There’s Lou who was a fiancé, is that right? And who died shortly after the war?
No that’s Uncle George, died after the war.
But was there… Lou was another…
Louis Sturzaker was the boy I married, the man I married. And Uncle George he was Anzac, one of the Anzacs. But he was like one of our family, you
see, because as a I told you, I was the first of dad’s and Uncle George was the last of granny’s. My word, my grandma was a worker for the war. The things she used to do.
What did she do?
She was a midwife. And often, you know, she’d walk miles to look after a woman. Backwards and forwards
for nine days and then she’d say, “you must give it to the war, give it to someone at war”.
Give what to someone at the war?
The money, that she would have been paid for looking her. You see, she didn’t go for nothing. She didn’t go and look after the, bring the baby into the world for nothing. She charged them for it. But then she’d, when the war was on, she’d say
that, “Nearly everyone had someone at the war, buy something for him.” The war brought the best out in a lot of people.
What did it bring out in you?
Work more than anything, I think. No, caring for others I think. Looking after people, being sorry for them. ‘Oh, Annie will go and tell
them?’ and send me to tell them that one of their, whoever it was, died. And I tell you it wasn’t easy thing to do either, to go and tell them that, see the postmaster or mistress was the man that got the word that they were, you never got word to say they were killed straight away. They was always missing.
So that they take good care like, that they wouldn’t tell them until they, that’s the First World War, of course.
That’s in World War I?
Yes. They learned a lot from that one and made things a bit different. Well in the next one you see I was… As I said, I was
twenty. It was 1928, wasn’t it? Yes.
I was just thinking, you were saying you had to tell people that somebody had died. Was that in World War I or World War II?
Both. Of course you see, fourteen it went to eighteen, it wasn’t over till nineteen. And I had one uncle killed after the war was over. But it was only because we didn’t get the word in
time, you see. They didn’t tell you. They made jolly sure that the men was dead like, before they told you. Or missing.
So the postmaster would tell, get you to go and tell your relatives that somebody had died?
Can you tell me about one of those days.
One of the days that I had to go and tell them?
Yes. Were you called to….
Look, I couldn’t… I can’t
because I’ll cry if I do, I’m sorry.
It’s just like yesterday, you know, when you go back to it. Poor old Mrs Brewer. She only had the one son, and her husband was dead, and they just lived together and they had a nice little farm, and he went to the war and left her there. And she was working and looking after everything. Anyway, I had to go and tell her he was dead.
No one else would tell her. I still think of it. It’s not as easy as it sounds, you know.
No, I’m sure it wasn’t. That’s okay. Would you like to have a break?
Let the First World War go. It was harder work the Second World War, you see, because I was older and married and had a farm then, didn’t we? Let me think. Yes. I was married in 1923.
I was just, just to change the subject… just thinking about what Tasmania was like at that time. Do you remember people from a German background living in your town?
What happened to them?
Down at Legerwood. Oh, you felt sorry for them, you couldn’t help it. There was a Schrum and three sons, that was four Schrums, and of course they were people that one came out and
they were, I don’t know how they got the bit of land. I can’t remember that. I think they was allotted. If they paid their way out here, they were allotted so much land each person. Well anyway they came and then the next one, he’d bring his next one’s out, and it got that way that, and they’d all build their houses right in a little place on their own. You know what I mean? They’d all
be in, this was down at Legerwood, that’s where I lived then. And they had the Schrums and the Lowrys and the, oh, what was that other one? Oh, I didn’t like that other one. Monbiberas[?]. They were interned in the end but they let them work their farms while they did it. And I think old Mr
Schrum, I reckon he was all right, but anyway, he must have done something. They called it something what they did to them, they watched everything they did and wasn’t allowed to do this and they wasn’t allowed to do that. You couldn’t help being sorry for ‘em, you know.
Did you think it was a good, they had to be interned, or did you agree with that?
Well you just felt sorry for them. I did. I don’t know what other people thought. I have, I did hear people who said, “Served them right, shouldn’t be a German!” And yet they were such nice people. Especially the Schrums.
And did other people in the town, how did other people in the town treat them?
Well, they’d have to find their own work, you know, have families of their
own, they’d have to do their own work. They wouldn’t be anyone would work for them. Well there wasn’t enough to work for the, our own people.
Can you tell me what you heard about Gallipoli? Were you still at school when you heard about Gallipoli? Can you tell me about that?
Don’t know whether I was at school or not. But I can remember about Gallipoli, you see, because that’s where Uncle George was missing. And we was waiting there to hear and
sure enough, he was gassed. But he was, he’d gone back over to England before we knew that he was alive. We thought he was missing, you see. And of course he’d been missing a long time and my word, wasn’t we pleased when we got word to say. And when we saw the fella coming with the, with the, we had an old chap, he just wanted something to do.
Well he, we only got the mail out at our little place three times a week and that man was there every mail day. And if there was any letters for any of these people, he’d take them to them, like if they had no one else, if they hadn’t anyone. And he’d be there waiting to see for,
to find out who it was. But he wouldn’t go and tell them, but he’d tell everybody else.
Interviewee: Annie Sturzaker Archive ID 1890 Tape 328
What you did as a young person, to entertain yourself?
Oh dance, dance,
goodness. Concerts. I used to, miles and miles I used to go to sing, they’d come and get me to go and sing for ‘em at a concert. Because you see, if you wanted any money in those days, you earned it. You had a concert or a ball. Something like that. You didn’t ask the government for it. You’d just think, ‘Oh what we want now is some new bats,’ we’ll say, ‘Or some
balls, new balls. Oh well, when, who’s got a concert on?’ You’d take good care you didn’t catch it when anyone else near had one so you’d collide with them. And you’d have a concert. My word, you’d get some money at the concerts too, you know. And of course a lot of the, some of the farmers had plenty of money. They wouldn’t bother coming, they’d give you a donation.
Was this money to raise
money for the war or for the cricket club?
Oh, for the war. This is, we’re talking about when the war was on?
What would you sing?
Oh, usually what they liked, you’d sing your song, whichever one you were going to sing, and then for an encore you’d get this song and you’d sing it every time. When They Come Home, Dear.
A lot of it, you see, was war songs in the Second World War, like it was war songs. And the first one too, really. Course I wasn’t up home then. What is it now?
“When you come home dear, all will be fair”.
I can remember that.
“Home is not home unless you are there.
You’re in my heart dear, you by my side.
When you come home, dear.”
Something about abide. They used to always want that and after I sang that I wouldn’t come out and sing any more.
That was your encore?
That was my, oh the third encore sometimes.
Do you remember any other songs from World War I that you sang?
let me think of them now. I never thought about the songs. Oh, golly. Tipperary, I suppose that would be the Second World War, wouldn’t it?
I can play them when I get up at the organ. But I just can’t think of the names of them.
Do you remember the words or how the tune goes?
No, I can remember the tunes, I used to get up there and play all these
tunes. And I hardly know a word of them now. I’ve forgotten them. Except one that, that you sang over and over again. Favourites.
What was that one? Do you remember that one?
When you come home, dear.
Oh that one, that was that one.
That was telling the soldiers when they come home, dear. And oh, several of them, I can’t
think of them now.
Would you travel around with these concerts or was this just at town halls at Westbury, the town hall at Westbury? Where were the concerts?
Not only Westbury. Oh, I’d go right down to Exeter. They’d come and get me you see, so it didn’t matter. The only time I didn’t like it was when they wanted me to ride a horse down. I didn’t mind if it was moonlight but I didn’t like riding a horse in the dark. I
wouldn’t be by myself, of course. But if they’d drive, bring the jinker [cart] like with two or three in it. Only a jinker because we didn’t have cars in those days, the First World War anyway.
Do you remember what sort of dress you would… ?
What was it you said?
Can you remember what you wore to those concerts?
Couldn’t tell you that. You wore your best dress. Whatever that happened to be.
Do you remember if there was any conflict in the town or with the people that you knew, about the war? I mean were women, were some women against the
war and some people for the war, in terms of conscription?
Oh yes. Oh there was a, and people that had been friends all their lives was bitter enemies. It was such a shame really. Because usually over, it was over some silly thing that they needn’t have argued about. What I mean is they, it didn’t make any difference
whether they did it or not, whatever the argument was over.
Did they argue about conscription?
Yes. Oh it, some bitter enemies over that. People, friends all their lives. And then there was one old lady, oh she had plenty of money, a Mrs Scott, down at Legerwood and she’d, she wouldn’t be satisfied just telling the people that she met. She’d
put some sort of an entertainment in the hall on. Cards or what else we used to do? What they’d throw those things at?
Quoits, those little….
Yes, we had quoits too.
Darts. Things like that. She’d get entertainment and we’d only have about twenty minutes of entertainment and then she’d get up and talk, about the war. What they ought to do and
she wanted to send everybody to the war. She didn’t have any sons of her own. She had two daughters. But she’d have them all there. And when it comes voting for conscription, gosh, you knew better than to go. I didn’t go.
What did your mother think about conscription? Did she ever talk to you about that?
Well, I wasn’t, I was right away from my
mother a good bit then. We didn’t talk about the war with Mum. I can’t ever remember talking very much about the war with Mum.
What about your dad, did you talk about the war with your dad?
Oh, he’d talk about it all the time. Because he got…. oh he got run into, that’s right. He was working on the bridge and he come up. It wasn’t his fault. The other fella had to pay the damage. But he
got knocked down with a car coming up from the bridge, like where he was working. And the man said he didn’t see him. Well then he should have been looking, you see. Because there was a big notice up where they could only go five miles an hour and he was doing about twenty. And my father was ill for oh, about ten years over that.
What did he
think about conscription?
I’m just trying to think if he mentioned it to me. I don’t think he, I know he wasn’t in favour of it. He said no man ought to…. No, he reckoned that the heads, what was his name? Our Governor at the time, whoever he was? He said, “He ought to go.” The man that brought it in, that
[Prime Minister] Billy Hughes.
That’s right. Well he said, “He wants to go himself.” Well he did go, didn’t he, in the end? But he wasn’t going you know. He was only directing it from afar.
What did you think about conscription?
Well, I didn’t like conscription. I reckon if a man didn’t want to go to the war, he shouldn’t go to it. Only, I didn’t believe in anyone benefiting by it. See some that didn’t
go to the war they, the farmers made their fortune, some of them you know, because, especially the Second World War.
What about in the First World War, who was making some money that way?
Mostly selling things. Now, I know they made money.
Was it the wool people or….?
Well you see, everything went up.
See wool went up to glory and all different things all went up because of the war. Because they couldn’t get any men to do the work, you see. Because they was all going to the war, all that could go. And they’d sell more things, you see. And they got, what do they call it when you get, now say we send over to Japan.
export. They started that. They started, see they couldn’t, when the men went to the war and that, you couldn’t grow very much because there wouldn’t be anyone left. So they got, allowed to have so many workers. Then of course, then they made the money then. They put as many workers on as they could. And that’s how they made the money.
And how did the war affect
you? Was it tougher for you personally, how did the war affect you personally apart from the prices going up? What other hardships were there? Was there anything that was difficult because of the war?
All you thought about
more than anything was the news you was going to get about the ones that was over there. It wasn’t the country you was thinking of, it wasn’t the Queen, the King, whoever it was, it was whether any of ‘em’d come back or not. Who else is going to die? You seemed as if you got your mind on that all the time.
What was the role of the churches during this time? Was there any friction between the Anglican Church or the Catholic Church? Do you remember anything like that at all?
They worked together.
The churches worked together better than any time that ever I knew them, was when the war was on. If anyone belonged, they would, of course they couldn’t have funerals but they would have, you know what you have.
Memorial services. Well if the Methodists had a memorial service, there’d be as many Church of England people, even Roman Catholics would be there
if they knew them. And the same’d be at the English church. It brought the churches together, there’s no doubt about that whatever.
So the community came together in some point?
So how did the war affect the community?
Oh well, how would war affect the community? It upset everything, you had to change everything. But you found a way of doing it and you found a good way too. You know,
someone would suggest something, you’d think, oh that’d be good.
Do you ever remember seeing men enlist in the town, where they enlisted, or enlistment day? Do you remember anything about enlistment?
Enlistment, when the men joined up. Do you remember if there were bands marching down the street or anything like that?
Oh yes. Too right they was. The send offs those boys’d get. And of course they’d have a donation box at the door,
they never put a price on. Of course you’d have to have a permission to have it but you could put a box on the door and say what it was for. And that would go to their, whatever company they joined, the people that, oh, they’d give them wonderful. And when they, the last leave, what they call the last service leave, that’s the one before they went to the war. Don’t matter
what hall it was, was packed, there wouldn’t be room in the hall for the people.
And what would happen at that service?
Dancing mostly. Sometimes a concert. A concert for, say a couple of hours. If elderly people wanted to come, they’d have a concert for an hour or so. Eight till ten, generally, and then they’d, all the young people would clean all the, put all the stools back in their
place, and sweep the floor if it was necessary. And then they’d dance till all hours of the morning.
What sort of dancing was it?
Old time, of course. Because it was old time then. The Second World War wasn’t of course.
No that was a little different.
Can you tell me, your Uncle Viv came back from the war with a war bride?
Could you tell me about that?
Oh well we was all anxious to see her. But my word, when we,
when we heard her sing. And of course I used to play then. And she used to love me to play for her because she said, “I didn’t play the music.” she said. When they’re taught to sing, you see, you have different kind of music, places where you hesitate, you understand don’t you? And where you go a little bit faster. Well they didn’t,
they didn’t all learn from music. A lot of them played from ear. Well if you play from ear, you see, you don’t put in all these little stops and things, they’re all left out. You just sing straight along. Well it’s a different song. You know yourself, don’t you? If you hesitate and say the words properly, it’s a different song, isn’t it?
And so that’s what she, she used to want me to play for her.
What did everybody think, when you first heard that your uncle was bringing back a new bride, can you just tell me that very first time when you all got the news?
We didn’t know what she was going to be like. He told us she was no beauty. But he said she was, she had a wonderful heart, that was it. “Her face wasn’t over much.” he said “But she’s got a wonderful heart. “You’ll all love her.” he’d tell us we’ll all love her, and we all did too. But
she wasn’t very nice looking.
Was she an English girl?
Yes, definitely. Real English. And then her father had plenty of money and after they came home, after she came home, like to Australia, Tassie [Tasmania], he sold his place over there and come and got a home near her. So he came too.
So what was her first reaction? Did she
ever talk to you about how she felt about meeting this new family?
She enjoyed it. She said, I know why she, I think why she liked it is because there was so many good singers in England, that she wasn’t noted, like she would be over in Australia. You see and everybody worshipped her. They’d come for miles and miles to hear her sing, you know. And of course she loved that.
Can you tell me where you were when you heard that the war had ended? Where did you first hear that the war had ended?
Yes, the Armistice. Can you tell me that?
When the church… that’d be the First World War we’re talking about?
Yes, the First World War. Tell me about when you heard the Armistice.
Well, church bells. I told you.
Oh that was at the beginning and the end. So
you heard the bells ringing out?
Yes and I went, ‘cause it wasn’t far to the church, and I thought to meself, see I knew that they was all waiting to see whether we was going to be in it or not. And I never thought about the church bells ringing.
I’m just trying to think. We knew because we was all waiting for it, all sitting up around the… My father, when the war was over my father had a, yeah he’d been so sick you see and the boys, together, got him a….
some sort of an instrument. A phonograph they called it, phonograph I think it was. And the people used to come for miles to hear that phonograph. And we was listening to the phonograph when the, when the news came over. Listening to something anyway.
And what did you do, how did you celebrate?
Well you see it wasn’t such a big,
as I’m trying to tell you, it wasn’t such a big surprise, because we were expecting it.
The end of the war?
Yes, you know, we knew it was, the Germans was getting for their lives. They were being chased everywhere they were going and then when the, who pulled out last? Russia, did they?
They did pull out at one stage.
Yes, Russia pulled out last I think. But they stayed on the fence.
I remember I used to often wonder what that meant. They was one side of the fence. Then they was the other side of the fence. Whichever one was going forward, they’d get on that side of the fence, whatever that meant. And then when, when…I don’t know, it’s England I should say, not Australia. When they were in the lead,
Britain was in the lead, they got on top of the fence and they stopped there for a while to see which one was going to, and when they found that they weren’t going to get back again, Russia, they jumped over on our side then but we didn’t want them by then. That was Russia. So we didn’t have much liking for Russia.
Can you tell
me about, just thinking about Lou, your
Husband. Now, you wrote to each other during the war. Could you tell me if he told, was able to tell you much about the war?
Couldn’t tell you. Oh he’d tell you he was well and he couldn’t tell you where he’d been. It’d be there, probably, but it was crossed out.
Did he tell you he was going to marry you when he came back, that sort of thing?
Oh no, he never mentioned any more about that.
When you’re writing a letter, well you just I’ll marry you one day. It’s like saying I’ll play a game of football with you.
Tell me about when Lou came back and how you struck up your friendship again? When Lou came back from the war, can you tell me that day when he came back from the war and you saw him?
Well we didn’t see him for a long time, you see. He was very ill when got back. And it
Upset, didn’t do him any good bringing him home, he went straight into hospital. And it was down here you see, because this is where the military hospital was, wasn’t it?
And well, that’s where he came, we couldn’t come all the way down here, you see we didn’t have motor cars. And oh, he must have been down here three months, I s’pose, before they let him go up to Launceston Hospital. We could go to see him there.
And how did your romance flourish?
Oh, there wasn’t any more thought about it. Never thought about it at all.
So you just…
I was engaged to someone else, then. Because I was grown up, you see. I wasn’t fourteen then.
And had that other person also gone to war? The person you were engaged to?
Yes, he enlisted but he didn’t get away. The war was over before he got away. They was a good while you know, they had a good bit to learn before they was put into a battalion or whatever it was. And they’d learn that down here at Hobart, you see. And then they’d go over to wherever they were sent. But they used to
enjoy their, their send offs, my word they used to. ‘Cause they nearly all travelled in trains in those days.
Could you tell me, did Lou talk to you about the war much? You know his experiences there, later on? When you were married?
Yes, I’m just trying to think. I don’t think he talked about it very
much. I never talked about it with him because he was so badly wounded like, that you didn’t want to bring it up. You’d try to put it under the mat, as Mum put it. He didn’t like talking about it.
How did it affect him? How did it, physically, did it affect him? Was he gassed or was he wounded with shrapnel?
No he was, he was shot. This [UNCLEAR] was the head
of the, he was the major that was going out, when a battalion went out, the major was the head of it and then he had a this and a that, and a this and a that. And they all went and they went and they went as a battalion. Well, now you’ve got the battalion part of it. What was I going to, what did you ask me?
I was just saying how did he get wounded? I mean… what happened to him?
Oh yes, that’s right. Well see he
was, they called him acting sergeant because he didn’t have the education, the book learning to be a sergeant. See there’s too much book learning in it. But when he went to the war, when he went into battle, he went as acting sergeant and now went….
This Von Bibra, he found out about Von Bibra, see, and there was two or there nasty accidents. They were killed and wounded by their own guns. See someone, they go along, and the head man, he tells you every twenty minutes, half an hour, hour, whatever it is, they move so many more, so they gotta watch these clocks you see. And
move at the right time or else they got their own guns. See what I mean?
And that’s what he and a lot of other fellas got, a lot got killed. And anyway he wasn’t killed. He was almost killed. And he couldn’t tell for ages but by cripes he could tell them exactly what happened. And he told them too. And this Von Bibra changed the
time. And they were getting shot by their own guns. They were lying down, you see, with the rifles ready, so they got shot in the back. See they dropped the bombs on them.
So it was a mistake?
Yes. It had to be a mistake then, you see. But it was a deliberate mistake. But anyway, when we tried to find out what happened to Von Bibra after, they said there wasn’t any Von Bibra because when they went to find him, nobody
could find him anywhere. They reckoned that the soldiers shot him to pieces. Of course they knew, you see, what he’d done. It wasn’t the first time he’d done it.
So, the soldiers…
And he was a German see, Von Bibra. It turned out he was a German.
So the Australian soldiers shot their major because he had changed the time and caused a lot of other Australians to die?
They didn’t say that. They said he was shot, shot to
pieces. That’s how it was put. But they didn’t say who shot him.
But you think it was the Australians who shot him?
I wouldn’t have an idea. I know jolly well it wouldn’t be the Germans. If he was a German spy, unless they didn’t want him to tell anything. He might have been able to tell a lot of names, mightn’t he?
Your husband has a German name? Is your last name a German name?
About five generations
back. That many grandfathers, my husband’s came from Germany. About five generations back.
Was that a problem for him during the war, having a name like that?
Only when he enlisted. They had to go through all his history. That’s how we knew so much about where his people were and all about him. We didn’t find out about it. They did. And they found that he had never been to Germany and
none of his people like had ever been into Germany. It’s just that these great, great, great, great, great grandfathers, whatever they were, come out.
But you think that there were some Germans living in Tasmania who were spies?
Were what, dear?
You thinking there were some Tasmanians, like the Von Bibras, you’re saying that they….
Oh, my word they was. There’s no get away from that. And names that you wouldn’t think of too. If they had a German name they’d be
How did you think, how did the war affect you personally, looking back? How do you think it affected your life?
Oh, I don’t know.
Did it change your life?
Change your life, one thing to another. A different, you had to start and learn all over again. You see the women to start with now, the men went to the war, well, the women had to do the farm work. See, it
was farming in those days. We had a farm like in those days. Well then the girls had to do the work, when the boys went to the war, didn’t they?
What about after the war, what did….
It was when the war was on….yes.
Don’t be long.
The only thing to really look forward to was them coming back. Whether they’d come back or not.
Do you remember when people came back from the war, the sort of celebrations in the town? Do you remember that?
Oh, I can remember dozens of them. I didn’t like the one down, when I went to live at Legerwood. I didn’t like it there so much because the hall was built almost opposite the hotel
and they’d go drinking at the hotel and then come in there to dance. And I’ve never danced with a drunk man. He’s drinking, well no, ‘Drink or me, please yourself.’
Were there lots of drunken soldiers?
Yes there would be, you know. I mean they didn’t let them in. The sergeant, the soldiers couldn’t come to the dances without a sergeant ahead of them. And they had to see that they weren’t, were fit to dance.
How did the war affect your uncles? You had three uncles that went to war. Did they all, they all came back?
Oh, I had a lot more than that. But Uncle Bill, now he come back. Yes, Uncle George got home. Uncle Viv come back, Uncle Len come back. Uncle Alf come back, Uncle Bill come back. By golly. Uncle George, he came back but he died.
I think he was – oh….
Did he die of war wounds?
He died with gas. Because of gas. You see they couldn’t cure gas in those days. Just die by inches.