Ted & Annie
These pages were written by Dorothy Bremner for the
Viv, also born in Footscray, Melbourne and grew up at North Winton and Jerilderie, left school at the age of nine to work on his grandfather’s farm, doing lessons in the evening for his grandfather. He was not happy with this arrangement so he joined the PMG and studied by correspondence to educate himself. After enlisting in 1915 he married Kathleen Clytie MacPhee before going overseas. Their first child, to their sorrow, was a stillborn daughter. Clytie returned to work, saved her wages and built a home "The Haven" for Viv’s return. Their first son Bert was born in 1920.
Viv brought back an arsenal of souvenirs, weapons and mementos, an MC and bar and the rank of acting major. He went back to the PMG and began working at West Wyalong, where he decided to ballot for a Soldiers Settlers block at Erigolia, later called "Longfields". To finance it Clytie sold "The Haven". By this time they had three little boys, Bert, Roy and Ken.
As the blocks were too small to be viable, and the land not suitable for small farms the scheme was not successful. One year the price of wheat was so low it did not pay the freight, handling costs etc and they got a bill for seven shillings and six. A year's work at a loss! No matter how hard they worked, the future was not bright. While they were on the farm they had three more children: Kathleen, Isobel and Clyde. In 1928 they lost their son Roy aged seven. In the 1930s their four older children had to go to various relatives to attend high school, only Clyde was at home. The township of Erigolia was dying. Rankins Springs remained a settlement (population of 112 in the 80s).
There was a proposal to compensate some lessees up to £300 to relinquish the leases of their blocks, and bring the sizes of the remaining holdings to an economic level, by amalgamating three farms into one. Viv resumed work as Postmaster, a job he had relinquished fourteen years previously. Upon the death of his youngest brother Beau, who had been the manager at the Erigolia wheat silos, Viv took over this job and ran the silos during the next harvest, while Clytie ran the PO. The summer of 1938-39 was their last in Erigolia. The Glasgows and Johnstons had already left the district.
Viv and Clytie accepted “compensation” to give up the lease of "Longfields", leaving all the machinery and stock. They took only personal goods and furniture and in 1939 moved back to Clytie's parents at Pennant Hills in Sydney. Clyde aged seven felt very sad to be leaving the only home he had known, even wanting to nail back a piece of the roof which looked desolate, flapping in the wind. He had become very lonely, with Viv busy finishing up at the silos and the PO and Clytie busy packing.
Although there had been many good times and a great sense of community, with Viv and Clytie involved in everything, their Erigolia experience had not been a profitable one. Heavy farm work, illness, stillborn babies and Roy’s death had imposed a sad burden… but the remains of the “Longfields” tennis courts, as late as 1959, complete with umpire’s seat and bush shelter, were symbols of ‘what might have been’.
Viv was able to get work with the PMG at the Ashfield Automatic Telephone Exchange. In need of repair, "The Haven" at Pennant Hills could not be let; so the owner, who had bought it from Clytie fifteen years previously, had put it on the market. He had paid £1300 to Clytie when he bought it, and now the £300 “compensation” served as a deposit for a housing loan, which enabled Clytie to buy it back for the same price. Twenty years later, Clytie owned the house again. Viv always insisted that, as Clytie had built the house and then sold it to finance “Longfields”, she should be the sole owner of “The Haven”.
During the second war Viv was recalled to active service as a Captain and was posted as a Company Commander, responsible for coastal defence in the vicinity of the Bunnerong Power Station, Botany Bay.
In 1941 he was promoted Major and transferred to Cowra in 1942-3 and then Hay in 1944-5, where he was commanding compounds, holding Italian internees, and supervising their work in country towns and various agricultural activities. After the surrender in 1945, he was transferred to the Military Administration in Rabaul, Papua New Guinea, supervising the repatriation of Prisoners of War, conducting courts martial, investigating local war crimes, as well as beginning the transition to civilian administration of the region. He became known as Wally from a comic "Wally and the Major" and many people did not realise it was a nickname.
In particular he established an effective telephone system for the town and district, making use of his PMG and military experience to set up a network comprising a mixture of Japanese, pre-war civilian and Australian military equipment. He took his discharge in Rabaul and joined the Post and Telegraph Department, where he supervised the technical staff until his retirement in 1961. During this time he came home on leave and visited his brothers and sisters, frequently calling on Rita who was ill. When he found that his niece Dorothy had left school, he persuaded her to go on with her education, promising to send her a regular postal order to help financially as his own children were now all working. Viv openly admired people and made everyone feel important, loved children, joked with them and showed his affection. In Rabaul he was active in ex-services affairs as secretary/manager of the RSL Club, and in community affairs and amateur theatricals.
During the WW2 Clytie worked in munitions and aircraft factories as a canteen manageress. Afterwards she continued to make and decorate wedding and birthday cakes while living at “The Haven”, caring for her children and other members of the “extended” family, including Dorothy who was at Teachers College.
Clytie joined Viv in New Guinea in 1954. They lived in Rabaul, being active members of the social and church community. Viv’s sister, Vi, by then a widow, joined them after Clytie suffered a stroke in 1957, thus helping Viv during a difficult time.
On Viv’s retirement in 1961, they all returned to Pennant Hills. Viv and Clytie lived in “The Haven” until Clytie died in 1964. After her death, the Public Trustee allowed Viv the use of her house “during his lifetime”; but after his death in 1968, that office arranged its sale and distributed the proceeds among their surviving children .
As well as helping Viv during Clytie’s illness, Vi Glasgow had helped bring together again “the Smythe brothers”, Viv, Perce and Vern, after many years of estrangement. When Viv returned to New Guinea in 1965, she and some of her children and grandchildren lived in “The Haven” until Viv’s death.
Viv had been invited back to Rabaul as a guest-of-honour to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Anzac Day. He remained in Port Moresby at the invitation of the Posts and Telegraph Department, supervising the work and training of local telephone mechanics. He died there in October 1968.
Bert had a disjointed primary schooling, largely because of family arrangements, his own illness and the financial hardships of the Depression years. He won a bursary to Fort Street High School in 1933 (where he became ‘Herbie’) and an exhibition to Sydney University in 1938 (where he became ‘Ted’). His poem about “Longfields” was published in "Southerly", the magazine of the Australian English Association, in 1939.
When the ripe harvest, rolling from the field,
Flows in a golden stream and in its wake
The slow, red dust-haze settles on the year,
There is no festival that we can make,
No moonlit revelry to mock old fear
With glad rejoicing for the good earth's yield.
We are no ancient folk, but weary men,
Matched and grown weak and stifled with the soil.
Heavy with earth, how can we laugh again?
We blindly sense, but know not, why we toil.
So, when the summer comes, with lazy pride
Flaunting its yellow wheat flags in the sun,
We, season's slaves, are called and, far and wide,
Must shade our eyes and sweat till harvest's done.
University studies were interrupted by army service, during which he met and married Judy McCay. He completed his studies in 1946-47 and subsequently taught at Randwick, Drummoyne, Cooma and Canberra, before becoming a principal at Willyama and Leumeah High Schools. He and Judy had two sons and two daughters, Susan, James, Margaret and Alexander. After retirement Ted and Judy joined the ranks of genealogists and visited the places of origins of their families while travelling overseas.
Roy lived with his parents in Pennant Hills and West Wyalong until they went to Erigolia, where he spent the rest of his life, except for a time in 1927-28 when he and Bert lived with their MacPhee grandparents in Pennant Hills. In December 1928, aged seven, he died of staphylococcal pneumonia in Griffith hospital – a disease which claimed his uncle Gordon ten years later in Cowra. Roy was a thoughtful enquiring boy, his death greatly affecting his parents and grandparents and brother Bert.
After primary school in Erigolia, Ken joined Bert at Pennant Hills and completed four years high school in Parramatta. In 1940, Viv secured him an apprenticeship with an engineering firm, J.N. Kirby, where he worked long hours during WWII, at the same time completing his certification as a fitter and turner and toolmaker.
He was troubled by a stammer all his life but enthusiastically followed many interests. He and his sisters had “gone bush” for a break after WWII but, on his return to Pennant Hills, cycling, sailing, ice hockey, skiing, photography and the music of Gilbert and Sullivan claimed his keen attention. He and his brother, Clyde, with friends, built an 18-footer yacht in the backyard of “The Haven” and sailed it on Pittwater. Ken became a valued “for’ard hand” on larger yachts and a marshal at car rallies. His nieces, nephews and younger cousins often benefited from his generosity and his diverse talents.
He had also developed an interest in Scientology, where, especially after the death of his parents and the scattering of his siblings, he found a certain companionship. He devoted his spare time and earnings to this organisation, living in rooms in Surry Hills. He collapsed and died in Oxford St in May 1974 – but it was many days before his family found out, as he carried no identification.
Kathleen was born at Erigolia in 1925 and spent her childhood there. She went to live with her Aunt Ida at KY in 1939 and attended Marrickville High School, until her parents returned to Pennant Hills, when she and Isobel transferred to Hornsby High. During WWII she worked in the Standards Laboratory at Sydney University making optical glass for military use. She was a very striking-looking young woman, with glossy dark brown hair and dark eyes – a family trait. Working in Griffith after WWII, she met a young citrus orchardist, Philip Mallinson, whom she married in September 1952. They had five children, Kay, Robert, Vivienne, Jonathon and Penelope.
Like her mother, for the next thirty years, Kathleen offered a cheerful (and well-fed) welcome to friends, relations and visitors – even at short notice – and she shared her mother’s cake-making and decorating talent. She was involved in many charitable organisations and was President of the Griffith Red Cross.
The death of Robert in a motorcycle accident in 1976 was a heavy blow. Kathleen herself died suddenly in February 1982 after poor diagnosis and delayed treatment of appendicitis.
Isobel, born the same year as Kathleen, was the youngest child for nearly six years – and even as an adult she retained the pet-name ‘Bub’. She lived with a MacPhee aunt in Cootamundra to begin high school, and rejoined the family in 1939.
During WWII she worked as a laboratory assistant with a Macquarie St pathologist. After the war she, Kath and Ken returned to the Griffith district where she met Eric Norris whom she married in 1953. After a period “on the track”, shearing, welding and cooking, they settled on Eric’s small riverside property (site of his mother’s family’s original vineyard) at Nagambie in Victoria. Their son Peter was born there in 1955.
Sadly, Isobel was killed in a car accident in August 1956. At this time, Viv and Clytie were in New Guinea and Clyde and Barbara were on their honeymoon, but Ken, Bert and Kath’s husband, Phillip, were able to go to Nagambie.
Clyde started school at Erigolia, then Pennant Hills and Sydney Technical High where he gained his Leaving Certificate. He began work at G.J. Coles and trained as a draughtsman but, becoming interested in aspects of building construction, he began working for a number of large construction companies. He gained a Master’s degree at the University of NSW, where he became a Senior Lecturer in Building Construction and Management. He made special studies in Australia and overseas of the use of structural glass and concrete in building construction. He married Barbara Jupe in 1956 and they have two daughters, Jane and Debbie.
Clyde has devoted a good deal of time to family history and because of his overseas travel and practical talents was able to preserve and present his father’s military mementos, as well as recording the present (reconstructed) appearance of the desolated battlefields of France and Belgium, so familiar to the elder sons of Annie and Ted Smythe.