Researching a World War I Photograph Found at the Pentland Dump

Returned soldiers welcomed home in front of the Town Hall, Charters Towers, 1916

Returned soldiers welcomed home in front of the Town Hall, Charters Towers, 1916

Guest Blogger: Michael Brumby, Community Historian, Charters Towers Archives Group

This World War One story commenced about four years ago when a rather large purse was thrown onto the dump at Pentland. It contained lots of family photographs, some World War One material along with a few private documents. The collection was donated to the Charters Towers Archives which used the paper documents to seek out an owner. This was expedited quite quickly by the library manager Joan Adeville -  where the Archives is situated - as she turned out to be related to the purse possessor, George Pope. According to Joan, George had worked on the railway near Pentland west of Charters Towers prior to his death in 2008 and she was much acquainted with her mother’s brother.

Unfortunately the accompanying photograph of a large group of men in uniform standing in front of the Charters Towers town hall had no direct link to Joan’s family. And here the names and circumstances could have remained a mystery.  Except in the course of searching for a soldier who enlisted from Charters Towers in January 1916, a number of clues in one article matched the photograph. First there was a reference to two returnees who were welcomed home that month. The second clue was with respect to Trooper C E Rowe: “his left arm still shows the effects of a big explosive shell that fell near him and the concussion gave his nerves a very severe shock.”

The second returnee, Corporal Strike was less portrayed but known to Joan as her mother’s family lived close to the Strike boys in Charters Towers. William Percy Strike’s enlistment papers described him as young and of slight height. He was one of four Strike brothers who enlisted from Charters Towers. Percy Strike’s papers documented his return on leave at the end of 1915 to recuperate from enteric fever. This fitted with his welcome back to Charters Towers when the city was sending off a group of thirty-three men for service in the AIF. Charles Edward Rowe who was the first man to enlist from the Charters Towers recruitment office in October 1914, recovered, re-enlisted and survived the war. Percy Strike, who had only enlisted in January 1915 also survived the war to continue his work as a blacksmith’s striker.

Michael Brumby, Community Historian, Charters Towers Archives Group, email: archives@charterstowers.qld.gov.au

 

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