CATHERINE HILL BAY
Edward Arthur Baker, aged 21, working as an engineer at Wallarah Colliery enlisted soon after war broke out, joining the 19th Battalion. He transferred to field ambulance stretcher bearers; and sailed from Melbourne on “HMAT Ceramic”. Later that year, November 1915, he died from leg wounds at Lone Pine Gallipoli, caused by a bomb; and was buried in Shrapnel Gully, Gallipoli. On Arbour Day 1916 a tree was planted in his memory in an avenue to remember the fallen at Catherine Hill Bay School.
His brother, Robert Earsman Baker, a student, aged 19 years 6 months joined the AIF after the tragic death of his brother, departing Sydney on the “SS Makarini”, bound for England, then France. Wounded in action in both legs, he recovered and rejoined his battalion. Further hospitalisation was required for impotego, influenza and scabies. He eventually returned home in 1919 to a relieved family. He became a teacher of mathematics, married, raised a family, and lived to be 86 years old.
Source: G & N Boyd; Neville Ham
Joseph Henry Fox Born at Catherine Hill Bay, the fair-haired and blue-eyed Joseph enlisted in 1915 at Newcastle, aged 19 years 6 months. No medical conditions were found and he was noted fit for active service with the 30th Battalion. In November 1915, he sailed from Sydney on the “Beltana” to England then to Marseilles. Suffering serious abdomen wounds, he was evacuated to the English military hospital at Edmonton, dangerously ill. After returning home to Australia in 1917 he married, and raised a family of four children. Joseph was employed at Wallarah Colliery.Sources: G & N Boyd; G Kang; AWM
Walter Hancock. His family came to Catherine Hill Bay, living at Mine Camp, as his father had gained employment at Wallarah Colliery. Walter began working in the Wallarah mine when he was 14, then moved to Sydney working as a fisherman. Aged 26 and 6 months, he enlisted in 1916 in the 1st Pioneer Battalion, serving as a stretcher bearer at the Western Front until suffering injuries from the poisonous gases used by the Germans. Walter returned to work at the Wallarah Colliery, as a hostler at the large stables.
Source: G & N Boyd
Medals: 1914-15 Star for all Gallipoli veterans
1914-18 British War medal
1914-19 Victory medal
Wilfred John Crittendell, blacksmith, had a shop on the site of the present Mandarin Restaurant on the Pacific Highway and had built charabanc type buses. He enlisted in the 5th Field Artillery as a driver, then farrier. Wounded in France, he recuperated from a serious knee injury in Cairo; before rejoining his unit. He was quickly promoted to Sergeant, returning home in April 1919. After coming home he joined with local shipbuilder James L Boyd to build a grab bucket designed to assist with unloading coal from the ship Blue Gum which was built in 1920 to carry coal from Belmont Colliery to the Sanitarium factory at Cooranbong; then the finished Weet-bix products to Sydney. It was able to grab large scoops of coal when unloading to eliminate the ardous task of manually shovelling coal into baskets to unload the coal. Unfortunately, neither man took out the patent for the invention as it was too expensive; and the patent as taken out by American businessmen visiting the Cooranbong factory.
Thomas Henry Robert Crittendell, aged 19 years, followed in his brother’s footsteps to become an apprentice blacksmith, then enlisting as a farrier in May 1916. Accidentally wounded in the arm and chest in France; he returned in September 1918 on the “Boonah”. Their father, Thomas Henry, kept the blacksmith business operating, as well as working at Wallarah Colliery until his sons returned.
Crittendell’s blacksmith shop on Main St; the charabanc bus; Thomas Henry Robert Crittendell in Egypt 1916.
Sources: G & N Boyd; Evelyn Convery
David Watkin Humphreys #3064 from Swansea enlisted at the age of 26 years 4 months at Liverpool, giving his occupation as miner. He was the brother of Tom Humphries, who was reknowned for his boat building skills. Assigned to the 1st AIF Battalion, after a brief training period, Dave was sent to Gallipoli, then on to Egypt and later France. On the Western Front he received serious gunshot wounds to the right shoulder and his side. After convalescing in England he returned to his unit in France, but was affected by the German gassing actions. He married Jessie May in 1919, whom he met whilst recovering. He returned to Australia on “SS Zealandic” in October 1919; and set up home with Jessie in Park St, Swansea to have a family of 4 – including son, Gordon. He resumed his mining occupation, but died at the relatively early age of 50, no doubt accelerated by his terrible war injuries.
Brother, Percy James Humphreys, #5759 enlisted at Charlestown, in May 1916, aged 25 years and 10 months. A labourer at Catherine Hill Bay, he became a sapper with the 1st Tunnelling Company, Newcastle Depot Battalion. After further training with the miners reinforcements at Seymour, Vic., he embarked on the “Ulysses” to England, then the “Arundel” to France. The Tunnellers on the Western front played a vital role, exploding German tunnels and artillery points. Sometimes toiling underground for months in torturous conditions beneath no man’s land: claustrophobic, flooded trenches, cave-ins, breathing foul air. Not only facing the danger of blowing themselves up with their extensive explosive charges, but with the added danger of the enemy sneaking in behind and setting fire to the tunnel. To cover their back door, Percy, who was a crack shot, was often set up as a sniper in a strategic position. Percy returned home on the “Aeneas”; and was discharged in August 1919. He resumed working in the mines; with brother Tom building small boats during WWII; and Uncle James Boyd’s shipyard.
George and Noelene Boyd; AWM.