Thursday, January 3, 2013

William Pigott DARBY

In 1926, William Pigott DARBY, of Brisbane, stood as sculptor Sir Bertram MacKENNAL's model for the bronze soldier figure which stands at the eastern end of the Cenotaph in Martin Place, Sydney; it was cast in England in 1927-28, together with the Sailor figure, and they were unveiled in their present positions on 21 February 1929 by General Sir John MONASH.
William's statue faces eastwards, up Martin Place to Sydney Hospital, and beyond that, across the tip of Rose Bay and out to sea at Dover Heights.

A replica of the statue, with some subtle variations, created by Irish Sculptor John COLL in the early 2000s, stands serenely in a garden in County Dublin, with a sweeping view out over the Irish Sea.

William, who was a native of Monasterevin in Co Kildare, celebrated his 43rd birthday by going ashore at Gallipoli in the second wave of the original landings on 25 April 1915, as a stretcher bearer with the 15th Battalion, A.I.F.
He had already seen a bit of the world, spending time in Dublin, Nebraska, Cuba, Kansas, London, Christchurch and Auckland, before going to Sydney and then Toowoomba. After service in Egypt, on the Gallipoli Peninsula, and on the Western Front, he spent the rest of his life in Queensland, primarily in Brisbane.

William led a peripatetic, but an interesting life.


William was born into a Catholic family, with some descent from the Protestant family of PIGOTT's in County Galway, for whom he was "given" his middle name.
His mother, Ann Mary PIGOTT of Portarlington, married in July 1871, as his second wife, Martin Patrick DARBY, of Monasterevin, a Medical Practitioner who apparently also lectured in Osteology, possibly at the Catholic University Medical School in Cecilia Street, Dublin.

[Main Street, Monasterevin, 2005. Census records indicate that the DARBY family lived in
 either the green house, or the adjacent one nearer the camera.
Photo courtesy of  John O'GRADY of Dublin.]

William's grandfather, William PIGOTT of Dublin and Portarlington, was born on 18 May 1809 (second son of Captain William PIGOTT, 84th Regiment, of Loughrea, County Galway, by his first wife Jane Alicia DROUGHT); by 1847, William, a Solicitor in Dublin, had abandoned the Protestant religion of his ancestors, and become a Roman Catholic (and recorded in W. G. GORMAN's "Rome's recruits: A list of Protestants who have become Catholics since the Tractarian Movement," London, 1878, which was reprinted from "The Whitehall Review" of 28 September, and 5, 12 and 19 October 1878); he was Land Steward to Lord Portarlington's estate at Emo from 1852; he died on 24 September 1878, and was buried at Killenard Cemetery, Queen's County. He was married firstly, at Dover, on 11 July 1839, to Anne Emily BLAKE (born 10 March 1809, third daughter of Pierce BLAKE of Holly Park, County Galway); she died in Dublin on 20 January 1842, and was buried at Glasnevin Cemetery.
William and Anne Emily had only two children - Ann Mary PIGOTT, born in Dublin, 31 May 1841, and her older brother William Blake PIGOTT, born 28 November 1840 and died 11 April 1842 and was buried with his mother at Glasnevin
There is no evidence that William had any further issue by his second wife Katherine REDINGTON; she died on 29 May 1883, and was also buried at Killenard Cemetery.

William Pigott DARBY therefore appears to have had no PIGOTT cousins.

But his mother did - her only known cousin was Alicia PIGOTT, who became a DROUGHT when her father Henry PIGOTT (1805-1884) adopted the surname in connection with his uncle John DROUGHT's deceased estate; she died in London, Ontario, in 1912, unmarried. Henry and William PIGOTT's only known sister was Frances Jane PIGOTT, born 17 February 1808, and she appears to have died in Cape Town on 2 May 1832, without evidence of a marriage or of issue.

William's mother also had some slightly more distant cousins - the issue of her "half-" aunts and uncles, the younger half siblings of her father William PIGOTT the Solicitor, and the second family of Captain William PIGOTT of Loughrea by his second wife, who may been a BURKE.
But as William's Dublin relations had no knowledge of this second family, it appears unlikely that the DARBY family had any contact with them or their children.
They included:
1. Edward PIGOTT, born about 1820; died at Loughrea, 11 September 1856; probably unmarried.
2. James PIGOTT, the fourth son; Draper in Kilkenny and Commercial Traveller in Dublin; he was married in Kilkenny, on 12 November 1849, to Johanna HELY; his widow and six children went to New Zealand about 1875; she died at Dunedin, 5 August 1915 - the children were Mary PIGOTT (born Kilkenny, 1849; died Dunedin, 1937; married Joseph HUGHES); William John PIGOTT (born Kilkenny, 1852; died Dunedin, 1883); George PIGOTT (born Dublin, 1855; died Dunedin, 1913); James Henry PIGOTT (born Dublin, 1857; died Invercargill, 1913); Edward PIGOTT (born Dublin, 1859; died Dunedin, 1925); Johanna Mary PIGOTT (born Dublin, 1862, a twin; died Dunedin, 1890); and Anne (born Dublin, 1862, the other twin; died Dunedin, 1932; married Peter HARRINGTON).
3. Anne Emily PIGOTT, born about 1824; she was married in St Mark's (C.of I.), Dublin, on 19 August 1852, to Ralph Allen Charles DANIELL; they went to Dorset, then emigrated to Fauquier County, Virginia, U.S., where she died on 29 October 1880, and was buried in Greenwich Presbyterian Cemetery, Nokesville, aged 55; he died there in October 1895, aged 80; they had issue (the elder three before the marriage) - Ray (or Ralph) William DANIELL (born in England, 7 March 1848; died in Fauquier County, 10 June 1927; married Lucy Ellen DOUGLAS, with issue); J.H. DANIELL; Henrietta DANIELL (born at Lancaster, England, about 1853; married in Fauquier County, 18 March 1880, Howson HOOE, with issue); Charles DANIELL (born at Gallen Priory, King's County, Ireland, 1855; died in Virginia, 1925; married firstly, in Fauquier County, 1 March 1892, Eliza L. HOOE; he married secondly, at Fauquier County, 22 December 1896, Eliza R. PAYNE); Robert Allen DANIELL (born at Gallen Priory, King's County, Ireland, 9 November 1857; died at Fairfax, Virginia, 14 August 1916; he married Laura Virginia LOVE); Adelaide Elizabeth DANIELL (born at Wimborne, Dorset, 1863; died in Virginia, 1900; married her cousin, Henry Vivian LUKE); and possibly also Ellen Emily DANIELL, (born 7 September 1880; died 3 October 1881).
4. Elizabeth PIGOTT, born April 1835, the 6th daughter; married at Poole, Dorset, June quarter 1862, Walter Edward LUKE; they went to Queensland and New Zealand, then settled in Virginia near her sister; she died at Washington, D.C., 22 February 1908, and was buried at Warrenton Cemetery, Fauquier County, Virginia; with issue - Henry Vyvyan LUKE (born Queensland, 20 January 1863; married firstly, his cousin, Adelaide Elizabeth DANIELL; he married secondly, Clara B.); Caroline H.enrietta LUKE (born Christchurch, New Zealand, 1868; married at Fauquier County, 12 November 1894, Frederick Arthur Berkeley PORTMAN; he died 1907); another un-named daughter born and died in New Zealand, 1869; and possibly a son Edward Pigott LUKE born and died in Taunton, Somerset, 1874.
5. Samuel J. PIGOTT; went to Fauquier County, Virginia; died there on 17 August 1893 and was buried in the LUKE family plot in Warrenton Cemetery, Virginia; unmarried.

William Pigott DARBY was himself the eldest of five children; his younger brother Martin Patrick DARBY (1873-1924) went into the Royal Engineers (he married Jessie Althea Elizabeth PRESTON, with issue in Wales and England); three of their four younger sisters all made marriages and had families in Dublin - Marguerite DARBY (1875-1957; married James SHEIL); Marie Jane DARBY (born 1877); Anne Jane DARBY (1879-1937; married John Raymond GILLESPIE), and Cecelia Christine DARBY (1884-1960; married John Edmund or "Jock" O'GRADY).

William passed the Preliminary examination in Arts, for the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons in Ireland, in October 1890; he was enrolled in the Medical Students Register in 1892; as a student of yet another organisation, the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, St Stephen's Green, Dublin, he studied Osteology, Materia Medica, Hospital Practice and Chemistry. By his own letter of 1918, he admits he did not complete the course.

The details are sketchy, and probably not fully recorded, but his family was led to believe that William may have committed an indiscretion involving the wife of one of his Professors, which resulted in him being "banished" from Ireland by his father. The time line may admit the possibility of a slightly different story - he did not leave Ireland until 1897, some 7 years after he appears to have started his medical studies, time enough (under normal circumstances) to have fully completed them.
It is not clear whether William and his paramour were discovered "in flagrante delicto" - or whether some other manifestation of the dalliance may have become apparent.


William sailed for the U.S. on the S.S. Auranius, arriving New York on 2 May 1897, recorded as aged 24, and a Medical Student; he was in Nebraska on 13 September 1897, where he registered his intent to Naturalize; and by 1900 he had signed up, probably on a "civilian" contract made by the Quartermaster of the 2nd U.S. Cavalry Regiment, as a Packer. He travelled with them to Cuba, where the American-Spanish War had been playing out, with their role having become more one of protecting American commercial interests there; in the 1900 U.S. Federal Census he was recorded with them at the Santa Clara Barracks, which is near the centre of Cuba, well to the north-west of the place we now know as Guantanamo Bay.
On 19 March 1901, William actually enlisted, this time with the 8th U.S. Cavalry Regiment, in Cuba.

As a testimony to his involvements in the U.S., William acquired two tattoos - one of the head of an Indian, on his right fore-arm, the other of crossed Cuban and American flags, on his left (as he described them in his A.I.F. attestation papers of 1914).

William was back in the U.S. when posted as an Army Deserter, 17 June 1902, at Fort Riley, Kansas.


Back in Ireland, William's father Martin DARBY had died at Monasterevin on 2 November 1901 (will proved 20 December by his widow, value £4,952 17s 4d), followed some 9 months later by his mother Anne Mary, also at Monasterevin, on 6 August 1902.
His father's death may have left him free to return "home" - his mother's meant the final distribution of the family inheritances (her will proved 21 August by William and a sister, value £1,429 10s) - both apparently proved irresistible.
It is apparent that while his father may have banished him, he still maintained contact with his family.

And for good measure, William made a marriage, in the Fairview Catholic Church, Dublin, in February 1903, to Elizabeth Josephine CONROY.


William took his new wife Elizabeth to London. It is possible that William's removal to London was inspired by the presence of his brother Martin there from about 1902, in Paddington (1903) and St Marylebone (1905).

In March 1904, he obtained employment with Talbot BRIDGWATER, in premises at 59 Oxford Street, London, on the corner of Soho Street, as his "medical assistant," working in the dispensary, and with responsibility for keeping the patients' call-book. He became aware of the vacancy by virtue of " advertisement of BRIDGWATER's in the street"; he was also required to post a "surety" of £100, which represented almost a full years wages; and he lost out there quite badly in that department when he was "dismissed" about 6 months later, in September 1904.
The actual circumstances of William's termination are a little obscure, but an event over a year later provides us with some details, as we shall see shortly.

In November 1905, BRIDGWATER appeared in the Old Bailey on a charge of feloniously forging and uttering an order for the payment of £819 with intent to defraud a wealthy American, Edwin Marshall FOX; BRIDGWATER was found guilty and sentenced to 7 years imprisonment, and his assistant, Lionel George Peyton HOLMES (who had replaced William Pigott DARBY as the "assistant"), received a sentence of 18 months.
William, perhaps under pressure from the Police, gave evidence for the Crown; he was then living at 16 Delamere Street, Paddington, and "...had a Druggists shop at Willesden"; his evidence did not touch on the forgery racket going on at 59 Oxford Street, and it possible he knew nothing of it, as that may have commenced after he left; but he gave evidence that many of the pages in the patients call-book appeared to have been torn out since he had filled them in; and he remembered the names of some of the patients, and of BRIDGWATER's associates.
However, the Police also found substantial circumstantial evidence that BRIDGWATER had been engaging in illegal terminations - and it is a little hard to believe that William would have been unaware of that practice. But that was not what the charges related to.

William's further evidence in the Old Bailey, on 20 Nov, and in response to cross-examination by a Mr WRIGHT, did touch on his termination by BRIDGWATER, in the following terms:
"I left BRIDGWATER on bad terms with him. - He never accused me of habits of intoxication, or threatened to dismiss me if I continued."
A generous employer was BRIDGWATER. And to a further apparent question on the same topic:
"I left, and he did not dismiss me on account of my drunken habits."
Then, getting to what was probably the real point:
"KEYS was a great friend of mine, and I believe he was on bad terms with BRIDGWATER - I and KEYS went to a Police Station and KEYS made a complaint against the doctor."
It appears from William's earlier evidence that "Dr" KEYS was an assistant of BRIDGWATER and looked after his branch establishment at Pimlico!
But yet more answers to yet more questions about the drinking:
"When I went back to the doctor's after that, I believe I had had some drink, but I was not drunk - I did not some weeks afterwards see BRIDGWATER in the street and tell him that I deserved my dismissal."
And on his financial losses, William added:
"I asked him for some of my money back - I did not ask him for a little present."
It appears that there may have been a culture of drinking on BRIDGWATER's premises. 

Whether William started to feel apprehensive about his replacement HOLMES paying him a visit after his release from gaol, due by early-mid 1907, we do not know.
But by late 1906, William had decided to emigrate.
The manner of his departure from Kansas four years earlier, if it did involve actual Military "desertion," would probably have precluded him being allowed to return there without being subjected to some sort of "penalty."
So he turned his attention south, and headed off to New Zealand.

But before we go with him to the Antipodes, we might just dispel any doubt the London Police may have harboured about his former employer Talbot BRIDGWATER's involvement in illegal abortion practices:
A Scotsman, and medically unqualified, BRIDGWATER had spent time in prison for theft before emigrating to N.S.W.; there he peddled "Eclectic Medicinal Cures" around country towns (Armidale, 1883; Inverell, 1884; Tamworth, Cootamundra, Tumut, Adelong, Ulludulla, Milton, Wilcannia and Orange, 1885); he was in Otago, New Zealand, as an Eclectotherapist (August 1885); back in N.S.W. (Queanbeyan, July 1887) and then in Adelaide (July 1890). He was charged in Adelaide with falsely pretending to be a legally qualified medical practitioner and fined £25; undeterred, he was finally, in March 1892, brought to book, on a charge of indecently assaulting a married woman during a consultation; whereupon he absconded to Melbourne, but not until after a blazing row with his business partner on a Railway Station in the Adelaide Hills, as the Melbourne express was about to depart, during which row a large number of gold sovereigns BRIDGWATER had concealed on his person were spilled all over the place.
He returned to New Zealand, and under the alias John Henry BROWN, set up a "practice" firstly in Christchurch and then in Wellington; in November 1895, he was charged with illegally procuring an abortion on Alice Mary MARSHALL, who died at Palmerston North on 27 August 1895 as a result of the procedure (the father of the unborn child may have been a noted Maori Rugby player and Wellington Solicitor named Tom ELLISON); BROWN (alias BRIDGWATER) was convicted, and sentenced to serve 18 years imprisonment with hard labour; but he was released early, in June 1902, due to ill-health, perhaps contrived by himself; but he did not go quietly, and as a parting shot, claimed damages of £2,000 against the Prison Surgeon for alleged Medical malpractice, which claim was not sustained - at the preliminary hearing, just before he was released, he stated that he had been "...found out using his knowledge and skills as a medical student to save the reputations of many so-called respectable people."
He clearly, and shortly after, returned to London, and set up his next "clinic" at 59 Oxford Street.
And to cap it all off, it was a New Zealand policeman, visiting in London during BRIDGWATER's later trial in 1905, who actually recognised him as the convicted Christchurch/Wellington abortionist, John Henry BROWN!

I imagine William just might have got an inkling of BRIDGWATER's actual character during the 6 months he was working for him. In fact, I cannot imagine that he didn't - the advertisement in the street, the lack of evidence of BRIDGWATER's formal qualifications on his office wall, and the nature of the both the patients themselves and the "prescriptions" that William "dispensed" for them, should have aroused some suspicion. And perhaps it was BRIDGWATER's tales which led William to decide to "visit" Christchurch.
In all probability, BRIDGWATER was sizing William up to see if he was "compatible" with the aims of his "corporate" model.
The termination of William's employment may therefore have been, for William, quite fortuitous.


Details of William's voyage to New Zealand have not yet surfaced, but it appears that he had probably already gone to the South Island, ahead of his wife and their two children, Harold and Rita, when they sailed from London on 7 January 1907.
He was Directory listed as a Coachman, at Carmichael's Road, Fendalton (Christchurch), 1 January 1908; and as a Chemist's Assistant, at 30 Scott Street, Sydenham (Christchurch), 1 January 1909 [these were publication dates - he was undoubtedly there in the 6-9 months prior].

This last entry appears to have been the final time William professed an involvement in the Pharmaceuticals industry. Unqualified to the standards of the Pharmaceutical Society, he would have unable to dispense; and I am not cognisant of what qualifications, if any, those who manufactured pharmaceuticals were required to possess.
He had certainly identified his connection in London, as "Manufacturing Chemist" in October 1904 (son Harold's birth registration), in his "Druggist's Shop" at Willesden in November 1905 (Old Bailey evidence), and as "Chemist" in December 1906 (daughter Rita's birth registration).
It is possible that some of his later stints as Commercial Traveller may have involved the selling of pharmaceutical products.

William moved again, probably in April or May 1908, this time to Auckland, on the North Island.
Again, it appears that he moved on ahead of his wife and family, although it is beginning to look like there might have been a little more to it than just "...going on ahead."

He was enrolled as a Traveller, at Wellesley Street, Auckland Central Division, in the 1908 Supplementary Roll; on his own evidence, he was employed as a Travelling Representative for the Australian Widows Fund Assurance Society Ltd, from about May 1908 - probably having come to the attention in Christchurch of their District Inspector, W.R. WILLIAMS, on a visit there in about March 1908.

By September 1908, William had severed that connection, and was employed as a Conductor by the Auckland Electric Tramways Coy Ltd; he served in that capacity, with a good conduct record, until he resigned in January 1911; during this period he resided at 54 O'Neill Street, Ponsonby.

[54 O'Neill Street, Ponsonby, in 2008. William's residence in 1911, unless since re-numbered.]

Meanwhile, his wife Elizabeth and the children "followed" him yet again; but as in Christchurch, they were never listed at the same address, and this appears to confirm that the "mutually agreed" separation had by then become an established fact.

And so, William was on the move, yet again. But this time it appears that Elizabeth and the children did not follow him.


Details of William's arrival in N.S.W. have likewise not yet been found; his death registration recorded 35 years in Queensland, which would suggest 1909-10; his estranged wife Elizabeth stated in April 1914 that "...when I last heard of him about 2 years ago he was in Sydney"; my guess is that he went to Sydney shortly after he left the Auckland Tramways Coy, about early to mid 1911.

William was enrolled as a Postal Assistant, at 42 Hopewell Street, Glenmore Subdivision, (Paddington), East Sydney Division, in the 1913 Commonwealth Electoral Roll. Archival records of the Post-Master General's Department that have survived for that period have not yet been located.

[No 42 Hopewell Street, Paddington, in 2008. William's residence in 1913, unless since re-numbered.]

By September 1914, William had found his way to Toowoomba, in Queensland, as a Commercial Traveller; and the Great War had broken out.


William enlisted at Toowoomba, on 25 September 1914, and was at Enoggerah Barracks, 2 October, when posted, as S.N. 6, to serve with the 15th Infantry Battalion, on detachment from the A.A.M.C. as a Stretcher Bearer. This probably came about because of William's prior medical education, coupled with his age, but there may also have been some intervention by the Battalion Doctor, John LUTHER, an Irish Doctor who was 2 years older than William, and perhaps knew him from their Dublin student days (although they studied at different institutions) - LUTHER was killed-in-action at Gallipoli (see below).

William's attestation papers record that he was 5 feet 9-and-a-half inches tall, weighed 162 pounds, was of fair complexion, with grey eyes and light brown hair; he initialled an alteration to the pro-forma, allotting 3/5ths of his pay for support of his wife and two children, more than the standard.

After joining their Battalion counterparts in Victoria, they embarked in Melbourne, on 22 December 1914, aboard H.M.A.T. [A40] Ceramic, bound for Egypt.

[H.M.A.T.Ceramic in Port Melbourne in 1915. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial (A.W.M.), Ref H19500.]

We have no record of William's activities while in Egypt for this first stint - whether or not he was one of those Australian soldiers who were fond of availing themselves of the  "comfort" services on offer in and around Cairo we don't know; but William would have been well placed, with his medical background, to, at the very least, confirm military advice against their use; which advice went largely ignored, to the peril of many of the serving men's longer term sexual health, and of their spousal relationships when they returned home.

The 15th Battalion participated in the second wave of landings on the Gallipoli Peninsula on 25 April 1915, about mid-late morning, and set about establishing defensive lines to the beach-head at Anzac Beach; they were to maintain these lines for the duration of the ANZAC occupation.
The Battalion also participated in the attack on Hill 971 (Koja Chemen Tepe) on 27 April, with some casualties.

The Australian Light Horse Studies Centre web-site records;
        "Doctor LUTHER, who was as hard worked in those early days as any member in the unit, found time to scribble a few lines in a little diary found upon his body after his death. 'The bearers were wonderful and did the work of a hundred men,' he recorded. It was estimated that over 250 cases were handled by the 15th stretcher-bearers during the fighting. Among the bearers were Jack HYPES, Corporal Keith MURRAY, J. E. HAMMANS, G. E. GOWER, W. F. STEVENSON, W. P. DARBY and MOLES, RUBONISON and McKENZIE.
        "LUTHER knew the strain his men had been under and, when the Battalion was relieved from the front line and was bivouacking in Rest Valley, he gave them permission on May 4 to go down to the beach for a swim. On their return from the swim two shrapnel shells burst among them and two of the bearers were wounded and there were 14 casualties among a number of men nearby."

One obituary stated that William had been "...mentioned in despatches" - this has yet to be confirmed from other sources, but may have occurred as a result of the entry in LUTHER's diary, or interpreted so.

Captain John Fitzmaurice Guy LUTHER, a graduate of the University of Dublin Medical School, was fatally wounded at Hill 60, Anzac Beach, north sector, at 4 p.m. on 25 August 1915, by a single sniper shot to the head; he had accompanied an Officer and several men to show them the dangerous spot on the communication line when he was hit; he was examined by Doctor MacDONALD, 16th Battalion, whose "...expression upon his face when he rose to his feet dispelled all hopes of the Doc's recover"; whereupon LUTHER's "...own stretcher bearers bore him gently to the beach, where he passed away about an hour later, without regaining consciousness." [CHATAWAY, page 93]. He was buried " a Church of England chaplain, on 8 o'clock on the evening of his death, in the presence of Father NOURE, the Roman Catholic chaplain, and 20 others. The spot where he lies is called Waldron Point, near Suvla Bay" [Brisbane Courier, Tuesday 2 November 1915].

Willliam was sent on sick leave, 15 August, to Lowlands Casualty Clearing Station, 3rd A.G.H., on Lemnos Island, suffering from Diarrhoea/Enteritis; he rejoined his Battalion on 8 October, which had gone to Lemnos on a brief rest leave.
So he was not one of LUTHER's bearers who "...bore him gently to the beach"; nor was he among the twenty who attended his burial. But there can be little doubt that LUTHER's death would have been a major blow to him, as it would have been to all of the Battalion's stretcher-bearers.

[H.M.A.T. Ascanius, in Port Melbourne, May 1916. Image courtesy A.W.M. Ref PB0127.]

The 15th Battalion was evacuated from Gallipoli, firstly to Mudros, and from there on the S.S. Ascanius, disembarking in Alexandria on 29 December 1915; they were at Ismailia, 1 January 1916; struck camp, 21 January, and marched to Moascar; ordered to entrain to Tel-el-Kebir. 15 February; "celebrated" the first anniversary of the original Gallipoli landing, and William his 44th birthday, at Serepeum, with a swimming carnival in the Suez Canal; William spent another 4 days on sick leave 17-21 March.

William was promoted to the rank of Corporal on 14 March 1916, while in Egypt.

On 28 May 1916, the Battalion received orders for embarkation at Alexandria, on 1 June, for further service on the Western Front.


William sailed on the Troopship S.S. Transylvania, arriving at Marseilles on 8 June 1916.

[S.S. Transylvania loading British troops earlier, at Alexandria, in March 1916.]

The Battalion entrained for Bailleul, and saw brief front line action at Bois Grenier, June 1916; they marched to St Ouen, then on to Namours, July 1916; again marched to new billets at Herrisart, 25 July; then via Warloy to the Brickfields near Albert, 4 August 1916.

The Battalion had arrived at what was once the town of Pozières.

[The Village of Pozières after the battle of August 1916. Image courtesy of A.W.M, Ref EZ 0097.]

They moved through Sausage Valley, into the front line trenches at Pozières on 5-6 August; they were involved in several major assaults on the German trench lines, 9-10 August, which, despite an early setback, eventually proved "successful", despite alleged shortcomings of the Suffolk Regiment; although William had clearly been very busy, as the 15th Battalion itself counted losses of almost half of its establishment.

[Australian soldiers in Sausage Valley in August 1916. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial, Ref EZ 0084.]

However, William was not present at the Battalion head count; on his way back through Sausage Valley, he was "...blown up and buried" by a prematurely exploding shell, which probably killed his off-sider (stretcher-bearers worked in pairs); after being dug out, he was dispatched to the Casualty Clearing Station, then by hospital train to an Australian Divisional Base Hospital at Étaples.
William's "superficial" injuries were not life-threatening, and they healed soon enough. But he had almost completely lost his hearing.

William was not immediately repatriated, and perhaps, once more due to his medical knowledge, he was kept on at Étaples, and afterwards at Le Havre, probably providing assistance in the Australian Divisional Base Hospitals there; he was taken on the strength of the 4th Field Ambulance, 31 May 1917.

[The real thing - William Pigott DARBY in Le Havre, France, in 1916, wearing the Army uniform of the A.I.F.
The three stripes suggest he was a Sergeant; the wadi-stick is that of a Warrant Officer or Sergeant-Major.
These higher ranks do not appear to be confirmed in his Army record, which only refers to his being 
promoted to the rank of Corporal.
Photo courtesy of John O'GRADY of Dublin.]

William was treated for his hearing loss, but made only a small improvement, in one ear only; he was finally sent to England on detachment, arriving at Weymouth, Dorset, on 6 January 1918; he was marked down for repatriation, and sailed from Plymouth, 31 January 1918, on the R.M.S. Osterley, via Cape Town, for Australia.

[R.M.S. Osterly. Image courtesy of the "Clydebuilt Ships" database.]

William was known to his fellow soldiers in Turkey and France for his "...cheery dial and blue language." Quite whether he was, as recorded in one obituary notice, as familiar to Aussie diggers at Anzac as was MURPHY (alias SIMPSON) and his donkey, has yet to be confirmed from other sources.


The Osterley had arrived in Australia by 13-15 April 1918; William arrived at Brisbane Railway Station on 16 April, and was among a number of returning men who were given a civic reception at the Kangaroo Point Hospital, where he would receive ongoing treatment/assessment for his deafness. It appears that some level of hearing was re-established in one ear.
He was Medically discharged, 2 July 1918 [Military Board Discharge]. He had been residing at "The Priory" on Bowen Terrace, Brisbane.

On 24 July 1918, William obtained a steamer passage to Townsville, and a rail warrant to Home Hill, to enable him to present himself for employment with the Water Supply Department's Irrigation Works at Inkerman; he lasted there a month, citing "slack in trade" for his departure.
He went to Maryborough, where on 8 April 1919, residing in the Returned Soldiers Club there, he applied to the Repatriation Department for "sustenance."
Back in Brisbane, William was enrolled as Land Agent, at the Anzac Club, George and Charlotte Sts, Brisbane North, Supplementary Roll of 1919. On 11 August 1919, he made further application to the Repatriation Department for assistance with books and vocational training, which he said would be useful to his business, as House and Land Agent, at 40 Town Hall - all he got was some typing lessons!

William was residing at "Coramba," Hope Street, south Brisbane, 16 October 1919, when he applied (without success) for a position at Goodna Insane Asylum; he was at Sylvan Terrace, Toowong, 10 April 1920, when he sought further assistance from the Repatriation Department - for the purchase of spectacles; and was still there on 28 September when he applied, again without success, for the position of Orderly at the Anzac Hostel, citing that he had been previously employed with the Queensland Safety Air Gas Company, of George Street, Brisbane, for 3 months as a Traveller, and with FILMER and MASON, Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, of Charlotte Street, Brisbane, for 4 months as a canvasser for new electrical clients.

William applied for further Repatriation Department assistance for maintenance for 2 days at 27 A.G.H., Brisbane; and he was still residing at Sylvan Terrace, Toowong, 17 June 1921, when he applied for further sustenance and employment, having just left the employ of Arthur TILBURY's Saxon School of Physical Culture, at Adelaide Street, Brisbane, again due to slackness in trade.


Family lore records that William went back to Ireland, about 1921, with his daughter Rita, in an attempt to resettle Rita with one of his married sisters in Dublin. It is said that one of her aunts could not take her in, and that another would not. Perhaps her lurch towards the Political Left put her too far outside the care of her Dublin relations?
Although how William managed to finance the trip is unknown - he was clearly having trouble making ends meet in Brisbane at the time, and the lump-sum payout for his war-time injuries did not occur until 1924, according to the Police evidence presented at the inquest held in Brisbane after his death.


William was recorded as residing at 4 Princes Street, Sydney, 13 January 1922.
In July 1923, he was back in Queensland, at "Roycroft," Manning Street, Brisbane, when his recommendation for admission to the Convalescent Farm was rescinded due to his getting work; and he was enrolled as Traveller at 23 Ferry Street, Maree Sub-division, Oxley Division, 1925, and at "Holstein," Manila Street, same Division, 1926 [2nd Print].

William headed south, on the S.S. Levuka, 9 March 1926, from Brisbane; this is likely to have been connected with his sittings for Sir Bertram MacKENNAL's soldier figure for the Sydney Cenotaph project.

William was back in Brisbane in 1928, when he was again enrolled as Traveller, at "La Sieta," Francis Street, Brisbane [Oxley Division]; and at "Dungowan," Robert Street, Kangaroo Point, 1931; and thereafter at "Marr's," Tank Street, Brisbane, his last known place of adode.

Most of the above details of William's life come from his Army Service Record, and his Repatriation Department File, both held by the National Archives of Australia (the latter in their Brisbane Branch), and both now viewable in digital format on the web-site.
They describe a man who served his adopted country at war, and payed a high price for it, in terms of dislocation to his life, and mounting difficulty in finding and holding down a good job. Without the help of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers League, and one or two strong personal supporters from among his old comrades, he would have fared even worse.

The mainstay of his continuing support was John Percival ("Jack") CRAVEN, whom William had known since Gallipoli before CRAVEN was transferred from the 15th Battaion to the 16th (Signals), and who since the war had become a Militia Colonel, and was Principal in the firm of Forster Canvassing Agency, Queen Street, Brisbane, which is probably where William worked in the latter stages.
CRAVEN, a Yorkshire Mariner before turning soldier, informed the Queensland Registrar of William's death.
CRAVEN was a political Conservative, and in March 1930 was elected Vice-President of the Maree branch of the fledgling Country and; Progressive National Party, and their Campaign Director - at the same meeting, William was elected to the Committee. This party was formed in 1925, as a fusion of the United Party and the Country Party in Queensland, to oust the long-serving Labor Government there; which it did in 1929; but it served only one term, before being defeated in 1932; and disbanded after an even heavier defeat in 1935.
CRAVEN also strongly supported the formation of the 15th Battalion Association in Brisbane in September 1930, being elected to serve as one of the Vice-Presidents, and once again, William was elected to the Executive Committee.

William's story is by no means a unique one, and many others who served in that war must had fared similarly, especially as the effects of the Depression took hold.

If his life after war makes sober reading, then so too do the circumstances surrounding his death.

On the morning of his "collapse" (or seizure) on 2 November 1935, at Marr's Boarding House in Tank Street, Brisbane, William had had a "drinking bout" which involved a quart of sweet muscatel wine; later in the evening, he had answered the call of nature, but as his floor had no toilet facilities, he had to use the stairs. He suffered his "seizure" on the stairs, and fell down several flights.

[The Brisbane Courier Mail, Mon 4 November 1935, under the heading of "CASUALTIES."
Image courtesy of the NLA "trove" web-site.]

He died in Brisbane General Hospital 11 days later, on 25 November, aged 63.

[Two Obituary Notices, published in the Courier Mail (Brisbane) on Thu 21 November 1935 (left), 
and in the Sydney Morning Herald, Thu 9 January 1936 (right). Not all of the details appear to be accurate. 
Images courtesy of the N.L.A. "trove" web-site.]

A Coroner's Inquest was held, at which it was recorded that William had arrived in Queensland just before the Great War; that in 1924 he had received a lump sum payment of £120 for his war injuries; and that no particulars of living relations could be discovered.
An acquaintance of 3-4 years, Vincent Patrick FITZGERALD, who also resided at Marr's Boarding House, told the deputy-coroner that William was "...a quiet individual, being the worse for liquor on several occasions."

William's remains were buried in an unmarked grave in Toowong Cemetery, Portion 10, Section 70, Grave 23, about 10 metres ENE of the Museum, a short distance inside the main gates on the corner of Frederick Street and Mount Coot-tha Road .

[Left - The main entrance to Toowong Cemetery, on the south-eastern corner of the site. 
Right - William lies buried approximately 130 metres inside, to the N.N.W., among the gravestones 
in the middle distance, just to the left of the small Museum building behind the flag-pole.]

[The piece of white A4 paper marks the spot where a headstone would stand at the head of William's grave.
The photos were taken facing due west (left photo), due east (middle) and south-west (right).]

An "alone" and unhappy ending to what appears to have been a less than happy life.
Valete William Pigott DARBY - or farewell, distant cousin. Rest in peace.

[The Cenotaph in Martin Place, Sydney.
Photo courtesy of William's grand-nephew John O'GRADY of Dublin.]

*  *  *  LEST WE FORGET  *  *  *


Elizabeth Josephine CONROY was the daughter of Thomas and Mary CONROY; she married William at Fairview Catholic Church, Dublin, 3 February 1903, then a resident of 7 Brighton Avenue, Fairview.
She went with William to London, where she registered the births of their two children.

She and the two children sailed from London on the S.S. Ionic (pictured above) , 9 January 1907, bound for Wellington, New Zealand.

Elizabeth was listed as "Wife" at 53a Hazeldean Road, Sydenham, Christchurch, 1908 Supplementary Roll; at 15 Ardmore Road, Auckland West Division, 1911; she was directory listed at Boarding House, 15 Ardmore Road, Ponsomby, 1912; and at 59 Marine Parade, Ponsonby, 1913.

[Left -15 Ardmore Raod, Ponsonby, in 2007. Elizabeth's residence in 1911-12, unless since re-numbered.
Right - the only Edwardian dwelling near 59 Marine Parade, Herne Bay. Possibly Elizabeth's 1913 Boarding House.]

Elizabeth took out a lease on the Boarding House "Balmoral," in Grafton Road, Auckland, on 15 January 1913, and advertised it to open on 26 Feb; she had difficulty making ends meet, and convinced the landlord to give her a rental reduction for 4 months, in early 1914, to enable her to restore her financial footing; but on 4 April 1914, the place was raided, and Elizabeth charged with "selling sly grog" without license, was convicted and fined £10; but the landlord had already put in Bailiffs, and Elizabeth filed for bankruptcy on 27 April.

[The only house in Spring Street, Devonport, which in 2007 resembled a Tower House.]

Thereafter, Elizabeth was recorded at Tower House, Spring Street, Devonport (1914, 1915) - just outside the gates to the Naval Base; as a Milliner, at 216 Jervois Street, Ponsonby (1920); and at 33 Clifton Road, Auckland West, 1928.

[33 Clifton Road, Herne Bay, in 2007. Elizabeth resided her in 1928, unless since re-numbered.]

She later resided at the Park Hotel, Thames, Waikato, September 1929; at the Cornwall Arms Hotel, Thames Division, 1931; then with her son at Whakatne, Bay of Plenty, 1935, and later again with her daughter at Albany Flats, Dunedin West, in 1938.

Elizabeth died at the Memorial Home, Gisborne, on 17 July 1941, and was buried in an un-marked gave in the Taruheru Lawn Cemetery, Gisborne, Block 14, Plot 29.

[Taruheru Cemetery, as depicted on their official web-site.]

William and Elizabeth had issue:

1. Harold Pigott DARBY was born at 30 Richmond Road, Paddington, London, 12 October 1904; he was aged 2 on arrival in New Zealand; a legal clerk, working in the office of J.S. HADDOW, Solicitor, Auckland, and residing at 224 Jervois Street, Ponsonby, 9 November 1923, when he enlisted with the New Zealand Division of the Royal Navy, as a Supply Clerk (or Writer), aged 19, and described as 5 feet 7 inches tall, of Fresh complexion, with brown eyes and brown hair; posted as Underwriter on H.M.S. Philomel; transferred as Writer to H.M.S. Dunedin, 23 May 1924; transferred back to H.M.S. Philomel, 25 March 1926; promoted to Leading Writer, 19 November 1926; transferred to H.M.S. Diomede, 27 March 1927; transferred back to H.M.S. Philomel, 26 September 1929.
[Left - H.M.S. Philomel. Right - H.M.S. Diomede in 1926.]

Harold appeared before the Auckland Magistrates Court, January 1930, on a charge of assaulting the caretaker of the Mount Eden Baths, having been disturbed by him while trying to "swim off" the effects of a drinking session in the Baths; he was convicted on the assault charge and another of drunkenness, and fined £1 on each charge.
Very soon afterwards, on 28 January 1930, he "purchased" his discharge from the Naval service, perhaps under a bit of persuasion from his superior officers, although he was about to attend to his own very imminent marriage.
Harold was thereafter listed as Clerk, 462 Manukau Road, Auckland (1931-34); Theatre Manager at King Street, Whakatane (1935) and at Te Aroha, Thames Division, (1938-42); Farmer at Keri Keri, Central, Bay of Islands (1943); Civil Servant, 15 Wapiti Avenue, Remuera (1946-51), as Clerk, General Division, Rehabilitation Department; Postmaster and Telephonist, Cowes (1949); Private Hotel, Cowes (1952-54); subject of bankruptcy proceedings, September 1952; Carpenter, 50 O'Shannessy Street, Papakura (1954); ditto, 15 The Strand, North Shore (1957); ditto, 15 Vine Street, Otahuhu (1960) and at 55 Vine Street (1963); Carpenter, Auckland Golf Club, Otahuhu, (1966) and Manager (1967).
Harold died at 30 Avenue Road, Otahuhu, 23 November 1967, and was buried at Mangere Lawn Cemetery.

Harold Pigott DARBY was married in Auckland Registry Office, on 15 February 1930, to Bessie Paolina PAGNI (daughter of John Henry PAGNI, Hotel Keeper in Wellington and the 1st Italian Consul in Auckland, by Mary Ethel DUFF); they were residing in North Sydney, in April 1930; she died at Omara Hospital, Epsom, 16 October 1984, and was buried with her husband.
They had issue two daughters and two sons; and there are a number of grandchildren living in New Zealand and in Australia.

2. Bianca Cicely Marguerite (Rita) DARBY, born at 116 St James's Terrace, St Mary Paddington, 23 December 1906; aged under 6 months on arrival in New Zealand; recorded by relatives as having visited Dublin about 1921, with her father, who sought to place her in the care of one of his married sisters, one of whom could not take her and the other who would not; she joined the Communist Party of New Zealand - about as far as it was possible to "fall" from the bosom of the Roman Catholic Church; she was enrolled at 25 Argyle Street, Auckland West, 1928, 1931.

[25 Argyle Street, Herne Bay in 2007. Rita's residence in 1928-31, unless since re-numbered.]

Rita went with her husband to London, 1934, and attended lectures at the London School of Economics by Henry LASKI; Rita was an enthusiastic disseminater of Left Book Club literature in Dunedin, 1935; promoter of study groups in Dunedin critical of the new Labor Government's failure to implement the Left Book Club's more radical reforms; she began a co-operative publishing venture producing radical pamphlets, and ran a co-operative Left Bookshop in Dunedin; she was remembered from this era " much for her own fascinating personality as for her ardent enthusiasms"; she was residing at 6 Albany Flats, Dunedin West, in 1938, with her husband and her mother; and at Arthur's Walk, Waverly, Dunedin, in 1943 and 1946.
Rita went with her husband to Ibadan, Nigeria, in December 1948; there she set up and ran a bookshop associated with the Ibadan University Press which her husband had established (he had been appointed Librarian at the University); after a separation was mutually agreed, in August 1956, Rita went to London for two years, ill and nearly destitute (her letters, Hocken Library); she returned to Africa, and managed the University Bookshop at Legon, Ghana, 1963; she was also connected with the Ahmadu Bello University Bookshop, Zaria, Nigeria, about 1965; it is recorded that she died in 1972 (her estranged husband's obituary), probably in Africa.
Rita married at the Auckland Registry Office, 25 July 1934, William John HARRIS; born in New Zealand, he was educated in New Zealand and England; B.A. (Hons), Oxon, 1929; briefly a Journalist in Auckland, and probably joined the Communist Party for a short time; appointed Librarian at Otago University, Dunedin, 1935; appointed to a Carnegie Scholarship, 1934, but was refused entry to America by the U.S. Consulate in Auckland, on the advice of the New Zealand Police Commissioner, so went to London instead; appointed Librarian, University College, Ibadan, Nigeria, 1948; Vice-Chancellor, Ibadan University, 1964-68; his marriage to Rita was formally dissolved at Dunedin, 7 August 1961, whence he married secondly, in 1965, Priscilla TAYLOR (another New Zealander, and the State Librarian in Nigeria); she died at Benin, 1975, and HARRIS married thirdly, in 1975, Judy BAKER, who survived him; they settled in Bacchus Marsh, Victoria, where he died in 1980, without issue.

William Pigott DARBY, despite the wide disparity in our birth dates (due to several of my ancestors fathering children quite late), is one of my 8th cousins.

1 comment:

Jim said...

Very interesting post. I'm featuring The Cenotaph on my blog today.