29 June 2014

A trip to Mt Kosciuszko

Way back in 1936, when Mt Kosciuszko - Australia's tallest mountain, at 2228m/7310ft - was still spelt Kosciusko (it was changed by the Geographical Names Board of NSW in 1997 to reflect the correct Polish spelling, named after General Tadeusz Kosciuszko), Uncle Les and Auntie Gen took a trip there with Auntie Gen's uncle and aunt, Norman and Mary Macindoe.

They travelled in a 1920s soft top Austin tourer (I think) and they must have been freezing!

They stayed at Hotel Kosciusko. Below is a photo of Uncle Norman and Aunt Mary in front of the hotel (though I actually think this may be the back of the hotel).

They spent a day walking to the summit of the mountain, and although Auntie Gen looks well rugged up, I love that her Uncle Norman is in a three piece suit and tie! The one shown in the photo below is the original cairn, which has since been rebuilt.

Despite the fact that they have rebuilt the cairn at the summit of Kosciuszko, the Seaman's Hut is still standing (here's a link to a recent photo), and looks like it hasn't aged since the following photo was taken. I still can't work out what a seaman would be doing up there on the mountain though!

28 June 2014

Uncle Les and the YMCA

I've written a little about my great uncle Les Davis before, here and here.

Leslie Alfred Davis (1903-1977) was married to my grandfather's sister Gen, both pictured in the photo above. Family legend has it that he entertained the troops during World War II. I had assumed that this meant he was enlisted in the Imperial Forces (which he didn't), and research shows that he never travelled overseas with the armed forces. However he did spend time at Evans Head, NSW, during the war. Careful examination of photos of Uncle Les in uniform at the time show it was a YMCA uniform.

Searching the internet for information on the YMCA in Evans Head during World War II has been rather fruitless, and contacting the YMCA brought no help at all - perhaps they don't actually have an archivist? Going through Uncle Les' photo album this morning, it suddenly occurred to me to look up Trove - I'm not sure why I didn't think of this before! I found a number of useful articles:

GUESTS AT the Civic Hotel in-
clude Mr. and Mrs. Les Davis, of
Sydney, who are spending holidays
here. Mr. Davis was formerly at-
tached to Evans Head R.A.A.F.
Station as Y.M.C.A. Welfare Officer,
and will be remembered here as a
compere of concerts.
Northern Star, 17 Feb 1945 Northern Star, 26 Apr 1945 Northern Star, 29 Jan 1947

So this shows what Uncle Les was doing in Evans Head during World War II - he was the YMCA Welfare Officer attached to the RAAF base there. From what I can tell, as a YMCA Welfare Officer he supported service personnel stationed in Evans Head, presumably through the provision of recreational facilities and other services to assist in maintaining morale. The photos below show Uncle Les in his office, and also in the YMCA Recreation Room at Evans Head, with some RAAF airmen.