Monday, 2 May 2011

Amanuensis Monday: Miss A Wiseman and the Major

Last Monday was ANZAC Day and I wrote about my great-uncles Reginald and Ernest - if you missed that post it is here.  Today I am recording the correspondence between Ernest's sweetheart, who I know only as Miss A Wiseman, and the army's Base Records office.

The first letter is undated by Miss Wiseman, but was stamped received on 18 October 1916.

3 Westbourne Street
Stanmore
Sydney

Officer-in-Charge
Victoria Barracks
Melbourne

Dear Sir

I should be much obliged if you will kindly inform me as near as possible the date of death of Pte E Brown reported "Killed in Action" in Casualty list nos 212th and 213th and which appeared in Sydney newspapers September 16th 1916.

Below is Pte E Brown's address.

I am

Yours sincerely

(Miss) A Wiseman

No 394
Signaller E Brown
C Company
17th Battalion
5th Brigade
2nd Division
AIF

The reply was as follows, a very polite brush-off


20th October

Dear Madam

I have to acknowledge receipt of your communication (undated) concerning the regrettable loss of No. 394 Pte E Brown, 17th Battalion, and to state the only information available at this office was obtained in a brief cable message reporting him "killed in action 26.7.16 to 7.8.16."

Detailed circumstances of his loss will not, it is anticipated, be known here until the receipt at a later date of the final official confirming documents from Abroad, when all such particulars which may then come to hand will be promptly transmitted to next-of-kin, shown as Mother.

Yours faithfully

Major
o/i Base Records

Miss Wiseman was not to be deterred and tried again (remembering the date this time):

3 Westbourne Street
Stanmore
Sydney
1.11.16

Major J C Lean
Officer in Charge Base Records
Victoria Barracks
Melbourne

Dear Sir

Re:  No 394 Pte E Brown 17th Battalion

I received your letter of the 20th inst and I thank you very much for the information contained in same and also for the trouble you have taken in this matter.

Will it be possible for you to let me know the date of his death when you receive the official documents or will the information only be sent to his parents who reside in Bristol, England.  I would be very much obliged if you would send the same to me also.

I am enclosing a stamp for a reply, and again thanking you

I am

Yours sincerely

Miss A Wiseman


The letter shows that Miss Wiseman's letter was passed to Cpl Howard on 3 November 1916.  Sadly there is no further correspondence between Miss Wiseman and Base Records in the National Archives of Australia.  I do know that Ernest's date of death was fixed at 2 August 1916 and I have no doubt that Miss Wiseman remembered Ernest on this date for some years to come.

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