Weekly Photo Challenge-Letters


My contribution for this week’s challenge…



 Last Thursday, April 24th, I was told by a government source (that sounds good doesn’t it?) that there is to be a ceremony to commemorate the centenary of the firing of the first allied shot in World War I, later in the year. This is of interest to me as my grandfather was part of the Gun crew which fired across the bow of the German steamer ‘Pfalz” as she tried to escape from Port Phillip Bay only hours after war had been declared in Europe.


The 1994 article on the left of this photo details how a group of volunteer students uncovered the gun emplacement, that fired this shot along with the gun emplacement from which the first shot of World War II is believed to have been fired.  Both sites had been buried under sand for more than forty years.



The photo on the right accompanies an article written about the firing of the first shot.  The officer standing in the left of the photo, Lieutenant Charles Morris, gave the order to fire.

About two months ago while listening to my favourite Sunday morning chat show on ABC radio I heard a guest talking about World War I.  After having many school children not believe me when I ascertained my connection with the start of WW I, I quickly tapped out an email and hit send….thinking that it would go into the ether and nothing would come of it.  But I felt better. 🙂

I quickly forgot my actions in favour of a Sunday morning breakfast.  However, about two hours after breakfast I answered a phone call from the grandson of Lieutenant Charles Morris.  One of his friends had heard my email being read by ‘Macca’ (the chat show host), phone calls were made and eventually Charles’ grandson contacted me.  At that stage he did not realise that my grandfather was part of the crew….just that I had an interest in the firing of the first shot.



The central typed page details how, when, where and why of the morning’s actions and was sent to me by Lieutenant Charles Morris’ grandson.  On ANZAC Day I phoned my auntie and told her of my conversation with the relevant government secretary.  She is eagerly looking forward to the commemoration and told me she would advise her sister and all families involved.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Letters





Each year, as April 25 nears, Australian, and I suspect NewZealand, media of all varieties tend to fill their pages and radio waves reminding us about ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) Day.

On this day in many countries, all Australians remember those who fought and fell to preserve the freedom of our country in all wars, but particularly World Wars I and 2.  We often hear of many heroic stories of valour, of lives saved and lost, but we seldom hear of regular soldiers who have served and returned home to their ‘normal’ lives.

My grandfathers were two such men who fought in World War 1. Both my grandfathers returned from The Great War, however, my maternal grandfather (Nathan) was minus a leg and my paternal grandfather (Bill) had seen repatriation in London after he became a victim of chemical warfare – mustard gas.
When ANZAC forces landed at Gallipoli on April 25, 1915, Grandfather Nat was there.  Unfortunately he was not a great writer and I do not have any of his diaries.   When World War was declared for the second time on September 3rd, 1939, he sat on the local Post Office steps and cried.  Less than a year later, at only forty-six years of age, he passed away in August 1940.  Well before I was even I was even a twinkle in my father’s eye.
Grandfather Bill, Dad’s father, at sixty-four years of age, died about a week after this photo was taken in 1952.  It would appear that Bill was happier about being the subject of the photograph than his eldest grandson.
For several years of service on the Western Front, as a gunner, Bill was awarded a Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) for an act of bravery under enemy fire, at Courcelette, in France.
On August 5th, 1914, Bill became part of history while serving on with gun crew which fired the first Australian (and many sources believe the first allied) shot, from Fort Nepean at the mouth of Port Philip Bay.  Within minutes of receiving news that War had been declared shots were fired across the bow of the German ship the “Phalz” as it attempted to escape from Port Phillip Bay.  After being fired upon the captain turned the vessel turned around and sailed back to the Portsea where the crew was arrested.


Both my grandfathers died at what we now would call a young age.  Was this partly due to their involvement in World War 1?  How many other families have seen family members pass on at an early age leaving a partner to fend for themselves for many more years.  Yes, I did get to know both my grandmothers!
My son is going to the Dawn Service this year.  I would love to join him but it may have to wait a year.
I would love to have known my grandfathers, but I have only the memories which have been handed down to me.  They may be gone but they are not forgotten.
Lest We Forget
More information at:
World Wars
Although I have an enlarged copy of this photograph, I did source this one from the Wikipedia website.