There have been many wars over the course of history but one that stands out was the “Great War”, which began on July 28, 1914 with Austria-Hungary’s declaration of war with Serbia. It began in Europe but quickly spread throughout the world. Australia automatically entered the war with Britain’s decision to enter the fray on August 4, 1914.
In October 1914, Albany, Western Australia was the gathering point for ships carrying the AIF and NZEF, which later were to become known as the “Anzacs”. Merchant ships carrying troops from NZ and the states of Australia departed from Albany on November 1, 1914. The West Australian troops embarked on ships from Fremantle and joined the convoy coming up the coast from Albany. A second convoy departed in late December 1914.
It is fitting to add the story of the pioneer who started this large clan known as the Cripps Family of Mumby, Northampton.
Charles Thomas Cripps was born the 6th child of Thomas Joseph CRIPS and Ellen NEALE on August 24, 1854. Charles was only 7 years old when his father died of chronic bronchitis in November 1861 leaving Ellen to care for 5 young children and heavily pregnant with Thomas who was born in January 1862.
Bert Turner, a grandchild of the eldest brother, George Thomas Cripps, told the story of how Charles at the age of 16 apparently disobeyed his father who told him not to gallop the herd of horses he was taking to be sold. But on returning through the Epping Forest, the echo of his horse’s hooves sounded like highwaymen were following him, so he galloped home as fast as he could go. On arrival, his horse was frothing at the mouth so his father punished him by giving him a good whipping. This upset Charles so much that he ran away ending up at a seaport and while walking along the side of the wharf he accidentally fell in and was rescued by a sailor. The sailor asked where his home was but Charles told him he had no home and was an orphan. He was given a job on board a ship bound for Australia.
This ship was the Palestine arrived in Australia, January 25, 1870 although the story goes that he jumped ship in the north of the state of Western Australia and went cattle droving, before making his way to Shark Bay to cart sandalwood.
While working in Shark Bay he befriended Frank Hall and the two of them attended a ball in Northampton where he met Margaret Haigh, a widower with two young children, Lena and Lizzie Haigh. Charles married Margaret, the daughter of pioneers, Owen and Mary Williams on January 25, 1882, at Gwalla Church, Northampton. It was a double wedding with Frank Hall marrying Anne Carpenter.
Charles took up the licensee of the Miners Arms hotel where their firstborn “Tom” was born December 5, 1882. He later took up Mumby Farm by swapping a team of horses for a block of land in 1893. The official title date is October 4, 1894.
Eight children were born to Charles and Margaret and as the boys were now old enough to run Mumby, Charles moved his family to Northampton in 1913 where they lived in Robinson Street. When war broke out, the boys were unfortunately not able to join the war so Charles took the oath to be enlisted on August 24, 1915, on his 61st birthday, however, he told the authorities that he was 45. I guess back then they didn’t ask for proof of age.
Charles caught the train from Northampton to Geraldton and on to Blackboy Hill where he commenced training. He embarked on board HMAS Mongolia on 22 November 1915, arriving in Habieta on the 2 March 1916. On 20th March 1916 he embarked from Alexandria to join with the British Expeditionary Forces, embarking at Marseilles 6 April 1916. He served with the 11th Battalion, 12th Reinforcements and it has been said that when it was found out that he was over age, he was put in charge of distributing whiskey to the men before they faced the front line. On the 10th February 1917, he was transferred to the 1st Division Salvage Company and spent the next seven months in France. His duty was to salvage anything that had been left after the troops had moved through the lines or through a village. This meant picking up scraps of metal, guns, anything that could be salvaged and reused. It was just as dangerous doing this work as it was in the trenches. At anytime he could have been shot by a sniper or blown to bits by a bomb. On readng the official diary of the Salvage Company, there were indeed fatalities. Great grandfather Cripps would have seen his fair share of death and distruction. His official discharge was on December 19, 1917 having served two years and 112 days.
Charles became a member of the Northampton Road Board, a Grand Master of the Masonic Lodge and President of the newly formed Returned Services League. On April 13, 1923 he passed away to be followed six months later on October 18 by his wife Margaret.
Further stories of the life and times of Charles and Margaret Cripps can be found in the book “Beyond the Horizon, Centennary of Mumby Farm, Northampton 1894-1994″ by Jenny MacKay. Please contact Jenny at firstname.lastname@example.org to purchase a downloadable copy.
References to the “Great War”: http://www.firstworldwar.com/features/declarationsofwar.htm
View photos of Charles Thomas Cripps (Snr) HERE