How does one write about 12 aunts and uncles? On my mother’s side, there are three brothers, Uncle Jim, Uncle Newt and Uncle Ray. While in my father’s family he had nine brothers and sisters. Aunty Dolo, Aunty Margaret, Aunty Norma, Aunty Phyllis, Uncle Ernie, Aunty Brenda, Uncle Jim, Aunty Rita, Aunty Leah. Over the course of time, we got to meet every one of them.
Uncle Jim, (James Albany Herbert) was born in Albany, Western Australia November 1911. He was mum’s big brother by some 17 years and gave her away at her wedding as Grandfather Herbert had died several years earlier.
Uncle Jim was employed as a junior clerk in the WA Railways at the age of 16 and became a junior draftsman in May 1928. When there was no more work available, he left in 1930. He lived in West Subiaco and married Florence Nyman in 1933. They moved to Bunbury around 1936 where he joined the army.
I have only vague recollections of my Uncle Jim, he and Aunty Flo were living in Cottesloe with their two children, Vilma and Newton. I remember visiting them once and Vilma’s daughter Jeanne, taught me to play the card game called Concentration. I also remember Uncle Jim sending me a set of steak knives for our wedding present. In a letter from him, dated 21 April 1989, he mentions the piece of wedding cake we sent him. He also talked about taking “Patsy”, my mother, on shopping trips on a Saturday morning. They would catch the tram from Claremont into Perth. When my grandparents came to live in Geraldton, they brought mum and Uncle Ray with them. The older boys were working and stayed in the city.
Unfortunately, Uncle Jim died in July 1989, so I never got to see him again.
Uncle Newt, (Harold Newton Herbert) was born May 1913, also in Albany and married Dorothea Gilbert (Aunty Molly) in 1940. He enlisted in the army in 1942 at Claremont and was stationed for a time in Derby. At the time of his enlistment, he was a bank teller. In 1943, he was promoted to a Lance Corporal then made a Sergeant in August 1944. Uncle Newt was discharged from the army in December 1945.
I remember visiting the family at their home in Claremont. It was there that I first saw TV. No such thing for us in the country! I’m not sure what year that was, however, I was only little.
We kept in touch with Uncle Newt fairly regularly and mum and dad would visit them nearly every time they had an opportunity to go to the city. On one visit, Aunty Molly got me to eat my cauliflower!! The boys nearly gagged on theirs too. I’m still not a fan of cauliflower but will tolerate it with some cheese sauce.
There were four children, Glenys, Brian, Allan and Helen. Uncle Newt was the manager of the R&I bank in Perth and I remember visiting him once in his office right up on the top floor of this tall building.
There were four children, Glenys, Brian, Allan and Helen.
We were always in awe of their achievements from being college champions at swimming and getting distinctions at Guildford Grammar School.
When mum died in 1988, I turned around in church, just before the service started and there, sitting right behind us was Uncle Newt and Aunty Molly with their daughter Glenys. We were so happy that they came to her funeral.
Mum and Uncle Ray were close in age. Raymond John Herbert was born in July 1931 and was just 3 years younger than mum. They were very close when growing up in Geraldton, although both were born in Claremont, they moved when grandfather Herbert was transferred to Geraldton as a railway employee. They lived on, what was then known as Eleanor Street, now Chapman Road, opposite the Victoria District Hospital and Old Gaol.
When he was just five years old, Uncle Ray walked across the road from the beach near the Esplanade and was hit by a passing car. He received a nasty gash on his shoulder which needed several stitches.
Uncle Ray told me the story of when he was a boy of 10, that he remembers the prisoners from the HSK Kormoran warship that sunk the HMAS Sydney II in 1941, were kept overnight at the gaol. He and his mates pulled up his father’s vegetables and threw them over the fence. The German’s were very pleased to get fresh vegetables and called back, “Danke, Danke”!
Uncle Ray was also a keen boxer and wrestler and was appointed to the committee of the Police Boys Club in Geraldton in 1947. He enlisted with the R.A.N (Royal Australian Navy) at Fremantle, 4 February 1948 and served 12 years. He married Elwyn Gordon, July 1952 and they had seven children, Cathy, John, Terry, Dianne, Richard, Frances, and Fiona. They adopted two children and were foster parents to many others.
As I write this blog, Uncle Ray is still living. Whenever my husband Bob and I get a chance, we like visit him in his home in Mandurah and we go over the family history together. He has told me many stories and has been my inspiration for doing the family tree. His son John, has been researching the paternal side, the Herbert’s while I’ve concentrated on the maternal link, the Caddy’s.