In August 1918 a grove of birch and mountain ash trees planted in the grounds of the Stirling East School was dedicated by Mr Angus Parson MP to the memory of past pupils who had enlisted during the war. A hand-lettered honour roll was unveiled, created by Miss Hilda Snow, the daughter of Francis Snow, a local metal broker and businessman. Listed among the names was her brother Arthur Maurice Snow, who served in France. Another highly decorated brother, Major Wilfred Rippon Snow, was a well-regarded airman serving with the Royal Flying Corps.
In Angus Parson’s address he praised the former pupils for their sacrifice, but the anti-German sentiments he expressed were no doubt shared by some of the local community. Local townships, settled by German immigrants more than half a century before, had changed names. Germantown Hill became Vimy Ridge, Grunthal was known as Verdun and Hahndorf was now Ambleside. In all, sixty-nine South Australian placename changes were gazetted in January 1918.
An alleged case of treason divided wartime opinions in the Adelaide Hills when Francis Snow’s strong interest in German culture, and his long-term legitimate business interests in supplying copper ore to the German market, became a matter of national interest.
In December 1914 he was charged with ‘attempt and endeavour unlawfully to trade with the enemy’ during the first few months of the war. Initially acquitted, an appeal from the Crown had him placed under house arrest. The case dragged on until September 1919, when he was fined £2000. Interestingly, Arthur Blackburn VC, barrister and parliamentarian, who had a well-known dislike of Germans and ‘disloyals’, assisted Frost’s King’s Counsel at the final trial.
Rivalry between the Adelaide Hills gardeners and plant collectors, including Francis Snow, led to plant gathering expeditions for rare and exotic plants, to Europe, Asia and the Americas. St Wilfred’s, the garden he created at Aldgate in the late 1900s, was his passion. Ostracised by many for what was seen as an act of treason, insult was added to injury when Francis Snow’s blooms took first prize at the local flower show.
‘Alleged Trading With Enemy; F H Snow in Court’, The Register, 14 December 1914: http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/59932064
East Stirling Memorial, Chronicle (Adelaide) 24 August 1918: http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/87553638
Obituary, Chronicle, 23 December 1916: http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/87527874
Under Mount Lofty, a history of the Stirling District in South Australia, Robert Martin, Stirling, 1996.
Arthur Blackburn VC: An Australian Hero, His Men and Their Two World Wars, Andrew Faulkner, Adelaide, 2008
Mount Lofty Districts Historical Society
63 Mount Barker Road
Stirling SA 5152
Phone:08 8339 8236