Siblings' postcard at Emita

An embroidered postcard sent by Private Will Maynard to his sister Mabel, two weeks before he left England for active service in France. [Furneaux Historical Research Association Inc.]

Furneaux Museum
8 Fowlers Road
Emita Tas. 7255

The Furneaux Group is a cluster of 78 small islands off the north-east coast of Tasmania, at the eastern end of Bass Strait. It is claimed that these communities had the highest per capita enlistments in Tasmania and the highest enlistment of Indigenous Australians in World War I. Some 30 men of Indigenous heritage enlisted from Cape Barren and Flinders Island, and the majority came from the Brown, Mansell and Maynard families.

In the collection of the Furneaux Museum is what may have been the last correspondence from a local Indigenous man, Private Will Maynard. The embroidered silk postcard he sent to his sister May most likely arrived on the island after his death.

Seven young men of the extended Maynard family enlisted, three of whom lost their lives. They were descended from a man of European origins, Richard Maynard, and an Aboriginal woman from Pipers River, Tasmania, named Wyerlooberer (alias Pecocally alias Margaret). Margaret is claimed to have been the daughter of Manalargenna, chief of the Ben Lomond tribe.

Private Edward David Lewis Maynard, 15th Battalion, was killed at Lone Pine, Gallipoli, on 8 August 1915.

Frank Maynard, son of John Maynard and Eva Chappell Stafford, enlisted in the 26th Battalion in May 1915 and arrived at Gallipoli on 12 September. The unit actively defended frontline positions such as Courtney's Post, Steele's Post and Russell's Top, and withdrew from the peninsula 3 months later on 12 December. In March 1916 the 26th Battalion proceeded to France and fought its first major battle around Pozières between 28 July and 7 August. Frank was killed on 30 August and was buried in Sunken Road Cemetery, Contalmaison.

Frank's younger brother William Samuel Maynard had enlisted 2 months earlier and was already at sea when Frank died. After a period of training in England, Will joined the 12th Battalion in France on 18 March 1917. Sometime between 6 and 10 April he was killed in action at Boursies, near Cambrai, one of 256 casualties his unit incurred. His remains were never found and he is commemorated on the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux, France.

Their widowed mother Eva's lengthy and moving correspondence to finalise their affairs with Base Records in Melbourne can be followed in their service records.

References

  • Service Records for Private Frank Maynard, No. 1153, 12th Battalion, NAA: B2455, MAYNARD FRANK.
  • Service Records for Private William Samuel Maynard, No. 6311, 26th Battalion, NAA: B2455, MAYNARD WILLIAM SAMUEL.
  • Service Records for Private Edward David Lewis Maynard, No. 6311, 15th Battalion, NAA: B2455, MAYNARD EDWARD LEWIS.
  • 'Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Soldiers of the First World War', Kurbingui Star. http://50years.aiatsis.gov.au/sites/default/files/docs/family%20history/kurbingui_nomroll.pdf
  • Indigenous Australian servicemen, Australian War Memorial. https://www.awm.gov.au/articles/encyclopedia/indigenous
  • 'A Case Study of Indigenous Brothers in Arms during the First World War', Captain Timothy C Winegard, Australian Army Journal, Vol VI, No 1. http://www.army.gov.au/Our-future/Publications/Australian-Army-Journal/Past-editions/~/media/Files/Our%20future/LWSC%20Publications/AAJ/2009Autumn/13-ACaseStudyOfIndigenousB.pdf

Last updated: 27 October 2020

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