Friday, May 1, 2020

Old Queensland Photos - Proudfoot Family?

In my great-grandmother Dora (Dolly) Mary Flockton’s old photograph album are three cartes de visite taken in the studios of Albert Lomer in Brisbane, most likely in the 1880s. I wonder if they depict some of the children of Rev Alexander Proudfoot, of Geelong and Gladstone. He died in Rockhampton in 1873 but his widow ran a boarding and day school for girls in Rockhampton for a number of years afterwards.

Here’s why I think these photos may depict members of the Proudfoot family:
  • Dolly migrated from London to Queensland in December 1882 and left that colony in 1889.
  • I suspect that Dolly worked at Mrs Proudfoot's school in Rockhampton before her marriage.
  • Dolly’s bridesmaid when she married Philip Boulton in Gladstone in December 1885 was Frances Janet Proudfoot.
  • In Dolly’s 'birthday book' are the birthdays for Frances Janet Proudfoot, her sister Alexandra Mary Proudfoot and their eldest brother George Jacobus Proudfoot.
  • The Proudfoots moved permanently to Melbourne around 1890 and Dolly and her husband Philip Boulton also lived in Melbourne from 1891-1895
  • Mr & Miss Proudfoot attended a cricket match with the Boultons at Cheltenham in Melbourne on 2 Dec 1893. 
  • Philip Boulton died in 1895 and Dolly moved that year to NSW where her family lived.
I can’t think who else these photos might represent. Does anyone recognise these people? I'm hoping someone from the Proudfoot family will contact me with their thoughts ... or someone else might know these people and be grateful for these photos.

The Proudfoot connection is mentioned briefly in my book 'Margaret Flockton: A Fragrant Memory', available through Wakefield Press, but I'm preparing a more detailed account of them in a book I'm writing about Philip Boulton.

Albert Lomer Studio Photo1

Reverse of Photo 1

Albert Lomer Studio Photo 2

Reverse of Photo 2

Albert Lomer Studio Photo 3

Reverse of Photo 3

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Masters of the Road

The one good thing about home isolation, trying to escape COVID-19, is the extra time we have available for our families, our pets, our housework, our cooking, our gardens and our list of  'things to do'. In this post I'm ticking off an item on my long list.

Late last year I won the GSV Writing Prize 2019 for my short story 'Masters of the Road'. It was published in Ancestor in December 2019 and of course I'd like to thank the judges of the competition run by the Genealogical Society of Victoria for the choice they made. And I'd like to thank the Ancestry company for my prize, a year's free subscription to their service, and a free DNA test kit.
'Masters of the Road', Ancestor, Dec 2019
'Masters of the Road' is about two families seizing the opportunities offered by technological change. I loved researching this story because it tells a previously unknown version of actual history, surrounding the contractors at the start of the Royal Mail Coach service in England in 1784. My enterprising forebears Thomas Willson (yes, with two lls) and George Boulton (Snr and Jnr) are the heroes of my particular account. I wish I had some pictures of them.
'Mail Coaches Pass at Night', from Malet, Annals of the Road, 1876
Let me make one thing clear. This short story took a long time to tell. It was 20 years in the making, through my lengthy research process and my own learning-how-to-write-family-history journey. It evolved during three separate trips to England – in 2002, 2017 and 2018 – plus other general research there in 2006 and 2009.

Publication was delayed as I puzzled over the origins of the Boultons and Willsons. They had major businesses in London. Where had they sprung from? The Boultons seemed to be 'gentry' of some kind but for many years I couldn't connect them to any of several well-known Boulton families. It was not until 2017, when I spent days examining documents at the Lincolnshire Archives, that I found sufficient clues to be sure that 'my' Boultons originated in Horncastle, Lincolnshire. In this same town a small museum honours local hero Sir Joseph Banks, well-known to Australians.
Horncastle, Lincolnshire, Photo by Louise Wilson, Nov 2017
Thomas Willson, son of John, was baptised in Long Whatton, Leicestershire in 1744.
Long Whatton, Leicestershire, photo Louise Wilson, Nov 2017
Apart from confirming family backgrounds, the story seemed to be 'ready' many times prior to 2019. I'd even entered it in the GSV's 2018 competition, and then promptly withdrew it, as my head and heart told me it needed further refinement. I hadn't found the 'essence' of what I was trying to say.

For the purposes of a writing competition, the constraint of a 2,400 word limit was extremely useful in forcing me to extract the essential core of my story, the point I was trying to make. Every novelist knows how painful it is to write a synopsis, and the GSV's 2,400 word constraint required the same disciplined thinking for my non-fiction story.

Beyond this story a full-length illustrated book slowly evolved over 20 years, where I indulged in a great deal more wordiness, colour and movement. Still in draft form, it might eventually interest the Post Office Archives in London. Meanwhile, a copy of the short-form 'Masters of the Road' is held at the Postal Museum in Bath, England.

Entries for the next GSV Writing Prize close at 4pm on 28 August 2020.  I wonder what I can write about next? And ... all you family history writers out there wondering how to fill your days in COVID-19 home isolation ... what could you write?

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Commemorative Roll, AWM Canberra

Last week I was privileged to stand in my mother's place as her cousin Pip was remembered at the Australian War Memorial (AWM) in Canberra.

The occasion was a talk given on 16 January 2020, explaining the existence and meaning of the AWM's Commemorative Roll. Like the Honour Roll, it acknowledges the lives lost in war in the service of one's country, but those on the Commemorative Roll were Australians serving in an Allied force and not the Australian armed forces.
Elise Horspool & Louise Wilson, AWM Canberra, Jan 2020
Philip Hugh Boulton (Pip) was among the eight or nine people whose stories were briefly told by Elise Horspool, an Assistant Curator at the AWM. An Australian, he happened to be in England when WW2 broke out and thus he served as a pilot in the RAF rather than the RAAF.  He was killed on 29 May 1941 when a plane in which he was a passenger crashed into the Dorset hills after an air-sea firing exercise.
P H Boulton, Sussex, 1939
Photo by Courtesy Julia Woodhouse
It seems that his name was submitted for inclusion on the Commemorative Roll several years ago by an internal staff member of the AWM. Once the relevant AWM staff had confirmed all the details, Pip's name was added to the Commemorative Roll database in September 2019, 78 years after his death! The reference number is His is not a unique case. Names from past wars continue to be added to the Commemorative Roll, as researchers come across the stories of relevant candidates.  Nominations from the public are also considered by AWM staff.

It was not until late November 2019 that the family first became aware of this amazingly-belated recognition of Pip's service, or even knew that he was eligible for it. Elise Horspool sent a message and then a follow-up message:
Pip represents a large cross section of Australian society at the time: a family with generational service and an Australian who died serving in the Royal Air Force/Volunteer Reserve. Along with Pip, I have chosen an Australian Philippine Army guerrilla, an Australian Commando serving with the British, an Australian Merchant Marine who survived the sinking of two of his ships (but not the third), an Australian Engineer who served with the Federated Malay States Volunteer Force and worked on the Thai-Burma Railway, two British brothers who made Australia their home but heard the call to return to the British Army and an Australian Painter who'd migrated to New Zealand. These stories represent different facets of our history and society over different wars and services. However, they all have the same thing in common, they were Australian but served with other Allied forces. I think their stories are extraordinary and they are equal to those on the Roll of Honour. 
The Commemorative Roll is tucked away up a short flight of stairs at the end of the Reflective Pool, on the right hand side as you enter the pool area.

Commemorative Roll Alcove, AWM Canberra
If you wish to view the roll you need to ask an attendant at the main desk to unlock it. I did this but the name I sought was not on the page.  Having only recently been identified as eligible, Philip Hugh Boulton (Pip)  will be included when the Roll is reprinted shortly.
Commemorative Roll Display Cabinet, AWM Canberra
Afterwards I bowed my head before his uncle Steve's name (S P Boulton) on the Honour Roll for those serving in the 2nd Brigade of Australia's First Division in WW1. His name was so crowded with poppies that it is almost obscured.
Honour Roll, Panel 11, AWM Canberra
Read more about Pip here and here. Read more abut Pip's father and Uncle Steve in WW1 in their letters, published as Brothers in Arms: the Great War Letters of Captain Nigel Boulton, R.A.M.C. & Lieut Stephen Boulton, A.I.F.   The AWM Bookshop still has two copies.

Should you ever wish to consult them, the original letters are held in Canberra within the AWM's Collection, Nigel's at and Stephen's at

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Gladesville Boys in WW1

Next week, on 16 January 2020, a public talk will be given in the Commemorative Area of the Australian War Memorial (AWM) in Canberra. It will feature the stories of a representative group of Australians who died in WW2 while serving with other Allied forces. The names of these people are included on the AWM's Commemorative Roll, holding equal significance to the AWM's Honour Roll (for those serving with Australian military forces). The talk on 16 January will include the story of Philip Hugh (Pip) Boulton, the son of Dr Nigel Boulton, a long-time resident of Gladesville and Ryde.

Pip was chosen for inclusion in the talk as an example of the inter-generational service of fathers who served in WW1 and their sons in WW2.  Pip, as a baby, features strongly in the letters written by his father and uncle during WW1 and published in the book Brothers in Arms: the Great War Letters of Captain Nigel Boulton, R.A.M.C. & Lieut Stephen Boulton, A.I.F.  Like his father, Pip attended The Kings School at Parramatta and, like his father, he also happened to be in England when WW2 broke out. Unlike his father, Pip did not return home from WW2.
Dr Nigel Boulotn, Pip and his mother Mona, England, mid 1918
from Julia Woodhouse Collection
In the generation before Pip, a number of other young men from Gladesville also did not survive their service. Altogether five sets of brothers from Gladesville who fought in WW1 make an appearance in the Boulton book. A century later, their names provide an interesting record of a friendship group, almost a social class, within the larger number of men from Gladesville whose service in WW1 is recorded by the Australian War Memorial.

The two Boulton brothers lived prior to WW1 at 'Bi-frons', Coulter St, Gladesville, a three-generation household containing their sister, their widowed mother, her sister (Aunt Mog) and their Flockton grandmother. Frank Bryant, a banker and close family friend who kept an eye on the welfare of the Boultons, was the nephew of Australia's first Prime Minister, Edmund Barton. The Barton family will reappear twice more in this story but no direct connection has been identified between them.
'Bi-frons', Coulter St, Gladesville c 1910
from Julia Woodhouse Collection
During the war their womenfolk lived at 'Coolah', on the corner of Ross Street and Western Crescent, Gladesville.
'Coolah', Western Crescent, Gladesville
from Julia Woodhouse Collection
Dr Nigel Boulton, c Dec 1913
from Julia Woodhouse Collection
Bank officer Stephen Boulton, c Dec 1914
from Julia Woodhouse Collection
Nigel Philip Boulton served as a doctor with the British Army and survived the war,  and Stephen Philip Boulton, Service Number 3872, was killed in France on 3 October 1918.
Stephen & Nigel Boulton, England, Sep 1917
by courtesy Sarah Dennis
After the war Nigel was a doctor at 760 Victoria Rd, Ryde for several years and at 237 Blaxland Rd, Ryde for many years. His Aunt Mog (the scientific botanical artist Margaret Lilian Flockton) lived at Tulagi, 30 Kemp St, Tennyson from 1918 to her death in 1953.

Two Shelley brothers of "Glen Doone", Henley, William St, Gladesville (towards Huntleys Point and Hunters Hill) both survived the war. Eric Ralph Shelley, Service Number 3130, was a farmer and grazier before the war and was awarded the Military Cross in 1917. His brother Mac Robert Shelley, Service Number 3131, was a bank clerk.
Two Herring brothers had lived at Bracondale, Ashburn Place, Gladesville, close to the Boultons. Edward Edgar (Jack) Herring, Service Number 939, was a bank clerk like Stephen Boulton when he signed up on 27 August 1914. He died on 9 August 1915 and is buried at Gallipoli.
Edward Edgar (Jack) Herring
(Sydney Mail, 13 Sep 1915)
His older brother Sydney Charles Edgar Herring (Syd), a married man and estate agent of Gladesville, has no recorded Service Number because he was already an army captain  when he signed up on 9 October 1914. He had a distinguished military career.
Brigadier General Sydney Herring, London 1918
Australian War Memorial, in Public Domain
Two Barton brothers of "Nyrangie", Linsley St, Gladesville (not far from the Boulton residence) both died in the war. They were first cousins of Andrew Barton (Banjo) Paterson, in whose honour a harbourside park has been named because Banjo lived with his grandmother at 'Rockend', Gladesville for a lengthy period when he was a student.

Francis Maxwell Barton (Max or Mac) was a student but already an officer (2nd Lieut) when he signed up with Syd Herring on 9 October 1914, so he has no recorded Service Number. Max died in France on 11 August 1916, shortly after this photo was taken of him in March 1916 at Tel-el-kebir in Egypt.
13th Australian Infantry Battalion plays donkey polo, Max Barton in left foreground
Australian War Memorial, in public domain
Max is not picked up as a Gladesville 'boy' on the Australian War Memorial website when it sorts by place. However his younger brother is: Robert Anthony Barton (Tony), Service Number 4660, was a student when he enlisted on 16 August 1915 and he was killed on 9 June 1917 in Belgium. Max and Tony's letters were discovered in a suitcase by their niece Gay Shannon, who is now publishing them online in a blog and a Facebook page
Francis Maxwell (Max) Barton
by courtesy Gay Shannon
Robert Anthony (Tony) Barton
by courtesy Gay Shannon
Four Kirkwood brothers served and Stephen Boulton mentions 'one of the Kirkwood lads' at Pozières in August 1916. This was William Russell Barton Kirkwood, Service Number 907, a farm student when he enlisted, who was later killed in France on 3 May 1917. The Kirkwood brothers' home address was 'Speen', Wharf Road, Gladesville, around the corner from the Herring brothers. Phillip Barton Kirkwood, Service Number 604, a bank clerk when he enlisted, was killed at Gallipoli on 19 May 1915. Soon after Phillip's death two more Kirkwood brothers enlisted. Noel Edmund Barton Kirkwood, a doctor, enlisted as an officer on 27 May 1915 and survived the war. John Barton Kirkwood, Service Number 2619, an auctioneer, enlisted on 14 June 1915 and survived the war. Photos of all four brothers are on the Virtual War Memorial Australia website. The Barton appearing in all their names honoured their grandfather Russell Barton of 'Russell Lea', Five Dock, a separate Barton family to that of Max and Tony Barton.
From the adjoining suburb of Hunters Hill, the Boulton brothers refer in their letters to two others:

Walter Stirling Macansh, a stockman whose family lived at Brown Street, Hunters Hill. He was a first cousin of the eldest (half) sister of the Barton brothers. He signed up early, on 2 September 1914, his Service Number being 147 and he survived the war.

In a letter written from 'Somewhere in France' on 30 April 1916, Stephen Boulton mentions a Mr Budden: "An occasional lot of gift stuffs come along for the 1st Brigade of Artly., which we being in the 1st Brigade get a share of. We haven't had any since coming over to France but I suppose later some will come along. Mr. Budden of Hunter's Hill is Secretary I believe." His reference was to Henry Ebenezer Budden, an architect of 'Morillah', Hunters Hill, who volunteered in 1915 to act in a voluntary capacity as the Commissioner of Australia's 'Citizens War Chest Fund'. This was a charitable body aiding the troops in Egypt and Europe.
The Boulton brothers attended The Kings School at Parramatta in the early 1900s, and their letters also mention some names from their school days:
  • Harry Lloyd
  • Arthur Champion
  • Harry Jacob
  • R G Waddy
  • Billy Metcalfe
One military researcher describes the Boulton book as among the best first-hand accounts in print. If you'd like to read more, it's available from BookPOD in Melbourne or internationally through major online booksellers.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Belatedly Honouring Philip Hugh Boulton

Two years ago today, on the first official day of an English winter, I took the Piccadilly line to Alperton station on the north-western outskirts of London and then walked to Alperton's large cemetery.
Entrance to Alperton Cemetery
Photo by Louise Wilson 1 Dec 2017

I stepped inside, looked around and wondered how I could possibly find the grave I sought.
View of Alperton Cemetery from Entrance
Photo by Louise Wilson, 1 Dec 2017

In the distance I spotted a tall white cross marking what I hoped might be the military section of the cemetery. I walked across and found the area maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. In the stories passed down in our family since 1941 it has always been referred to as the Heroes Corner.
Heroes Corner, Alperton Cemetery
Photo by Louise Wilson, 1 Dec 2017

It was late afternoon and the air was chilly but the scene was evocatively calm and peaceful. The birds twittered gently as they found their place of rest for the night. For a moment I worried that I might be locked in with them, as I was the only visitor, far from the entrance gate and I'd forgotten to check the closing time for the cemetery.

Never mind, I'd come here to honour my mother's cousin Philip Hugh Boulton, who she always referred to as Pip. I quickly located his war grave, close to the cross.
Alperton Cemetery, Grave of P H Boulton in foreground
Photo by Louise Wilson 1 Dec 2017

I read the inscription on the slightly mossy headstone and placed a poppy.
P H Boulton Headstone, Alperton Cemetery
Photo by Louise Wilson, 1 Dec 2017

29th MAY 1941 AGE 26


His young English wife Eileen Sellars had chosen this place as the burial site for her Australian husband in 1941 but it's a long way from home for his Australian relatives. My visit proves that we haven't forgotten him.

Nor has the Australian War Memorial (AWM). Around the time of my visit to Alperton, I was unaware that a staff member of the AWM had submitted Pip's name for inclusion on its Commemorative Roll. Following research into his eligibility, his name was added to the Commemorative Roll in September 2019.

The AWM website states that the Commemorative Roll commemorates Australians who died during or as a result of service in wars, conflicts or operations identical with the Roll of Honour, but who are not members of the Australian armed forces. The Commemorative Roll is in the form of a Commemorative Book located in the Memorial’s Commemorative Area, the Commemorative Roll database, accessible through the Memorial’s website and the list of names on the Merchant Seaman's Memorial.

Our family was surprised and thrilled when I was informed of this development a few days ago. We are also delighted to hear that Pip's service will form a brief part of a forthcoming 30 minute talk at the AWM. The speaker will be Elise Horspool, Acting Assistant Curator, Honour Rolls, who says:
'Pip represents a large cross section of Australian society at the time; a family with generational service and an Australian who died serving in the Royal Air Force/Volunteer Reserve.
Along with Pip, I have chosen an Australian Philippine Army guerrilla, an Australian Commando serving with the British, an Australian Merchant Marine who survived the sinking of two of his ships (but not the third), an Australian Engineer who served with the Federated Malay States Volunteer Force and worked on the Thai-Burma Railway, two British brothers who made Australia their home but heard the call to return to the British Army and an Australian Painter who migrated to New Zealand. These stories represent different facets of our history and society over different wars and services.
However, they all have the same thing in common, they were Australian but served with other Allied forces. I think their stories are extraordinary and they are equal to those on the Roll of Honour.'
I plan to attend the public talk at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra at 12.30pm on 16 January 2020. You can read about Pip's life in more detail here. His brother Peter Boulton was also a WW2 pilot but he survived (just) and his life story is mentioned here. Likewise for their first cousin, Stephen Penn Dennis, the WW2 pilot son of Thea Boulton, part of whose story is here.

As acknowledged by the AWM, the Boultons also gave volunteer service to Australia in an earlier generation through Pip's father and uncle and his aunt Thea Boulton's husband Cleon Dennis. Their remarkably moving story is told in the book Brothers in Arms: The Great War Letters of Captain Nigel Boulton R.A.M.C. & Lieut Stephen Boulton, A.I.FThe book is available in Canberra at the AWM shop, in Melbourne at the Shrine of Remembrance or online via BookPOD or the usual major international sites such as Amazon and Book Depository.

P.S. You are invited to 'Like' Louise Wilson, Author on Facebook.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Another Boulton 'Fly-Boy'

Men who experienced and survived the appalling trench warfare of the First World War were often keen for their sons to escape this carnage when the Second World War broke out in 1939. So it was with the Boulton family. Their young men took to the skies.

Peter Martin Boulton was born in the Sydney suburb of Ryde on 28 September 1920, the younger of two brothers.  His father was the local GP Dr Nigel Boulton, who had served as an army doctor throughout the First World War, in Egypt, Salonika and France. His parents separated when he was a small boy, and he lived at Ryde with his father and boarded for a time at his father's old school, The King's School at Parramatta.  Both of his parents remarried in 1927 but his step-mother Marie did not like having small boys around, even in school holidays. She forced Peter into an unwanted choice of going to live with his mother, now Mrs Mona Dee, at his step-father's home where he felt uncomfortable, so he often lived with his aunt Thea and his Dennis cousins at their home at Greenwich.

Peter and his older brother Philip (Pip) both served in the Air Force in World War II, as did their cousin Stephen Penn Dennis.  Pip happened to be in England when war broke out and he joined the Royal Air Force as Philip Hugh Boulton, Australian Pilot No 907098. The day after Pip completed his training as a night-fighter pilot and was posted to No 604 (Middlesex) Squadron, he was killed in an accident on 29 May 1941, travelling as an observer in a Beaufighter, after an air-sea firing exercise off Dorset in England.

Barely three weeks after his older brother was killed, on 21 June 1941 20-yr-old Peter caused great anxiety to his parents by enlisting in the Royal Australian Air Force, Service No 411990.
Peter Martin Boulton, Australian Pilot No 411990
Peter was trained to fly in Rhodesia and Palestine and piloted Hurricanes in the Middle East, but in June 1943 Pilot Officer P M Boulton was thrown out of a truck in the desert and his leg was so badly broken (fracture of left humerus, injury to left cruciate ligament of knee, simple fracture of sacrum) that he required a knee reconstruction.  He was sent back to Australia to the Repatriation Hospital at Jervis Bay and there he met his wife-to-be Doris Louisa Brentnall, a Women's Australian Air Force nurse from Wagga Wagga.
Flt Lt Peter Martin Boulton
After discharge from hospital, Peter was sent to 'Ferry Flight' at Richmond, NSW.  On 5 August 1945 Flt Lieut Boulton was taking a Mustang from Sydney to Queensland when he crashed on landing at Bohle River near Townsville and was so badly injured that at first he was left for dead, with a double fracture of the skull, his ears hanging off, haemorrhage of the eyes and broken jaw.

Luckily the first doctor's opinion that he would be dead within half an hour was ignored and someone took him to be operated on at Townsville hospital, where he eventually recovered.  At an Imperial Services Ball at the Trocadero in Sydney many years later, Peter was approached by an officer who asked if he was Peter Boulton.  When Peter said 'Yes', the man said 'Good God, Good God, I left you for dead'.  He couldn't get over it and stared at Peter all night.  Peter's wife Doris observed wryly 'no doubt that doctor had a sleepless night'.
Peter Boulton survived this plane crash at Bohle River, QLD
After the war ended, in December 1945 Peter returned to his pre-war job at the Vacuum Oil Company. Doris continued serving in the Air Force as nurses were needed to look after returning injured service personnel.  Three weeks after her discharge, Peter and Doris were married, on 2 April 1947 by Reverend Price, the Chaplain at his old school The King's School.

Peter’s post-war role as a salesman and assistant advertising manager suited his rather debonair style.  He was running the Mobil Quest when a young singer named Joan Sutherland won it in 1950. He and Doris proved unable to have children and Doris began her career with David Jones, a store made unforgettable by Madeleine St John's wonderful novel 'Ladies in Black'. Doris worked here for 25 years, including about 20 years as assistant buyer in the high fashion department on the 6th floor, with high prices to match.

Peter’s father Nigel Boulton remarried in 1951, to an old family friend Thelma Attwood who was an auctioneer at Lawson’s Antiques. When Peter's mother Mona Dee moved home around 1955, Peter and Doris moved in to her old unit, Flat 5, on the waterfront at 88 West Esplanade, Manly.  Peter had lived here before the war with his mother and step-father.  Here at Manly Peter and Doris lived stylishly for over 30 years. 

During their marriage they made some good friends, holidayed in various parts of Australia and New Zealand and also enjoyed a trip to South East Asia in 1974.  Peter tried to look after his mother Mona, widowed in 1951, and his step-mother Thelma, widowed in 1969.  In the late 1960s he sent his mother and his wife on a cruise to Colombo, aboard 'Strathmore'.  Doris recalled that even in her 70s Mona still liked to flirt and she was drinking a bit by then.

Peter retired in 1985, at the age of 65, and he and Doris enjoyed many walks along the Manly foreshores until the onset of his Alzheimer's disease and his failing memory transformed Doris back into a nurse.  She was almost four years older than Peter but she looked after him for some years until, eventually, she had to put him into hospital after she herself collapsed under the strain.  Within several months he died of a heart attack, on 29 March 1995, and thus he was spared the worst phase of Alzheimer's.

Doris stayed on in the flat for about three years but the 35 stairs up to the unit became too much to manage and she moved into the Drummond House Hostel in Manly in 1998.  Before she died at Bayview Gardens Nursing Home on 12 October 2008, she wrote her own life story for the family history being prepared by her niece Pamela Lloyd.

More of the Boulton family story is told in the book 'Brothers in Arms', available through BookPOD and online through major international outlets.

Friday, December 15, 2017

A Christmas Gift from a Reader

A lovely letter has just turned up in my post box, almost like a Christmas gift, from a reader named Laurie Gallop who knew Nigel Boulton.

Naturally I had to ring him straight away to say thank you. Laurie's nephew recently bought him a copy of Brothers in Arms: The Great War Letters of Captain Nigel Boulton, R.A.M.C. & Lieut Stephen Boulton, A.I.F., having heard Laurie reminisce so fondly about his old family doctor, 'Dr Boulton'. Laurie thinks many more old patients of Dr Boulton's at Ryde would love to read this book, if only they knew of its existence.
Dr Nigel Boulton
Although he is 85 years old, Laurie also enclosed with his letter his own drawing of the Old Bank House at Ryde, copied from a picture in the paper. He says this building, on the corner of Church St & Victoria Rd, housed the Bank of New South Wales until 1914 and included a hitching rail for horse-drawn vehicles. Dr Boulton purchased the building in 1922 and practised there until after the Second World War. He then moved to a new home and practice in Blaxland Rd, opposite the tram terminus.
Old Bank Building, Ryde, drawn by Laurie Gallop, 2017
Laurie drew this picture especially for me, as a gift to keep. At this time of year, it's a Christmas gift. Drawing is his hobby, he says, as his health status means he doesn't get out much. He was never an artist himself but his father made his living teaching art at the East Sydney Technical College, a.k.a. the National Art School at Darlinghurst. Coincidentally, this means that my mother Julia Woodhouse was an art student of Laurie's father, around 1940.

On the phone Laurie described Dr Boulton as quiet and gentlemanly, but not without humour, and very well-trained as a doctor. Here's Laurie's letter:

Dear Louise 

I must congratulate you on your fine book BROTHERS IN ARMS. It has meant a lot to me, as it has filled a void in the life of Dr Nigel Boulton. 

Dr Boulton and Nurse Lane were present at my birth on the xxxxxx 1931. The now faded Birth Certificate has one error. The Register Clerk mispelt Dr Boulton's name as Dr Boutton. O well! 

I have some very close memories of Dr Boulton and I must say they are part of my regular reminiscent moments in life. I kept in touch with Dr Boulton up until his death, spanning over 35 years. He was a fine and capable surgeon, especially as a setter of broken bones. His concern for the welfare of his patients was legendary. 

I have always wondered about the family life of Dr Boulton in particular. BROTHERS IN ARMS says it all. It is so interesting to read those beautiful letters between their mother and her two heroic sons. Without BROTHERS IN ARMS many people like myself would never have known very much about the Boultons and what a loss that would have been. 

My parents were married in 1920 and they set up home in Meadow Crescent, Meadowbank, and there they raised five children. We were all born at home except my sister Clare who was born at Wollongong. Dr Boulton was no doubt assisted by nurse Black or nurse Lane on the other occasions. 

The whole family were treated by Dr Boulton at one time or another. He got me through pneumonia with the trusty sulphur drugs, along with home care from my good mother. This was during the Second World War. He also removed a Half Penny from my stomach, without surgery in 1934. I was playing with coins laying down on the floor. I threw them up without care, at age three. Down the Half Penny went. Dr Boulton arrived at Ryde Hospital in no time, and I remember this event as if it was only yesterday. [On the phone to me, Laurie said he remembered choking and foaming at the mouth, a white sheet being placed over his head, and an overnight stay in hospital, so he assumes he was chlorofomed and the coin was extracted from his throat with a long instrument of some kind.]

Dr Boulton took over some of Dr Gordon Smith's patients at his retirement, about 1935. I can remember the old Bank House about this time. Dr Boulton had some of his wartime souvenirs on the picture ledges in the waiting room. He later moved to nearby Blaxland Rd opposite the tram terminus. It was a two story brick building and he remained there for the rest of his life. 

Dr Boulton loved his aeroplane. He was reported flying it, "Barnstorming" the railway bridge and going under it one Sunday afternoon, to the thrill of the picnic crowds in the park. This was some time in the 1930s. [Note - This story came to Laurie from his parents. My research shows that Nigel obtained his licence to fly a Gypsy Moth from the Royal Aero Club of NSW in 1928 and he flew a B.J. Monoplane on the Sydney to Melbourne leg of the East-West Air Race to Perth in 1929. His brother-in-law Cleon Dennis knew the Kingsford-Smith family.]
Gypsy Moth Plane, picture from
I worked and lived in Ryde for 55 years, and I remember the good Doctor doing his rounds in his 1946 Ford MERCURY. It was a big powerful car and it suited his tall lean stature.
1946 Ford Mercury, picture from
BROTHERS IN ARMS has given us a wonderful insight into the Boulton family. It has added a rich chapter into the history of Ryde and its people. 
Cheerio for now 

NOTE: The book Brothers in Arms: The Great War Letters of Captain Nigel Boulton, R.A.M.C. & Lieut Stephen Boulton, A.I.F. recently rated very highly among all the books read by members of the Athenaeum Book Club in Melbourne during 2017. Hearing of that verdict was like another Christmas gift to me. The book's available in Australia via BookPOD and internationally via the online sources such as Amazon and Book Depository which are mentioned on my website. I hope everyone reading this post will enjoy some equally unexpected pleasures this Christmas and that the year to come, 2018, will be loving, healthy, safe and happy for you.