Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales
Scheidel letters received during World War, 12 October 1914-10 November 1919 / Lillian Scheidel
[The following explanation is in Lillian Scheidelís hand.]
The "Swastika" referred to was in 1914-1918 an emblem of good friendship & fortune. My brother & a number of his pals in New Guinea formed themselves into a band of "Swastika Boys" which bound them together all through the bitter years of the 1914-1918 war from which only two of them returned home.
Killed in action 22.8.1915 Gallipoli. 18th Battalion [Annotation by Lillian Scheidel on top left of this letter]
Address. Pte N.P. Scheidel
Headquarters Orderly Room
How are you all getting on in Sydney. I hope everything is all right. Is Arthur still in work? I seem to have an idea something is wrong somewhere or somehow. Everything is all right with me, I have not got the fever yet & donít think I will get it, although hundreds of the chaps are or have been down with it. I think I am in too healthy condition to get it. Physical Exercises night and morning, with a swim night & morning, so I think Iíll be pretty right. Well we are still in the same spot & I donít think we will have much more to do now but Garrison work. Our only hope now is that a German Fleet will land a lot of her men &
give us a bit of a scrap. I am not what you would call bloodthirsty but I would like to get at them. The beggars never gave us a chance here, gave in like a lot of old women. Did Harry Stead go to England with the Expedition? I may go there yet. The old Berrima ought to be back in Sydney again by now. She left last Sunday week. What did the people say when the prisoners arrived in Sydney. Iíll bet the boys who took them back got a roaring reception or was it all done on the quiet. Well there is not much to talk about, all the days are alike & nothing exciting happens. We had an explosion the other day. One man had his chest blown in, another I think will loose one of his eyes & one or two other minor injuries. Five were injured
altogether. I think I told you about the man who was missing. Well he has not turned up yet so we have given up hope. A dozen men have gone out to look for bullion which is supposed to be buried in the crater of a volcanoe up here. They are coming back this evening. I wonder if they will have any luck. We have got a few hundred thousand quids worth of Gold & Silver already from the different towns & villages. We had a bit of fun yesterday two Germans were belting a nigger with a stick about twice the thickness of a broom handle, when a lot of our chaps wandered up & a couple sailed in & wiped up the ground with them then we all hustled them into the Guard Tent & sorry sights they looked
when we had finished with them. One of the Germans was the man who last week used very insulting words against our King & I thought he got enough to go on with that time, but evidently he was not satisfied. We also caught the same chap one day, he had hold of a dog by the Collar & was swinging it round his neck & saying that was how he would treat the English & when we bring him up, he is let off because he did it when he was drunk. Someone will shoot him one of these days & that will be the end of him. Our chaps are capable of doing anything like that, he has gone over the fence altogether. I have just had a bosker breakfast Curried fowl (active service) Donít ask where the fowl came from, but we have another one which is being roasted for
tea. We have also got our eyes on a nice little sucking pig. We will get the Japs to cook it for us. They are the boys who can cook. We are making things very comfortable for ourselves I can tell you. Well I cant find anything more to say so I will now shut up.
Much love to all
Expect a mail in shortly. If there isnít a big batch for me Iíll go stone mad.
Lieut Corrigan. Killed in action. Franc. 18th Batt [Annotation by Lillian Scheidel on top left hand corner of page]
[Swastika symbol drawn on top left of the page.]
In the Trenches
13 of 4/16
Mia Tre Kara Fratino (Esperanto "My dear sister") [Annotation in brackets by Lillian Scheidel]
How ungrateful you must think me for not writing more often! But I know in your heart you forgive me for there is so little to write about that one feels discouraged I am not a journalist so cannot make much out of little.
As you see we are again in the trenches, and this time with the real enemy of civilization facing us How we all hate them not so much for themselves but what their race is doing. Indeed I suppose we must pity their ignorance!
Even here life is not altogether devoid of luxury and fun as witness a fragrant cigar in my mouth and frequent bursts of laughter from some of my boys here. They can see "Fritz" (as we call the "Germhunís") doing some digging and they are "potting" at him and he keeps on waving them a "wash-out" with his "bang O" (shovel
The weather has been rather disagreeable lately, very showery and slight fall of snow. [Indecipherable] everything is slushy and muddy and decidedly unpleasant. I am just one caked mass of mud from head to foot.
I am fairly fluent at French now and on my first arrival in France did not find it hard to understand. We did not go in the trenches at once but were billetted in
Villages. Most of the lasses are very pretty and oh so nice. I made the acquaintance of a very nice family in one place & stayed with them several days. There were 3 girls and didnít I make the pace a welter. My "uddy" as we say. I am going back there when I get the chance. Bet yer.
Well, dear, I suppose this poor little missive is better than nothing It will
serve to keep my memory green in the hearts of those I love so dearly. I will not have time to write to the "missus this time but give her my love and tell her to "make my remembrances" to all at Kogarah. Also give my love and a kiss to all at "Tyrol" & donít forget Queenie.
Love & kisses to yourself my dear Sister
"Purity of motive is the essential condition; courage, coolness, and confidence come with it."
Died of illness due to war service. [Annotation by Lillian Scheidel at top left of the page]
(18th Battalion) [Annotation by Lillian Scheidel]
88 Clemence St
My dear Lillian
Tonight is Christmas Eve and I feel I must communicate with our dear friends at home, as you know it is the third Xmas that we have spent in Foreign lands away from home folk. Although in England at present we may as well be at the front, for all the difference it makes in regards Xmas Eve. My most earnest wish at present is that all you dear ones at home are enjoying this same day. I went to church to-day being Sunday and to-morrow will also go. Dear Sister the way the Swastikas at present this Xmas are distributed, myself, Leo & Harry are in England as also Austin, and those in France who are not in the firing line are Jack Woods & Vandy that makes a total of six, we do not feel the loss of our dear brothers as much as you do. We have seen so much of it that you think oh well, so & so has gone away, and we get so much
moving about that we will not fully realise our loss till it is over and we meet at our own homes once more. I do not know wether you understand our feelings, you must not think that we are calous, at present I can see Queenie now singing "we donít want to lose you" at the Hall in Queen St Woollahra. We donít forget although we will not give way to our feelings, if we did you would not like it, You say that your front is looking over the Harbour & the back over Bondi Beach, well Lillian I can picture the whole scene but am content please God we will see it someday. You need never worry about your little band of swastikas, although they have not won V.Cs. etc it is not because they do not deserve them. I can truthfully say they not one ever shirked his duty, and at the present time, are all wishing to be back into the fray again. Lillian you can take all the credit yourself of that little emblem, you cannot realise what it has done none of us would have ever left the Bn only that we were compelled to, through serious illness or wounds Leo was unconscious when I had him in the first aid
dug-out, and when he was being moved to the hospital he thought that he was going back to the firing line. I knew how bad he was at the time but was so pleased to see him being carried away from the danger that was with us for days. And at present he is in the same camp with me looking first rate after six months away from us all.
One cannot go against human nature so why worry about getting back, until you are absolutely fit. I would be very pleased to hear that Irene had been accepted for active service, if you could only realise Lillian what it is to be a soldier and not fight, or a nurse and not help on A.S. I would go through fire and water to help any nurse. Lillian I know it would be hard to let her go but you are not sending or letting her go to the same place as we. They would do it no doubt. Any of our nurses that come over here are well cared for and look out for any person who would attempt to interfere with a nurse. Never Fear, while we are still in the land of the living, or any soldier.
You need not worry further about any of our boys as they are all at present ok.
Lillian. I would like you to have a little Roll of Honour for the Swastikas and any information that you want I will be glad to give you in regards to service, dates or names in full. After being two months in England in hospital and on sick leave am now at Perham Downs it is rather cold and not at all pleasant.
I have a position on the staff here so expect to be here for a little while yet. Why I put the above address is that if I have gone to France, my letters will reach me direct instead of going to France and then back here, it makes it much easier if you have an address in England to send your things.
Am enclosing a card with a verse on it which will give you some idea of "Perham Downs."
To-morrow we are having a day of gifts from the Red Cross, and Church Service which I hope will be a success, weather permitting. All the men here are fast recovering from wounds or illnesses, so we want to give them as good a time as possible. Well dear Sister am rather late but I sincerely hope that you all have a most Bright and Successful New Year.
Love to all your Swastika Brother Wallace
[This is the reverse side of a pro-forma letter card which provides alternative messages for the sender to delete or send. The message that has been sent is as follows.]
I am quite well.
I have received your letter dated Dec 12.
Letter follows at first opportunity.
[This is the front of the pro-forma letter card, described as a Field Service Post Card, to be used solely for the recipientís address]
Miss L. Scheidel
Bellevue Pk Rd
Letter from Lieut Leo Corrigan
Killed in action, France [Annotation by Lillian Scheidel in top left corner]
Mia Kara Fratino (Esperanto "my dear sister")[Annotation in brackets by Lillian Scheidel]
Hodiau mi recevis leteron de vi kaj de Artijo, pour laquelle je vous remercie tous les deux. Am feeling tip-top: have just come in from the river and weíve been out for a long row in the "eight" and my blood is stirring with vitality.
We won the challenge cup for our Coy. in a regatta we held last week and I tell you we had to go hard to win. I have no skin left on my tail from rowing so hard: I stand up to eat my meals now.
Enclosed you will find some Xtracts from a little book of poems entitled "Soliloquies of a Subaltern." I tried to get
the book but it was not to be found in all Cambridge, so have just copied out a few of them that struck as particularly fine though perhaps a little crude. I thought that perhaps the Editress of "The Budget" might find room for one in the next issue. I received No 3 from Wally whilst in France and passed it on to Harry & Vandy & Geoff Woodriff and afterwards Lt Gritten. I left France just afterwards. I donít know whether you have heard but poor old Van is missing or so Harry told me in his last letter. Poor old boy, he was such a fine chap. God rest his soul if he has passed to the great Beyond.
Please give my love to the Mater &
The "Missus," Daisy, Queen & Bomp and Alda & everybody including mia kara fratino.
I sat for my final Xam for a commission yesterday. The papers were awfully hard but the result is not yet out. If it comes out before this is posted will add a postscript.
Love to all
P.S. Passed easily and am now 2nd Lieutenant
Soliloquies of a Subaltern
Somewhere in France
By Eric Thirkell Cooper
"The Contemptible Army"
(Humbly dedicated to H.I.M. the German Emperor.)
No over-medalled Army ours,
To plunder, rape or loot;
Or call upon Celestial Powers
As partners, while we shoot
No little children dread our name;
For us no women pale;
And undefended towns aflame
Mark only "Cultureís" trail.
Perhaps our knighthood hasnít shone,
Whilst churches burn and fall;
Weíre just content to carry on
As ordered - that is all.
Contemptible Ė youíre scarcely right;
m†numerous Ė thatís true!
Nor good at talk, but when we fight
More than enough for you.
The Womenís Share
Not ours the greater glory, or the praise,
Not ours the danger, Lord, nor yet the pain,
Although we share in all of these in ways
Which seem ordained for women to sustain.
Ours but the waiting part, and ours to give,
To patiently endure, without a word;
And, if our dearest die, Ďtis ours to live
Though death may be a thousandfold preferred.
The history of our times wont mention us,
Ďtis so indeed that we would have it be;
Let men have all that may seem glorious,
Let us but feel our part is known to Thee.
God, who gave the world itís fairness,
Swooning seas and ardent skies;
Fashioned it with every rareness
That could dazzle human eyes;
God, who gave me all of these,
Help me do without them please.
Giver of the light and flowers,
Running stream and forest tree,
Help me through the heavy hours,
When I think what others see.
God, Who took my sight away
Help me do without it, pray.
Take back the honour and the fame,
The victory weíve won,
Take all the credit from my name,
If this can be undone Ė
Let him, my friend that used to be
Somehow be given back to me.
Donít mock me with the pride of it,
The glory of his death,
I only know he sighed a bit-
I felt him catch his breath.
O God, if miracles can be,
May he be given back to me!
(4) Killed in action
What preparation can I write
To warn you of your loss?
To mitigate in black & white
The burden of the cross?
These little things kept separate Ė
His diary half begun;
How can these trifles compensate
A mother for her son!
The consolation men might seek
In knowing how he died
Seems so inadequate and weak
Where sorrow weighs down pride.
The Mother of all Sons bestow
All grace & comfort, till
The bidding comes for you to go
Where men no longer kill!
To "F.L.R." 26/4/15 In France
You with the boyish laugh; the sunny eyes
That always smiled when danger threatened worst;
Would you have had things ordered otherwise
If death could be prevented, fate reversed?
You were so bright, we brightened Ďneath your touch,
To all alive, your silence seems unreal.
Can it be true that you who felt so much
Lie there alone and can no longer feel?
O comrade, though maybe they call you dead,
To us who loved you, THAT you cannot be!
God grant when in my turn I too am sped,
Someone may find as much to say of me.
[This is the address side of a postcard, stamped "Waterloo 10-11 3 Ĺ 1919"]
Am sending this P.C. from the field of Waterloo.
Bellevue Pk Rd
[Front of postcard with a scene and description of it from the Battle of Waterloo]
[Transcribed by Ros Bean, Jean Hart for the State Library of New South Wales]