Picnics, a letter home from the Great War and a drunkard
XMAS – Xmas of 1914 passed off very quietly in this district, the majority of residents observing the old custom of gathering their families around their own festive board for the Xmas pudding. Boxing Day was spent by the majority in picknicing near the sea beach, some amusing themselves by fishing off the breakwater, others in the river, while a certain percentage passed the time away in the breakers and strolling on the sand. About 100 of the picknicers were taken down the river by Mr. Weatherby’s oil launch. 2/1/1915
COURT OF PETTY SESSIONS – Before the P.M. a local lad, found drunk, was fined 2s 6d and costs or three days. Fine paid. 2/1/1915
“OUR BOYS” – Mr. Leo DeSaxe, eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. C. DeSaxe, of this town, and who is with the Expeditionary Force in Egypt, writing home on the 23rd Nov. says:
“Up to now I have had excellent health, the heat in the tropics does not seem to affect me in the least. If we had ordered the weather we could not have had it calmer, not had a rough day since we started. We stayed four days in Albany, but only anchored in the Sound which is composed of a few islands, and is an excellent harbor. I wish you could see the fleet, it is a magnificent sight 48 vessels bowling along as smooth as a swan.
We were a fortnight crossing the Indian Ocean. It is a long time to go without seeing land. In one of my letters I mentioned the encounter between the Emden and Sydney, but in case you did not receive it I will tell you about it. The Sydney was one of our escort when she got the S.O.S. message from the wireless station at Cocos Island. We were only three miles away at the time, and in a very short time she was engaging the German. In two hours she had the Emden beached and beaten, so you will see it is a glorious victory. There were 1800 rounds fired between the 2 boats. The first shot of the Sydney blew the Emden’s funnels and a mast away. There was great rejoicing on board when the wireless came through.
On the 15th we got to Colombo. For miles before we came near the port the sea was alive with natives in their catamarans. They are quaint things, you wonder how they keep up in them. On the 16th we went into the port, artificial one made of huge breakwaters. The natives here amused me very much with their dealing and diving for pennies. If they ask a 1/- for a thing one wants to give them about 2d. They are terrible liars. We got some nice fruit there.
On the evening of the 17th we sailed for Aden which we expect to reach tomorrow; I think we are going to coal there. This morning we passed the Soidtra Islands, they are barren islands North of Africa there is an active volcano there. The flying fish in these waters are like a lot of swallows flying everywhere.”
Leo de Saxe
Sixteen 100 years ago booklets containing articles for the years 1899 to 1913 are available ($5 ea) from the society’s rooms. Copies of local newspapers from the 1860s to date can be viewed at the society’s Family History Research Centre (Ph 4474 3224) situated at the rear of the Pioneer Museum in Campbell St. Moruya (mdhs.org.au).