Friday, 16 January 2015

Frank Leonard Kelf and Harold Gadsby -Brothers-in-law

Frank’s story
Frank Leonard Kelf 1894-1981 left the family home in Norwich, England in 1914 to venture out to Australia as a 19-year-old. In recollection he wrote for his daughter Airdrie, he said  that "war was declared as my ship was leaving the docks". Indeed he departed England on 27 August 1914 on the "Themistocles" and arrived in Melbourne about six weeks later. Upon arriving in Australia he worked on the railway and farms but by the middle of 1915 with the war still taking hold and everyone around him joining up he tried to get into the army. Due to his age he needed parental permission and has his parents were in England he had to wait.  Meanwhile he studied for a naval engineer certificate under a retired engineer who had been a Lt Cmdr. Still being underage and having no parental consent and as the war situation was getting worse he put his age up to 21 and enlisted in the Royal Australian Navy in August 1915.

Frank’s papers describe him as 5'6" with a fresh faced complexion dark brown hair and grey eyes.

And who should he meet on the way to war? None other than Harold Gadsby -his future brother in law. Naval records show Harold joining the training ship one day prior with the service number 5323 one number later than Frank’s. Possibly they met on the recruitment queue!

Group portrait of Australia's crew in December 1918

After completing training in England, Frank and Harold served on HMAS Australia which was an
Indefatigable class battle cruiser launched in 1911 and built for the defence of the British Empire. It was the flagship of the Royal Australian Navy which was in its infancy.

It was assigned to North Sea operations which consisted primarily of patrols and exercises, until the end of the war. During this time, Australia was involved in early attempts at naval aviation and 11 of her personnel participated in the Zeebrugge Raid.   The battle cruiser was not at the  Battle of Jutland as she was undergoing repairs following a collision with sister ship HMS New Zealand. 

The Australian War Memorial has advised that Australia only ever "fired in anger"  twice: once at a German merchant vessel in January 1915 (before Frank and Harold were aboard) and in December 1917 at a suspected submarine contact.

All up he served five years. Three on active service overseas.

This is how Frank Kelf Service number 5322 spent the war:

Cereberus              Stoker II       10.8.1915   to   22.11.1915 (Training ship and transport to London)

London Depot        Stoker II       23.11.1915 to   11.1.1916

HMAS Australia     Stoker          12.1.1916   to    30.6.1920

Flagship of the Royal Australian Navy, HMAS Australia, Sydney Harbour, between 1913-1924

After the war when she returned to Australia, several sailors aboard the warship mutinied.  This was after arrival in Western Australia. Having been away for the whole war a request for an extra day's leave in Fremantle was denied. This on top of other issues such as minimal leave during the war, problems with pay, and the perception that Royal Navy(British) personnel were more likely to receive promotions than Australian sailors initiated the mutiny.

Post-war Australia became a training ship.   Part of the disarmament provisions of the Washington Naval Treaty saw Australia scuttled in 1924.  Frank’s time on the Australia ended in June 1920 and he returned to Sydney 6 weeks later on the HMAS Penguin.

Not really having established roots in Australia when he first arrived, Frank was persuaded to move to Undercliff where the Gadsbys were living. Then he began courting Julia Gadsby. Rumour has it that when Frank came to visit Julia  her sisters would all call out excitedly " Frank's here". Julie would remove her "rag" rollers out of her hair and rush out to meet him, always suffering the next day from straight hair with no bounce and curl.

No doubt the big brothers back from the war- Thomas, Harold and Jack ensured that Frank did the right thing by their beautiful little sister with talk of threats of broken arms. Encouraged by her sisters to “marry him – he’s an Earl”, Frank and Julia married in Undercliff  in 1921. 

Frank and Julia on their honeymoon in 1921

Harold’s Story
Harold Gadsby  1896-1971 too was a new resident of Australia having immigrated from West Ham England  to Sydney with his family in 1912. His  Service record  number 5323 shows he was engaged to serve in the Navy the day after his 19th birthday. He was  5 ft 7 inches, had auburn hair, grey eyes and fresh skin colour with a birth mark over his right clavicle.  As this picture shows he had the regal looks that all the Gadsby boys had.
Harold Gadsby
His Naval service dates were similar but shorter than Frank’s, Harold having left the ship when it docked in Sydney in 1919.
Cereberus              Stoker II       10.8.1915   to   22.11.1915 (Training ship and transport to London)

London Depot        Stoker II       23.11.1915 to   11.1.1916

HMAS Australia     Stoker          12.1.1916   to   18.8.1919

Members of Australia's crew march down a decorated street in 1919, following the battle cruiser’s return to Sydney

He married Catherine Campbell in Melbourne on 23rd  Feb  1924 and returned to Sydney a little while later.  The couple had 5 children.
In WWII Harold signed up again and was in the Voluntary Defence Corps.  Private Gadsby service number N391673 enlisted at Crows Nest on 19/3/1942 and was discharged 24/2/1945.
Granddaughter Leane Lawrence writes “ he was in charge of making sure all the soldiers got their supplies before the public got their rations. He helped to make up Ration Packs for the soldiers and made sure material for uniforms & blankets etc was sent to the forces first.”

There was always plenty of hospitality at their house. With his training as a navy cook Harold was good at cooking for a crowd. The family story is that he made a Queen pudding (using a dozen valuable eggs) that no-one got to taste as the dish had a hole in it and he lost the lot.

Here’s my version of the legendary Queens Pudding...
 Serves  4-6
600 ml milk
10g butter
110g fresh white breadcrumbs
50g caster sugar
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 large eggs
3 Tbs raspberry jam
Preheat oven to 180 deg C.

Pour the milk into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter, breadcrumbs, 25 g of the sugar and the lemon zest, and leave for 20 minutes to allow the breadcrumbs to swell.

Lightly beat the separated yolks and add them to the cooled breadcrumb mixture. Pour it into a buttered pie dish. Bake in the centre of the oven for 30-35 minutes, or until set.

After heating the  raspberry jam over a low heat  or in microwave  spread the jam over the top of the cooked pudding. Lightly beat the egg whites until stiff, then whisk in the remaining caster sugar. Spoon this meringue mixture over the pudding.

Bake for a further 10-15 minutes until the topping is golden brown. 

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