Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Landscape of Loss: Olive Street Introduction

For 2014, the Landscape of Loss project looked at a larger and more comprehensive sample of the Perth suburb of Subiaco than last year, in the form of an entire street.

This is the first post of three.
The second post, on statistics, is here.
The third, on stories, is here.

This year, the outcomes of the Olive Street study are also viewable on a detailed electronic map with a number of information layers, linked here and embedded below.


Olive Street is a relatively short thoroughfare that runs north-south between the larger arteries of Hay Street and Bagot Road, also crossed by Barker Road and Park Street in between.

Cancelled townsite plan of Subiaco, c. 1910
(Courtesy: State Records Office of Western Australia)

Since the mid-1920s, the end nearest Hay Street has also been bisected by Churchill Avenue (formerly Perth Street), and most of the buildings have been replaced by modern structures.

Olive Street from above- 1965 and today
(Google Maps)

The end nearest Bagot Road, though, retains many of the houses that were present in 1914. The street itself holds an extraordinary quantity of First World War stories. From around 50 houses that existed at the time, there were at least 49 associated enlistments.

Of those men, 18 never returned. 19 returned ill, injured, or were discharged early, unfit for further service. Only 12 remained overseas to the end of the war, and almost all of those had at some point been wounded or ill themselves in the previous four years. Olive Street was represented in every arena of the war, from the first day at Gallipoli through to the Middle East and the Western Front.

Olive Street looking south near Park Street, toward Bagot Road


This year's study differs from last year's in several ways.

Last year, I searched embarkation rolls for Subiaco enlistees, and used only the stories I found there. This year, recognising the limitations of that method, I decided to use a more detailed approach.

From my original search of the Western Australian battalion embarkation rolls, I already had a number of Olive Street residents listed. To expand the final study, I began with the Western Australian Post Office Directories, available in digitised format through the State Library of Western Australia. I took each house in Olive Street and built a table of listed residents between 1914 and 1919.

I then used the names obtained from that source to search locations such as:
for both enlistments and next of kin details. The Trove digitised newspaper archives also yielded a great deal of information about Olive Street and the lives of those who lived there, as did the electoral roll and census records available through Ancestry. Ken Spillman's definitive history of Subiaco, Identity Prized (1985- UWA Press), is another important source.

Further detail will be drawn in the future from sources such as rate books and honour rolls. As with all of my Subiaco research, this is a work in constant progress, and may be amended and updated as time goes by. So, if you have any additional information you'd like to add or changes you'd like to see made to any story- please let me know! And, please bear in mind that statistics may shift and change slightly with the addition of new data.

I accessed each potential service record and looked for a mention of Olive Street, either as the residence of the soldier, or as that of their next of kin. A confirmed Olive Street address for either, at any point immediately before, during or after the period of 1914 to 1919, led to inclusion in the study.

 The Roll of Honour- Subiaco Residents- World War One
(Courtesy: City of Subiaco)

Other studies and Honour Rolls generally only include those households where a soldier was resident before or during the war years. I'm interested in the social change occasioned by the war, particularly on the home front, and therefore I intend to track the movements of anyone who had a war connection in the street during the time period. To that end, once I identified a connection in the street, I also extended to further links- siblings who may also have been enlisted, and parents and spouses who were affected.

As Spillman (1985, pg. 203) wrote,
The blood of war did not spatter Subiaco sand, but few were the homes in which tears were not shed, nor anguished cries heard, for the blood of loved ones spilt elsewhere.

The limitations of the study have been reduced, but some remain. Post Office Directory listings only provide a single name, when some households had numerous families living in them. Where a property was rented, it is not always consistent as to whether the owner or the tenant was listed. War records don't always provide a permanent address for the person enlisting, making it difficult to confirm absolutely their association. Men with the same common name sometimes enlisted from similar areas, and any who could not be definitively identified have been excluded from the study to ensure no incorrect data appears. This, however, runs the risk of missing out data.

Next of kin were immediately struck with the grief of loss, but it doesn't begin to encompass how many lives were affected. A wife who lost her husband might appear in Olive Street, but his parents, siblings, friends, and extended family may have been scattered in many other locations.

The Subiaco Fallen Soldiers Memorial drawing
(Courtesy: City of Subiaco)

Life events reported in the newspapers are generally the most dramatic- arrests, deaths, misfortunes- with less detail given on happier events such as weddings, births and notable successes.

Overall, though, the details gained through this research method provide a high quantity of information, and whether or not comprehensive, give an excellent insight into life on Olive Street during the First World War.

A General History of Olive Street

Olive Street runs between Hay Street (formerly Broome Road) and Bagot Road, intersected by Churchill Avenue (since 1924), Barker Road, and Park Street.

Subiaco’s growth as a suburban area began in the 1880s, increasing over the next two decades. The City of Subiaco's Street Names report doesn't have specific information on how Olive Street came to be named, but olives have a specific importance in the suburb due to their association with the original Benedictine monks who moved there from Italy. The City's Coat of Arms includes an olive branch for the same reason.

By 1895, newspapers listed blocks for sale in Olive Street, and the first ten residents were recorded in Wise’s Post Office Directories in 1901, all living between Broome Road and Barker Road. In 1903, the E.S. Wigg and Sons Tram and Railway Map of Perth showed that the section of Olive Street between Barker and Bagot Roads was originally named Ivy Street. By 1905, though, the entire length was named Olive Street, and additional houses were listed in the Post Office Directories on the land between Barker and Bagot Roads.

Olive Street and Ivy Street on the 1903 E.S. Wigg and Sons Tram and Railway Map
(Courtesy: City of Subiaco)

Improvements to the street were made gradually. In 1907, footpaths were approved for Olive Street. In 1910, the Lighting Committee for the Municipality requested that an electrician provide a quote for lighting. In 1913, it was recommended that a gas main be installed. The same year, the construction of a stormwater drain was approved. The street changed little from that point through to 1924, when the extension of Churchill Avenue was approved and the street was intersected at the northern end.

Olive Street on the 1905 Plan of Subiaco (Compiled from Government Records)
(Courtesy: City of Subiaco)

By the time the First World War was declared in 1914, there were 34 houses on Olive Street and 16 more on the corners of intersecting roads, for a total of 50 houses. Associated with 25 of these houses, 55 men applied to enlist in the Australian Imperial Forces, and though 6 of those were found to be unfit for service, 49 marched away to war.


For the first time this year, I've used Google Maps to plot out the information gained through this study. The map is embedded below, but also linked here.

I've been able to map layers of information onto the map itself, and you can tick a box at the left-hand side (if viewing the embedded map, click the three parallel lines at the top right to open the box) to remove and add each layer for easier viewing. You can click on each individual outlined house and each marker to view more information.

This year's layers are currently limited to:
  • Year of earliest enlistment
  • Outcome (died, early discharge through wounding/ illness/ unfit, or returned to Australia post-1919)
Other statistics are discussed in the individual posts linked in the next section.

I've also plotted the places of death of all the Olive Street soldiers who lost their lives in battle, so you can zoom right out, then skip over to the other side of the world to see where they fell. Viewing the distance between their origin and their end is a stark illustration of how far away these events must have seemed to those left at home- and how difficult it must have been to understand that sons, brothers, fathers and husbands were never coming back.

The mapping software makes it difficult to include a key, so please refer back to this guide if you need some help working out what it all means:


Due to the high volume of information gained through this study, I'll be splitting the details out across two additional blog posts, which are linked below:

Olive Street Statistics
Olive Street Stories

Some stories, I haven't covered in a great deal of detail. For many of those, I still hold a fair amount of information, so if you're interested to know more about a particular soldier, please get in touch and I'll assist however I can.

An Olive Street Honour Roll

Please see the links above to navigate to the detailed stories of Olive Street soldiers. The list below (which mirrors the embedded and linked map) includes all of those 49 serving soldiers currently identified as having an Olive Street connection, whether as resident or next-of-kin.

Those highlighted in red lost their lives during the war. Those in orange returned home before the war concluded, ill, wounded or unfit. Those in green returned after 1919, and almost all had suffered injury or serious illness during their war service. RTA is short for Returned to Australia.

21 Olive Street- LANGRIDGE, Frank Albert- Resident- RTA 1919
22 Olive Street- DURKIN, Vincent Nicholas- Resident- RTA 1919
22 Olive Street- DURKIN, Bernard- Resident- RTA 1919

22 Olive Street- DURKIN, Nicholas- Resident- Discharged 1917- Unfit (emphysema, advanced age)
22 Olive Street- HUNTER, George- NOK only- RTA 1919
23 Olive Street- ROGERS, David Owen- Resident- Killed in action at Dernancourt 6/4/1918
23 Olive Street- ROGERS, James- Resident- RTA 1916- wounded
23 Olive Street- ROGERS, George- Resident- Killed in action at Passchendaele 12/10/1917
23 Olive Street- ROGERS, William- Resident- RTA 1919
26 Olive Street- BURNS, John Victor- NOK only- Killed in action at Strazeele 8/5/1918
27 Olive Street- RANKIN, William Harper- Resident- Killed in action near Messines 7/8/1917
27 Olive Street- RANKIN, Stanley David- Resident- RTA 1920
27 Olive Street- RANKIN, John "Jack" Gordon- Resident- RTA 1919
30 Olive Street- GREEN, Albert Victor Thomas- NOK only- RTA 1917- wounded
31 Olive Street- WILSON, Horace Claude- Undetermined residency- Killed in action Bullecourt 6/5/1917
31 Olive Street- MENAGH, John Wilson (snr)- Resident- RTA 1917- wounded (loss of eye)
31 Olive Street- MENAGH, John Wilson (jnr)- Resident- RTA 1919
31 Olive Street- MENAGH, Ernest Lyndon- NOK only- Died of wounds near Peronne 9/1/1918
36 Olive Street- WRIGHT, Alfred James- Resident- RTA 1919
39 Olive Street- THOMPSON, Robert Arthur- NOK only- RTA 1918- illness
39 Olive Street- BEBEE, John Bamford- NOK (family connection)- RTA 1918- wounded
71 Olive Street- ANDERSON, Hugh Lionel- Resident- RTA 1919
74 Olive Street- KERRIGAN, Thomas Michael- Resident- RTA 1919
74 Olive Street- D'RAINE, Walter- Resident- RTA 1917- wounded
84 Olive Street- SIMONS, Eric Armstrong- Resident- RTA 1919- saw no frontline service
85 Olive Street- GRIMWOOD, Samuel Edward Byrne- NOK only- RTA 1919
85 Olive Street- GRIMWOOD, Charles William- NOK (family connection)- RTA 1919, but ill
85 Olive Street- BYRNE, Thomas Edward- NOK only- Killed in action at Gallipoli 9/5/1915
85 Olive Street- HUTCHINSON, Robert- Resident- RTA 1917- poor physique/ unfit for further service
87 Olive Street- GWYTHER, Edward McKinnon- Resident- RTA 1918- illness
87 Olive Street- MACKIE, John Charles- Resident- Discharge before embarkation- unfit
89 Olive Street- CROUCHER, Joseph Edward- NOK (family connection)- Killed in action at Flers/ Gueudecourt, 3-6/11/1916
89 Olive Street- PYKE, Henry Bertram- Resident- RTA 1917- wounded (fractured spine)
89 Olive Street- PYKE, Victor Gerard- NOK (family connection)- Killed in action at Broodseinde Ridge 4/10/1917
90 Olive Street- McKINNON, David Stanley- Resident- Killed in action at Pozieres 29/7/1916
90 Olive Street- McKINNON, Daniel- NOK (family connection)- Died of wounds at Fromelles 28/7/1916
90 Olive Street- FITZGERALD, Robert Francis- NOK (family connection)- Killed in action at Louverval 15/4/1917
90 Olive Street- SAMPFORD, Arthur Ernest- Resident- RTA 1915- Wounded
90 Olive Street- SAMPFORD, William Miles- NOK only- Killed in action at Pozieres 6/8/1916
90 Olive Street- SAMPFORD, Ernest Miles- NOK only- RTA 1916- illness/ unfit
90 Olive Street- SAMPFORD, Charles Raymond- NOK only- Killed in action at Jeancourt 18/9/1918
93 Olive Street- WESTCOTT, Joseph William- Resident- Killed in action at Pozieres 15/8/1916
139 Barker Road- WILLIAMS, Arthur Tyrrell- Resident- RTA 1916 + 1917- wounded/ ill
145 Barker Road- GLUCK, Leopold Joel- Resident- Killed in action at Gallipoli 2/5/1915
148 Barker Road- BULLEN, Harold- Resident- RTA 1916- wounded
154 Barker Road- MONSON, John Christian- NOK only- Died of wounds at Pozieres 15/9/1916
86 Bagot Road- HENDERSON, George Robert- Resident- Killed in action at Messines 6/5/1917
86 Bagot Road- HENDERSON, William John- Resident- RTA 1917- illness
92 Bagot Road- WATTS, Martin Henry- Resident- Discharged early 1916 (home service)

1 comment:

  1. This is an amazingly detailed and ambitious project. I'm impressed by the amount of information available (as opposed to, say, in England, where you've noted before that many records were lost in WWII) and how much work it must have required to sift through it all and make the appropriate connections. Looking over that list and reading about your methods brings home once again how connected everyone is and how much pain we seem to inflict on each other.
    On a lighter note, that Olive Street photo reminds me of how wide residential streets can be in some parts of the world (Australia and Canada) and how views like that don't really exist in Europe!