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Downunder August Newsletter


Vice President (UK-OBA)
Ray Pearson S41/45
1 Lord Street

Hon. Secretary
Brian Marley K49/53
10 Buick Court


In this edition you will read of new members from Canada, USA, UK, Cyprus, New Zealand, Ireland and Australia. Joining the Downunder OBA simply to have contact with Dukies throughout the world. When Capt Kirk and the Enterprise said “Go where no man has gone before” could it be that he as well is a Dukie.

Also this edition will feature part one of the biography of Dan Kirwin (USA). You will read of Art Cockerill with a few words of 'Canadian Boy Soldiers'. Art has allowed me to read a manuscript of his writing, The Fulthorpe Children's War, a thinly veiled story of a family in England during the Second World War, the family being very well known to Art. We can only hope Art will publish the book. The April newsletter also carries an appeal to its members. Could you please take time out to make an EPIC SCRIPT of your lives or failing that, a little bio to tell us of the same history.

New Members        
Val Cocksedge.   Grange QLD Aust.
    Val is the widow of our first president DU/OBA. Lt Col. Alf Cocksedge.
Peter Wagstaff. H/WF 54/60 Scarborough QLD Aust.
Alan Tingey. Wn/55/59 Turramurra NSW Aust.
Martyn Bonfield. H/wy/Wf 67/72 Albury NSW Aust.
Nigel Muggridge. H/R 72/77 Welland S.A Aust.
Art Cockerill. K 39/43 Ontario   Canada.
Roger Harrington K49/55 Ontario   Canada.
Geoffrey Relph. Wn 57/64 Ontario   Canada.
Tim Foster. K/C 58/65 Dublin   Ireland.
Peter Goble. K. 49/52 Nth Yorks   U.K.
Patrick Marshall. K. 49/55 Hants   U.K.
Dan Kirwan. Wf/Wn 23/28 New Jersey   U.S.A.

A warm and fair dinkum welcome to you all. If any member recognizes and wants to contact our “newchies” I can provide their e-mail address. This now gives us a WWW of 52 members enough for two dorms at Dover.

“Memoirs of a Yankee Doodle DUKIE”

My name is Dan Kirwan AKA “Danny K” and living in the USA since June 1930. This My Story:

Ypres France April 1915. My father a CSM in the ‘Firle Brigade” was killed. I was aged 20 months and my brother Eddie (later known as Pat) was 9 years old. Eddie/Pat went to DYRMS in September 1915 and 4 years later our mother died. So we became orphaned and I was 5 years old. My father’s sister Nell took us in to care from where on the 1st September 1923 I too became a Dukie.

We lived in Sunderland and I had to get to Dover. Times and money were very tight so I had to get to school on my own (Ed’s note: Can you imagine in this day a kid of 9 being ABLE to do that?) I have blacked out all memory of that trip. I know I had to change at King's Cross in London to get to Victoria Station and then a train to Dover. But I can’t remember any part of it at all. I don’t even remember going from Dover to the school. Eddie was a prefect and he said he met me, but I don’t remember.My first memory as a Dukie was being assigned to 'B' Company and watching boys practicing high jump on the grassy area outside the day room.

I enjoyed my 5 years as a Dukie including being on the cricket team. In those days socks had to be darned. Of course you didn’t darn your own; there was a detail assigned for that job, which was done in the evening. I myself was a 'Darn good darner' even if I say so myself. Then I got lucky. I got into the signaling group, which was handled by CSM Prescott of 'D' Company. In time I became head signaller and had crossed flags on my dress uniform plus a couple more pennies per month.

We all had to box according to height and weight, with cash prizes for the semi-finals. My brother came in second, I lost but was awarded a “good loser” prize 3rd or 6th, can’t remember. The next week I had to fight for 3rd or 4th prize, lost once again, but got the 'good loser' prize again. Maybe not a winner, but sure was a Good Loser.

While at school quite a few things happened: in 1924 we were at the opening of The New Wembley Stadium (Ed: The new 2005 Wembley is being built by Multiplex Australia) the occasion was the British Empire Exposition of 1924. One of the big attractions was the showing of the Queen's Dolls House. We camped outside in tents and were marched in with the band playing. In 1924 or 1925, the Inspecting Officer for Grand Day was the Duke of York, later to become King George VI. The one thing I remember was his speech: which thankfully was short, as his stammer was very bad. We all felt sorry for him I understand he was pretty well cured of that when he became King.

Also in 24 or 25, the “HIBS” (Royal Hibernian Military School) came to us after Ireland got its independence. In 1924 they closed the school in Dublin and the boys were told that they could join DYRMS if they wished. I think we got about 120, and that was enough for 2 companies/houses; that were built for them.

In 1928, I was one of the drummers in the parade of 'Toy Soldiers' at the Army, Navy and Air Force Show at Olympia which lasted for 3 weeks. Each night a different V.I.P would be in the Royal Box starting of course with the King and Queen. Then followed, as the saying goes, 'All the Crowned Heads of Europe'. For as many that were left at the time! The primeminister of France liked it so much that he asked if we could perform for a week in France; and I’ve still got that program. I guess it was about 1985 when I wrote to the headmaster at Dover and asked if any programs were left, telling him I was one of the drummers. Writing back the headmaster had found 3 copies and provided me with one I should add that our gymnastic squad was also there.

Every Saturday morning we had a full kit inspection. All our kit was laid out on the bed everything properly folded. Our other shoes, apart from those worn on the day; were laid out with the tops turned in and upside down with the soles upward and shined, WHY? Just a form of discipline I suppose. To make sure the boy did not secrete his 'Inspection Shoes', Each pair had to be laced differently. One with the laces crosswise and the other East/West.

In 1927 companies were changed from Alpha to Names . A Coy Marlborough. B Wolfe and so on. My 'Regt Number' B7 became Wolfe 7. The CSM Prescott requested my transfer to Wellington where he was house CSM. He was head of signaling. And I was the Chief Signaller. Whatever it was, it was good for me because Prescott promoted me from L/Cpl to Cpl. So I got a few more pennies. The CSM of B Coy/Wolfe was Arbuckle and he helped us put on concerts in the day room. In a while he would ask for boys to perform. He played the flute and one at a time we would go to his office he would play flute while we learned the songs, I used to sing silly songs such as 'Pudding & Gooseberry Tart', 'Alexander's Rag Time Band'. Not that I was a good singer, I just enjoyed it and it was a lot of fun.

I left school Aug 1st 1928 and went into civvy street. My Aunt Nell had to write a letter explaining why I was not joining the Army. My uncle Joe in America had already booked passage for me to join him in America, but I was not able to get there until June 1930 because at that time the US had quotas from all countries. When your number came up you went. So for two years I worked for 'Singer Sewing Machine Company' in Sunderland.

Then I landed in America on June 15th 1930. Tell you more in August. After all 92 years can’t be told all at once.

Danny K.

From Art Cockerill. Ontario Canada. A regular writer to downunder. After Canada, Australia could be his second choice of abode. The Fulthorpe Children's War is in manuscript form with Art yet to decide on publishing. Having read the story, I hope we will see it in print. The family including Mam and Dad are part of the English sphere of plenty of love, minimum of money and happy laughs. The war years of the 1940 are described with pathos. One snippet. Art tells of soldiers in every type of craft that can float being brought back to Dover from the shores of Dunkirk. One Fulthorpe son as a Dukie was sent to the docks to help retrieve weapons - rifles and such – to give to able men still fighting. A Cockney laying on a stretcher close to death asked Boy Fulthorpe for a cigarette. The boy went in search and found a Welsh Sergeant and asked for a cigarette. The Welsh Sergeant spoke to Boy Fulthorpe about the scene around them. On return to the Cockney, he found that the soldier had died. The point of this is in the story telling. We as expat British were familiar with the variety of accents around those small islands. In the reading of that chapter, your mind can visualize the lilt. “Cor Blimey” the Cockney Bow Bells “Ellooo Dai Bach” from the valleys. Art placed the family in the north of England. “Ilkley Moor Ba Tat”. If and when this is published I may knock on your door to sell you a copy.

Art also sent a copy of a lecture he gave to a club meeting in Canada. A news release from the Canadian Press tells of six servicemen enlisting in the Military service. Aged all under 13 in the years 1936/39. On record they were 9, 11 and 12 years old. In the 1960’s, Parliament (Canada) introduced 'Canadian Armed Forces' Bill, for unification of all three services. Until that time, boy soldiers were on the establishment of the Canadian Army. They still are in the British Army. In early military days Boy Drummers were used as signal makers. It seems that the bang on a drum can be heard above other sounds. So officers used this system to convey order. Alas the enemy knew of this and the Boy Drummer was the 1st killed to prevent order. Living in this day and age ain't so bad.

Albert Perry turns 97 on 28th March. Lets hope he gets plenty of cards. Mike Hart lives in Queensland and Mike and Brenda visited Albert and reported that despite age Albert and his lovely lady Eva were looking good. Many thanks to Mike and Brenda, we appreciate your efforts.

Ray Pearson has given his report on the state reunion in West Australia held in its usual venue of the Burswood Casino in Perth. Almost 100% turned up.

End lines

Bertha Belch from Africa, will speak in the hall, Come along and hear Bertha Belch.

Ms Charlene Mason sang “I will not pass this way again” Giving obvious pleasure to the audience.

The Ladies have cast off clothing. They may be seen in the basement Friday afternoons.

Play up Dukies



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Duke of York's Royal Military School
Royal Hibernian Military School
Reminiscences of a Queen's Army  Schoolmistress
World War I letters and Reports
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© A. W. Cockerill 2011

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