WAR WORDS: Melinda Gill and Jan Morris with the World War II signed banner cloth discovered in a bottom drawer at the local historical society office in Tamworth. Photo: Gareth Gardner 100516GGA01HISTORY often offers up coincidences of a spooky kind, but a search this month through the historical records in Tamworth collided in a happy stroke of luck.
Nanjing Night Net

The fluke has resulted in a wonderful windfall for the Tamworth Historical Society and uncovered a piece of our history that really does echo some old stories of the social fabric of the city.

On the same day that the society was reaching out to The Leader to help find anyone with details about a missing war relic, by sheer chance another society member found some unnamed and unknown objects in a hideaway drawer.

When Melinda Gill turned up at the society’s workday office last week, she had with her something she’d uncovered in a bottom drawer.

She didn’t know what it was, but when she handed it to another researcher, Jan Morris, Mrs Morris nearly fainted with surprise.

“It was just the most amazing coincidence,” Mrs Morris said.

THEN: A 2/30th Battalion march down Peel St probably around 1940 and from historical records.

“I didn’t have any inkling but as soon as I saw the wrapped piece in Melinda’s hands, I just knew exactly what it might be. I’d spent since February trying to track down details about it, and just as we’re talking about a story to find anyone with any information about it, Melinda turns up with it.

“I couldn’t stop smiling.”

The Morris search began last February after an old typed sheet referred to a pennant made in June 1940 when the Tamworth showground was commandeered as a training camp for the 2nd Australian Infantry Force.

A battalion was formed there under the command of Colonel William S Forsythe.

SHOW PARADE: Another 2/30th Battalion image and what is most likely taken on the Tamworth showground.

Mrs Morris says her re- search discovered that a Mr AH Daniel of Tamworth, who’d been a veteran of World War I, re-enlisted as pioneer sergeant on the camp staff and his wife embroidered a pennant which centred a beautifully executed large replica of the Australian Army badge and the words “Australian Commonwealth Military Forces”.

“Sergeant Daniel subsequently procured the signatures, on the flag, of a large number of the officers, NCOs, and men who were in camp at the showground, many of whom later served in the Middle East, Malaya, and the south west Pacific area,” Mrs Morris said.

“Later, after the Second World War, Mr and Mrs Daniel presented the pennant to Colonel Forsythe, who decided that its permanent repository should be in the War Memorial Town Hall at Tamworth.”

A subsequent and thorough search of council re- cords and collections fail- ed to find the pennant, or any reference to it.

And an appeal to Tamworth RSL Museum manager Bob Chapman showed he’d never seen it but he had a keen interest in adding it to his collection if it was found.

ATTENTION: This image from The NDL files is believed to have been taken at the showgrounds during the days of the training camp.

So, just as the society was asking The Leader to publicise the lost relic it turned up, but the society is just as keen to find any remaining family members or anyone who knows more about the story of the pennant.

You might also call it a flag or a banner it was, after all, stored with tablecloths in that long lost drawer.

Along with other names are army numbers and in some places, place names. Ten 10 are from Tamworth, but there are many from other North West and Northern Rivers towns, as well as Newcastle, Sydney, interstate and even England and Scotland, which might be birthplaces.

Robert McKenzie Fraser, George Hume Henry, Sergeant Roy Somerville and Thomas Sholto Douglas were among a few who listed Tamworth alongside their names.

The Tamworth Historical Society would love to hear from anyone who has more information or from family members of those involved.

Phone Jan Morris on 6765 9478.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.