Richard Fenton Toomey – ANZAC Day – Lest We Forget

April 25th is ANZAC Day in Australia. As a tribute to my Great Grand Uncle Richard Fenton Toomey, who fought with the ANZAC’s in Gallipoli, I am reposting this article from Remembrance Day 2011.

Remembrance Day is a very important day here in Canada. Last year I remembered my Great Grand Uncle Horace Gibson Leitch Campbell who lost his life in the First World War fighting with the Canadian Expeditionary Force. This year I will look at the accomplishments of my Great Grand Uncle Richard Fenton Toomey who was an ANZAC (Australia and New Zealand Army Corps).

Richard Fenton Toomey is on the maternal side of my family. He was born in Dublin in April of 1880 to Mark Anthony Toomey and Julia Adelaide Bourne. He was the last of six children, four boys and two girls. My Great Grandmother Jane Toomey was his sister. The other siblings were Mark (who died in infancy), Louisa Alice, Mark Anthony and Walter Bourne.

How the Toomey family got to Australia is a long story and I will elaborate on that in another post. Needless to say Richard Fenton Toomey was in New South Wales to sign up for the First World War on 1 March 1915.

There are no attestation papers in his military file. The first record is an Application for a Commission in the 12th Light Horse Regiment. This states that Richard was 35 years of age, a British subject, an accountant and that he is single. Richard was six feet tall and 11 stone (154 lbs/70 kg). His next of kin is his brother Mark Toomey and their postal address was Elbana Annandale St. Annandale NSW.

Listed under military qualifications and past military service are: 5th Lancers, Assam Valley Light Horse, Chittagong [unreadable word] Rifles, Lieut. [unreadable two words] and Lieut. Army Service Corps.

The Assam Valley Light Horse was part of the Cavalry Reserve in the British Indian Army and was formed in 1891. Chittagong was in Pakistan but is now in Bangladesh. To date no British military records have been found for Richard Fenton Toomey.

Richard was made a Honourary Lieutenant and Quarter Master on 29 June 1915. On 9 August 1915 he was transferred to the 1st Australian Division, 3rd Light Horse Brigade. On 3 January 1916 he was transferred to the Army Service Corps. He was made Quarter Master and Honourary Captain on 30 April 1916 and on 1 August 1918 he was made Quarter Master and Honourary Major.

He set sail on 12 June 1915 on board the “Suevic”. On 5 September 1915 Richard was sent to Gallipoli this was the battle that defined the ANZACS and a nation.

Richard was frequently in the hospital during his time at the front. On 3 September 1916 he was sent to hospital in Port Said Egypt with Pyorhea which is an infection of the gums. He was sent on to the hospital in Serapium and then Cairo. He was sent back to his unit on 20 September 1916.

Richard was back in hospital on 20 July 1917 with septic sores. He was sent to the hospital in Alexandria. He returned to the 4th Light Horse Regiment on 27 September 1917. He was transferred back to the 12th Light Horse Regiment in November of 1917. He was sent back to hospital with dysentery in August of 1918 and invalided in September of 1918. He left Egypt on the Morvada on 29 September 1919.

According to Richard’s military file his appointment was terminated with the A.I.F. in Sydney on 31 October 1919.

There are letters found in his military file addressed to Base Records Canberra. One is dated 20 February 1939 and Richard is requesting: “For the purpose of receiving employment in N.S.W. a discharge or Certificate of Service is required. I shall be obliged if you will kindly let me have either as soon as possible.” A copy of the form he was requested to fill out is in the file. It is stamped dated 27 February 1939. Richard’s address is Lisarow NSW.

Richard writes requesting a duplicate Returned Soldiers Badge of the one he had received “around 29 August 1919 on his return to Australia.” It appears the one he was given was lost in “think bush country” and it has not been returned or found. This letter is dated 19 February 1943 and he is a public servant and the address given is 110 Phillip Street in Sydney.

In 1919 Richard Fenton Toomey married Ellie Maud Stewart in Sydney Australia. They had no children.

I have a friend who lives in the same area as Richard Fenton Toomey. There was a family story that said he had surveyed and built a road to one of the highest points between Sydney and Brisbane and that there was a park named after him. She helped me discover that there was a place called Toomey’s Walk which we believe was named after Richard Toomey. The government body responsible for this area does not know how the name came about.

There is also Toomeys Road and these are both located in the Mount Elliot area. He might have lost his Returned Soldiers Badge while surveying this area.

She contacted the local history librarian at Gosford City Library and he sent some pictures of Richard Fenton Toomey and his wife having tea in the garden.

They also forwarded a newspaper article which talks about Richard nearly loosing his life because he had taken poison instead of medicine. Thankfully his wife was a nurse and she knew what to do.

Some Australian newspapers are online and searchable at Trove. Advertisements were found relating to a chicken farm owned by Richard and Ellie Toomey. In 1929 Ellie was selling White Longhorn chicks and the farm was called Phoenix Poultry Farm. In 1933 she was selling Khaki Campbell’s ducklings.

In 1927 Phoenix Farm was dealing with floods.

Bush fires are a common happening in Australia. It seems that in 1928 a fire wiped out the poultry farm, residence, stock and plant owned by Richard Toomey. The name of the farm seems appropriate since it rose from the ashes to start again.

Richard Fenton Toomey died in 1968 in Gosford, New South Wales and is buried in Macquarie Park Cemetery.

Lest We Forget

©2012 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

OGS Region II Meeting Hosted by Oxford County Branch

On Saturday I had the pleasure of speaking to members of the Ontario Genealogical Society at the Region II meeting hosted by the Oxford County Branch of OGS.

There was a large crowd in attendance. The first speaker was Shirley Sturdevant, Vice President of OGS, sharing the latest news from the society. She gave us a pictorial tour of the office and introduced us to the people who help keep the OGS provincial office running.

My lecture was called “The Whys and Wherefores of Scottish Emigration.” The lecture looked at the reasons behind Scottish emigration and where they went throughout the world.

The ladies of St. David’s United Church in Woodstock provided a lovely lunch. After lunch the elections and business meeting for Region II were held.

James F.S. Thomson was the last speaker of the day and his lecture was “Coming in Waves: British and Irish Emigration to Canada.”

Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and they were introduced to some new resources to research their own ancestor’s emigration to Canada.

©2012 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

Ruth’s Recommendations

Here are my favourite blog posts from this past week.

Library and Archives Canada Blog has a post announcing that “Lester Bowles Pearson Images Now on Flickr.” I remember Lester B. Pearson as Prime Minister. He won a Nobel Peace Prize for his suggestion to the United Nations about a peacekeeping force to help prevent issues during the withdrawal of British, French and Egyptian forces from the Suez Canal. Pearson was Prime Minister during Canada’s Centennial celebrations and Expo ’67 in Montreal.

Randy Seaver of the Genea-Musings blog wrote an “eBook Review – My Family History Toolbox, by Paul Larson.” This sounds like an interesting addition to the genealogist’s library.

Fiona Fitzsimons, of Eneclann, continues with her informative expert series on the findmypast.ie blog with a post called “Griffith’s Valuation, the gateway to Irish research.”

The National Archives Blog has a post on the subject of biodiversity in the area surrounding The National Archives called “Swanning around…” I love these posts because it shows that the archives is not just an edifice where records are preserved, they preserve the area surrounding their building as well.

Cassmob of the Family history across the seas blog has a post called “Insights into Australia: a book list.” Here she provides a list of reading materials to help you understand your ancestor’s experiences living in Australia.

What were your favourite blog posts this past week?

Let me know in the comments below.

Other bloggers that write their own lists are:

Genea-Musings – Best of the Genea-Blogs

British & Irish Genealogy

©2012 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

BIFHSGO and my visit to Ottawa

Last weekend I had the pleasure of speaking at the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa monthly meeting. The topic of my presentation was “A Brick Wall Chisel: The Cluster Research Project.”

The presentation looked at how using a cluster research project can help you break through some of the brick walls you may encounter during your research. This is a technique I have successfully used many times for clients and in my own research.

I arrived in Ottawa a few days early to enjoy the city and spent some time researching in Library and Archives Canada. I went to the National Gallery of Canada and wandered around ByWard Market.

I came across a very interesting sign outside a pub.

Parliament may not have been sitting but the nice weather brought out the crowds and the patios were doing very good business.

If you get the chance to visit Ottawa and attend a BIFHSGO event I would recommend it. The people of BIFHSGO are terrific hosts.

©2012 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

Ruth’s Recommendations

Here are my favourite blog posts from this past week.

The ActiveHistory.ca blog had a post called “The Popularity of Remembrance” which looks the many events that are being remembered this year and how the act of remembrance is conducted. Last week was the 95th anniversary of Vimy Ridge which represents Canada’s coming of age.

Come Here to Me! has a post called “Some foreign media coverage of key Civil War events.” This looks at the Irish Civil War. There is an image that shows people in the street picking up pieces of paper in Sackville Street (O’Connell Street now) after the explosion at the Four Courts (public record office).

Enniskerry Local History blog has a post called “A Letter to Henry Grattan: The life of labourers in 1796” which makes for very interesting reading. It provides a list of the average prices for provisions.

John D. Reid of the Anglo-Celtic Connections blog gave a wonderful review of my presentation “A Brick Wall Chisel: The Cluster Research Project” which I presented at the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa last Saturday.

Irish Genealogy News had two posts this week: “Was Dracula Irish?” and “Dracula was Irish – the genealogical evidence.” The first post talks about the centenary of the death of Bram Stoker who wrote Dracula. He was an Irish-born author. The second post provides evidence, discovered by FindMyPast Ireland, to suggest that the character of Dracula was Irish.

The FamilySearch TechTips blog had a post called “Using Pinterest for Genealogy.”

Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter had a post called “Genealogy Tourism” which looks at the rising popularity of this type of tourism. If you would like to travel back to Ireland to do research you could decide to join our group “Touring the Research Trail in Dublin” in 2013. You can find out more about our trip here.

What were your favourite blog posts this past week?

Let me know in the comments below.

Other bloggers that write their own lists are:

Genea-Musings – Best of the Genea-Blogs

British & Irish Genealogy

©2012 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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