Nearly a century ago, we had a lot of Adams Family relations in the Macintyre River area on the border between NSW and Queensland, especially around Boggabilla and Goondiwindi. There’s not as many of our old Adams family up there these days – largely scattered south and north.
Our Dad and Poppy, Ross was born Cyril Ross Adams in 1923 in Tweed Heads, in northern NSW, the only son of Mary Ethel May Adams. Ross married Joan Lois Callcott down on the NSW South Coast and they had three children Kerrie, Julie and Daryl.
Mary was the eldest child of Arthur James Adams and his wife Matilda Waters. Matilda was the daughter of Charles Waters and wife Mary Robinson
We now understand that Ross was also a son of Cyril Bernard Barden, being born some years before Cyril Barden’s later marriage to Ruby McNamara – all of this was quite a surprise. As the “new cousins” it has been lovely how the Barden and McCosker families have accepted the “surprise” new relatives. Ross’s father, Cyril Barden, also from Boggabilla, was variously a horse breaker, a shearer in New Zealand, a boxer, had been in WWI including at Alexandria, Gallipoli & France, and ultimately a grazier – more details on Cyril are on the Barden Family Tree page.
Ross spent most of his early years in Boggabilla – at 60 Merriwa St Boggbilla home of his grandfather, Arthur Adams (Arthur’s wife Matilda Waters had passed away beforehand in 1924 following an accident in a sulky when the horse had bolted according to grandchildren Brenda Hardy and Doug Adams). Arthur was a shearer, so he and Matilda seemed to have moved their family around the north quite a bit before finally settling at Boggabilla on the Macintyre River.
Ross had many uncles, aunts and cousins in the Macintyre area – Adams, Fleming, Reynoldson, Townsend. Whenever they visited the Macintyre area, it always seemed to Ross’s kids that there were so many cousins.
On one of those trips back “home”, son Daryl was baptised at St Alban’s Boggabilla by the Archbishop of Canterbury who just happened to be passing through at the time. There were also Barry, Green, Fleming, Richardson, Reynoldson, Tuckerman, and Vetta relatives whose families had moved away from the Macintyre – and more recently discovered – Bardens and McCoskers.
It was also thought that Ross’s granddad, Arthur James Adams, had come from America. However son-in-law David’s research suggested it was probably rather Charles Adams, his great granddad. Unfortunately with a name like Adams, it is rather hard to track down details in America, but we know that he came from Albany in America – unfortunately there are at least 10 places in America so named. David did find out some details on the Weatherstone-Doherty ancestors – and they seemed to have been an interesting & colourful Irish Catholic connection in amongst all the predominantly Protestant one’s.
After 8 years at Boggabilla State School, and completing 6th Grade and the QC, in 1938, Ross left school at 14. He worked in a shearing shed, as a hand doing shearing, plus some droving around 1941 – for JD Callaghan Contract Shearing and for Walter Gunn of “Kildonan Station“, father of Sir William Gunn, former chairman of the Australian Wool Board.
Ross seems to have attempted to join the Navy in 1941, (which explains the various References he obtained in 1940-41 – C of E Vicar, JD Callaghan Contract Shearing, Kildonan Station Shearing, Gows Insurance Agents of Boggabilla, School Reference ). He seems to have been unsuccessful, as there were only positions available in the Naval Reserve at that time, and s0 he ended up in the AIF in 1942 instead. His Commonwealth Bank Account shows he was down to the last shilling by May 1941.
In January 1942 Ross had “put up his age” – showing his year of birth as 1922 instead of 1923, and thus he joined the 2nd AIF. He spent time in the 2/18th and 2/21st Australian Infantry Training Battalions, before joining the West Australian 2/16th Battalion which was part of the 21st Brigade and the “silent 7th” Division of the second AIF.
Ross served at the so-called “mopping up” of the Kokoda Trail campaign of Gona-Buna- being taken on strength by the 2/16th on November 26th 1942. Ross was one of the 204 Queensland reinforcements brought in from Australia to Port Moresby for the badly depleted 2/16th Battalion ( 1 – 2 – 3).
By November 28 1942, Ross and his army mates were flying over the Owen Stanleys, before arriving at Popendetta 15 minutes later at 7.30am. Two hours later they were on the march for Soputa, arriving at 9.30am, where they were greeted with tea by the 2/14th. Soputa had been bombed by Zero’s the previous day.
November 30 1942, and Ross’s 2/16th Battalion would have started to encounter heavy action – it continues until December 6 1942 – from December 7 1942 there is still activity but not as intense as the week beforehand. By December 9, 1942, Gona was considered to have been taken. December 10 1942 saw substantial burial and salvage work commence – continuing until December 12 1942. Julie recalls that Ross spoke of the burial parties and the impact it had on him. For the rest of December 1942, much of battle took place in the air, – though the 2/16th were still seeing action – mopping up and conducting patrols – (1942 : Dec 13-15, 16-19, 19-21, 21-24, 25-29, 30-31) . Although on December 15 1942, information came to hand of renewed concerns about further Japanese activity near the Amboga River, north west of Gona.
- While Shepherds Watched their Flocks by Night
- The First Noel
- Hark the Herald Angels Sing
- O Come All Ye Faithful
- O Little Town of Bethlehem
- We Three Kings of Orient
- Good King Wencelas
- Silent Night
- God Rest You Merry Gentlemen
- Breathe on me Breath of God
Losses at Buna and Gona had been horrendous, as the Japanese forces “dug in”. It would be necessary to create a composite Battalion of the remaining “fit men” of the 2/14th and 2/16th. January 1st 1943 saw fears of a renewed Japanese attack but this was not to be – by then the 2/16th were down to 9 officers and 52 other ranks – 61 men, who were bedraggled, suffering nervous strain, physical debilitation- sick and weak. And another 8 would pass away before the 2/16th left for Cairns. There were some quiet days. On January 7 1943 they began the move to Soputa. They had to march through mud to Jumbora, and Soputa where a hot meal was waiting on January 8 1943.
The unit diary records that an informal chat was held with Major General George Vasey and the men of the 2/16th on January 8 1943. Malcom Uren was more forthcoming in his “1000 Men at War” .. “He was asked by a member of the Battalion to autograph a Japanese flag captured near Gona. With a friendly flourish he did so, adding his number in the military manner. The number had originally been VX8, but when the General returned to Australia after his distinguished service with the Sixth Division, the number had been altered to V8 to indicate home service. This number, V8, the General added to his signature. The 2/16th member looked at the number and, knowing his man, grunted quietly : “A bloody Choco!” Everyone within hearing roared with laughter, and no one laughed louder than the General himself.”
January 9 1943 and the 2/16th is transported by truck to Popondetta. Over the next few days with transport to wrong landing strips, and landing strips too wet – so the 2/16th are forced to march to Dobudura before enplaning on January 15 1943, for Donadabu, 25 miles from Port Moresby. They were considered too sick and too wounded to be considered for further immediate fighting and so they were to be sent back to Australia to recuperate. Some were flown to Cairns and others leave by sea – many arrived by January 24 1943 – some are on leave and depart for Western Australia. – others would not arrive until February 1943. They were transported by special train up to the Atherton to Ravenshoe.
Throughout March 1943, there seems to be a lot of clearing, digging, road making, some training including rifle range/bayonets, parades and Church parades at Ravenshoe. On March 10 1943 some of the 2/16th had been sent in an attempt to find the plane missing near Gordonvale. There was some home leave too. Apparently the emaciated condition of the 2/16th men did worry some of those on the home front. Perhaps Ross made it down to Boggabilla, or perhaps just to Brisbane ? They reassembled at Ravenshoe in April 1943 after the home leave – where there was a focus on jungle training for the next four months. There was leave at Atherton, Kiari, Millaa Millaa, Cairns and Innisfail. And during that period was the Rodeo at Herberton, undertaken with the blessing of Major General Vasey with prizes presented by Lady Blamey.
The Japanese became active once more around Lae.
Ross would serve again in New Guinea later in 1943, and then in Balikpakpan, Borneo – before being “demobbed” fours later at 22 years of age in January 1946.
Within the same year of their retreat in early 1943, the Japanese again attempted to take New Guinea from the west rather than the north – names such as Shaggy Ridge would be immortalised from this campaign. The 2/16th’s stories are detailed in a book, “1000 Men at War” – first published in 1959, re-printed in 1988 and again in the 21st Century years.
Click here for details on his WWII Service Certificate nominal role entry.
There was a a Living Out period of 5 days, and accumulated leave of 95 days, as well as deferred pay of at least 180 Pounds. And predictably a whole process of documentation and interviews to be worked through before final discharge.
Ross was known as “Tipper” and “Tip”, probably from his football days. He was quite good at sport, and played rugby league, later hockey and tennis; and he also liked fishing. Ross seems to have still played league during the post WWII years too – a photo below shows Ross holding the Football Cup with his banged-up hand ? Presumably the photograph taken in Boggabilla – Goondiwindi ? One of Ross’s References refers to him being a footballer – which seems to indicate that he was playing locally in the Boggabilla – Goondiwindi area post WWII ?
Ross’s move to Toowoomba seems to have occurred around May 1947, going by the Toowoomba entries in the Commonwealth Bank Account passbook. In October 1948 Ross received a postcard of Swansea Tasmania, postmarked from Launceston, by “Audrey”, while she was on a Pioneer Tour. It was addressed to Ross care of the Military Hospital in Greenslopes Brisbane – perhaps Ross was having another bout of malaria? Audrey wished that he would be recovered and home soon, as well as passing on regards from Keith – it ends “Yours Sincerely, Audrey”. The postcard had been re-addressed to 15 Goodwood St Toowoomba – so obviously Ross had recovered.
Ross and his mate Monty Clarke seemed to have had quite a social time with the young ladies in Toowoomba – making up for the missed years of WWII – including the Piggotts Ball. Our newly discovered Barden cousins have shared how the Piggotts Ball in Toowoomba was once “the social occasion of the year“. Yet mates were also settling down, getting married and having families – however Ross kept wandering for quite a few years after being demobbed following WWII.
Ross ended up training as a tradesman Painter under the Post War Reconstruction Training Programme, as part of the post WWII Demobilisation – presumably undertaken some time between 1947 and 1949. The Wikipedia article on the Demobilisation of the Australian Military after WWII is really worth a read – there were over 600, 000 military personnel needing to be re-integrated back into civilian life.
Ross seems to have returned to Boggabilla-Goondiwindi in 1950-51. However perhaps after enjoying a crazy social life of parties, dances & balls – catching up on the lost 1930′s Depression and WWII years, life had begun to return to normal for a lot of Ross’s mates and family, as they settled down, got married and had kids. And Ross ? Well he was still a restless Wanderer at 28 years of age, and in 1951 he decided to head over to Western Australia.
Photos from our family albums
Checking Ross’s Commonwealth Bank Books confirms that he had moved to the Wollongong area by December 20, 1951 – when he headed south to the Illawarra to visit his aunts, Mabel “Mid” Tuckerman (nee Adams) and Ivy Richardson (nee Adams).
He lived with Mabel “Mid” Tuckerman, and her husband Bert, at their Keerong Avenue Russell Vale home, while he was working in the Illawarra. There were his five Tuckerman cousins of similar age – Ilma, Alwyn (“Wack”?), Shirley, Norma and Alan – some of whom were already married. Ross was very close to them and played hockey with Wack and Alan. After visiting them, Ross still intended to head over to the West to catch up with WWII mates from the 2/16th Battalion, a West Australian based battalion.
However, down in the Illawarra, Ross met little Joan Callcott of Thirroul, at a dance during 1952, and they were married at St Augustine’s Bulli on December 19 1953. At 30 years of age, The Wanderer & Lady-killer had finally decided to settle down – and his mates and family up north were quite amazed.
Joan was part of the Hicks–McKenzie–Joy–Callcott families, with the Hicks having first come to Wollongong as early as 1823 – Wollongong was only settled from 1822, although there was settlement in parts of the Illawarra from 1815. The Hicks & Callcott families had connections to the UK First Fleet in 1788 as well.
Ross and Joan lived in a flat for a little while, before getting a War Service Loan to buy their own home at 10 Redman Avenue Thirroul in early 1954. They were to spend the rest of their lives there and raise three children, Kerrie, Julie and Daryl. For more details of Ross and Joan’s sons in law and daughter in law’s families – Christian – Tiearney – Green / Lock Lee – Tong / Green – Gilroy pages.
Ross never made it over to Perth, but he did attend reunions at Sydney ANZAC Day Marches and also 2/16th Battalion – 21st Infantry Brigade family Christmas picnic get-togethers in Sydney. He remained in contact with his mates and always subscribed to the Pigeon Post.
And Ross would survive to become a grandfather to Erin and Gavin, but Clare and Katrina would never know him, except in stories and photographs. However, undeniably he was one of many of the unsung heroes of the WWII conflicts. Ross passed away on February 17 1990, about 10 years after his mother’s passing in a Brisbane Hospital on July 19 1980.
It would be his wife, Joan, who would complete the sentimental journey over to the West on the Indian Pacific Train in February 2011, with daughter Kerrie.
Already becoming increasingly frail, Joan was able to spend time in undisturbed private reflection at the 2/16th WWII Kokoda War Memorial at Kings Park, high above Perth. It meant so much to Joan to be able to be there, before she passed away on November 5 2012.
And Ross would be delighted to know that in 2013, his No.1 grandson, Gavin, is living, working as an Engineer & enjoying a great social life over in WA, 60 years on.