Cake dishes, jam jars, salt ‘cellars’ and… C.E.W. Bean?

Cake dishes, jam jars and salt ‘cellars’ aren’t objects usually associated with the Australian First World War official correspondent and historian, C.E.W. Bean – or, for that matter, with the sport of cricket. But thanks to the wonders of Trove, we know that they’re precisely the prizes Bean donated to the Tuggeranong Cricket Club in September 1926 for, respectively, the best batting average, best bowling average and most catches taken during the 1925-1926 season.[1] Bean and the official history team had been residents of Tuggeranong Homestead in the Federal Capital Territory between 1919 and 1925, usually working ‘war hours’ with breaks only to eat, sleep and play tennis or cricket – the cricket with “neighbouring farmers”. Bean’s donation of the trophies continued his association with the club even after the official history team relocated to Sydney, mostly for Bean’s health.[2] More particularly, given their very domestic nature, the trophies probably also continued the association of Bean’s wife, Effie, with the cricketers’ wives she had socialised with in the still frontier-like national capital. View images of the Federal Capital Territory in 1926 here.

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Pension for Mum, medals for Dad

During the last few months I’ve been spending a lot of time with the records of C.E.W. Bean, the Australian official correspondent and official historian of the First World War. Like his official history, Bean’s diaries, folders and notebooks (digitised and made freely available by the Australian War Memorial) teem with references to individual servicemen. A reference to two soldiers of the 10th Battalion, Private Clarence Tidswell and Private Hartley Oborn, took me on quite the adventure in the archives, which I’ll share with you in this post. The fate of Tidswell and Oborn is a fascinating story in its own right, and it also raised some interesting questions for me about the ways in which different family members remembered – and were allowed by the state to remember – the war dead.

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