St Marys & District Historical Society Inc - Quarterly Newsletter

PO Box 640, ST MARYS NSW 1790

Phone: 0450132181

Our Society has had the pleasure of guest speakers over the last six months, including Reverend David Riethmuller, Kim Hicks, Ian Bracher and Lorraine Stacker.

Kim Hicks & Ian Bracher
Lorraine Stacker
photos taken by Lyn Forde

Kim and Ian were guest speakers at our April meeting, filling in for Jan Davis who was our published guest speaker but couldn’t make it on the day. Kim talked about St Mary’s World War 1 soldier, Corporal Sergeant Ewan “Huie” Rose, who won the Belgium Croix De Gurerre for bravery in battle. Kim is related to the East family who befriended Ewan when he came to St Marys and Ian talked about his research into the 14th Australian Light Trench Mortar Battery that Ewan served with in the 5th Australian Division.

Lorraine Stacker, who is a member of our Society and the Information Librarian at Penrith City Library, was guest speaker at our recent June meeting. Lorraine talked about the next Penrith book she is putting together for Penrith City Council, and gave us some interesting information she is finding as she researches various resources.


In the Autumn Tribute we told you about our member, Joan Reese, who passed away in February. It has just been announced that Joan was recognised with a posthumous Order of Australia (OAM) for her services to the study of early Australian history and genealogy. Joan must have been so proud to know that she was going to receive this award, which makes it so sad that she died before physically receiving it.

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On Friday 19th June, those members of our Society who are also members of the Encore Heritage Sewing Group, met at Mamre Homestead for the presentation of Anne Marsden’s 1822 ball gown, sewn by the Encore group by hand, and placed on a mannequin in a glass case donated by Penrith Council. Members Mary Gruevski, Marion McLeod, Joan O’Brien and Lyn Forde joined other members of the Encore Heritage Sewing Group to present the ball gown to the people of the St Marys and Penrith. The funding for this project was from the St Mary’s Area Community Development Project Inc, (SMACD) and the Manager, Lisa Foster handed over this wonderful replica of the original ball gown on behalf of the Encore Group. The original gown is held at the Power House Museum in Sydney.

Members of the Encore Heritage Sewing Group with Lisa Foster (middle) and David Bradbury MP. Photo taken by Margaret Dwyer


The Society is in the final stages of another new book, this time on the Munitions Factory at St Marys. Our President, Lyn Forde, has once again put “nose to the grindstone” on our behalf and come up with a most informative book for the Society to sell on our behalf. The book should be available soon. Any queries can be sent via our email address on our website or our mobile phone number.

Reunion of the Munitions Filling Factory Worker - 1946 -- Historical Society Photo

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On Sunday the 5th April, members Carol Volkiene, Lyn Forde, Tom and Norma Thorburn accepted an invitation to the opening of “The Manse”, the new home of the Mt Druitt & District Historical Society. Our President, Lyn Forde made a donation on behalf of our Society, of a very old document relating to the Balgay Cannery that had originally been donated to our Society by Janet Stapleton, daughter of Len & Eugenie Stapleton from the first St Mary’s Historical Society. We congratulate the Mt Druitt Historical Society members on their new home and hope they will be as happy as we are with our home at the “Chambers”.


On Sunday, 19th April, Lyn Forde and Norma Thorburn attended the Anzac Day march at Victoria Park, and on the 25th April, Lyn attended the dawn service at the St Marys RSL to lay flowers on behalf of the Society, in attendance with Norma and Tom Thorburn and Lyn’s daughter Louise and granddaughter Courtney. The march on the 19th was a disappointment as far as the rain went, but it didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the people who attended and supported those ex-servicemen and women to marched to Victoria Park.


The winter months have affected members of our Society from attending our meetings orand duties at the “Chambers” building. Some members have had to deal with sickness and hospitalisation as well as family issues, not to mention our President who was absent for three weeks on holidays. All this has played a part on the “Chambers” building sometimes being shut on days when we should have been open. If you have travelled some distance and found the building locked on Mondays, Wednesdays or Saturdays between 10 am & 2 pm, we apologise for any inconvenience this might have caused any of our visitors on these days and hope you will understand. We welcome new members, so if you have a passion for our local history, or are brave enough to dress in costume and join us for celebrations, or if you are new to the district and just want to learn about how much history there is in this district, please get in touch. We especially need new MEN members. We are a friendly bunch who will be happy to see you.

The St Marys & District Historical Society meets every 4th Saturday at 1.15 pm
at "The Chambers" (Old Council Chambers) 2 - 6 Mamre Road, ST MARYS. (entry from carpark side)

(No meetings in January or December)
Patron of our Society is Sister Mary Louise Petro


This Newsletter is a free publication. Articles in this Newsletter may be republished if permission is given by the Society.

Please contact us on 0450132181(voicemail) or email:

(While care is taken to ensure that all articles are accurate, the opinions expressed in this newsletter are not necessarily those of the Society)
Any comments on this Newsletter are encouraged


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Our Society would like to inform anyone connected to the Hope family from Kingswood NSW, especially descendents of siblings of William Henry & Amy Hope (Nee Strange) who were the parents of Private Edward James Hope, that the Australian Army is ready to start DNA testing on the 400 soldiers buried in the mass grave at Fromelles (Edward is reported to be amongst them) and the Australian Army needs as many people as possible who are connected to Edward. The problem was that Edward & his sister Florence was orphaned when William and Amy died in 1886 & 1898 and because Florence didn't marry we think that line died out. The Grandparents, George & Alice Hope had other children besides William Henry and I think Amy would probably have descendants via the Strange family line, so if you can do a family tree connecting you to the Hope family, we urge you to contact the Australian Army on 1800 019 090 or use the online form at their website Should you wish to discuss this further, please contact our President, Lyn Forde on (02) 9673-3506 who is a descendent of the Hope family.

As most of us know the story of the 400 English and Australian World War One soldiers found buried in a field in Fromelles, France and the fact that the Commonwealth War Graves Commission is overseeing the project on behalf of the UK and Australian Governments and has engaged LGC Forensics to undertake the DNA analysis. LGC Forensics provided the best solution to the specific project requirements and commenced a pilot study in early May 2008 to determine viability of the DNA in the remains.

The Australian Army is about to contact all descendants who have registered their details with the Fromelles Project by the Government and this will occur regardless of whether the pilot study finds viable DNA or not. The process of identification will be complex and is likely to take some time and it will involve examination of records, physical evidence gathered during the recovery of remains, and DNA comparison, if practical. The findings will then be considered by an identification board, which is likely to sit for the first time in March 2010, to ascertain whether the identity of any remains can be determined.”

It is the intention of both Australia and the UK, out of respect for the soldiers involved, that reinterment is not delayed pending completion of the identification process. Once all identification data is obtained, the remains will be reinterred with military honours in the new cemetery at Fromelles. This reinterment is expected to commence in early 2010. The cemetery will be the first of its kind constructed in over 50 years and it will be dedicated on the anniversary of the Battle of Fromelles in July 2010. At that time, where identifications have been achieved, named headstones will be placed for each of the identified soldiers. The placement of named headstones will continue into the future as the identification process continues. (Information courtesy of the Commonwealth War Graves Website)

Editor & Publisher: Lyn Forde

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