Category Archives: History

Michael George Tight (1895 – 1918)

My grandmother was christened Pearly Isabella Tight. Growing up I had met some of her siblings, my great aunts and uncles. And I had heard some stories about her parents: John Tight who was born in Yass, and Mary Isabella Brown who was from Camden. John had siblings but he was the youngest and many had died young. I knew that many Tight relatives lived in and around the suburb of Rosebery and that her Aunt Bridget had been a notable midwife in the area. I was pleased to see that she has been commemorated with the Bridget Tight Reserve. It looks like a very nice place for kids to play.

https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C953306

Patrick William (known as William) and Bridget Ann Tight married in 1887. In 1895 their son, Michael George Tight, was born. Before Michael’s birth Bridget had had four children but only two survived infancy. My grandmother spoke about her Aunt Bridget, and I think she mentioned William but I’m sure she didn’t mention a young cousin, Michael, who had died in the First World War. My grandmother was only 12 in 1918.

Australian military service records have become easily available in recent years:

Michael enlisted on 1st March 1916. The application to enlist and medical examination is dated 4 January 1916 and his age at that time is given as 21 years 3 months. This would make his DOB October 1894. His actual birth date was in 1895. (I’m too stingy to request a copy of his birth certificate but his NSW birth registration number, 29040/1895, suggests a late 1895 birth date). Either there was a simple miscalculation because it was so early in the year or someone decided it was better to say he was 21 years old and not 20. He was 5′ 6″ (168cm), 134 lbs (61kg), had a “fresh” complexion, with brown hair and blue eyes.

He received his basic training at Bathurst and Liverpool between March and June 1916 and departed from Sydney on the troopship Wilshire 22 August 1916, arriving in Plymouth 13th October 1916. He departed Folkestone aboard the SS Arundel 13th December 1916 and joined the 3rd Australian Infantry Battalion in France 19 December 1916 via Etables. Throughout 1917 his battalion was positioned against the Hindenburg Line mostly near Ypres. On 12 January 1918 he was sent on leave to the UK. He rejoined his battalion on 1st February 1918 but was hospitalised with appendicitis 21st March 1918. After recovery he was discharged and rejoined his battalion 27th May 1918.

On 10 June 1918 Bridget wrote to Base Records, Victoria Barracks. She had received a letter from Michael saying he had been admitted to hospital after being gassed and while there developed appendicitis. Base Records replied saying it had no information.

The 3rd Battalion took part in the final Allied offensive commencing in 8th August near Amiens. It then fought in the Battle of Albert (1918) which was part of the Second Battle of the Somme. On 23rd August the 3rd Battalion advanced from Proyart and attacked fortifications near the town of Chuignes, which was captured. Michael was killed in action on this day and buried 800m north of Proyart.

His body was exhumed and re-buried at the Heath Military Cemetery (Plot III, Row A, Grave 19) not far away on 26th May 1919. The Graves Registration Report lists 5 soldiers who died on 23 August and who were exhumed from the same location: three from the 2nd Battalion and two from the 3rd Battalion, Private M. Tight and Private J. Jordan.

The Concentration of Graves form confirms some of the details, in particular the map reference for the location of Michael’s first burial: 62D.SE.R.13.a.8.4. This is a trench map reference. It is possible to access trench maps and then use the reference to find the location but the tMapper website can convert trench map references into GPS coordinates. The reference above converts to 49.893750N, 2.689694E, or 49°53’37.5″N 2°41’22.9″E which is about 1000m north west of Proyart, which looks like this now. The location is near a road between Proyart and Méricourt-sur-Somme.

I recommend using the ‘GuideMe’ feature in tMapper. This allows you to enter each part of the trench map reference sequentially and prompts you with a range of possible values for the next part. Using this I realised I did not need to enter ‘SE’. It is also a good idea to double-check by accessing the map from an independent source. Map 62D SE is available from army.gov.au and it confirms the same location as indicated by tMapper.

Newspaper notices:

Family Notices (1918, September 14). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), p. 12. Retrieved January 4, 2022, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article15802687

TIGHT - Killed in action, August 23, 1918, Pte. Michael George Tight (Lewis Gunner), A Company, 3rd Battalion, third son of Mr and Mrs W Tight, St Anthony George street, Mascot aged 22 years. R.I.P. Loved by all who knew him
TIGHT - Killed in action, August 23, 1918 Pte M. G. Tight. 
His unknown grave is the bitterest blow, 
That only those who loved him know, 
Inserted by his loving friends, Mr and Mrs. W. H. Griffiths and family

Family Notices (1920, August 24). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), p. 8. Retrieved January 4, 2022, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article15903630

TIGHT.—In loving memory of our dear son and brother, Private Michael George Tight, killed in action at Proyart France, August 23, 1918, late A. Company, 3rd Battalion, aged 22 years. R.I.P.
In our hearts his memory will live for ever.
Inserted by his loving parents, brothers, and sisters.

Family Notices (1922, August 24). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), p. 8. Retrieved January 4, 2022, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article16020742

TIGHT. - In sad but loving memory of our dear son and brother, Private Michael George Tight, No 6107, A Company, 3rd Batt., killed at Proyart France August 23, 1918, R.I.P. Inserted by his sorrowing father and mother, sisters and brothers.

Michael is commemorated on Mascot War Memorial.

On 14th October 1918 Michael’s older brother, Joseph, had a son who was baptised Michael George Tight. I don’t have any proof but I fancy the newborn baby was named after his uncle.

Reunion of Descendants of the First Ten Settlers of Bathurst

In 2015 Bathurst, NSW, celebrated its 200th anniversary. The ‘Bathurst 200’ website is no longer available but it seems to have been archived by the Wayback Machine and the National Library of Australia.

On 10 May 2015 Callum and I attended an event in Bathurst that was part of the  anniversary. We drove up the day before and stayed at the Quality Hotel, Bathurst. That night we walked around the city centre and had a look at the light-show and the displays prepared for the event, including one for our ancestor, Richard Mills (c1780-1850).

On the following morning we had a look at the house built by Richard Mills around 1820. It is at 7 Lee Street Kelso and is now occupied by the Rural Fire Service and formerly an Evans Shire Council building. Then we went to the Bicentennial Park heritage wall for the unveiling of a plaque. Then to Cheshire Barn, 8 Gilmour Street for a picnic and talks. After that Callum and I went to have a look at Holy Trinity Church which is where Richard Mills was buried.

The reunion was covered by the local newspaper. And here are some of our photos.

I kept a copy of the programme.

Gathering of Descendants of the First Ten Settlers in Bathurst

The Geography of our travels around Germany

In 2012 we went on a 10-week family holiday around Europe. We had been thinking about it for a few years and everything came together nicely in the summer of 2012. Barbara’s 30-year high-school reunion was taking place in her hometown in south-western Germany. This gave us some definite dates and places to plan around. We also wanted to see family in other parts of Germany, and friends in Austria and France. Over a few months we worked out a travel plan that used a combination of plane-flights and driving, to criss-cross Europe. At times it felt like we were working on a solution to the travelling salesman problem.

We were very aware that the boys would be missing a number of weeks of school. Understandably their teachers were not happy about this and we needed to make the case that the trip would be educational as well as valuable in the vague, personal sense. So we made a conscious effort to discuss with the boys the history and geography of the places we visited. We tend to discuss things with them anyway so really we were just trying to make the most of a wonderful trip.

A theme that soon became obvious was the river Danube.  Many of the places we were visiting were either on, or close to, the Danube. The Danube flows through many countries but for this trip we would only see it as far downstream as Vienna. In German it is ‘the Donau’, so I’ll use that name from now on. I’ll mention the places we visited, not in chronological order, but according to the river’s flow, starting with its source.

The course of the Danube

The course of the Danube

I suspect the source of any great river is a point of contention. The river-head might be made up of many tiny tributaries so it may not be easy to identify a single source. Hydrologists have rules for determining which tributary is the more major but this might change over time. And speaking of time, it may be that a particular location is regarded as the source for historical reasons. To point out that, say, the Romans regarded a place as the source does carry some historical authority. That is the case with the Donauquelle in the Black Forest town of Donaueschingen. You get an idea of the claim being made by the name of the town. The Donau has two main tributaries: the Brigach and the Breg, but the confluence was originally surrounded by swampy areas.

Donauquelle near Stadtkirche St. Johann Donaueschingen

Donauquelle near Stadtkirche St. Johann Donaueschingen

Information sign at Donauquelle near Stadtkirche St. Johann Donaueschingen.

Information sign at Donauquelle near Stadtkirche St. Johann Donaueschingen.

Here we are at the spring that is supposedly the source. The Roman Emperor Tiberius and various German Emperors came here for a look so maybe it’s true. The spring is now next to (and somewhat below) St John’s church. On the afternoon of our visit the parishioners had held a light lunch to raise funds for church repairs and we were happy to help them eat the left-overs.

Donaueschingen has an elevation of about 680m above sea level. The sign above points out that the mouth of the Donau, at the Black Sea, is some 2840km away. So water really doesn’t need much of a gradient to form a substantial river. (Note: the source of the two tributaries are somewhat higher at about 1000m). The Donau flows generally eastward across southern Germany, through northern Austria, along the border of Slovakia and Hungary, then south through Hungary and Serbia and finally turning east again forming the border between Bulgaria and Romania. It empties into the Black Sea via an extensive delta. The river is often divided into three sections: upper, middle and lower. The upper section ends when the river leaves Austria, so all the places we visited are part of this section.

Rohrach

The Rohrach at Geislingen flows into the Eyb which flows into the Fils which flows into the Neckar at Plochingen, which flows into the Rhine at Mannheim.

Donaueschingen is in the east of the Black Forest. Rain falling on the eastern side of the Black Forest tends to flow into the Donau while rain on the western side ends up in the Rhine (via the Neckar River). However, the hydrology is actually more complex than this suggests. Much of the state of Baden-Württemberg lies on a limestone plateau. The limestone has leached-away forming underground caverns and streams. These underground streams often flow towards the Rhine because it is lower than the Donau. The upshot is that although the Donau appears to have a substantial catchment in this area, in practice much of it does not contribute directly to the Donau. Instead a great deal of the flow is gained from substantial downstream tributaries.

In addition, the source of the Neckar is at Villingen-Schwenningen which is not that far from Donaueschingen! So when traveling around the Black Forest it is hard to know which rain-shower will end up in the Atlantic via the Rhine and which will find itself in the Black Sea via the Donau.

Barbara grew up in Geislingen an der Steige, which is east of the Black Forest. It is not far from Ulm, which in on the Donau. However, Geislingen is on the River Fils, which is a tributary of and flows westward to the Neckar, which, in-turn, flows through Stuttgart and then to the Rhine. Meanwhile at Ulm the Donau flowing northeast.

Geislinger Steige

Train climbing the Geislinger Steige

An explanation is that between Geislingen and Ulm the Swabian Jura rises some hundreds of metres. This low mountain range has provided a barrier to movement and trade between the Neckar and the Donau since before Roman times. The steep climb between Geislingen and Amstetten is called the Geislinger Steige. The B10 road climbs this hill as does a very steep section of the main Stuttgart to Munich railway line.

Whenever in Geislingen we visit the ruins of Burg Helfenstein which overlooks the whole area including the train-line climbing the steige. We have photos taken over decades similar to the one taken on the 2012 trip.

 

Der Grosser Blau, one of the small streams which flows through Ulm and into the Donau

Der Grosser Blau, one of the small streams which flows through Ulm and into the Donau

Surfing a tributary of the Isar in Munich

Surfing a tributary of the Isar in Munich

The Große Arbersee flows into the Großer Regen, which flows into the Schwarzer Regen, which flows into the Regen which flows into the Donau

The Große Arbersee flows into the Großer Regen, which flows into the Schwarzer Regen, which flows into the Regen which flows into the Donau

 

The Danube at Passau from the Schanzlbrücke

The Danube at Passau from the Schanzlbrücke

 

 

 

To be continued …