Laslett family history
George and Elsie Laslett OF O.B. Flat
George Samson Laslett was born on 28 September 1893 at Allendale East. He was the eldest son of George Laslett, a Farmer later of Glencoe East, and his wife Ellen Laslett née Tall (page 134). In naming their son George, they were helping to maintain the tradition in this branch of the family of calling the eldest son of the eldest son George. George Samson was the third in sequence.
He attended Kingsley School in Allendale East and, as was normal at that period, left school at the age of 12 after obtaining his Honour Certificate.
In 1906, when his parents moved to Glencoe East, George went too and was employed at an early age in the Edendale Factory, which is now known as the Glencoe East Cheese factory. His wage was ten shillings a week with an extra 2/6d if Sunday work was required. The work was hard. George could remember cutting a cord of two-foot lengths of wood for the donkey engine. A cord measuring 8'x 4'x 4'.
In 1912, when his father obtained a 30-acre block of land at Moorak, George worked on the farm with his father and brother Len. As well he took employment such as road making with his father, (who was an expert roadmaker and tendered for constructing sections of roads), or with other employers. Until he was 21 years of age, he gave the whole of his wages to his parents.
In July 1914, he entered the Teachers Training College, in Currie Street, Adelaide. In those days the initial training course ran for six months, one intake in January and another in July. In August 1914 war broke out but George appears to have completed this initial part of his training, before, as with thousands of his generation, he sought to join up. He enlisted in the Australian Imperial Forces (A.I.F.) from Mount Gambier on 4 January 1915 and, after induction, was posted to 'C' Company 11th Light Horse Regiment. His army number was 773.
George has written a number of accounts of his WWI service and I have selected from these to form a brief continuous narrative of items of particular interest:
This Regiment was formed with C Squadron South Australians, and A and B Squadrons Queenslanders. We left Mitcham Camp for Queensland at the end of April (1915) . . . After a few weeks training with the Queenslanders, we left by steamer . . . for Adelaide; arrived at Outer Harbour; berthed there for a few hours and then sailed on the S.S. Borda for Egypt - without horses, the Light Horse being used as infantry on Gallipoli.
The Light Horse uniform consisted of boots, spurs, leather leggings, riding breeches, tunic, slouch hat, in most cases with emu feathers in the side, with a chin strap worn under the lower lip and not under the chin.
The troopers accoutrement was . . . a bandolier made of leather, worn across the body . . . On the bandolier were nine pouches, five in front of the body, four at the back, containing 10 rounds in each pouch. Also a broad leather belt . . . with two pouches at the front holding 20 rounds each . . . On the left side was carried the bayonet ... across the shoulders were a water bottle and haversack . . . Worn on the belt was also a mess tin . . . The rifle, Lee Enfield 303, when mounted was slung over the shoulder, with rifle at the back.
On each sleeve of tunic and overcoat the battalion or regimental colours were sown. After Gallipoli an A for Anzac was worn on the colour patch by those that had served there . . . Also on the cuff of the right sleeve was worn small chevrons denoting years of service; a red for those who served overseas in 1914 and a blue for each succeeding year of service.
With regards to these, the story goes that an elderly lady asked an old digger what the strips stood for and he explained that the red one was to show that he was married and the blue for how many children he had. Turning to his mate and noticing four blues and no red, she remarked in shocked tones, "You are a very wicked man".
Saluting, to the disgust of the A.I.F., seemed the most essential requirement in the British Army . . . Not saluting in a smart and soldier-like manner was the cause of many entries in the A.I.F. pay books.
On the 15th August (1915), reveille was at 3.00 a.m.; had breakfast; marched three miles and entrained for Alexandria . . . We had only what we could carry in our knapsack, overcoat, waterproof sheet and blanket. We were off to war, destination Gallipoli . . . embarked on the S.S. Marquette . . .
Extract from diary, 28/29th August, 1915: 'Arrived Lemnos harbour, it was full of shipping of all descriptions, battleships, destroyers, submarines, hospital ships . . . issued with 150 rounds of ammunition, disembarked off the Marquette onto transport 727 Prince Abbasia. I felt very ill landed by barges at Anzac at 3 a.m., heavy firing going on . . .
George had contracted measles and on 30 August was sent back to Lemnos. After a battle against armies of lice, squalid conditions and the indifference of a hard pressed medical service George was pronounced fit for duty. He returned to Gallipoli on HMS Partridge:
We landed about 11.00 p.m. on barges . . . a German plane flew over, dropped a bomb and nearly hit the Partridge, returned about half an hour later, tried again with two more, but missed.
Next morning . . . I made my way through Shrapnel Gully to the 9th Light Horse position at the Apex, the furthest point inland and the highest in the Anzac position, about 850 feet and a mile from the beach. (The 11th had been allotted as reinforcements to other regiments.)
Between this ridge (the Turkish lines) and our position, a deep valley about three hundred yards across separated us. In this valley hundred of bodies lay unburied and remained so until after the Armistice; some were Turks, but the others ours.
At one time a rather grim picture could be seen through field glasses looking into the valley. Evidently the New Zealander and the Turk had bayoneted each other at the same time, transfixing each other, the Turk falling to the ground and the long Anzac bayonet passing through him and penetrating into the ground. Both rifles grasped in a death grip, leaving the Anzac still standing above the Turk in a stooping position.
Water was very scarce . . . and was issued at the rate of one pint per day per man . . . Washing was out of the question. We slept in our clothes still wearing web equipment with ninety rounds in the pouches, bayonet at the side and rifle in readiness in case of a surprise attack . . .
Every day this position was shelled by the rapid-fire French 75's especially when the men emerged from their dugouts to go to the cookhouse a few yards distant. It almost made a man spill his tea and stew . . .
The hiss of bullets through the air never ceased, with the occasional scream of a ricochet, interspersed with intermittent shelling.
A few weeks before the evacuation, orders from Headquarters forbade any firing of any weapon for forty-eight hours unless attacked . . . it was part of the strategy leading to the final withdrawal.
. . . I was a machine gunner and we were told that we had the 'position of honour'. We were to hold our posts to the last and not to move until all the troops had reached the beach. Personally I felt I could do with a lot less honour and more priority . . .
In Ernest Hammond's History of the 11th Light Horse Regiment the evacuation is described:
In the early part of that last night (19/20 December 1915) long lines of silent marchers threaded their way to the beach and the waiting boats . . .
The seemingly impossible had been accomplished. Anzac was evacuated without casualties.
George left on the battleship Mars.
Owing to his knowledge of the Vickers machine gun and his ability as an instructor, he was promoted to Corporal Instructor and finally Staff Sergeant and was kept in Egypt for the rest of the war, instructing troops in the use of the machine gun.
When he returned to Australia, he took up 156 acres of land at OB Flat under the Soldiers Settlement Scheme, built a stone-walled house there, and started a farm on which he kept dairy cows and pigs, and grew potatoes and oat crops. In this work, he was helped by his wife, Elsie May Laslett (née Earl), born 7 October 1893, whom he married at Allendale East on 9 March 1920.
George and Elsie had five sons and three daughters, in order of age, Joy Helen 1920, George Nield 1922, Perry Thomas 1924, Ronald Esmond 1926, Muriel Elsie 1928, Mary Isabel 1930, Ralph Leslie 1932, Leonard Maurice 1934. As these children grew old enough, they did various chores on the farm, such as milking cows, feeding pigs, carting grass hay or sheaves of oats in the wagon drawn by two horses, and taking milk to the O.B. Flat factory, returning with cans of whey for the pigs.
Most of the children were educated at O.B. Flat Public School, but when George took over his father's 30-acre farm at Moorak, Ralph and Len attended the Moorak primary school.
George was a hard-working and successful farmer, working first one farm and then two together. The Moorak farm was managed by Rosa Laslett, daughter of William and Lillian Laslett of Allendale East.
George was captain of the O.B. Flat Tennis Club in the 1930's, but later became more interested in rifle shooting and joined the Mount Gambier Rifle Club. He was a very good rifle shot, usually being among the top five shooters, although he was the only one who did not use a peepsight or sling. For approximately 30 years, from the mid-30's to the mid-60's, he regularly attended the shoots, until his eyesight began to fail, and he changed his sport to lawn and also indoor bowls, at which he was very proficient.
He was also a keen fisherman and owned a cabin boat and house boat on the River Glenelg at Donovans.
George liked company and had a good sense of humour and loved telling stories
of his experiences in the Army. He was a good story teller and his sense
of humour ensured him on appreciative audience.
He liked composing humorous poems, such as "Mother at the Wheel", or more serious ones, such as "The Men of Yesterday", and various rhymes referring to local happenings.
When World War II broke out, he and his son George joined the Volunteer Defence Corps and in 1943, he joined the Army with the rank of Warrant Officer to instruct new recruits. I think he remained in the Army only a few months, and then returned to farming to help the War Effort.
In 1959, he sold the Moorak farm and later sold the O.B. Flat farm to his son, Ralph, with the exception of 50 acres sold to his daughter, Muriel Hillyer.
George and Elsie lived in the old farmhouse until 1986, Ralph having built a two-roomed house for himself about a mile to the east.
He was a keen golfer, having taken it up at the age of 75 years, and kept at it until he was 90 years of age. His photo was in the Border Watch, after playing a round of golf on his 90th birthday.
He was a cheerful, friendly man who liked company. He was an omnivorous reader and particularly liked historical novels.
In his later years, he wrote a booklet, called Reflections, which was a collection of his poems, his army experiences, descriptions of his overseas trips, etc. In addition to this booklet, he wrote articles on the various districts in the vicinity of Mount Gambier and Port MacDonnell, e.g. Allendale East, O.B. Flat, Moorak, Glencoe East, Donovans, Nelson, Wye, etc. In these articles, he would describe the people, and the way of life of the people living in those places in the early days.
George died on 3 February 1987 and is buried in the Port MacDonnell Cemetery.
Family of George and Elsie Laslett
GEORGE NIELD - born Saturday 16 May 1922 at O.B. Flat. School Teacher. Married Violet Nell Patricia Hawke (born 27 December 1924, died 25 September 1988). George lives in Stopford Road, Hove, S.A.
See chapter George and Pat Laslett of Hove on page 186.
PERRY THOMAS - born 26 March 1924 at O.B. Flat. Educated at O.B. Flat and
Yahl Primary Schools. Served in the RAAF during WWII. On discharge built
up a wood chip carting business in Mt. Gambier. In 1947 Perry married Betty
Valmai Whitehead (born 19 August 1928). Lives in Brigalow Cresecent, Mt.
Michelle Annette - born 24 January 1948. Married Colin Sealey.
Mark Anthony Sealey
Suzette Elizabeth - born 13 October 1949. Married Kenneth Wayne Lawson.
Kenneth Perry Lawson
RONALD ESMOND - born 5 March 1926 at O.B. Flat. Educated at O.B. Flat Primary School. Served in RAAF during WWII in Australia and Borneo. In 1949 Ronald married Gladys Fay Jones (born 19 March 1930). They farmed a property at Mt. Schanck, then sold it and went to live in Mt. Gambier. Ronald died 30 May 1973. Gladys now lives in Worrolong Road, Mt. Gambier, S.A.
Leonie Faye - born 26 September 1949. Married twice, firstly to Barry Sims then to Wayne Johns
RALPH LESLIE - born 5 September 1932 at O.B. Flat. Educated at O.B. Flat and Yahl Primary Schools. After various jobs at pinefalling, crayfishing, etc., he bought his father's property at O.B. Flat and 90 acres about a mile to the east. On the first proerty he was a dairy farmer, grew potatoes etc., on the second property he ran beef cattle. Unmarried. Lives in Whites Flat Road, O.B. Flat, S.A.
LEONARD MAURICE - born 21 July 1934 at O.B. Flat. Educated at Moorak Public and Mt. Gambier High Schools. Worked as crew in a fishing boat for Les Jones, then bought his own boat and was engaged in crayfishing. Also bought 200 acres of bushland and planted it with pines. In 1955 married Margaret Anne Tibbles (born 13 October 1935). Live at Allendale East.
Drew Leonard - born 25 November 1955. Ranger/ Farmer. Married Susan Mary G. Arbery (born 9 June 1954). Live in Springs Road, Port MacDonnell, S.A. In 1997 the NY Times ran an article mentioning Drew as a Wildlife Officer on Kangaroo Island.
Tegan Marie - born 24 July 1984.
Jessica Anne - born 20 September 1986.
Briony Margaret - born 25 August 1958. Married Barry Kelvin Schriever (born 4 November 1954),a Cattle Farmer, the son of Kelvin Schriever and Mavis (May) Schriever née Millard.
Nicholas Barry Schriever - born 12 January 1980.
Adam John Schriever - born 30 March 1981.
Tahney Ann Schriever - born 14 January 1986.
Donna Marie - born 10 November 1959. Librarian. Married Robert Fox (born 27 February 1956) a Butcher.
Matthew John Fox - born 16 February 1984.
Ryan Lithgow Fox - born 23 December 1985.
Tanya Joanne - born 11 March 1962. Married Leigh Gilbertson (born 1 April 1960) an Electrical Engineer.
Christopher Leigh Gilbertson - born 18 February 1986.
Jared Kevin Gilbertson - born 5 April 1988.
Brent Anthony - born 11 June 1968. Television Technician.
JOY HELEN - born Friday 3 December 1920 at O.B. Flat. Educated at O.B. Flat
Primary School. On 2 June 1943 married Charles Norman Wallace (born 5 May
1917) a Farmer of Allendale East.
Wayne Robert Wallace - born 7 March 1948. Is married to Valerie Anne McMahon. Both School Teachers.
Nicholas Charles Wallace - born 12 February 1976.
Timothy Francis Wallace - born 15 January 1978.
Anita Joy Wallace - born 7 October 1979.
Samuel Robert Wallace
Darryl Charles Wallace - born 26 December 1949. School Teacher.
Glen Earl Wallace - born 2 January 1952. Died 24 September 1965.
Sharyn Joy Wallace - born 13 July 1954. Social Worker. Was married to Michael Allan Lawson but is now divorced.
Perry Michael Wallace - born 14 August 1961. A Labourer.
MURIEL ELSIE - born 27 February 1928 at O.B. Flat. Married Eric Hillyer, a Poultry Farmer, but is now divorced.
Dale Eric Hillyer - born 21 July 1946. Poultry Farmer. Married Merryn Smith (Born 27 September 1948.
Jodi Hillyer - born 11 November 1968. Clerk.
Travis Hillyer - born 2 March 1972.
Susan Ellen Hillyer - born 7 September 1955. Shop Assistant. Married Dennis Kuhl now divorced.
Serena Kuhl - born 27 April 1973.
Leona Kuhl - born 16 August 1976.
Tracey Hillyer - born 19 August 1959. Business- woman. Married Lesley Marsh now divorced.
Jacqueline Hillyer - born 19 January 1961. Poultry Farmer.
Rosalie Rebecca Hillyer - born 9 November 1962. Clerk. Married Anthony Eustace.
MARY ISABEL - born 7 March 1930 at O.B. Flat. Married Bruce Maxwell Stephens (Born 28 September 1928). A Telecom F.M.O.
Craig Leslie Stephens - born 3 May 1951. Telecom Worker. Married twice, first Margaret Rose Knight then Marie Jean Francis (Born 14 April 1954).
Lee Nigel Stephens - born 8 December 1972.
Bianca Marie Stephens - born 14 April 1977.
Bradley Craig Stephens - born 22 February 1984.
Robert Mark Stephens - born 19 January 1953. Telecom Worker. Married Janet Christine Brown (Born 7 March 1954).
Benjamin Mark Stephens - born 19 March 1980.
Suzanne Lucia Stephens - born 13 May 1983.
Kerry Anne Stephens - born 26 December 1956. Married Trevor Wayne Cox (born 8 August 1953). Kraft Employee.
Robyn Denise Cox - born 19 November 1977.
Brian Trevor Cox - born 5 September 1980.
Leanne Kaye Cox - born 1 September 1985.
Haydn Bruce Stephens - born 6 February 1963. Telecom Worker. Married Amanda Jayne King.