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Tuesday, 14 September 2010


My grandfather, Edward Walford Manifold, (known to his family as Wal), and his brother, Bertie, grew up in the Western District of Victoria. At the outbreak of World War I they, along with many others in the district, were keen to support the war effort and, to that end, they travelled to Britain to join the British Army.

To modern eyes, their decision might seem unpatriotic but, like many Australians at the time, they regarded the interests of Australia and the “Home Country” as indivisible. Also, as country people, they had skill and experience with horses, and so it probably seemed to them that they would be of more use in the Royal Field Artillery than in the AIF. On top of this, my grandfather had earlier attended Cambridge University, and this meant he had direct experience of the old country and many bonds of friendship with English people. Although they are part of a somewhat forgotten group - there is no acknowledgment either in the Australian War Memorial or the Imperial War Museum of Australians who have chosen to fight within British forces in any conflicts - the two brothers were far from being alone in the choice they made.

My grandfather left letters and a detailed set of diaries covering the years he spent at war  from 1915 to 1917. In this blog, I plan to publish both the letters he wrote and the diary entries he made, with each post appearing on the date corresponding to the date my grandfather wrote it. The resulting document will, I hope, provide one more perspective on the experience of World War I.

This entry from The Corian , the magazine of Geelong Grammar School, following my grandfather's death in 1959, provides a little background about him, for those who would like to know a little more:

"Edward Walford Manifold
Walford Manifold, who died at Mondilibi, Mortlake, on October 23, was the last surviving son of the late Mr W. T. Manifold of Purrumbete, Weerite: his brothers were John and W. H. (Bertie). E. W. entered the school in 1903 and played in the XI and XVIII from 1908-1910, when he left to enter Jesus College, Cambridge.

He rowed in the second Jesus boat 1912-13, in the Lents, and enlisted early in the 1914-18 War in the Royal Field Artillery. He proceeded to France in 1915 with 48 Bty., 36 Brigade, RFA, after training in England; promoted 1st lieutenant in 1917 and Captain, July, 1918. Late in 1916 he was awarded the Military Cross for the following act of gallantry: "He laid a telephone line and maintained it for 24 hours under very heavy fire. Twice he visited the advanced posts, recrossing ground which was unheld by our troops, and succeeded in obtaining much valuable information. He displayed great courage and determination throughout."  This was in a F.O.O. at Thiepval.

In September, 1918, he was granted leave to Australia, where later he was discharged to R. of O. After gaining land experience in Western Queensland, he purchased Mondilibi in 1922, and in the same year married Miss Margaret Lorn Alston, who predeceased him.

He always retained his great interest in the School, and for some years served on the O. G. G. Committee. A memorial window in the school chapel is in memory of his young son, Derek.

He was a keen grazier, a willing helper in all local activities, as well as maintaining a long and active association in the affairs of the Ballarat Diocese.

To his three daughters we extend our sincere sympathy."


  1. Excellent idea for a blog, zmkc. I look forward to seeing it develop. Chris Baker, UK

  2. Thank you, Chris. It will require a bit of forward planning, I suspect

  3. Great idea, I'll be following this with interest. My great-grandad was with the RFA on the Western Front as well. Like your grandfather, I think he joined because he had experience with horses, in his case from working on farms near Liverpool, England. We don't have any letters from him but I have his dog tag and medals.

  4. My Grandfather was Australian (born Emerald Hill, Melbourne in 1869). In 1914 he was working as a quartz miner in Canada and joined the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery - he lied about his age - he was too old to enlist.He had some experience with horses having served for 11 months with the South Australian Light Horse hence becoming a driver with the horse artillery.

    He broke both shoulders while training, suffered gun shot wounds and was eventually run over by a French peasant driving a heavy horse and cart while he was standing on parade! He met and married my grandmother while recovering in England in 1916.

    Sadly I have no letters or diaries from my grandfather - although his units war diary exists and is online so have been able to follow his military service in France, also his service records survive in Canada so have been able to piece together his war service.

    Good luck with you venture - I will be following with interest.

  5. Parrot - I wonder if your great grandfather's name will come up somewhere in the diaries.
    Ed - Your poor grandfather, the parade incident just takes the cake.

  6. I did one of these for the bit of my grandfather's diary covering the latter part of WW1. He, too, was artillery and a signaller, but later moved to infantry.

  7. Thanks, Geoff, I look forward to seeing that.

  8. Dear zmkc
    i am the archivist at Geelong Grammar School and I look forward to reading your blog. Kind regards
    Melissa Campbell

  9. Hello Melissa, Is Michael Collins Persse still there? I had thought of letting him know about this, but wondered if he was an internet sort of person.
    You don't happen to have Bim Affleck's email do you, by the way (I know he did a book for the school)? I saw him the other day and was planning to write to him to tell him about this, but it would be much easier if I could email him instead.

  10. ZMKC
    Have you modelled this blog upon the similar blog recently completed about Harry Lamin?

    I followed that as it unfolded, and it was fascinating. Your blog should be equally fascinating, more so because of the link with Australia.

  11. I haven't seen that - will have a look