Anzac Cottages in Stanthorpe
In 1925 three Anzac Cottages were built in Stanthorpe. Technically these three cottages are TB Cottages, that is, housing for sufferers of tuberculosis. The returning nurses, soldiers, sailors, airmen and other personnel of the war, suffered not only from the obvious, and not so obvious damage of battle, but the diseases of the places in which they served. Administratively however, all cottages were referred to as “Anzac Cottages.” In Queensland a total of seventyseven Anzac Cottages were constructed from 1917 to the mid 1920’s.
The idea for the building of Anzac cottages began early in World War 1, when it was realised that some returning incapacitated service personnel, and in some cases widows, needed to be provided with housing. Citizens around the State started setting up local committees and patriotic funds, to account for the many kinds of issues to be dealt with as a result of the war. By 1917 the Golden Casket (still in existence today) was specifically established, by the Government, to raise money for the building of Anzac Cottages and other repatriation matters, such as, soldier settlements, widows, orphans, hospitals. The money raised (over four million pounds) was administered by the Queensland War Council. When this Council was disbanded in the 1920’s the administration of the Cottages was transferred to the Public Trustee. Many years later defence housing became a federal responsibility.
At first, the houses were constructed by volunteer groups, and all to the same design. This was organised by the setting up of a local committee and applying to the Queensland War Council for approval and money to purchase the materials to construct the house.
From 1917, through to the mid 1920’s, there are numerous newspaper reports on the progress of various local committees and their activities. This involved many tradesmen giving up their weekends to do this work voluntarily. Inevitably the wives of these volunteers also offered their services by setting up auxiliaries to provide morning and afternoon teas and lunches for the volunteer workers. When the houses were completed there was usually a ceremonial opening by the Governor, and, or the local Member of Parliament and other dignitaries, and keys handed to the new occupants of the house. In the case of the Stanthorpe cottages, it seems most likely that private contractors performed the building work. They were also amongst the last of the Anzac Cottages constructed.
Once the houses were constructed a choice had to be made as to the occupants. This was usually done by a selection process, after calling for applications. The known applicants in Stanthorpe included, John Russell (4 M.G.B.), David John Kennedy (25 Bn), James McClure (R.A.N.), Henry William Dew Freeman (3 A.G.H.), Walter Ernest Cooper (11 F.A.B.), Wilfred Lynn (31 Bn), Percival Buchanan (47 Bn), William Henry Bolger (9 Bn), Alexander Edwin Thallon (1 F.A.B.), Arthur Preston (26 Bn), M. J. Bradbury, George Francis Hoath (49 Bn), Frederick Duckworth (9 Bn), Thomas William Gardiner (9 Bn), Osbane Ernest Smith (16 Bty), Albert Sugden (11 L.H.), James Bright Manuell (2 L.H.), Albert Norman Dickinson (A.M.D.T.), Stanley Russell Stuart Taplin (12 H.G.C.), John Fredericks (7 M.G.C.), Joseph James Holman (31 Bn), George McKay Williamson (14 Bn), Francis Peter Green (5 D.A.C.), John Alphonsus Buggie (13 Bn), George Francis Burgess (3 M.G.B.), Jonathan George Gregory (3 M.G.B. ), Miles Coverdale Bradbury (2 Bty), Rupert Wesley Simmons (12 Bn), Enoch Bywater (4 L.H.), Samuel John Fisk (A.A.M.C.), Victor John George Sutcliffe (1 Tunneling Coy.), John Kostin (5 F.A.E.), Reginald Scott (47 Bn), Richard Fowler Price (3 Brig. Field Artillery), George Martin Smith (9 Bn), John Williams (9 Bn), Felix Clarence Zerk (26 Bn), John Wallace Garrick (R.A.N., World War 2).
At the time of application, Thomas Gardiner, Walter Cooper, James Manuell, John Fredericks, Percival Buchanan, Joseph Holman, George Williamson, Francis Green, Jonathan Gregory, Miles Bradbury, Albert Sugden, Victor Sutcliffe, John Williams, Felix Zerk, were inpatients at Kyoomba Sanatorium. Some of the others were residing at the Soldier Settlement, at Amiens, or living in the Stanthorpe township, presumably for treatment at Kyoomba.
The selection process, for an Anzac cottage involved assessment and recommendations by Dr W. H Steel, the Queensland T. B. Association, and the War Council. Dr Steel’s recommendation is said to have carried the greatest weight. Selection criteria included whether the soldier was homeless, married, health status, and personal circumstances.
The first occupants of the Stanthorpe Cottages, who were chosen by ballot, were as follows – 8 Symes Street, James McClure and family (later occupants included, John Russell and family); 9 McGregor Terrace, Henry Freeman and family (later occupants included Mr Percival Buchanan and John Wallace Garrick); 4 Casey Street, David Kennedy and family (later occupants included W. Cooper and family, Osbane Smith and family). They did not own the cottages, but paid a small rent of eight shillings per week. None of the first tenants were to stay more than a year or two before the cottages were again being offered to World War 1 veterans, for tenancy. In the case of the Symes Street cottage, the McClure family, for instance, left in 1929, because they complained about one of their children suffering lead poisoning from the paint work. The Russell family, who then occupied the house remained there until the early 1960’s.
Also of interest is the case of John Wallace Garrick. He was a World War 2 veteran, unlike others with World War 1 service, although all suffered from TB. John Garrick occupied McGregor Terrace from 1948 until 1962. By the 1960’s the World War 1 generation, occupying the Anzac Cottages, had either died, or moved into other accommodation arrangements, in their old age, and so the State Government found that it had seventy-seven vacant cottages. As a result the Government decided to sell the cottages. All three of the Stanthorpe Anzac Cottages were sold by the mid 1960’s.
In a sense the story of the Anzac Cottages ends there, however the houses continue to exist as small memorials to the generosity of people, who saw a need to look after others returning from a war that damaged and destroyed so many lives.