Today’s post is a follow-up to Sue’s Soldier, again kindly supplied by Guest Blogger, Sue Peach:
Let Susie Zada take up the story, in the Geelong Family History newsletter, Pivot Tree, for October 2021.
I received an email on 10 February 2021 sent via the ‘Contact Us’ page on our Geelong Family History Group website. The subject line was World War One and it started with these words: “This is a very long shot, but please bear with me!” It felt like a challenge, but at the same time I was not confident.
That email was from a lady, Sue Peach, with a UK email address and I decided to investigate further. Her grandfather, George Slater, had been severely wounded in France during World War One. The Geelong connection was a note that George had kept in his wallet. It was from an Australian soldier who had rescued him and contained a Geelong address – Inglebrae, Pevensey Crescent, Geelong, Vic.
I knew exactly where Pevensey Crescent was as I regularly drove past it when I left Geelong and was heading to my former home. It stuck in my mind as a very attractive setting – a semi-circular crescent facing Pevensey Park on the west side and split through the centre by Malop Street.
The first place to search, and most obvious to me, was my own Geelong & District database, which contains more than 1.7 million entries. No matches! Next, I tried our GFHG Research Files. Nothing. Then I checked the Victorian Heritage Database in case the house still existed. Still nothing. Then I thought I’d try something simpler – Google. There was an Inglebrae Farm in New South Wales, an Inglebrae B&B in Queensland, and an Inglebrae Court in Essendon, Melbourne.
I almost put this query in the ‘this will take too long’ or ‘too hard’ basket but hesitated because Sue had mentioned how much she loved Elyne Mitchell’s Silver Brumby stories as a child. I had also enjoyed these books but more importantly had read of the tragic loss of the Mitchell’s Towong Hill Station in the bushfires near Corryong in early 2020. I decided that I wanted to pursue Inglebrae further.
When searching for houses, particularly house names, one of my favourite resources are sewerage plans and these exist for Geelong. Copies of these plans are available at the Geelong Heritage Centre. Pevensey Crescent was located within Detail Plan No. 2 and house names could be seen on a number of properties facing the Park.
On closer inspection No. 5 Pevensey Crescent included the house name of Inglebrae. One of the joys of finding houses on these historic sewerage plans is then trying to locate them on Google Street view to see if the property still exists. In this case it did. The sewerage plan showed a bay window on the right and a verandah on the left with steps leading up to the front door. There was no question that 5 Pevensey Crescent is the 1914 house called Inglebrae.
Finding the soldier
The next step was to identify who was living at Inglebrae around 1917 and then identify the soldier who had written that precious note. Rate Books or Electoral Rolls for 1917 would be a good starting point but rather than a trip to the Heritage Centre I preferred an online option.
That left one more important place to search – the Geelong Advertiser on TROVE. And that was how this wonderful story started to unfold. A search for Inglebrae and Pevensey showed an entry for 12 July 1915. It was an article about recent enlistments and there was an entry – Fred Stott, “Inglebrae,” Pevensey Crescent. Of course, more proof would be needed that Fred Stott was the author of that note but at least I had a starting point. Fred Stott’s service record would show if he could have been in France and in a position to rescue George Slater.
Everything was falling into place, but it was still necessary to research Fred’s family as he may have had brothers who also served during World War I. I also wanted to identify descendants as Sue was keen for the family of the soldier who rescued her grandfather to know that she believed he was a true hero.
Frederick Edward Stott was born 30 April 1893 in Geelong, the son of Edward George Stott and Emma née Porter. Edward was a jeweller, and it seems that Fred followed in his father’s footsteps according to his occupation listed in his service record.
Edward and Emma had six children. Fred’s brothers were too young to have served and Fred was the only Stott from Victoria to serve in World War I. His service record also includes details of his marriage in Wandsworth, London to Nellie Hamblin on 1 February 1919 before returning to Australia in June 1919. Fred’s father was still shown as the owner and occupier of 5 Pevensey Crescent in 1920. All of these family details confirmed that the writer of the note could only be Fred Stott.
Sue was delighted that we were able to confirm that Fred was the soldier who had saved her grandfather and amazingly that both were jewellers. Death and Funeral notices for Fred in 1968 provided married names of siblings and children – enough information to identify living family members to pass on Fred’s special story. Another article in the Geelong Advertiser on 5 July 1915 gave some interesting background information on recruits from Geelong at the time:
“GUIDES TO RECRUITS.
With the medical standard lowered and a Statewide recruiting campaign in progress this week, there will probably be a spurt in enlistment in Geelong this week, and a few points on the procedure may help intending soldiers….. Amongst the record enlistment in Melbourne on Saturday were Fred Stott, son of Mr. E. G. Stott, “Inglebrae,” Pevensey Crescent, and Leslie Reeves of “Minerva”, Mercer-street. They go to Seymour in a fortnight”.
One thing leads to another
This 1915 article reminded me of another crucial source that I needed to check for Fred Stott. If I found what I was hoping to find I knew that Sue Peach would be over the moon – it would be the cherry on the top of the joint story of George Slater and Fred Stott.
Anyone who finds an ancestor from Geelong or the Western Districts who served in the first World War should immediately think of the newspaper News of the Week (Geelong). From 1905 this local newspaper included many photographs, particularly during World War I when they published photographs of ‘local’ enlisted men. ‘Local’ photographers agreed to photograph as many local enlisted personnel as possible at no cost and provide families with images of their loved ones. Jan McCawley published microfiche indexes of all references to service personnel in News of the Week and highlighted any photos. The series of microfiche were titled Those Who Served with separate fiche for each year of the war. I don’t think I took a breath while I searched for Fred Stott – lots of entries including that special one with the text. Then the agonising wait until I could find the image on the newspaper microfilm, order a better copy from the original papers held by the State Library of Victoria, and be able to send Sue this magnificent photo of the Aussie soldier who rescued her grandfather. A fantastic culmination of the saga that started with the words: “This is a very long shot, but please bear with me!”
Sue concludes the story:
Over the moon is right, and not only were both of them jewellers, but both enlisted in 1915 and died in 1968. And Fred has such a kind face. Just the sort of chap who would stop for a fallen comrade on the battlefield and get him to safety.
2 thoughts on “Finding Fred”
This has been fascinating.
Absolutely b*****y fantastic!!! Well done!