War Service: Frederick Hamilton Courbarron – letters from home 1917-1918

Frederick Hamilton Courbarron, the youngest of the four Courbarron siblings, enlisted in the A.I.F on 24th July 1917. At his enlistment he gave his occupation as farm hand and his address as a property named ‘Moorelands’ near Moree, NSW.  Unlike his brother James, Fred nominated his mother as his next-of-kin naming her ‘Mary Courbarron’ and living at the same address in Moree. In 1915, Mary had written to Base Records in Melbourne regarding James from her address in Cuthbert Street (written then as ‘Cuthbirt’) in Waverley Sydney and signed her name as Mrs Mary ‘Casey’. By 1917 she was living at Moree and had reverted to her original married surname of Courbarron, she was living at this address when Fred travelled to Sydney to enlist.

The first telegrams, dated 12 April 1918, sent to Mary were from Base Records to inform her of Fred being wounded. This was the first of a series of telegrams sent to Mary via Moorelands at Moree that were not received by her.

“Moree N.S.W Mrs Courbarron Moorelands. Reported Private Frederick Courbarron wounded will advise anything further received 12.4.18″





a second telegram was sent the same day…Frederick had been wounded at Jura, which was part of the Western Front, in France….


“Moree N.S.W Mrs Courbarron, Moorelands. Now reported Private Frederick Courbarron admitted Edmonton Military Hospital third March suffering gunshot wound face left arm left hand severe. Base Records 12.4.18“.





On the 18th April 1918, Fred was recovering in hospital in England when this letter from Base Records was sent to Mary informing her of his location. This letter, too, did not reach her as she was no longer living at Moree. “Melbourne 18th April 1918. Dear Madam, I now beg to advise you that Pte. F. H. Courbarron has been reported convalescent. His postal address will be: No.3648 Pte. F. H. Courbarron 15th Battalion , Australian Imperial Force,  Abroad. In the absence of further reports it is the be assumed that satisfactory progress is being maintained, but anything later received will be promptly transmitted, it being clearly understood that if no further advice is forwarded this department has no more information to supply. Yours faithfully J. M. Lean Major, Officer in charge, Base Records”.

The Captain J. Lean who sent telegrams about James has by now been promoted to Major. On the 20th April 1918, Mary writes a letter to Base Records informing the army, finally, that she has changed address from Moree to Chatswood and is now residing with her eldest child, Mildred Hopkins who was, of course, the n.o.k of brother James.  Mary was to remain living with Mildred until her death in 1927.

“Brown Street Chatswood, 20th 4. 18. To Military Authorities, Dear Sirs, I as next of kin of No. 3648 Private Frederick Hamilton Courbarron, 10th reinforcements 55 Battalion, Australian Imperial Forces Abroad, have changed my residence and my address now is Mrs Mary Courbarron c/o P.Hopkins Browns Street, Chatswood North Sydney. PS. I am his mother and was living at Moorelands Moree when he went away. Yours faithfully M. Courbarron”.



On April 30th 1918, Mary filed an official change-of-address in Sydney which gave her contact as c/o Mrs P. Hopkins, her daughter. At the bottom of the form, Mary had written a message stating what she had seen regarding Fred in the Herald, the same way she had learned about James’ being wounded two years prior. All previous notifications to her had gone uncollected at Moree, so she was unaware of Fred being injured in France, which had prompted her to lodge a more formal change of address notice: “I have received no official notification of the above soldier’s casualty and saw it first reported in the newspaper in Casualty List No.394. Please let me have any information to had as soon as possible”.


This letter was sent to Mary on 7th May 1918 bring her up to date on Fred’s condition: “7th May, 1918. Dear Madam, I have to acknowledge receipt of your further communication notifying your change of address, and to inform you that the necessary amendment has been made on the records of your son, No.3648 Private F. H. Courbarron, 15th Battalion. This soldier was reported as having been admitted on 3/3/18 to Edmonton Military Hospital, England, suffering from gunshot wound – face, left arm, left hand (severe), but according to the latest cable advice (dated London 9/4/18) he is convalescent. The above reports were sent you at your old address on 12th and 18th April, respectively, and so far they have not been returned to this office unclaimed. Letters addressed as under should be forwarded on arrival abroad to where he is located:- No.3648 Private F. H. Courbarron, 15th Battalion, Australian Imperial Force, Abroad”.

Copy of envelope addressed to Mary at Moree that was stamped ‘Address Unknown’.






In March 1918, Fred had received serious injuries to his face for which he was offered a period of rehabilitation and retraining at the famed St Dunstan’s Blinded Soldiers and Sailors Hospital. This gives some idea as to his injuries at the time which clearly indicates he took some damage to his eyes. Fred however refused the option of spending time as St Dunstan’s and instead opted to return to Australia, he was 18 at the time. This  letter from June 1918 details his express wishes to be returned to Australia: “1st A.A.H 27.6.18. I was offered the opportunity of going to St. Dunstan’s Hospital and was advised to go there, but desire to be sent home direct. (SGD) 3648 Pte. Courbarron, F. 15th Battalion”.

Frederick arrived in Sydney on the 4th September 1918, it can be assumed he either lived for a while on his return with his mother at sister Mildred’s house at Chatswood or he returned to Moree and his job as a farm labourer. He remained in the northern region of NSW for the rest of his life and married Mary Navin at Brunswick Heads in 1937. They had no children. Mary died in 1963, Fred died in 1983 and  both are buried at Brunswick Heads.














Copyright © 2007-2014 by Hamilton Family History. All rights reserved.

War Service: James Edward Courbarron – letters from home 1914-1918.

Correspondence with family at home survives that provides some interesting background to James’ time in service during WWI. What follows is documentation of letters sent by the army to his sister Mildred Hopkins when James’ was reported wounded in action, also letters sent by Mildred and his mother Mary.  As you will see, Mary Courbarron (nee Morrissey) was going by the name Mrs Mary ‘Casey’ in 1914/15, although no record of a formal marriage exists  in NSW records. Towards 1918 however, in her correspondence regarding her youngest son Frederick serving overseas in France, she signs her name as Mary ‘Courbarron’. Click on images to open in larger format.

On his enlistment, James named his elder sister Mildred, the eldest of the four Courbarron children, as his next-of-kin. It is not known why he nominated his sister rather than his mother, however Mildred was living with her husband Patrick Hopkins at ‘Craigle’ Calgoorlie Street in Willoughby at the time. This letter is the first Mildred received in 1915 informing her that James was wounded and taken ill at Gallipoli dated 18/08/15, please note that the original telegram is in block letters and without punctuation:

“Mrs P Hopkins Willoughby Sydney (N.S.W) Regret brother Private J.E Courbarron wounded not reported seriously no other particulars available will immediately advise anything further received“.

On 26th August, 1915, James’ mother, Mary, happened to be looking through the list of wounded published in the Sydney Morning Herald when she came upon the particulars of her son in the list. Shocked, she wrote this letter immediately to Base Records asking for more information about him.

The letter was sent from the address – Wynola, Cuthbirt  Street, Waverley:

“To the Officer in Charge. Dear Sir, when reading the casualty list in this mornings Sydney Morning Herald, I was shocked to see name of No.122 Private J. E. Courbarron, No.1 Platoon, No.1 Company, 15th Battalion, 4th Infantry Brigade, 2nd A.I.E.F who is my son. He enlisted at Enoggera Brisbane. I would be very grateful to you if you would write me the full nature of his wounds. I remain yours (word illegible) Mrs Mary Casey (Mary Casey being underlined). 

Mary promptly received this reply from Base Records which detailed James’ injuries and his whereabouts to date. Dated 6th September, 1915 and addressed to Mary living at Waverley:

“In reply to yours of the 26th ultimo concerning your son No.122 Private James Edward Courbarron, 15th Battalion, I beg to inform you the only information received was contained in a brief cable message from Alexandria, to the effect that he was wounded in action at the Dardanelles. He is not reported as seriously wounded and Egypt advises in the absence of further reports, it is to be assumed that such cases are  progressing satisfactorily. Next-of-kin who is shown as sister residing at Willoughby, N.S.W, will be immediately notified upon receipt of any later information. His postal address is as under: No.122 Private J. E. Courbarron, Wounded, 15th Battalion, 4th Infantry Brigade, Australian Imperial Force, Alexandria, Egypt. It is necessary that the word ‘wounded’ should be endorsed on the top left hand corner of the envelope, but this is only required during the period he is in hospital. Yours faithfully, Office Base Records”.

On 16th October 1915 Mildred received this wire from Base Records:

“Now reported brother Private J. E. Courbarron sick slight disembarked Malta 27th September Hospital Ship Dunluce Castle will promptly advise if anything further received”.



At this time James was suffering from the debilitating illnesses Dysentery and Colic and required transfer to military hospital in England. All contact was related through his sister Mildred, no further correspondence sent to Mary. On the 26th October Mildred was informed of James embarking for England.

“Dear Madam, with reference to my wire of the 16th instant, I now beg to advise you that your brother, Private J. E. Courbarron, embarked for England 9/10/15, Hospital Ship Regina D’Italia. In the absence of further reports it is to be assumed that all are progressing satisfactorily. Should anything further be received concerning the above soldier you will be promptly notified. Yours faithfully J. M. Lean Captain. Officer in charge of Base Records.”

On 3rd November 1915, Mildred received the following letter from Victoria Barracks in Melbourne advising of James being transported to Malta and then onto Birmingham in England for treatment for dysentery:

“Dear Madam with reference to my wire of the 26th ultimo I now have to advise you to the effect that your brother Private J.E Courbarron is now in the Hospital at Birmingham England. His postal address will therefore be: 122 (112) Private J.E.Courbarron, I11, 15th Australian Infantry c/o Australian High Commissioner, London, S.W. Any further particulars coming to hand will be immediately transmitted. Yours faithfully J. M. Lean Captain. Office i/o Base Records”……..

.and then on 3rd December 1915…

“Dear Madam the following is an extract from a Nominal Roll of sick and wounded received by post, dated 3/10/15 who landed at Malta 27/9/15 from hospital ship ‘Dunluce Castle’. No.122, Private J.E. Courbarron, 15th Battalion, suffering from Dysentery. You are already aware that he has since been admitted to Hospital Birmingham. Any further reports received will be promptly communicated to you. Yours faithfully  J. M. Lean Captain. Officer i/e Base Records. A.I.E.F Victoria Barracks Melbourne”.


 In May 1916, Mildred wrote a letter to the Base Records in Melbourne informing of her change of address from ‘Craigle’ Kalgoorlie Street in Willoughby to Brown Street in Chatswood.

“Brown Street, Chatswood, Sydney, May 31st, 1916. To the Officer in Charge Base Record Melbourne. Sir, this is to notify you that the next of kin (Mrs P Hopkins) of Pvt J. E. Courbarron (122) 15th Battalion 4th Brigade has changed her address from ‘Craigle’ Kalgoorlie Street Willoughby to the above address. Thanking you for all past information. I am yours(?) etc, M Hopkins”.


Mildred was fortunate that the only correspondence she received regarding James was in relation to wounding and illness, unlike many others living around her who received telegrams bearing more tragic information. The next article will detail correspondence regarding their youngest brother, Frederick Courbarron, who enlisted in 1917.









Copyright © 2007-2014 by Hamilton Family History. All rights reserved.