15 January 2020

Letter from Harry Turner to Norma King - Early resident (born 1895) of Kalgoorlie and WW1 Veteran


From Harry Turner, 34 Russell Ave, Daw Park, 5041 

 Dear Madam,

I suppose in your round of work you have forgotten all about me, but I can hardly forget you. I met you over there two or three years ago and have read quite a lot of your books and enjoyed them very much.

A crowd has been pestering me for about two years to write a book, and the T.V. crowd wants me to go on the show "This is your life". That is why I'm writing to you, I would like to know a few points about my life which can only be solved in Kalgoorlie.

I will tell you my early history as far as I know, for a start my Dad was sent out to Australia as a boy, from England. His father was head coachman on a large Estate. He was caught poaching a rabbit and was exported to Australia at approximately the age of thirteen. Mum and Dad met in Broken Hill in 1891. They left to go to Kalgoorlie overland by horses and dray, 3 or 4 goats which they used for meat and milk. at the time of the big strike in 1892.

By the way, mum was born in the Kelly country, Glen Rowan (Vic) and was a personal friend of Kate Kelly. I only gave away her old bible last year used at Sunday Schoold with both her and Kate Kelly's name in it. Quite a souvenir in itself.

They arrived in Kalgoorlie early in 1894. I was born there 16th May 1895. As records were very poor in those days I was born out at Parkeston Hotel, where Dad was working on the Condenser that was close by.

There has always been an argument between my Dad and a chap named Lysaght. He claimed his son Joe was the first boy. Neither or us were the first child. A girl, Bennet, was the first child. My mother was very well known as Nurse Annie Turner, she had learnt nursing at the British Nursing Home in Melbourne, and from her first arrival on the fields was usually the first target any woman made for who was expecting. She worked on her own most of the time, but when Kal grew up she worked with Doctors. I think if my memory serves me right, Doctor King was one of the first, and through him I learnt to drive the earliest model car whilst he and mum was busy on a case once.

One of her babies whose certificate bears her name as Nurse was Wally Leggett who went to school with me at South Kal, and to my knowledge is still alive when I was in Kal late last year. He lives in Robert St near the old car barn a few doors from Boulder Road. There must be still quite a few in Kal who know me. Would it be possible to put an ad in the paper asking if they knew Harry Turner from South Kalgoorlie School. Nurse Annie Turner's son. One dear old lady died last year, a Mrs Mann who had the shop right opposite the Halfway Hotel a few doors from the Central Fire Station today. We lived on what was the real Adeline lease that is east of Boulder Road, over the Railway line at the Halfway. (I don't know where they get the Adeline lease from now). Every morning I sued to call on Mrs Mann's shop on the way to school and exchanged a pint of goats milk for a nestle's chocolate, the old time one with the red cover and gold name on it. But that's another story.

I ran away to Whim Creek in about 1909 or 1910, you know all about it, George lasted 2 days up there. I stayed for 10 months and wrote home and my mother caught the first boat up to fetch me home. I came home on a ship called the Koombana which was lost with all hands on the next trip in a big blow on the N.W. Coast. I was home for some time then cleared out for Fremantle where I stowed away on a ship bound for England, I got a job on a ship called the Luzblanca, it means lady white in Spanish. We were running the Peru in South America.

First World War broke out when I was on that run, when we came back to England I paid off and joined the Navy, where I was assigned to the H.M.S Polmont in the Grand Fleet at Scapa Flow in the North of Scotland. Christmas 1915 we made Christmas cards aboard the ship and I sent one home for my Dad, my first work home in two years. When he received it he had a notice put in the paper, with in the Miner or it could have been a Perth paper, but what it had in it interests me. It stated that "my son Harry Turner, first boy born in Kalgoorlie, is now serving with a Grand Fleet in the North Sea." I received the cutting back very soon afterwards, so must have had it printed almost as soon as he got my card, which would be late December or January 1916, or it could have been February because mail was very lax in those days, but seeing as though you are very good at researching, I though possibly you may be able to solve it.

There is quite a lot in between, but I know the answers if I decide to go ahead. For the present, I'll say bye.

Lots of love and kindest wishes

Yours sincerely, Harry Turner.

Letter found in Norma King's Collection, undated

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