• Portia J Wheeler

Stories and comments
    • WHEELER, Portia Jean - War Worker, Anzac Buffet
    • Posted by FrevFord, Wednesday, 18 July 2018

    Born on the 27th of August 1897 at Rockhampton, Qld – the only child of Henry Gandiano WHEELER and Annie Margaret LAURIE (O.B.E.), who married on the 24/2/1896 Previously of “Cooroorah,” Blackwater, Henry died on the 8/3/1903 at their home in Mansion House Road, Rockhampton, aged 37 Portia and her mother travelled to England in 1913, sailing from Sydney 2/4/1913 on the SS Mongolia, intending to live overseas and travel for a couple of years WW1: When war broke out in 1914 they decided to remain for its duration and ‘do their bit’ for the soldiers. Portia devoted time to serving at the Anzac Buffet, and her mother helped out when they were busy. Portia also helped her mother who took it upon herself to find all the Queensland soldiers in London, in hospital, on Leave, etc. and do what she could for them, as well as report back to Australia on how they were faring. After the war, mid 1919, Portia crossed to France and toured many of the areas where the Australians had fought, she travelled through “Villiers Bretonneaux and along the Peronne-road, through La Motte, Proyart, Bray Corbie, and Merricourt, and back to Amiens”; then spent some time in Paris before returning to the UK. With her mother she returned to Australia on the Osterley, embarking 28/9/1919 and arriving back in Brisbane on the 13/11/1919, and Rockhampton on the 15th Having announced their engagement in January 1919, Portia married Frederick Young FOX on the 27th of March 1920 at Christ Church, Emu Park, Qld Fred was born 9/10/1894 Qld, the son of Frederick Young Fox and Madge Isabella (nee Craig) – Grazier – WW1: Capt, 49th Bn, RTA on Special 1914 Leave 23/10/1918-25/12/1918 – Grazier / Fieldsman / Car Salesman – WW2 – Farmer – died 6/7/1964 Qld [His brother Norman was killed in a bomb accident 18/2/1916 Egypt] Children: Norman Frederick b.13/1/1921 Qld – WW2; Shirley (Betty?) b.7/10/1922 – Secretary Residents of Clermont, Qld 1922, 1925 (Grazier); Cameron St, Nundah 1928 (Fieldsman); Cnr Church and Mary Sts, Charters Towers 1930 (Fieldsman); 193 Caroline St, Fitzroy, Qld 1931 (Car Salesman); Portia was listed as living with her mother at Emu Park 1936; Ardoyne St, Corinda 1937, 1943 (no occup given for Fred); “Sunning,” West Street South, Toowoomba 1949 (Farmer); Her mother Annie died on the 23/10/1950 Portia was listed at her late mother’s home “The Haven,” Orchid Ave, Surfers Paradise in 1951 “Sunning,” West Street South, Toowoomba 1954, 1958 (Farmer) [1968 Portia only]; Portia travelled to Montreal from England with Shirley on the Empress of Britain, departing 11/10/1957 Fred died on the 6/7/1964 50 Seventh Ave, St Lucia, Qld 1972, 1977 Portia died in Qld on the 16th of August 1986 The Capricornian (Rockhampton, Qld), Sat 4 Sept 1897 (p.17): BIRTH WHEELER – At Rockhampton, on the 27th August, the wife of H.G. Wheeler, “Cooroorah,” Blackwater, of a daughter. Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld), Tue 18 Mar 1913 (p.6): PERSONAL NEWS Mrs H.G. Wheeler and her daughter, Miss Portia Wheeler, left by the mail train yesterday for Brisbane, where they will spend a few days on their way to Sydney, sailing for England by the s.s. Mongolia, which is to leave on the 2nd of April. Many of Mrs Wheeler’s friends assembled at the railway station to bid her adieu. The Capricornian (Rockhampton, Qld), Sat 10 Oct 1914 (p.17): PERSONAL NEWS The London correspondent of the “Townsville Bulletin,” writing on the 18th August, says: – “Mrs H. G. Wheeler and Miss Wheeler, of Rockhampton, are staying at the Strand Palace Hotel.” The Capricornian (Rockhampton, Qld), Sat 23 Oct 1915 (p.13): AUSTRALIANS IN ENGLAND LETTERS FROM MRS WHEELER The following are extracts from a letter dated the 26th August that Miss A. Brooks, Rockhampton, has received from Mrs H.G. Wheeler, 19 Hartfield-road, Hartfield Rise, Eastbourne, Sussex, England: – ………………………………………………………. “To-morrow I go up to town at 2 p.m. to visit St Thomas and Endill-street and on to the Palace Hotel, where there is a meeting of the Australian Natives’ Association, of which I am a member. We are going to open a buffet at the Commonwealth offices for those who have to go there for their pay and arrange for their furlough, &c. Many of them have to wait for hours and get nothing to eat, so we have decided to open a buffet where they can get tea, sandwiches, and cake free of charge. I only wish it had been opened to-day. There must have been about 200 men waiting there. The thing is urgently needed, because these men do not get any money at the hospitals and cannot buy anything until they get their pay. Bessie and Grace and Molly Hall and Portia will help, and I shall be able to later on. …………………………………………………… https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/69405563 Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld), Wed 13 Sept 1916 (p.7): CENTRAL QUEENSLANDERS IN ENGLAND LETTER FROM MRS H.G. WHEELER Mrs H.G. Wheeler, writing to Miss M.S. Trotman from London on the 26th of July, says: – ……………………………………………… One day at the Buffet I met J. Love, from North Rockhampton, and Private Fogerty, from Banana, both looking very well. ………………………….. Quite by accident Portia found Cyril Laurie at the Buffet. He had lost our address and intended going to the Commonwealth Office to look for us. ………………………….. Yesterday I received fourteen letters from home and will ask you to acknowledge receipt of them and I will attend to them as soon as possible. I am not able to answer them this mail, as they were shorthanded at the Buffet yesterday, and I had to go and help and then on to the Third London General. On Monday they had over 2000 men at the Buffet, so you may imagine we are kept busy, and our funds are decreasing at an alarming rate. All the food – tea, coffee, cocoa, sandwiches, and cakes – is given free, and it is excellent. The rooms are beautifully kept – fresh flowers on all the tables. The men do appreciate it so much. It is a real home to them. ………………………. https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/53383702 Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld), Mon 2 Oct 1916 (p.5): CENTRAL QUEENSLANDERS IN ENGLAND LETTER FROM MISS P. WHEELER Miss Portia Wheeler, writing for her mother, Mrs H.G. Wheeler, from London, on the 11th of August, says: – “Mother has not been well and the doctor has ordered her to rest at Eastbourne for a few days, so I shall do my best to carry on for her and give you what news I can. …………………………………………………. “Jack Atherton and Don Fraser were at the Buffet yesterday. The latter has a billet as a machine-gun instructor at the camp. “Last week Valentine Streeton, Mr Falconer Hutton, Lionel Barnett, Bill Rudd, and Cyril Laurie and I all met at the Anzac Buffet – quite a large Rockhampton party. …………………. https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/53403290 Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld), Tue 12 Feb 1918 (p.7): CHRISTMAS PARCELS Miss Portia Wheeler, daughter of Mrs H.G. Wheeler, writing from London on the 27th of November last to Miss M.S. Trotman, says: – “As there seemed to be an uncertainty in regard to shipping in Australia, many of the home people wrote asking that special parcels be bought and forwarded to the boys for Christmas. Mother is so very busy she has handed this branch of the business to me, and there are certain difficulties in connection therewith which I want to explain to you. The fact is that in this country there is a grave shortage of foodstuffs, and tinned goods and sweets of any description are at a premium. Buying food for one’s home consumption is very difficult, and by each mail we are getting hundreds of these requests besides the ones you know of yourself; but we have every sympathy with the mothers out there, who naturally cannot bear the idea that their boys should have no Christmas treat, so I am doing my best. I have sent all the large parcels (value £1 each) through Selfridges or Whiteleys, giving each man’s address on a card attached and adding “With best wishes for Christmas from” mother, sister, or wife, as the case may be, and stamped on the other side is mother’s name and address, explaining that the parcel was sent at the request of the relative. These big parcels go per military forwarding office, as they weigh 18lb, and 7lb is the postal limit. The shops pack them and notify me of the date they are despatched, and I then write to the recipient and tell him it is coming. The smaller parcels for 10s., 7s., 6d., 5s., &c., I am attempting to pack myself, but I am having such difficulty in procuring the goods that I may yet have to hand these over to the shops to send. The greatest difficulty of all is to locate the men. Each man’s name must be sent in on a form to inquiry headquarters. We send in such budgets that it takes several days to get the forms back. When I do I can start to move. If the man is with his unit in France his parcel is despatched at once while there is a chance of it reaching him. If, as in many cases, he is in hospital or camp over here, I write asking him if this address will find him, or would he like the hamper at once while he is stationary as there is then a chance of it reaching him. In the case of men in hospital I ask if they would prefer cash instead of a hamper, as the hospitals give them a good “spread” at Christmas. To many of these letters I get no reply, which means that the man has left and is lost in the maze of convalescent camps, command depots, and training battalions. Then the only course left is to wait in hope that he will eventually get the letter or to send another inquiry later, when headquarters may have an up-to-date address. I am afraid these men will not get their parcels until after Christmas. Still, they will get them eventually, I trust. The boys so love to receive anything from their own people at home, and I get quite a thrill of excitement myself as I fix up each one. We have arranged with Whiteleys to send all our own parcels. I mean those bought with the money sent by the Sock and Soldiers’ Comforts Fund and the Central Comforts Fund, which name is stamped on a label, also mother’s name and address on the other side. I have already posted over 200 of these. Mrs Fraser has arranged with Whiteleys to make up specially nice parcels as quickly as possible, but the sad part is that many of the boys get wounded and some have been killed in the meantime; but these are the misfortunes of war which the poor people at home are realizing. May I ask you to publish this so that all whom it may concern may read. I am sorry not to be able to do better work in this respect, but, of course, I must get mumps on the top of it all, and could not go out for a while, which was a great drawback.” Mrs Wheeler acknowledges the receipt of the following parcels between the 5th of October and the 15th of November last (both dates inclusive) for soldiers abroad: – …………………………… https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/page/5199829 Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld), Thur 16 Jan 1919 (p.6): PERSONAL NEWS The engagement is also announced of Miss Portia Wheeler, only daughter of Mrs and the late Mr H.G. Wheeler, of 41 Westminster Palace Gardens, London (and late of Rockhampton), to Captain F.Y. Fox, youngest son of Mr and Mrs F.Y. Fox, of Nanoya, Yeppoon. The Capricornian (Rockhampton, Qld), Sat 27 Apr 1918 (p.16): CENTRAL QUEENSLANDERS ABROAD LETTER FROM MISS P. WHEELER Miss Portia Wheeler, writing for her mother, Mrs H.G. Wheeler, from London, on the 15th of January last, gives the following information concerning Central Queensland soldiers: – ………………………………………………………… https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/69716989 The Capricornian (Rockhampton, Qld), Sat 7 Jun 1919 (p.12): RETURN OF MRS H.G. WHEELER Miss M.S. Trotman received a cablegram from Mrs H.G. Wheeler yesterday stating that she hoped to leave London with her daughter, Miss Portia Wheeler in September next. The Capricornian (Rockhampton, Qld), Sat 4 Oct 1919 (p.43): CENTRAL QUEENSLANDERS ABROAD LETTERS FROM MRS H.G. WHEELER Mrs H.G. Wheeler, in a private letter to Miss M.S. Trotman dated London, July 22, says: – Portia is in Paris. She was to return to-morrow, but I will not be surprised if she has been tempted to stay longer. She has visited the battle area. She has been to Villiers Bretonneaux and along the Peronne-road, through La Motte, Proyant, Bray Corbie, and Merricourt, and back to Amiens. I cannot tell you how delighted I am that she has had this chance of seeing the battlefields and going over the ground where our dear brave lads fought, and where so many of them have laid down their lives. …………………….. https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/69776030 The Capricornian (Rockhampton, Qld), Sat 20 Mar 1920 (p.26): PERSONAL NEWS Rockhampton, March 12 The marriage of Miss Portia Wheeler, daughter of the late Mr H.G. Wheeler and of Mrs Wheeler, of Rockhampton, to Captain Fred Fox, third son of Mr and Mrs F.Y. Fox, late of Carfax and Bombandie stations, will take place at Emu Park on the 29th instant. The Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld), Tue 12 Mar 1935 (p.16): THE SOCIAL ROUND RECENT ARRIVALS Captain and Mrs F.Y. Fox, formerly of Rockhampton, have taken up residence in Brisbane, and are at present in a flat at Vine Street, Clayfield. Mrs Fox was before her marriage Portia Wheeler, whose mother Mrs A. Wheeler, will be remembered for her fine work among the Queensland soldiers during the war. Sunday Mail (Brisbane, Qld), Sun 6 Mar 1949 (p.6): OUTBACK PLIGHT TOLD BY EXPERT [Photo] Blue-eyed, fair-complexioned Mrs F.Y. Fox (Sunning, via Toowoomba), made delegates to the town and country women’s conference sit up and take notice last week with her factual, ungarnished case for the out-back dweller. Thirty years a country dweller, first on sheep and cattle properties at Clermont, and mixed farming at Sunning, she knows her subject. Her keen interest in politics stems from the fact that she “got tired of all these shortages” and thought women ought to do something about it. She is a member of the women’s discussion group of current affairs started in her district by the Queensland People’s Party. At the conference, organized by Women’s Political Clubs, she advocated union of primary producers on a co-operative basis, some scheme of domestic aid for western women, and urged that a change must be made in governmental attitude towards poultry farmers if the industry was not to be liquidated.