Another interesting collection to be digitised by the State Library of Queensland is that of the Salisbury and Rowton families of Brisbane. The collection includes World War I material relating to the service of Private Robert Salisbury (No. 6389) of the 25th Australian Infantry Battalion.
At the time of his enlistment in Brisbane on the 13th October 1916, Robert Salisbury was a 27 year old architect. Robert was the son of Harriet Amy Parkinson and Francis Elliot Salisbury. His father had a distinguished career in the public service and was chief clerk and cashier in the Queensland Post and Telegraph Department from 1875 until the time of his death in May 1891 (“Queensland Times”, 21 May 1891, p.2). He left three young children; Evelyn Barnes (born 1885); Francis Edgar (born 1886); and the youngest, Robert, born 1889. In late 1891 a gratuity of £500 was paid to his widow by the Queensland government (“Brisbane Telegraph”, 9 November 1891, p.4).
Private Robert Salisbury embarked on the troopship, Demosthenes, in Sydney on the 23rd December 1916, and after training in England at Rollestone Camp proceeded to France in June 1917. He was promoted to acting Lance Corporal from the 17th March to the 14th June 1917. Robert’s war service was short and tragic. He was wounded in action in Belgium on the 4th October 1917 with shrapnel wounds to both legs, and after being transferred to the 3rd Australian Field Ambulance, died the same day.
Robert appears to have been particularly close to his older sister, Evelyn, and it is to her that the souvenirs he collected during the war were sent. In 1917 Evelyn married Robert Rowton and it is through her that the connection with the Rowton family was established. The photograph below shows Robert Salisbury and his brother, Edgar, with Jack Rowton who was the brother of Evelyn’s husband, Robert Rowton.
The World War I material of Robert Salisbury includes a diary, photographs, a framed panorama of Table Mountain in South Africa, and various items of ephemera. The diary is a particularly interesting sample, being contained in a handsome brown leather wallet with a pencil attached. It covers the period of Robert’s enlistment, the voyage from Sydney to England, via Cape Town in South Africa, training at Rollestone Camp on the Salisbury Plain in England, and his service in France and Belgium. It also includes a list of contact addresses and various training notes.
Another interesting item is a beautifully framed panorama of Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa, which was sent from Robert Salisbury to his sister, Evelyn, in Brisbane. An everlasting silver leaf is attached to the image and bears the inscription “From Bob wishing Evie many happy returns of 1st April”.
Other material relating to the war includes a pocket plan of Salisbury, England; a Y.M.C.A. Guide to London Rest Rooms and Refreshment Huts; a small silver brooch bearing the inscription “La Somme”; and Robert Salisbury’s army identity bracelet.
Other material in the collection relates to the Rowton family of Brisbane. Walter Rowton (1855-1935) born in Warwickshire, England, emigrated to Queensland in the 1860s. He had a blacksmith’s shop in Ann Street, Brisbane, and married Helen Ann Denness in 1882. The couple had six children; Herbert, Jack,Wilfred, Ethel, Robert and Rupert.
Robert Rowton married Evelyn Salisbury in 1917. He was a Brisbane jeweller who served during World War II as a private with the General Details Depot, Queensland.
Private Rupert Rowton (no. 2429) served in the First World War with the 41st Infantry Battalion, 1-6 Reinforcements. He enlisted on the 26th June 1916 and was a 26 year old warehouse assistant at the time. Rupert was on the staff of Messrs A.M. Bickford & Sons Ltd., in Turbot Street, Brisbane, and was given a gold watch on his leaving to join the Expeditionary Forces (Brisbane Courier, 25 July 1916, p. 7). Rupert embarked from Brisbane on the HMAT Boonah and after training in England at Larkhill Camp, arrived in France in April 1917. He rose through the ranks to be appointed Sergeant in September 1918 and returned to Australia in September 1919.
The Salisbury and Rowton Family Papers (Accession 30015) are available at the John Oxley Library. Selected items may viewed online at: http://hdl.handle.net/10462/eadarc/8363
Lynn Meyers, QANZAC 100 Content Curator