Violin, Anzac Cinema Orchestra : Private E C Gardner, 3 Light Horse Brigade Supply Section, AIF

Accession Number REL/04110
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Heraldry
Physical description Metal, Wood
Maker Unknown
Date made c 1915
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Standard violin, missing bow. There is no maker's label visible. A wooden sound post attached to the inside supports the bridge. The varnished finish is scratched and dried, with significant scratching to the reverse. The owner has carefully hand-inscribed the surface on all side ribs with places in which he has served or played, while the back is inscribed with names of members of his orchestra: 'The ANZAC Cinema Orchestra. Peter Forster Joe Penn Joe Gardner (the owner) Tiny Wilson Tom Liddle Jock Kirk Blue Lee Len Wittey Billy Ubold Fred Grimshaw'.

The place names are (starting at bottom right): 'Suez - Moascar - Alexandria - Ismailia - Cairo - Luxor - Assouan - H.M.A.T. 'Burma' - Egypt - Palestine - Syria - Ludd - Jaffa - Sarona - Lejjan - Jerusalem - Tel-El-Karram - H.M.A.T. 'Port Darwin' - Jenin - Nazareth - Cunitra - Afule - Tiberias - Damascus - Molakka - Beirut'.

History / Summary

Violin played by 15964 Private Edric Charles Gardner, born Hurstville, NSW on 1 October 1898, an unmarried accountant's clerk who enlisted with his parents' consent, aged 19 years, on 30 October 1917 at Victoria Barracks. Gardner was assigned to the Australian Army Service Corps on 19 November and after initial training, embarked from Sydney aboard HT Port Darwin on 30 April 1918; disembarking at Suez on 7 June.

He had suffered illness aboard and was placed in Isolation Camp 1 at Moascar until 27 July 1918, when he was transferred to the AASC Training Depot, also at Moascar. Assigned to the Australian Divisional Train on 6 September, Private Gardner was taken on strength of 36 Company, accompanying 3 Light Horse Brigade in the field the next day.

It appears that bouts of malaria saw him in & out of hospital three or four times in late 1918 and early 1919.

Of his experiences playing in an orchestra during this time, Gardner recalled in 1979:

'Prior to enlistment I was a student of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and was induced to take the instrument away with me. This proved advantageous. There was at ensemble at the hospital at Moascar which I was asked to join but training precluded me from doing so.

'The picture showband included those who happened to be in the details camp from time to time.

'Whilst serving on Australian Division Headquarters as clerk to the DAQMG, I was approached by Brigadier General Grant to form a dance band to play at the French Club in Ismailia at Peace Night celebrations, following an aquatic carnival held on 19 June 1919. Attendance at the French Club was exclusive to commissioned ranks.

'Enquiries made by me at adjacent British camps resulted in obtaining the services of some professional musicians from London. After this initial performance, which was a great success, we were engaged to play at the Club on Wednesday and Saturday nights. The remuneration of two pounds each per night augmented our meagre army pay.

'Later we were engaged to play at RAF functions at the Salle Saint Saens at Ismailia. As our repertoire was somewhat limited the RAF obtained from London the latest hit music from the then current stage plays which was appreciated by the French patrons.

'There were some good concert parties among the British units, those I remember being the Emm Gees (machine gunners) and a fine show from the HAC (Honourable Artillery Corps) who carried a demountable stage which was erected in the olive groves for performances. The degree of popularity of a concert party was judged by the excellent of its 'Bint' (female impersonator).

'An Australian play, 'The Old Bush Inn' was produced by Padre Moore, 10 Light Horse, and 'Local Talent' at the YMCA at Ismailia and elsewhere, a pianist from the remount unit (Jack London) and myself providing the incidental music thereto.'

Private Gardner returned to Australian aboard the transport 'Burma' embarking from Egypt on 26 July 1919 and arriving at Sydney on 1 September.

When donating this violin, Edric Gardner provided a plan showing further inscriptions he wished to add to the reverse of the instrument, but never did. They include the shows mentioned above and the information that 'The Old Bush Inn' was produced by the 'Australian Division Comedy Company'. This plan is held on file.