Rylstone fund raising signature quilt : 1915

Place Oceania: Australia, New South Wales
Accession Number REL28488
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Heraldry
Physical description Linen
Maker Unknown
Place made Australia: New South Wales, Rylstone
Date made 1915
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

White linen, commercially produced single bed sheet, that has been subsequently autographed and embroidered to make a quilt or coverlet. All embroidery is in two gauges of white cotton embroidery thread. Unless otherwise stated the embroidery is in stemstitch, with a small amount of chainstitch. All the autographs would have originally have been written in pencil before being over-embroidered. The top edge of the quilt has a 6cm deep hem edged with drawn threadwork. Beneath it, in satinstitch, is a decorative scroll of grapes, vine leaves and tendrils. The hem and scroll were part of the original bed sheet. Beneath this is hand stemstiched lettering 'Rylstone Autograph Quilt'. The main body of the quilt is covered with numerous embroidered autographs bordered by a wide variety of embroidered shapes. The shapes include stars, flowers, circles, and five large multi-facetted circular shapes. The central circular shape bears the cypher of King George V and 'FOR OUR DARDANELLES AUSTRALIAN WOUNDED 1915'. Two of the other circles bear the names 'A.C. ROBBINS A.H. FREEMAN' and 'J.D. SANDSTROM' (Robbins and Freeman were Rylstone district Gallipoli casualties). The other two circles bear the names of well known Australian commanding officers killed on Gallipoli, 'Genl Bridges' and 'Cols MacLaurin Braund [and] Onslow Thompson'. The names of 49 soldiers with a Rylstone district connection have been written by the same hand around some of the circles and then embroidered over.

History / Summary

Autograph 'quilts' were a common method of fund raising in Australia during the First World War, especially in country areas. The idea behind them was that an individual would sign the quilt in pencil and then pay to have the signature embroidered over. In this way funds were raised for the war effort. The Rylstone quilt is unusual in that the signatures and decorative embroidery are in white on a white ground. The majority of quilts were embroidered with red thread on a white ground.

There are over 900 names embroidered on the quilt. They include names of soldiers from the Rylstone district and the signatures of civilians from the Rylstone region in New South Wales. As far as can be ascertained, 49 soldiers from the district are listed on the quilt. Work continues to identify the servicemen. All those identified enlisted between August 1914 to July 1915. The making of the quilt was the idea of Mrs Jessie Dawson, who lived in nearby Kandos. She enlisted the help of a number of women to solicit 'signatures' for the quilt to raise money for the war effort. A 'signature' cost sixpence. In fact the 'signatures' were not autographs and the collected names were written in pencil on the quilt by the makers before being over-embroidered by Mrs Dawson, her five daughters and Miss Alice Lloyd. Although the majority of the names are of people from the Rylstone district, visitors, and even visiting state politicians contributed their names. The completed quilt was auctioned at Rylstone on Australia Day 1915, then a fund raising day for the war effort held on 30 July. The successful bidder was Mr E H Nash who paid £17 10s. In total the quilt raised £95.

The names of the soldiers, listed below, are as they appear to be spelt on the quilt. They have been identified as:

1. Walter Lark. Likely to be 2636 Private Walter Larke from Rylstone. Died on 6 September 1915 at Balmain Hospital, New South Wales.

2. R L Mack. 1709 Gunner Richard Lynn Mack, 6th Light Horse Regiment. Enlisted 4 August 1915, and returned to Australia on 27 July 1917.

3. H C P Dowling. 831 Private Harold Clyde P Dowling, 19th Battalion. Enlisted at Cessnock 17 February 1915, and returned to Australia on 3 January 1916.

4. Franck P Dunn. Likely 263 Regimental Sergeant Major Percival Francis Dunn, 10th Light Horse Regiment. Born in Rylstone, and enlisted from Guilford, Western Australia. He was 34 years old, married, and worked as a butcher before he enlisted.

5. Edward J Holder. 515 Private Edward James Holder, 13th Battalion. Enlisted 14 September 1914, and returned to Australia on 7 November 1915.

6. William J Norman. 2649 Private William James Norman, 4th Battalion. Enlisted from Rylstone on 14 June 1915. Killed in action 24 July 1916.

7. George J Thew. 1388A Private George Joseph Thew, 3rd Battalion. Enlisted from Burwood, NSW on 1 September 1914. Killed in action at Lone Pine, Gallipoli on or between 7-12 August 1915. Son of Jane Elizabeth Farr (formerly Thew) of Wellington, NSW.

8. Roy Mumford. 356 Corporal Roy Mumford, 3rd Battalion. Enlisted 17 August 1914, and returned to Australia on 24 August 1918.

9. Allan F Farrar. 411 Private Alan Francis Farrar, 6th Light Horse Regiment. Enlisted at Stanmore, New South Wales. Died of wounds received at Gallipoli on 23 July 1915, at the age of 28.

10. Sidney Robbins. Could be 1028 Gunner Sidney George Robbins, 13th Field Artillery Brigade, or 2379 Private Sydney Roy Robbins, 13th Light Horse Regiment. Most likely to be Gunner Robbins, see entry for A C Robbins.

11. Ray Naughton. Lieutenant Raymond John Naughton, 56th Battalion. Enlisted 17 August 1914 and returned to Australia on 31 January 1918.

12. James W Galagher. 1242 Driver James William Galagher, 10th Field Artillery Brigade. Enlisted 29 April 1915 and returned to Australia on 23 March 1919.

13. J A Stephen. 2794 Private James Stephen, 59th Battalion. Enlisted 2 August 1915 and returned to Australia on 22 July 1917.

14. L G Naughton. Unidentified. The Naughtons were a family from Gulgong area, but there are no nominal roll matches.

15. A C Robbins. 580 Private Alfred Charles Robbins, 1st Light Horse Regiment. Enlisted 5 September 1914. He was born in Rylstone and worked as a farmer and horse trainer before enlisting for service. He had seen service in the Boer War as No. 351 Trooper in C Squadron of the 5th Australian Commonwealth Horse. This unit left Sydney when the war was on but arrived in South Africa after peace had been declared. On 12 June 1915 he died of wounds. Alfred had five brothers who also saw service: William Ernest Robbins, medically discharged without leaving Australia; Sidney George Robbins, served 6th Light Horse Regiment and 5 Divison Artillery; Percy James Robbins, served 45 Battalion, twice wounded and was medical discharge in early 1918; Bertram Robbins, enlisted but ‘failed to board troop transport’ leaving Australia; and Edmund Henry Robbins, served Field Artillery and Trench Mortar Battery.

16. A H Freeman. 723 Private Arthur Henry Freeman, 3rd Battalion. Enlisted from Mudgee on 22 August 1914. Killed in action on 19 May 1915.

17. Herbert S Milne. Lieutenant Herbert Sheppard Milne, 53rd Battalion. He enlisted on 11 August 1914 and returned to Australian on 2 January 1919.

18. Thomas Sweeney. 6638 Private Thomas Sweeney 6th Battalion. Enlisted 21 August 1914, and returned to Australia on 12 May 1919.

19. Ralph W Harris. 1066 Corporal Ralph White Harris, 6th Light Horse Regiment. Enlisted 10 June 1915, and returned to Australia on 29 April 1919.

20. William Russell. Unidentified as there are too many possibilities.

21. Thomas Kenny. 2180 Private Thomas Kenny, 4th Battalion. He enlisted on 29 April 1915 and returned to Australia on 31 August 1915. At the time of enlistment he was married and lived at Rylstone.

22. Henry Fuller. 1947 Private Henry Fuller, 3rd Battalion. Enlisted at Rylstone on 15 January 1915. He was killed in action at Lone Pine, Gallipoli, on 12 August 1915.

23. William J Gibson. There are two possibilities; Driver William James Gibson, 12th Battalion. Enlisted on 27 July 1915, or 218 Private William John Gibson, 17th Battalion.

24. Arthur G Honeysett. 201 Private Arthur George Honeysett, 6th Light Horse Regiment. Enlisted on 7 September 1914, and returned to Australia on 15 November 1918. A Honeysett relative has signed at the bottom of the quilt.

25. Kenneth Keech. 752 Corporal Kenneth Gordon Keech, 2nd Battalion. Born at Rylstone, he enlisted at Randwick on 27 August 1914. He was killed in action on 24 July 1916 at Pozieres.

26. Oscar R C Nevell. 321 Private Oscar Robert C Nevell, 7th Light Horse Regiment. Enlisted on 24 September 1914 and returned to Australia on 17 March 1916.

27. W McQuiggin. Lieutenant William McQuiggin, 1st Light Horse Regiment, was born at Rylstone. He enlisted on February 1915 and was killed in action on 4 August 1916 at Romani.

28. Edward Dawson. From Ilford, New South Wales, had been commissioned in the Australian Rifle Regiment from 1904 and later served with 29th Infantry. He was selected to escort Imperial Reservists returning to serve with British regiments in 1914, and joined 3 Battalion AIF in Egypt. He was killed in action at Lone Pine, Gallipoli, on 6 August 1915. He was the brother of R Campbell Dawson, below. Son of James and Jessie Dawson of Kandos.

29. R Campbell Dawson. Major Ross Campbell Dawson, 1st Battalion. Returned to Australia on 28 January 1916 after being wounded at Gallipoli. Son of James and Jessie Dawson of Kandos.

30. John W Farrar. Major John William Farrar, Australian Army Medical Corps. Doctor, who served with the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force and then the AIF. He returned to Australia on 27 April 1919.

31. J B Moylan. Quarter Master & Honorary Captain John Bede Moylan, 1st Light Horse Regiment. He enlisted at Rylstone on 1 September 1914, and died of disease, aged 42, on 28 September 1918. Served with the NSW Lancers as 823 Trooper Bede John Moylan during the Boer War. Husband of A H Moylan, Rockley, NSW.

32. William F Fletcher. 854 Private William Fawcett Fletcher, 19th Battalion. He enlisted on 3 March 1915 and returned to Australia on 25 July 1916.

33. J D Sandstrom. Unidentified. There is a S A Sandstrom who was educated at Rylstone: 464 Private Sven Addvin Sandstrom, 16th Battalion. He enlisted from Western Australia on 13 October 1914, and was killed in action on 2 May 1915 at Gallipoli.

34. P Bonner. Unidentified. There was a B Bonner and a John Bonner from Rylstone. John Bonner died at Liverpool in 1915.

35. O G Keen. Unidentified. Possibly O G Kean.

36. W J Glew. 137 Private William James Glew, 18th Battalion. He enlisted on 30 March 1915 and returned to Australia on 15 January 1916.

37. Percy Turvey. 4693 Private Percival Turvey, 3rd Battalion. He enlisted on 16 June 1915 and returned to Australia on 13 April 1919.

38. R J Randall. 747 Private Reginald John Randall, Australian Army Medical Corps. He enlisted on 2 June 1915 and returned to Australia on 20 May 1919.

39. W J Byrnes. Possibly 2073 William James Byrnes, 1stP Pioneer Battalion from Macksville, New South Wales.

40. E Manson. 565 Trooper Edward Charles Manson, 1st Light Horse Regiment. He enlisted at Sydney on 3 September 1914 and was killed in action on 18 May 1915 at Gallipoli.

41. W B Murdoch. Unidentified.

42. E C C Wilson. 1037 Corporal Ernest Charles, Army Provost Corps. He enlisted on 13 January 1915 and returned to Australia after June 1919.

43. J Brewer. 2785 Driver James Brewer, 14 Field Artillery Brigade. He enlisted on 29 June 1915 and returned to Australia on 22 May 1919.

44. A E Taylor. Unidentified as there are too many possibilities. There were several A E Taylors associated with Rylstone: Abraham Elrab Taylor of 5th Field Ambulance, who served on Gallipoli and returned to Australia in 1916, or Alexander Ernest Taylor (known as Ernie) and as Ernest Alexander Taylor of 7th Light Horse.

45. James Thomas . Unidentified as there are too many possibilities.

46. E R Jones. 1357 Private Ernest Frank Jones, 13th Battalion. He enlisted on 8 December 1914 and returned to Australia on 25 August 1915.

47. Roy Cleeve. Captain Stanley Roy Cleeve, 3rd Machine Gun Battalion. He enlisted on 21 September 1914 and returned to Australia on 10 December 1918.

48. Sidney I Taylor. Unidentified.

49. C Dunn. Driver Clive Dunn, 19th Battalion. He enlisted on 22 March 1915 and returned to Australia on 20 October 1918.