Facts and Events
Birth Certificate: New South Wales Government Registry of Births Deaths & Marriages
| Registration Number || Last Name|| Given Name(s)|| Father's Given Name(s) || Mother's Given Name(s) || District
| 36277/1892 || CONN|| JOHN T|| JOHN T || MARY C || WALLSEND
Death Certificate: St Andrews Church Ncle Rev C Keir
| Registration Number|| Last Name|| Given Name(s)|| Father's Given Name(s) || Mother's Given Name(s) || District
| 24580/1963|| CONN || JOHN THOMAS|| JOHN THOMAS || MARY KATHERINE || NEWCASTLE
|John Thomas Conn
||New South Wales
|John Thomas Conn
||New South Wales
Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners Advocate,
|Driver John T. Conn of the A.I.F., now on final leave, was on Wednesday evening entertained and farewelled at a social gathering arranged by the local Soldiers' Reception and Farewell Committee in the Sulphide Hall. Mr W. J. Oswald, president of the committee, occupied the chair. The visitors included Divisional-officer Gorman and District-officer W. Hillier, of the New South Wales Fire Brigades. In opening the function, Mr. Oswald congratulated Driver Conn, and also his Mother and relatives, upon the sacrifice they had made. On behalf of the residents, Mr Oswald presented Driver Conn with a set of military brushes, suitably inscribed and wished him god-speed and safe return. Mr T. C. Frith said he had known Driver Conn from boyhood, and held him in the highest esteem. Driver Conn had been in his employ for some years, and was the fifth of his employees to enlist. He referred to the sacrifice Mrs. Conn was making in sending her son away to fight for the Empire, and he sincerely trusted he would return safe and sound, as he was at present.
||Mr H. Burton spoke in terms of the previous speakers. Driver Conn was also presented with a combination set from the Boolaroo Manchester Unity Lodge. The presentation was made by Bro. W Burgin, P.N.G. Who referred to Driver Conn as a faithful and efficient member of the Lodge. Divisional-officer Gorman expressed his pleasure at being able to be with them to honour their departing guest. Private Conn was a true chip of the old block. His father was a soldier and a fireman, and Driver Conn was a fireman and soldier. The fireman's motto was: “ Peace hath its danger no less than war,” and Driver Conn was going forth to do his duty in the same fearless manner as he had in his private life. On behalf of the Boolaroo Fire Brigade, Mr. Gorman presented Driver Conn with a gold medal, with the emblems of the fire brigade suitably inscribed. District-officer W. Hillier was pleased at the esteem in which Driver Conn was held, as evinced the large gathering of residence.
||He personally had no regrets that Driver Conn was going to do his duty and there were hundreds more who should do likewise. He hoped Driver Conn would return safe , but according to the Biblical saying, “Greater love hath no man than he who layeth down his life for his friend.” Mr Hillier referred to the cartoon in the “Newcastle Morning Herald,” “The Ghost of Anzac,” and hoped the Federal electorate of Newcastle would continue to keep up its record of reinforcements, for the Anzacs' kangaroo tail, so to enable him to clear the last fence Driver Conn responded amidst considerable applause, and returned thanks to Boolaroo residents, the fire brigade district officers, and the Manchester Unity Lodge for their kind wishes and gifts. Whilst he wore the khaki it would be his endeavour to live to the high character spoken that evening, and he was sure the Boolaroo people and his comrades would never have cause to be ashamed of him. Loud applause concluded the address, and musical honours were accorded Driver Conn. Dancing was then commenced and continued until midnight. Messers. M'Blane Brothers and Mrs. G. Wright were the musicians. Vocal solos were rendered by Misses Bessie Jenkins, Stewart and Daphne Foster.
Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners Advocate, Saturday August 16 1919. Page 2
|District News. BOOLAROO SOLDIERS WELCOMED.
|The following soldiers were officially welcomed on Thursday night in the Sulphide Hall: Sergt. J. Conn, Corpl. E. Milburn, Bugler Jones, pvtes. W. Ackroyd, D. Deeprose, W. Bull, J. Sweeney, T. White, Captain-Chaplain Morse, and French “Aussie” Yvon. Proceedings were opened by the Boolaroo Band playing several selection outside the hall. The returned men were then lined up outside and marched into their positions on the stage, and were received with loud applause. Mr. A. R. Young presided. The first part of the programme was supplied by the following artists: Boolaroo Orchestra and Misses B. Jenkins, D. Holmes, Rowe, B. Rees, and L. Forrester.
The chairman then introduced the soldiers, after which all present stood whilst Bugler Jones sounded “The Last Post” in memory of the fallen. In presenting the gold medals to the returned men the chairman said he was pleased to see such a large crowd present to do honour and to show their gratitude to those who fought and suffered much on the other side.
|In reference to the orphan boy, who was really a French “Aussie,” the committee of the farewell and reception association, had purchased a medal from their own pockets to present this lad with. He knew that this unfortunate boy would cherish such a gift, and trusted he would find out that Australia was the finest country in the world.
Mr. A. L. Jenkins, in supporting the welcome, said that no doubt the people of Boolaroo had shown their gratitude and thanks to their soldiers. Whilst the men fought and suffered the people had kept the home fires burning in a practical manner, and by the crowd that night he was certain that the enthusiasm was becoming greater than ever. A hundred and sixty-five men left Boolaroo, 29 had fallen, and 38 were still to return. That night we have evidence direct of some of the sufferings in France and elsewhere, where war had raged, in the person of Aussie Yvon, who had lost his father at the front, and the rest of his family could never be traced.
|Sergeant Conn had proved a father to him, and bought him home for a short stay in Boolaroo. He trusted the people would make the stay of this homeless boy as pleasant as possible. Mr Gorman (District Fire Brigades Officer) and Mr. W. Abrahams supported the welcome.
The soldiers were invested by the following ladies: Mesdames Guest, Rinker, Bliss, Murnain, Rees, Pugh, Missess M. Conn, Goodall, Rowe, and Redman. Each of the returned men suitably responded.
Dancing was then indulged in to music supplied by Boolaroo Orchestra and Mrs. Wright, Mr. E Murnain acting as M.C. Refreshments were provided by the ladies to soldiers, relatives and artists.
|AIF War Project:  Enlisted: Nov 1 1916 Home leave: Feb 24 1917 to March 3 1917.
|March Reinforcements Field Artillery, A.I.F. Left Sydney May 10th 1917. Lieut. R. J. Cocks Officer Commanding. Ship: HMAT A74 Capt. W. M. Jermyn. (Commander)
MR. J. T. CONN
| Mr. John Thomas Conn, a well-known resident of Newcastle district, died in Royal Newcastle Hospital, aged 71. He was the son of the late Mr. and Mrs. J. T. Conn. of Third-street, Boolaroo. He spent his earlier years in the service of Mr. T. C. Frith, Boolaroo, and later; married and lived in Lockyer street, Merewether. He joined the staff of Foggitt Jones Ltd. in Newcastle as a commercial traveller. Subsequently he transferred to the staff of the P.D.S., Newcastle, where he remained till his retirement two years ago. He enlisted with the A.I.F. in 1916 and completed three years’ active service with the artillery. He was a former President of Adamstown R.S.L. sub—branch and a member of Adamstown A.L.P. branch and Adamstown Bowling Club. Mr. Conn is survived by Mrs. Conn, two daughters, Mrs. R. Burgess, of Wangi, and Mrs. E Rowe, of Mosman, and three sisters, Elizabeth, Margaret and Adelaide.
Newcastle Morning Herald, 26 th July 1963
|CONN. — John Thomas, passed away July 25, Royal Newcastle Hospital, loving husband of Ella and loved father of Myra and Dorothy, granddad of John, Peter and Andrew Burgess and Edward Rowe, aged 71 years.
|CONN.— The Relatives and Friends of Mrs. Ella Conn, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Burgess and Family (Wangi), and Mr. and Mrs. Edward Rowe and Family (Mosman) are invited to attend the funeral of their beloved husband, father, father-in-law and grandfather, JOHN THOMAS CONN, of 12 Lockyer St., Merewether, to move from St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Laman St., Newcastle, TOMORROW (SATURDAY) MORNING, after service commencing at 9 o’clock, for the Crematorium, Beresfield. JAMES MURRAY, ‘ N.D.F.D.A., Funeral Director.
|CONN.—The Relatives and Friends of the Conn and Snedden Families are invited to attend the funeral of their beloved brother, brother-in-law and uncle, JOHN THOMAS CONN, of 12 Lockyer St., Merewether, to move from St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Laman St., Newcastle, TOMORROW (SATURDAY) MORNING, after service commencing at 9 o’clock, for the Crematorium, Beresfield.
THE SUN-HERALD, APR. 29 1964 By Bill Baverstock
|THE UNOFFICIAL DIGGER.---War waif who "adopted the A.I.F.
|When Bill Anderson, of Ryde, reaches France next month he will be received by many old friends as enthusiastically as when he wore the uniform of a member of the Second Field Artillery Brigade.
He has kept up correspondence with many people he met as a World War 1 digger.
One of them is Frenchman Yvon Calmus, and when Bill calls at his home at Cannes, where he now lives in retirement, Yvon will recall the days when he became an "unofficial" member of the A.I.F. and returned to Australia with the men of Bill's brigade.
Many French waifs were adopted by the A.I.F. units in World War 1, but Yvon is the only one who made the voyage to Australia.
Bill told the full story just before he sailed on his third tour abroad.
When the German armies broke through the Allied defence in their last desperate bid to reach the Channel coast in March 1918, they over-ran scores of tiny villages.
Near the the village the Second Australian Field Artillery Brigade was in the thick of the action, its guns seldom cool in the effort to stop the flood of Germany's best troops.
As German guns reduced Fanvillers to ruins the inhabitants streamed west and south, leaving many dead and wounded among the rubble while others dazed by the guns, wandered aimlessly in the countryside.
In this scene of desolation the Second Field Artillery Brigade, out for a spell one day were deep in the ritual of a two-up game when a horseman rode into the "ring."
He was Lieut. Frank Grose, the brigade welfare officer, and now well-known in Sydney radio as "Uncle Frank" and as the originator of the Anzac Day Dawn Service, at which has figured each year since 1928.
Every soldier in the group knew Frank except one - a diminutive figure whose extreme youth singled him out. Grose questioned him. The boy - he appeared to be about 14 - at first stoutly claimed he was a gunner of one of the batteries, but Frank soon found out that he was a refugee from the strafed village of Franvillers.
Diggers had found him in the ruins of his home and they took him to their wagon lines behind the front line.
When Australian Army rations had satisfied his hunger the men learned his name was Yvon Calmus, the son of a French soldier who had been killed at Verdun in 1915.
His mother and only sister had disappeared when the village was evacuated.
There was nowhere for Yvon to go so, with the rough hospitality of the digger, the brigade adopted the waif.
Dresses in A.I.F. uniform he was accepted as one of the men and with the permission of the commanding officer, Brigadier-General H. W. Lloyd, was unofficially put on the strength of the brigade throughout the remainder if its service in France.
Though not permitted in the front line gun-pits, Yvon helped at the wagon lines and did his bit as an artillery digger.
As he played his part in the Dawn Service this year, Frank Grose's mind no doubt harked back to the schemes he winked at by which the old diggers adopted Yvon and eventually took him back to England when the A.I.F. was demobilised after the Armistice.
As the men were scrutinised boarding the Channel boat to England, Yvon was wrapped in a bundle of army blankets.
He was still with them at Salisbury Plain camp when the boat-rolls were read out in mid-1919, Yvon's name was not in any of them.
But that didn't stop the diggers smuggling him on board the ex-German liner, Koenig Frederich August, while Frank Grose looked the other way and his sergeant, Jack Conn, found other matters to occupy his attention.
The Diggers had a kinder word for this Kidnapping in which the "victim" willingly cooperated. They called it "souveniring."
On reaching Sydney Yvon, disguised in full uniform of a battery trumpeter, went to Grose's home and later to Jack Conn's home at Booraroo, on Lake Macquarie, from where he attended school in Newcastle.
Then Captain Roy Pattie who had been on the brigade in France, invited Yvon to his home at Greensborough, Victoria.
A boarder at Ivanhoe Grammar School, Yvon seemed set for the life of a Melbourne schoolboy and a future in Victoria, but the French Consul got wind of his story.
Once a Frenchman always a Frenchman, Yvon was approaching the age at which young Frenchmen must begin their military service.
So back to France he went and into the French Army of Occupation on the Rhine.
With two years compulsory service completed, the young "digger poilu," now perfectly at home in the idiom of two languages, joined the travel firm of Thomas Cook as a guide, and met many Australians on tours on the continent.
Yvon worked for Cooks for 34 years, the last 11 as interpreter on the ferry train from London to Paris.
On retirement, he opened a cafe at Notre Dame de Bondeville, near Rouen.
On a visit to France in 1961 Bill Anderson strolled into the little roadside cafe, and Yvon recognised his old battery mate instantly.
The humdrum French village rang with excitement at the reunion as the towns people were made Yvon's guests for the day.
Yvon's daughter Jenny ("a good English name,"says Calmus) also is known to hundreds of travelling Australians who have passed through Orly airport, Paris, where she is interpreter.