Person:John Conn (4)

m. 1884
  1. Annie Conn1888 - 1962
  2. Joseph Paterson Conn1889 - 1946
  3. John Thomas Conn1892 - 1963
  4. Elizabeth Conn1894 - 1980
  5. Margaret Conn1896 - 1992
  6. Adelaide Victoria Conn1903 - 1968
m. 15 Dec 1923
Facts and Events
Name John Thomas Conn
Alt Name Jack
Gender Male
Birth? 19 Feb 1892 Wallsend, New South Wales, Australia
Marriage 15 Dec 1923 West Wallsend, Australiato Ella Barbara Snedden
Death? 25 Jul 1963 Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia
Burial? 27 Jul 1963 Beresfield, AustraliaBeresfield Crematorium
Religion? Presbyterian
Occupation? PDSCommercial Traveller
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
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
Electoral Roll
Name Gender Electoral Year State District Subdistrict
John Thomas Conn Male 1930 New South Wales Newcastle Merewether
John Thomas Conn Male 1936 New South Wales Newcastle Merewether
Newcastle Morning Herald & Miners' Advocate (NSW : 1876 - 1954) , Friday 26 January 1917, page 6
A social gathering of employees of Mr. T. C. Frith's business establishment took place recently at Mr. T. C. Frith's residence, for the purpose of entertaining and making a presentation to Driver J. T. Conn, formerly one of Mr. Frith's employees, who is now in the AI.F. Artillery. The evening was spent in harmony, and Driver Conn was presented with a wristlet watch from his fellow employees, and a money belt and pocket wallet from Mr. and Mrs. T. C. Frith. The presentations were made by Mr. B. Duggan and Mr. T. C. Frith respectively.
Newcastle Morning Herald & Miners' Advocate (NSW : 1876 - 1954) , Friday 2 March 1917, page 3
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 & Miners' Advocate, Tuesday 24 July 1917, page 5
NEWCASTLE RECRUITING Two volunteers, presented themselves at the Newcastle recruiting depot yesterday, and one was accepted.

Miss A. Conn, of Scott's, Limited, yesterday received a cable message from Driver J. Conn, of Boolaroo, stating he had arrived safely at Salisbury Plain. Driver Conn left in March with reinforcements of the Field Artillery.

Newcastle Morning Herald & Miners' Advocate , Wednesday 23 July 1919, page 7
Mrs. J. Conn, of Third-street, Boolaroo, has been advised that her son, Bombardier J. T. Conn, is returning by the transport Koenig Frederich August, due in Melbourne on August 1.
Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners Advocate, Saturday August 16 1919. Page 2
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.
Newcastle Sun (NSW : 1918 - 1954), Saturday 6 December 1919, page 1


Yvon Calmus, mascot of the 1st, Australian Artillery in France, who was successfully smuggled to Australia, is now living at Boolaroo and attending the Cooks Hill School. This French lad, who is Just 15 years of age, has had an adventurous time during the last few years. He lived at Franvillers, not far from Albert, and when his father was killed at Verdun, was left alone in the world. In the German offensive in 1918, the enemy came very close to Franvillers,and all the villagers fled. When the 8th battery camped near the village, a lonely little urchin wandered to the cook-house for a meal and stayed. He made himself at home in the battery, and the men regarded his as their mascot. While the Diggers were fighting in the critical months of March and April. Yvon was "digging in," and found, his way to the hearts of the war-weary men. They made a lot of him, and soon he was arrayed in uniform and installed as the Quarter-master's assistant. He was only 13 years old and small for his age, so he looked a queer figure in the over-large uniform. He was given a pair of mules and a set of harness to play with, and as the sector grew quieter, he was allowed to make a few trips to the guns. He appeared on parades, and lined up for his pay with the rest of the battery. The officers found the pay. His "English" at that time would be quite unintelligible to the average person, but he was easily understood by the Diggers. He spoke a mixture of slang, coined words, half French and English, and phrases not used in polite society. He was soon initiated into the mysteries of two-up and poker, and "did in" his pay with cheerful regularity, He lived with the battery until the big offensive in August, when the Diggers had to send him back to Franvillers, as the big stunt was no place for a boy of his years.


Months later, with the Boche on the run and the armistice a few weeks off, the Australians came back along the same road on the way to a well earned rest. Waiting on the road and watching the seemingly endless lines of troops for the men he knew, was Yvon, dressed in his uniform, from which he could not be parted. When the 8th came along, he swung up on a gun limber like a veteran, and traveled with the troops to the Abbeville rest area. During his stay in Franvillers his uniform had attracted the attention of a Tommy M.P., and he was arrested as a deserter. He told this story with great glee. The boy went with the battery on the long road trek to the Charleroi area, after the armistice, and camped with them at Mettet. There he was taken under the wing of Frank Grose, the Y.M.C.A. officer with the 1st Australian Artillery, and he assisted in the Y.M.C.A. work and came into contact with Jack Conn, of Boolaroo. He always expressed his eagerness to go to Australia, and when a big detachment of the division was on its way to England they decided to take their mascot. He left a crowd of weeping young ladles behind him at Charleroi. He was placed in the care of Jack Conn, who got him safely to Le Havre. Here they were faced with the difficulty of smuggling him past the transport officers, and a box was made in which it was intended to place him and put him on board as Y.M.C.A. goods.


At the last minute a new plan was adopted, and he was sent on with a baggage guard from the camp and told to hide. The boy concealed himself, but was discovered by the Chinese laborers working on the cargo. These gathered round staring and laughing at the youngster, who desperately tried to get rid of them, as a transport officer might have arrived at any moment. Jack Conn saved the situation by telling the N.C.O. in charge of the Chinese that they were loafing. The boy hid again. When the troops came on board, he was given an infantry pack and a disembarkation card. With his hat well on one side to conceal his face he swung jauntily down the gangway, pushed his card in the officer's hand, and was safe, He got to camp without any trouble. The mascot was taken to London, Glasgow and other places, and had a high old time. BOUND FOR "AUSSIE" Not much trouble was experienced in getting the little chap on board the troopship bound for Australia. By this time he had filled out. The transport carried soldier's wives and children as well as men, and Yvon was placed with the children. The Diggers took him in hand, and did their best to get him to cut out the "rough stuff," and the society of women folk and other children was helpful in teaching him what expressions were not used in polite society. In his starved life he had no experience of the joy of other children, but he was not long in picking up games, and became the pet of all on board. But the strange food-stuffs puzzled him, and the carefully watched his neighbors. When he arrived in Australia he was taken to Diggers' homes all over the State, and had a very happy time.


His English — or rather Australian — is still very quaint. When he first arrived he indignantly denied that he spoke English. "I spik Aussie," he asserted. When he first went to Church he came home with the staggering information that the Minister had used words which he had been told were wrong. It took time to ex-plain that the name of our Lord could be used in more senses than one. His speech is interladen with diggerisms, such as "dinki-di," and he often gets into difficulties with words like "soil," which he pronounces "swal." He has entered into Australian open air life with a zest, and is as brown as a native-born already. He has learned to swim, and his appearance shows that the climate does not disagree with him, though he com-plains of the heat. When told to wait till it was 120 degrees, he replied: "You try to put the wind up me!" He has grown tremendously since he first joined up with the Aussies. "The Newcastle Sun" reporter, who had last seen him in France, was startled at the transformation in his appearance, and got him mixed with another French boy who lived with the 4th battery for some time. But Yvon said quaintly, "Oh no, I'm mobile." (The 8th battery was a mobile one.) The boy started at Cook's Hill school last week, where special consideration is given to him. Jack Conn, who takes his foster parenthood gravely, has just heard from Staff-captain Pattie, who knows the boy, and offers to adopt him. (Photo) In the front row, from left to right are Frank Grote, Y.M.C.A. Officer to the 1st Division Artillery; Yvon Calmus; and Jack Conn, of Boolaroo.

Discovering ANZACS: [1] 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. 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.

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