Herman Emil (Harry) MAU

MAU, Herman Emil

Service Number: 2295
Enlisted: 26 April 1915
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 12th Field Artillery Brigade
Born: Ballarat, Victoria, Australia , 1 December 1875
Home Town: Broome, Broome, Western Australia
Schooling: Humffray Street State School, Ballarat, Victoria
Occupation: Engineer
Died: Bena, near Leongatha, Gippsland, Victoria., 7 June 1951, aged 75 years, cause of death not yet discovered
Cemetery: Springvale Garden of Remembrance & Crematorium, Victoria
Bena, near Leongatha, Gippsland, Victoria.
Memorials:
Show Relationships

World War 1 Service

26 Apr 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 2295, 16th Infantry Battalion
25 Jun 1915: Embarked Private, SN 2295, 16th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Wandilla, Fremantle
25 Jun 1915: Involvement Private, SN 2295, 16th Infantry Battalion
10 Aug 1915: Wounded AIF WW1, Private, SN 2295, 16th Infantry Battalion, The August Offensive - Lone Pine, Suvla Bay, Sari Bair, The Nek and Hill 60 - Gallipoli, GSW to head
2 Dec 1915: Wounded AIF WW1, Private, SN 2295, 16th Infantry Battalion, 'ANZAC' / Gallipoli, GSW to left arm
18 Mar 1916: Transferred AIF WW1, Private, 12th Field Artillery Brigade
30 Apr 1918: Discharged AIF WW1, Private, SN 2295, 12th Field Artillery Brigade , 3rd MD

Help us honour Herman Emil Mau's service by contributing information, stories, and images so that they can be preserved for future generations.

Biography contributed by Evan Evans

From Ballarat & District in the Great War

Pte Herman Emil (Harry) MAU

I’m always fascinated by the social network that creates an individual – the ancestral connections; from how we look to how we behave, our beliefs, our talents and especially our character traits.  All these things are rooted firmly in our DNA, but I believe they are also a product of inherited memory.  So, when I begin researching a story, one of the most important aspects for me is the familial history of the subject.  One of the most fascinating I have covered is that of Harry Mau – especially given the backdrop of the Great War.

From the Middle Ages, the island of Fehmarn had formed a part of the Danish Duchy of Schleswig. Surrounded by the Baltic Sea, Fehmarn is a resting place to abundant migratory birds and has long been a refuge for those seeking a healthy retreat.

The Maü family had lived there for several generations.  However, the area had been beset by a constitutional crisis for 15 years, which came to a head in 1863 with the death of Danish King Frederick VII.  The signing of a new constitution covering the affairs of Denmark and Schleswig, led to war the following year which resulted in the ceding of Fehmarn to Germany and the ending of 150-years of Danish rule.  It seems that this was a major factor in at least one family member migrating to Australia. 

Peter Heinrich Maü sailed from Hamburg for Australia onboard the barque, Johannes.  He landed at Williamstown on 22 November 1863, and soon made his way to Ballarat. 

In 1867, he married Catharina Schuldt, whose family also had ties to Fehmarn.  They made their home in the goldmining community at Little Bendigo, where Peter operated a store, becoming one of Ballarat’s pioneering, prize-winning cheese manufacturers.

Their family was completed by the arrival of four children – three sons and one daughter.  The youngest, Herman Emil, was born on 1 December 1875.  

Despite the opening of a new school at Little Bendigo in September 1878, young Harry was educated at the Humffray Street State School.  This entailed a round-trip walk of nearly 5-miles every day.   That he received a well-rounded education was later evidenced by his very capable letter-writing, illustrated by a distinctive open flowing hand, and his exceptional business acumen.

Now, I have often written of conditions experienced in Australia during the 1890’s due to the effects of the global financial depression.  It is important to understand the impact that the failing economy had on the ability of men to earn a living, especially when so many of their children would subsequently serve in the Great War.  This was their shared experience.  With regards to Harry Mau, the depression had a more immediate effect.  And, like so many of his contemporaries, he was drawn to Western Australia with the opening up of major goldfields.  The time was ripe for new opportunities – especially for those with the shrewdness to build a successful business.  

By 1897, Harry was living in York, the oldest inland town in Western Australia.  He had established the firm of Messrs Mau & Co, and in September, purchased the well-known King's Head Hotel, from the estate of the late R. W. Clapper.  He applied for the publican’s license to the King’s Head Hotel in December of that year.  Due to having suffered an attack of influenza, Harry was late in handing in the paperwork, but supplied a doctor’s certificate, which complied with requirements and the license was granted. 

In 1898, Harry, having been granted a gallon license, began operating as ‘H. E. MAU & CO, Aerated Water & Cordial Manufacturers, Wine & Spirit Bottlers, etc.’ out of Avon Terrace.  At the Coolgardie Exhibition in April 1899, produce from York was highlighted, and Harry Mau featured an exhibit of ‘a splendid collection of condiments, jams, aerated waters, syrups, etc.’ 

Harry had a clear vision for his business and soon put the next stage into effect.

‘…I, Herman E. Mau, gallon license holder, do hereby give notice that it is my intention to apply at the next Licensing Meeting to be holden for this district, for permission to remove the gallon license now held by me from premises known as Wansbrough's Store, situate in Avon Terrace, York, to premises rented to me from Mr. K. Edwards, also situated in Avon Terrace, York.

Given under my hand this 22nd day of May, 1899.

HERMAN E. MAU…’

He also made a clever use of advertising – by purchasing the bottom of each column on page3 of The Eastern Districts Chronicle, he was able to catch the attention with “Drink H. E. Mau’s Tonic Ale.  Non-Alcoholic, Invigorating, Refreshing,” printed right across the page.  

His commitment to community activities was also a large part of Harry’s time in York.  He took part in multiple sporting bodies.  Whilst the York Cycle and Imperial Football clubs dominated his attention, Harry was also heavily involved with the local horseracing and athletics fraternities.  In every respect, he was the quintessential citizen.

On 24 September 1899, Harry’s burgeoning career was very nearly brought to a premature end when he met with a nasty accident whilst cycling from York to Perth.  He was found unconscious on the side of the road at Greenmount Hill around dusk.  The police at Midland Junction were informed and an ambulance transported Harry to the Guildford Hospital.  Reports at the time indicated that he was in a ‘precarious condition’ with concussion and a severe head wound. 

However, it wasn’t long before Harry was back in full fettle, taking up verbal cudgels in defence of the York Amateur Race Club. 


‘…To the Editor.

Dear Sir,—In last Saturday's CHRONICLE I noticed a letter signed " Sportsman." It is a great pity that name should be made use of by a person who is evidently anything but a sportsman, for if he was one he would be aware of the following facts : (1) "That the race

meeting to which he referred was held last Easter Monday." (2) " That a general meeting was held on the 24th April last, and all members of the Club were notified." Also he should know that the York Jockey Club held a race meeting just after the annual Show which is not so very long ago, and if he is so anxious to patronize sport he has plenty of chances given him to do so.  If he can tell me of any town of the same size as York which has two Race Clubs who hold more than one meeting each per annum I shall be very much surprised. He is probably too busy to come and enquire personally about the state of affairs, but I would deem it a great favor if be would call on me so that could give him my opinion as to the kind of "Sportsman" that he is.

Yours faithfully,

H. E. MAU

Hon. Sec. York A. Race Club.

Dec 11, 1899…’

Early in 1900, Harry announced that he was leaving York to pursue business ventures in Boulder.  He had relinquished the license to the King’s Head Hotel sometime previous, and he then sold his bottling business to the hotel’s new publican, Mr William Bell. 

The loss of such a prominent member of the community did not pass without the appropriate attention from those who knew Harry Mau best.  The York Bicycle and Imperial Football Clubs arranged a farewell ‘valedictory social,’ at the Railway Hotel on Saturday 13 January.  It was a jolly evening, with many speeches and lots of musical items performed by the guests, all made under the benevolent eye of the Mayor of York, Mr Charles Edwards, who presided over the function.  The cycling and football clubs made a special presentation of a dressing case, and it was widely agreed that as ‘a progressive townsman,’ Harry's place would be ‘hard to fill.’

Harry left by train for Boulder the following Thursday. 

As things panned out, Harry Mau did not stay in Boulder.  His next business venture took him to the new town of Southern Cross, over 140-miles to the west of Boulder.  There he continued his cordial making production from a shop in Spica Street.  His non-alcoholic “Unity Ale” and an aerated beverage he called Coca Cuca, and Coca Water were said to be ‘tip-top quality’ and ‘very refreshing during the summer months,’ definitely something that would be a guaranteed success in the heat of Western Australia. 

In December 1902, Harry was elected to the Southern Cross Municipal Council – with four candidates for just two positions, Harry headed the poll and won easily.

The local government proposals regarding the development of a water scheme in the district was to have a direct impact on Harry’s business.  Despite his vested interest, he did produce valid points from a community level in this letter to the editor of the Southern Cross Times, published Christmas Day 1903. 

‘…To THE RATEPAYERS OF THE MUNICIPALITY OF SOUTHERN CROSS.

Dear Sir or Madam.—You will shortly be called upon to decide if you will sell the local reticulation scheme to the Government, or if you will empower the council to borrow £2,000 to complete the said scheme within the municipal boundary. I will, therefore, place before you my reasons for advocating that the scheme be sold to the Government. 

The Government are willing to take over the portion already finished and reimburse the council to the full amount of money they have expended in laying pipes, etc. They will complete the reticulation of the whole of the town and district at the earliest possible moment. 

They will charge one shilling in the pound water rate on the municipal valuations for the ensuing year. For this water rate you will be allowed water at the rate of seven shillings per thousand gallons. Any water which you may require over and above the quantity to which the rate entitles you will be charged at six shillings per thousand gallons for small consumers and a reduction will be given to large consumers. Water for the use of the Fire Brigade will be given free, and water for municipal purposes at a great reduction. 

If the council retain the scheme, they will have to borrow £2,000 to complete it within the municipality. This means, roughly speaking, with the money already expended, the scheme will cost £3050. Interest on which at the low rate of 4 per cent amounts to £122, and as the life of the pipes can be put down at 25 years at the outside, a sinking fund of 4 per cent, will also have to be provided—£122. Add to this general maintenance, office expenses, loss of water through leakages or Fire Brigade, at the low estimate of £104 per year. This gives a total of £348 per annum, which will have to be earned by the scheme to make it self-supporting.

Therefore, as the price which your Council have to pay to the Government for the water is six shillings per thousand gallons, you will perceive that a much higher rate will have to be charged by the council to provide for interest, sinking fund, maintenance. etc.  I would ask you to give the above facts your careful consideration and decide if it is not much better to hand over the scheme to the Government, thus receiving back the money which has already been expended and which can be used to much better advantage in improving the streets, footpaths, and lighting of the town, than to plunge this town (which has hitherto been free from debt) into the necessity of borrowing £2000 (which is almost the limit of our borrowing capacity) to complete a scheme which will raise the price of water to the consumers instead of lowering it. 

In conclusion I ask you to consider seriously the aspects of this question. No sentiment should sway you, but solid facts should be your demand and concisely I give them, viz.:— The Council get their water pumped from  Mundaring for 6s. per thousand gallons, and yet they have to charge an additional ls. 4d. per thousand to meet the expense of the water flowing from the main to the standpipe, which supplies the carts vending water to those people living outside of the municipality.  Is this fair? Yet the Council cannot do it more cheaply. 

On the other hand, the Government will make no additional charge. Is it not our duty to consider that Southern Cross is dependent greatly to the outsider, the prospector, miner and teamster? Yet one section of the Council will ask you to tax these people to the extent of 7s. 4d. per thousand gallons. 

Again, the Council have to the present charged (I consider illegally) for making service connections. If the Government take the scheme over, they will connect as far as your boundary without extra charge.  And again, suppose your rate amounts to £1 Is.-a year, you will be supplied with 3000 gallons of water without farther charge, so that practically the ordinary householder will get his water for the rate. 

What do you do now and what will you do?  You pay a 6d. rate and get nothing for it.  The 6d. rate was struck on a £1000 outlay and brought the Council in debt, although they actually did nothing for it. If a further £2000 is borrowed what will the rate be? There is a fault somewhere, and I ask you to give this your consideration and join me in wiping our hands of uncertainties, so as to secure a certainty of general satisfaction.—Yours faithfully,

H. E. MAU…’

It seems that Harry Mau didn’t know how to do anything other than full steam ahead and he quickly established connections in the sporting community.  There was great anticipation for the 1904 Easter Meeting of the Southern Cross Racing Club – Harry’s work as the ‘energetic secretary’ of the club was said to have been a major contributing factor to it surpassing ‘any previous effort on the local course.’

And whilst building his business using the most modern techniques available, Harry was also contributing to the progress of Southern Cross. 

‘…We have inspected the new air gas plant at H. E. Man's factory. It consists of a large air holder which is pumped up with a force pump. The air then forces its way through a combination of oils in a carburation, and, gas is formed. A pipe is laid across the street to the Railway Hotel, throughout which the light has been installed. It burns with a brilliant white light and is superior to anything we have seen in the way of gas lighting. It is non-explosive, the insurance companies having given a certificate to that effect. It is also claimed to be much cheaper than kerosene or any other gas in use, the gas only being made as required. If all the burners are shut off no gas is made, so that there is no storage of gas. Mr. Mau also intends to drive an engine from the plant, the gas being suitable for engine power. We understand that Mr. Man, who is a shareholder in the original syndicate, has secured the sole rights for Southern Cross and district, and that he will be prepared to give estimates for plants of all sizes. The gas has already been patented in fifteen countries and has been largely established in the Eastern States…’

Seeking new challenges, Harry left Southern Cross for the coastal town of Broome in the far north of Western Australia.  Famous for its pearling industry, Broome had a bustling, vibrant atmosphere that earned it the title of “Queen City of the North.” 

Once again, Harry became involved in town administration.  He was soon elected to the role of auditor on the Broome Municipal Council. 

When he married Melbourne-born Catherine Anne Cockram on 10 March 1909, Harry began what was to be a significant part of his life.  The wedding was beautifully reported in the Broome Chronicle, although the editor managed to mis-spell Kate’s maiden surname. 

‘…MAU—COCKRANE (sic).

A very quiet and pretty wedding was solemnised in the " Villa," Robinson Street, Broome, on Wednesday afternoon, 10th March, the contracting parties being Mr. Herman Emil Mau and Miss Catherine Cockrane (sic), both of both of Broome. The Archdeacon of Broome officiated, whilst Mr. W. J. McKenna carried out the duties of "best man." The bride looked dainty in a handsome gown of blue minon de soir chiffon silk, the bodice being prettily arranged with lace yoke and kimona (sic) sleeves; a pretty coronet of orange blossom was also worn. She carried pretty shower bouquet of white flowers and asparagus fern, tied with long white tulle; she also wore the bridegroom's gift, a ruby brooch. After the ceremony the party breakfasted, and amidst a shower of rice the happy couple drove away, the bride wearing a pretty travelling dress of shell pink silk and a Merry Widow hat in champagne straw and pink roses, the whole completing a most becoming toilet. Many beautiful and handsome presents were received…’

The first of Harry and Kate’s three daughters, Nellie, was born at Broome on 2 January 1910.  

In the meantime, Harry was intent on building up his new business, Mau’s Iceworks, in Short Street. 

On 19 November 1910, natural terror visited the people of Broome.

‘…The most disastrous cyclone that ever occurred on land or sea in the Nor'-West visited Broome on Saturday last, 19th Nov. There was no previous indication that anything resembling a storm was approaching. Steady rain set in on Friday and lasted all day, but during the night the wind increased in force, and on Saturday morning had reached hurricane force, accompanied by very heavy rain. Up to 8 o'clock on Saturday morning only 335 points of rain were registered, but it was after this hour that the volume of rain had descended. At 10 o'clock the aspect looked serious as the wind was so fretful and the rain heavy. All the morning the storm kept increasing in fury. About 11 o'clock the more flimsy structures commenced to give way, and the wind increasing in force every few minutes, by 1.30 o'clock it became so serious that people were fleeing in all directions seeking shelter from falling roofs and buildings. Sheets of iron were driven before the wind like sheets of paper; and impeded by the blinding sand from the surrounding hills, the women and children, passing from one shelter to another were indeed in a precarious position.

By 2 o'clock the storm was at its height, and the destruction of the town commenced with a vengeance. Roofs were lifted and carried hundreds of yards away, buildings fell in or were blown down, trees were uprooted or broken off; telephone poles were either snapped like carrots or were bent like wax matches, telegraph poles were blown over, flag-staffs and signboards were toppled over in quick succession, and to-day pretty Broome presents a scene of desolation…’

It was a terrifying experience: over 100 boats were either dismasted, sunk or driven ashore.  Of the ‘better class of residences, stores and public buildings’ 20 were utterly destroyed, 50 partially damaged and 20 severely damaged.  Winds, estimated at 175-kilometres per hour, destroyed the whole telephone system.  There were 40 deaths, most of whom were Ceylonese workers onboard the many pearling boats.  Harry was one of the lucky ones – the ice-works in Short Street was miraculously ‘practically undamaged.’ Only days before the cyclone, he had installed a new plant for the manufacturing of pure crystal ice using distilled water.  If the building had not withstood the force of the winds, Harry could potentially have lost everything. 

As shipping returned to normal, Harry was able to bring in the best of products, which he kept fresh in his cool rooms – shipments of mangosteens and pineapples, and ‘the best variety’ of apples and oranges competed for room with frozen hares, wild duck, teal, and rabbits, ‘which arrived in splendid condition.’

His good fortune continued when Kate gave birth to a second daughter, Auguste, “Guste,” on 8 February 1912. 

A year later, Harry was appointed as agent for the Western Australian Fruit Growers’ Association Limited, and guaranteed that stocks of their prime fruit – the same quality as that which was exported to England and Germany – would always be available at the lowest prices. 

At the same time, he severed connection with a syndicate that owned a factory previously known as Hale & Co, indicating that he would be concentrating solely on his own plant.  There was a degree of acrimony in the split, with Harry declaring that ‘he should have the support of the public, as he is the pioneer of the ice trade in the Nor' West, and, also, because he is running his plant for a living, and not as a side line.’

When Kate discovered she was pregnant for a third time, it appears that her age (she was 38) and the advent of long hot summer caused some concerns and she was sent to Melbourne for her confinement.  She stayed with her older brother, John, and his wife Cecelia, at their home at 27 Bond Street, Abbotsford.  It was there that her third daughter, Kate Elizabeth, was born on 15 April 1914. 
When complications developed, doctors attended to Kate, but she died just a week after the birth, on 22 April. 

The death of his wife was utterly devastating for Harry Mau. 

He continued to work, but had difficulty sleeping.  Towards the end of May, he suffered a complete breakdown and was hospitalised at St Anthony’s in Broome.  It was announced in the newspaper that his business would be closed for about three months as he recovered.  By the time those three months had elapsed, the world was at war. 

When Harry enlisted on 12 April 1915, he was very aware of his Germanic heritage and how his own name could appear problematic.  The umlaut had long been disposed of when writing his surname, and his father had been naturalised on 5 February 1900, but he chose to sign up as Harry rather than the more correct Herman Emil Mau.  Despite the minor subterfuge, Harry signed a very confident, open, flowing signature to his paperwork. 

The examining medical officer, Doctor J. Smythe Yule, conducted Harry’s physical examination at Broome.  Whilst Harry was at the older end of the age requirements, he was 40-years-old, his general physical development was excellent:  he was 5-feet 10-inches tall, weighed 140-pounds, and had a chest measurement of 35 to 37-inches. His colouring was typical of his German and Nordic ancestors – a light complexion, blue eyes, and light brown hair. He also had 2 vaccination marks on his right arm and a small scar on his left knee. 

Harry named his older sister, Auguste Rowley, as his next-of-kin, and made an allotment of three-fifths of his pay to the upkeep of his daughters.  Unfortunately, there was only one way for the girls to be cared for whilst he was away – Nellie was sent to Ballarat to live with her uncle and aunt, John and Frances Mau, Guste to his sister, Auguste, in Greta, New South Wales, and the baby, Kate, stayed with John and Cecelia Cockram in Melbourne.

With his family situation sorted, Harry travelled to the Blackboy Camp outside Perth, where he signed his oath on 26 April, before being immediately assigned to the 6th reinforcements to the 12th Infantry Battalion.  His regimental number was 2295.    

Harry also signed a declaration that day, revealing that he had enlisted under the name “Harry Emil Mau” which was incorrect, and that he was actually Herman Emil Mau.  There was a clear reason as to why he enlisted under a contraction of his real name, but no clarification as to what had prompted the sudden desire to correct the score. 

Another aspect to Harry’s enlistment was his lack of a formal military background.  His time in camp was marked more by unit shuffling than a settled regime of drilling.  He was moved from the 7/11th to the 8/11th before finally being allotted to the 6th reinforcements to the 16th Infantry Battalion. 

After a bare two months of training, Harry embarked from Fremantle onboard the troopship Wandilla, a beautiful new steamship on loan from the Adelaide Steamship Company, on 25 June 1915.  

Now, I could continue the narrative of Harry Mau’s life, but he left us with something far more tangible – his own description of what happened next. 

‘…I left Broome, in the north-west of West Australia early in April, 1915, and reached Perth 10 days later, and went into camp at Blackboy Hill. We trained for eight weeks, and then left for Egypt with the 6th reinforcements of the 16th Battalion, on the 24th of June. [note the discrepancy in date]

We had an uneventful voyage of three weeks to Suez, and entrained there for Cairo. We stayed at the Zeitoun Camp for nine days, then went to Alexandria, and embarked for Gallipoli. arriving there exactly five weeks after leaving Fremantle. [Taken on Strength of the 16th Battalion on 30 July]

The first 'stunt' I took part in was the push we made on the left in connection with the Suvla Bay landing, on the night of 6th August [Lone Pine]. 

At daybreak next morning, by some mistake we were sent in between the Gourkas [Gurkhas] and New Zealanders; the error was discovered and most of the men were withdrawn, but about 60 of us were not recalled, and when we reached the top of the hill on front of 971 we found ourselves isolated on what was afterwards known at Curlewis's Post.  Here we had a lot of casualties. I was wounded [on 7 August, suffering a gunshot wound to the head].  A Turk jumped up behind a bush 50 yards off and he got in two shots before we could get him.

It was some hours before I could get away, and have my wound dressed [at the 4th Field Ambulance]. Then I went out to the beach [to the 16th Casualty Clearing Station], and in the early hours of the following morning out to a hospital ship, and on to Lemnos. We had about 1100 wounded aboard and as 160 walking cases were to get off at Mudros I and two comrades from the 16th got off there. We were sent to the 15th British Hospital; things were pretty rough, there being only a few orderlies and no nurses. We had to sleep in bell tents, no beds and the food was very much off; but we made the best of it. As there were plenty of vineyards, and the grapes were just ripening: we had plenty of fruit to make up for other shortages.

My wound did not prevent me from walking so I saw a good deal of the island of Lemnos, visiting many of the villages, the outstanding feature of each being a fine church (Orthodox Catholic).

On the hills were many small flocks of sheep, with bells tinkling, also some herds of cattle. The ploughing was done with primitive wooden ploughs, drawn by oxen, and the women used to sit on their door steps spinning wool and cotton.

[Interestingly, Harry did not mention being admitted to the 3rd General Hospital at Mudros on 26 September for treatment to synovitis of his knee.  Perhaps it seemed too trivial an incident, after all he was discharged just two days later.]

After five weeks my wound was healed, and I rejoined the battalion soon after, as the strength had been reduced to about 200, and we went to Lemnos to rest and reorganise [on 3 October]…

[A Mr Tom Evans, in Broome, received the following letter from Harry, which gives further expression to the soldier’s experiences –

'…I received a bullet wound in the head in the charge which we made on August 6 and was in the British hospital on this island for four weeks, but haw quite recovered and am with my battalion again. We have been cut up terribly and are now resting; when in form, and our numbers increase, I suppose we will go back to the front.  I have been promised a transfer to the engineers.  Kindly remember me to anyone enquiring…’]

We again went to Gallipoli towards the end of October, and our company (😎 occupied a position called Franklin's post, some distance away from the rest of the battalion. I then went on the permanent patrol.

In November the weather became very cold, with a lot of rain, and finally snow. We all suffered severely from the cold.

On the 30th November I was again wounded, a sniper shooting me through the left upper arm.  [He was admitted to the Hospital Ship Oxfordshire on 2 December.] I did not expect to be laid up long, but the wound turned septic, and I was 2½ months in hospital, first at Alexandria, in the 21st British [General Hospital at Ras-el-Tin], and then on to Heliopolis to the 1st Australian [at Luna Park, where he was admitted on 22 December 1915].

On leaving hospital I was sent to overseas details at Ghezireh, and camped right on the banks of the Nile. As it was the best time of the year to be Cairo I greatly enjoyed my 11 days there. It is the great residential suburb, and there are many fine houses, with beautiful gardens full of flowers.  Of course, I visited the pyramids of Gizah, the museum, mosque of Mahomed Ali, etc.

I then rejoined the battalion at Tel-el-Kebir. A few weeks afterwards the 4th Division Artillery was formed, and I joined the 112th Howitzer Battery as fitter [on 13 March 1916.  Intriguingly, once again, Harry did not mention another hospital admission – this time to the No4 Australian Auxiliary Hospital in Cairo on 24 March for a mild attack of mumps.  He was discharged just five days later, but did not rejoin his new unit until 30 April.]

We trained for a few weeks, and then went to Serapeum, on the Suez Canal. There we waited for the Turks to attack, but they did not come, so early in June we entrained, and left for Alexandria; there we embarked on the Elele for Marseilles, the passage occupying 10 days.

We arrived in France at the best time of the year, and we thoroughly appreciated its beauty after our long spell in the desert. The journey by train to Le Havre occupied 48 hours, and was most enjoyable, the days being exceptionally long, daybreak between 3 and 4 a.m. and not dark until nearly 11 p.m.

We passed through beautiful country, flowers everywhere, and the inhabitants cheering us on our way with plenty of cherries, strawberries, etc.

We stayed at Le Havre for three days, during which time we exchanged our horses for mules, and then went on another train journey of 24 hours to Cassell, from there to the village of Castrae by road; then into the line at Bois-Grenier, on the right of Armentieres. Here we stayed about five weeks, then went to Fleurbaix, and covered the 5th Division Infantry in their first action.

We then went for a spell of three weeks to a small village called Esquerdes, near St. Omer, and as we were the first Australians who had been there, had a good time. The country all around was beautiful, with the crops ready for harvesting. We volunteered to help gathering in the crops, but had to go to Ypres instead.

We went into action with three guns at St. Elvi, and one in Scottish Wood. Here I had charge of a gang of 10 men for seven weeks, building 5.9 shell-proof gun pits of steel and concrete. Scottish Wood had belonged to a beautiful chateau, which was in ruins. There were trees of all descriptions, but many were shattered.  Large walnut trees were in full bearing, with the nuts just ripe; also a thicket of hazel nuts; and hedges were full of blackberries, so we lived very well for a time.

Round the chateau was a moat, on which were plenty of moor hens. There were pheasants and partridges about.

The hardiest of the flowers were still blooming in what had once been a splendid garden.

Early in November we went to the Somme by rail. The weather was now very cold, and the 11 days' journey was not very pleasant, and we had snow occasionally. We went into action near Flers, with our waggon lines near Delville Wood. The country all around was in a terrible state of desolation, being completely covered with shell holes for many miles.

A couple of days before Christmas we pulled out for a spell, and in two days reached a small village called Wajnes [?], not far from Amiens. Here we stayed until the 10th of January, 1917, and then back to Flers.

On the way back I received my leave pass for England and caught the train at Albert, the journey to Le Havre taking 26 hours. It was dreadfully cold, and snowing heavily all the time. Our boat left at midnight, and we arrived at Southampton at 8 next morning, and London a couple of hours later.

I had managed to get a severe attack of dengue fever on the trip, and as my temperature had risen to 105 degrees, I was sent at once to King George's Hospital at Westminster, and they kept me there a fortnight. It is certainly the finest hospital that I have been in, having five floors and everything, including attendances of the best.

Every afternoon there were drives either to private residences or concert halls, and in the evening concerts either by amateurs or professionals from the various music halls. This was my last experience of military hospitals, for I have been neither wounded nor ill since, and I may say here that I have experienced nothing but the very best of care and attention from the various doctors and nurses with whom I have come in contact during my three years of service.

On leaving hospital, I stayed first for a few days in Bow Lane, at a hotel, which has been established over 120 years. I then went to Birmingham to see some friends, and met a gentleman from Dublin, with whom I returned to London by motor.

It snowed heavily the night before we left, and was freezing hard during our trip. We stayed at Rugby the first night, which was exceptionally cold, the thermometer registering 29 degrees of frost.

We arrived at Hampstead Heath next afternoon, just as thousands of people were enjoying themselves skating, snowballing, etc.  We left the car there and went on tothe city by "tube."

Although the weather was so cold, I never enjoyed a trip better, for you can see so much more of the country in motoring than if travelling by train. My leave being up, I returned to Le Havre. There I had to wait three days before I could get a train back to Albert, so had time to go to a concert given by the Life Guards.  Of course, it goes without saying that I went to as many theatres as possible whilst in England.

Arriving back in Albert, I had to set out to find the battery, which I managed  after three hours walking. Whilst I was away our brigade was broken up, and our battery was made mobile. I was sorry to find that Major Edwards and Lieut. Nagel (the latter has since been killed), had left us, because they were the best officers the 112th has ever had. So when we pulled out a couple of weeks later and went to Fréchencourt to wait for our new station.

I transferred to the 47th Battery, for doing which I was ever after pleased, because not only was Major Roberts-Thompson, the V.C., the finest officer I have ever come in contact with, but the officers (with one exception), the N.C.O.'s and men were as fine a combination as anyone could wish to meet.

About the middle of May, the weather being fine, the fruit trees in bloom, and flowers in the fields and woods, we entrained at Albert, and 12 hours afterwards arrived at Bailleul, and went into line for the Messines stunt. Here we had a pretty bad time with gas and H.E. for a couple of weeks before the push.

Then we went a few miles to Houplines, where we stayed a week, but did not shoot after the first night, for the Germans retired. It was now midsummer, the weather fine, and birds singing in the trees. We pulled out for a spell, and I went to the shops to repair our guns. Then we went by road to Nieuport, through nice country, with cherries, currants, etc, ripe.

When we arrived near the coast, the country became flat and uninteresting. It was impossible to dig gun pits for the water level was only two feet below the surface. So our guns were behind currant and gooseberry, hedges, with a piece of camouflage over the top. At times things were quite enough, but one day Fritz woke up and dropped about 230 5.9 shells on our battery in three hours.

We had no need to complain of dullness that day, but luckily most of us got away to a flank, and there were only a few casualties.

On the 1st of September we again went south. After a spell of one week on the way we went into action again at Ypres, and some of the batteries had a very bad time, but we were pretty lucky.

When we pulled out of this position I again went to the workshops. A couple of weeks later my pass came for my second leave to 'Blighty.' This time I went via Boulogne and Folkstone, and after a few days in London and Birmingham I went over to Dublin. There was snow on the Wicklow Mountains, but the weather was fine, and I enjoyed myself, visiting Phoenix Park, Guiness' Brewery, and other places of note.

Of course, I saw the damage done to buildings in Sackville Street during the rebellion.

Returning to France to the battery I found they were again in the line near Ypres, but shortly after we went into a reserve camp. The weather was now getting very cold, with occasional snow.

Three weeks later we took over a position at Holbecke, near Messines, where unfortunately our other fitter died of wounds, and there I spent my third Christmas. It snowed on Christmas Day, so we had the ideal weather and landscape for the occasion. The weather was very mild, during January, sometimes real spring weather, and continued so until 1st of February, when my pass for Australia came through and I left after saying good-bye to the lads with whom I had spent nearly three years of fairly exciting times.

This time I went to London via Calais and Dover. I received seven days' leave and went to Manchester and Birmingham, and when the leave was up, on to Weymouth, and three days after by train through very pretty country to Plymouth, and boarded the Llanstephan Castle. We sailed the following day, and reached Sierra Leone 11 days later.

We stayed there for eight days, and then went on to Cape Town, where we arrived in due course, and spent a most enjoyable four days there, the townspeople doing everything possible to make our stay pleasant. The train ride to Camps Bay is splendid; fruit was plentiful, and as the weather was fine we had a good time.

We left Cape Town on the 23rd March, and arrived at Fremantle after a good trip on the 9th inst., and stayed for 24 hours. Everyone was greatly delighted by the splendid reception given to us; trains, trams and picture shows were free, and far more refreshments available than it was possible to consume.

I had time to visit quite a number of my friends in Perth.  I have returned on account of my three motherless little children. I shall always look back with pleasure to the three years which I have spent fighting for my country. That there are many hardships, and also a lot of unnecessary regulations to comply with, it would be idle to deny, but I, for one, am willing to forget the unpleasant portions, and only remember those which gave pleasure.

I have visited many countries and met many people which I would not have done had I not enlisted and have made many friends. I think the man who for selfish or other reasons refuses to enlist will be very sorry for himself in after years, when the returned soldiers all get together and he is pushed aside.

I cannot conclude my experiences without a mention of Cadbury Bros.' works at Bourneville. There is no doubt that the interests of the employees are studied there down to the smallest details. Beautiful grounds, with gardens and lawns, playgrounds, swimming baths, etc., etc. The insides of the factories are scrupulously clean, and I saw 5000 fine looking girls at work, everyone of whom looked happy and contented.

I hope that this letter will help to show that a man can do his duty to his country, and at the same time derive a fair amount of enjoyment. — Yours, etc

Fitter H R MAU. 47th Battery A.F.A…’

This letter, which was written in April 1918, disclosed so much of the finer details of Harry’s experiences, and, although it was rather sanitised in regard to his time on the battlefield, it is far better than any interpretive writing that modern views could provide.  And we are indeed fortunate that he chose to put his own thoughts down on paper.

The story behind Harry’s early return to Australia, however, warrants further detail.  As he stated, his three daughters were a major factor in him looking to return home.  There were many other reasons that complicated his situation. 

On 1 September 1917, Harry wrote the following letter to the Officer Commanding the 47th Battery –

‘…I beg to apply to be allowed to return to Australia and to be discharged for the following reasons.  I am the proprietor of ice and cold storage works to be carried on for two years when leaving Australia.  This time expired last June and I have only been able to arrange by letter to have the works carried on until the end of December. 

I have three children (girls) the eldest is 7½ years of age, the second 5½ and the youngest 3½.  The best arrangements I could make when I enlisted, was to send the eldest child to Ballarat, Vic, the second to Greta, NSW, and the youngest to Melbourne, Vic.  This arrangement was all right at the time, but as they are now growing up it is only right that my three children should be in one place, otherwise they will grow up strangers to each other.  This matter I cannot possibly arrange unless I arrange unless I am there personally and permanently. 

My wife died one week after the youngest child was born and therefore the separation allowance (1/1½ for the three) does not pay for the keep of one child.  The result is that I am rising up my capital in order to support them and this I cannot well afford to continue doing…’

In October 1917, Harry then approached Major A. F. Roberts Thomson outlining his problems.  Major Thomson, as adjutant of the 12th Field Artillery Brigade, immediately wrote to Headquarters ‘strongly recommending’ that his request to return to Australia be granted.   He had also advised Harry to put his case forward in a letter.

‘…24 October 1917,  I respectfully beg for permission to return to Australia on leave for three months for the following reasons:- I am the proprietor of Ice and Cold Storage Works at Broome, WA, and my arrangements for carrying on the business terminates on the 31st of December of this year and I must make new arrangements.  My wife is dead and my sister whom I have appointed as guardian is not in good health and has written to me saying that it is imperative that I should make some new arrangement.  My father who is 82 years of age is in very bad health.  My military service includes five months on Gallipoli.  I have been twice wounded and both times returned direct to my unit from hospital.  Did not have any time at a Convalescent Camp.  I will be 44 years of age on the 1st of next December.  I have the honour to be, Yours, 2295 Fitter H. E. Mau…’ 

As time began to drag, the matter became more urgent and Harry tried another avenue of appeal.

‘…25 December 1917, Belgium.  Dear Major Shaw, Will you for old acquaintance sake kindly do me a favour.  Capt Sorenson told me HQ would cable to Australia re my leave or discharge and that a reply would be forthcoming within six weeks.  It is now just nine weeks since the cable was sent and I have heard nothing yet.  I would be very thankful if you will kindly mention it to him.  Two more Broomites have recently been killed in Lonegrove/Longrove (?) head stockman for Streeter – E. Wales and E. Withers.  Yours faithfully, H. E. Mau…’

Whilst the wheels appeared to be turning too slowly for Harry, they were indeed beginning to turn and there was no opposition to adhering to his request.  However, when Harry put his complaints in a letter written on 9 December 1917, it was duly noted by the censor.  On 12 January 1918, he was charged with the crime, that when On Active Service ‘conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline’ in that he in a letter…did criticise his superior officer contrary to the censorship regulations….’   For this error of judgement, Harry was admonished by the Commanding Officer of the 12th Field Artillery Brigade. 

His leave to return to Australia ‘for family reasons’ was finally granted on 18 January 1918.  Eleven days later he was transferred to England to begin the process of repatriation.   Harry boarded the SS Llanstephan Castle on 15 February to begin the voyage home. 

Usually, men were discharged in the State where they enlisted, but due to Harry’s three daughters all being on the east coast of Australia, he was granted a dispensation and transported through to Melbourne.  He received his discharge from the AIF on 30 April 1918. 


It is not known where Harry was when news of the end of the war was received on 11 November 1918.

Harry’s return to Australia saw him choose an entirely new direction for his life.  He appears to have quickly disposed of his ice storage works in Broome, and moved to live in Greta with his sister and her husband, Joseph Rowley, at their home in Wyndham Street.

Despite wanting to reunite his daughters, it seems that the Nellie remained with her uncle and aunt in Ballarat.  Guste and Kitty were to grow up in Greta, alongside their cousin, Herman Rowley. 

By 1922, Harry was working as a representative for the Wizard Lighting Systems of Sydney; he was living at the Bank Hotel, Dungog, during this time.


The death of his father, Peter, on 9 September 1925, brought to an end the first generation of the Mau family in Australia.  His reputation as a pioneer of cheese maker was the subject of a number of obituaries in multiple newspapers. 

Never one to sit back and watch life pass him by, Harry was soon manager of Art Papertone Limited, in Newcomen Street, Newcastle, providing a ‘revolutionary decorating process.’  It was the beginning of a new career that would see him gain government contracts for painting and repairs of public buildings such as the Waratah Drill Hall and the East Maitland Post Office (on behalf of Harry Draper & Company).

A double bereavement in April 1936, brought great sadness to the extended Mau family.  Harry’s brother, John (Johannes), died suddenly on 5 April 1936 – he was referred to as ‘loving father of Nellie,’ which indicated that the level of affection in which Harry’s eldest daughter was held. 

Tragically, just three days later on 8 April, Nellie died at a private hospital in Ballarat.  She was only 26-years-old.  Her death brought back the earlier tragedy of his wife’s loss and Harry made sure that her part in Nellie’s short life was not forgotten. 

When Guste married Frederick John Vine at St Mary’s Church of England in West Maitland on 12 April 1941, Harry once again had his late wife included in the announcement – and reiterated his still enduring connection to Broome in Western Australia. 

With Kitty having married John Vincent (Jack) Barrow in 1936, both of Harry’s surviving daughters were now happily married.

After what had been a life of incredible endeavour, prosperity and personal tragedy, Harry Mau died on 7 June 1951.  At this stage it is not known if Harry was living with or just visiting his daughter, Kitty, at her property at Bena in Gippsland.  His death, however, was registered at nearby Leongatha. 

Sadly, he was not reunited with his beloved wife, Kate, for burial.  Whilst Kate was buried in the Ballarat Old Cemetery, Harry was cremated at Springvale and his ashes interred there.

Read more...