TroveTuesday – Frederick Arthur Roberts, Driver

Where or when my grandfather, Frederick Arthur Roberts, learned to drive is a mystery to me, but drive he did, both during and after World War 1. The first record I can find is from 12th February 1916 when he enlisted in the AIF as a Motor Driver.

Perhaps he was the driver for bread deliveries or supplies when his father moved the family from their 10-acre selections on the “Olinda hill” in 1910 and built a bakery in Monbulk? This seems very unlikely to me on two grounds: affordability and the likely state of the roads in Monbulk at the time!

Fred served as a driver in France in the 3rd Australian Ammunition Sub-Park till early in 1918 when he was transferred to the 3rd Australian Divisional Mechanical Transport Company. His Service Record gives few personal details of his experiences during the war: two weeks leave in February 1918 and the “crime” of driving a lorry at excessive speed in June of that year – deprived of 3 day’s pay!

Drivers were obviously needed to move people and supplies for some time after the War was over, so his return was delayed till the end of 1919, six months after his anxious mother had written asking whether the F. A. Roberts returning home at that time was her son. It obviously wasn’t!

After returning to Australia, Fred presumably spent some time with his family. I have heard that he also spent some time in Queensland, cutting sugar cane. For how long, I have no idea. Perhaps it was to earn sufficient money to buy a car? In any case, it appears that he was back in Monbulk in possession of a brand new car during October 1922, when The Argus reported on this mishap:

Report of Fred Roberts' car accident in 1922
COUNTRY NEWS. (1922, October 28). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 25. Retrieved December 20, 2015, from
"MONBULK - Mr. F. Roberts, of Monbulk, was driving a new motor car from Monbulk to Ferntree Gully across Zercho's bridge at Upwey on Wednesday night when the car struck the side rails of the bridge. But that the rails are strong and withstood the shock of the impact, the car must have fallen over the embankment into the gully below. The front of the car was considerably damaged. Mr Roberts escaped injury."

I have not been able to find any reference to Zercho’s bridge but, from the description in the article, assume it must have been the one pictured below where the old Main Road crossed the railway line before turning left and down the hill towards Ferntree Gully. The present Burwood Highway bypasses Upwey township on the far side of the railway line, the section going down towards Ferntree Gully often being referred to as the “mad mile”.

This might be Zercho's bridge where Fred Roberts had a car accident in 1922
THE BRIDGE LOOKING EAST, UPWEY, VIC.; Rose Stereograph Co; c1920-1954

Car accidents are a great shock and bother today, but at least, most of the expense of repairs is covered by our insurance. I have no idea if there was such a thing as car insurance in 1922. Having what must have been a very expensive car at the time being damaged would have been a great disappointment. The added expense of repairs would have been quite a burden I suspect.

Next post: Fred Roberts – Car for Hire



52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Accepting the Challenge

I have decided to take up the challenge of writing blog posts about “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” that was proposed by Amy Johnson Crow on her No Story Too Small blog a few days ago.


“The challenge: have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor.”

I will start with as many of my family ‘Boat People’ (ancestors who emigrated from England to Australia in the 19th Century) as I can find information about Continue reading “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Accepting the Challenge”

Accentuate the Positive 2013 Geneameme

Here are my responses to the end of year challenge posted by Jill Ball (GeniAus)

An elusive ancestor I found a snippet about was my great grandfather Arthur William ROBERTS. I never met him as he died before my mother was born. Details about his early life are undeniably hard to find/hard to pin down so he certainly fits the definition of ‘elusive’. Last year I managed to find his address in London just before he married Ellen Louisa BENNETT and they emigrated to Australia in 1889. This year I searched through land selection files at PROV and found many details about Arthur and Ellen and their family’s housing and farming activities as very early settlers in Monbulk, Victoria. Unfortunately there were no clues about his date and place of birth. Continue reading “Accentuate the Positive 2013 Geneameme”