Meet Thelma Grace Bolton
It was today one-hundred years ago, Thelma Grace Bolton was a thirteen year-old girl in the care of her uncle and his family. Her uncle, Monday Bolton was a teacher at Amberley State School, where he, his wife Eleanor, their five boys, and niece Thelma resided.
I have no idea of every single thought that crossed Thelma’s mind this day in 1917, but I’m certain of one thing — Wednesday 25 April 1917 was for Thelma just another day that may have consisted of a minutes silence before returning to her school work. This is how uneventful ANZAC Day was in 1917.
ANZAC Day made its first appearance in 1916. These were humble beginnings for the now much supported commemoration. The 25 April 1917 edition of The Queensland Times, the Ipswich township’s newspaper, gives little recognition to ANZAC DAY. The only interesting article to appear in the newspaper that day regarded Arthur Balfour’s visit to Washington DC two days prior. The USA having entered The Great War three weeks earlier. Interesting because Balfour is one of the many lunatics in power who gave us the problems we have today. It would be another ten years before ANZAC Day became a national holiday, and a few years after that ANZAC Day became what we know it to be today.
Thelma Grace Bolton didn’t require the one-year-old ANZAC Day to remind her of the realities of war. Every single day she would have gone to bed praying her daddy is safe. Every single morning Thelma would have woken to pray her daddy is safe. Every single moment she had nothing else on her mind, Thelma thought about how much she missed her daddy.
What was ANZAC Day in 1916 and 1917 to Thelma? A chance to maybe console friends who lost their daddy’s? Or mummy’s? A reminder that it’s possible she might one day see her daddy’s name on The Great War Memorial Scroll?
Thelma Grace Bolton represents almost every Australian and New Zealand child who was old enough at the time to understand what was happening on this pretty ordinary day in 1917.
Like many of her peers, Thelma’s worst fear was soon to become reality. ANZAC Day 1918 — her daddy became just another name being commemorated with those immortal words — age shall not weary them.
Despite marrying for the second time in 1927, according to her daughter, who I met in 2011, Thelma Grace appeared always distant and sad. However, unknown to her daughter until 2011, her mum, she learnt, lost more than her daddy because of The Great War — she lost herself.
Samuel Horace Bolton
By all accounts Samuel Horace Bolton was not only athletic, he was a highly intelligent and gifted scholar. Born 7 March 1882, just outside Tenterfield, New South Wales, Australia, Samuel was the youngest of four. He attended the prestigious Ipswich Grammar School before joining the public service in 1900.
17 June 1903, Samuel Horace married Ethel May Grace at Mona Cottage, Nicholas Street, Ipswich. Mona Cottage was the residence of Charlotte Grace (nee Cook). Charlotte was not only Ethel’s step-mother, she was also her aunt.
Ethel May Grace was born 20 November 1884. Her father, William Grace was publican of the Caledonian Hotel, Ipswich. Ethel’s mother is Mary Ann Grace (nee Cook). Longevity of life did not go to plan for Ethel’s parents, nor Ethel herself. Mary Ann was the first to depart — she died 13 August 1889 following a three year battle with Bright’s Disease.
The following year, widower William Grace married Mary Ann’s sister, Charlotte and it appears Charlotte became a very important person in young Ethel’s life. Then in 1893 her dad fell ill and died one year later suffering Pyloric Obstruction.
If you find yourself in the Caledonian Hotel at anytime, you might feel the spirits of William and Mary Ann. They both died at the pub. Mind you, I can think of at least two more spirits who might be wandering around the pub. William and Mary Ann are buried together at Ipswich Cemetery.
Following Thelma Grace Bolton’s birth in Brisbane, 7 January 1904, Samuel, Ethel and Thelma made home at Ivory Street Fortitude Valley — until around 1912. It’s at about this time that Ethel was diagnosed with a heart problem. Samuel possibly gave up his work with the government because he moved his family to Rosewood near Ipswich. To be close to Charlotte?
Within twelve months Samuel, Ethel, Thelma and Charlotte moved to Toowoomba. It was 20 November 1914, and on her thirtieth birthday, Ethel died at the family home, Clyde Villa, Herries Street, Toowoomba. Cause of Death: Valvular Heart Disease. Ethel lays in an unmarked grave at Drayton Cemetery, Toowoomba.
Trying to ascertain emotions through official records is unreliable. It becomes guess work. However, following Ethel’s death, Samuel, along with Thelma moved back to Brisbane where he took a job as a Carter. They resided at Cross Street, Kelvin Grove. On the 18 February 1916, aged thirty three years and eleven months, Samuel Horace, perhaps grief stricken took a wander to his recruiting office and joined the war. The biggest blunder he would ever make — and for so many reasons.
According to the witness statement of Private Willett (25th Battalion), Private Samuel Horace Bolton, a well liked, tall and stout man was killed instantly on or about 6 October 1917. It was ANZAC Ridge on the Ypres sector that Bolton took a direct hit. Five were wounded. Private Willett adds that they were in close support on the front line and in the trenches. What remained of Bolton is said to have been buried near where he died. He is remembered at Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial and The Australian War Memorial.
1918 – 1927
2 August 1918, Thelma Grace Bolton, not much beyond the age of fourteen years-old married Howard Palmer Bolton, son of Thelma’s uncle Monday. Three months later, the married couple (and cousins) happily, or unhappily welcomed their daughter, Thora Joan into the world.
Nobody knows what became of Thora Joan. Was she adopted by a family member and raised as their own? Adopted to a random family? Whisked off to an orphanage? Sent to a home for children born with birth defects? All very possible.
It will be fair to reach the conclusion the pregnancy and marriage is not what Howard desired. Certainly not what Monday would have wanted! Maybe not what Thelma wanted either — but desired or not the marriage and birth went ahead. This must have been so very messy at the time.
Monday Bolton, by 1918 was a highly respected teacher and a highly respected member of his community. Having his seventeen year-old son become the father of both his grandchild and great-niece must have been horrible. That his niece also became his fourteen year-old daughter-in-law, all whilst in his care because his brother, now a war hero, gave up his life in battle…it makes ones head spin at the thought.
Four days following the birth of Thora Joan, The Great War ended. The entire last four years must have made no sense to any of them.
At about the same time, Thelma’s step-grandmother, Charlotte, (also her grand-aunt) was placed into care at the Dunwich Benevolent Asylum, Stradbroke Island, Australia. Suffering severe dementia, Charlotte will have died a lonely and miserable death on 8 February 1920. Quite possibly Thelma’s last link to a welcoming family member.
The situation didn’t improve for any of the Bolton family. In 1925, a frustrated Thelma Grace Bolton put herself to the mercy of the courts and filed for a divorce, citing abandonment by her husband. One can only imagine the courage it took for the twenty-one-year-old girl to take this on in those days. She had courage beyond her years — but possibly Thelma no longer cared.
The court saw Thelma’s point and the decree-nisi was granted. Both Thelma and Howard were able to move on, re-marry and lead new lives. Howard though came out of this mess better than Thelma.
During my 2011 meeting with Thelma’s daughter, I was told that her dad had confided with her some things about her mother. When Thelma and Charles married, the only possession Thelma had was the dress she stood in. From all accounts, Thelma had nothing again to do with the Bolton’s, she was removed from the Bolton family narrative — as it appears was Samuel Horace.
I only stumbled upon the existence of these family members during family research in 2011. Nobody else in the Bolton family can give me any certainty as to their knowledge of them. My father I’m sure would have spoken all of the time about Samuel because my father believed in the warrior. Never once did I hear him mention Samuel Horace Bolton. There might be a reason he didn’t but I’m not positive he knew of his great-uncle.
We won! Didn’t we?
Not every single person who lost a loved one during The Great War has this kind of bizarre story but one thing is indisputable, the ordinary person never wins because of war. Aside from the stories of great glory and victory, and some basic benefits, which are manufactured because of ‘victory’, all sides pay mostly the same price. Win or lose at the final siren marking the ceasefire, no one actually comes out a victor from war except those that make the big profits. This is why we keep having them. To make a few people more powerful and more wealthy. We don’t matter, and for some stupid reason we bow down to them.
All wars gives us ‘heroes’ — and all heroes are pawns and victims. We rightly remember them as heroes because they knowingly gave up their lives, or willingly risked their lives — but we don’t acknowledge their victimisation. Theirs, their family’s and all of the innocent people caught in the cross-fires of battle. We only remember the warriors and their bravery.
….if Samuel Horace knew what was going to happen to his daughter, his nephew, his brother and his family would he have signed up? If Samuel Horace knew that The Great War (Hot and Cold) was still being fought one hundred years later, would he have signed up?
If Samuel Horace knew about the Balfour Declaration and Britains deal with the grubby Zionist Rothschild, and if he knew of Sykes/Picot too? If Samuel Horace was given an insight to The Treaty of Versailles would he have signed up?
If Samuel Horace knew American industrialists were going to immediately set into action a plan to finance the future Nazi Party in order to sell war equipment to Hitler and his war machine — as well as sell to their ‘own war machine’ and its allies war machines’ — would he have signed up?
Would Samuel Horace have signed up knowing that the fight he was conned into believing was just — that it will become the ‘legal’ murders of hundreds upon hundreds of millions, maybe even a billion or more innocent people?
Would Samuel Horace have risked his own life, his daughters happiness, his family’s bond, plus all of the above reasons if he knew it all started because Leopold Loyka turned right instead of left?
My guess is that if Samuel Horace Bolton knew all of the outcomes — he’d have said to his King and country, ‘If I’m doing all of this so you can send my children, my grand-children and my great-grandchildren back to this hell, you can stick it up your arse, mate — my daughter needs me now’. But he wasn’t told.
I believe if armed with crystal balls, all soldiers from all involved countries would have told their leaders to shove it!
So yeah, Lest We Forget. But let’s not waste their sacrifices — let’s not waste the sacrifices of every Samuel and every Thelma all over the world. We the people possess the power and if we don’t put a stop to adding more names to the Lest We Forget list, there’s going to be no one around to remember to not forget. If that happens then we have betrayed them all!!!!!
Lest We Forget!
Dedicated to my hero — one hell of a gutsy lady — Thelma Grace Bolton. RIP
Also dedicated to Samuel Horace Bolton and all of those who died and suffered
You all matter