Guest post – Arthur Richard Moresby Treherne

At the start of 2021, David Parry contacted me to say that he had an autograph book which featured the signature of Phyllis Norman Parker. He very kindly sent me a photo of her autograph, and then mentioned that he had researched the stories of several people that featured in that book. When he sent me the story of Arthur “Richard” Treherne – it blew me away!! Both David and I feel very strongly that we cannot allow the social history within these photos and autographs to fade away without being recorded so David has generously allowed me to share Richard’s story here.

When you come from a long line of notable naval and military officers and your parent’s have grand plans for you to follow in that line; when you have no desire to pursue that career path, what’s a boy to do?  High-tail it to Australia, of course!  Well, Richard Treherne did exactly that.

Born at Windsor within a stone’s throw of the famous castle, Arthur Richard Moresby Treherne was the only child of Reverend Charles Albert Treherne and Mabel Louise Campbell Dodd.  The date was 13 April, and the year was 1888, in the 51st year of the reign of Queen Victoria.   By this time “the Widow of Windsor” had re-engaged in her public office after the untimely death of her husband, Prince Albert. 

At this time, Charles Treherne was one of the junior clergy at St George’s Chapel, so as Richard grew he would have become very familiar with the comings and goings of the Royal Family.  As childhoods go, this was quite exceptional.
Richard served with the local Windsor volunteers as a young lad, and he then tried to please his parents by joining the Royal Navy as a midshipman on 15 September 1902. 

However, when his time expired, Richard was completely sure he did not want to enter into a full-time naval career.  This apparently did not please his parents. 

From an early stage, Richard had showed a great aptitude for music.  He enjoyed the opportunity of singing as a chorister with the choir of St George’s Chapel for several years.  His voice developed into a fine baritone with age and his ability was so outstanding that he was accepted as a student in the Royal Academy of Music.  During the course, Richard was to win both silver and bronze medals for his singing at the Academy.  He appeared in numerous productions gathering plaudits from the teachers, critics and audiences.

After graduating, Richard’s parents insisted that he settle into a suitable military career and pushed fervently for the Royal Navy. 

The family background was particularly rich and proud.  It was said that Richard Treherne was a direct descendent of the Duke of Agincourt, and his great-uncle was Admiral John Moresby, who had planted the British flag on New Guinea, before surveying the island.  Port Moresby is, of course, named after the admiral – and Richard was named in his honour. 

Now, parents often want what they believe is best for their children.  There is no doubt that Richard resented this and felt there was only one alternative: he removed himself from the situation. 

On 21 October 1911, Richard boarded the steamship Gothic in London and left for Australia. 

When he arrived in Ballarat in early 1912, Richard took a position as a ticket inspector with the Ballarat Tramways.  But it wasn’t long before he established his own vocal academy at the Camp Hill Chambers in Sturt Street, next to the State Savings Bank.  He also quickly began to forge a reputation as a particularly fine musician within the musical circles of his new home.  

A concert performance held at the Ballarat Mechanics on 13 November 1913 received glowing reviews…

‘…MR R. MORESBY TREHERNE’S CONCERT.
A DISTINCT SUCCESS.

The invitation concert given by Mr R. Moresby Treherne (certified medallist R.A.M. London), at the Mechanics’ Institute last evening was an unqualified success. Though the atmospheric elements were; altogether unfavourable, there was a capital attendance, and the programme presented was, for an amateur concert, of the most excellent character. 

Mr Treherne has won golden opinions from Ballarat audiences, but there is no doubt that his contributions last evening will more firmly establish himself in the hearts of the music loving public of Ballarat. Mr Treherne has a cultured voice, and a pleasing platform style; his rendition of “The Pagan (Lohr) was a fine piece of artistry, and called forth the loud plaudits of the listeners. As an encore he gave “The Bellringers’’ with fine verve and spirit. The [recitative] and aria, “Thus Saith the Lord,” and “But Who May Abide” (Handel) were beautifully interpreted. Mr Treherne also sang “The Rosary” (Kevin) with consummate skill and taste…’

Amongst his supporting artists, was renowned cornet soloist, Percy Code, the bandmaster of the Ballarat City Band.  His performance of “Good-bye” by F. Paolo Tosti, showed that Code was in brilliant form. 

Music was not the only aspect of the Ballarat community that Richard Treherne became involved with – he also became active with the Ballarat Anglers’ Club.  This was all part of the beginnings of a new life. 

Then the world went to war.

According to reports, Richard was ‘…the first in Ballarat to volunteer, offering his services at the drill hall before it was known there that war had actually been declared…’  Officially, he was recorded as enlisting at Ballarat on 17 August 1914.  It seems that, although he had chosen to avoid a career at sea, when war threatened, Richard was determined to be numbered amongst the AIF.  He did name his father, who was now vicar of All Saints in Hereford, as his next-of-kin, indicating that any rift had not been at all deep.

After being medically examined by Captain-Doctor Arthur Langley, Richard’s basic physical description was recorded as follows:  he was 5-feet 5¾-inches tall, weighed 10-stone, and could expand his chest to 36½-inches.  His distinguishing features – a medium complexion, grey eyes and brown hair – were enhanced by the typical tattoos one associates with someone who has spent time in the navy.  He had tattoos on both arms, including a dragon on his left forearm. 

When Richard signed his Attestation Papers, it was with a fabulous flourish. 

Having passed successfully as a recruit, Richard was posted to A Company of Ballarat’s 8th Infantry Battalion under the command of Colonel William K. Bolton.    With his high standard of musical education, it was almost inevitable that Richard’s talents would be put to good use.  Shortly after going into camp, he was named as bandmaster of the battalion band. 

On enlistment, Richard was immediately promoted to the rank of corporal.  During the early stages of the voyage to Egypt, he received further promotion to the rank of lance-sergeant. The battalion had embarked with the First Contingent of the AIF on 19 October, sailing onboard the troopship Benalla.

The delights of Egypt had begun to wear distinctly thin by the time the Australians finally embarked for the Dardanelles.  On 5 April, Richard and other members of the 8th Battalion boarded the transport Clan MacGillivray to head for the new front. 

Before the planned assault on the Gallipoli Peninsula, the contingent stopped to regroup at Mudros Harbour on the island of Lemnos.  During the stopover, a fortuitous event was said to have occurred.

‘…[Captain] Joe Catron had been given the task of organising the packing of stores and equipment for the embarkation.  Among the non-essential items that should have been left behind in Egypt were the band instruments, but Catron had overlooked them.  But whilst at Mudros, he found the instruments and handed them over to Sergeant Dickie Treherne, a music teacher from Ballarat, who was in charge of the band. 

The entertainment provided by the band helped to while away the time spent at anchor, but the sudden burst of music from the band, whose instruments were supposed to be in storage in Egypt, led to a vigorous reaction from Colonel Bolton.  Catron took the initial blast of the CO’s admonishment.  “What Colonel Bolton said to me when he first heard the band strike up is not worth printing, but he ended with a big wink and he ‘shouted’ typical of his great heart.”…’

Unexpected light relief whilst the men were no doubt in a state of heightened anxiety waiting for the proposed attack, was perhaps the best thing that could have happened. 

At dawn on 25 April 1915, the 8th Battalion – including the band members – landed at ANZAC Cove.   Conditions were not what the men expected, and the enemy had been well warned of the coming attack, so casualties, perforce, were high.  But Richard made it successfully through the Landing and the ensuing days of fighting.  However, during the 8th Battalion advance at Cape Helles on 8 May, he managed to “sprain” his ankle whilst stretcher-bearing.  The damage was obviously far worse than at first thought, and, after being evacuated to Malta on the hospital ship Braemar Castle, he was hospitalised for several months.  He was eventually returned to Egypt on 26 September.    

After the evacuation from Gallipoli, the troops were repatriated back to Egypt.  When Edward, Prince of Wales, arrived in Egypt in March 1916, the band of the 8th Battalion was given the honour of playing for part of his visit.  Apparently, the band’s reputation was garnering a deal of favourable attention, and the Prince was said to have been very impressed.  I couldn’t help but wonder if, given their many chances to cross paths as boys, Prince Edward remembered the former chorister who was now a bandmaster…

On 31 May 1916, Richard boarded the transport Huntsgreen and sailed from Alexandria to Plymouth.  The trip took twelve long days through the most dangerous of waters.  Arriving back home in England must have brought both a sense of relief and pleasure at seeing his family once more.  There was, unfortunately, no explanation as to why he travelled to England when the battalion was on its way to France.

Richard spent the next twelve months in camp at Durrington with the 2nd Training Battalion.  He finally re-joined the 8th Battalion on 29 June 1917, in billets on the edge of the River Bresle.  By this time, the 8th had been through several major battles and were preparing for the Third Battle of Ypres – a series of battles that ultimately change the face of the treacherous Salient completely. 

Through the later days of September, as the battalion pushed through with the Battle of Menin Road – first of the series of bite-and-hold battles – Richard Treherne, along with other band members, performed the dangerous task of stretcher-bearing.  With 219 casualties, the work was ceaseless and they were constantly exposed to the enemy gunners.

In the early hours of 4 October 1917, the divisions of both I and II ANZAC advanced into position for the beginning of the Battle of Broodseinde Ridge.   The 8th Battalion, at ANZAC Ridge, moved forward to their tape immediately to the rear of the frontline.  Once they were in position the men had to wait for the scheduled jumping-off time…

‘…This was really one of the severest tests of the operations, as for half an hour the troops had to remain perfectly quiet, practically without cover, and endure extremely heavy shelling…’

Despite very heavy casualties, the men of the 8th held their ground. 

Zero hour was 0600, and with the commencement of the Allied bombardment, the 8th moved off ‘in grand style.’

Throughout the day, the men kept successfully pushing forward – attacking and taking well-defended enemy pillboxes and over-running their improved shell holes.  When they met with stubborn resistance, they countered with machine-guns and Mills bombs. 

The battle itself was deemed a great success, but the casualties were very high.  Enemy shelling had been particularly fierce all day and accounted for a large number of the killed and wounded.  Amongst the wounded was Richard Treherne.   At some point during the advance, he was caught by a shell blast and had his right arm completely blown off.  He was immediately carried from the field and admitted to the 3rd Australian Field Ambulance, before being transferred to the 10th Casualty Clearing Station.  Clearly, the young musician would have been in severe shock, but the most important treatment at that stage, other than restricting blood loss, would have been the vital anti-tetanus vaccination.  Richard was then evacuated to the 2nd Canadian General Hospital at Le Treport, where he was admitted on 8 October.

Once the wound had been completely cleaned up and the patient stabilised, he was moved to the hospital ship Carisbrook Castle and sailed for England on 29 October.  He was admitted to the 5th London General Hospital the following day. 

On 14 December, Richard was transferred to the 2nd Australian Auxiliary Hospital, Southall.  It was clear that for this particular soldier, the war was over.  And, other than a couple of minor absent without leave indiscretions that marred his impeccable record, it was only a matter of time before he would be discharged from the AIF.

Usually, Richard Treherne would have been readied for the next available transport back to Australia, but in his case the discharge was carried out in the United Kingdom.  On 19 April 1918, due to being medically unfit, Richard was discharged from the AIF, and he returned to his family.   Sadly, that meant his many friends back in Ballarat possibly never heard what had become of the young baritone who had brought such joy to their lives. 

Whilst he was living in Hereford, Richard joined the United Grand Lodge of England Freemasons on 20 February 1919.  On his membership, he stated that he was a music teacher, which appeared to indicate that he had returned to his pre-war occupation.  However, when his parents moved to Cornwall for his father to take over as vicar of Tintagel just a year later, Richard transferred his membership to the Dunheved Lodge in the town, and stated that he had no occupation. 

Immediately following the move to Tintagel, Richard married Winifred Joan Glasscock at nearby Camelford, in 1920.  Their only child, Christopher Edmund Moresby Treherne was born there on 28 March the following year. 

Sadly, the marriage did not last.  Winifred and Christopher removed to Louth in Lincolnshire, whilst Richard went on to live in various areas of London. 

In the latter years of the 1940’s, Richard moved into rooms at 27 West Kensington Mansions in London’s west.  He died at Fulham hospital, London, on 29 March 1952.  The wonderful music career that had promised so much had seemingly disappeared with the single blast of a German shell.  He was not, however, forgotten by the people of Ballarat, who planted tree No12 in the Avenue of Honour in his memory.  Miss Annie Thornton, one of the renowned Lucas Girls, was responsible for planting the elm that would bear his name.

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