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Category: 1914-1918

Fanny Isabel Ross 1866-1929

Fanny was born in Armidale, New South Wales on the 10 April 1866 the eldest daughter of six children born to Scotish immigrant James Ross 1835-1892 and his wife Isabella, nee Mitchellhill 1839-1918.
James Ross was well-known in Armidale in the early days, having at one time occupied a seat in the Borough Council, and also contested an election for the mayoralty. He was for some time manager of Mr. Jackes' store, and after leaving Armidale he proceeded to Grafton, where he opened a large haberdashery business known as London House.

It was in Armidale that Fanny met and married William George Seabrook. William was the 4th. of six children born to William Seabrook 1835-1889 of Armidale, a member of the building firm of Seabrook and Brown and his wife Fanny, nee Slade 1833-1893.

On the 21st. April 1891, James Ross turned on a splendid wedding for Fanny and William at his beautiful home "Rosslyn" in Alice street, Grafton. The following year, on the 5 December 1892 James Ross inexplicably committed suicide. Isabella died at Fanny and William's home Linden Court, Five Dock on the 10 October 1918.

Between 1892 and 1908, Fanny and William had eight children, one, a daughter dying in infancy.
1.George Ross Seabrook 1892 1917 m. Winifred Millicent Kean 1892-1916 in Sydney in 1913
2.Theo Lesley Seabrook 1893 1917
3.Beatrice Isabel Seabrook 1895 1896
4.William Keith F Seabrook 1896 1917
5.Florence May Seabrook 1901 1980 m Alfred Leonard Lalor 1897-1969 in Sydney in 1917
6.Eric James Seabrook 1902 1977 m. Janet Kay in Sydney in 1927
7.Edward Clarence Seabrook 1906 1964 m. Emily Barton in Sydney in 1934
8.Jean Isabel Seabrook 1908 1977 m. Arthur Thomas Sheen 1903-1954 in Sydney in 1925

Fanny lost her three eldest boys in 1917.

They were known as The Seabrook Brothers All three killed at Passchendaele in the course of just two days. The oldest was only 23 years of age and all were in the 17th. battalion of infantry. The three left Sydney on the same day.
The elder two of the brothers, Private George Ross Seabrook and Private Theo. Leslie Seabrook, were killed in action, on 20 September. The former was a master painter, well known around Petersham and Bankstown, Sydney suburbs and the latter was a fireman with the loco, works at Eveleigh, and well known in Armidale. The youngest of the three, Lieutenant William (Keith) Seabrook, was 21 years of age, and was engaged as a telephonist at Ashfield. He died of wounds on September 21. For 12 months prior to leaving for the front he was a lieutenant at Casula, Liverpool, and Cootamundra, and being too young to hold a commission, he went away as a sergeant, receiving his commission as second-lieutenant in France.

The photograph I have below, kindly submitted by the Cooper Family is of Fanny.
It was found in her son William's breast pocket, at the 10th casualty clearing station,
after he died,
The photograph shows the hole made by the fatal bullet


2 comment(s), latest 1 year, 1 month ago

S.S. Seang Choon 1891-1917

Built 1891 as a first class passenger ship, by Harland & Wolff, in Belfast for the Bibby Line and named the CHESHIRE and later used during the Boer War as a troopship. In 1910, the Cheshire was sold to Lim Chin Tsong, of Rangoon and renamed SEANG CHOON.

In 1915 the Seang Choon became a British army troopship, afterwards a hospital ship and took part in the Dardanelles campaign.

On the 10th July 1917, in Bantry Bay on the South Coast of Ireland, whilst on a voyage from Sydney to London, she was torpedoed and sunk by German submarine U-87.
Nineteen lives were lost.

On the 2 July 1915, two of the galley staff of the Seang Choon were at Fremantle on board the R.M.S. Malwa, passing through on their way to Sydney, where they expected to be called upon to prepare meals for more troops on the way to the front.
In conversation with a representative of the West Australian newspaper they told some of their experiences as non-combatants in the present struggle in Turkey.
This is their story:-

"To me the whole thing seemed magical. A huge transformation scene, or a tremendous drama, staged on the land and sea, with terrible guns roaring out realistic effects, and real wounded men, who went out in khaki, and returned in scarlet tunics, red with living blood! It was too realistic to be a dream, and yet too terrible to be true." Thus a cook off the transport Seang Choon, which had been engaged in performing emergency hospital work at the Dardanelles, described his reminiscences of a period of five weeks near Gallipoli.

"We went away from peaceful Australia early in the year with the 13th Battalion from Queensland, and after a calm, peaceful voyage. through the tropics by way of Torres Straits, Thursday Island, Colombo, and Aden, we found ourselves hurled into a whirlpool of struggling humanity; the opposing forces eager for each other's blood, and determined at all costs to wipe the other out, or be annihilated in the at tempt. And yet, amid all the pathos of strong men groaning in pain or falling dead in front of one, there was no lack of smiling faces, and those who seemed to be in most pain appeared to be filled with unlimited cheerfulness, and a desire for more fighting and more blood.

At times we laughed aloud and at other moments our eyes welled up with tears. Strong men cried to see the awfulness of man's inhumanity to man, and laughed when the practical joker told some story of the battlefield, that tasted of humour.
With shells falling in uncomfortable proximity to the ship, aeroplanes dropping bombs from above, and modern warships hurling tons of steel and lead into the lines and villages of the enemy, one was conscious of a paleness clouding one's face and of a desire for removal to a place of greater safety. We were anchored off the coast where the Australians landed, about two miles out. In front, on either side, were H.M.S. Triumph and H.M.S. Majestic. We had on board about 1,000 men of the 14th Battalion, and they were to be landed on the morning of April 26. On the previous evening, however, we commenced to take on board dozens of very seriously wounded men, who had been shot down during the first day's operations. The wounded were brought alongside in lighters and lifted on board on stretchers, hoisted by cranes. The next morning our reinforcements transhipped on to torpedo boats, and were taken close to the coast, where they were cast adhrift in smaller boats, and left to get on dry land as best they could.

The whole scene was bristling with incident. One fine young fellow, when saying good bye to me, said that it would be no South African picnic, but a glorious homecoming. He had been all through the South African campaign, and held the rank of quarter master-sergeant. That was at 4 a.m., and at 6.30 he was brought back by the torpedo boat, shot through the heart, without having landed.
On the night the wounded began to come aboard, all hands were kept busy preparing food and beef tea, which we handed down to the men in the lighters.

A strong north-easterly gale made the transference of the wounded a very difficult feat, and some time was required to successfully accomplish it. Most of the men suffered from shrapnel wounds, and those who fell dead were the victims of snipers. When day broke on the 26th we could see the operations on land quite distinctly, and it was a treat to see our fellows get into the fray. So heavy were the casualties and the loss of officers that our men simply took individual action, and each rushed ahead with a gleaming bayonet, regardless of his own safety or of united action. They simply saw red. Some of them got two miles inland before they looked round and found out that they were cut off from ammunition and reserves, and while a lot of them went down many ultimately regained the lines.

The Turks had been so well entrenched that they took some shifting but we have heard that the casualties were not so heavy as was anticipated in official circles.
On board our ship were a large number of army medical men, who did their best to relieve the pain and make the men comfortable until they arrived at Alexandria, which was 48 hours run from the scene of the fighting. We made three trips with wounded, and carried about 2000 men all told to the various hospitals. On each return trip we brought reinforcments, and there was a continual stream of ships doing similar business to ourselves.

There were numerous instances of bravery and courageous acts to be witnessed on all hands. One Australian chaplain declined to remain in safety, and rushed into the trenches, where they were captured, and there rendered first aid to our men. On one occasion he was trying to bring two wounded men, one on each of his arms, behind the lines when both were killed, although he himself was unharmed.

We heard of cases of Turkish treachery, but we saw none that we could vouch for. We can, however, testify to the consideration our Jack Tars showed toward the religion of the enemy.
The 'Majestic' and 'Triumph' were both engaged shelling two villages, and by the time they had thrown in about 300 rounds there was little left but the minarets, which were sacredly avoided and spaired destruction.

The Turkish papers made great capital out of an official declaration that the Turks had driven the Australians into the sea a statement, no doubt, which gained credence by reason of the Australians partaking of sea bathing along the shore.
Our fellows were really devils let loose, and they seemed to have no fear. Once into the firing line those chaps threw off their packs and went right into the enemy, and more than often got off scot free.

We had many experienoes on board. On one occasion an enemy aeroplane hovered over us and dropped three bombs, all fortunately finding a resting place on the sea floor. A gun from the Triumph, however, soon brought the aircraft down, and put it completely out of action. On another occasion a huge, shell, thought to have come from the Goeben, dropped into the sea about ten yards astern of our ship. and I can tell you we were all glad when we upanchored and made off for Alexandria. It was, as things turned out, a very fortunate thing that we left when we did, as some two hours after we sailed, the Triumph was torpedoed, and a little later the Majestic suffered a similar fate.

On one of our trips to Egypt we took 60 Turkish prisoners, including one officer, and a German and a Syrian officer. We did learn that there were to have been 260 Turks, but somehow or other only 60 survived to make the journey with us. Some of them could speak a little English and they told us that the Turkish soldier was not at all fond of the fighting business, and very often officers had to jump into the trenches and hit some of the men with sticks to prevent them from turning tail. On the same journey we had several Gurkha wounded, and on the first evening at sea one of the Indians crept out of his bunk, and, seizing a knife, stole up behind the bunk of a Turk who was wounded. The latter was only saved from a sudden death through the timely action of an attendant, who had missed his patient. Needless to say, after that the Turks were all removed to quarters further away from the Indians.

A remarkable feature of our work was the entire absence of complaints, for, although the wounded suffered considerable inconvenience through the makeshifts which were provided, all bore their misfortunes with remarkable fortitude. It was pitiable in the extreme to see strong fellows who had left the ship to enter the` firing line, full of hope and ambition, come back absolutely helpless.
One poor, chap was assisted on board our ship by another wounded comrade. The former had lost both eyes and he was endeavouring to undo his belt, when he exclaimed with perfect resignation. 'Good heavens, I've lost all my fingers too.

Another officer came aboard with a terrible gash on his face, and when someone sympathised with him he replied: 'I wish that were all lad, but there are, three more inside.'
It was interesting to hear the officers speak of their men. The affection between them was remarkable and the men came back from the firing line loving them. The young officers acquitted themselves splendidly and with remarkable heroism and bravery. "

NOTES
Seang Choon SS was a 5,708 g.t., 445.5ft x 49.1ft, twin screw passenger ship, speed 14 knots, accommodation for 100-1st class passengers.
The chaplain mentioned, I believe is Father John Fahey 1883-1959
whose letters I will publish at a later date.

source: The West Australian
nsw.bd&m
The Ships List
Australian War Memorial
Transcribed and written by janilye, 2013


The portrait below is of Wireless Operator Angus Bartlett Clarence McGregor, 1894-1917, the son of Aeneas McGregor 1865-1937 and Adelaide Louise, nee Bartlett 1868-1959, who was aboard the Seang Choon and drowned when it was torpedoed.