Thomas, Alfred and Arthur Mudge
Thomas, Alfred and Arthur Mudge

The Mudge family of soldiers

Thomas, Alfred and Arthur Mudge
Thomas, Alfred and Arthur Mudge

MANY families sent several members to fight in the First World War. Sometimes brothers enlisted together and went off to fight in the same battalion.

With casualties mounting this was later discouraged, although many brothers preferred to stay together and perhaps look after each other.

They had to contend with much more than fighting the enemy.

There was the mud and slush caused by heavy rain and the fact that many of the battlefields had been farmlands, already ploughed for planting. This caused not only discomfort but all the complaints one can get through living continually in wet clothing, such as trench foot, rheumatic fever and pneumonia.

Many of the young men had not previously been exposed to childhood illnesses, so there were countless cases of such complaints as measles and mumps. Some died or had to be invalided out as a result of these complaints.

Enlisting soldiers often had parents who had come from the British Isles and so there were strong feelings of "fighting for King and country".

Others were recent immigrants to Australia and so had even stronger ties to family back home.

One family that had close ties with England had settled in the Ulladulla/Milton area but later moved to the Richmond and Tweed. This was the family of John Mudge who had led his four adult sons, Nicholas, John Jr, Thomas and Robert from their native Devon to Australia in 1859.

John's wife, Elizabeth (nee Ryder) had died in England earlier that year.

Shortly after arriving in Australia he bought land at Ulladulla and continued his occupation of farmer and carpenter. In 1861 he married Rachel Hamon and they had another son, William Hamon Mudge.

Nicholas, John Jr, and Thomas appear to have stayed in the Ulladulla area but Robert came to the North Coast and bought farmland near Bangalow.

He had married Elizabeth Windley in 1870 but did not move his family until the early 1900s.

There were several sons and at least three, Alfred, Arthur and Thomas William, fought in the First World War. Alfred had been interested in music and was a bugler when he enlisted. He was the youngest member of the family, having been born in 1890.

Arthur had been born in 1880 but Thomas William, the eldest of the family, had decided to put his age back before he enlisted. He was born in 1872 and was really 43 when he enlisted in 1915.

All members of the Mudge family returned home after the war. This included two members of the next generation. Francis Robert Mudge was Thomas William's son and he was only 17 when he enlisted, although he gave his age as 23 at the time. He became a lieutenant and later enlisted in the Second World War. His correct date of birth is given on the later enlistment sheet as 1897. He lived at Dungay on the Tweed.

Horace Lyel Mudge was Thomas William's nephew, the son of Robert Charles Mudge who had settled at Federal.

Horace lived at Clunes when he enlisted and, like the other members of the Mudge family, he returned home after the war. Unlike the others, however, he had been a machine gunner.

Many families were not as lucky as the Mudge family, and at least one son was usually killed or badly injured.

No doubt the Mudge soldiers all suffered from some after-effects of the war, especially if they had experienced mustard gas, but at least all returned home.

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