This blog was posted on the 6th of January but it did not get past my immediate friends and followers because the attached poster was deemed an inadmissible advertisement. Which we all know it wasn’t. However I have deleted the offending picture and replaced it as I really wanted this blog to go further afield.
When we were in Ballarat on the 12th December last, Doug found an old Parks Victoria poster which had been discarded. It referred to a gold mining disaster at the New Australasian Mine in Creswick (19km from Ballarat) which had taken place 133 years ago to the day. In July I blogged about a gold mining disaster which I had great difficulty documenting. This time I will quote from the actual documentation.
“New Australasian Mine – Site of Australia’s most tragic underground mining accident. Without warning on the 12th December 1882 water began flooding the number 2 drive trapping 29 miners deep below. As the water rose higher, the miners scratched messages to their families on billycans and sang the hymn ‘In the sweet bye and bye’. 22 Miners died in the tragedy leaving behind 17 Widows and 67 children.”
At the Ex Prisoner of War memorial in Ballarat there is a monument to the Japanese Auxiliary ship Montevideo Maru which was torpedoed carrying a total of 1054 prisoners of war: 667 Allied soldiers 178 NCO’s from the 2/22 Battalion and 209 civilians. They had been embarked after the fall of Rabaul and the Japanese had not marked the ship as carrying POW’s. It was sunk by the American Submarine USS Sturgeon just off the northern Philippine coast. The Montevideo Maru took only eleven minutes to sink and is considered the worst maritime disaster in Australia’s history.
The passengers included the regimental band of the 2/22 battalion which comprised mostly of Salvation Army Bandsmen. A Japanese eyewitness reported (and I quote) “there were more POWs in the water than crew members. The POWs …. were in groups of 20 – 30 probably 100 in all and they were singing songs.”
As the Titanic sank into the sea it is recorded that the Band played ‘Nearer my God to thee’. How remarkable that as their life is cut short by tragedy these men sang with confidence about the goodness of God and their hope of eternity. Makes you think!
The view nearby where Doug found the poster