Uncle Mike is my Polish grandfather. He married my grandmother just before my parents were married so he is actually a step grandfather but we always called him Uncle Mike.
I have written about Uncle Mike and his life in Poland, his war life in WWII and his early life in Tasmania.
But this post on Remembrance Day is to think about Uncle Mike and how proud he was to take part in the ANZAC day marches in Hobart. Once he lead the group with his Polish flag, but generally he was just part of the group marching.
After the march was over, Mike and his friends would go back to the Polish Club to celebrate with family and friends.
There is a very strong Polish diaspora here in Hobart. They began their Polish Association in 1950 with the migrants who had come to Tasmania in 1947-1948 after the war in Europe. Mum and I also found out about the Polish Scouting group at one of the Guiding camps they attended in the 1980s.
Readers: Who did you think about on Remembrance Day?
Irene was born 23 July 1909 on Bruny Island as the eldest child of Edward Robert Smith and Irene Ellen Somers or Clark. Through DNA testing, it has been proved that her father was actually a son of Alexander and Hannah Dawson nee Sutton who lived in Queenstown, Tasmania.
Irene had 14 younger siblings born between 1910 and 1931. The family mainly lived in Hobart, Tasmania but from 1918-1921 spent some time in Scottsdale, Tasmania where her father was a sawyer.
In early 1932, Irene became pregnant and married William Alan Wyatt on 11 April, later giving birth to her only child Robert Wyatt in November 1932. By late 1934, William (whose first Tasmanian wife had died in September 1931) had deserted Irene and baby Robert, and headed to unknown destination (later found in NSW married for a fourth time).
Irene worked as a cleaner and general housemaid at Heathorns Hotel then later the Albion Hotel. This involved living on the premises, so Robert was looked after by a foster mother for most of the time, Mrs Avery in Goulburn Street, Hobart. Irene did not have much furniture in her little room but there was a small carved black table that is now owned by Robert (Bob). She also had an Hawaiian steel guitar under her bed and many songbooks that she collected throughout the war years.
It was while working at Heathorns that Irene met Ernie Bond who lived in a home in the Rasselas Valley near Adamsfield. Irene wrote a diary about her trip on horseback along the track to Adamsfield. This diary is held by her son Bob.
Irene sought a dissolution of her marriage in 1945 due to desertion. A decree nisi was granted on 21 March 1945. A decree absolute was granted in October 1945.
In 1954, Irene married a second time to a Polish immigrant Mikolaj Hrydziuszko, who had arrived in Australia in 1948 after World War II.
Irene and Mike travelled to Japan on a cruise returning with lots of little mementoes. They are buried together at the cemetery in Pontville, Tasmania where many Polish graves can be found.
Memories of Irene
These are from her son Bob (B) and grand daughter Suzanne
Always well dressed and usually wore her hair up high in a bouffant style
Loved going for walks around Hobart
Kept her house immaculately clean and smelling fresh
Went downhill quickly once her blindness stopped her walking everywhere
Took lots of photos of her with her sister Madeline and her children – have her photo album with these
Was concerned about her brother Jack or Bomber as we knew him – he sent occasional letters or postcards often censored by the army (B)
She was a smoker and always smoked Turf cigarettes (B)
Would often call into her parent’s house in Liverpool Street while taking Bob home to his foster mother (B)
Hated picnics, sand, ants, cold! (B)
Had a steel guitar, but I never heard her play it. Did crosswords, I still have her well-thumbed dictionary. (B)
I never saw her really upset. I wagged school and was expelled from Lansdowne Crescent School, sent to St. Virgils, must have cost her a lot. (B)
Mike (her second husband) found she left the stove on, would get up at all hours and wander about. I insisted that she be cared for in a nursing home, it was too much for Mike. Went into a nursing home in Star St. and was well cared for there. Was almost blind, and hated the dog at the home that would come close to her picking up crumbs. Mike used to take her out most days and give her sandwiches. He persevered with her taking her to the domain or the Waterworks. (B)
I used to visit her in the home during my lunch hour when I worked in town. She would be just sitting in a chair. Often told me that no-one ever came to see her even though I knew Mike had taken her out that morning. I confess that I was often in tears walking back to work. She died peacefully in the home. (B)