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Trove Tuesday - Dangers of the Surf

This is a very recent find for me about my first cousins two times removed Sylvester Gervase and Frances Eulalie Donnelly.  A day at the beach quickly turned into a traumatic experience for them all.

Source:  DANGERS OF THE SURF. (1910, March 1). Singleton Argus (NSW : 1880 - 1954) , p. 3. Retrieved May 28, 2013, from



Two Ladies in Difficulties.
Shortly after five o'clock on Sunday afternoon a sudden commotion amongst the frequenters of the Newcastle beach drew attention to the fact that two lady bathers were placed in a dangerous position.
Miss G. Buckley was bathing with her niece, Miss Frances Donnelly, in the breakers at the ladies' reserve.  The tide was almost to its ebb limit, and the girls were disporting themselves in the line of breakers close to the northern boundary of the reserve.  Suddenly Miss Buckley was startled by cries from her companion, and realising that the girl was drifting into danger, proceeded to her assistance.  She was, however, unable to render the necessary aid to bring in the rapidly-receding girl, and those on shore quickly realised that the two girls were in a perilous state.  Constable Warner, Bombardier Hudson, of the Artillery forces, and Mr. R. Murray were amongst the first to notice the danger of the girls, and without waiting to relieve themselves of their clothing, struck out through the breakers.  They were assisted by a seaman named F. Podbersek, who also joined in the rescue without divesting himself of his apparel.  Meanwhile the alarm had been carried along to the members of the Newcastle Surf Club, who were quickly on the spot.  Messrs. Grime, Gazzard, Gillam. Arkell and Wiggins promptly dashed into the surf.  The rescuers in the interval had reached the girls, and were supporting them, but the position was somewhat critical.  Mr. S. Martin and others took the lines, and when the surf club's quintette reached the struggling party, they were all soon drawn into safety.  Both girls were considerably distressed, and suffered from the nausea caused by draughts of salt water and the shock attendant upon their trying experience.  They soon recovered, however, and were able to proceed to their homes at Adamstown.  A plucky attempt was made by Master Sylvester Donnelly, a lad of 12 years, to save his sister.  He was the first to notice her drifting out, and, fully clothed, the lad pushed his way towards her.  The sea was, however, too strong, and he returned, but not before he saw that able hands were on their mission of rescue.  Miss Donnelly said that she was caught by the undertow.  She did not at first realise her danger, and had drifted some distance before she called to her relative.  Had it not been for the prompt relief she would have drowned, as she was completely exhausted when the rescuers reached her.  

Tragedy had already visited this family in 1908 when their father Edward Donnelly, died at thirty nine years of age leaving his wife Margaret (nee Buckley) with Sylvester and Frances to raise alone.  Edward Donnelly was born in 1868 near Mudgee, New South Wales the son of Irish immigrants, James Donnelly and his wife Mary (nee Gallagher).  Growing up at Cooyal, he became a school teacher, as did his younger brothers James and John (my Great Grandfather).  His widow Margaret married Joseph Ferguson in 1929, she died in 1955 and is buried at Coonabarabran General Cemetery. Sylvester Gervase Donnelly born in 1897 married Kathleen McInerney in 1938, he died in 1976 and is buried at Coonabarabran General Cemetery.  Frances Eulalie Donnelly born in 1899 married William R McGuiness in 1924,  she died in 1950 and is buried at Coonabarabran General Cemetery too.


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