Harold, John Francis

[""John F. Harold" (obituary)", The Xaverian, yearbook of Xavier College, Melbourne, 1912?, page 56]

John F. Harold


John Harold was the eldest of three brothers who left Xavier half a dozen years ago. A serious bicycle accident left him in bad health, and he travelled to recuperate. He spent some time in the West, and on his return settled to farm at Fern Tree Gully. He had, however, to take another trip, and after visiting West Australia again, started for Singapore in the ill-fated Koombana. He went down in her on March 21st off Broome, in the same storm that cost Robert Thompson his life. He was one of the kindest natures in the School, and his death at the early age of 22 came as a great shock to his old schoolfellows.

M. G. R.

AB notes:

I have only a reproduction of this page, headed "The Xaverian" but undated.

The other former Xavier student mentioned, Robert Thompson, was drowned at Depuch Island in the same storm that claimed Koombana.

[Personal communication, Peter Bardwell, relative of Koombana passenger John Francis Harold, from 25 April 2017]

On the basis of information supplied by Peter Bardwell, the name of John Francis Harold has been added to the list of Koombana casualties.

In his email of 29 April 2017, Peter writes:

Hi Annie,

John was my grandfather's brother.

I've attached a copy of his letter (not in the best condition) and also an obituary from his former school, Xavier College, for your information.

John in his letter mentions Whim Creek Copper mines and appears undecided where he will end up mentioning Carnarvon and Broome. It appears he had some possessions in a Mosko? shop (a pawn shop?) that he wanted to recover ASAP.

John was the son of Terence John and Mary Clarke, both Irish immigrants.

Terence was a successful Assurance Manager in the 1890s in Vic and Qld.

I've only got one photo of John as an adult - a group photo of sugar cane workers in QLD. John is the one holding a machete.


AB notes:

There will always be a sliver of doubt about whether John Francis Harold was still aboard Koombana when the ship foundered. Surviving documents suggest that the 22-year-old had passage to Singapore. That could be accomplished by leaving Koombana at Carnarvon or, more likely, Broome. Clearly, that choice is pivotal. There is also mention of a earlier plan to work at the Whim Creek copper mine, and therefore a slight possibility that he left the ship at Depuch Island. On balance of probability, John Harold lost his life aboard Koombana.

[Photograph of John Francis Harold, courtesy of Peter & Fiona Bardwell]

Cane cutting, Queensland, c. 1910. John Francis Harold front row, far left, displaying machete.

[John Francis Harold, letter to his father, Terence Harold, 11 March 1912, original or copy held by Peter Bardwell, grandson of John's brother, ?]

Hay Street West

Post Office

Perth 11th

Dear Father

Just a line to inform you that I received the sum of £ [erased] which was very light. I was surprised to here of your whereabouts. I suppose you are on a trip to Sydney doing some [? unclear]. You will be surprised to here of my doing a 20/0 trip to the Nor West. The trip is well over two Thousand miles. To give you an idea of the distance you shall receive this letter five or six days before I shall reach me dist. The Jurney takes 13 days. I am leaving tomorrow the 12th by boat. I shall probably end up in India or Singapore in the Straits


settlements. I broke the [? obscured]. My fare comes ot £13-10-0. The ticket is good to Singapore so when I arrive in Carnarvon or Broom. The latter is 1,000 mile further on. I can sell my ticket if I don't go on to Singapore. I am going away for money and that I shall have to get by fair or fowl means. I will without doubt land without a shilling but that matters not one moments thought to me although the places is unpopulated and incivilised. All that troubles me is those things I have in the mosko shop with [? illegible]. I should not like to do those things for any money in cold blood. There are tea sets silver quadruple Plate--Ect.


Watch 18ct Gold with one large diamond and 15 small ones and the outer case also a 15ct Diamond worth £30-0-0. They are in for very little as I intended getting them out again. Why I put them in was as I intended two months ago of going away to work on the Whim Creek Copper Mine and as I thought they would be safer there than to store them. So they shall have to come out as soon as possible for I wont rest until they do. Where I land in the place where I am going I want you to wire me the sum of £8- or £10-0-0. I shall only ask for that and that only. When I arrive in the place I shall wire you and let you know where I am and where to


send the money. Apart from this I owe about £40-0-0 in Perth but of course that does not trouble me in the least for I pay by the mile as that Crawler Burke was in the habbit of doing. I cannot go away from Broom until I have those things secure. I intend getting them out and sending them to you. I can have them sent to me and then ship them with Safety Insure under cover in case of loss to Melbourne to you. After that out I go in search of the coin of the rellum by hard work. So you must understand I shall wire you informing you where I am and where to send the money. And by


no mistake delay in sending it after I wire. If you are or have already dropped me a line to Hay Street West Post Office I can inform them to forward my letters on to me. I am relly undecided as to what place I shall get out at but you may bet either places are good. The best places in Australia to make a start so I am on toast. It is very funny. I am as happy as the days are long away from home but I am not when I am there. Where are I rome I make it my home. I should have been put to Engineering as I am that way inclined, but as far as that goes I can always battle living out in some fashion or another.


So hoping to find you all well. I shall close you letter so dont delay after me wiring for that money. I shall wire you in the course of three weeks. I am leaving by the Koombana.

If Father is in Sydney forward on this letter to him without delay.

I remain yours faithfully,

Your Son

John Francis Harold

AB notes:

The author sought and received permission to reproduce the text of this letter, which does not show the young man in a favourable light.

Some explanations:

"mosko shop" = pawn broker. See http://ozwords.org/?p=6227|25

"the coin of the rellum" = the coin of the realm

[http://ozwords.org/?p=6227, accessed 25 September 2017]


Posted on 6 June 2014 by Amanda Laugesen

Australian words with a Yiddish origin


A small number of Australian English words have their likely origins in Yiddish, a Jewish language with its origins in German, and with several regional variations. Words with a Yiddish origin came into Australian English both through the migration of Yiddish speakers to Australia, as well as through transferred uses and variants of terms that had developed in British English and slang.


moscow – ‘to pawn’ (verb); ‘a pawnshop’ (noun). This term derived from the British slang term moskeener, ‘to pawn an article for more than its real worth’, which in turn derived from Yiddish. The noun form is sometimes found in the phrases gone to Moscow or in Moscow. The 1953 novel Caddie records the noun form: ‘Me clobber’s already in Moscow, an’ so is me tan shoes . . . There don’t seem nuthin’ a man can raise a deaner on.’


AB note:

When John Harold referred to having some things in a "Mosko shop". It is quite likely that he had heard the slang expression "Moscow shop" but had never seen it written.

["Unregistered Passengers", Daily News (Perth, WA), Monday 01 April 1912, page 4]


(To the Editor.)

Sir, Permit me to ask you to insert in your daily my son-in-law's name, J. Murphy, who was a passenger by the Koombana bound for Broome. His name was omitted because he was working his passage and was not engaged from the office. He was formerly an employee in the machine room of the "West Australian" for a number of years. There is also a young man, Drake, son of a publican (Federal Hotel) since left the State; also another young man, Percival Harold, from St Kilda, Melbourne, they were also supposed to have gone through. I know they went on board together, but my son-in-law positively was going to Broome. --Yours, etc.


479 Wellington Street, Perth.

AB note:

It is curious that this and other newspaper articles refer to a "Percival Harold", from St Kilda, Victoria. In his last letter to his father, John Francis Harold admits that he had run up debts totalling £40 in Perth, and was intending to leave those debts behind. It is quite possible that was travelling under an assumed first name. Drake and Murphy were subsequently listed as missing, but "Percival Harold" was not.