INTRODUCTION TO ARCHER ANGUS SKINNER

As a means of introduction, and as a tribute of respect to uncle Archer Angus Skinner, and his personal contribution to the World War 1 efforts, this web page is intended to portray an informative and pictorial overview, regarding his dedication to Australia and the past British Empire by service in World War One, since his birth at Andersons Creek, Victoria, Australia in 1890. The earliest known photo of Archer Angus Skinner, is shown here.

Photo circa 1902 taken in Tasmania of Archer Skinner at right aged 10, with sister Ruby Winifred Skinner aged 12.

PARENTS OF ARCHER ANGUS SKINNER.

In order to provide a reasonable overview of the life and times of Uncle Archer Angus Skinner, some basic background details of his parents and their whereabouts in the 1880s, seems a good place to begin.

William Archer Skinner ( Archers father ) - circa 1880s in Melbourne, Victoria.

Briefly, Archers father William Archer Skinner, or Will as he was known, came from a family of renowned tobacconists from London, as detailed on the Home Page of this web site. Will emigrated to Australia in 1876, and met his bride-to-be Elizabeth Jane Angus in Melbourne, where they married at her parent's house ( James Angus and Elizabeth Cameron ) at 223 Franklin St in West Melbourne on 6 Jan of 1887.

Elizabeth Jane Skinner nee Angus ( Archers mother ) - circa 1880s in Melbourne, Victoria.


Review Angus families.

Marriage notice for Will and Elizabeth Jane Skinner at West Melbourne in 1887.

It is not known when Will actually became a land holder at Andersons Inlet, near Inverloch on the Victorian coast, however he did run a 320 acre farm there, and like his parents, was involved in the local community, as small and remote as it was back in these times.

Map showing Andersons Inlet on the coast, and St Huberts Rd Carnegie where the Skinners retired to in 1921.
Courtesy Google Maps.

According to the Bass Coast Shire History records, early selection of land at Andersons Inlet ( next to Inverloch township ) began under the Lands Act of 1869, whereby settlers basically survived via the means of "they cleared land largely by axe, and built wattle and daub huts". By the late 1880s, it seems progress and development was well underway, with plans for a local Athenium Will Skinner was involved in, as a joint Trustee.

William Archer Skinner nominated as a Land Trustee, Andersons Inlet 1888. Courtesy Victorian Government Gazette.

Birth of Archers older sister Ruby Winifred Skinner in 1888 Carlton, Victoria, Australia.

In the same year of 1888, Will and Elizabeth Jane had their first child in Carlton - an inner suburb of Melbourne, a daughter they named Ruby Winifred.

Birth of Ruby Winifred Skinner at Carlton near Melbourne in 1888.

For reasons unknown, the Skinners decided to make major changes to their life style, they put the farm and house up for sale, and moved to a small town called Ulverstone, on the North coast of Tasmania, where they ran the local newsagency business.

Advert for the sale of the Skinner farm at Andersons Inlet near Inverloch in 1889. Courtesy Trove.

THE LIFE AND TIMES OF ARCHER ANGUS SKINNER

The first known record of Archer Angus Skinner ( known to us as Uncle Archer, and others as "Archie" ) is that of his birth record of 1890 at Andersons Inlet near Inverloch, not long before his family moved to Tasmania.

Birth of Archer Angus Skinner in 1890 Andersons Creek, Inverloch, Victoria, Australia.

Registration of birth of Archer Angus Skinner. Courtesy Ancestry.com

The following newspaper advertisement from 1893, clarifies Archers parents Will and Elizabeth Jane, had been conducting their newsagency they named as the "West Devon Stationery House" in Ulverstone Tasmania from as earaly as 1891.

Advert advising that the Skinner family moved the newsagency premises at Ulverstone in 1893.

Birth of sister Bertha Agnes Skinner 4 Dec 1900 Ulverstone, Tasmania

Birth Notice of Archers younger sister Bertha Agnes Skinner in Dec 1900 at Ulverstone Tasmania. Courtesy The Australian Newspaper, via Trove on line.

It is worth noting Archers mother, Elizabeth Jane Angus came from a large and close knit family, of 2 brothers and 7 sisters. They were raised in the Angus family home at 223 Franklin St in West Melbourne, by their parents James Angus born in 1827 at Mortlach in Banffshire, Scotland and Elizabeth Cameron born in 1832 from Glasgow, Scotland. Elizabeth Janes second youngest sister was Edith Johnstone Angus ( Eadie ) married Andrew William Ness in 1896, and raised 3 children in Melbourne.

Resulting from close digital inspection of the following 2 photos, it is surmised our Skinner family made a special trip from Ulverstone to the mainland in Feb 1904, most likely to catch up with James Angus before he passed away about 5 weeks afterwards. The back of the 4 in 1 image, is labelled "Mrs Skinner - with Edith's love. 16 / 2 / 04", obviously thoughtfully planned and presented to Elizabeth Jane Skinner, as a special momento of this visit.

From a high resolution scan, in Photoshop we have verified the 2 children in the bottom left pane, are Ruby and Archie with a cat on his shoulder. The small child at bottom right is their young sister Bertha, however we are yet to confirm the 2 adult ladies in the right hand panes, but are probably Elizabeth Jane and Eadie. Also unconfirmed, it is probably James Angus with Bertha sitting on his knee, in the top left pane.

Inset of Archie Skinner aged 14 taken with his sister Ruby aged 16, probably at the home of their aunt and uncle Edith Johnstone Ness ( nee Angus ) and Andrew Ness, in Feb 1904.

It appears the Skinners encouraged their children to be involved in local community groups and events, as did Archie in the following reported instance in 1904.

Archer Skinner - performing in a sketch at the Ulverstone Town Hall 1904.

Going by the next few Census records from 1912 - 1914, Uncle Archer moved from Ulverstone to Melbourne town in Victoria on the mainland, where he lived for about 3 years with his cousins, the Angus family in West Melbourne, just before the start of World War I. Referral to his War Record, indicates Archer enlisted with the first battalion of the Tasmanian Rangers prior to this move.

Residence 1912 223 Franklin st. Melbourne Victoria Occupation : Stationer

Archer stayed with his Angus cousins and aunty Elizabeth Angus. Courtesy Ancestry.com

Residence 1913 223 Franklin st. Melbourne Victoria Occupation : Stationer

Residence 1914 223 Franklin st. Melbourne Victoria Occupation : Stationer

Archer was obviously registered on 2 different electoral rolls in 1914. Courtesy Ancestry.com

ARCHER ANGUS SKINNER IN WORLD WAR I.

From the Census shown above, Archer was 24 years old and working in the family's West Devon Stationery House at Ulverstone, when World War I commenced. For the benefit of our web site visitors not so familiar with complex Australian armed forces war records, your web host has presented 2 notable extracts from Archer's Anzac War Records, relating to his 2 postings, being Gallipoli in 1915, and France in 1918. Some of his personal activities are interspersed according - Archer got married in Scotland in 1918. Initially he signed up with the First Battalion of Tasmanian Rangers two years before World War I commenced, and when he re-enlisted on 29 Aug 1914, it appears he was promoted to Sergeant and assigned to serve with the 12th Battalion, 25th reinforcements.

Re-enlistment to the A.I.F. of Archer Angus Skinner in Aug 1914, at Ulverstone Tasmania.
Courtesy naa.gov.au

Family photo of Sgt. Archer Angus Skinner at top right, aged about 25, with some of his unit. Circa 1915.

Service Record - Archer Angus Skinner - Extract #1

Summary Extract #1 - Mar 1915 till May 1916
Gallipoli Peninsula, 2 Mar 1915
Hospitalised "sick", 7 Aug 1915 til 19 Apr 1916
Gloucester Castle, Braemer Castle, Epsom Hospital, and Abbey Wood rehab centre.
Departed for Australia 8 May 1916 via Portland Naval Hospital

Archer Skinner at far left in Egypt, as reported on 18 Mar 1915 the Weekly Courier. Courtesy stors.tas.gov.au

A first hand account of Archer Skinner in the trenches on the Gallipoli Peninsula in 1915.

An excerpt found at Google Ebooks, from pages 13 & 14 of "Crack Hardy: From Gallipoli to Flanders to the Somme, the True Story of Three Australian Brothers at War" by Stephen Dando-Collins, a factual record based on War-time letters of ANZACs Viv, Ray, and Ned Searle.

The huge operation at Gallipoli Peninsula in 1915. Courtesy Period Paper.

The first that Viv and his mates knew about the machinegun was the distinctive jabber-jabber-jabber of the German made Maxim gun not far to their left. Viv had thought things couldn't get any worse, but they had: "The air was simply alive with lead". Bullets tore up behind Viv and his comrades.

German officers with Maxim machine guns at the Dardenelles in 1915. Courtesy Pinterest.

His platoon sergeant, Archer Skinner, a twenty four year old stationer from Ulverstone in Tasmania, let out a cry, and clutched at his boot; a machine gun bullet had hit him in the heel. Seeing that, while painful, his wound was far from fatal, Skinner wheeled around, and, on his stomach still, began returning fire with his rifle. His men followed suit.

Lieutenant Rupert Anstice Rafferty, of the 12th Battalion, awarded D.S.O. Courtesy awm.gov.au

Lieutenant Rafferty, deciding that their position had become simply too hot to be tenable, yelled across the din of battle to Sergeant Skinner, instructing him to take charge of the platoon. "I'm going forward to see if I can find us a better position", Rafferty told him, sounding perfectly calm and businesslike.

Indians in the trenches at Gallipoli in 1915. Courtesy army.mod.uk

Skinner nodded grimly, hiding the pain from his wound, and he and Viv watched the lieutenant slither away, towards the Turks, and disappear from sight. The Indian guns kept booming right behind them.

Hardened Turkish soldiers in trenches at Gallipoli in 1915. Courtesy Wikipedia.

Turkish bullets kept coming from in front and left. Shells kept exploding overhead. Then a shell burst directly in front of Viv, and in the same instant something pounded into his left shoulder, taking his breath away. It left him with no feeling in the shoulder or his arm. To him, "it felt as if it were blown off".

Medics looking after wounded soldiers in the trenches at Gallipoli in 1915. Courtesy spectator.co.uk

"Sergeant" Viv bellowed. "I've been hit. Can I go back"?

Skinner looked at him for a moment, saw the tattered hole in his tunic, where shrapnel had hit Viv's shoulder, then nodded. "Yes, go back. But leave your ammunition."

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION re ANZACs AT GALLIPOLI

Read a well presented and factual review, entitled Battle of Anzac Cove - Gallipoli ( Sgt Skinner mentioned )

A restored 12th Battalion flag, Archer Skinner and Viv Searle fought under. Courtesy livinginballanBlog

Another recommeded site for detailed info of Gallipoli / Dardanelles www.gallipoli.gov.au

At this stage of Uncle Archers personal history, you are invited to take an imaginary trip from WW1 at Gallipoli, to the peaceful and picturesque coastal region of north east Scotland, to review some known events leading into the courtship and marriage of Archer Skinner and Rita Cormack, from Wick.

THE CHILDREN of WALTER GREEN CORMACK & MAGGIE N. McALPINE of WICK, CAITHNESS, SCOTLAND.

It is still unclear as to exaxctly how, and where, and when our Uncle Archer Skinner, a dedicated ANZAC digger from Tasmania, met a very attractive and intelligent lass, Rita ( Margaret Green Cormack ) from Wick, in Scotland. The most likely chance of their meeting would have been somewhere in the south of England, possibly near London, while Archer was recovering from illnesses acquired in the trenches at the Dardenelles on the Gallipoli Peninsula, probably some time around Aug of 1915.


A sample of the many Cormack Crests. Courtesy researchmyname.com

Our Cormack family in general, have a longstanding history of many generations and family branches in and near Wick, as in particular, did the family branch of Walter Green Cormack, as in the following Cormack family document, listed below as "2. - Walter Cormack". Walter Green Cormack from Wick, and his wife Margaret N. Mc Alpine from Ag Sphine, Saltcoats Ayrshire, had 3 children, Flossie, James, and Rita, whom were all raised at Kirkhill House in High Street in Wick.

Siblings of Walter Green Cormack and their children as listed in 1957. Courtesy Paul Campanis at campanis.com

A modern day photo of Kirkhill House, the Cormack home of many decades. Courtesy Caithness.org

An earlier Cormack relation, Walters uncle James Cormack, was a ship owner, and ran regular paying voyages of his vessel, from Wick to Leith on the edge of Edinburgh from the 1860s an onwards, where a number of Cormack relations also resided. In later life, uncle James Cormack became the Harbour Master at Wick before he retired. Therefore, it appears not be a coincidence, that Rita Cormack and Archer Skinner were married at Leith in 1918.

A very early photo of the busy harbour at Wick. Courtesy Wickheritage on-line.

For the benefit of many of our web site visitors who may not be aware of where Wick in Caithness is situated, a map of northern Scotland and other pertinent family references, is embedded here. Kindly note, the township of Killin is highlighted on this map, as it is featured in a postcard from Archer Skinner in Apr of 1916, which refers to a trip he and Rita did from Edinburgh, to visit her sister Flossie, as shown further below.

Map of Northern Scotland. Courtesy Google Maps

Child #1 FLORENCE NICOL CORMACK

Flossie Miller nee Cormack as she was known, was born at Wick in 1884. According to the 1891 Scottish Census records Flossie was 7 years old and her family were living at Shore Lane in Wick.

Shore Lane in Wick. Courtesy Wick Heritage on-line.

The 1901 Census notes Flossie was a 17 year old student, living with the family of her uncle Archibald N McAlpine at 87 Stanmore Rd in Cathcart, 4 miles south of Glasgow.

Scottish Census record of 1901 re Florence Cormack, aged 17, studying and living with her relations near Glasgow.

Apparently Flossie married an Arthur Miller and had a son Cameron Miller ( assumedly at Aberdeen on the coast ), where she became a well known actress and producer of plays, and was a regular B.B.C. radio broadcaster.

A play called "As you like it", produced by Archers sister-in-law Flossie Nicol Miller, in Aberdeen in 1932.

Flossie Miller nee Cormack at far right, performing in a war effort support play "The Roundabout" Aberdeen, in 1935.
Courtesy Arbroath Herald 25th Oct 1935.

Quite a deal of research found that Flossie Miller nee Cormack was apparently quite a theatrical orientated person, and according to an Advanced Search at britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk Flossie was directly involved in over 80 plays and numerous radio broadcasts, around the 1930s-1940s. Flossie Miller was also known to regurlarly participate in B.B.C. radio broadcasts from Aberdeen, as per the sample reference listed here.

A reference to Ritas sisters activities ( ie. Flossie Miller ) in one of her many radio broadcasts from Aberdeen in 1938.

Flossie Miller nee Cormack at right, reported to be in what was regarded as a very successful play called "Sixteen" at Aberdeen in Dec 1939. Courtesy Peoples Journal of Aberdeen - 16 Dec 1939.

Child #2 JAMES CORMACK

James Cormack or "Cuba" as he became known later to locals in Wick, ( due to his position as Trade Commisioner in Havana ), was born at Wick on 24 Apr 1885. He served gallantly in World War One in both the Canadian Imperial Forces 35th battalion - 45th Regiment, and the Scottish 5th Battalion of the Seaforth Highlanders. James Cormack studied at Edinburgh ( Scotland ) and Manitoba ( Canada ) Universities to become a Barrister and Commissioner, and shortly after attained the diplomatic position of Canadian Trade Commissioner, positioned in the 1920s - 1940s in Africa, Cuba, Jamaica, and Ireland.

Travel document re James Cormack going to Havana Cuba in 1929, noting James as "Commissioner to Cuba" on the bottom entry. Courtesy Ancestry.com

Sample article re James Cormack, Trade Commissioner for Canada. Courtesy Winnipeg Free Press - 19 Jan 1938.

Newspaper cutting stating James Cormack fought in WW1 in the 5th Battalion of the Seaforth Highlanders.
Courtesy Western Daily Press & Bristol Mirror - June 27 1941

The above newspaper cutting also divulges Aunty Rita's brother James Cormack, was also a very intelligent and interesting gent, having mentioned he was a barrister, previously educated at Edinburgh and Manitoba Universities. Records and details regarding his positions as Scottiish Trade Commissioner to Canada, Jamacia, Cuba, and Ireland, are quite sparse. However, according to a Study of International Relations by Harold Boyer in 1961 of Queens College in New York, James Cormack was noted as documenting concerns of corruption in the Cuban trade and governmental system plus trade restriction issues, not long after after he took over the position in Cuba in 1927.

Further research indicates James Cormack was the Canadian Trade Commissioner to Cuba, for a couple of years via his address of P.O. Box 125, Port of Spain, Trinidad - Office, Colonial Bank Building. (Territory includes Barbados, Windward and Leeward Islands, British Guiana, Porto Rico and Venezuela). The next known address listed for James Cormack is via the Commercial Intelligence Journal (Canada) in 1928, at Calle Obrapia 35, Havana, Cuba. (Territory includes Venezuela, Colombia, San Domingo and Porto Rico.) Records of some of James positions are sketchy, the most recent listing found was that of "Reports of Trade Commissioner, James Cormack, Dublin: January 28. 1941".

This paragraph is reserved for a tribute and summary of James Cormack's war record serving with the 5th Battalion of the Seaforth Highlanders, and when found & reviewed, it will be displayed with all due respect. James Cormack did happen to meet up Archer Skinner in the trences at Dardenelles, as noted in a postcard in the following section regarding James younger sister Rita Cormack.

The Seaforth Highlanders Oath. Courtesy cosuthtribute.blogspot.

In the mean time, we are pleased to report Ritas only brother James did survive whilst serving with the Seaforth Highlanders during World War One, remained a bachelor, and around 1930, he became the Scottish Trade Commissioner for Canada, and later for Jamaica, and Havana, hence his nickname was known locally as Cuba. According to the Aberdeen Weekly Journal, James also became the first Chairman of the Wick Branch of the Seaforth Highlanders, when it formed in 1945.

James ( Cuba ) Cormack was renowned as being an avid Chinese artefact Collector. Shown here is one of his Exhibitions at Wick town hall, c1930s. Courtesy Johnstone Collection of the Wick Museum.

James Cormack, Trade Commissioner to Canada, 3rd from right. Courtesy Isobel at Rootschat.com

According to Wick locals at the caithness.org Forum, who personally knew James Cuba Cormack in the 1960s, he was quite an eccentric character. Apparently he purchased a Cadillac from Detroit around 1939, and much later, when the car had done 200,000 miles and was not affordable to keep going on the road, he recruited the services of 4 blokes, to heave it over a cliff face on the coast at Wick, as pictured.

James Cuba Cormack tipping his lid with a fond farewell to his Cadillac, called Charlotte.

James Cormack must have really liked his namesake of Cuba, as it appears he had a holiday cruise on the vessel Walsingham in Nov 1956. The travel record notes him as a retired single gent, residing at C/- Tait, 117 Malone Rd Belfast, and arriving at Havana.

Child #3 Margaret Green Cormack

Rita Cormack as she was known, was also born at Wick in 1889. Rita attained her Master of Arts degree at Glasgow university in 1915, married Archer Angus Skinner in 1918 at Leith near Edinburgh, and emigrated to Australia in 1919 as a War Bride.

Archer Skinners bride-to-be, Rita Cormack on her graduation day at Glasgow University in Scotland, in 1915.

From a personal viewpoint, Archer Angus Skinner, had done his first stint of war duty on the Gallipoli Peninsula in Aug 1915, was hospitalised for about 8 months near London with a variety of quite serious illnesses, typical of those many Anzacs suffered living and fighting in trenches.

Archers brief news update on the following postcard from Scotland indicates he was in London, ( at Abbey Wood according to his Record ), and able to travel quite some distance, on leave / R & R. Firstly, going by Google Maps, it's over 400 miles by road from London to Edinburgh, plus about 70 miles to Killin, and a further 200 or so miles to Wick, so the trip Archers postcard describes was quite a long journey, for that time for anyone based in or near London. Secondly, from correspondence on this page alone, it would appear Archer was making the most of his times in the U.K., sightseeing at Stonehenge and touring in Scotland, and socialising with his sister Ruby and his lady friend Rita from Scotland.

Postcard from Archer Skinner to his mum Elizabeth Jane in Ulverstone, from Killin, Scotland, 29 Apr 1916.

Archers message about his trip from Edinburgh to Killin with Rita Cormack in 1916.

Reading between the lines on this postcard Archer sent to his mother Elizabeth Jane at Ulverstone, in Apr 1916 from Killin, whilst on a trip to the country side with Rita, the wording "Came with a young lady, the one from Wick, & five are staying with her sister." implies Archer had met with Rita previously, and it seems had mentioned a young lady from Wick in earlier correspondence. It seems odd Archer has not mentioned the actual names of Rita or her sister - by the way, Ritas older sisters name was Florence Nicol Cormack ( Flossie ), also born in Wick.

1891 Census of Family of Margaret Green Cormack - Archies wife Rita, form Wick, County Caithness, Scotland.

From Archer at Nottingham to his sister, nurse Ruby Skinner.

The above card is not dated or addressed, however from the wording about "trip to Barrington" which obviously he had already mentioned to his mother and other sister Bertha back home in Australia, chances are very high it was another regular contact with his elder sister, nurse Ruby Skinner. Archer has also updated the intended reader of this postcard, he has a "young lady friend", he knows is in the same area as Ruby "up there", and the young lady friend has been contacing Archer often.

Archies postcard to his sister Ruby.

Once again, no mention of his lady friend's name, nor a mention of Wick on this card, however Archer made a point to mention he had met his lady friends brother in the trenches, who "has been home from the Dards with fever". This point implies Archer had probably met Ritas brother ( James Cormack from Wick, Scotland ) prior to the occasion in the trenches in Turkey, otherwise it would have been a huge coincidence indeed, for Archer to bump into a bloke and find out his name, and if he had a sister from Wick, in the middle of a bloody war zone.

"The goods on The Dards" ( abbreviation of Dardanelles ) is well documented as a campaign Winston Chuchill had a deal of controversial input towards. According to the Australian War Museum, the Dards / Gallipoli campaign resulted in 5,482 deaths, another 2,012 died of wounds later, and 665 Anzacs died of disease. Our Uncle Archer was indeed lucky to have survived to write this postcard.

News of Archie Skinner returning to Ulverstone in May 1916. Courtesy Trove

The ship Archer returned to Australia on in 1916, the SS Themistocles. Courtesy 2bp.blogspot.com

As commonly occurred in World War I, many of the boys came home to recover from the injuries, illnesses, and horrors of war. Some returned to fight for the Empire again, as did Archer in 1917. Who knows - the chance of Archer meeting up with Rita again, may have also been a factor in his return to Service when he did.

Service Record - Archer Angus Skinner - Extract #2

Looking into the finer details of Archie Skinner's War Service Record, it appears after about 3 months of recuperation with his family back home at Ulverstone, he returned to duty in late Sep 1916. He re-embarked at Sydney on board the Hororata, bound for Liverpool U.K., on 14 Jun 1917, having left Hobart Tasmania 5 days earlier.

Embarkation record of Archer Angus Skinner returning to WW1 on board SS Hororato in 1917 from Sydney NSW.

Summary Extract #2 - 1917 till Dec 1918
Durrington U.K. - Aug 1917
Tidworth - "On command" at School of Instruction, Candahar Barracks Oct 1917 - Mar 1918
Folkestone - prepared for France "Honour Roll" - 15 Apr 1918
"Field" France, 12th Battalion / 25th Reinforcements - 26 Apr 1918
Hospitalised, "sick" - 2 Aug 1918
Embarked from France for England 18 Aug 1918
Suffering Pleurisy and Effusion - Dec 1918
Admin Hdqrs - "Approval is given to accompany his wife on a transport in lieu of a hospital ship" - 23 Dec 1918

Archer spent 5 weeks at Durrington, ( probably at the Y.M.C.A ), followed by about 5 months at the School of Instruction, where officers were trained, and stayed at the Candahar Barracks at Tidworth. To explain further, the above term "On Command" is noted in references of his time at Tidworth, and from andrewsarchives.com, this term has been defined as
"Command Depot No.1 at Weymouth were convalescent homes for men who no longer required hospitalization but were not yet fit to rejoin their unit. Command Depot No.2 at Tidworth housed those men not expected to be fit for duty within six months."

Officers Instructional School, Candahar Barracks at Tidworth. Courtesy www.andrewsarchives.com

Handwritten 2 page letter from Archer to his younger sister Bertha Skinner at Ulverstone Tasmania in Aug 1917, from the Y.M.C.A at Durrington Wiltshire. A few points of interest, "picquet duty" is also known as watch or guard duty, and from Archers referral below to his doctors assessment and the need for some isolation, he was doing OK but needed more recovery time.

"Aunt Annie" was Anne ( Nance ) Campbell who was then living with her husband John Guthrie Campbell at 204 Hyde St Yarraville, an inner western suburb of Melbourne, and her electoral listing there was "Annie Campbell". So it is possible Bertha may have stayed or holidayed there during part of WWI, or maybe Nance was on holidays in Tasmania, or even Archer hoped Bertha to pass on his regards in the next mail to the Campbells. Bertha and the Campbell family ended up almost as neighbours in Caulfield on the eastern side of Melbourne around the early 1940s, Bertha bought a house at 245 Balaclava Rd., and Nance & John and daughter Marj lived down the same road at number 199.

It is not known for sure the circumstances as to how and where Archer and Rita met up again, however as it turned out, they married in Scotland in Feb 1918.

Marriage 9 feb 1918 Leith, Scotland to Margaret Green Cormack ( Rita )

Marriage record of Archer Angus Skinner and Margaret Green ( Rita ) Cormack at Leith, Scotland, on 15th Feb 1918.

Archie Skinner at far left, looking quite relaxed & having a smoke during the photo shoot for the Weekly Courier
- 28 Mar 1918. Courtesy stors.tas.gov.au

His Record notes the School of Instruction for Infantry Officers was attached to the Candahar Barracks. Research did locate a newspaper cutting earlier on 8 Apr 1914, stating "Ruben William Eade, Percy Donald Aspinall, and Archer Angus Skinner are to be second Lieutenants (provisionally)", however Archers Record has him noted as Sergeant.

Now that Archer was married to Rita, the "Next of Kin" line in his Record was amended with her married name and address of Kirkhill House, Wick, Caithness, ( her parent's house ), which is probably why he was hospitalised in Scotland in Oct, and not near London again.

Archer in hospital again, this time in Scotland in Oct 1918.

Approval was finally given for Rita and Archer to travel together to Australia "on a transport in lieu of a hospital ship" in late Dec 1918. As it turned out for Archer, it was not until late Feb 1919 when he re-embarked for Australia, and Rita probably made some new friends on her voyage in mid Mar 1919, amongst many other war brides, as per the following article.

War Brides arriving at Launceston in Mar 1919

Well, Archer and Rita are together again, now in Tasmania, after some worrying times in the trenches in France, but your web host has been worried about the original wedding photos?

A "mock up" wedding photo of Bertha Skinner and Rita Cormack in Melbourne. Circa 1919.

Initially the above photo also created a number of questions, regarding the connection between Bertha Agnes Skinner and her new sister-in-law, Margaret Green Cormack, ( aunty Rita ), the wife of Bertha's brother, Archer Angus Skinner. This particular photo is not dated or labelled, however is embossed as being taken in Melbourne, obviously taken some time after the wedding in Scotland. There is no doubt it is of Bertha Skinner at left, who was living at Ulverstone at point in this time, and her sister-in-law Margaret Green Skinner nee Cormack from Wick in Scotland. It was probably a special get-together on the mainland, in order Rita and Archer had some wedding photos, which included his family.

Residence 1919 Reibey St Ulverstone, Tasmania, Australia Occupation : Shop Assistant.
( Archies wife Rita was on a separate electoral addendum list at Ulverstone )

Family photo of the West Devon Stationery House, the Skinner newsagency c1919, in Ulverstone Tasmania.

Going by Census records, Archie and Rita Skinner moved around a fair bit, in the decade after the end of WWI. Initially they stayed with Archie parents in the newsagency in 1919, where Archie worked once again as a shop assistant. However according to the next 2 Census listings, it appears Archie had some ongoing health / mental issues, as they relocated to a Red Cross rehabilitation centre at Bundoora in Diamond Creek electorate of Victoria for nearly 3 years.

Residence 1922 Diamond Creek, Victoria, Australia Occupation : Pensioner with Margaret Green Cormack ( Rita )

Archer suffered terribly in the trenches from a number of quite serious diseases, like Chronic Diarrhoea, Influenza, Pleurisy, and Gastro Enteritis, which resulted in hospitalisation for many months. The residence of Red Cross farm listed as "Janefield" here, pertained to what is historically recorded as "an after-care centre for ex-servicemen suffering from nervous disorders discharged from the Military Mental Block. The Red Cross farm, known as the Janefield Sanitorium, operated from 1920 to 1933."

Residence 1924 Diamond Creek, Victoria, Australia Occupation : Pensioner

Initially, it could be questioned as to how Archie, a Pensioner, and Rita on Home Duties, managed to be relieved of the need for support and housing the Red Cross centre at Bundoora near Melbourne, and all of a sudden, they appear to be graziers at Balmoral near the Grampians, in the far west of Victoria. However, according to some diligent research, on the 22nd Oct 1917, the Victorian State Parliament passed an Act, number 2916, for "The Settlement of Discharged Soldiers on the Land", which offered a great opportunity for returned soldiers such as Archer, of a grant to lease rural land at a greatly reduced price.

Request for a war medal by Archie - they named their property after Rita's home region of Caithness, Northern Scotland.

A close review of 7 pages of Archers application for this "Closer Settlement" Conditional Purchase Lease, has divulged a few important points as follows :-

After his return to Victoria, Archer applied to lease a 901 property, an Estate entitled "Melville Forest", in the Parish of Pawbymbyr, in western Victoria, that was previously owned by a Jessie Theresa Brody, which was processed and eventually approved late in 1924. Archer also officially stated

#1 - he had previously run an orchard of 12 acres in Tasmania for 12 months, and had a house block there too.
#2 - Archer spent over 2 years at "Janefield Training Farm".
#3 - His purpose of Lease application was for grazing.
#4 - Archers wife Rita had assets of 700 cash that was readily accessible to buy sheep to graze.
#5 - The property was valued at 3500, and the half yearly instalment of 105, was waived for the first two years.
#6 - His Lease Termination declaration of Nov 1927, states Archer had erected 4 miles of fencing, was residing at Springvale near Melbourne, and his reason for ending the lease, was "Ill health of my wife, also block is too dear and too small".

Residence 1927 Balmoral, Victoria, Australia Occupation : Grazier

Request for a war medal by Archie - they named their property after Rita's home region of Caithness, Scotland.

Rita - Margaret Green Skinner nee Cormack - circa late 1920s.

A brief newsy letter from Archers father Will, to Archers sister Ruby Sydenham at Colac in 1929.

An interesting opening comment from William Archer Skinner regarding technological progress of the times, "the blessed phones have spoilt correspondence", leads into a few noteworthy points of interest. Archers wife Rita had obviously been quite ill, and getting better but still quite sore. Regarding some family animals and pets, Archers dog had a litter of 8 pups and was to keep 2, however it wasn't looking like the chooks were in for a good season. Archers own chicks were not doing well, and his fathers chooks were not sitting.

Death of Father William Archer Skinner 2 Dec 1937 Carnegie, Victoria, Australia

Death notice of William Archer Skinner of Dec 1937 at his home at Carnegie.

Three generations of Skinners and two of the Sydenhams shown here. Photo circa mid 1930s.

This is the last known photo of Will Skinner, probably taken at "Leven Whare", 24 St Huberts Rd. That's William Archer Skinner at the rear left, next to his daughter Ruby W Sydenham nee Skinner and his son Archie at the back, and his wife Elizabeth Jane ( nee Angus ) next to him. Next to Elizabeth Jane is her sister Anne Campbell ( nee Angus, known as Nance ). Seated at left is Rubys daughter Betty Sydenham, Nances daughter Marj Campbell, and Rubys son John Sydenham.

Residence 1937 75 Vincent St Sandringham, Victoria, Australia

1937 Census Record.

Rita on a swing - date and location unknown.

A prize winning chook apparently bred by Archie and / or Rita.

Further explanation about this cutting, found amongst Bertha's possessions after she died, it looks like Bertha has altered the initials with her fountain pen, from M. G. Skinner ( referring to Rita - Margaret Green Skinner ), to A. A. being initials of Archie, of course. It is debatable if this prize winner Leghorn chook was Archies or Ritas, however an advanced search in Trove listed 122 entries by Rita in various egg laying competitions, the most common event being at Burnley Agricultural Institute, by far.

Death of Mother Elizabeth Jane Angus 1940 Caulfield, Victoria, Australia

Probate for Elizabeth Jane Skinner nee Angus of 1940, as legally processed by Bertha's cousin Keith Ness.

Death of Wife Margaret Green Cormack ( Rita ) 1940 Shannon, Victoria

Rita Skinner - nee Margaret Green Cormack, photo estimated to be taken only a few years before she died in 1940.

On a personal note, the loss of one partner is a huge emotional event, as was the case with uncle Archer when aunty Rita died. From the earlier photo of Ruby with a cat on Archers shoulder, the animals he raised by grazing at Balmoral, the chook he won prizes for breeding, down to the final 3 photos of his cretters at the bottom of this page, we know his love for animals obviously helped him through later life as a widower.

Death of father in law, Walter Green Cormack 1940 Wick Scotland

Probate record of Archers father-in-law, Walter Green Cormack in 1942 at Wick in the north of Scotland.

Residence 1942 & 1954 Sandringham, Victoria, Australia

Death of Sister Ruby Winifred Skinner 1956 Caulfield, Victoria

Christmas 1955 at Bertha's home at 245 Balaclav Rd Caulfield, taken by her nephew John Francis Sydenham, seated second from right. Rear of photo is labelled "Christmas snacks after dinner. My first flash shot". At the right is Berthas sister Ruby Winifred Sydenham, with your web host on her lap, next to John is his wife Rae Sydenham nee Richardson, then aunty Bertha Skinner, her aunt Anne ( Nance ) Campbell nee Angus, and at the far left is cousin Marj Campbell, the Campbells living only a few blocks away at 299 Balaclava Rd. This is the last known photo of Ruby Winifred before she passed away the following year.

Archer Angus Skinner, with we think may be George - c1960s

Residence 1963 & 1967 Sandringham, Victoria, Australia

Archer Angus Skinner training a pup - c1960s

Residence 1972, 1977, & 1980 80 Outer Cresent Brighton, Victoria, Australia

The rear of this photo is simply labelled "My family". Going by the cage behind him here, Archer was probably still breeding chooks at home at Brighton, in his twilight years.

Death 1983 Heidelberg Hospital, West Heidelberg, Victoria

Death record of Archer Angus Skinner in 1983. Courtesy Ancestry.com

Uncle Archer is also sadly missed by the few still alive who knew him.


Return to home page and Skinner Tobacco businesses.


Father of Ruby, Archer, and Bertha.


Eldest sister of Archer Angus Skinner.


Youngest sister of Archer Angus Skinner.

More records at Discovering Anzacs and
Archie Angus Skinner on Ancestry.com

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