One of the First VSF Students
What follows is an extract from “The Leafy Tree - My Family”, by Daryl Lindsay.
It concerns Reginald Graham Lindsay, one of the first six students enrolled at the VSF.
Reginald Graham, the fifth son, two years my senior, was a well set-up, handsome boy with dark hair and large blue eyes. A good athlete, he played a sound game of tennis and rode, but he liked best the tougher sports of football and boxing. We went to the state school together. He was no mean scholar and, unlike me, took his schooling seriously. He taught me to box in the kitchen at night, and, being a stone heavier, would belt the daylights out of me with a smiling face. Although we had our private rows at home, he would knock the head off any boy who laid a hand on me at school; then kick me in the pants for being a young fool.
Creswick had two state schools, the south and the north. For years there had been a continuous feud between the boys who had pitched battles with hard cow dung for ammunition and when this ran out, anything that came to hand, mostly ending up with a few hand-to-hand fights. Reg was generally in one of them, coming home with black eyes and ears half torn off.
With his good looks, Reg was the idol of the small girls in the town and he was twitted about his amours with the ladies by a tactless master at the grammar school. This was more than a hot-blooded boy could take and he let the master have it in no uncertain terms, including references to his drinking habits and sneaking out the back door of pubs. It was a ding-dong go with the gloves off, my brother fighting a rearguard action with a few well-directed books as he left. An enraged master called to see my father that night. After hearing the story, which I think he rather enjoyed, he had some words with Reg who stood his ground and said: 'I won't go back, Dad.' Father returned to the surgery and was heard to say: 'Sorry old chap but he says he won't go back' and that was the end of it.
About that time the School of Forestry was established at Sawpit Gully and Reg, then about eighteen, was one of the first six students enrolled. After a few years at the school, he was sent to various parts of the State to superintend reafforestation areas. He later returned to the school.
As I had left home for Queensland in 1909, I saw little of Reg until I returned to Victoria as overseer on Ercildoune in 1912. Ercildoune was twenty miles from Creswick and I often used to drive or ride across for week-ends. Reg would sometimes meet me half way at Ascot where a mutual friend owned a couple of jumpers which I schooled for him. I got a bad fall one Sunday over a three-railed fence and rather groggy, insisted on being legged up again to put the horse over another fence so that he would not lose his nerve or I mine. Reg got me home and to bed minus a set of my false teeth.
Like Pearl, Reg did not share the family interest in art or literature. Essentially an outdoor type, completely natural with a robust sense of humour, he was popular with everybody from old Alex Peacock to a stable boy, and was quite unconscious of his good looks and the charm he exercised over all who knew him. No wonder the girls all fell for him. In 1914 he enlisted as a gunner in the artillery and the last time I saw him was after we had dinner together in Melbourne. He was in uniform and, as he got into a hansom cab, he waved me a cheerful goodbye, saying: 'I'll see you in France.' I followed him some months later but, although I was in France in 1915 and 1916, we never had the luck to run across each other. He was killed by shellfire on the Somme in 1917 (see below) while, as I was told by one of his battery, dashing out of a dugout to rescue a bottle of rum. It was all thoroughly in character.
From the Creswick Advertiser, 30 January 1917 (via Trove):
Gunner Reginald Graham Lindsay, killed in action, was a son of Mrs Lindsay of Cambridge St Creswick, and of the late Dr RC Lindsay. He enlisted in July, 1915, became attached to the artillery and sailed for Egypt on the 2nd January of the following year. After being three weeks in Egypt he was one of the men picked to fill gaps in the Anzacs' Army and sent to France, shortly afterwards going into action. He fought for nine months on the guns on the Somme without a spell, and lost his life on the 31st December, 1916, being killed in action. The late Gunner Lindsay was 28 years of age. He was educated at the local State school, and later at the Creswick Grammar School. For a number of years he was in the State Forestry Department, being one of the first five students at the School of Forestry who were gazetted as officers in the Department. As a boy and when he reached manhood he was greatly esteemed and respected for his many sterling qualities, and his death is greatly regretted by old and young. He was a fine sport, and had been a prominent playing member of the Creswick Football Club and the Creswick Basketball Club. The bereaved mother and relatives have the deep sympathy of a very wide circle of friends in their sad and sudden bereavement.