A Watch with a History in Australia and WW1

Did you come by your watch in an interesting way? Does your watch come with a story? Provenance adds value ... and interest too. Tell your watch provenance story here.

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A Watch with a History in Australia and WW1

New postby Wazza » Tue Jun 02, 2009 7:08 am

A year or so ago, I bought a job lot of bits and pieces from an old watchmakers son when he was cleaning out his late father’s workshop in a village called Snug, near Hobart, Tasmania Australia.

In the job lot was a black mass that looked like a pocket watch that had gone through a bushfire or been buried in the garden for a while. I got around to cleaning it up the other day and the ultrasonic bath turned up an engraving on the back cover “Gunner J J Avard”. It would date correctly from about 1914 to 16. It is a stem wound pin set Swiss Made cylinder movement pocket watch of 44 mm diameter, could be gold rolled or filled but most likely originally plated. It is nothing special as a watch, but it has a story.

I researched Gunner Avard in the Australian National Archives site and BINGO.....10 pages of photocopies of his WW1 records....(including wounding and gassing and a hernia operation)

James Justen AVARD from Tamworth NSW – Horse machine driver. Date on enlistment 25 years and 10 months (therefore born about 1890)
Enlisted Marrickville NSW on 11th Jan 1916
Posted via Field Reinforcements (2/4th DAC) as an Artillery Driver to 26th Battery, 7th Field Artillery Brigade (presumably in England) in May 1916
(Note that 107 Howitzer Bty was part of this brigade and it is my own unit, 107 Field Battery RAA with which I served in Malaya and Borneo in the 60’s and in Vietnam in 1970)
Proceeded overseas to France ex Southampton on 29th Dec 1916
Acting/Bdr – 16-5-1917
Returned To Australia 15-1-1918
Discharged 2nd Military District 1-6-1918

I made a couple of calls to Avards in NSW and on the second call to Somerton NSW , near Tamworth, spoke to his amazed son who is 76 years old who tells me his father also re-enlisted in 1940 (actually it was 1942 way up in the back of beyond where he was droving cattle in Queensland and probably because of the Japanese threat of invasion) and was discharged in 1945 as a Warrant Officer...I found the records for this as well.

AVARD, JAMES JUSTIN Australian Army Number: Q207911
Born: 18 Mar 1890 at BECLIVE, NSW
Enlist 3 May 1942 at CERATODUS, QLD
Discharge EIDSVOLD, QLD (presumably at war’s end)
Spouse/wife: AVARD, AMELIA
Private 10 BATTALION VOLUNTEER DEFENCE CORPS QLD

I have restored the watch case to the best state I can but I am not a watchmaker and it needs to have the face re-furbished, hands fitted and the movement seen to (cylinder balance shaft is broken)

I intend to refurbish the face, add hands and make a home for the item at North Fort, Manly NSW at the headland on the northern entrance to Sydney Harbour, with the copies of the service record and a brief story. This is the Artillery in Australia’s official museum and they have jumped at the prospect
It is a small but significant piece of Australian Artillery history.
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Gunner J J Avard's watch WW1 with the Avard inscription - the family was originally French. In the early 1800's they came to Australia and changed the name from d'Avard to Avard.
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Front of Avards Watch with a crystal replaced by me. If you look very hard you can see the remnants of the painted roman numerals on it.
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Avards watch
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The insides, NO that's not my fingerprint.
IMG_0271.JPG
IMG_0272.JPG
Warren Feakes
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Re: A Watch with a History in Australia and WW1

New postby veritas » Tue Jun 02, 2009 1:36 pm

Thanks for sharing Warren, interesting story.
My father was in the RCNVR.
I have a few pictures of ships he was on.
He joined when he was 17 and left at the end of the second war.
The only watch i have which is what he wore.Is a wrist watch marked Active Service on the dial and has a Swiss made movement.
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Re: A Watch with a History in Australia and WW1

New postby Irwin » Tue Jun 02, 2009 6:33 pm

Thanks Warren. A nice bit of research with the reward of a great story. It is the side of watch collecting that brings life to our inanimate watches.
This is one gunner who will not be forgotten.
IF
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Re: A Watch with a History in Australia and WW1

New postby Stephan » Wed Jun 03, 2009 12:43 am

Welcome to our group and thanks for an interesting story.
I would hazard a guess and say the case may have originally had a nickle plated finish.
This was a common finish often seen on vintage cars in place of chrome plating which later replaced nickle.
Someone may also be able to point you in the direction of a dial re finisher.
I think your dial would come up very well.
Learning all the time.
Stephan Gaal

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Re: A Watch with a History in Australia and WW1

New postby Wazza » Wed Jun 03, 2009 3:24 am

Thanks Stephan, Just recently, because I was/am also a veteran motorcycle buff, I went to the electroplater who used to do my bike bits. He can do everything up to 24Ct Gold plate. He will re-plate the watch case for me in Nickle or chrome or gold. I actually think, as I saw the watch before I cooked it up in the ultrasonic, that it might have been gold or faux gold plate as it had bits of it still hanging about. I asked the son but he had never seen the watch.
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Re: A Watch with a History in Australia and WW1

New postby Marty101 » Fri Jun 05, 2009 1:59 am

Great story, Warren.
Thanks-nice work.
Keep winding things,
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Re: A Watch with a History in Australia and WW1

New postby burtman » Mon Feb 15, 2010 6:33 am

G'day all,I have been researching relo's, i googled my paternal grandmother, Hilda avard, and was sent to this site . The above watch belonged to my grandmothers brother, Gunner Avard. It's a very small world , g'day to all from gods backyard, Australia.
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Re: A Watch with a History in Australia and WW1

New postby Glyn Meredith » Mon Feb 15, 2010 7:24 am

Welcome to GH, Brett. It's good to see you posting - especially about this watch.
Posted on GH recently? Your posts keep us going.

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Re: A Watch with a History in Australia and WW1

New postby Wazza » Mon Feb 15, 2010 8:37 am

burtman wrote:G'day all,I have been researching relo's, i googled my paternal grandmother, Hilda avard, and was sent to this site . The above watch belonged to my grandmothers brother, Gunner Avard. It's a very small world , g'day to all from gods backyard, Australia.


Hi, Warren Feakes here, It is a pleasure to hear from you and indeed a small world. The watch will be well cared for and will be a stunning exhibit in the North Fort Artillery Museum when finished. Your Grand Uncle will be well remembered.
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Re: A Watch with a History in Australia and WW1

New postby burtman » Wed Feb 17, 2010 12:27 am

g'day waz, thats great,im really proud, you spoke to his son ,was that Tom,i tried to email you and send a pm, but i did not work, maybe you could email me.I spoke to a frenchman at work,he said they prob dropped the d from their name before they came to australia. He said a d in the name in france ment a family of nobility, they would have changed their names to protect their heads during the revolution, anyone high born or in office where targeted for a pretty horrid death.hope to here from you, ta brett
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