Did you know?

It was a WA Dentist who captured the centre of the Ottoman Empire

Popular history tells us that Sir T.E. Lawrence of Arabia drove into Damascus on 1 October 1918. However, it was actually a dentist from Western Australia who outstripped the revered commander by a matter of hours.

Lieutenant-Colonel Arthur Olden, commander of the 10th Australian Lighthorse Regiment, had already arrived at the capital of the Ottoman Empire and encircled the town hall. Drawing his revolver, Olden entered and formally received the surrender of Governor Emir Said before Lawrence was even in sight of the city. The document of surrender handed to the Lieutenant-Colonel hails him as the first “to enter Damascus, in the bravest manner known of the Saxon race”.

Despite Sir Lawrence’s memoirs and Hollywood blockbusters, Australian Lieutenant-General Sir Harry Chauvel notes that English forces were far from the first to enter Damascus:

“The first of the Arab forces to enter Damascus were those who followed Lawrence in and, by that time, an Australian Brigade and at least one regiment of Indian Cavalry had passed right through.”

Caretakers to our local history.

Image courtesy SLWA

Recently, the conservation team at the State Library of Western Australia authenticated a number of maps belonging to Lieutenant Olden. These documents outline much of the campaign to drive the Ottoman Empire back into Damascus and are important relics of international and local history. Thankfully, collections such as these exist to preserve this information within libraries, tasked with the noble duty of caretakers to our history.

At Eaton Community Library we are always collecting for our local history. We have such a rich and varied past in the Shire of Dardanup and it is important to ensure our story is documented and accessible to everyone. Everything from Fee’s Diaries and oral histories of Dardanup, to memoirs of the greater Bunbury area is included in our growing collection. A fantastic recent inclusion has been the The Gravel Pit which tells the story of Charles and Rachel Hill. Their family would go on to comprise much of our Aboriginal population of the local area, including Eaton, Burekup, and Dardanup.

If you would like to do some family history research, we have access to the Ancestry.com database for free (can only be accessed within the library). We also have books on how to do genealogy research. It’s a fascinating subject and something that is easier now than ever before with the online resources available.

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