This touching little leather, coin purse worn so thin from use, with a corner mended with black cotton was recently re-discovered in a drawer in our Watts Cottage, Ilfracombe.
Volunteer Bergliot Dallas found it when she was spring cleaning. When she brought it in to show us we all gently stroked the soft leather – it is that sort of object.
Hetty Watts’ Purse
We know from its catalogue number that this purse was owned by the third youngest daughter and sixth child born to John Francis and Jane Watts in November 1878. Christened Harriet Maria she was always called Hetty (sometimes she spelt it Hettie.)
Hetty never married and we believe her sweetheart died in WWI. Bergliot had earlier written an interpretation of Hetty’s life based around her precious notebook safely stored in our fire proof filing cabinet. You can read Bergliot’s moving piece in the Museum – it is one of our Treasures of the Museum booklets written by volunteers in 2010.
After her mother‘s death in 1935 Hetty lived on at Ilfracombe until 1958. She died in 1962 aged 84 and is buried in Sorrento Cemetery. Her little purse is on display now.
A Mystery Jacket with a Famous Connection
Some questions regarding the jacket held in The Museum are being answered.
Royal Australian Artillery Jacket
According to the Curator at Fort Queenscliff, Sgt Helen Janner, the uniform with the patrol style collar shows it is not from an Officer but a Non-commissioned officer or Other Rank’s. The sleeve insignia denotes the rank of a Warrant Officer class 2, of Heavy Artillery (Coastal Artillery). And due to the brass buttons insignia, ‘Royal Australian Artillery’ it is of pre world war 1 circa. She thinks perhaps around 1908. It is either The Garrison Artillery 1, (NSW) or The Garrison Artillery 2 (Victoria, Fort Queenscliff). Given its current home the latter seems more likely. As the battery at Pt Nepean was part of the Garrison Artillery 2 the owner may well have been posted there.
John Monash c 1888
The uniform is similar to that worn by John Monash who was a member of the Metropolitan Brigade of the Garrison Artillery, who often trained at Queenscliff, pictured here in 1888. The artillery was later reconstructed and from July 1903, Captain Monash’s battery became No.3 Victorian Company, Australian Garrison Artillery.
Our thanks to Sgt Janner for her assistance. We will now focus on who the WO2 owner of the jacket might have been.