Mum’s watch & other memorabilia
06 June 2020
MORRISET - I just got back Mum's old watch after having it repaired. It's a 50 year old Roamer Swiss which she found in a second hand shop in the 1970s.
She liked it because she could tell the time despite her poor eyesight.
The inscription on the back reads ‘M D McAuley, 6th Light Horse, AIF, 1971’.
From what I can find out, McAuley was a cavalryman who served in the 6th Light Infantry and was part of the Australian Imperial Force.
He saw service in the Middle East and Gallipoli during World War I.
The watch was probably presented to him when he was an old soldier . He would have been about 76 in 1971.
It's possible the watch may have been disposed of or become lost after his death until my mother found it in an Op Shop.
The Australian War Memorial records its original owner as Private Malcolm Durham McAuley, service number 2886, who was a 21 year old motor driver from Forbes, New South Wales when he enlisted in the AIF on 28 January 1916.
On 19 September 1916, McAuley departed from Sydney on the ship pictured, HMAT A25 Anglo Egyptian, seen here embarking McAuley’s unit, the 6th Light Horse.
On the subject of time pieces, I also have the original balcony clock from the 1930s New Gallery Cinema of Regent Street in London.
Again it was Mum who saved it from a rubbish skip when the building was being modernised.
Mum had the clock restored and brought it with the family when we migrated to Australia.
My father had worked in the building after it became a Seventh Day Adventist evangelistic centre in 1954.
I have many fond childhood memories of the old cinema which had an original air raid shelter in the basement complete with bicycle-driven ventilation pumps.
The building had the first Wurlitzer cinema organ to be installed in the United Kingdom and it had the distinction of screening the London premiere of the movie, Snow White.
It also had a magnificent sliding ceiling dome which could be opened in the summer revealing the night sky.
I’m at an age where I remember the last of the great ‘pea-soupers’, when the fog was so thick it crept inside the building and we couldn’t see the screen from the back of the balcony.
You can just make out the clock Mum rescued in the centre of the balcony tier in this picture of the audience from the 1950s.
The building still stand, these days converted into a department store but I believe the dome, the ornate Edwardian plaster work and the Wurlitzer are still there.
I have played on that Wurlitzer, which being a cinema organ had drums, whistles, gongs and the rest for sound effects in the days of silent movies. It’s still occasionally used by the Cinema Organ Society.
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