Frank Esmond Black and Winifred Eileen Ryan

Frank probably worked as a motor mechanic until he bought his first car, a 1914 BSA, and operated a taxi business in Manly in 1914 . Winfred's first child, Hubert Stephen (Bob) was born there in July 1914 ten months after the marriage but their second, Lurline was not born until 1925.

When World War I broke out Frank first enrolled as Frank Esmond Black on 10 March 1915 aged 22 years 9 months while he an Winfred lived in Gunyah in Lauderdale Avenue Manly. This service ended a month later when he was discharged as medically unfit due to a hearing problem. Perhaps his mother had some influence in these events, she was formally divorced from Frank’s father in June 1915 and married Tom Jesson the following month. Undeterred he went to the Showgrounds and enlisted again as Esmond Black in November 1916. In between he spent 11 months guarding German Prisoners of War at Holdsworthy Camp. At the time of his second enrolment he gave his address as Murton in Bridge St. Drummoyne (his mother and step-father lived nearby in St Georges Crescent. Frank was assigned to the 5th Reinforcements Light Trench Mortar Battery as a bomber. Less than a month later they embarked on the Orsova for England.

FEB in armyTroopship


After a voyage of two and a half months via Egypt they landed at Plymouth in mid February 1917. After 56 days training in southern England he left for France. He may have spent no more than 2 days in Le Havre before he was again found to have a hearing problem and by August he was back in England with a training battalion in Weymouth while his deafness was assessed. In early November the Army decided his condition was too severe for active service and sent him back to Australia for discharge. He left the AIF for the second time in February 1918. His address when leaving the army was ‘Ashley’, Wright’s Rd Drummoyne.

Despite being twice discharged on medical grounds Frank enlisted for the third time in June 1919 under his full name but did not mention his previous discharges on medical grounds although he stated he had served 2 years in the 1st battalion of the AIF. At this time he and Winifred lived at Charles St Liverpool. Captain Tindall the medical officer who examined him considered him fit for active service and he was signed up for the Special AIF. However 20 days later he was discharged this time for the last time and at his own request.

FEB in taxi

Frank continued with his taxi business for some time after the War and then became a master plumber and the family moved to Canberra in the 1920s and Frank worked as a plumber on the Parliament House and during this time Bob went to school in Goulburn. They moved back to Sydney and lived at 26 Penkivil St. Bondi in 1926 and 1927. Frank then had a business importing Coronola gramophones in Sydney but his accountant absconded with the profits and Frank was forced into bankruptcy. At this time he changed his name to Esmond-Black. Lurline was born at home on 10 July 1925. Later the family lived with his mother at 105 St. Georges Crescent Drummoyne. Clara died in 1933 and creditors claimed most of Clara’s estate but enough was saved for Frank and Winifred to buy an acreage garden in King Street, Rossmore. He was still a plumber/gas fitter and also operated a saw mill.

Win’s brother Claude also came to Australia and married Charlotte, known as Jane, in Melbourne during the Depression of the 1920s. Win learnt from her elder sister that Claude and jane were living in poverty in a park in Melbourne and their baby daughter had died of exposure. After the death Win and Frank convinced them to join them in Sydneyand thy arranged a passage by ship for Jane and the two boys basil and Ronald (Mickey). Unwilling to accept charity Claude rode his bike from Melbourne to Rossmore. Frank leased a small farm for him virtually next door in Bellfield Ave., Rossmore and Claude also worked in the sawmill. Later Claude worked for the local Council until he enlisted in the Army as a driver in 1933 and spent five years in the 30th Battalion. When War broke out he re-enlisted in May 1941 and was sent to Darwin and then on to Timor with the Sparrow Force.