In the course of creating the workshop and seminar on how to find your First World War Soldier, Queensland State Archives staff regularly came across references to Corporal Sizer, as he was mentioned frequently in newspapers of the time. With our curiosity stirred, we wanted to find out who this Corporal Sizer was and whether there were any records about him in our collection.
A quick look through the State Archives catalogue came up with this rather nice photograph of Hubert. We then followed our own advice on how to research a First World War soldier and came up with some interesting facts on Hubert’s life, as well as further records in our collection, records from the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, National Archives and the Australian War Memorial, to name a few.
Hubert Ebenezer Sizer was born in Cambridge, England in 1893. In 1911 the family migrated to Melbourne where Sizer joined The Age newspaper. Later that year he transferred to the Daily Mail in Brisbane and was involved in the formation of the Queensland branch of the Australian Journalists’ Association.
At the time of his enlistment in 1914, Hubert lived with his parents Ebenezer and Harriet Sizer at Constitution Road, Wilston. He was 21 years old. He enlisted at the Enoggera Army camp on 24 September 1914 as a Private in the 3rd Infantry Brigade, 9th Battalion, D Company, and later embarked on the Omrah for Gallipoli. His attestation papers list his occupation at the time as ‘contractor’.
Hubert was relatively lucky in that he was never physically injured during his time in Gallipoli; however he didn’t come away from the campaign unscathed. In late August 1915 he was admitted to the No 1 Australian Station Hospital on Lemnos Island – like many soldiers – with dysentery.
After his involvement in the capture of some Turkish guns, Hubert was promoted to the rank of Corporal on 3 July 1915. He returned to Australia on the Ascanasius on 17 March 1916 and was given a medical discharge on 16 June 1916, as he was suffering from exopthalmic goitre (otherwise known as Grave’s disease). His return was posted in List 89 ‘Returned Soldiers’ in local newspapers.
Back in Australia, Hubert supported the conscription campaigns of W. M. Hughes and traversed Queensland addressing recruiting rallies. Presiding over the formation of the Returned Soldiers and Patriots’ League, he opposed the anti-conscriptionist stance of the TJ Ryan Labor government.
In 1917 Hubert married Florence Jane Sturgiss (who died in 1920) then later Ruby Ann Hawkins in 1923. He entered politics in 1918 and served in the Queensland Legislative Assembly representing Nundah until 1923 and Sandgate until 1935. He was a member of the Nationalist Party, the United Party of Queensland, and then the Country and Progressive National Party. Hubert was instrumental in the initiation and establishment of the Queensland Bureau of Economics and Statistics, making the first public announcement of the establishment of the bureau at the Australian Federated Institute of Accountants on 4 July 1929.
Other records at QSA reveal that Hubert’s military details were recorded in the Windsor Honour Roll, so his name could later be included on the Windsor War Memorial. The notes state he was ‘amongst [the] reinforce[ments] to land at [the] Dardanelles’.
Second World War military records indicate that the Sizer family was living in Victoria, as both Hubert’s sons Jack (born 1920) and William (born 1926) enlisted in Victoria to serve in the Second AIF and RAAF respectively.
During the latter years of his life, due to business and family interests, Hubert had residences in Melbourne and Herston, Brisbane. It was in this period of his life that Hubert decided to write his memoirs, as is evidenced by his correspondence with the Department of Industrial Affairs included in departmental correspondence held at QSA Hubert maintained his life-long interest in economics and industrial affairs, particularly in Queensland.
Hubert’s Intestacy file tells us that on 4 May 1973 he died aged 79 from a heart attack. He was a retired company director residing at his son William’s property Romseyvale in Murrindindi Victoria. His wife Ruby had died sometime before. Hubert was survived by his three sons, Jack, William and Peter and his daughter, Jill. Hubert’s will shows that he provided for his children and Ruby’s sister Enid Ortt