Gwendoline Masters (m. frost)
|Last name||Masters (m. frost)|
|Country of Origin||England|
|Date of Birth||11Apr1896|
|Year of Arrival in Australia||1922|
|Submitted by||Pamela Grove|
Gwen was born in Pimlico, England, on 11th April, 1896. Her father was a brass fitter/mechanic. She was the eldest of eight children. She had a very hard life as her mother always worked and Gwen had to look after the younger children. She came home from school every day at lunch to prepare their evening meal. She saved the life of her youngest brother, Billy, with common sense above her years. Her mother was in hospital with ‘milk’ fever after his birth & was too ill to feed him. The doctors sent him home with Gwen. She wouldn’t let the neighbours interfere & with the milkman advising her she was able to feed him. Later, when she went to visit her mother with the baby the doctors were amazed & said they had sent him home to die. He led a normal life, marrying & having children of his own.
She trained as a cook, learning the hard way in other people’s homes. She worked in a munitions factory during the early part of the First World War & on 9th October, 1917, enlisted as a cook in Queen Mary’s Army Auxiliary Corps. She cooked for the soldiers. She was disappointed she wasn’t sent to France – the commanding officer told her she was “too good”. She was discharged at Plumstead on 24th January, 1920. Gwen was baptized at St. Gabriel’s Church, Pimlico, on 31st May, 1896; confirmed at St. George’s Church, Woolwich, on 8th April, 1919. She took her First Communion in a Church Army Hut, in 1919.
After the war she was so disgusted with the way the government treated the returned soldiers (she said they used to beg outside the big stores, some without limbs, etc) that she decided to come to Australia. She received free passage, arriving in Adelaide on 5April1922, on The Hobsons Bay. There she worked in the home of famous cricketer, Clem Hill, who captained Australia ten times.
Gwen travelled to Tamworth, New South Wales, where she met Martin Frost, a returned soldier who had served with the Australian Light Horse in the First World War and took part in the Charge of Beersheba on 31October1917, one of the great battles of modern history. They married in St. Anne’s C of E, North Ryde, NSW, on 24June1926. Their first child Jacqueline was born in Tamworth in 1927, Valerie in 1928, Richard in 1932, & Pamela in 1934; the last three all in Quirindi. During their marriage Martin was away from home often up to three months at a time in shearing sheds. He was a gun shearer.
Things were very hard during the Great Depression but with her skill as a cook & her common sense the family were kept well clothed & fed. At one time, Gwen didn’t have 6d to buy a glass cup. Martin did fencing & other labouring jobs. She belonged to the CWA & cooked cakes & knitted socks & balaclavas for our troops in New Guinea during the Second War. The CWA used to run competitions to see who could knit the most but she was not allowed to compete as she was an excellent knitter and very fast. Later two of these soldiers came to thank her.
In 1943 Gwen left Quirindi with the children to go to Sydney. Jacqueline had already left as there were no suitable jobs available & she wanted to keep the family together. Martin followed later. The family lived in a boarding house at Redfern for a few months and then rented rooms behind a shop in Bondi Junction in 1943. Martin died on 30th April, 1944, due to his active service, leaving two children still at school. Things were very hard again as his death was not accepted as war service until 1948 , when Gwen was granted a War Widows Pension. She joined the War widows Guild and Legacy were a big help.
In 1949 they moved to a new house in Revesby, Jacqueline had married a few months previously & Val moved to Queensland shortly after & Dick enlisted in the RAAF in 1950 after turning eighteen & was serving in Korea when Peace was declared.
Again Gwen worked very hard. She travelled by train and bus to Edgecliff once a week to do another lady’s washing & ironing. She caught the train at 6.30am & one morning a man abused her for being on the train that early. She said “l hope your wife never has to do it’. She then worked very hard at a preschool kindergarten in Bankstown cooking the meals & setting up & taking down heavy beds. With Department of Veterans’ Affairs’ help she assisted Pam to attend a Business College in the city.
c1950 Gwen and Pam moved to a flat in Kingsgrove, in 1955 to a flat in Bondi from where Pam was married later that year. Gwen loved Bondi and was very happy living there. She moved into a hostel at Miranda around 1976.
Gwen died on 22nd August, 1988, aged 92 years, in a nursing home in Jannali, New South Wales. At that time she had four grandsons and two granddaughters and two step grandsons.
Gwen never complained about life & was an excellent mother, always there when her family needed her.