Pratt Family History


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Charles Edmund PRATT 1908-1979


Charles Edmund was born on 19 February 1908, the third child to Henry George Pratt and Emily Maud Pratt (nee Child). The family were living at 49 Russell Rd Hendon London in the County of Middlesex, England. 

Life & Times of the period:
Troubled times of social and industrial change welcomed Charles into the world. Charles was born under the rule of King Edward VII and a newly elected Liberal Government led by Prime Minister Herbert Asquith. At the time the population of the United Kingdom was about 42 million people. When Edward VII came to the throne, in 1901, Britain was no longer the only "workshop of the world." The Industrial Revolution was now in full swing in other countries. Germany, the United States, and Japan competed strongly with Britain in foreign markets. Unemployment soon became chronic. Serious unrest stirred the working classes.

In 1908, the Old Age Pensions Act was passed, granting pensions to all old people with a small income. On Jan. 1, 1909, over half a million men and women drew their first pensions. Pensions and the constantly expanding navy vastly increased the expenses of the British government. The National Insurance Act (1912) introduced wage earners to unemployment and sickness benefits.

In the midst of these parliamentary struggles, Edward VII died (1910). He was succeeded by his only surviving son, George V

The Second Industrial Revolution marked great progress in the methods of mass production. Electric power replaced steam power in factories. Human power was replaced by machine power. The assembly line greatly increased the speed of manufacture and soon was used in many industries.

By the outbreak of World War I in 1914, only a small number of industries in the most industrialised nations of the world had adopted advanced production methods and organization. Much of the world had not yet begun a first industrial revolution. Russia, Canada, Italy, and Japan were just beginning to industrialise. Only Great Britain, the United States, Germany, France, and some parts of the Scandinavian countries had successfully completed an industrial revolution. Most of the world's population still worked in primitive agricultural economies. China, India, and Spain did not begin to industrialise until well into the 20th century.

On the eve of World War I the people of Great Britain were concerned with militant suffragettes, workingmen's strikes, and an Irish crisis. War broke out with startling suddenness on Aug. 1, 1914 when Germany invaded Belgium. Britain declared war three days later, and the British dominions and colonies were automatically drawn in. British and empire troops fought in France and Belgium, at Gallipoli, and in Palestine, while the navy held the seas and prevented food and supplies from reaching Germany. 702,410 British men lost their lives in the war.

Lloyd George became the war leader in 1916 when he succeeded Asquith as head of the Nationalist government, a coalition of Liberal and Conservative parties.

In 1918 Lloyd George's government passed an Education Act abolishing all fees in state-supported elementary schools. The same year it granted the right to vote to single women over 30 and married women over 35 who met certain property qualifications. In 1919 women became eligible for Parliament.

After the war, people hoped that they could go back to normal however over 2 million men came home from the war to look for jobs. Many of them could not find work or a place to live. There were food and fuel shortages

The war had vastly increased the national debt. By imposing heavy income taxes, the government managed to balance the budget while increasing payments to the unemployed. Industrial peace, however, did not return. After a few years of prosperity, exports declined and unemployment rose. A wave of strikes engulfed the country.

Between the age 12 to 14 (1920-1922) Charles attended Willesden Lower Place Council Elementary School, leaving with excellent reports and a Scholarship in Art. At this time the family were residing at 49 Twy-Bridge Way, Willesden, London. The family were not well off and because of this Charles was required to find a job to help support the family. Most families had to live on 15 shillings a week.  (refer to value of money ).

3-7-1922 to 15-3-1923 (8 months) Charles was employed by a Mr Belcher at Fiat Motors Ltd Wembley, as an Office Worker, on 12 Shillings per week rising to 14 Shilling per week.

23-3-1923 to 9-5-1923 (2 months) he was a Shop Boy at Fellows Magneto Ltd Park Royal for Mr Pett, starting on 14 shillings and Eight pence per week.

14-5-1923 to 7-7-1923 (2 months) employed as a Shop Boy at Rotax Ltd Willesden Junction NW10 by a Mr Perry, starting on 14 shillings and Twopence per week.

14-7-1923 to 14-1-1924 (6 months) as a cycle delivery boy at Staffords, grocer of 61 Lechmere Rd, Willesden Green, starting on 15 Shillings per week. Charles was nearly 16 years old now.

During his initial employment he endeavoured to pursue the Art Scholarship in the evenings after work, by biking 20 miles to the Art College and back again, during all weathers. This was most difficult to keep up and eventually had to be abandoned.

Under Stanley Baldwin as Prime Minister, the Conservatives returned to power for almost five years (1924-29). Again unemployment relief was increased. The cause of unemployment was the shrinking world market for British coal, textiles, and steel. The unions called a general strike in 1926 to force through their demands.

At the age of 18 years on 6-5-1926, while residing at 29 Silchester Rd, St Leonards, Charles was appointed a Special Police Constable #246 for the Borough of Hastings, during the 1926 General Strike of Britain.

The General Strike of 1926:
In 1926 the mine owners decided to cut the already low wages even more. They wanted to make British coal cheaper so that they could sell it to European countries. The miners were told that they would have to work longer hours for less money.

Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin headed the Conservative government during the General Strike of 1926. In the General Strike (May 4-12, 1926) Baldwin proclaimed a state of emergency. He organized volunteers to maintain essential services and refused to negotiate with labour leaders until the strike ended. Approximately 3 million people in support of the coal miners, ceased work in the only nation-wide strike ever embarked upon in the UK, which lasted 7 days. With the assistance of the armed forces, docks were re-opened and foodstuffs unloaded. Thousands of enthusiastic volunteers, learned to drive the trains and buses, unloaded ships and 50,000 were enrolled as special constables in the police force. Special constables were unpopular and were given an armband and a baton and helped volunteers to get through the strikers, picket lines and demonstrations to ensure that no non-striker be molested in the performance of their duties. On May 12 the strike was quickly ended except for the coal miners, the most distressed of the workers, who were left to struggle on alone to defeat and even lower wages seven months later.

The regular election of 1929 favoured the Labour party, and MacDonald formed a cabinet. The world depression dislocated international trade and currencies and plunged Britain into a financial crisis. The number of unemployed mounted to nearly 3 million. The leaders of the three parties then formed a coalition cabinet called the National government. MacDonald retained the premiership, but he now owed his support chiefly to the Conservatives. The Labour party had expelled him when his government introduced drastic economies. He resigned in 1935 and Baldwin again became Prime Minister.


At the age of 20 years after spending some time in Europe, Charles and a friend flipped a coin. Heads, they would join the Navy or tails they would head for Australia. It came down tails and true to their word they sailed on board the "SS Balranald" in April 1928 bound for Australia and new adventures and hopefully better fortunes. His brother Cyril was already living and married in Perth with a new born son, Dennis.

Charles Edmund Pratt Charles at North Cottesloe Beach, Western Australia, Aged 20, shortly after arriving in Australia.


By 1930, then aged 22, Charles had met Mary Esther Campbell (Dolly). They were married in Perth on 24-9-1931, both aged 23 years. Another 2 years were to be spent in Western Australia before moving to Sydney. They went via Adelaide SA, being in that city during March 1934, now aged 26.



On September 1, 1939, WW2 starts after Germany invades Poland. The Japanese join the War by bombing Pearl Harbour on December 7, 1941, bringing USA into the war.

At the time of Charles enlistment as a soldier, aged 34, on 2 February 1942, they had a Drapery business at Bondi. They lived nearby at Flat 3, 8 Hastings Pde, Bondi, and shortly after moved to the top flat at 124 Hastings Pde, North Bondi.

His total enlistment was from 2 February 1942 to 7 January 1946, a total of 1,436 days (4 years), of which 1,142 days were active service, 223 days being spent overseas. Army No N218861, rank 'Gunner" in the Australian Supply Depot Platoon AASC. A course of instruction for 'cooking and catering' was undertaken in December 1942 and another completed in June 1943, qualifying as Warrant Officer Caterer.

It was towards the end of the war, approx December 1944 to December 1945, that his Overseas Tour of Duty was spent in New Guinea with the Search Light Division. It was during this period that Charles contracted an ear infection that troubled him for the remainder of his life.

Life & Times of the Period:
The Philippines finally fell to the Japanese in May 1942. Also by May, Singapore, the Netherlands Indies, Burma, and parts of New Britain and New Guinea were in Japanese hands. Australia was seriously threatened. Darwin in northern Australia was heavily bombed on February 1942. During World War II, Darwin was bombed repeatedly by Japanese planes until mid-1942.

On March 8, 1942 Japanese invade New Guinea, landing at Salamaua and Lae. The Battle of Midway had stopped the Japanese in the central Pacific, but they continued to advance in the southwest Pacific along the Solomon's chain and overland on New Guinea. On July 2, 1942, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) directed the naval and ground forces in the south and southwest Pacific to halt the Japanese, drive them out of the Solomon's and north-eastern New Guinea, and eliminate the great base the Japanese had established at Rabaul, on New Britain in the Bismarck Archipelago (now in Papua New Guinea).

September 1942, American and Australian forces started to drive the Japanese out of New Guinea.

Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands finally fell to United States Marines and Army infantry forces in February 1943. This ended six months of bloody jungle warfare. During the fight for Guadalcanal a large part of the Japanese fleet was destroyed.

In March & July of 1943 General MacArthur and Adm. W.F. ("Bull") Halsey worked closely together. Their aim was to drive the Japanese out of eastern New Guinea, the Solomon's, and the Bismarck Archipelago. By early September Allied efforts had cleared an outer ring of positions covering Australia. Meanwhile Americans and Canadians had also cleaned out the enemy force in the Aleutian Islands.

In The Pacific, U.S. troops retook Attu, in the Aleutians, in a hard-fought, 3-week battle beginning on May 23, 1943. (the Japanese evacuated Kiska before Americans and Canadians landed there in August.) The main action was in the southwest Pacific. There U.S. and New Zealand troops, under Admiral William Halsey, advanced through the Solomons, taking New Georgia in August and a large beachhead on Bougainville in November. On September 22, 1943. Australian troops land north of Finschhafen, New Guinea. Australians and Americans under MacArthur drove the Japanese back along the East Coast of New Guinea and took Lae and Salamaua in September.

In November 1943, a Marine-Army force invaded the Gilbert Islands. A Marine division stormed ashore on Tarawa. This resulted in some of the bloodiest fighting of the war. The capture of the island cost the Marine Corps some 3,000 casualties.

MacArthur's troops in the southwest Pacific continued their island-hopping attack into December. By the end of 1943 Australia was no longer threatened by the Japanese. Allied forces would soon be ready to invade the Philippines.

The Battle of the Philippine Sea :

Operations against Japan in the Pacific picked up speed in 1944. In March, the JCS projected advances by MacArthur through north-western New Guinea and into the Philippines and by Nimitz across the central Pacific to the Marianas and Caroline Islands. The Japanese, on their part, were getting ready for a decisive naval battle east of the Philippines.

After making leaps along the New Guinea coast to Aitape, Hollandia, and Wakde Island in April and May, MacArthur's troops landed on Biak Island on May 27. Airfields on Biak would enable U.S. planes to harass the Japanese fleet in the Philippines. A striking force built around the world's two largest battleships, Yamato and Musashi, was steaming toward Biak on June 13 when the U.S. Navy began bombing and shelling Saipan in the Marianas. The Japanese ships were then ordered to turn north and join the First Mobile Fleet of Admiral Ozawa Jisaburo, which was heading out of the Philippines toward the Marianas. On June 19 and 20, Ozawa met U.S. Task Force 58, under Admiral Marc A. Mitscher, in the Battle of the Philippine Sea. The outcome was decided in the air and under the sea. Ozawa had five heavy and four light carriers; Mitscher had nine heavy and six light carriers. On the first day, in what was called the Marianas Turkey Shoot, U.S. fighters downed 219 of 326 Japanese planes sent against them. While the air battle was going on, U.S. submarines sank Ozawa's two largest carriers, one of them his flagship; and on the second day, dive-bombers sank a third big carrier. After that, Ozawa steered north toward Okinawa with just 35 planes left. It was the end for Japanese carrier aviation. Mitscher lost 26 planes, and 3 of his ships suffered minor damage.

In February 1944 Admiral Nimitz's forces advanced more than 2,000 miles from Hawaii to seize Kwajalein atoll and Eniwetok in the Marshall Islands. The next advance was some 1,200 miles to the Marianas. By mid-August Saipan, Tinian, and Guam had fallen to the Allies. New, long-range Superfortress planes (B-29s) were used to bomb Japan. Plans were made to seize the Philippines as a base for the invasion of Japan.

The Philippines were invaded by General MacArthur's forces at Leyte Island in October. After savage fighting by land, sea, and air forces the conquest of Leyte was complete about Christmas Day 1944.

Early in 1945 General MacArthur's forces in the Pacific landed an invasion force at Lingayen Gulf in Luzon. To recapture the island they took the same road the Japanese had used when they conquered the island four years earlier. Effective resistance in Manila ended in late February. It took many months, however, for the Americans to clear out the last pockets of fanatical Japanese resistance in the Philippines.

The Japanese accepted Allied surrender terms on August 15. On September 2, 1945 (this date was September 1 in the United States), Japan formally surrendered aboard the battleship Missouri anchored in Tokyo Bay.


During the War, a son, Colin Charles was born on 19 October. Following discharge from the Army, an exciting new career was to begin as a Steward on the Qantas Lancastrians, flying world wide from a base at Sydney. This was to end after an incident on a return flight from India. Substituting for a fellow Steward who wanted to take the earlier flight, Charles disembarked at Ceylon and handed over to the awaiting crew. The plane was overhauled and took off for Perth via the Cocos Islands. Charles picked up the following plane and passengers and flew the same route. The first Lancaster lost radio contact after 6 hours, 2 hours short of Cocos. After searching for 4 days for the plane, 5 crew and 5 passengers, Charles arrived home to find his wife distraught, believing Charles to be on the missing flight which was never found. Resignation followed and a position of Waiter was accepted at one of Sydney's night spots 'Restaurant-Cabaret'. Charles wrote a letter graphically outlining this incident. This letter survives to this day.

It was at Merrylands (Sydney NSW) that Charles was able to express his love of gardening and painting. He had a marvellous vegetable garden and colourful flower display and painted the house colourfully. This house was demolished in 2001.

Working in the city in the hotel industry, as usual on the late shift, he often caught the last train home, only to fall asleep and ending up at the at the end of the line and had to walk home from there.

Charles had his appendix removed and had treatment for a duodenal ulcer.



Colin Charles was born on 19 October 1943 at King George V Memorial Hospital, Camperdown Sydney NSW, the first child to Charles Edmund Pratt and Mary Esther Pratt (nee Campbell).

WWII was in progress at the time and Colin's father was in active service as a soldier in the army based in Australia. At the time the family was residing in the top flat at 124 Hastings Pde, North Bondi, a suburb of Sydney. The flat looked out over the North Bondi Golf Links to the East and the famous Bondi Beach to the South West. When Colin was one year old his father was sent to the jungles of New Guinea to fight the invading Japanese for a period of one year. This would have been an a distressful period for a mother with a young child.

Colin spent his early years at this address and was nearly 3 years old when he was joined by a sister Linda Mary born on 25 September 1946. Childhood memories consisted of a pet Bantam Cock which was later given to friends who lived at Hornsby. A rocking horse which was beaten to a pulp by a hail storm. Times spent on the golf links where one day their mother was hit on the chest by a golf ball which may have contributed to her breast cancer some 12 years later. Excited by ghost stories narrated by their father as they explored the gun emplacements at the north end of the golf links, where we discovered that an eerie sound was emitted from someone practicing his Saxophone. Many hours was spent at Bondi Beach in the surf and in the Bogie hole (a natural rock hole) where Colin learnt to swim.

Colin's first school recollections were of St Clairs College, a Catholic school, on the corner of Church and Carrington Road, Waverly. Although only a vague memory, it was at this time that Colin's Grandmother Pratt and Aunty Iris spent a period of time in Sydney, with Aunty Iris aged 38, working as a Wards Maid at Sydney Hospital in 1950.

At the age of 6 (1949) the family moved to 75 Walpole Street Merrylands in the Western Suburbs, the families first house, where the next 4 years were spent. It was here that Colin was introduced to music, learning the Banjo and spending the next 6 rears with this instrument. It was a period where milk and bread was still delivered by horse and cart but were fast succumbing to motor driven vehicles.

Colin attended North Parramatta Primary school....................................

It was in 1953 at the age of 10 years that the family moved to 20 Queens Road Hurstville. Colin can remember his father bringing home a 1952 Holden car, second hand, and the first car the family owned.The house had a fibro outer but floral carpet throughout, interior glass doors with sandblasted scenes, a pianola, radiogram, good furniture, bay windows, lock-up garage, large block of land fully planted with mature trees and shrubs and a tennis court with flood lighting for night tennis. Naturally the whole family played tennis and Colin represented the school in the tennis team as well as playing club tennis and competitions.

Colin started at Hurstville Boys Primary school, the girls school was next door as integrated schools were not yet in vogue. Following Primary School Colin attended 3 years at Hurstville Boys High School, leaving in December 1958 at the age of 15, after gaining the Leaving School Certificate. During this time Colin took a part time job as 'lolly boy' at Rockdale Cinema, working odd nights and Saturdays. He was able to enjoy viewing the movies free and assisting in the projection room.

Colin attended the Sunday school at St Georges Church of England, Hurstville, and was baptised there shortly before his Confirmation on 20 November 1958.

His first employment started on 3 December 1958 at the age of 15 with Garrett, Davidson and Matthey, Precious Metal Workers, where he worked or a year as a Machine Setter. With the promise of an Apprenticeship with the company he commenced the Fitting And Machining Trade Course at a technical college.

It was during this year that his mother became ill and had an operation to have a cancerous growth removed from her breast, at Kogarah Hospital. The maintenance of the tennis court now became out of the question for my mother and also because Linda, now 13, required more privacy (we shared a bedroom in the 2 bedroom house), prompted our next house shift to 8 Ferry Street, West Kogarah. Our Hurstville house was sold to Mr and Mrs Lloyd who Colin and Linda would visit some 29 years later in a revisit to the house.

As an Apprenticeship did not eventuate at Garrett, Davidson and Matthey, Colin applied at Standard Telephone and Cables, Alexandria, Sydney and was employer in a 5 year Apprenticed Toolmaker in 1960, aged 16 years.

On 31 August 1961, when 17, Colin's mother died at the age of 53 after having further operations for Cancer. His sister Linda was 14 and his father was also 53. This was the most traumatic event of his life and effected him for some time. She was a great loss to all. Colin and Linda's father took over the role of mother as well as father. He was now Assistant Manager of St. George Motor Boat Club and as usual was still working late shifts including Saturdays, he had Sunday and Mondays off. Mother had spoilt them and it took some time to stand on their own feet. They cooked their own meals at night, as their father was at work and one night after Colin arrived home from Technical College, he set the stove on fire while cooking dinner and had 3 fire engines and 20 firemen arrive to extinguish the fire in the oven. Father was not amused.

In 1965, when Colin was 21, he was working on his Austin A30 car and set a can of petrol alight which spilt on his hands and legs. He spent 3 weeks in Hospital over Christmas, with 2nd and 3rd degree burns.

In 1964 Colin's Father helped finance him into a 1962 EK Holden which was played back in full, with interest, over a 5 year period.

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