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SIL ROHU (SYLVESTER EDWIN ROHU) PRACTICAL GUNSMITH

This advert cover was for “Sil Rohu, (Late A.I.F), Successor to W. Graham & Son), Practical Gunsmith, and Importer of High-Grade Guns and, Rifles and Shooters’ Accessories, 110 Bathurst Street, Sydney (Aust.)”. The red 1½d KGV head stamp was cancelled with SYDNEY/ 10PM/ 22 JUN/ 1928/ N.S.W. roller postmark with a slogan COMMONWEALTH LOAN/ NOW OPEN/ APPLY AT ONCE. It was addressed to Mr.H. Woodd Adams, Cookamidgera, NR. PARKES (N.S.W.). The unusual part of the advertisement was the information added by typewriter, as follows: “1928 Open Season for Game in N.S.W., Duck, February 15th to April 10th, Quail, May 15th to July 15th, ( ) Birds, April 15th to July 31st . NO LICENSE REQUIRED FOR SHOTGUNS and RIFLES”. There is also a printed ‘If not claimed in 14 days, please return’ as well as ‘Repairs – OUR HANDS MAKE GOOD ARMS’ (Figures 1 & 2).

Sylvester Edwin Rohu was born in 1882 at Woolloomooloo, Sydney, and his occupation was described as a Naturalist, residing at 14 Moore Street, Sydney, in his WWI enlistment papers on 22 November 1915. He was single, and his mother Mrs A.J. Rohu was described as his next of kin. He was aged 33 at enlistment, and his rank was Acting Bombardier in the Field Artillery Brigade 7, Battery 26 when he embarked from Sydney on board HMAT Argyllshire on 11 May 1916. He served on the Western Front, returned to Australia on 1 July 1919 and was discharged on 2 October 1919. He received the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

There were two in memoriam descriptions of Sil Rohu who was described as a “great Clubman, always ready to pull his weight and to lend a helping hand. Full of fun and practical jokes, I can still hear that infectious chuckle when some other member was the victim of a deep laid plot, but it was a tribute to Sil's make-up that when he himself was the victim the chuckle still remained.”

During WWI Sil, and two of his comrades, were responsible for production of the weekly regimental paper of the 7th Field Artillery Brigade, the "Yandoo," which finished at the end of the war, on his return to Sydney. The typewriter, paper and duplicator were purchased at Durban, South Africa on the way to England with the convoy that conveyed the Third Division A.I.F. The staff worked at high pressure collecting and writing copy and then printing it, and the project was a success from the outset. The equipment travelled on transport vehicles when the Battery moved from one position to another on the Western Front. On one occasion the Germans were advancing too fast and they overran the complete outfit. With the change in the fortunes of war, however, and the advance of the Allies, it was all recovered, and the old typewriter is now preserved in the National War Memorial at Canberra.

In civilian life in 1919, Sil bought a business about which he knew nothing, but within a very short period of time he had built his store up so successfully that it was known right throughout the length and breadth of Australia. Sil's next venture was the foundation of the Vaucluse Amateur Sailing Association out of which came the famous ‘V.J', (Vaucluse Junior) sailing craft. It was largely due to Sil's influence that Sydney Legacy started on the way towards the present highly perfected organisation for caring for the children of deceased soldiers.

Sil married late in life, but again, with his unerring perception, chose a woman who was possessed of the same high ideals as his own, and who ably assisted him in the training of the boys of the Vaucluse Amateur Sailing Association and the children of the Legacy Club. They had no children of their own, but it can be truthfully said that, due to their devotion and untiring efforts in the welfare of both of these Clubs, they were in reality the parents of hundreds.

Sil was interested in outdoor sport, and was acknowledged as an authority on all matters relating to fishing and shooting. Small boat sailing always held his attention. In 1936 it was evident that yacht and sailing clubs could not absorb the number of youths debarred at 18 years of age from further sailing a Vee-Jay, and he with designers were responsible for the development of the Vee-S, so that these young men could continue their sailing.

Sil died on 24 March 1945 and was buried at the Eastern Suburbs Crematorium, Botany, Sydney.


 
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