Royal Reels: Gambling


The cover has a manuscript ‘Herbertshoe (sic)/ Garrison’ and the red 1d ‘Roo on Map of Australia’ stamp has been cancelled with a straight line purple HERBERTSHÖHE handstamp. It is addressed to Mrs.Goadby, Rowanhurst, McMillan Street, North Sydney, N.S.Wales. There is a red ms. ‘Censored’ and the sender is identified as ‘B.T. Goadby/ Lieut RAS/ o/c Lands & Survey’. The reverse was not seen, but the vendor states it was sent in 1914 (Figure 1).

Bede Theodoric Goadby, soldier and botanical collector, was born at Kasauli in the Himalayas, India, the son of Major Goadby, in 1862. He went to England for his education and then he joined the Royal Engineers where he became an expert in explosives. From England he went to Albany, Western Australia in 1895, when he was lent by the British Government for 3 years to superintend the laying of submarine bombs at the entrance to Albany Harbour. After this he transferred to the Commonwealth of Australia forces, a group which had formed ca. 1901 at the time of Federation. Two other references gave dates of 1903 and 1905 for the laying of bombs, for there were fears in 1893 of Russian attacks on Australian ports (See addendum below).

Goadby was a very keen collector of botanical specimens and this had been a hobby for him for a number of years. On his arrival in Australia, he became most enthusiastic about the native flora, and he spent much time collecting specimens, most of which he sent to the Kew Herbarium in England. In 1914, Goadby was sent with the First Contingent from Sydney, (thus the Sydney home address of his wife at the time of the cover), to New Britain. From here he sent specimens of the local tropical botanicals to the noted Australian Botanist, Joseph Henry Maiden (1859-1925), for him to describe.

On his retirement in 1918 Goadby and his wife went to live in Western Australia studying and collecting the great variety of W.A. botanical specimens. For several years he was President of the W.A. Naturalists Club and in November 1933 he joined the Field Naturalists Club of Victoria, taking a very keen interest in its activities. During the later years of his life he became chiefly interested in the study of orchids. He made many collections of these and sent them not only to the Kew Gardens, but also to the Western Australian State Herbarium and to the National Herbarium of Victoria in Melbourne. An orchid bears his name: Acianthus tenuissimus Nicholls & Goadby, the Dwarf Mosquito Orchid.

Addendum 1 (February 2009): A Russian scientist, Nikolai Nikolayevich Miklukho-Maklay, living in Australia at least 3 decades prior to WWI, sent communiques to Russia (which eventually went to the level of the Tsar), which commented on the strategic significance of some Australian ports. “For example, he affirmed, that capture of the Albany port by a hostile navy on the southern coast of Western Australia could easily interrupt navigation between Australia and Europe and significantly harm the Australian policy. He did not take into account considerable remoteness of Albany from bases of any potential aggressor and impossibility to hold it for any prolonged period of time.

“Nevertheless, let us not forget, that Albany had acquired a certain military-strategic significance at the beginning of WWI when it had become a base for forming of convoys for transportation of Australian and New Zealand troops to the Middle East and Europe over a way safer than around the northern end of Australia, which was under a threat of attack of German raiders. Powerful coastal batteries on the Albany coast were dismantled only after WWII” – (quoted from A.Ya. Massov. Russia and Australia in the second half of the XIX century, 1998).Addendum 2 (February 2009): As the 19th. century progressed, suggestions were also made to fortify the northern side of Princess Royal Harbour, Albany with cannons to defend the P & O coal station. In the early-to-mid 1880’s the threat of another war between Russia and Britain over the issue of Afghanistan raised the spectre of a possible Russian sea-borne attack on the Australian colonies. In Albany this fear was allayed by the dispatch of two warships by the British Admiralty from Sydney to King George Sound. Coinciding with this paranoia, the Federal Council of Australian States agreed that; the fortification and defence of King George Sound and Princess Royal Harbour was of strategic importance to all of the Australian Colonies in the event of armed conflict with a foreign power.

In 1889-1890, agreement was reached to proceed with the construction of defence facilities. The following year military commanders from each of the Australian colonies came to Albany to plan the fortifications. They recommended the building of barracks, magazines, the installation of a battery of artillery supported by machine guns and a mine field laid across the entrance to Princess Royal Harbour. The fortifications were completed in 1892, with guns installed the following year. Albany’s strategic location attracted visiting war ships from all nations, as well as Australian troop ships and convoys en-route to conflicts in the Sudan, North Africa and the Boer War in South Africa.

I wish to acknowledge that the majority of Goadby’s biography was received from an obituary provided by Rosanne Walker, Librarian, Australian Academy of Science, Canberra A.C.T.

Categories: Science