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CARSTAIRS, Harold Grafton (1875-1943)

CARSTAIRS, Harold Grafton (1875-1943)

Harold Grafton Carstairs practised as a solicitor in Casterton, Edenhope and Ararat. He was a day student at Geelong College from 28 March 1883 until 1889. The family were living in LaTrobe Terrace at the time of Harold's enrolment.

At College he gained the following academic awards:
1883, 2nd, Geography, 2nd Class.
1884, 1st, Arithmetic, 1st Class.
1884, 1st, English, 2nd Class.
1884, 1st, History, 2nd Class.
1885, 2nd, History, 3rd Class.
1886, 1st, Arithmetic, 2nd Class.
1887, 1st, Scripture, 3rd Class.
1887, 1st, Geography, 3rd Class.
1887, 1st, History, 3rd Class.
1888, 1st, Euclid, 3rd Class.
1888, 1st, History, 4th Class.
1889, 1st, Euclid, 4th Class.
1889, 1sy, Scripture, 4th Class.
1889, 2nd, English, 4th Class.

After Geelong College he went on to Ormond College, and Melbourne University where he completed two years of Law, three years of Articles, and sat his final Supreme Court examination.

He then served over two years in the South African war, from February 1900 until May 1902, as a Lieutenant in the Victorian Bushmen’s Corps, and was promoted Captain in the Victorian Mounted Rifles on 8 May 1901, serving with the 5th Mounted Rifles from 22 March 1901 until 5 May 1902. He was awarded the Queen’s Medal with four bars, and the King’s Medal with two bars. In 1903, he resigned his probationary commission in the Geelong Artillery then served with the Transvaal Volunteers from 1903-09. At the conclusion of the Boer War he had remained in South Africa to become a member of the staff of Resident Magistrates in Pretoria and Johannesburg until returning to Australia in the year of his marriage, 1908. On his return to Australia he served with 73rd Infantry Battalion (Militia).

Harold was born in Geelong on 1 February 1875 and was the son of Dr James Grafton Carstairs and Mary Caroline nee Smith. He married Emily Mabel Lee, daughter of Charles Alfred and Clara Jane Lee, in 1909 and they had three children, Joan Mary Staunton Carstairs, born at Geelong in 1910, Nancy Haroldene Carstairs, born at Edenhope in 1912, and Ronald James Carstairs (1915-1994), who had been born at Ararat and boarded at Geelong College.

Harold Carstairs was working as a solicitor, and living at Cassingray, Natimuk at the outbreak of the Great War, when he enlisted in 3rd Divisional Train, 25th Company, Australian Army Service Corps. He embarked at Adelaide on HMAT A19 Afric on 9 June 1916, and served in France from 26 November 1916, having been promoted Captain on 13 May 1916. Late in August 1918 he took leave to England. He returned to Australia, embarking on HMT Kashmir on 9 March 1919, having been Mentioned in Major-General John Monash’s Despatches on 7 April 1918. On 1 February 1930 he was placed on the Reserve List with permission to retain rank of Major and wear uniform.

He died at Cassingray, Natimuk in Western Victoria on 30 July 1943, aged 68.

The Horsham Times published an obituary as follows:
'Mr Harold Grafton Carstairs, for many years one of the best known and esteemed residents of Natimuk, died at his residence on Friday afternoon last. The community mourns the passing of an estimable citizen, whose busy life, with its many interests, had been of real service to the district. The late Mr Carstairs, who, was a barrister and solicitor by profession, was a son of the late Dr J G and Mrs Carstairs, of Geelong, and he was educated at the Geelong College and Ormond College, graduating in law at the Melbourne University.

When the Boer war broke out he enlisted and served overseas with the Fifth Victorian Bushmen. At the conclusion of hostilities he remained in South Africa and became a member of the staff of residents magistrates at Johannesburg and Pretoria. He worked in this capacity for a number of years and returned to Australia in the year 1908. In the following year he married Miss E Lee, daughter of the late Hon C A Lee and Mrs Lee, of Tenterfield (NSW) and Sydney. He practised as a barrister and solicitor at Casterton, Edenhope and Ararat. Shortly after the outbreak of the Great War he again offered himself for active service, and he served in France for a period of three years, attaining the rank of captain. He gave meritorious service and was mentioned in a despatch by Sir Douglas Haig for distinguished conduct on the field. With the return of peace, Mr Carstairs carried on his profession as barrister and solicitor at Natimuk and Edenhope, and had been a resident of the district ever since. For a considerable period since the last war he was second in command of the 9th Lighthorse Regiment with the rank of Major, and relinquished this position when he reached the retiring age. Mr Carstairs was quick to serve his county when the present war broke out, and he became the first unit leader of the VDC at Natimuk and remained in the position until he reached the retiring age.

During his residence in Natimuk, Mr Carstairs took a keen and practical interest in communifty life. He was a member of the board of management of the Presbyterian Church, which he served for a considerable period. He was a prominent member of the Natimuk sub-branch of the RSL and occupied executive positions from time to time, being president at the time of his death. A keen sportsman, the late Mr Carstairs was for many years an enthusiastic supporter of the Natimuk Tennis Club, and he was also a valued member of the Mechanics' instituit. He displayed an example of putting service before self at all times, and the community greatly benefitted as a result. He will be greatly missed in a district which knew him well and appreciated his sterling worth. He served his day and generation quietly and unostentatiously, but faithfully and well. His was a record of good citizenship.

The late Mr Carstairs, who was 68 years of age, was predeceased by his wife by 12 years, and he is survived by two daughters, Joan (Mrs Ryan) and Nancy (Natimuk) and Lieut Ron Carstairs, MM (AIF), to whom deep sympathy is extended. The funeral took place on Sunday afternoon, moving from the Natimuk Presbyterian Church after a service conducted by the Rev Matthews for the Natimuk Cemetery, where the Rev Matthews also officiated. The returned soldiers' service was conducted by Mr G R Kirsopp, assisted by Mr L F Gladigau. The casket was draped with the flag, on which was placed deceased's sword cap and medals. Flag bearers were Messrs G R Kirsopp, J R Crossley, E Meyer, A E Hasselbach, H Thompson and W D Brown, and coffin-bearers were Messrs F Jory, E Elmes, A F Cross, E Knight, J C Cameron, and R L Hately. Funeral arrangements were carried out by A F Weight & Sons.'

Sources: Based on an edited extract from Geelong Collegians at the Great War compiled by James Affleck; pp 151-52 (citing The University of Melbourne: Record of Active Service of Teachers, Graduates, Undergraduates, Officers and Servants (1926); Pegasus; National Archives); Horsham Times 3 Aug 1943 p2.
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