Arthur Singleton in Egypt after serving at Gallipoli.
Private Singleton in Egypt after being evacuated from Gallipoli.

On February 19 1922  my great uncle, returned WWI veteran  Arthur  Singleton, was arrested. According to a  later report by the Ulverstone police  he was in a disturbed  mental state. Like many men, he had never recovered from his war service.  As one of the first  Australians to enlist, Private Singleton had been at the dawn landing at Anzac Cove, fought in the bloody Battle of  Lone Pine and served on The Western Front in France. He returned home  to Tasmania in October 1917, with a severe shoulder injury and suffering from Shellshock (now known as Post Traumatic Stress).


Last evening, Sergt. Tomkinson, of Ulverstone, received information that a man named Arthur Singleton, a farmer residing at Upper Castra, had presented a revolver at his wife, who is an inmate of the Ulverstone Hospital, where she is receiving medical treatment. Shortly afterwards, the Sergeant observed a man driving down Reibey Street in a jinker, and hailed him, asking him to stop. However, the man drove on and Sergt.Tomkinson jumped into a motor car and went in pursuit, overtaking him at the bridge. On questioning him, the Sergeant states, he noticed the man’s hand going in the direction of his inside coat pocket, and concluded that a weapon was hidden there. He seized Singleton’s arm, and a struggle ensued, the pocket being torn away. The Sergeant finally secured the weapon, an automatic revolver, loaded in seven chambers. Singleton was locked up, and will be presented at the court this morning.

                                                   (Advocate February 20)

Ulverstone General Hospital
Ulverstone General Hospital
Reiby Street Ulverstone

Reiby Street Circa 1920

WWI Enfield Service Revolver
WWI Service Revolver such as that produced by Arthur Singleton

Advocate, Thursday 23 1922  –  Yesterday the man Arthur Singleton, arrested by Sergeant C.E. Tomkinson, and who had been remanded for three days, was brought before the Warden (Cr. A.S. Lakin) and Mr T. Bingham, J.P., on a charge of being deemed to be a person of unsound mind. Evidence was given by Elizabeth  (Lizzie) Mary Singleton, Sergt. Tomkinson, Ethel Blanche Watt (Matron of the Ulverstone Hospital) and Dr. F.A. Ferris. The bench decided to send Singleton to the Launceston Reception House for observation for a period of 14 days. 

Following his discharge from the Reception House  Arthur  returned home, but clearly he and Lizzie were still having problems. A few months later the couple appeared  before the bench again.

 Advocate, July 12, 1922  –  SEPARATION SOUGHT  Before the Police Magistrate (Mr V.N. Stops) at the Court House yesterday afternoon, Elizabeth Mary Singleton sought separation from her husband, Arthur William Singleton, on the ground of cruelty at Upper Castra, and asked that the children be given into her custody. Mr Leslie Hudson appeared for complainant, and Mr J.A. Henry for defendant. Mr Hudson said that the parties were married at Lindisfarne in 1918. After the marriage they came to Ulverstone and resided at South Road for 18 months, during which time the eldest child was born. They later moved to Upper Castra, where the second child was born, and after  this the trouble started; before that they got on together pretty well. At this point complainant’s counsel suggested that his honour should deal with the case in chambers. The police magistrate gave his assent, and the public left the room. When the hearing of the case had terminated it was learned that his honour had made no order, nor did he pass any comment on the case. 

Arthur and Elizabeth Singleton 1918
Arthur and Elizabeth(Lizzie) Singleton soon after their 1918 wedding.

It appears that Mr Stops simply  advised  Arthur and Lizzie to patch things up and get on with their lives.  Of course, there was little hope of that.  Memories, particularly of Gallipoli, tormented  Singleton. He often saw family, friends and members of his community  as  ‘the enemy’ and  physically attacked them.

In what was a strongly patriarchal society, it was rare for a woman to be  granted a legal separation. Certainly  Lizzie would have found it difficult to support herself and the children.

In September  that year Lizzie Singleton  left home,  placing Winifred, and Joyce, then aged four and two, into foster care in Launceston.  The little girls  remained in  care for nine months, until they were removed by  their father in June 1923. He took them back to his soldier settlement farm,  but was totally  unable to cope. It was at this point that he walked off the property and  returned to his father’s farm  just outside Ulverstone.  John Singleton took in  his increasingly  unwell son and his granddaughters. 

John Singleton
John Singleton, photographed at a family wedding in 1918

Unfortunately, the elderly widower’s housekeeper  was unhappy with her increased workload and threatened to leave. It wasn’t long  before  another solution had to be found. The youngest child, Joyce, was sent to live nearby with an aunt.

Winifred (left) and Emily Singleton
Arthur’s little girls Winifred and Emily Joyce, pictured in 1923. Young victims of the war.

Several months later the aunt  wrote a letter  that  would have an enormous impact on her nieces’ future, and break their father’s heart. 




  1. So tragically sad!

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