Welcome to my Home Page

Australia has been my home for many years following a childhood which revolved around horses in ‘Heartbeat’ and ‘Herriot’ country in Yorkshire.

I studied Science at both Aberystwyth and Bangor Universities in Wales and have taught Science at High Schools and Horse Management at TAFE colleges (Technical and Further Education) in NSW. I have post graduate Diplomas in both Education and Local and Applied History from the University of New England, Armidale.

For close to ten years I worked with The Cicerone Project, an agricultural research project. Ongoing results were published in a regular newsletter and the final results are written up in a special issue of the international journal Animal Production Science, published in 2013 (Volume 53, Issues 7-8, pages 593-868)

Many years ago I developed a love of history and was subsequently told by a history academic that, because I was science trained, I wouldn’t know how to research or write history… what a lack of understanding of scientific research! He didn’t know I already had my post graduate qualification in History!

Now retired, I teach a Writing Your Life course at the local chapter of the University of the Third Age (U3A).

My research and writing interests include:

  • The 2/20 Battalion and 8th Division in Singapore and Malaya in WWII.
  • The Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA), the Ferry Pilots of Britain in WWII.
  • Australian Colonial History especially the life and times of the first Colonial Treasurer of NSW
  • Writing Memoir
  • Family History

My Facebook pages is:-


My books are:

“Balcombe, Burchell, Bonaparte, Bent Street and Beyond, the story of the first Colonial Treasurer of Australia”

Pounding Along to Singapore, a history of the 2/20 Battalion AIF

“The Buffalo and Crocodile Hunters of the Northern Territory”

From Baron to Battler, the story of Dr CUD Schrader of Walcha, 1860-1900

All available from me via this web site


“The Buffalo and Crocodile Hunters of the Northern Territory”


From Baron to Battler, the story of Dr CUD Schrader of Walcha, 1860-1900


The Schrader Letters, 1871-1896


Caroline Ford-Gaden

#Singapore  #Prisoner of War  #POW  #World War 2  #Balcombe  #Colonial Treasurer  #St.Helena

  1. Your site is the best way to go. My webpage on Tom FOSTER (2/20 Bn) which relates his escape from Malaya and his internment by the Japs has attracted much correspondence arising from Google Search hits, and I am sure you will do the same. See: http://www.strong-family.org/foster/chapter_13.html#thomas

    Best of luck.

  2. Craig says:

    Hi there. I’m very interested in your Facebook Post about the Lewis brothers as they are mentioned in some detail (along with the experiences of the 2/20th in Malaya/Singapore) in my own family history book – In the Shadow of Feathertop – which is due to be published in a few months. I already have a copy of the movie you mentioned but wonder if you have any further information, or especially pictures, of any of the Lewis brothers? Or if you are in touch with any of their family?

    • cagaden says:

      Hello Craig
      I’m sorry but I have no more specific information about these brothers. All I can suggest is you follow up all the links I suggest on my WordPress page about ‘Researching your 8th Division soldier’. Attestation papers are useful as they are specific to the soldier. Things like the unit diary may be of use but you have to trawl through the entry for every day (or a name search on my diary transcriptions). Officers tend to be mentioned by name, ‘other ranks’ are clumped together and are often not specifically named. There is good info about the battalion as a whole, not about a specific person unless you ask round the family and see if letters or memorabilia survive.
      All the best with your research

      • Craig says:

        Thank you. Yes I’ve reviewed war service files and the unit diaries. For Wallace (Wally) Lewis (and the story of the unit’s experiences) the book “Hells Heroes” by Roger Maynard is also very useful.

  3. Jenni Urquhart says:

    I am interested in the story of th 2/20 as my Grandfather was part of this battalion. His record says he died on 9/2/1942 in Malay. Am I likely to learn more in your book?

    • Craig says:

      Hi Jenni – I’m not sure if you’re asking about my book or Caroline’s! In my case, no it’s unlikely that your grandfather is mentioned in my book (what was his name?).

    • cagaden says:

      Hello Jenni
      Sorry for delay in replying, I have been away for several weeks.
      Your Grandfather would have died in the fighting on the Island, so the first 8 chapters of my book would be of interest for you as they will give you information about the 2/20 training in NSW, on the ship sailing to Malaya, their time in Malaya preparing, the fighting on the mainland and the fighting on the island.
      As he was KIA prior to the fall of SIngapore, the later chapters won’t be so relevant. However the letters from home do give an insight into what was happening in Sydney, so it’s a bit of a social history of the time.
      If you look at my article on this website on how to research your 8th Division soldier, it will help you find his attestation papers and so on. There are also transcriptions of some of the War Diary which will help with what the troops were doing.
      Please let me know if there is anything else I can help with.
      All the best

  4. Alfred Stewart says:

    When I followed a link to ‘The Gaden Buffalo and Crocodile Hunters of the Northern Territory’ I was forwarded to your site. Is this article somewhere on your site, and is there a link to it?

  5. cagaden says:

    Hello Alf
    The updated page is back!
    Hope you find it of interest

  6. Alfred Stewart says:

    Hi Caroline

    Thanks very much for reloading the page. I will be very interested to read your document.

    My interest is because Harry Stewart was my father and, as you know, he was in the camp on the Mary River in 1934 when the shooting incident occurred. He was in the NT from about 1925 until after the war in 1945.

    You might also be interested to know that during my research into my father’s time in the NT I managed to make contact with Bill Jennings’ niece who also has an interest in it all.

    Is there a way to send you a private message through this page or your Facebook page?


  7. Cheryl says:

    Hi my grandfather was Norbert Leo Hogan he was in the 2/20th and was in Changi would there be any reference to him in your book. He passed away in 1960 after suffering for years from the after effects of his imprisonment.He could never spoke of his time in Changi.

    • cagaden says:

      Hello Cheryl
      I’m sorry but your grandfather does not receive a specific mention in my book….if he was not an officer he is unlikely to be mentioned by name within the Battalion’s War diary as O/Rs were noted by how many marched in or out of the camps, generally not by specific name.

      What I do in PA2S is cover the Battalion from inception to post-war using family letters as the time line… they give a bit of a social history of Sydney at the time.

      There are entries from the Battalion’s War Diary and Routine orders, newspapers of the day as well as other research, several years of it!, to give what I hope is a comprehensive account of what the men were up to and experiencing…

      The book contains 15 chapters, with the early ones covering training, the trip to Singapore, training within the various camps in Malaya, the fighting, the surrender and about 4 covering the POW period, including the railway, and the last covers some of the issues faced when the men returned to Australia.

      It depends on what you are looking for, your grandfather may not be specifically mentioned by name in the book but you may get an idea of what the troops were doing in the lead up to becoming a POW, some idea of their treatment and the post war unrecognised PTSD.

      If you check out the earlier entries of my Facebook page, you’ll find transcriptions of some months of the Battalions’ War Diary (an ongoing project). There is also a partial transcription of the Proudford diary (still ongoing), he was a POW in Changi, mainly the hospital, throughout the war so you may glean more about that particular POW camp.

      And check out my website for ideas on researching an individual soldier…. there is lots of information at the DVA Nominal roll to get his Service number, then go to the Australian War Memorial and the National Archives.

      Good luck with your research and if I can help further, please get back to me.

      Season’s greetings

  8. Adam Beale says:

    Hello my grandfather was Fred Beale and his brother George Beale. Two aboriginal servicemen from country NSW. Auncle George was killed in noaetsu. I have lots of pics of them. Most are on the AWM website.

    • cagaden says:

      Hello Adam
      It looks as if the two brothers both enlisted in Paddington on the same date, 11 June 1941 and both were in the 2/20 Battalion …. George had the Service Number NX31660 and his younger brother was NX31736. So sad that George didn’t make it home from Japan… was he serving there with Capt ‘Roaring’ Reg Newton of 2/19 Bn? I know Reg did what he could to protect his men but the conditions were horrendous.
      Lest we forget.

  9. Bob Turvey says:

    Hi Caroline,

    In chapter 8 of First Colonial Treasurer of NSW you record a limerick which begins “There was a young lady called Vera”. I assume this was sent to Vera Lydia Balcombe, who was born 19 October 1887. Do you have a date for the letter this verse was in? Was the word ‘limerick’ used at the same time as the letter, or was it used in a later write-up of the event?

    I ask because I am interested in personal limericks – verses about specific people, which record their foibles. I am also interested in early uses of the word ‘limerick’. Many thanks!

    Bob Turvey / Bristol / England

    • cagaden says:

      Bob I’m sorry I can’t help with your query…..I was working from a photocopy of her memoir writings in an exercise book. They were a bit rambling with no timelines given and, from the hard-to-read spidery writing, we assume it was written in her final years at home (she refers to reheating bread in her oven) before she moved into acute care in mid-1974. I first met her in 1973 when Bob and I became engaged, and she died in 1974.
      Good luck with your research.

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