NAME Charles (Paddy) BOYLAN
BORN 11 May 1879 Jarrow? on Tyne England
DIED 31 January 1960
UNIT 1st Battalion
ENLISTED Sydney 20 February 1915
DISCHARGED Sydney 21 July 1916 – Medically Unfit – Received a gun-shot wound in the left thigh at Gallipoli

Charles Boylan took up Block No. 159 consisting of seven acres at Bankstown Soldier Settlement to be used for the raising of poultry. After working a short time at  Bankstown he applied on 21 February 1921 for a transfer from Bankstown to Batlow because he said, his wife was ill.[1] There may have been another reason why he wanted to leave Bankstown however.  While farming there he returned from a day out in the City, ‘on a motor bus with a number of ladies, wives of other settlers from Bankstown.  He was highly intoxicated, his conduct and abusive language observed and reported as scandalous’.[2] 

He and another settler, P. Selwyn were fined because of their intoxication and wilful disobedience – ‘an amount not exceeding one week’s pay’.[3]  Yet, before leaving Bankstown for Batlow, forty people from the South Bankstown Branch of the Australian Labour Party farewelled Paddy and his wife at the ‘brooder house that had been cleaned out for the occasion’.[4] Charles was presented with a pipe and Mrs Boylan with a beautiful China tea set.  Mr. J.A. Lee declared … ‘The pipe would always be burning up money, (but) the tea set would never prove a source of expense to the family’.[5] So clearly this indicates that the couple were liked and well thought of.

Charles Boylan took up the block on Kunama Soldier Settlement, Batlow near Tumut around March 1921.[6]  His advance was finally approved on 29 October 1921.[7] By November 1922 he appeared to be making a go of it as, ‘his orchard was in good order, trees were pruned and  he had prepared land for vegetable growing’.[8] Despite this good beginning, the District Surveyor declared that even though he ‘was a hard worker and a great talker, he did not have much knowledge of fruit growing’. [9]

Around June 1925 a complaint was made to the Under-Secretary for Lands about Boylan by the holder of another block at Batlow, T. Harrison.[10]  Harrison wasn’t happy about Boylan being given special favours.  

He gets more preferences than any other settler. Perhaps if I stopped on my own block and bludged for a pension for things that happened in the Great War like this particular settler, I would be more thought of by the Department.[11]

Between 1921 and March 1925, Boylan certainly received extra assistance but despite this, he didn’t have good relations with soldier settlement authorities and was difficult to deal with.[12]  It seems that some of Harrison’s complaints may have had some foundation as ‘special relief was indeed afforded Boylan’ in these years.[13]  Despite this assistance Boylan was still getting into trouble,

 (He) is loafing around the City, probably drinking. He has been given two advances since he came to Sydney.  He is a humbug. I have tried in every way to satisfy this man and invoked the aid of the Soldiers League at Tumut, until my patience is absolutely exhausted.[14]

Boylan made several complaints himself about the settlement at Batlow, his block, his  living conditions and his relationship with other settlers.  Because of all this aggravation, the Chief Secretary set up an inquiry to investigate the grievances made by both sides.[15] Around this time, Boylan was reported as having very little energy or motivation and the farming methods he was using unacceptable with his progress fair. The Chief Secretary reported, ‘If he averaged one hours work per day since he has been there he could have easily had the timber cleared out of the way’.[16]  

‘He will never make good having lately complained of sickness’, another report outlined.[17] In November 1926, an Inspector from the Returned Soldiers’ Settlement Branch wouldn’t recommend drastic action being taken in Boylan’s case however, ‘but recommended he be moved off the block, if or when the first provocation arises’.[18] Around May 1925, the Department acknowledged again that dealing with Boylan was continuing to be difficult.

He is a peculiar man and hard to handle.  He feels that he is suffering an injustice but does not make the matter at all easy and by his general attitude places himself and others who desire to befriend him in an unfair light’.[19]

The Overseer of Batlow Soldier Settlement, Mr Jones reported that there was mention in the Albury Banner of 29 April 1927 of the ‘difficulties of one of the Kunama soldier settlers. I think this applies to Boylan’ he stated.[20]  Boylan had representatives from the Tumut Branch of the Returned Soldiers League visiting him so that he could air his side of the argument.[21] Yet, in a Confidential Report written on the 21 May 1927, the Overseer Jones believed he had another motive in doing so.  ‘This settler was trying in an underhand way to make a lot of mischief about the Settlement’.[22]  On 13 November 1927, Boylan reported that he was leaving Batlow and going to Tumut with his wife and children and that he wanted to cancel his occupation of the holding.  It was then reported by the Overseer,

 Let there be no mistake about Boylan having a cunning brain, as I have watched him very closely and to anyone not knowing him could be easily lead astray and bluffed.  He is not a fit and proper person to be in charge of a holding.[23]

Boylan was reported as not being physically strong and his wife was not in good health either  – ‘ he and his wife and family have been living practically on charity for five years’ the police constable at Batlow stated.[24]  Boylan became a patient in Callan Park Mental Hospital entering there as a voluntary patient on 13 January 1928. A Report of the Returned Soldiers’ Settlement Board outlined his condition, ‘It is evident he is unstable and would not be mentally fit to carry on the work of his farm’.[25]  Boylan had earlier been admitted to Prince Alfred Hospital for treatment by a nerve specialist but had been allowed to leave after a short time.[26]  On 14 September 1928, Charles Boylan’s provisional allotment of Block 60 at Batlow Soldier Settlement was cancelled.[27]


This Case Study has not meant in any way to demean or judge the soldier settler Charles (Paddy) Boylan.  What it does show in this particular example, is that even though he had to deal with all the usual problems for soldier settlers after World War One:  drought, little money and lack of farming experience he was suffering to some degree from a mental condition that affected his daily working life and his relationship with others.  Was he paranoid?  Was he suffering from neurasthenia? His military file reveals that indeed, he had been treated for neurasthenia in November 1915.  Clearly his ongoing mental state was a result of his war service and in the years after the war affected both his mental and physical condition.   Notably, he had also served in the Boer War for 20 months.

There are also many unanswered questions about why he received extra help when others around him at Batlow did not.  Unfortunately, the files do not really reveal the real reason behind this.

 Your story, your life and your difficulties should never be forgotten.  Rest in Peace now Paddy Boylan.


 [1] SRNSW;  Lands Department; NRS 8058, Returned Soldiers loan files; [12/6854 No. 1228] Charles Boylan, Application for Permission to Transfer 26 February 1921. 

[2] Ibid, C.C. Crispin Foreman, Soldier SettlementBankstown to J.G.R. Bryant, Dept. of Lands,Sydney 21 June 1918.

[3] Ibid, J.G.R. Bryant to C.C. Crispin, 3 July 1918.

[4] Ibid, Newspaper clipping, nd, no location details.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid, RSS Branch Office Memorandum 29 October 1921.

[7] Ibid, irector RSS Branch Office Memorandum 18 February 1922.

[8] Ibid, District Surveyor Wagga Wagga 3 November 1922.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid, T.A. Harrison Block 70 Batlow to the Under Secretary for Lands 29 June 1925.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid, eport from Inspector, 15 August 1925.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Ibid, Inquiry by Chief Inspector Brierly into complaints made by Charles Boylan 1 December 1923.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Ibid, Extract from Reports Loans Section 31 March 1925.

[18] Ibid, Returned Soldiers Settlement Branch 24 November 1926.

[19] Ibid, ossibly Department of Lands to Mr. Airey Returned Soldiers Settlement ,Tumut 28 May 1925.

[20] Ibid, E. Jones Overseer 9 May 1927.

[21] Ibid.

[22] Ibid 21 May 1927.

[23] Ibid, E Jones Overseer to the District Surveyor 14 November 1927.

[24] Ibid, onstable Arthur McAndrew Police Constable Batlow 15 November 1927.

[25] Ibid, RSS Branch Report 17 April 1928.

[26] Ibid, Department of Lands Memorandum 30 December 1927.

[27] Ibid, Under-Secretary for Lands to Overseer Henry Batlow Soldiers Settlement, 14 September 1928.

Sources used to compile this entry:

State Records NSW:  Lands Department;  NRS 8058, Returned Soldiers loan files; [12/6854 No. 1228]  Charles Boylan.

National Archives of Australia: B2455, First Australian Imperial Force Personnel Dossiers (Charles Boylan) online: