Bremen and the Military
I was born on Dec 1, 1862, in the city of Bremen, on the North Sea in Germany, one of the three free states in the German Empire.
I was the third son born to Gustav Adolf Ludwig Kracke, a military officer, and his wife, Margarethe Schoppmeyer.
Bremen is a very large city, and an entirely commercial town.
It is 1200 years old and is situated on the Wesser River.
It Is a city with much business, art, and culture and social life and has many beautiful parks and gardens.
The Free State of Bremen covers an area of about 158 square miles.
I suppose one could say that I had a well-rounded education, typical of the times, that would ensure a comfortable future.
But I was born in a time of political change in Northern Europe.
The North German Confederation, a forerunner to the German Empire, was formed in 1866 under the leadership of Otto von Bismark.
It included the Free Starte of Bremen, that had always had its own army.
In 1867, the Free State surrendered its right to furnish its own contingent to the army, and from that date on, its recruits were drafted into the Prussian 9th Army Corps. Compulsory military service had become law.
I may here state that compulsory military service is done in this way.
Every man, rich or poor, and no matter of what rank must serve three years active service. If he is not up to the standard, nor fit for any of the requirements, he is made to learn a trade in the military branches such as saddler, tailor, shoemaker and so forth.
During the three years, one has to live in the barracks, and is paid 2 pence per day, out of which you have to keep yourself in tobacco and boot polish.
The meals you have in the barracks, and other allowances are two suits of clothing and two pairs of boots per year.
After having served three years of active service, you are called in for six weeks every year for the next seven years, and after that, you are called in three weeks every year until you are thirty-five years of age, and after this time until forty-five years of age, one is in the reserves and in time of war, can be called up at any time.
The time that every young man is called up, is in the year he turns twenty years of age.
My father was an officer in the state army at the time and like many of his colleagues refused to go over to the Prussian army .
As a consequence, he was retired on a pension after twenty-four years service.
Although he used to tell me he would not let me serve in the army, I started for the muster, and enlisted in the 75th Infantry Regiment.
The Journey – Australia bound
But it wasn’t to be. My father was adamant in his views.
And so in December of 1880*, at the age of eighteen, I bid my parents and brothers farewell and paid my passage of twenty-two pounds and ten shillings, my destination, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.
*As an estimate only, Mr Kracke left Bremen in the last week of September, 1881. The first leg of his journey was an overnight passage to London, perhaps an overnight stay there, then a short rail trip to Gravesend where he boarded the Cuzco.
As an estimate only, Mr Kracke left Gravesend on 29 September, 1881. He arrived at Plymouth on 1 October, 1881, the date recorded in the diary as indicated below.
The date written by Mr Kracke in his speech “Twenty-two Years In Northern Queensland, and How and Why I Went There”, conflicts with dates written in a diary kept whilst on the journey.
The speech was written approximately twenty-seven years after the event.
In the small hand-written diary the following dates are recorded:
Cape St Vincent, 8 October, 1881.
Plymouth, 1 October, 1881.
Capestadt 25 October, 1881.
The dates written in the small diary were written as the events occured, and therefore may be assumed to be correct.
The Cuzco arrived in Sydney on Sunday, November 20, 1881, not early February, as written twenty-seven years later in the speech.
The Cuzco’s route was: London (Gravesend) – Plymouth – Cape St Vincent (Portugal) – Capetown (South Africa) – Adelaide (Austraila) – Melbourne (Australia) – Sydney (Australia).
I set off from Bremehaven at the mouth of the Wesser River, destination London where I would board the ship that would take me to Australia.
From my notes, I read that I must mention how on the boat to London, men and women all slept in the one cabin. I must mention the arrival in London.
How the customs officers came on board. The landing on the wharf in London. How they took my box.
I must tell you all about London. The towers. The Thames Tunnel. The railways, the thieves. My speaking to the first Englishman. Leaving London for Graves End. Boarding the ship, and the departure and how the missionaries all gather on board.
Cape St Vincents, and the Portuguese. The chief cook losing both hands. And the man jumping overboard. Watching the whales, and catching albatross. Arriving in Cape Town, and seeing the dead whale, and the high seas running.
The journey from Cape town through the Indian Ocean, and how we were battened down for four days.
The ship I was travelling on was the Cuzco built in 1871 in Glasgow on the Clyde, and named after the old Inca city of the same name.
She was a 3098 gross ton ship, with a length of 384 feet, and a beam of 40 feet, of iron construction with a clipper stern, one funnel, three masts and a single screw, and with a service speed of twelve knots.
There was passenger accommodation for 429 persons, 72 in first class, 92 in second class, and 265 in third class.
The ship that was to be my home for about eight weeks was barely ten years old and quite modern and had made several trips to South America before she became a regular on the London to Sydney run.
We duly arrived outside Adelaide during the night, and for the first time saw Australia before us on Monday morning, after having been 58 days steaming on the ocean.
At Adelaide we lost half our passengers. This port seemed to me to get the largest number of immigrants, as most of our passengers were Irish farmers.
We weren’t allowed to stay in Adelaide, so after two days of anchor in the outer harbour, we steamed away again for Melbourne, at which port we arrived after 48 hours steaming, the weather being very rough.
All but 58 passengers remained now to go on to Sydney, and at that port, we arrived after two days steaming.