A Father’s plea 1918

James Latta of Ulladulla wrote in 1918 “I should think that four from one family is enough!!”

World War I had a major impact on the Latta family. James and Rosetta Latta in the 1910s lived at Regent House Ulladulla (today the site of the Marlin Hotel) and raised a large family of 12 children.

Their son Arthur Henry Latta born 1896 at Bullsflat near Batemans Bay was the first of the five Latta Brothers to enlist at Ulladulla on 13 May 1915 at the age of 19 years and joined the 4th Battalion, serving in Egypt, Gallipoli and France and was promoted to Lance Corporal. After been wounded several times he was medical discharged and returned home to Ulladulla in July 1918. He married local girl Florence Higgins and they left the district for Sydney in the mid 1920s.

John James Latta the eldest of the Latta Boys, born 1890 at Ulladulla, enlisted on 22 September 1915, he was officially admitted in November after he received some dental work. He had been working as a sawyer, his wife local Milton girl Ellen nee Gumley over the years lived in Ulladulla, Lismore, Bungalow and Redfern Sydney. He was a Sergeant with the 54th Battalion and died of wounds on 19 November 1916 at the age of 27 years in France, he is buried at the Heilly Station Cemetery France.

Bertie Roy Latta born 1892 at Ulladulla was the third of the brothers to enlist on 21 September 1916, serving with the rank of private with the 39th Battalion. John William Sperring and Thomas Duffy were other local men also in the 39th Battalion. After fighting in France, Bertie return home to Ulladulla in January 1919.

Robert Gibson Latta born 1894 at Ulladulla was the fourth to enlist, on 7 November 1916, just a few days before his eldest brother John Latta died on wounds in France. Robert served in the 45th Battalion with his cousin Robert Joseph Backhouse of Termeil. He left Australia for active service on 25 November 1916 aboard the HMAT Beltana A72 from Sydney. Robert never was to see Australian soil again, as he dies on wounds 2 April 1918 in France, buried at the Etaples Military Cemetery Pas de Calais near Boulogne on the north-west coast of France.

The last and fifth brother to enlist was William Clyde Latta, born 1898 at Ulladulla. He first tried to enlist in January 1918 but refused as he did not have his father/parents approval. William was working in Sydney, and he tried to enlist again 6 months later in July 1918, and this time he forged his parent’s signatures on the enlistment papers. On checking with his father James Latta, approval was not given and caused James to respond with an appealing letter to the authorities in August 1918. The letter requested that William be discharged as James already have had four sons who joined AIF, which two had been killed, one invalided now at home and the other still fighting France. James wrote “I think should think that four from one family is enough!!” William was discharged a few weeks later seeing no active service.

The Latta Brothers are listed on the following local War Memorials:
Kendall Cottage Memorial: John, Bertie and Robert
RSL Honour Roll: Arthur, John, Bertie, Robert William
Milton Methodist Church: Arthur, John and Robert
Milton Town Memorial: Arthur, John Bertie, Robert and William
Yatte Yattah Community: Arthur and John
Milton Congregational Church: John and Robert

The Latta Family made the largest contribution to WWI by any single family from the Milton Ulladulla region

Image: Arthur Henry Latta