Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A life beyond the trenches by Mavis Martin

As silence descended over the battlefields of Europe the 11th November 1918, soldiers laid down their weapons to prepare for their homeward journey and civilian life. Henry Thomas Williams of the 38th Battalion was one of the thousands of soldiers whose return to civilian life was marred by the memories of the battle field.  This is a story of how he found solace and a new beginning in the rural tranquillity of Iona.


Henry in uniform

Henry Williams was the cousin of my grandmother, May Rogers, and he enlisted on the 26th January 1917 in the 38th Battalion, aged 33 years.  His unit embarked from Melbourne, on board HMAT Ballarat on the 19th February 1917 and returned to Australia 22nd August 1919. He saw action in France wading through the muddy trenches that ulcerated his legs.


Henry and his bungalow at Little Road, Iona

Henry, like so many soldiers, never spoke of his experiences as he returned to civilian life as a cleaner at Mrs Dauber’s hotel in Lygon Street Carlton. Henry and alcohol became inseparable partners as he tried to erase the memories of war. His decision to seek solace in the country and live with us was beneficial to him as the strongest brew he then drank was coffee. Although he could not reform from every bad habit as the interior of his bungalow was always haze of cigarette smoke.

 Henry like so many soldiers overcame the adversity of war and settled into civilian life. They never forgot the mates that they left behind on the battlefield just as we will always remember their sacrifice.

Henry died aged 78 in 1961 and is buried at the Bunyip Cemetery. Every ANZAC day and Remembrance day we commemorate his memory by placing a token of the soldier’s sacrifice, an Anzac badge or a poppy, on his grave.


Henry working on the farm with Dick Rogers. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Cora Lynn War Memorial

The Cora Lynn War Memorial was unveiled on Wednesday, February 22 1922. According to a report in the Pakenham Gazette of March 10, 1922  (reproduced left) the attendance was large, in spite of the showers which fell incessantly.The stone and the machine gun was unveiled by Cr Groves, M.L.A.  I don't know what happened to the machine gun but the memorial is still at Cora Lynn.

 There are nineteen names on the memorial for soldiers
 from the First World War.  I have researched their service number (SN) so if you are interested in finding out more about these soldiers you can look up their full service record on the National Archives of Australia site or their records on the Australian War Memorial site. I have also included their connection to Cora Lynn or the surrounding area.

Here are the soldiers
Clarkin, William. Service Number (SN 1522). William was born at Bunyip and enlisted at Tynong in December 1914 at the age of 21. He died of wounds in France on August 26, 1916. His next of kin was listed as his brother L. Clarkin of Iona, although an annotation on his Attestation paper says it is his eldest brother, John Clarkin of Garfield.

Doherty, F (Edward Francis). (SN  1218)
Doherty, Louis Michael. (SN 12392).  They were the sons of John Doherty,  farmer of Tynong, both of the men also had their occupation listed as farmer. Frank was Killed in Action on August 4, 1916. Louis returned to Australia in May 1919.

Evans, Harry. (SN 5589). Enlisted at Warragul in March 1916 at the age of 37. Harry was from  Cora Lynn and his wife Edith Minnie was listed as hi next of kin. He embarked from Melbourne on September 25, 1916 on the HMAT Shropshire A9 and returned to Australia on December 31, 1916 having suffered continually form measles and pneumonia. He was discharged form the Army on February 12, 1917.

Fritz, L – I believe that this person is Leslie James Fritsch (SN 2661). Leslie enlisted on July 19, 1915 at the age of 21. He left Australia in October 1915, was invalided back to Australia in April 1916 and died of diabetes on July 16, 1916. He was born in Prahran and at the time of enlistment his mother was living in Warrnambool. His occupation was farm labourer and he was obviously working at Cora Lynn at the time of his enlistment, as the article below attests.


Bunyip Free Press September 30, 1915


Holian, John Mildred. (SN 16160). He was a farmer from Cora Lynn. His next of kin  was his father, Patrick Holian, also a Cora Lynn farmer.

Huey, John Robert. (SN 3168). John was born at Castlemaine and enlisted at Warragul at the age of 30 in November 1916. His occupation was listed as a labourer and he lived at Cora  Lynn at the time of enlistment.

Jeffers, Raymond Alva. (SN 6290). Born at Strathbogie and enlisted at the age of 23 in  May 1916. He was a Cora Lynn farmer and the son of Alexander Jeffers, also a Cora Lynn farmer. Lieutenant Jeffers was awarded the Distinguished Conduct medal and the Military medal.


Johnson, Charles Tudor. (SN 588).   He was a farmer who lived of Cora Lynn  and was 19 when he enlisted in November 1914. He was the son of Mrs Fanny Johnson of Cora Lynn.

Kinsella, Bertram Michael.  (SN 3056)
Kinsella, Norman Francis.  (SN 920). They were the sons of Michael Kinsella of Cora Lynn. Bertram was Killed in Action September 25, 1917. Norman returned to Australia after his overseas service in May 1919.

Milligan, Joseph Lewellen. (SN 5376). Farm hand of Cora Lynn;  his mother was Catherin Milligan also of Cora Lynn. Joseph was Killed in Action on February 23, 1917.

Murdoch, Arthur Charles. (SN 2634). Arthur was born at Iona but was living in Brighton at the time of his enlistment. George Murdoch, his father,  owned the Cora Lynn store from 1907 until 1922.

Pederson, Nils.  (SN 1249). Nils was born in Norway and was working as a farm labourer at Cora Lynn at the time of his enlistment. He was Killed in Action on September 1, 1918.

Rigby, William Alexander.  (SN 2350). A farmer from Mayfield  Cora Lynn. His father was Isaac Rigby also from Mayfield, Cora Lynn.

Roper, Thornton Graham. (SN 61922). A mechanic from Cora Lynn. His father,  James Roper,  was also from  Cora Lynn.

Scanlon, Joseph Bernard.  (SN 3452).
Scanlon, Thomas.  SN 505. They are also listed in some official records with the surname Scanlan. They were the sons of William Scanlon of Cora Lynn. Thomas was awarded the Military medal.

Smith, Beith.  (SN 1436)  His first name was also listed as Bert and Berth in some documents but I believe that Beith is correct. He was Killed in Action May 9 or May 10 in 1915 at Gallipoli.  I had a hard time finding who B. Smith actually was until I  found out that Beith enlisted at Tynong on September 21, 1914, aged 19. The Attesting Officer was William Carney, Shire of Berwick President. His occupation was listed as a labourer. He was born at Rochford, near Kyneton and that is where his father lived.

According to Australian ANZACs in the Great War 1914-1918 website there is another soldier from Cora Lynn, but for some reason he is not on the War Memorial.
Thomas, James Matthew. (SN 6109). James was born in Bendigo and enlisted in Melbourne but on the Nominal roll his address on enlistment was Cora Lynn and his occupation was labourer. His next of kin was his Guardian, Mrs Higgins of North Melbourne. He was 37 when he enlisted.

Thank you to Lynne Bradley of the Narre Warren & District Family History Group www.nwfhg.org.au  for discovering the identity of L. Fritz. It's great that we can give him his proper identity.