Thursday, March 8, 2018

Gembrook World War One Avenue of Honour

The Gembrook Aveneue of Honour in Redwood Road was planted around 1946 by returned World War Two soldiers. This was quite unusual both in the way it was planted by returned soldiers and how long after the war that it was planted. I don't have the date it was officially opened or dedicated, however the Gembrook Progress Association requested assistance from the Berwick Shire in March 1946 to plant the Avenue, so it must have been around that time.

Dandenong Journal March 20, 1946.

Each tree has a plaque attached and the Narre Warren and District Family History Group have photographed the plaques, you can see them here, on their Casey Cardinia Remembers website. 

If you are interested in the history of Gembrook or want more information about some of the families mentioned then take  a look at the book Forest to Farming: Gembrook an early history  written by Genseric (Bill) Parker.

What follows is a list of the soldiers  who were honoured with  a tree in the Avenue. I have listed their Service Numbers (SN) so you can look up their full record on the National Archives of Australia website

Ball, John Lewis (SN 3012) John was 35 when he enlisted on July 22, 1915. He Returned to Australia May 11, 1916 and was medically discharged, his condition being  a 'irritable heart'. What was his connection to Gembrook? He was born at Portarlington and when he enlisted he was living in North Melbourne at the same address as his sister, Mrs Thomas, who was listed as his next of kin.  John (and wife Ethel nee Watsham) are in the Electoral Roll from 1918 at Gembrook, but the only link his personnel file has to him being connected to Gembrook is this annotation on a 1925 document in his file (see below)

From John Ball's file 
  National Archives of Australia 
First Australian Imperial Force Personnel Dossiers, 1914-1920

Dyson, Frederick George (SN 2459) Frederick was 21 when he enlisted on December 11, 1915. His next of kin was his father, also called Frederick, of Gembrook. Frederick Returned to Australia July 24, 1919.

Fry, George Vincent  (Lieutenant)  George enlisted at the age of 25 on May 12, 1915. His occupation was listed as 'Engineer and Farmer' however another form in his file said that he was an 'Investor and Farmer'. His next of kin was his mother,  Maria Annie Fry,  of 'Winander', Gembrook. George Returned to Australia October 18, 1917 and his 'appointment was terminated' in March 1918.  He suffered from 'Neurasthenia Cerebral Tubes' - a term apparently not used anymore but symptoms include fatigue, dizziness, palpitations and the like. George must have returned to England because he was married there on December 14, 1918 to Effie Louise Strong.  They lived in Yea when they came back to Australia, however the marriage ended in divorce in August 1937.

The Argus August 7, 1937

Fry, James Leslie Rood. (no SN listed)  James, a 23 year old farmer,  was the brother of George (above). He enlisted on May 12, 1915, same day as George, and was Discharged on June 26 1915 at 'own request' - a letter in his file said that he wanted to travel to England to join the King Edward's Horse - King Edward's Horse - The King's Oversea Dominions Regiment - made up of men from British Colonies, such as Australia and New Zealand. He served with this Regiment from August 1915 until June 1918. James returned to Gembook after the War and lived there until he died in 1961.

Hird, William Birkett (SN 1666) He was listed as B. Hird on the plaque, so I presume he was known as Birkett, so that's what we will call him.  Birkett enlisted on February 25, 1916 aged 21. His next of kin was his mother, Mary, of Gembrook. On October 12, 1917 Birkett was declared Missing in Action and a Court of Enquiry, held on April 4, 1918 declared that he had been Killed in Action, in France, on the day he went missing.

Hird, William Holmes  (SN 18468) This is Birkett's father, who was 44 years old when he enlisted on May 30, 1917. He was sent overseas and was in Egypt, had malaria and Returned to Australia August 30, 1918 and medically discharged.

Huby, Clarence Walter Percy (SN 11351) Clarence was a 22 year old sawyer when he enlisted on June 16, 1915. His next of kin was his mother who lived in Haxby in England. Clarence married Ada Elizabeth Hollick on August 18, 1919 and Returned to Australia November 7, 1919. Clarence and Ada lived in Gembrook after the War.

Ingram, Alexander Henry Brougham (SN 3540) Alexander enlisted on July 9, 1915 and was discharged in the October, due to 'pain in right foot, interferes with marching'. He re-enlisted on July 16, 1917 at the age of 38 and Returned to Australia July 23, 1919 - obviously whatever foot pain he suffered from had disappeared. Alexander's father, Robert, of Gembrook was listed as his next of kin.

James, Arthur (SN 3248) Arthur was only 18 when he enlisted on February 2, 1916. He was an orphan and his next of kin was his friend, Henry James of Gembrook North, same address as Arthur. Arthur Returned to Australia January 18, 1919.

Kermond, Edward (SN 10169) Edward was a Blacksmith and was listed in the Electoral Roll of 1914 at Gembrook, but was living in Balaclava in Melbourne when he enlisted on December 28, 1915. He was 28 years old and his next of kin was his wife, Ruby. Edward Returned to Australia June 12, 1919. Bill Parker described Ted Kermond as a 'kindly man who was a credit to his trade'.

Lloyd, Arthur Hubert (SN 12338)  Bill Parker mentions that Hubert Lloyd worked with his brother Lindsay at Lindsay's butcher shop in Gembrook. Hubert enlisted on August 5, 1915 at the age of 20. His next of kin was his father of Murrumbeena. Hubert Returned to Australia June 15, 1919.  Lindsay and Hubert were the sons of Arthur Charles Lloyd and Alice Mary Baldry.  Lindsay had bought out Fred Pitt's butchery, you can read about Fred, below.

Madigan, Timothy James (SN 3118) Timothy was 18 and a farm labourer, when he enlisted on June 16, 1916. His next of kin was his mother, Margaret, of Gembrook. Timothy Returned to Australia July 1, 1919.

McDonald, Alexander  (SN 3747) Alexander was a 21 year old orphan and he enlisted on October 9, 1917. His address was Gembrook - C/o Mr Pitt, Farmer, Gembrook. He had no next of kin on enlistment but that was later changed to Charlotte Buchanan of Gembrook, listed as his 'aunt'. Alexander was gassed when he was serving overseas and Returned to Australia December 12, 1918. To add interest to Alexander's case there is a form in his file from the 'Office of the Victorian Government Statist' and it stated that  a search had been done of the Indexes and there was no record  of  a birth of a Alexander McDonald in Victoria between the years 1895 and 1899. However I have discovered that there is a birth of an Alexander McDonald Buchanan to a Charlotte Buchanan (father listed as unknown) in 1896. I believe that this is our Alexander and that his 'aunt' Charlotte was really his mother. Did he know this then or later?  That would be interesting to know. I guess the best thing about this is that Charlotte had the opportunity to have contact with her son, most unmarried mothers at the time would have had the baby taken from them and given up for adoption.

McNulty, Bernard Viner (SN 1976)  Bernard was 19 when he enlisted on June 19, 1915 and his next of kin was his father, Patrick, of Panmure, although his address was later changed to Gembrook. Bernard suffered a number of gun shot wounds to his legs, arms and face and an operation was performed and after that his 'right arm suppurated'. Bernard Returned to Australia October 31, 1917 and was medically discharged.  However, he enlisted again on June 11, 1918 and this time his service ended when the War finished.

Mentiplay, Angus Phillip (SN 4439)  Angus, and his wife Sarah,  are listed in the Electoral Rolls at Gembrook  from 1921 - his occupation is a farmer. When he enlisted on Janaury 4, 1915 he was a 43 years old and his occupation was 'Herbalist.' His next of kin was his wife, Sarah, of Port Melbourne. Angus Returned to Australia September 9, 1916 and he was medically discharged in the December having had a 'nervous breakdown'.  Bill Parker mentions a William Mentiplay who took up 320 acres at Gembrook in 1874. The Berwick Shire Rate Books also list a William Mentiplay Jnr at Gembrook. Angus' father was a William Mentiplay, so they are possibly all connected.

Neville, Walter (SN 699) Walter enlisted on February 2, 1915. He was a 23 year old 'shoe hand' or bootmaker, as he was listed in the Electoral Rolls. His next of kin was his father, Ralph, of Gembrook. Walter Returned to Australia on February 7, 1919. Walter faced a Court Martial in October 1917 - he was charged with desertion, found not guilty of that but guilty of being absent without leave.

Pitt, Frederick (SN 1250) Frederick was a 38 year old Hotelkeeper (or Licensed Victualler as his Embarkation paper calls it) when he enlisted on April 8, 1915. Frederick Returned to Australia August 22, 1919. Fred's father, Howard, was the licensee of the Ranges Hotel in Gembrook from 1904 to 1921. I believe that Howard's brother, also called Fred, was also a licensee. Young Fred's next of kin was listed as his mother, who lived in England, which seems  a bit odd to me when it appears that he worked with his father in the Hotel. Bill Parker says that Fred worked in the butcher's shop after the War, which was built next to the Hotel by his father.

Pitt, J Can't work out who this is, I presume some connection to Frederick, above.

Gembrook Avenue of Honour
Photo credit: Casey Cardinia Remembers 

Raleigh, B  Mr Raleigh is another mystery.  He is listed as having died in the War and there are only two Raleighs on the Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour - James Alexander Raleigh (SN 688) Killed in Action August 1, 1917 - he was born and enlisted in Queensland and James Patrick Raleigh (SN 1736) Died of Wounds June 18, 1917 - he was born in Townsville and enlisted in Dubbo. There is no B. Raleigh on either the Nominal or Embarkation rolls.
The 1914 Electoral Roll has a William Thorp Raleigh, 'Goronga' Pakenham Upper and a Hilda Elizabeth Raleigh at Gembrook South. Given that the Pakenham Upper School was known as Gembrook South from 1879 to 1916, I feel we can assume they lived at the same address. William had married Matilda Hebden in 1873 and they had a number of children, including Hilda Elizabeth in 1884 and a George Hebden Raleigh in 1878. So, I googled him and it turns out he was Captain George Hebden Raleigh and he has an entry on the Imperial War Museum website -  Unit: Essex Regiment, Squadron Commander of the 4th Squadron, Royal Flying Corps. Death: 20 January 1915 Dunkirk fell out of plane on ground Western Front. You can see a photo of him and read more about his career here. I don't know why he is listed as B. Raleigh, but as we can confirm a Gembrook connection I think he is the most likely candidate.

Russell, Edmund Henry Cecil (SN 1256) Sometimes listed as Edward in his personnel file.
Russell, John Hardness Cecil (SN 4899)  The boys were both born in New Zealand and were the sons of George Cecil Russell of 'Brooksby', Gembrook.  They were both farmers and Edmund was 22 when he enlisted on March 12, 1915 and John was 19, when he enlisted six months later on October 13, 1915.  Edward was discharged on medical grounds ('permanently unfit') on January 15, 1918 and his brother John was also discharged on medical grounds - gunshot wounds to both legs which caused one leg to be amputated - on April 3, 1918.

Bill Parker writes that the Russell family were 'immensely public spirited' and involved in much of the community life of Gembrook.  Cecil and Alice (nee Miles) Russell had three sons Evelyn Aylmer Cecil Russell (known as Bill); Edmund Henry Cecil Russell (known as Tom) and John Hardness Cecil Russell (known as Jack). Bill owned three sawmills and built the first garage in Gembrook, he was also a Berwick Shire Councillor.  As a matter of interest, Jack's wife Doris (nee Doris Marion Green) was a  World War One Nurse. Sister Green enlisted on September 21, 1914 at the age of 24 and she accompanied the first Australian convoy overseas, served at the Gallipoli landing and served overseas until she was discharged on April 20, 1920. Doris died in 1973.

Scott, Walter Adam (SN 1942) Walter was a 29 year old farm manager and he enlisted on August 4, 1915. His next of kin was his wife, Mrs W. Scott, of Gembrook (she later moved to South Yarra). Walter was awarded the Military Medal, suffered a 'severe' gun shot wound to the abdomen and Returned to Australia January 4, 1919.

Ure, James Buchanan (SN 960) James was born in Gembrook the son of John and Jane (nee Buchanan) Ure of Silver Wells, Gembrook.  James was 34 when he enlisted on February 25, 1916 and he Returned to Australia July 1, 1919. You can read more about the Ure family and their Silver Wells property, here

Wade, B  This is Herbert William Wade, who is listed in the 1919 Electoral Roll as a 'War Pensioner' He was the son of Richard and Alice (nee Seymour) Wade, born in 1890, so the brother of Leslie, listed below. However, he is not listed under that name in the Nominal Rolls, the Embarkation Rolls nor can I find his file on the National Archives website. However, his death notice (below) confirms everything I have found out.

The Argus August 13, 1951

Anyway I sent this mystery  of Mr B. Wade off to the President and Treasurer of the Narre Warren & District Family History Group and voila! a solution was found. It appears that Herbert William Wade enlisted under the name John Herbert Wade (SN 1128) on October 6, 1914. He was 25 and a Locomotive fireman. John was wounded at Gallipoli and also had Tuberculosis and Returned to Australia October 8 1915 and was discharged on medical grounds in  November 1916. Of interest, and to confirm these men are one and the same,  is this letter  (see below) in his file from his sister, Eva Elizabeth Lloyd, asking for his Gallipoli Medallion - she calls him Herbert William Wade, but the form is annotated at the top with 1128 John Herbert Wade. Edith was a sister of Herbert and Leslie, listed below. She was also married to Lindsay Lloyd, so the sister-in-law of Hubert Lloyd, listed above. The only mystery that remains is the person he listed as his next of kin - Mrs A.G Speed of Seymour - however this turns out to be his sister Ethel. Ethel was born to Alice Seymour in 1887, before her marriage to Mr Richard Wade and she married Alexander Govan Speed in 1906 (as Ethel Tanner) but her death record lists Alice Seymour as her mother, so it is Herbert Wade's sister.

 National Archives of Australia 
First Australian Imperial Force Personnel Dossiers, 1914-1920

Wade, Leslie Barton (SN 2200) Leslie, the brother of Herbert, listed above, was a Stock and Station Agent and he enlisted at the age of 26 on September 2, 1914. His next of kin was his farther, Richard, of Gembrook. He was wounded in action, gun shot wound to the head and later Returned to Australia October 23, 1918 and was discharged on medical grounds.

Wilson,  Robert Harold (SN 6909) The name on the plaque says A.H. Wilson, but I believe that it is Robert Harold Wilson, as I can't find an A.H. Wilson with a Gembrook connection.  Robert was a 20 year old saw miller when he enlisted on February 19, 1917. He was wounded in action including a severe gun shot wound to the eight eye and Returned to Australia October 19, 1918.

Wilson, Thomas William Fauntleroy (SN 7584) Thomas enlisted on June 8, 1917. He was a 23 year old engine driver. Thomas was Killed in Action in France on August 23, 1918.
Thomas and Robert were the sons of Thomas and Alice (nee Coombs) of 'Strathallan', Gembrook West.

1 comment:

  1. William Thorpe Raleigh had a sister Adeline who married a lawyer named Frederick who as a judge presided over the divorce case further up the page !