Sunday, March 15, 2020

Lang Lang and District War Memorial Unveiled

Souvenir badge to commemorate the unveiling of the Lang Lang and District War Memorial on August 15, 1949.
(Private collection)

On August 15, 1949 the Lang Lang and District War Memorial was unveiled. It commemorates the men from the area who gave their lives whilst fighting for Australia. The occasion was reported on in the Koo Wee Rup Sun of August 17, 1949. I have transcribed the article and a slightly edited version is reproduced below. I have also researched the soldiers whose names appear on the monument.

Lang Lang and District War Memorial Unveiled
600 Residents Attend

A dull day with sombre clouds overhead and a pale sun gleaming through fitfully did not prevent a large gathering of citizens from the Lang Lang Riding attending the unveiling of  the War Memorial to the memory of those men who paid the supreme sacrifice in the Second World War at Lang Lang on Monday. The ceremony commenced with  a march down the main Street, headed by the Victorian Police Band, under the direction of their band master, Mr Thomas B. Davidson. Former members of the  1st and 2nd A.I.F., nearly 100 strong, led by Messrs W. Coleman (1st A.I.F. ) and H. Robotham (2nd A.I.F.)marched with military precision, and they were followed by the Lang Lang Boy Scouts Troup, and children of the Lang Lang, Caldermeade, Heath Hill, Langview and Yannathan schools. The march concluded at the site of the memorial, where all took up their position. A dais was erected for the speakers and an amplifying system so that all could  hear the addresses. Special seating accommodation was provided  for the next of kin of the fallen men, also seats provided for elderly people. After the souvenir programmes had been distributed to all present and the Boy Scouts had mounted a guard of honor at the site of the Monument the proceedings began.

The chairman of the War Memorial Committee, Mr F.M. Dale, said "As president of the committee and chairman of to-days proceedings I appreciate your presence here, so that all can join in this service of commemoration of the local serviceman who gave their lives for their country in the Second World War. At the same time we should remember the men who likewise served and died in the First World war and whose names are recorded on a panel on the front of our Memorial Hall.  As a committee representing the whole of the Lang Lang riding we met your wishes by undertaking the erection  of a Soldiers' Club Room and a Monumental Memorial.  The Monument is now erected and the Club Rooms  will be eretced when the  monies have been raised and the building position becomes easier. I feel that the dual nature of the Memorial will meet the wishes of the whole community. The nature of the memorial  always leads to differences of opinion, but I am sure all agree that the noble sacrifice of our men demands that we set aside a few feet of the country for which they died as a memorial, also that their service and sacrifice will not be forgotten by present or future generations and that it may serve as  a local Shrine of Remembrance. We chose the day as it was the 4th anniversary of V.P. day when the war ended with the unconditional surrender of Japan. On that day we did not know the full extent  of our local losses. To the next of kin we say that we understand your feelings, admire your courage and trust that God will sustain and comfort you.

Mr Dale went on to thank the Parliamentary and Civic representatives and then finished with Finally, I desire to thank the Shire Council for giving us the land on which to erect the Memorial, and especially the engineer (Mr Cockcroft) for his help in the erection.

A number of hymns were sang and Mr Dale introduced the guest speaker, Mr Wiltshire. Mr Dale said that he had the pleasure of fighting by his side in the First World War. He displayed great gallantry and leadership. He was one of the first men to enlist and was awarded the M.C. for bravery and  a few weeks later was awarded the same again. He was severely wounded, and the result had left him incapacitated. He was the district's most gallant soldier, and they should feel proud of him as a man, a soldier and resident and good neighbour  for 30 years.

Mr Wiltshire, who was warmly applauded, said "I am sure that the committee must be proud that their efforts for the day have been rewarded by the great assembly of residents and district soldiers present, and to you, Capt. Dale, I thank you for your kind remarks, for you knew that during my service it took all my efforts to prove my rights to stand shoulder to shoulder  with yourself and our gallant comrades. These young soldiers whom we remember and their comrades fought with considerable distinction in every theatre of war in the last great conflict. Today, we are gathered to witness the unveiling of a monument which has been erected here in memory of the gallant men who fought and made the great sacrifice. I think it is best that we should let our minds travel over the years prior to and since the last war. After our great victories in 1914-1918 it was soon evident that unworthy elements in this county and the Empire were seeking cheap notoriety and throwing away everything gained by the hard won glory of our gallant men. Preaching their slimy doctrines and using the names of our gallant dead as a smoke screen, they hid the truth, so it was little wonder that in our hours of greatest peril the Empire found itself once more bare-headed in the face of our enemies who armed to the teeth, overwhelmed resistance by brave people everywhere, and flushed with victory were poised to attack and destroy the very heart of our Empire.......You and I were determined to defend our shores to the last man, the last woman and the last shilling, but since the conclusion of the war the great forces of evil on our midst, following the same pattern which has been successful in other small brave countries now vanished behind the Iron Curtain,  have nearly brought chaos and ruin to our country, which should  be enjoying  peace and prosperity - the things our gallant dead fought for and died for. In the midst of all this chaos these days there stands as a great light, as a great beacon and guiding star, the deeds of our gallant men and women, their suffering and sacrifice. They fought for every law of civilization based on the essential principals of Chrsitianity. They fought to preserve our birthrights, our heritage, our freedom........In Africa, Europe, Asia and the Islands, on the land, at sea, in the air and under the sea they fought the great fight; in Egypt, Syria, Tobruk, Benghazi, Abyssinia, Greece, Crete, Malaya, New Britain, Borneo, Labuan, Finschhafen, Tarakan, Timor and New Guinea. They fought with the skill characteristic of the Australian way of life, proving ours was indeed a great name; a name to live up to, not to live on; each and everyone determined to succeed or perish in the attempt. We are gathered not to glory in their deeds, but to remember the price they paid, our nearest, our dearest and our best.

You have entrusted to my care the unveiling of the monument, which I now unveil; a simple yet beautiful stone which has been erected to the glory of God in memory of your fallen and dead comrades. I feel in your hearts and mine there is a wish that they should be with us at this solemn moment and read in our hearts  that great determination to preserve for ever the things  for which they fought and fell, to treasure and safeguard them; that they could see here a shrine before which we may pause and remember. Let us, like future generations assemble here on solemn occasions; perform our duty to our fallen, and accept now and always our great responsibilities for these our gallant dead that we may always walk with clear hearts and clear minds and say truly 'They rest in peace'. Engraved upon the monument are the words, 'Lest We Forget.' If we do forget, if future generations do forget, then we as a nation must perish. May if please Almighty God that such should never be, and that the sacrifices of these, your dead, our comrades, shall not have been in vain. Their task is done, ours has only just began."

Mr Wiltshire's speech was followed by The Last Post, a reading of the  Anzac Requiem by Mr. F. Alloway and then Reveille. Wreaths were then laid by the the next of kin and community organizations. The Anzac Commemoration Hymn was sung. Mr Dale  read a number of acknowledgments and the service was completed.  The newspaper  declared the day an outstanding success.

The Lang Lang and District War Memorial.
Image courtesy of the Narre Warren & District Family History Group -
 Casey Cardinia Remembers 

Here are the men listed on the War Memorial. Some of the the records have been digitsed on the National archives of Australia website - all World War Two records are in the process of being digitised. The other sources of information were the nominal rolls and the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial. Sometimes the nominal rolls and the enlistment papers at the National Archives differ as to date of enlistment, I don't know why.

Barry, Sidney Roy.   Sidney was born in Manchester, England on October 28, 1900 and he enlisted on May 29, 1940, in the Army. Sidney's address in the Electoral Rolls was c/o G. Bleasby, Yannathan and his occupation was farm labourer.  Sidney's date of death is listed as September 9, 1943 in Burma, the cause of death was murder.

Cameron, Ian Donald.   Ian was  born July 27, 1899 in Poowong and he  enlisted June 6, 1940, in the Army. He was a dairy farmer of Yannathan. Ian was reported as Missing in Action  and died  of illness on  May 9 1943, when he was a Prisoner of War on the Burma Railway.

Chase, William McLaurin.   William was born October 27, 1922 in Yannathan and he enlisted November 7, 1941 in the Royal Australian Air Force.  William died on  May 9, 1944, in air operations over Belgium.

The report of death on active service of  Flight Lieutenant William Chase.
The Argus November 19, 1944

Coleman,  George James.   George was born December 3, 1911 at Preston. George was a labourer, living in Lang Lang and enlisted July 19, 1940 in the Army. His date of death is January 23, 1942 at Rabaul, New Britain, New Guinea, this is the presumed date as he was Missing at the time of his death.

Dubberke, Harry Walter.   Harry was born in Dandenong, August 14 1919. He enlisted in the Army  on March 15, 1940.  Harry was Killed in Action in Greece on April 19, 1941 according to the Roll of Honor, although the report in the Dandenong Journal (below) says it was in Libya. Harry's grandfather August Martin Dubberke (1843-1926) and his grandmother, Augusta Wanke (c.1845-1913) who were both born in Prussia farmed at Harkaway. Read more about the German Lutheran community at Harkaway, here.

Report of the death of Harry Dubberke
Dandenong Journal May 21, 1941

Eden, Allan Robert.   Allan was born July 1, 1919 and enlisted on May 19, 1941. He was from Caldermeade and his occupation was 'tent hand.'  He was missing in Malaya when he died and his presumed death date is February 11, 1942.

Jackson, Douglas Kenyon.    Douglas was born October 9, 1918 in Korumburra. His occupation was motor driver and he lived in  Lang Lang when he enlisted on August 9, 1940.
Jackson, Stanley Arthur.    Douglas' brother Stanley enlisted on October 26, 1940. He was born at Korumburra on June 7, 1919. Both the boys are presumed to have died on February 20, 1942 - in Ambon, Dutch East Indies.

The sad news confirming the deaths of Douglas and Stanley Jackson, three years after the event.
The Dandenong Journal December 12, 1945

Keating, Robert James.  Robert was born January 2, 1921 in Sydney. On his enlistment in the Army on June 28, 1940 he was living in Shepparton, but on his enlistment paper his address was c/o W. L. Lawrence of Caldermeade. Robert was also, like the Jackson boys,  presumed to have died February 20, 1942 in Ambon, Dutch East Indies.

Nicholls,  A.G.   There are no A. G. Nicholls/Nichols/Nicolls or Nicols on the Roll of Honor, so Mr Nicholls is a mystery at the moment.

Power, C. J.   There is a Chester James Power, the only C. J. Power on the Roll of Honor, and he was Killed in Action in Egypt on July 22, 1942, but I cannot find any connection between him and the local area. He was born in St Kilda October 29, 1921 and he was living in North Melbourne when he enlisted.on May 12, 1941.

Richards, Jack Reid.   Jack was born in Scotland on January 6, 1910. He enlisted on July 8, 1940. Jack was a farmer at Lang Lang when he enlisted in the Army. Lieutenant Richards died in Malaya and his presumed date of death was February 11, 1942. Jack's file at the National Archives has not yet been digitised, but from the sad short report in the Dandenong Journal (see below) he was reported missing and became a Prisoner of War.

Lieutenant Richard's fate
Dandenong Journal  October 18, 1944 

Rowe, Norman Andrew.   Norman was born in Richmond on October 7, 1907 and was living at Monomeith when he enlisted in the Army at Koo Wee Rup on June 3, 1941. Norman was Killed in Action in Papua on December 8, 1942. 

Report of the death of Norman Rowe
Dandenong Journal February 10, 1943

Samuel,  Builth Hamilton.    Builth was born in Lang Lang January 6, 1917. He enlisted in the Army on August 14, 1940 and was like the Jackson boys and Robert Keating, is presumed to have died February 20, 1942 in Ambon, Dutch East Indies. The book Protector's Plains* says that the Samuel family came to Lang Lang in 1907 and that they had originally came from Builth Wells in Wales, hence the unusual first name. They also list the family as Samuels, not Samuel,

Smith,  W.J.   There are six W.J. Smiths on the Roll of Honor - William James, William Joseph and William Joseph Willard - all from New South Wales. Then there is a William John Sterling with connections to Dimboola amd Heywood; William James born in Bendigo, living in East Brunswick on enlistment and another William James, born in Kalgoorlie and connected to Whittlesea. None of the six have an obvious connection to the area, so W.J. Smith remains unidentified currently.

Stephenson, William John.   William was born in Bunyip on March 2, 1919. He enlisted on March 19, 1941. William died of wounds on September 16, 1943,  received while fighting in New Guinea.

Report of the death of William Stephenson.
Dandenong Journal September 29, 1943

Stewart,  Alec James.   Alec was born August 18, 1918 in Dandenong. He enlisted in the Army on July 8, 1940 and he was living in Yannathan. His fate sadly was that of Douglas and Stanley Jackson, Robert Keating and Builth Samuel - presumed to have died February 20, 1942 in Ambon, Dutch East Indies.

Vinnell, Arthur Raymond. Arthur was born in Castlemaine on May 30, 1920. He enlisted July 20, 1940. Arthur was on the Montevideo Maru when it was torpedoed on July 1, 1942. He was officially declared dead on September 26, 1945.   Read about the Montevideo Maru, here, on the Australian War Memorial website.
Vinnell, Albert Charles. Albert was born October 19, 1911 at Loch and enlisted on July 20, 1940.  Albert died of illness (malaria) at sea en route to Port Moresby April 6, 1942

The Vinnell brothers enlist
Dandenong Journal June 19, 1940

The newspaper article, above, talks about the enlistment of Bert (Albert) and Alan. Alan was born March 2, 1917 at Swan Hill and also enlisted July 20, 1940. He was discharged on February 6, 1946. Alan was a motor driver at the Lang Lang butter factory, according to the Electoral roll. Two other brothers also enlisted. Stanley was born in Loch on May 20, 1910. He enlisted March 15, 1942 and was discharged June 14, 1943. Lindsay, born June 23, 1913 at Leongatha;  enlisted June 5, 1942 in the Air Force and was discharged August 1, 1943. 

The Vinnell family death notice for Albert.
The Argus April 23, 1942

The Vinnell family moved around Victoria - the parents  Albert Thomas and Ada Rose (nee Wood) were living in Macarthur when the boys enlisted. Alan and Arthur are listed as enrolling at Lang Lang State School in 1928/1929, according to Protector's Plains, so the family was in Lang Lang then.

Wise, John Leo   John enlisted in the Army on November 4, 1942. He had been born at Geelong December 29, 1921 and was living at Caldermeade when he enlisted. John died of illness in New Guinea on January 13, 1943.

Report of the death of John Wise of Caldermeade.
Dandenong Journal January 20, 1943.

Wise, Trevor Watson. Trevor, born May 11, 1918 in Geelong, enlisted firstly in the Army on March 28, 1941 and then in the Royal Australian Air Force on April 24, 1942. Trevor was presumed to have been killed in action, whilst fighting in New Guinea on August 15, 1943. Sadly for the family, the death was not confirmed until 1946, see article below.

Report of the death of Trevor Wise.
Dandenong Journal, November 27 1946.

John and Trevor were the sons of Leopold Frederick and Eva Violet (nee Watson) Wise. Leopold and Eva were living in Geelong when the boys were born and in the 1931 Electoral Roll they were at Hall Road in Carrum Downs. Leopold died in 1933, Eva is then listed at Dumbalk, and later in 1942 she is listed as a housekeeper and c/o Mrs T. Amos of Caldermeade.


*Protector’s Plains: history of the Lang Lang Primary school No.2899, 1888-1988 and district by Barbara Coghlan (CBC Publishing, 1988)

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