George Frederick Reed

George Frederick Reed and his family were living in Edward Street, East Orange, when the First World War began. George was employed as a locomotive engine driver with the Orange Railway Station. He was also a member of Orange Rifle Club.

Born in Brixton, England, in 1883, George emigrated to Australia as a young man. In 1902 he married Hilda Maude Beahan in Wallerawang. George and Hilda had four children: Nilda (born in 1902), Clarence (1908), George (1914), and Leslie (1916).

George enlisted in January 1917 and proceeded to army camp for training. On 19 January the Leader reported:

The cock-a-doodle-doing of the railway whistles on Wednesday night was not owing to the death of the Kaiser, but simply as a send-off to Driver George Reed, who left on the last mail to join his battalion, en route to where the lid has been lifted from Europe.

George embarked for overseas service from Melbourne in May 1917. He disembarked in Plymouth on 19 July 1917 and was marched in to the 4th Railway Section, Australian Railway Operating Division, at Bordon.

In early October 1917 George proceeded to France to serve on the Western Front. On 1 January 1918 he was promoted to Corporal.

Corporal George Reed survived the war unscathed. On 11 November 1918 – the day peace was declared – he proceeded to England on two weeks’ furlough. George rejoined his unit on France on 25 November.

On 22 February 1919 George was admitted to hospital in Dunkirk, dangerously ill with bronchial pneumonia. He survived for thirteen more days, succumbing to his illness on 7 March 1919.

George Frederick Reed is commemorated on the World War I Roll of Honour on the southern face of the Orange Cenotaph and on panel number 26 on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

In 1923 the Anzac Memorial Avenue of trees was planted along Bathurst Road to commemorate fallen WWI soldiers. A tree was planted in honour of “Capt CF Reed”, presumably George. It was donated by Mrs M Reed. Very few of the trees are still standing today.

George Frederick Reed died almost four months after the armistice was signed. He is believed to be the last WWI serviceman from the Orange district to die as a direct result of the First World War. A multitude of other servicemen and women, however, would bear physical and psychological scars which would plague them and their families for the rest of their days.

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Thomas Reuben Haydon

Thomas Reuben Haydon enlisted in the First World War in Orange on 19 April 1918. When completing his attestation papers Thomas claimed to 18 years old, citing his date of birth as 16 January 1900.

According to the Dubbo Dispatch and Wellington Independent of 18 March 1919 Thomas was just 16 when he volunteered to serve.

Thomas was born in Stuart Town in 1901 to Peter Haydon and Annette nee Bastardi, who had married in Wellington in 1888. Thomas’ father, Peter, a well-known identity in the district, was recognised as one of the best bush men in Australia.

Thomas was educated at Summerhill Creek Public School and later worked as a labourer. He embarked SS Field Marshal in Sydney on 19 June 1918 for overseas service. On 10 July he was admitted to the ship’s hospital, where he spent nine days with a bout of tonsillitis. Thomas disembarked in London on 26 August and was marched in to the 11th Training Battalion at Sutton Veny and allotted to the 2nd Battalion Reinforcements.

In October 1918 Thomas was transferred to Artillery Details and marched out to the Reserve Brigade Australian Artillery at Heytesbury. The following month Thomas proceeded to France, joining the 1st Artillery Division at Rouelles.

Following the declaration of peace on 11 November 1918 Gunner Haydon continued to serve on the Western Front. In early February 1919 he was in Belgium, when, on 6 February, he died. His military records simply state:

Died of asphyxiation in the field

No other details are known of Thomas’ death. He was the third WWI serviceman from the Orange district to die post-armistice. He was 17 years old.

Thomas Reuben Haydon is commemorated on the World War I Roll of Honour on the southern face of the Orange Cenotaph and on panel number 21 on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

In 1923 the Anzac Memorial Avenue of trees was planted along Bathurst Road to commemorate fallen WWI soldiers. A tree was planted in honour of “Pte TR Haydon”; it was donated by Cleve Hutchinson. Very few of the trees are still standing today.

Thomas’ brother, Leslie, also served in WWI; he was a Lieutenant with the Royal Flying Corps.

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John Grenfell Pascoe

On 16 January 1919 John Grenfell Pascoe, a driver with the 6th Australian Corps Troops Mechanical Transport Company, travelled from France to England on furlough. Peace had been declared less than two months earlier. Driver Pascoe had seen two and half years’ active service was awaiting transportation home to Australia.

Ten days into his furlough John was admitted to the Australian Auxiliary Hospital in Dartford. He was experiencing severe headaches and pains in his back and legs. John’s temperature rose rapidly following his admission and he developed a cough. On 29 January it rose to 105.2ºF (40.6ºC) and he began to expectorate blood. He died at 5am on 31 January 1919; the cause of death was noted as influenza and pneumonia. John was 44 years old.

John was buried at Brookwood Military Cemetery in Surrey on 4 February. The Officer in Charge of Records, AIF, London, observed:

The deceased soldier was accorded a full Military funeral, Firing Party, Bugler, and Pallbearers in attendance.

The coffin was draped with the Australian flag, and borne to the graveside, where the Last Post was sounded and the burial service conducted by Chaplain the Rev Crotty, C of E of the AIF London.

Administrative Headquarters AIF London were represented at the funeral.

John was born in Lucknow in 1874. He was one of 15 children born to Thomas Henry Pascoe and Hannah Ellis nee Bothera. Five of John’s siblings died during infancy. Thomas and Hannah had married in Cornwell in 1855 and migrated to Australia in 1856. They settled in Castlemaine, Victoria, but moved to Forbes in 1862 and Lucknow in 1867. Thomas became the manager of the Phoenix Mine at Lucknow, and, in 1887, purchased the Perseverance Hotel.

John was educated at Orange Public School where he served in the cadets. In 1900 John married Eva Welsh in Orange and their only daughter, Violet Ellice Grenfell Pascoe, was born in 1901.

By 1916 John and his family had moved to St Peters in Sydney, where he was employed as an engine driver, presumably with the railways. John enlisted on 2 May 1916 and embarked for overseas service on 22 August. He disembarked in Plymouth in October 1916 and undertook further training with the Australian Details No 3 Camp at Parkhouse and the Pioneer Training Battalion at Perham Downs before proceeding to France in late February 1917.

In June 1918 John was admitted to the 1st USA General Hospital, France, with a malignant ulcer of the gum. He received two weeks’ treatment and was transferred to the 1st Convalescent Depot, where he spent almost two months recovering. Driver Pascoe rejoined his unit in late August 1918. He continued to serve without incident until being struck with influenza in January 1919.

John Grenfell Pascoe is commemorated on the Holy Trinity Church Orange Honour Roll, the World War I Roll of Honour on the southern face of the Orange Cenotaph and on panel number 181 on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra

In 1923 the Anzac Memorial Avenue of trees was planted along Bathurst Road to commemorate fallen WWI soldiers. A tree was planted in honour of “Pte JF Pascoe”, presumably John. It was donated by Joseph Pascoe. Very few of the trees are still standing today.

Sadly, John Grenfell Pascoe was not the last serviceman from the Orange district to die post-armistice from disease or injuries. Two other men followed him: Thomas Reuben Haydon on 6 February 1919, and George Frederick Reed on 7 March 1919.

John Grenfell Pascoe‘s death notice, Sydney Morning Herald, 17 February 1919, p6.

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Frederick Peppernell

Private Fredrick Peppernell was reported missing in action on 7 June 1917. Some confusion reigned as to whether he was indeed deceased, or was just missing. His military record contains the following letter, written on 13 September 1917 to his mother in Kerr’s Creek, from a New Zealand soldier “somewhere in France”.

It is with regret that I have to write and tell you that your brave son was killed while doing his duty for King and Country. He was burried [sic] with one of his comrades where they fell. I am forwarding the few PCs [postcards] he had in his pocket. Hoping you receive these alright, a brave lad loved and respected by all.

From a New Zealander in arms who layed [sic] your son to rest and put a cross and his name and number.

Pte HD Edmonds, No 37173 1st Coy 1 CIB NZEF France.

At this time the Australian Army still had not confirmed Frederick’s death. It was not until March 1918 that his file was marked “Killed in Action”.

Red Cross files contain the following report from Pte Todd, dated 20 September 1917:

F Peppernell was one of three brothers who were all together. It was a rather remarkable story. He was wounded in the advance and his brother got him into a shell hole and then went on. When they returned there was no sign of him and he has never been heard of or seen since. It is a mystery because the Germans could not have got to him there, and my theory is that he staggered away to get back to the dressing station and a shell got him. All my mates think the same. This was at Messines.

Henry and Annie Peppernell of Kerr’s Creek had given three of their sons to the war effort: Frederick, Henry and William Henry. Frederick and Henry were twins, their births registered in Wellington in 1892. The family lived at Kerr’s Creek, between Orange and Wellington, where their father Henry was recorded as a miner. The brothers came of a large family of at least 15 children.

Frederick and Henry enlisted together on 17 January 1916 and have consecutive regimental numbers. They joined the 36th Battalion, B Company, and embarked from Sydney on board HMAT A72 Beltana on 13 May 1916. Frederick marched into France and on the 8 February 1917 marched out to the front in France. Frederick was killed during the Battle of Messines.

Private Frederick Peppernell No 535, 36th Battalion AIF, is remembered on the Kerr’s Creek Honour Roll, on panel number 127 on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra and on panel 25 of the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial in Belgium.

Frederick is also remembered on a military headstone in the Orange Cemetery next to his parents, Roman Catholic Old Section B, number 786.

Both of Frederick’s brothers returned to Australia after the war.

Frederick Peppernell commemorative plaque, Orange Cemetery. Image courtesy Lynne Irvine.

 

Frederick Peppernell plaque detail. Image courtesy Lynne Irvine.

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Ernest Richard Larkin Baulch

A memorial service was held in Millthorpe at the beginning of September 1918 by Captain Love of the Salvation Army. It was held to honour the life of Private Ernest Richard Larkin Baulch, killed in action in France on 23 August 1918.

Ernest enlisted in Orange on 15 February 1917 aged 18 years 5 months, his occupation was given as a farm labourer. He formed part of the 3rd Battalion 24th Reinforcement in the AIF. On 10 May 1917 Ernest embarked on the HMAT Clan Macgillivay at Melbourne bound for England. From there he was taken on strength to France in December of that year. On 10 March 1918 he was admitted to the 2nd Australian Field Ambulance with trench fever. He rejoined his battalion on 1 August 1918 and was killed in action on 23 August 1918.

Australian Red Cross Society Wounded and Missing Enquiry Files contain reports of various soldiers who saw him as he fell. He was described as very thin, dark complexion and aged about 19 years. According to Lance-Corporal AA Burton (1065) of the same Company, Baulch “was a well-liked chap, and a really good boy”. He had seen him shot, he was hit in the stomach by machine gun fire about two yards away from him. Burton managed to stop and retrieve Baulch’s pay book, which he later handed in at London. He never saw him again but when he returned to the same area two days later stretcher-bearers pointed out Baulch’s grave near Robert Wood between the villages of Proyart and Chuignes. He was buried alongside another soldier and his rifle and hat were laid on the top of his grave.

Ernest Baulch’s enlistment papers records his place of birth as Corowa, New South Wales, and both his parents as deceased. His next of kin was given as a friend, Mrs Jane Warburton of Millthorpe. Included in his military file is a letter from Mrs Warburton stating the nature of her relationship with Ernest:

The deceased soldier was born out of wedlock and his mother, a working girl, could not afford to keep him. I adopted him when he was only a few weeks old. Not being married at the time myself, I called him an adopted brother. He came and lived with me when I married and remained with me until he enlisted. If you would like a copy of the letter I received from the girl giving up all claim to the child I can send it to you.

Letters to Mrs C Warburton were published in the Orange Leader on 15 January 1919. The first was from the chaplain of the 3rd Battalion AIF who spoke very highly of her “brother”:

Your brother made great sacrifice of his life during an attack by us upon enemy positions on 23/8/18. We lost him as the result of shell fire during the course of the attack. I can give you the assurance that he did not suffer in any way. Mercifully, his passing was instantaneous and without pain … Your brother has proved himself a good soldier and acceptable comrade.

Charlie Andrews also conveyed his sympathies:

Ern was a good mate of mine. He came across from Australia with me, and I always found him one of the best of mates. In the firing line he did his work fearlessly.

Ernest’s memorial plaque, memorial scroll and war medals were signed for by Mrs Jane Warburton on 16 November 1923.

Ernest Richard Larkin Baulch has no marked grave. He is commemorated on Millthorpe School Honour Roll, Millthorpe Methodist Church Honour Roll, Millthorpe Memorial Gates, on panel number 35 on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra and at the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux in France.

* Sharon Jameson, October 2018

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Arthur Clive Gentle

Born in Inverell in 1896, Arthur Clive Gentle grew up in Mount McDonald, near Cowra, where he attended to local public school.

When Arthur was just nine years old his father, Arthur snr, died from a long standing heart condition. Arthur snr had been an employee of the Australian Postal Service. He worked in the Electric Telegraph Department in Inverell, Armidale and Sydney.

Young Arthur followed in his father’s footsteps, training as a wireless telegraphist after completing his schooling. At the time of his enlistment in August 1915 he was working as a junior assistant at Orange Post Office.

Because Arthur was under the age of 21, his mother, Edith Emily Green, was obliged to provide her written consent to his enlistment.

Image courtesy National Archives of Australia.

Arthur spent three months at Army Training Camp, before embarking SS Hawkes Bay in Sydney in November 1915. Private Gentle served in Egypt, Sinai and Palestine with the Australian Light Horse.

In June 1916 Arthur was admitted to the 3rd General Hospital in Port Said with burnt feet. He was discharged one month later and taken on strength with the 2nd Light Horse Training Regiment at Tel-el-Kebir.

In October 1916 Private Gentle qualified as a Signaller.

On 28 March 1918 Arthur was wounded in action during the first Battle of Amman. He was admitted to 14th Australian General Hospital in Port Said with gunshot wounds to both legs and his left thigh. Arthur recovered from his injuries and rejoined his regiment in July 1918.

Three months later Signaller Gentle was admitted to the 47th Stationary Hospital in Palestine suffering from malaria. On 21 October 1918 Arthur succumbed to the disease. He was buried in the Gaza War Cemetery the following day; Chaplain ER Lockyer officiated at the funeral.

Arthur Clive Gentle is commemorated on panel number 5 on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

Arthur’s WWI service medals were issued to his mother, Edith, and are now held at the Australian War Memorial.

Arthur Clive Gentle’s grave Gaza War Cemetery, Palestine. Image courtesy Australian War Memorial.

 

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Lindsay Gordon Smith

Lindsay Gordon Smith c1917. Image courtesy Australian War Memorial.

Lindsay Gordon Smith served with the Australian Imperial Force in the First World War for just over three years. On 4 October 1918 he was wounded in action, receiving gunshot wounds to his lower back during the advance on the Hindenburg Line. Driver Smith was evacuated to the City of London Military Hospital at Clapham, England, where, on 19 October, he died of his wounds. According to the Officer in Charge of Base Records:

The deceased soldier was accorded a full military funeral, firing party, bugler, and pallbearers being in attendance, the coffin (good polished elm) was draped with the Australian flag and conveyed to the graveside where the Last Post was sounded.

On 13 December 1917 Driver Lindsay Smith had been awarded the Military Medal for bravery in the field. In July 1919 the Officer in Charge of Base Records penned the following letter to Lindsay’s mother, Sylvia Smith, describing the details surrounding her son’s award:

Dear Madam,

It is with feelings of admiration at the gallantry of a brave Australian soldier who nobly laid down his life in the service of our King and Country, that I am directed by the Honourable The Minister to forward to you, as the next-of-kin of the No 1952 Driver LG Smith, 14th Field Artillery Brigade, Australian Imperial Force, the Military Medal which His Majesty the King has been graciously pleased to award to that gallant soldier for conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty while serving with the Australian Imperial Expeditionary Force.

The specific deed for which this distinction is bestowed is as follows:

During the recent operations East of Ypres from 29th. September 1917 to the present date No 1952 Driver Lindsay Gordon SMITH has accompanied every ammunition party to the guns situate in Hannebeke Valley SW of Zonnebeke and has never once failed to reach the battery position even though he has been subjected to very heavy shelling and delays on the road. This man in company with two other Drivers made nine trips each during one night from the dump to the guns, this despite the severe conditions prevailing at the time. This man has at all times shown a cheerful willingness for any task however arduous and has proved very valuable to the Battery. His conduct is worthy of special recognition.

Lindsay Smith was born in Orange in 1889. His parents were William Paynton and Silvia Sarah Eliza Smith. He grew up at Curra Creek near Wellington and attended the Finger Post Public School.

In September 1915 Lindsay enlisted at Dubbo. He was accepted into the AIF despite having lost his left index and middle fingers and part of his thumb. The following month he embarked from Sydney, a trooper with the 6th Light Horse Regiment, 13th Reinforcements. Shortly after arrival in Egypt Lindsay was admitted to the Government Hospital in Suez with mumps. On 5 February 1916 he was discharged to duty and taken on strength with the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force. In March he was transferred to the 25th Howitzer Brigade as a driver, and, in June proceeded to France.

Driver Smith served in France with the 14th Field Artillery Brigade, 53rd Battery for two and a half years until his death on 19 October 1918.

Lindsay Gordon Smith is commemorated on Wellington Cenotaph in Cameron Park, Yeoval Memorial Hall WWI Honour Roll and on panel number 18 on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

On the third anniversary of Lindsay’s death his family published the following tribute in the Wellington Times:

Somewhere abroad. No matter where
He was just as close to Heaven
As though he had lain in his bed at home,
When the signal to cease was given.
He has borne his cross, he has gained his crown,
Though he lies in a far off grave
And we think of his life and duty done,
Manly, unselfish, and brave.

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George Holden

The grave of George Holden, Port Said War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt. Image courtesy Australian War Memorial.

Born in Cargo in 1899, George Holden claimed to be 20 years old when he enlisted in Orange in October 1917. He was, in fact, just 18 years old.

George was the second of three boys born to Samuel Holden and Rosalind (nee Locke), who had married in Cargo in 1896. He attended Bowan Park School Public School and was working as a farmer prior to enlistment. He was also a member of the Bowan Park Farmers and Settlers’ Association, who presented him with booklets of War Savings Stamps to the value of £3 10s prior to embarkation.

George embarked from Sydney in March 1918. He was stationed in Moascar, Egypt, where he was a trooper with the 1st Light Horse Regiment, 35th Reinforcement.

Trooper Holden was hospitalised in August and September 1918 with pyrexia (fever) and neurasthenia (hysteria). He was transferred to the 14th Australian General Hospital in Port Said, where he died of malaria the following month, aged 19 years.

George Holden is commemorated on the Cudal District Honour Roll, the Cudal and District War Memorial Gates, the Toogong War Memorial and on panel number 2 on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

George is also remembered on a commemorative plaque in Orange Cemetery, Presbyterian Block 3, Grave 55.

George’s brother, Herbert Hamilton Holden also served in WWI; he returned to Australia in August 1919.

George Holden commemorative plaque, Orange Cemetery. Image courtesy Orange Cemetery.

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Gerald Benedict Fahy

Gerald Benedict Fahy. Image courtesy Queenslander Pictorial.

The theatrical career of Gerald Benedict Fahy was brought to a sad end at the 15th Australian Field Ambulance where he died of gas poisoning on 7 April 1917. “Gattye”, as he was known to his family and friends, enlisted at Enoggera, Queensland, on 9 May 1915. Although he gave his occupation as “labourer” he signed his enlistment form with a flourish, perhaps indicating his standard of education. Indeed, he is remembered on the Patrician Brothers’ Orange Old Boys Roll of Honour.

Gerald embarked at Sydney on HMAT Shropshire on 20 August 1915 bound for Egypt, where he was taken on strength with the 15th Battalion at Lemnos. On 9 February 1916 he was wounded and admitted to the Australian Overseas Base at Chesireh, Egypt.

In March 1916 Gerald rejoined his battalion and was transferred to France. Here he was wounded in action on 8 August and again on 28 August 1916, when he also suffered shell shock. On 3 September 1916 Gerald rejoined his battalion and was then transferred to the 4th Division Salvage Company. On 7 April 1917 at the 15th Australian Field Ambulance he died of gas poisoning and was laid to rest at the Bernafay Wood British Cemetery in Montauban France.

Gerald had originally enlisted under the name of Thompson. In a letter included in his war record he explains why:

This is my explanation to having enlisted under a wrong name. For the last four or five months I have had relatives of my wife coming to my home and wanting to lene [sic] on me. They are quiet [sic] able to work but seem to be of the kind that don’t want it. I did not care to cause rows between my wife and self and took the name of Thompson and shifted my address thinking that would leave me free of them for a time. On the day that I enlisted I took the name of Thompson not knowing that I was doing wrong and with no intention whatever of doing anything wrong. I came to the knowledge of what I had done and took the first opportunity I had of explaining matters. I can get references from the last three places in which I was employed as to character and my way of living showing that my past is good and above reproach. I ask you to treat me as lightly as possible as my heart is bent on going to the front.

Why did Gerald Fahy choose the name “Thompson”? The Perth Daily News dated 15 January 1907 records a performance of Fun on the Bristol. In the play Gerald Fahy performed the role of “Thompson” – perhaps it was the first name that popped into head that he was familiar with! Obviously, Gerald enjoyed performing. In 1903 the Petersham Choral Society performed Dorothy where Gerald performed on alternate nights. The Port Augusta Dispatch of Friday 21 June 1907 records:

Mr Gerald Fahy as Lord Lavender (an aristocrat) was irresistibly funny in a performance of The Lady Slavey

Gerald Benedict Fahy was born in 1883 and was the son of Patrick Fahy and Jane Collins (of Springside) who had married in Orange in 1864. They had eight children; Gerald was the first boy after six girls. His father Patrick was the licensee of both the Steam Engine Hotel and the Daniel O’Connell Hotel in Lords Place. The family later moved to Stanmore in Sydney where the last four children were born.

Flicking through the pages of A Gentleman of the Inky Way by Joe Glasson (who identifies himself as a cousin through the Collins line) it is apparent that the Fahy family was musically talented. Gerald’s younger brother “Bort” (Herbert) was well-known in Sydney and country New South Wales for his musical talents. Though “Bort” could not read a note of music he could sing and play for hours. Joe Glasson records his visits to the Fahy family home in Stanmore, Sydney:

As soon as tea was over, Bort, an accredited musical genius, would sit at the piano hour after hour, his brother, sisters and friends would sing first-class music in four parts, including all the Gilbert and Sullivan operas.

Gerald left a widow and three small children. He had married Annie Harper, daughter of William Thomas Harper, in Brisbane on 22 April 1912. In 1918 Annie was chosen to occupy one of the Anzac Cottages at Goodna, Queensland, built especially for war widows. Annie never remarried and died in Queensland in 1957. Their son, Gerald Herbert Fahy, served in WWII.

It is interesting to note that while Gerald Benedict Fahy died and was interred in France, his widow Annie Fahy registered his death in Brisbane, Queensland, in 1922. His death certificate states that he was given a military burial. Three children are listed on the death certificate: Minnie Josephine, aged four, Edward Henry, three, and Gerald Herbert, one.

Gerald Benedict “Gattye” Fahy is commemorated on the Patrician Brothers’ Roll of Honour, the World War I Roll of Honour on the southern face of the Orange Cenotaph and on panel no 184 on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

In 1923 the Anzac Memorial Avenue of trees was planted along Bathurst Road to commemorate fallen WWI soldiers. A tree was planted in honour of “Pte GB Fahy”; it was donated by AB Woodhouse. Very few of the trees are still standing today.

* Sharon Jameson, October 2018

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Harold Percival Gavin

Harold Percival Gavin. Image courtesy ancestry.com.

When 19 year old Harold Percival Gavin embarked for overseas service in August 1916 his mother Ellen bestowed upon him her engagement ring, presumably as a token of good luck and talisman for his safe return.

Harold was wounded on three occasions during his service on the Western Front. He survived the first two injuries – gunshot wounds to his left arm, followed by one to his back – but his third injury proved fatal. At 7am on 3 October Harold was killed when a shell exploded nearby, hitting him on the left side of his head.

In May 1919 Harold’s family received a package containing his personal possessions: his wallet, a notebook and calendar and some photographs, letters and cards. Ellen’s engagement ring was not included, either was Harold’s watch.

Harold’s father, Alfred, wrote a stinging letter to the Army Base Records Office:

…he possessed a ring and a watch which were not of very large value, but the ring was his mother’s engagement ring, taken from her finger and given him when parting, so you can imagine her bitter disappointment at not receiving this tiny memento. I presume you have not received any record of the articles, but the act proves what a pack of ghouls accompanied the men who gave their lives for the honour of their country.

The Officer in Charge of the Army Base Records Office replied:

In the event of the articles you mention coming to hand later, they will be promptly transmitted to you.

Alfred and Ellen Gavin received no further news as to the fate of Ellen’s engagement ring.

Harold was born in Cargo in 1897, the third of ten children. He attended Patrician Brothers school in Orange, where he was a member of the School Cadets. Following his education Harold completed a three and a half year apprenticeship with Orange carpenter James Douglas of Summer Street. He also served in the Commonwealth Trainees units; a Lance Corporal in the 42nd Infantry A Company.

Harold, aka Boyd, served with the 17th Battalion during the First World War. At 6am on 3 October 1918 the 17th launched an attack on the village of Wiancourt in France. One hour later, at about 7am, Harold was mortally wounded by a shell wound to his head. He was 21 years old.

Harold Percival Gavin is commemorated on the Patrician Brothers’ Roll of Honour, the St Joseph’s Church Orange Honour Roll, on the World War I Roll of Honour on the southern face of the Orange Cenotaph, and on panel number 82 on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

In 1923 the Anzac Memorial Avenue of trees was planted along Bathurst Road to commemorate fallen WWI soldiers. A tree was planted in honour of “Pte HP Gavin”; it was donated by Dr Wally F Matthews. Very few of the trees are still standing today.

Private Francis Joseph Campbell Brewer of Queensland describes the assault on Wiancourt

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