A hero’s welcome was recorded in the Orange Leader on Wednesday 10 September 1919 for Private Stanley Fitzharding Leslie Lawson and Corporal Henry (Harry) Peppernell when they returned to Kerr’s Creek at the end of the First World War. The town had already welcomed Henry’s eldest brother, William Henry, in March of the same year. It must have been a bitter sweet moment for his parents, who had lost Henry’s twin brother Frederick in June 1917.
Henry snr and Annie Peppernell had farewelled three of their boys to the Great War. William Henry, their eldest, had enlisted in November 1915 and then the twin brothers Frederick and Henry enlisted at Liverpool on 17 January 1916 at the age of 23 years and 2 months. They joined the 30th Battalion on 10 February 1916 and embarked at Sydney via HMAT A72 Beltana on 13 May 1916 bound for England. On 20 August 1916 they marched into France.
After the death of Frederick, Henry stayed with the 30th Battalion where he was appointed to the rank of Lance Corporal in Belgium on 17 January 1918. When this unit was disbanded in April 1918 Henry was taken on strength to the 33rd Battalion.
On 23 August 1918 Henry sustained a gunshot wound to his head and was taken to the Casualty Clearing Station. He rejoined his until the following month.
By December 1918 illness had struck Henry, his military record is not clear as to the cause. He was transferred back to England where he spent 22 days in hospital and then on convalescent training at Sutton Veny, England, until April 1919. He returned to Australia via Konigin-Luise on 21 June 1919 and was discharged from the Army on 9 February 1920.
In 1923 Henry Peppernell married Myrlie Reid at Cowra and from electoral rolls the family moved to Belmore in Sydney. Henry’s occupation is given as a railway employee. It is not known how many children they had.
Henry Peppernell died in November 1977, his funeral notice in the Sydney Morning Herald on 27 November 1977 states that he was cremated at Rookwood Crematorium on that day. His wife Myrlie died in 1983.
Lance Corporal Henry Peppernell No 534, 30th/36th Battalion Australian Infantry Forces is remembered on the Kerr’s Creek Honour Roll and the Australian War Memorial’s Nominal Roll.
* Sharon Jameson, November 2018