Albert Edward Varcoe was born in Hillston in 1889, the third of nine children born to Robert Stewart Varcoe and his wife Madeline Isabella Rebecca Varcoe (nee Anderson).
The family later moved from Hillston to Wellington, where Albert attended the Public School, then Senior Cadets at the Rifle Club. Following his education Albert worked at the Wellington Times newspaper as a compositor.
The family later relocated to Orange, where Albert’s father, Robert, was the western superintendent for the Massey-Harris agricultural machinery company. Albert secured work as a clerk with Massey-Harris and the Sunshine Harvesting Company. The family were active members of the Holy Trinity Church Orange congregation, where Robert served an office bearer.
In August 1914 Albert enlisted at Hillston, during a visit with his aunt. Albert and his brother Bertram Stewart Varcoe were among the first men from Orange to enlist in WWI, doing so within a few days of each other. Interestingly, the brothers embarked on the same day – 19 October 1914; Albert from Sydney and Bertram from Melbourne. A third brother, Victor Benjamin Varcoe, also served in WWI.
Private Varcoe served in Egypt in the 3rd Battalion, D Company before joining the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force in April 1915 and proceeding to Gallipoli. On 1 May he was appointed Lance Corporal.
Albert was killed in action less than three weeks after his promotion. He is buried at the Parade Ground Cemetery in Gallipoli; his epitaph reads “He Died To Save”.
Albert Edward Varcoe is commemorated on the Holy Trinity Church Orange Honour Roll and on the World War I Roll of Honour on the southern face of the Orange Cenotaph.
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 “L Cpl A Varcoe”; it was donated by ES Spooner. Very few of the trees are still standing today. [Eric Sydney Spooner was a charted accountant in Orange before becoming the Minister for Public Works and Local Government in the NSW Parliament]
Albert’s brothers Bertram and Victor both survived the war, returning to Australia in August 1915 and August 1919 respectively.
Leader, 21 June 1915, p. 3.
Our Fallen Heroes