Tag Archives: Kilmore Catholic Cemetery

Centenary of WW1; Kilmore Remembers: Patrick Raymond Skehan

Australian_Army_Rising_Sun_Badge_1904

Private 1424

Patrick Raymond Skehan was born in Kilmore on April 27, 1894, the second son of Patrick and Amy (nee Grose) Skehan. Educated at Assumption College, Kilmore, he was a member of the Essendon Rifles Military Band (58th Reg.) and enlisted in the AIF at Broadmeadows on November 7, 1914, listing his occupation as Electrician.

Patrick sailed from Australia with the 2nd reinforcement to 7th Battalion on the HMAT “Clan Macgillivary” on February 2, 1915. On April 5, 1915, he embarked to join Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, Gallipoli and took part in the landing on Gallipoli on April 25, 1915, where he celebrated his 21st birthday on April 27. In July he was buried in a SAP which was blown in by heavy shellfire from the German warship “Goeben”. Only two were recovered alive from the SAP due to their proximity to the main trench. He regained consciousness on route to Malta and was admitted to St. Andrews Hospital, Malta with shell shock and suffered semi paralyses for some time.

After Gallipoli, he was transferred to the 1st Pioneer battalion and sent to France. The following is a brief extract from his writings:

“I was a runner at Pozieres and was affected by explosions to the extent of being thrown over and the concussion gave me a headache. On the second time we were in the line I hopped over with about 40 other men to dig a shallow trench for the infantry to “hop off” from. On the following day a shrapnel shell burst right in front of me and for a time I was dazed thinking the whole of the shell had hit me, but after a rest I recovered, I had a G.S.W in the left knee. I went to England and did not rejoin until April 1917. At Passchendaele I was thrown out of a shell hole by concussion and on another occasion was thrown into one, but I carried on until October 1918. The M.O. wanted to send me away, but I asked to be allowed to remain with my unit. In October 1918, I contracted influenza and went to England.”

AWARDED THE MILITARY MEDAL; “HIS MAJESTY THE KING has been graciously pleased to award the Military Medal for bravery in the field to the under mentioned soldier No. 1424 Private PATRICK RAYMOND SKEHAN”.

The citation reads:

“At Pozieres, France, on August 18, 1916, Pte. Skehan was detailed as a runner for Captain Speckual while 1st Avenue was under construction. During a heavy bombardment it was necessary to dispatch Pte. Skehan with a message to Lieut. O’Brien, on the way Pte. Skehan was hit on the knee by a piece of shrapnel but not withstanding this continued on his way, crawling on his hands and knees a distance of over 500 yards under continuous fire.”

He returned to Australia on the “City of Exeter” and was discharged on June 12, 1919. Due to his war service injuries suitable work was difficult to obtain, however, he worked as a casual labourer with the railways for a period, was appointed librarian in charge of the musical records at the Mildura University till its closure. He then returned to Moonee Ponds and finished his working life at the Maribynong ordnance factory. Blessed with a rich bass voice he often sang in operatic choruses and in St .Theresa’s choir, Essendon. Ocassionally he would visit family in Kilmore, travelling by train to Kilmore East and walking into the township. He never married and passed away on July 4, 1972, aged 78 years, and is buried in the Kilmore Catholic Cemetery.

In addition to the Military Medal, Patrick was awarded the 1914/15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. His name appears on the Kilmore Shire Honour Roll at the Kilmore Memorial Hall.

Patrick Raymond Skehan in later life
Patrick Raymond Skehan in later life

KILMORE FREE PRESS October 28, 1915
At the Dardanelles

Private P. R., Skehan, son of Mr P. Skehan, J.P., Kilmore, thus writes from the Convalescent Camp, Malta, under date 20th August, to his parents :-

At last I’am on the road to recovery and hope to be soon back in the trenches with the boys. Our battalion, in fact the whole brigade, has suffered terribly, and very few of the originals are left. We have had some horrible experiences, I never thought I would get used to it so quickly it was just like some awful nightmare. Our brigade was the second one ashore, and landed at 9 o’clock. From early morning the “Jizzie”, Buchantte, London and Triumph had been bombarding the forts at Gallipoli, the transports standing just behind. While we were getting into the torpedo destroyers which took us to the small boats we were shelled with shrapnel. Then we had to board the small boats and the naval pinnaces took us ashore, a string of three and four little boats being towed by each one. Then the excitement started. As we neared the shore they turned the machine guns on us from the hills while their field guns fired shrapnel from the flanks. We had to jump from the boats into the water, which was four feet-deep, and rush for cover of the cliffs. It was there we saw the slaughter the landing party suffered. Boats were smashed to pieces by shells, ghastly looking corpses laying and sitting in drifting boats, and others had been shot as they set foot on dry land. We scaled the little hill and went on up Shrapnel Gully. The first days and nights were awful. One of the machine guns of the 7th were manned by Essendon boys, and all were either killed or wounded. I thought I was a goner a hundred times during that week. The second reinforcements joined up with the 7th at Mena two days before they left, but some of us were picked to go as a hold party for the F.A. on the Indian. We concentrated at Lemnos Island and were taken back to the 7th on the Galeka the night before we sailed to the Dardanelles. We entrenched on the top of Shrapnel Gully, and now our trenches run right along the top of three similar gullies and right down towards Kuthier. We have Indian mountain batteries at the back of us as well as our field artillery, well hidden in the ridges, also Scotch howitzer batteries, which fire right over the hills, while the battleships extend from Gaba Tebe right up to the Dardanelles. On 7th May we (2nd; Brigade, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th Battalions) proceeded to Cape Helles, at the end of the peninsula, to assist the naval divisions, French and Territorials. We advanced 500 yards from Hood and Drake battalions’ trenches against Acki Babi and got cut up again. We took a Turkish trench which was full of dead, killed by the warships’ shells. We were at Cape Helles three weeks. The British and French troops told us they also had a terrible time at that end as-indeed the large grave yards prove. Shortly after coming back from Gaba Tebe we saw the Triumph torpedoed. While at Cape Helles we saw the River Clyde transport beached high and dry. The Dublins and Munsters landed off her. Father Hearne, of Richmond, was our chaplain; he has gone to Alexandria after being under fire for a couple of stiff months. We blew some Turks up in a mine, and went up to the same caper again. The Turks are brave fellows and just don’t care a damn for death. After their last big charge in June they were killed in hundreds, falling dead off our parapets. Our position is called “A N Z A C,” meaning A New Zealand Army Corps. All nicknames become official, such as Quinn’s Post, Johnston’s Jolly, Pope’s Hill, etc., and the Turk’s big guns are also nicknamed, being known as Asiatic Annie, Lonely Liz, High Velocity Archibald etc. I will be back in the trenches in September, all going well. I am.one of the few lucky ones to keep going from the first day until the middle of July.

[ Ref: 1915 ‘At the Dardanelles.’, Kilmore Free Press (Kilmore, Vic. : 1870 – 1954), 28 October, p. 2 Edition: MORNING., http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article58428889 ]

Reproduced in the North Central Review, 28 April 2015, p15

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Centenary of WW1; Kilmore Remembers: Catherine O’Connor

AANS 3-2

Nurse

Catherine (Katie) was born in 1870 in Kilmore, the daughter of Patrick O’Connor and Elizabeth Seymour. At birth she was registered as Kate Margaret but later was known as Catherine. After school she trained for three years in nursing at Melbourne Hospital obtaining her Melbourne Hospital Certificate and her Victorian Nursing Certificate . She then nursed as a sister in charge of medical and surgical wards at Melbourne Hospital.

Katie enlisted in the Australian Army Nursing Service at Melbourne on November 3, 1914 as a nurse with the 1st Australian General Hospital (AGH) and embarked in Melbourne on November 28, 1914, on the Kyarra taking the 1st AGH to Cario, via Alexandria.  Nurses with at least three years service at a recognised hospital and aged between 21 and 45 years could apply to serve overseas.  For some reason Katie lowered her age from 44 years to 37 years on enlistment.

Katie first served in Egypt at the Hellioplis Hotel, the base for the 1st AGH in Cario from early 1915 to April 1916. This hospital expanded rapidly during the Gallipoli campaign. Katie was promoted to Sister on December 1, 1915, and was transferred to the 1st AGM at Rouen, via Marseilles in France in April 1916.

In France, the 1st AGH was based at the racecourse at Rouen from 1916 to late 1918, west of the Western Front.  It is said that 90,000 casualties passed through its wards during this period.  Katie’s service record indicates that she was attached to the 3rd Australian Casualty Clearing Station (ACCS) from April 1917 until November 1917. Stations such as this were established almost “in the front line”.  During this time Katie was also temporarily transferred for short periods to the 32nd CCS, 46th CCS,  and also spent leave in the UK, Paris and Trouville.  It is likely Katie held a senior position with the 1st AGH from November 1917.

Katie was mentioned in despatches on April 7, 1918, as confirmed in the Commonwealth Gazette of October 24, 1918. She was awarded the Royal Red Cross (2nd Class) on January 1, 1919, as reported in the Commonwealth Gazette of May 23, 1919.

Katie left Rouen in November 1918 for England and returned to Melbourne on the Somali, arriving on February 8, 1919. She was welcomed home in Kilmore in early March. Her appointment was terminated on April 16, 1919. She was awarded the British War Medal, Victory Medal and 1914/15 Star.

Katie died on July 30, 1949 in Melbourne and was buried in the Kilmore Catholic Cemetery where her headstone can be seen today. Her name is recorded on the Kilmore Shire Honour Roll in the Memorial Hall.

Nurse Katie O'Connor
Nurse Katie O’Connor

Reproduced in the North Central Review, 12 May 2015, p10

 

Centenary of WW1; Kilmore Remembers: Patrick William Ahearn

Serial Number 6461

Patrick was born in Kilmore in 1874, the son of Michael Ahearn and Johanna Davern.  He was a farmer when he enlisted, and married to Anastasia Josine Dunphy, with two children Julia and Michael.

Patrick, aged 41 years, enlisted as a private at Kilmore on 11 June 1915 in the 14th Battalion AIF.  He was 6 feet tall and weighed 182 pounds, and was declared fit for service on 12 June 1915. After training he embarked on HMAT Nestor on 2 October 1916 for England.  Patrick saw service in France with the 14th Battalion from late December 1916 to February 1917 when he returned to England for treatment for bronchitis.  After recovering Patrick again saw service in France from November 1917 to February 1918 when he returned to England with trench fever.

Patrick returned to Australia on the SS Suevic in April 1918 and was discharged at Melbourne on 25 July 1918. Patrick was awarded the 1914-1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.  Patrick returned to his family at Kilmore. He passed away on 15 June 1944 and was buried in the Kilmore Catholic Cemetery.

Patrick is listed on the Kilmore Shire Honour Roll.

Patrick William Ahearn (Photo: Australian War Memorial)
Patrick William Ahearn c. Sept 1915 (Photo: Australian War Memorial)

 

Reproduced in the North Central Review, 29 July 2014, p11

Centenary of WW1; Kilmore Remembers: Arthur Herbert Harrington

Private 4435 and 5172

Arthur (pictured below seated) was the eldest son of twelve of Denis James (Din) Harrington and his wife Amelia Margaret (Milly) Johnston. He was born in September 1895 at Tantaraboo. He first tried to enlist on 21 January 1916 in the 21st Battalion. He was a labourer aged 20 years and 3 months. Arthur and his friends Albert and Frederick Knight were given a rousing send off and a money belt each on 30 March 1916 at the Tantaraboo school room. The party did not break up until 4am. However, in April Arthur was assessed as medically unfit.

Arthur next tried to enlist in July 1916 and was declared fit by Dr Semple of Kilmore and later by a second doctor in Melbourne. Arthur took his oath at Broadmeadows military camp on 20 July 1916 the date of his enlistment. He embarked as part of the 13th Reinforcements, 24th Battalion, from Melbourne on board the “Themiocles” on 28 July 1916.

In October he was admitted to the Fargo Military hospital in England with acne and discharged a fortnight later. He left Folkston for France on 16 November to reinforce the 2nd Division AIF. He was wounded in action at Bullecourt on 4 May 1917 with gun shot wounds to head, arms, legs, back and abdomen. He was transferred to the 5th Southern General Hospital at Portsmouth on 24 May. He returned to France in mid October.

Arthur was again sick and admitted to hospital in early February 1918 and then sent to Broadwater Hospital at Ipswich with left knee synovitis in March. He returned to France in early June 1918. On 5 March 1919 he was admitted to 3rd Auxiliary Hospital with influenza. He returned to Australia on the “Armagh” in May 1919 and was discharged medically unfit on 25 June 1919 from the 3rd Military District.

He received the 1914/15 Military Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal for his war effort.  On 11 July Arthur attended a welcome home function for several local soldiers at the Tantaraboo School.

Arthur married Mary Alice McFarlane in 1920. He suffered from his war injuries but continued to work in the building trade from his property at Kilmore East. He was always cheerful despite many periods in hospital. He took a keen interest in the RSL and the Kilmore Agricultural and Pastoral Society and played cricket. He served in World War 2 part time in the Volunteer Defence Corp locally for 2 years 5 months and was promoted to Corporal. Arthur died suddenly at his home on Wednesday 17 March 1954 and was interred in the Kilmore Catholic Cemetery. Arthur is honoured in the Kilmore Shire Honour Roll and the Tantaraboo State School Honour Roll.

Frederick Knight (standing) with his cousin, Arthur Herbert Harrington (seated)
Frederick Knight (standing) with his cousin, Arthur Herbert Harrington (seated)

 

Reproduced in the North Central Review, 27 January 2015, p9