Tag Archives: Kilmore Free Press

Centenary of WW1; Kilmore Remembers: Claus Valdemar Gronn


Private 4788

Claus Valdemar Gronn was born in Kilmore in 1897 the son of Valdemar Joseph Lorenz and Helena Priscilla Gronn (nee Poynter). The Gronn family had arrived in Kilmore in 1892, purchasing the tannery in Victoria Parade. After finishing school at the Kilmore State School, Claus (known as Clarence or more so Clarrie) joined his father as a tanner and currier. He also was a sergeant in the local cadets and served 3 months in the Citizens Militia.

With his parents’ permission Clarrie enlisted in Melbourne on September 20, 1915. He undertook training in Bendigo and on December 2, 1916 he joined the 15th Reinforcements, 7th Battalion as a private 4788, and was promoted to Lance Corporal in January 1916.

The Kilmore Free Press reported that “Sergeant Clarence Gronn, who left for the front last week”, was presented with a bible by members of the Kilmore Presbyterian Church. On March 7, 1916 Clarrie embarked in Melbourne on the Wiltshire bound for the Western Front via Egypt and Marseilles where he reverted to private on being taken on strength on July 7, 1916.

Clarrie received a gun shot wound to his thigh in late July 1916 and was transferred to England where he received treatment in Birmingham. Clarrie remained in England on light duties until late June 1917 when he joined the 2nd and then 1st Field Company, Australian Engineers, on the Western Front. On January 16, 1918 Clarrie received a gun shot wound to his left groin and was transferred to England for treatment. Then in October 1918 he rejoined his battalion in France and following the end of the war remained there until April 1919.

Back in England Clarrie, by now aged 21 years, married his girlfriend Marguerite Iris Neale, aged 19 years, at the Registry Office, Warminster, Wiltshire, on May 26, 1919. They embarked on the Konigin Luise on December 18, 1919 for Melbourne. Clarrie was discharged on June 13 1920.

Clarrie was awarded the 1914/15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. His name is recorded on the Kilmore Shire Honour Roll in the Memorial Hall, on the Kilmore State School Honour Roll and the Kilmore Presbyterian Church Honour Roll. He was welcomed home on February 5, 1920 and attended the presentation of medals by General Birdwood in Kilmore in March 1920.

The Gronn family left Kilmore in 1925 and lived in Melbourne, Clarrie was a member of the Kilmore Historical Society and attended meetings. He died on 23 February 1976 and was cremated at Springvale Cemetery.

Reproduced in the North Central Review, 17 November 2015, p17

The Durkin Family of Kilmore

By Heather Knight

(Published in Kilmore Connections, June 2003, minor amendments in 2017)

Bartholomew Durkin was born in the parish of Knocks, County Mayo, Ireland in 1861, the son of Thomas Durkin and Maggie Harley. In 1890 he married Clara Poulton in Kilmore. Clara was a native of Kilmore and was born in 1862 to John Driver Poulton and Jane Burge.

The children of Clara and Bartholomew were all born at Kilmore; Thomas in 1890, William Clarence b.1891, Joseph Harold b.1893, John born and died (age 1 day) in 1895, Michael John b. 1896, Margaret Mary b.1898, Anthoney b.1900, twins Emanuel Ignatius and Patrick born and died in 1902.

Clara Durkin died in 1902 age 39 after giving birth to twin boys. The Kilmore Free Press (6 March 1902) wrote this poignant obituary: “We regret this week having to record the death of Mrs. Durkin, wife of Mr Bartholomew Durkin, of Sydney Street, which sad event occurred on Friday morning last under melancholy circumstances at the age of 38 years. Deceased lady, who was a native of Kilmore and much respected gave birth to twin boys a few days previously, and death ensued from blood poisoning. She leaves a young family of eight children most of whom are of too tender an age to realise their great loss. The remains were interred in the Kilmore Catholic cemetery on Saturday afternoon.” Sadly, one of the babies died shortly after his mother and the other a few months later.

On 27 November 1917, Joseph Harold Durkin, the middle child of Bartholomew and Clara, was callously murdered while serving with the AIF in England. Incredibly, the Kilmore newspapers of the time did not make headlines from his brutal murder. This was probably due to the initial belief, following the findings of the original coronial inquiry, that Joseph Durkin had committed suicide. Joseph’s father, Bartholomew, probably kept what he believed to be the circumstances of his son’s death quiet, fearing the shame and indignity that a death by suicide would bring to his family.

On 13 December 1917 the Kilmore Free Press printed this small paragraph announcing the death of Joseph Durkin: — “Acting Corporal Joseph Durkin, a Kilmore boy and son of Mr. S. Durkin, Sydney Street, lost his life at the front.”

The myth seems to have continued; death at the front was far more noble than death by suicide or murder at the hands of a comrade. In January 1918, about the time of the murder trial of Verney Asser in England, the Kilmore Advertiser wrote: “Mr B. Durkin, Sydney Street, Kilmore, has received the following letter from the secretary of the Railway Commissioners relative to the death of his son Acting-Corporal J. Durkin, who was killed in action in France recently:— “I am directed by the Commissioners to convey to you their sincere sympathy in the great loss you have sustained by the regretted death of your son whilst on service with the Expeditionary Forces of the Commonwealth.” Prior to enlisting, Acting-Corporal Durkin was a trusted and faithful employee of the Railway Department.”

In December 1918 the Kilmore Advertiser makes brief mention that:— “Mr B. Durkin received a photo of the grave of his son Corporal Joseph Harold Durkin, who died 27 Nov 1917 at Sutton Veny, Wiltshire.”

Bartholomew Durkin died in 1926, twenty-four years after his wife. This brief obituary outlines his life:—”[death] Of Mr Bartholomew Durkin, which occurred in the Kilmore hospital, where he had been an inmate some time. He was 63 years of age, a widower, a native of Ireland and carried on a tailoring business for a period of about 40 years in Kilmore. His remains were interred in the Catholic cemetery on Thursday Rev. Father Gleeson, P.P. attending to the obsequies. Mr. Beegan carried out the mortuary arrangements” – (Kilmore Free Press 15 ApriL 1926).

Joseph Durkin is commemorated on the Kilmore War Memorial, Kilmore Shire Honour Roll and Assumption College Honour Roll.


  • Kilmore Free Press and Kilmore Advertiser]
  • Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour Database and Nominal Roll.
  • Joseph Durkin’s War Service Record, on-line at National Archives of Australia http://www.aa.gov.au

Kilmore’s Nurses, Soldiers and Sailor

From Kilmore Free Press, Thursday 12 June 1919

In the matter of being represented in the great war Kilmore occupies a proud position for it can claim the distinction of having representatives in the three mighty branches of Old England’s unbroken power – the Army, the Navy and the Red Cross.  Few provincial towns in Victoria can sustain such a boast.  In the army there are scores of soldiers from Kilmore occupying positions in practically every branch, including aviation and wireless;  the Red Cross is represented by Sister K. O’Connor and Sister M. Semple, whilst the navy lays claim to Paymaster Cadet Ian A. Hesford, who served on board the Melbourne in the North Sea.

The nurses, cadet and many soldiers having returned from active service, the opportunity was taken on Friday evening last to tender a public welcome home to them.  The Oddfellows’ hall was packed on the occasion, many people travelling miles to do honor to the returned warriors and nurses.  The hall was gaily decorated with bunting, including naval flags, whilst the stage was heavily laden with flowers.  Cr W. Crilley, J.P., acted as chairman, and read an apology from Mr A.F. Cameron, M..L.A, who was debarred through business from attending, but who extended a hearty welcome to all those returned.  Proceedings were opened by the Kilmore Citizens’ Band playing appropriate selections, and the audience singing the National Anthem and God Bless our Splendid Men.  Mr S.W. Baker of Broadford, who has a good reputation in Kilmore as a vocalist, sang The Deathless Army, and in reply to a spontaneous recall he sang another number, and later on, by request, Mr Baker further contributed to the pleasure of the evening, Mrs Baker playing the accompaniments very proficiently.  After Mr Baker’s first song an important official stood on a chair and peremptorily ordered there must be no encores, owing to the length of the programme – and most of the hearers fervently hoped the chair would tip up.

They, however, took no notice of the order on that occasion and recalled Mr Baker, who responded to the call.  Two chorus songs were given – Men of Harlech and March of the Cameron Men – the singers being Mrs Jos. Morrissey, Mrs Birrell, Mrs Drury, Misses M Sugden, E. Drury, O & A Holman and Messrs R J Barkla and W A Drury, and the voices blended nicely.

In a duet, The Mandoline, success was achieved by Misses A and O Holman, whilst Mr T R Wood’s humorous recitation about Jones Minor’s Recitation kept the audience simmering with amusement.  Mrs Jos Morrissey’s item The Bells of St Mary’s was very well received, and an encore was deserved.  Miss M Sugden was in good voice in her contribution I’ll Sing to You.  Mr R J Tymms gave a fine number in Peace and Glory (the Victory song) and well earned an encore, but the restriction was again observed;  this was the first time this song was heard in Kilmore, and a repetition by Mr Tymms would have been welcome.

Miss Hesford came next with a violin solo, introducing Scotch airs, and her imitation of the bagpipes was something to be remembered – it was just about perfection, and the great audience broke through the encore restriction and recalled Miss Hesford, declining to restore quietness until the young lady reappeared and gave another brilliant recital, for which she received further approbation;  the accompaniment was played by Miss O’Shea.  Mrs A W Govett was applauded for singing Poor Wandering One.    Miss O’Shea was listed to sing The Marseillaise, but substituted There’s a Land;  she did well in the latter song, and received merited applause, but the French National Anthem, not being often heard on Kilmore concert platforms, would have been a decided acquisition to this programme in particular, and it was eagerly expected.  Miss O’Shea’s powerful voice being quite capable of doing the song justice.  Miss Annie Wilson was a most efficient and sympathetic accompaniste.

The next item on the programme was the address of welcome to the returned nurses, soldiers and sailor, by Mr G A Maxwell MHR, who received a flattering reception upon entering the hall.

Mr G A Maxwell was then called upon to deliver an address of welcome to the returned nurses, sailor and soldiers.  Mr Maxwell was given a most cordial reception, and after a few preliminary remarks in lighter vein he became serious.  He said there was a maxim, “Good wine needs no bush.”  That also applied to the evening’s proceedings – a good subject, and needed no elaboration.  The people now were of one heart and one mind.  They were not quite so unsettled now as they were twelve months ago, when many were unmanned by the course events were taking.  At that time they were looking for recruits, for men were urgently wanted, the circumstances being so absolutely different.  In June last the Empire was under the darkest cloud of its existence, and he visited Kilmore and many other places with a recruiting party to ask the boys to go and help the boys at the front, for help was sorely wanted then.  Thank God there was no need for that now, and the feeling of all at present should be of devout thankfulness to Almighty God for His goodness.  Peace, however, had not come about yet;  it was only a cessation of hostilities.  They were not out of the wood yet;  there was yet a feeling of anxiety in men’s minds, but that feeling was not so strained as before, but yet it was a feeling that we were not altogether out of it.

He was pleased to know that some of the boys had returned, some were returning, but it saddened them to know that some, aye, many, would not return.  Since these nurses and soldiers left Australia their eyes had rested upon some exquisite landscape some of the most exquisite landscape in the world, but the landscape they saw upon returning to their own districts, was more exquisite than all, for was it not their home – Home, Sweet Home.  Anyone to see him on the platform welcoming returned nurses and soldiers might ask why a stranger should occupy such a position.  The answer was anybody had a right to be there.  The soldiers were not anybody’s in particular – they were ours.  They did not go to fight for Kilmore, they did not fight for him or anyone in particular, – they fought for the Empire. If a stranger came from the Gulf of Carpentaria he had equal rights to bid the nurses and soldiers welcome home.  The fever of fighting had not yet gone out of the blood of men, and the community had not so far settled down to its humdrum life again.  The soldiers had laid the whole of Australia under a very heavy debt of obligation, and that debt must be paid.  They had welcomed returning soldiers on all hands, and would continue to welcome them until all had returned.  Things would soon come down to the ordinary routine again, when all must be prepared to face the payment of the debt to the soldiers.  While in the thick of the fight the wounds were not felt in the excitement.

It was the next day when the wounds were stiff and sore that they felt it.  It was the same way with the soldiers’ debt of obligation.  When the day comes they must face in grim earnest the payment of that huge debt;  a debt of gratitude for what the boys and girls have done.  The task of paying that debt must be set out upon, and it lies upon the shoulders of every man, woman and child in Australia to pay toward it.  They must recognise that there will be drastic and still more drastic financial burden placed upon the people to pay off the debt.  Now that numbers were returning to Australia, the people must not lose an opportunity of helping the boys and girls who have done so much for them.  The Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Association had done much to help the returned men, and it was working hard to further their interests, but there were very many ways in which people could help in addition to the association.  Many hard cases had come under notice, and many more would come, and that was where the help of the people would be highly valuable. They must step in and help the returned soldiers on every possible occasion.

The soldiers have made a splendid record.  Each one had written his name on the honor roll of Australia for all time.  The soldier owed it to himself to make good.  He returned to his old community and he (Mr Maxwell) hoped the returned men would settle down to the duties of citizenship and do as well in private life as they had done at the front.  To do that would do a great deal toward cementing friendship with one another.  At the front the main spirit between the men was cobbership, and the same cobbership would prevail now amongst all.  For those men who had offered their lives and the offer had been accepted there was a strong feeling of admiration and sorrow.  Those men whose lives had been offered and not been accepted should out of gratitude settle down in citizenship and make good.  They had played the game like men over there;  don’t play the fool over here.  One knew a man by what he did.

These fellows had acquitted themselves splendidly at the front and their actions were admired by the whole world.  He (the speaker) appealed to them not to give way now and play the coward, but to acquit themselves as well in their career as citizens as they had as soldiers.  They had written their names on the Commonwealth scroll of honor, then let them make the best of the lives which had been given back to them.  Let them remember that they owed a deep debt of gratitude to Him Who had spared their lives, and the proper way to recognise that debt was to settle down as reputable citizens.  He (Mr Maxwell)  fervently welcomed home the returned nurses, soldiers and sailor on behalf of the people of Kilmore and wished them every happiness and prosperity.  (Continued applause.)

Chaplain-Captain Tolhurst (Presbyterian) in his usual breezy style, extended a warm welcome home to those who had returned from active service.  He was pleased to see that Kilmore had turned out in a body, or as much of it as the hall would hold, to bid welcome to the returned people.  He was very glad to see the two nurses returned home safely. He could speak with experience of the nurses, who represented a very large army indeed.  He had seen them in thousands in Egypt, but there were none at Gallipoli, because no women were allowed to land there, although he understood one did succeed in getting there.  During his service with the 6th Light Horse in Egypt he had many opportunities of seeing the sisters at work, and they were very courageous under fire.  They had also done great work in England and France.  He extended a hearty welcome home to all.

Rev. Father Martin (Roman Catholic), Rev J A Peck (Church of England), and Rev C Angwin (Methodist) also welcomed home the returned nurses, soldiers and sailor.

Mr Maxwell then on behalf of the people of Kilmore, presented the nurses, and soldiers each with a gold medal, suitably inscribed, and bearing the number and colors of their respective battalions.

Those receiving medals were Nurse K O’Connor, Nurse M Semple, Lieutenant Proudfoot, Sergeant Mabbett, Corporal Holman, Sapper Angwin, Sapper Luckie, Sapper Portbury, Gunner Lee, Gunner McLaurin, Driver Meade, Privates Hyde, Ahearn, Cavanagh, Delahunty, Dunphy, Glanville, Harrington, Jamieson, Pentland, Newton, Looney, Lincoln, Anderson, Tolhurst, Skehan, Smith, Joiner and Sheppard.

The medals were pinned on the nurses’ capes by Mr C McNab, and Miss Daisy Proudfoot pinned on the soldiers’ medals.  Amongst the men were two Anzacs, Privates J. Looney and R Skehan.  The whole of the recipients were cheered separately as they returned to their seats on the stage.

Lieutenant Proudfoot returned thanks on behalf of the nurses and the men. He also thanked the Kilmore Red Cross for sending parcels and comforts to the local boys at the front.  He said also that it gave him great pleasure to again meet Nurse O’Connor, as he had met her in 1917 at a clearing station on the field in active service, and there were much safer places in Australia than that.

Privates Smith, Dunphy, and Luckie and Paymaster-Cadet Hesford also responded.

Refreshments were then served and a very happy evening terminated.

One discordant note was struck during the presentation of medals by a busy official, bubbling over the importance, signalling out a soldier as “the pick of the bunch”.  The remark was coarse and most uncalled for, and has been generally resented, and very properly so.

The ladies of the Red Cross Society deserve the highest commendation for the way in which they arranged and carried out the welcome home.

Do You Remember? Kilmore, January 1970

The following featured in the Kilmore Free Press, Thursday 15 January 1970, page 4.

Here and There

Back to the grind for another year to bring you the latest and greatest.

We will try to present this column as regularly as possible during 1970, but please excuse us if it does not appear, as it all depends on time and space available.

____ X _____

Nice winter we are having this summer isn’t it?

How would you like to have paid big money to buy a milk bar at a beach resort, only to find holiday weather like we had?

But most of the beach belles got their sun tan under a ray lamp this season.

Thousands may have flocked to the bayside resorts expecting good beach weather, but judging by the number of cars passing through Kilmore, there were thousands who were awake to the un certainty of the Victorian climate and chose the country for their holidays.

Still can’t work out how that fellow seen in Sydney Street during the holidays managed to hang on to his trousers, after losing his belt, without dropping his armful of bottles.

Belt was still on the footpath the next day, but no sign of broken bottles.

Notice that Santa delivered a fair number of swimming pools to homes in Kilmore at Christmas.

We won’t need that proposed, delayed and almost forgotten public pool soon if he keeps that up each year!

Hear there is a move on to change Fighting Harada’s name to Dancing Harada after his fight last week with Australian champion Johnny Famechon. All the Jap. boy seemed to do was to hold our Johnny as if he wanted to dance… and then he was waltzed right out of the ring.

Local vet, Pat Mornane, has some pretty odd jobs to do at times, but one of his oddest came last week when he was called to remove a possum from a washing machine in the laundry of a Kilmore house.

Heard it said the other day that “Doc” Davon would probably be the first local fisherman to catch a fish which was larger around the girth than the angler who landed it.

See a quote by Shakespeare on the desk calendar yesterday read – “nature hath framed strange fellows in her time.” How very true!

Kilmore Newspapers on the Web

by Liz Pidgeon


In early 2007 the Australian Newspapers Digitisation Program was launched.  The National Library of Australia, in collaboration with Australian State and Territory libraries, began a program to digitise Australian newspapers for access and preservation purposes. By May 2009 Trove had been launched as a resource for information about Australians for Australians. It includes digitised newspapers from 1803-1954, The Australian Women’s Weekly to 1982, journals, articles and datasets, books, pictures, photos, objects, music sound and video,  maps, diaries, letters and archives, archived websites, people and organisations and lists.

Trove includes four separate specific newspapers for local research:

Kilmore Advertiser [1915 – 1918] 

Kilmore Free Press [1870 – 1954] 

Kilmore Free Press and Bourke and Dalhousie Advertiser [1865] 

Kilmore Free Press and Counties of Bourke and Dalhousie Advertiser [1865 – 1868] 

Trove also includes major newspapers for each state.  For Victoria, The Argus [1848 – 1957], is included.

The site uses electronically translated text and as such there are some errors, so for this reason think about your search strategy and possible spelling variations when looking for your subject of interest.  Once registered, a researcher can correct text.  Local news was reported widely so don’t restrict your search to local newspapers only.

This site continues to grow and has become the major online resource for Australian history.