Harry Vinicombe was born in Kyneton in 1893, the son of Albert Orchard and Ann Mary Vinicombe (nee McGrath). His mother Ann died in 1900 at Kyneton and his father became a manager of a property at High Camp Plain. Harry attended Pyalong School and later became a motor driver and chauffeur.
He enlisted on July 7, 1915 in Melbourne and for a month was stationed at B Company, Flemington Depot. Harry was then posted to the 2nd Reinforcements, 29th Battalion for training. He embarked on HMAT Demosthenes at Melbourne on October 29, 1915.
By January, 1916 Harry was in the Suez, Egypt, and soon after spent 8 days in hospital with tonsillitis. Following further training Harry was allocated to the 45th Battalion as a private, 1781, on April 2, 1916 at Serapeum.
The 45th Battalion was raised in Egypt on 2 March 1916 as part of the 12th Brigade of the 4th Australian Division, and arrived in Marselles on June 8, 1916, for transfer to the Western Front. It fought in its first major battle at Pozieres in August, defending ground previously captured by the 2nd Australian Division.
Harry was injured in action with multiple gunshot wounds on August 6, 1916 and next day, being dangerously ill he was transferred well behind the lines to Camiers where he died in the 4th General Hospital on September 14. Harry was buried in nearby Etaples Military Cemetery in France.
Harry was awarded the 1914/15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. It would seem he was promoted to Lance Corporal at some time. His name is recorded on the Pyalong State School Honour Roll.
During the war his father was living in St Kilda where he received by post Harry’s effects including a photo and letters. Later he received Harry’s medals, a memorial scroll and plaque. His brother Thomas also served in World War One returning home in 1919.
Reproduced in the North Central Review, 10 May 2016
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.
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.
Stephen was born in Kilmore to Emmeline Ann, nee Hill, and Francis John Holman, the last of four children, while they were living in Church Street, Kilmore.
He was single, aged 19 when he enlisted on February 13, 1915, and listed his occupation a bacon curer, working for the family business of Holman and Still Bacon Manufacturers on the corner of Church Street and Kilmore Lancefield Road, Kilmore.
He lists his mother as his next of kin and was serving in the Citizen Forces, Essendon Rifles. He became a Private in the 23rd Battalion, C Company, 6th Infantry Brigade at Broadmeadows and departed from Melbourne on board HMAT “Euripides” on May 10, 1915.
On August 26, 1916, while in France he was “mentioned for good and gallant conduct in connection with the recent hard fighting at Pozieres” as mentioned in the 2nd Australian Division Orders.
Then in April 1917 he was specially mentioned in Sir Douglas Haig’s dispatch which was published in the London Gazette of Tuesday, May 15, 1917, and promulgated in the Australian Gazette
of October 4, 1917.
Early in October he returned to the field from leave having over stayed his leave and was charged and 12 days pay withdrawn.
In December 1917, he was appointed Lance Corporal and in May 1918 promoted to Corporal.
He was again on leave in October and rejoined his battalion mid-November 1918 after the Armistice. He returned to England January 1919 and then returned to Australia in March 1919 and was discharged from the 3rd Military District on June 28 with no disability.
In June 1917, Emmeline Holman wrote to the Secretary of the Department of Defence requesting information about her son who had been on active service for more than two years.
She was advised to write to her son at “Elovs” which was the code word for 23rd Battalion and “Stralia”, code for A.I.F. Headquarters. Again she writes to Base Records Office, Melbourne in March 1919 requesting information on Corporal Holman’s return home.
He received the 1914/15 Star, the British War medal, The Victory Medal, and a set of Oak Leaves for the mention by Sir Douglas Haig.
In May 1930, Stephen wrote to Base records asking about receiving Leaves for the 1st mention in dispatches but was told he was only entitled to a certificate.
In October 1936, the Kilmore Bowling Club elected a new committee including Mr. S.W.Holman.
In January 1940, Stephen was elected on to the committee of the Kilmore Sub-branch of the R.S.S.I.L.A.
In 1967, Stephen wrote to the to the Officer in Charge, Central Army Records, Albert Park Barracks, Melbourne to request the ANZAC Commemorative Medallion and lapel badge stating he served on Gallipoli from September 4 to December 22, 1915.
Ralph Simon Johnston Knight (pictured sitting with his bride) was born in January 1898 at Tantaraboo west of Kilmore, the sixth child of Nehemiah Knights and Alicia Jane Ann Johnston. Sometimes their surname is recorded as Knights but in his army records Ralph’s name is recorded as Knight.
Ralph probably worked on his father’s farm and others at Tantaraboo as a labourer before enlisting on 8 November 1915 at Melbourne. After training at Royal Park, Melbourne, Ralph joined the 21st Battalion in March 1917. His brothers Alby (4453) and Fred (4454) also enlisted about the same time and joined the 21st Battalion.
The 21st Battalion, 11th Reinforcements, including Ralph and his brothers, left Melbourne, on the RMS Orontes on 29 March 1916 for Egypt where he first served with the Anzac Police before joining the British Expeditionary Force to leave for the Western Front. He joined his Battalion in Belgium on 3 October 16 in the Posieres area.
Ralph became sick on 17 November with trench fever and was transferred on 3 December to England where he remained for eleven months attached to the 66th Battalion. He returned to his Battalion in France on 2 November 1917 in the Broodseinde area of the Western Front. On 30 November 17 Ralph’s knee became swollen with dermatitis; he rejoined his Battalion on 2 February 1918.
His Battalion was held in reserve for a rest in early 1918 but when taking part in defending against the German Spring Offensive, Ralph became sick with influenza in June 1918. He rejoined in August taking part in the Battle of Mont Saint-Quentin, then transferred to the 24th Battalion in October and proceeded on leave to England. On return to France Ralph was accidentally injured on 6 December 1918 in the left leg at Rouen. After treatment he transferred to England on 31 December 1918 and was on leave in February and March. Ralph left for Australia on 1 April on the Shropshire arriving Melbourne on 16 May and was discharged on 30 June 1919.
He received the British War Medal, the Victory Medal and 1914/15 Star. His name is recorded on the Shire of Kilmore Honour Roll, the Kilmore Church of England Honour Roll and the Tantaraboo State School Honour Roll.
Later in 1919 Ralph married Dorothy (Dot) Valentine Weaver and enlisted in the Victorian Police Force. He died at Rye in January 1978.
Albert (Alby) Edward Knight (pictured) was born in June 1892 at Tantaraboo west of Kilmore, the fourth child of Nehemiah Knights and Alicia Jane Ann Johnston. Sometimes their surname is recorded as Knights but in his army records Alby’s name is recorded as Knight.
Alby probably worked on his father’s farm and others at Tantaraboo as a labourer before enlisting on 8 December 1915 at Melbourne. After training at Royal Park, Melbourne, Alby joined the 21st Battalion, 11th Reinforcements in March 1917. His brothers Fred (4454) and Ralph (4455) also enlisted about the same time and joined the 21st Battalion.
The 21st Battalion, 11th Reinforcements, including Alby and his brothers, left Melbourne, on the RMS Orontes on 29 March 1916 for Egypt where he first served with the Anzac Police before joining the British Expeditionary Force to leave for the Western Front. He joined his Battalion in Belgium and after being in action in the Pozieres area in October and November 1916 Alby received treatment for trench feet at Rouen.
He rejoined his Battalion at the front on 9 January 1917 and was seriously wounded in his right thigh and leg on 13 January. Alby died in hospital at Rouen on 19 January. He was buried in the St Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen.
In recognition of his service a memorial scroll, memorial plaque, the British War Medal, the Victory Medal and 1914/15 Star were handed to his father, together with Alby’s effects; an identity disc, mirror, match box, testament, note book, and a cigarette holder. His name is recorded on the Kilmore War Memorial, Shire of Kilmore Honour Roll, Kilmore Church of England Honour Roll and the Tantaraboo State School Honour Roll.
Dick Cooke came from Irish catholic roots and was a son of Pyalong. One of twelve living children he was born at home on the family farm on February 24 1896. His father was Nicholas Cooke and his mother was Margaret, nee Ryan.
He was educated at Pyalong State School, then Assumption College Kilmore.
In February 1913, aged 17 he began work as a bank clerk in the Kilmore branch of the Bank of Victoria while undertaking his compulsory military training with the Essendon Rifles Senior Cadets.
In January 1915, he moved to Watchem with the Bank. By April he had been sent to Ouyen. It was here, in June with his parents’ consent he enlisted.
As part of the 23rd Battalion, he was among the last of the reinforcements at Gallipoli and also part of it successful evacuation. By the end of the year he was in France. In July 1916 he was wounded in the Battle of Pozieres. In late August, Richard rejoined the Battalion. He had survived one of the worst battles of the War only to return to the Somme offensive. On Thursday, 9th of November 1916, Richard was killed on the line at Flers. He was 20 years old. Later a friend would write: “I can’t say how sorry I am to hear of young Dick Cooke going under. He was such a happy good natured young fellow, always smiling, the sort of lad everybody liked”. The Kilmore Advertiser described him as “a game, joyous boy and a general favourite”.
He is remembered at the A.I.F. Burial Ground in Flers, France.
In Pyalong, he is commemorated on the Pyalong State School Honour Roll, a Roll of Honour from the Shire of Pyalong, now located in the Community Hall. His name is on a plaque beneath a picture of Saint Joseph in the Pyalong Catholic Church.
In Kilmore, he is commemorated on the doors of the small chapel at Assumption College, on the Honour Board in the Kilmore Memorial Hall and on the Kilmore War Memorial.