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Waverley’s War Veterans – Some Interesting Facts

By Kimberly O'Sullivan on August 19, 2012 in Other

Photo: Waverley Library Local Studies

A large number of local men and women risked their lives serving Australia in World War I and II. Here are a few of interesting facts about our local war veterans:

World War I

The Youngest Soldier Killed At Gallipoli
John Harris of 165 Denison Street, Bondi Junction was the youngest soldier killed at Gallipoli. He was killed in action on 8 August, 1915, aged 15 years and 10 months. He is buried in Lone Pine Cemetery, Gallipoli.

Donald Walter Cooke’s Empty Grave
Donald Walter Cooke was a local Bondi boy who was killed in action at Gallipoli in 1915, he died within 12 hours of landing at Anzac Cove. He was 20 years old. His body was never recovered; all that remained were his ID tags, which were sent to his grieving family. His mother erected a memorial plaque for her son at Waverley Cemetery. It is essentially a grave with no body.

Finding Leo Corrigan
Waverley man Leo Corrigan grew up in his mother’s Bondi Road boarding house, which was located almost directly opposite Waverley Park. He enlisted when WW1 broke out and was killed in Ypres, Belgium in 1917 – he was 22 years old. His family was told his body could not be recovered because it had been buried hastily in the battlefront conditions and the spot had not been marked. In 2007 Belgian gas workers digging a series of deep holes to lay a pipe uncovered a number of bodies wrapped in blankets wearing Australian WW1 uniforms. DNA testing from surviving relatives identified one of the bodies as Leo Corrigan.

Multiple Soldier Sons
The Kinchington family of Waverley had five sons in the military. One son, Jack, was killed in action in France. The Alcock family of Waverley also had five sons in the military, while the Bedingfeld family of Waverley and the Masters family of Waverley both families had four sons in the military and the Hamilton family of Bondi had three. Amazingly though, the family with the most sons on the military was the Jansens, who had seven sons out of seven serving – John, Richard, Robert, Lawrence, Leonard, Francis, Bernard. Imagine being their poor mother.

World War II

Surf Life Savers Answer The call
The surf clubs were almost empty during WWII as surf life savers joined up in large numbers to ‘do their bit’ for the war effort. With life saving skills, a high level of fitness and a familiarity to working under pressure in teams, they were highly sought after by military recruiters.

Local Victoria Cross Winner
Albert Chowne of Peel Street in Dover Heights was killed in action and posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for most conspicuous bravery, brilliant leadership and devotion to duty during an attack on an enemy position on a narrow ridge near Dagua, New Guinea, on March 25, 1945.. There is a rest area on the Hume Highway between Canberra and Sydney named in his honour.

Youngest Battle of Britain Pilot
Kenneth Holland, known as ‘Dutchy’ was a young Tamarama surf lifesaver who was training to be a pilot in an English flying school when WWII broke out. He joined the Royal Air Force and flew in the dangerous air raids known as the Battle of Britain. He was killed and became the youngest pilot killed in the Battle of Britain conflict. He was 20 years old.

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