Percy Chaster Brearley

By Cheryl Griffin. Percy Brearley was born at Geelong, but enlisted in the 23rd Battalion at Rutherglen in February 1915 aged 25 years 6 months. He qualified for a commission and was appointed 2nd Lieutenant in December 1916 and then served with the 46th Battalion. He was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant in July […]

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Exemption courts in Coburg

By Cheryl Griffin. On Wednesday 18 October 1916, just ten days before the first Conscription Referendum was held, 74 applications for exemption from military service were made before Police Magistrate Dr Frank Hobill Cole at Coburg Court. Thirty-four applications were granted, 31 were refused, five temporary or conditional exemptions were granted and four were adjourned. […]

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Digger Smith and the conscription debate

By Cheryl Griffin. “E’s been once wounded, somewhere in the leg…” 6906 Private Lawrence Joseph Smith enlisted on 18 July 1918 and served with the 22nd Infantry Battalion. His parents were William Smith, an overseer, and Letitia Josephine McLoughlin. He’d been born in Coburg, lived with his parents and siblings in Coke Street (later Cope […]

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Fly Specks on the Universe

“Places like Panton Hill had been referred to by Mr Clement Wragge as fly-specks on the universe, and yet, from this little fly-speck, over 32 boys had volunteered and been accepted for active service.” 1916 ‘ RETURNED WOUNDED. SOLDIERS AT PANTON HILL.’, Evelyn Observer and Bourke East Record (Vic. : 1902 – 1917), 15 December, […]

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