BLAMPIED BOYS AND THE GREAT WAR
Although the hamlet of Blampied, just outside Daylesford, was an
Irish-Catholic enclave, where immigrant families such as the Clearys
were implacably opposed to the 1914-18 war in Europe, there was still plenty
of young men marching to the British Empire's tune.
Peter Lafranchi - No 5377 - 22nd Battalion - Died 3 May 1917
The son of Julian and Ann Bridget Lafranchi, of the Eganstown Post
Office, Victoria, farmer Peter Lafranchi enlisted at Ouyen on 28/07/1916.
He died less than a year later - aged 29 years - on 3 May 1917.
He is officially remembered at 26 Villers Bretonneux. Lafranchi was
probably killed at Bullecourt in one of the many battles - 3 May
until 17 May - associated with the disaster there..
The 22nd Battalion AIF was formed on 26 March 1915 at Broadmeadows
Camp in Victoria and became part of the 6th Brigade of the 2nd Division.
Most of the battalion embarked for Egypt on 8 May 1915. The battalion
deployed to Gallipoli in the first week of September 1915, allowing
elements of the 2nd Brigade to be rested from their positions in
the front line at ANZAC. The battalion served on the peninsula until
the final evacuation in December 1915, and were then withdrawn to
Egypt and brought back to strength with reinforcements.
Lance Corporal Richard Francis O'Neill - No 1261 - 38th BN -
10th Brigade - killed 4th Oct., 1917.
Broodseinde - Battle of Ypres - Passchendaele
Eganstown Cemetery - The Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial Belgium
|Richard O'Neill's family grave in Eganstown. He is listed
below his father.
Richard O'Neill is officially remembered at 29 The Ypres (Menin Gate)
Memorial Belgium. The son of Mary and the late Richard O'Neill he
was a native of Bendigo, Victoria, and was 23 years old when killed.
mother was an Egan from the famous Egan family. Richard enlisted in
Williamstown, where his mother was living in a house named ' Corinella'
after the homestead of her grandfather John Egan.
O'Neill was the subject of an extensive Red Cross report that included
statements by Pte David Hegarty 1181 of 35 Clarke Street, Northcote,
L/Cpl J E C Fisher and Pte Charles R Innes 2097, Pte T A Bennett and
Capt W H Orchard's account of O'Neill's death
was killed about 11 o'clock...at Ypres...walking along with me
...unlucky bullet through the heart...I feel sure the bullet was not
fired at him...buried where he fell...later in the day...about 500
yards left of Springfiel Farm and about 1000 yards straight in front of
Van Isaac's farm.. put a wooden cross...next of kin don't believe what
Mrs R O'Neill's address was listed as Corinella, Hannan Street, Williamstown. O'Neill was killed at 'Broodseinde, 1 1/2 miles southeast of Passchendaele..(and) he did not speak after he was hit...
At Broodseinde the 38th battalion suffered casualties of 38%. In total,
the battalion lost 499 men and had 1478 members wounded, many gassed.
Vin Dalton - No 539 - 8th Battalion - Gallipoli - WWI Survivor
Vin Dalton in a 'borrowed' Light Horseman's hat.
Vin Dalton was snared during the army's initial rural recruiting
campaign. He embarked on the Benalla on 19/10/1914 and was part
of the second wave at Gallipoli. Born in 1890 he was 24 when he
enlisted, only two months after war was declared.
He gave his occupation
as miner - Ararat. He named his 'uncle', Michael Cleary of Kingston,
as his next of kin. Michael Cleary was in fact his deceased mother, Ellen
Dalton's, step-brother. Michael Cleary and Ellen Dalton (nee Heagney) had the same mother but
is one (photo) taken in Egypt, I think while he was recuperating after
being evacuated sick from the peninsula. He went back shortly before
the attack at Helles, which the Second Brigade took part in, being
transferred from Anzac for the attack with the French and British. He
said that this was the worst attack of the war. They advanced across
featureless terrain covered in wheat and grass toward entrenched
machine guns and fixed defences looking down on them.
said they advanced with their entrenching tools futilely held either in
front of their faces or their groin, depending on personal preference.
He also opined that this battle proved how wasteful war was because "it
took hundreds of bullets to kill a man"! He didn't get a scratch on
that occasion despite being convinced that he would be killed. But I
digress. The photo shows him in a Lighthorse hat, despite the fact that
he was an infantryman. He stole the hat from its real owner! Thought
they were fairly dashing.
|Vin Dalton in uniform - back right - probably after the
war - with Mick Cleary from Kangaroo Hills and family. Vin
had some strong words for the men who sent the boys into no-man's
|Vin Dalton - circa 1905 -according to his family - at 15
|The girl in France - Aut - who wrote to Gallipoli veteran Vin Dalton.
The letter from France. I can only wonder who this young woman, Aut, is and what was the nature of the relationship..
Dean, George Herbert - No 1575 - 24th Battalion
Buried in Creswick- survived the war
my grandfather, John (Jack) Cleary died in 1967 I was already
interested in his life. A few years later I came across some of his
photos and personal affects. Among the photos was the one below above,
taken, it would seem, when the man, 'Dodger' Dean, was on active
All I knew,
was his name. Some 37 years later the email below provided a few
insights. Dean departed on the HMAT Ceramic on 25/06/1915 from
Melbourne and gave his occupation as labourer and residential address
as Cambridge Street, Creswick.
George Herbert Dean, aka Dodger.
the net today and googling family names I was delighted to not only see
my grandfather's name but his picture on your website. That certainly
is "Dodger Dean" my mother's father. George earned his nickname as he
was a runner at Gallipoli and was renowned amongst the 24th Battalion
for his skill at dodging bullets. He served at Gallipoli alongside his
brother William Knight Dean 8th Battalion, alas William or "Doc" as he
was known was killed on April 25th shortly after arriving on that
Dad survived the
war and wed my grandmother Eva, who was a war widow with a small boy.
They went on to have seven more children and stayed in Creswick until
their deaths. Dodger died peacefully at 80. He was known as a real
character in the town.
tells me that he told many stories of his time at war, but only the
humorous accounts. He never told of the fear and tragedy. I suppose it
was far too painful. I have his picture (in full army uniform) hanging
proudly in my living room and regret that I cannot remember this
remarkable man, as he died just after my first birthday. My mother
Betty is now his only surviving child. I honour his memory and all he
went through and triumphed over to enable me to grow up in such a
Thank you for
including him on your website. Also thanks for the information posted
about the 24th Battalion as I am in the process of tracing his
movements throughout the war.
Dodger Dean's youngest grand daughter Kim Havill.
Kim also pointed out that Dodger had worked in the mines. I suspect
they had worked around Creswick in the mines before Jack Cleary became
What the history books say.
George Dean's 24th Battalion was raised in a hurry. The original
intent was to raise the fourth battalion of the 6th Brigade from
the "outer states", but a surplus of recruits at Broadmeadows
Camp in Victoria lead to a decision being made to raise it there.
The battalion was formed during the first week of May 1915, and
sailed from Melbourne at the end of that week.
Training shortfalls were made up in Egypt in July and August,
and on 4 September 1915 the Battalion went ashore at Gallipoli.
It spent the next 16 weeks sharing duty in the Lone Pine trenches
with the 23rd Battalion. The fighting at Lone Pine was so dangerous
and exhausting that battalions rotated every day. While the bulk
of the battalion was at Gallipoli, a small party of 52, trained
as packhorse handlers, served with the British force in Salonika.
The Battalion was reunited in Egypt in early 1916 and proceeded
to France in March. It took part in its first major offensive around
Pozières and Mouquet Farm in July and August 1917. The Battalion
got little rest during the bleak winter of 1916-17 alternating between
the front and labouring tasks. When patrolling no-man's land the
men of the 24th adopted a unique form of snow camouflage - large
white nighties bought in Amiens.
In May 1917 the battalion participated in the successful, but
costly, second battle of Bullecourt. It was involved for only a
single day - 3 May - but suffered almost 80 per cent casualties.
The AIF's focus for the rest of the year was the Ypres sector in
Belgium, and the 24th's major engagement there was the seizure of
Like many AIF battalions, the 24th was very weak at the beginning
of 1918, but still played its part in turning back the German offensive
in April. When the Allies took to the offensive, the 24th fulfilled
supporting roles during the battles of Hamel and Amiens. At Mont
St Quentin, however, it played a major role by recapturing the main
German strong point atop the summit on 1 September. A diorama at
the Australian War Memorial depicts this attack.
The battalion's last battles of the war were at Beaurevoir on
3 October and Montbrehain on 5 October. It left the front line for
the last time on 6 October 1918 and disbanded in May 1919.