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Heavy price to pay

The Gorey family watched four of their five boys go off to war. These are their stories...
1918 began badly. identify the Australians’ po-
The terrible Passchen- sition.
daele fighting had left the “We had to put up with a
Australians exhausted and Remembrance Day 2008 marks the 90th anniversary good deal of shell fire until
under strength and with relieved on the night of the
few new volunteers, rein-
of the armistace that ended the Great War. 6th by the 19th Battalion
forcements were hard to It is also 90 years since the end game was played out when we moved back to re-
come by. on the Western Front and Corporal William (Bill) Gorey, serve trenches about six ki-
The divisions were under who enlisted at Shepparton in 1915 was still in the los back for a short rest.’’
strain, but it was clear there On July 8, Bill was sent in
were still many more battles thick of the action. Bill made it through but his family charge of a party of 20 men
to fight. had sent four boys to war and was to pay a high price, on fatigue duty building
Victory would come be- as DARREN LINTON reports. trenches close to a village.
fore year’s end, but for the Villers-Bretonneux would
Australian Corps includ- later have the words: “Do
ing the 21st Btn the most not forget Australia’’ print-
important fighting still lay ed on school buildings and
ahead. above the blackboards.
At Dernancourt they with- “We remain for a month
stood the heaviest attack during which time Fritz gas
ever made on them, and shells us pretty frequently,
at Villers-Bretonneux their causing quite a number of
bayonet charge repelled casualties,’’ Bill writes on
the Germans within sight August 6, but the Austral-
of Amiens. On July 4, under ians are readying for an
Sir John Monash, they went offensive and on August 8
on the offensive with a well Bill’s diary entry is headed
planned and executed at- “Our Day’’.
tack at Hamel. Then came “At five in the morning
the great victory of August 8 opens up the greatest con-
at Amiens. figuration of guns of all
Further success followed calibre ever heard by any
when they captured the for- of us, with tanks all around
tified hill of Mont St Quen- us and the heavens full of
tin in early September, then aeroplanes making an aw-
broke the Hindenburg Line ful din.’’
four weeks later. “Never before have I seen
William Evans Gorey, a such a stream of prisoners
sleeper cutter, soldier, rab- going to the rear, guns of all
bit trapper, orchardist and descriptions in scores, ma-
restaurateur who lived an chine guns, trench mortars,
interesting and varied life etc and the dead Fritz were
was there at the front line terrible to gaze on.’’
as those final battles were On August 18, the men
played out. had advanced more than
On November 11, 1918 12 km and regained trench-
he wrote in his diary: “The es lost in 1914. By August 20
great day we have been the Germans were in rapid
waiting for for so long, the retreat and Bill’s unit rested
signing of the Armistice. for a few days in huts aban-
The excitement! All the bells doned by the enemy before
ringing and flags flying from crossing the Somme on Au-
almost every house.’’ gust 31.
It must have been a relief Bill then had a few weeks’
to have made it through rest, during which time he
but the Gorey family paid caught up with his brother
a heavy price for King and James, sadly for the last
country. time. Together they inspect-
Four of five brothers went ed a “great 15 inch gun’’ and
to war yet the family still re- participated in divisional
ceived white feathers in the sports.
mail, a symbol of cowardice Soon after this diversion,
sent maliciously in the cir- James was back at the front
cumstances. as the Allies prepared for
One son would not return, their major offensive.
another lived the lonely life A tank lies in ruins on the battlefield at Mont St Quentin which was one of the last and bloodiest conflicts of the war. He was wounded in action
of a tramp, affected forever Photograph courtesy Australian War Memorial. on October 3, 1918, and sus-
by his wounds and prob- tained shell wounds to the
ably his nightmares. right arm, head and back.
Bill Gorey was a ma- to Shepparton in 1910 and 5 in tall, 128 lb in weight, discharged for furlough on On July 4 his diary records James was treated initially
ture soldier when he en- worked at Ardmona. with a swarthy complexion, June 6 to report back for the heavy shelling produc- by the 5th Field Ambulance
listed aged 33 years and six Bill was a keen sports- grey eyes and black hair. He duty on June 21. ing a deafening noise, but and then transferred to the
months on July 15, 1915. man, and at Whroo is had vaccination marks on His active service from being a “beautiful sight’’ 16th General Hospital at Le
Born at Corop on Janu- known to have participated his left arm. that time included peri- as the Allies advanced on Treport on October 5, where
ary 12, 1882, he had stayed he died on October 13.
in cycling. He is also prob- Bill served with the 21st ods at the front and train- Hamel.
put for most of his life Just 29 days later the
ably the Gorey referred to in Battalion in the Middle East ing programs. He attended “After dwelling a few min-
(war years excluded) in the Armistace was signed and
a Murchison Advertiser re- and France and was pro- bombing school and quali- utes we go to do our job, by
Whroo-Shepparton area peace declared.
and like it was for so many port from October 16, 1903, moted to Lance Corporal on fied as an instructor from this time the tanks are in
Bill welcomed the Armi-
the war was an adventure as as being considered for se- October 2, 1916 and Corpo- gas school. sight which added to the stice on November 11 as
much as it was a duty. lection in the Whroo cricket ral on May 1, 1917. Bill returned to France on roar; this being our first “. . . the great day we have
According to his daughter team. Just two days later he re- April 4, 1918 after several time to have tanks accom- been waiting for’’.
Evelyn, Bill worked early in The mines at Whroo pe- ceived gunshot wounds to months in England and re- panying us and they proved He fought in some of the
life as a sleeper cutter. She tered out about 1908 and the face and was admitted joined his battalion in the a great assistance. Our ob- bloodiest and most influen-
recalls him saying that he the Gorey family shifted to to the 12th General Hospital field on April 18. The final jective was gained an hour tial battles on the Western
first set foot in Shepparton Shepparton soon after. at Rouen on May 4. push was on, and in July after starting, getting a large Front including Pozieres,
in 1899, aged 17. Bill enlisted at Sheppar- He was transferred aboard and August he took part in number of prisoners,’’ he Mouquet Farm, Bullecourt,
He must have liked the ton and gave his father’s the HS Western Australia a major offensive against records in his diary. Villers Bretonneux, Hamel
town, which would have name as next of kin. to England where he was the Germans which saw the The following day the and Mont St Quentin and
been quite a contrast to the Bill was described as be- treated at the Richmond Allies cross the Somme and Germans retaliated, with lived to tell the tale.
farm at Whroo. He returned ing a Roman Catholic, 5 ft Military Hospital. He was seal victory. aeroplanes being used to  Continued next page