Our Big Family Tree

The Tale of Two Families

A story to commemorate Anzac Day and  those who gave so much


As a genealogist who has been researching for more than 30 years, I soon learned that there were many people in the family whose dates of death were missing.  It became very clear that these deaths were mostly of men of an age range of between around 18  – 35.  It did not take long to work out that these men of a “certain age” were most likely killed overseas during the first and second World Wars.   When I first began my research, the internet was non-existent / limited and some information was difficult to obtain.  With the large amount records now available online, it has allowed me to fill in much of this missing information. 


I have found many family members who fought in the two World Wars, some who returned, and some who did not. It is difficult to single out one story to share, but I have found two families who gave more than their fair share to keep us safe and free.    At first glance an outsider may see no connection between their stories.  So how are these families linked?


Firstly they are linked by location.  Both families spent time living in Garfield, Victoria, during the World Wars.  Both lived in the Main Street, one next door to the post office, and the other at the Iona Hotel.


Secondly they are linked by relationship to my family.  Alfred Dawes and Frances Morgan are my great grandparents and I clearly remember some of my great uncles who fought in World War 1.   Dennis Bannan and his wife Mary are my husband’s great Uncle and Aunt.   My late father in law can remember going to the Iona Hotel at Garfield and staying with the Bannan’s and Frawleys, although at the time neither of our  families had any close personal contact  with each other.


These are the stories of their wars.


The Dawes Family


At the time of the First World War, Alfred Dawes and his family were living at Iona, Victoria, Australia.  About the end of the War, the family moved a few miles from Iona, to a house in the main street of Garfield that Alfred, a carpenter, had built.  This house was located next door to the Garfield Post office.  Sadly the house was destroyed by fire in the 1990’s.  


Alfred had what can only be described as an unconventional family life.  He had a large number of children, approximately 22 of these children who were born from 1873-1906, lived to adulthood.  During World War 1, Alfred had 5 sons serving their country overseas.  These sons were amongst his younger children, as many of his children were too old to enlist.   At one stage of the war Alfred and his family were notified that two of these boys, Victor and Gladstone, were both hospitalised as they were both wounded.  Here is a short condensed outline of the fighting sons of Alfred Dawes and the Morgan sisters.


Victor Dawes was born in 1896, son of Alfred Dawes and Elizabeth Morgan.  He enlisted on 20 July 1915 (the same date as his half-brother Gladstone Dawes), in the 22nd Battalion 1-8 reinforcements.  His service number was 3080.  He embarked from Australia on the “Commonwealth” on 26 November 1915 and fought with the 59th Battalion in France.  He was wounded in July 1916 but returned to his unit in France and continued to fight until the end of the war.  He spent time in England recovering from his wounds and returned to Australia in August 1919 with his war bride, who he had married in England in March 1919.  He died in 1966.

Albert Dawes was born in 1890, son of Alfred Dawes and Louisa Morgan.  He enlisted on the 20th of October 1914 in the 3rd Light Horse 13-23 Reinforcement.  His service number was 786.  He embarked from Australia on 8 February 1915 on the “Pera” and fought in the 8th Light Horse at Gallipoli where he was wounded.  He was discharged from the Army and returned to Australia in February 1916.   He married in Australia in November 1916 and died in 1962.

Gladstone Dawes was born in 1898, son of Alfred Dawes and Louisa Morgan.  He enlisted on 20 July 1915 (the same day as his half-brother Victor Dawes)  in the 7th Battalion 13-23 reinforcements.  His service number was 4178.  He embarked from Australia on the “Demosthenes” on the 29th of December 1915 and fought with the 58th Battalion.  He fought in France and was hospitalised many times.  He was wounded, suffered from shell shock, and trench feet.  Apparently the “glamour” of war soon passed and Gladstone began to get himself into some trouble in the later part of 1916 and into 1917, going AWOL more than once, resisting arrest and various other misdemeanours.  He clearly did not want to return to the front and sadly Gladstone was killed in action on the 17th of June 1918.  He was buried in the Ribemont Communal Cemetery in France in 1918, but in 1929 his body was exhumed and reburied in the Ribemont Communal Cemetery Extension.  There is a letter dated January 1916, in Gladstone’s army records from someone called Miss Myrtle Brownbill, c/- Mrs Jolley, Garfield,  seeking his whereabouts, so it is possible that Gladstone left a sweetheart behind in Australia.

Clifford Gordon Dawes was born in 1898 son of Alfred Dawes and Frances Morgan.  He enlisted on 26 January 1916 in the 5th Battalion 12-23 reinforcements.  His service number was 5086.  He embarked from Australia on the “Suffolk” on the 1st of April 1916 and fought in the 59th Battalion.  He travelled to France via Egypt and was seriously wounded with multiple gunshot wounds in December 1916.   After hospitalisation and convalescence, he returned home in November 1917.  He suffered a permanent limp from his wounds.  Cliff married in 1923 and died in 1972.


Walter Dawes was born in 1893, son of Alfred Dawes and Frances Morgan.  He enlisted on 10 January 1916 in the 22nd Infantry 19-12 Reinforcements.  His service number was 4093.  He embarked from Australia on the Wiltshire on the 7th of March 1916 and fought in the Cyclists Battalion (a little known part of Australia’s war history and a story of its own_see below).  Walter fought in France and was wounded by gas. He remained in France until the end of the war.  He returned to Australia in September 1919.  Wally did not marry and had little or no contact with his family on his return to Australia.  In the late 1950’s his sister Dora had him traced and he returned to the family thereafter.  Sadly he only had a few short years back with the family before his hospitalisation in 1963 and subsequent death in 1965.

It must have been a relief to Alfred and family to have two sons returned before the end of the War, though sadly they were not unscathed.  All their sons who returned home suffered in various ways for the remainder of their lives.  The Dawes family were so devastated by the death of Gladstone in 1918, that the house in Main Street, Garfield, was named ‘Pozieres’ in remembrance of the place where Gladstone fell.  Many of Alfred’s descendants served in World War 2, but that is another story.

The Bannan family

Dennis and Mary Bannan lived at Kerang, Victoria during World War 1.  Dennis and Mary had 10 children, 8 of whom lived to adulthood.   Their children were born from 1889-1908. Their eldest three sons enlisted in World War 1.   They were living in Garfield in World War 2.

World War 1

John Joseph Bannan was born in 1891.  He enlisted on 14 June 1915 in the 8th Light Horse Regiment.  His service number was 1126.  He embarked from Australia on 20 August 1918 on the “Kyarra”.   He served in the Middle East.  He spent a large amount of time hospitalised and was eventually transferred to the Provost Corp as a driver.  John died of malaria in Damascus on 16 October 1918 and he is buried in Damascus.  He was married before he went to war and left a wife and two young orphaned sons.

Francis Thomas Bannan was born in 1895.  He enlisted on 16 June 1915 in the 8th reinforcements. His service number was 1878.  He embarked from Australia on 26 Aug 1915 on the “Anchesis”.  He travelled to France via the Middle East and served with the 23rd Battalion.  Francis was killed in action on the 28th July 1916 and his death was not confirmed for some time.  His final resting place was never found and 20 years later, in 1936, the family were officially notified that as his remains had not been found, they would probably never be found.  His name is on the National Memorial to the missing at Villers Brettoneux, France.

William James Bannan was born in 1897.  He enlisted on 9 May 1915. His service number was 1783A.   He embarked from Australia on 16 July 1915 on the “Demosthenes”.  William served in Gallipoli in 1915 in the 24th Battalion and in France thereafter.  He was killed in action in France on 24 August 1916, just one month after his older brother had been killed, also in France.   William’s final resting place was unknown but in 1936 the War Graves Commission found the body of an unknown soldier buried north of Pozieres in France.  The body was exhumed for reburial and at that time the identity tags of William James Bannan were found on the body.  William’s remains were reburied at the London Extension Cemetery, Longeuval, France.  His family were notified and his identity discs were sent to them.

Dennis and Mary’s sacrifice was immense, with 3 sons serving and all 3 sons deceased.  In the late 1930’s or early 1940’s Dennis and Mary’s daughter, Margaret Frawley and her husband James, took over the running of the Iona Hotel in Garfield.  Dennis and Mary also moved to the Hotel at Garfield.  James and Margaret Frawley had 8 children, 5 of whom lived to adulthood.  Their children were born from 1912 to c. 1924.   

In World War 2 their three sons enlisted.

John William Frawley was born in 1917.  His service number was VX90347.  He served in the 2/12 Battalion and was killed in action in New Guinea on 18 January 1943.  He is buried in Port Moresby.

 Kevin Dennis Frawley was born in 1920.   His service number was VX67337.  He served in the 2/23 battalion and was killed in action in New Guinea on 21 September 1943.  He is buried at Lae, New Guinea.

 James Patrick Frawley was born in 1919.  His service number was V71945.  He probably did not serve overseas.  He appears to have served in the Port Phillip fixed defence and court martial proceedings took place on 27 May 1943.  He married late in life and died in 2001.

The Bannan’s and Frawleys, paid the ultimate price, losing 3 sons/brothers in World War 1 and 2 grandsons/sons in World War 2.  Their devastation can only be imagined.    

I am very proud to say that these are members of our family, and our nation, who gave more than they were asked.  I am proud and happy to share their story.  I am proud to be related to them and to have known some of them.  I hope that we can all remember and appreciate the sacrifices that these ordinary Australian people made for their Country and the Australian people and that the hard lessons of war are not forgotten by the younger generations.

Whilst we remember them, they will never die.   

Lest we forget.

Coral J Jones (Blackwell)

©   21 April 2013


  *All the information I have included here regarding military service is accessible at the National Archives of Australia and the Australian War Memorial Websites.

Albert Dawes 736 1890-1962
Albert Dawes 736 1890-1962

Albert Dawes 786 1890-1962

Victor Dawes and his bride Avis Beatrice Creswell in England in 1919
Victor Dawes and his bride Avis Beatrice Creswell in England in 1919

Victor Dawes 3080 1896-1966
 and his bride Avis Beatrice Creswell in England in 1919

Gladstone Dawes - 4178 - 1898-1918
Gladstone Dawes - 4178 - 1898-1918

Gladstone Dawes - 4178 - 1898-1918 Killed in Action

Clifford Gordon Dawes - 5086 - 1898-1972
Clifford Gordon Dawes - 5086 - 1898-1972

Clifford Gordon Dawes - 5086 - 1898-1972

Wally Dawes's story

An Australian Cyclist Abroad in World War 1

and after the war

Wally Dawes (1893-1965)

Wally Dawes (1893-1965)

Wally Dawes (1893-1965)

Walter (Wally)  Dawes, a carpenter, of Iona, Victoria, Australia,  enlisted at Warragul on the  20th of December 1915, and was later re-examined in Melbourne on the 18th Jan 1916.  His service number was 4093.  He was allocated to the 10/22 Reinforcements at Broadmeadows and embarked from Australia on 7 March 1916, on the HMAT Wiltshire.   He travelled to Moascar, Egypt, where he was taken on strength from the 10/22 reinforcements to the  5th Cyclists Corp at Ferry Post. 


The first recorded British military application of the bicycle occurred in 1885 and within three years the first cyclist unit had been formed.  In 1887 bicycles appeared in the French Army and by 1891 the Swiss and American armies also had cycle units.


Bicycle units were used in the Boer War and prior to the 1st World War, Belgium, France and Germany had established cyclist companies.


The Cyclist Corp is a little known part of Australia's military history.


On the 10th March 1916, the Australian Army circulated a memorandum (No.32) regarding the formation of the cyclist Corp.  The Corp was formed in Egypt and was initially made up of volunteers in the 1st and 2nd Divisions and in April 1915 the 4th and 5th Divisions were formed.  The Standard issue cycle was made by BSA (Birmingham Small Arms Company).  By 1911 the BSA  Mark IV model, fitted with a 'coaster' rear hub was in production, (todays equivalent would be like a velodrome bike with fixed hub which meant pedalling all the time)  however, the Australian cyclists in Egypt had to persevere with a variety of BSA bicycles ranging from the  Mark 1 to the Mark IV.  It was not until July 1915 that the Mark IV was introduced, now fitted with hand-operated rear brakes, and a freewheeling hub in place of the coaster hub.  Shortly after the Australian cyclists had reached France, this bicycle  became the standard issue to cyclist units.


The cyclists were also given Lee Enfield SMLE .303 rifles which they normally slung over their shoulder but bikes were fitted with clips to carry the rifles, as well as straps and clips for the soldiers personal equipment.  The units were also equipped with lightweight machine guns.


The 5th Cyclists Battalion, of which Wally was a member, was inspected by General Godley on 29 April 1916 and a fortnight later took part in a tactical exercise in the desert in Egypt.  On the 24th of May the 5th underwent their first firing practice on a musketry range.  By 31 May 1916, the 5th had new rifles able to take high velocity cartridges, however such things as puncture repair kits and spare parts were lacking.


On the 16th of June 1916, the cyclists boarded a train which took them to Alexandria, where they embarked to France the next day.  According to the book, Cycling to War by Ronald Austin, they arrived in Marseilles on 25 June, however, Wally's service record says he arrived in Marseilles on the 27th of June.  After arrival in Marseilles, the Cyclists boarded a troop train and travelled to northern France.


Once they arrived in northern France they were issued with gas masks and instructed on how they were to be worn.  On the 1st of July 1916, orders were received regarding the formation of the II Anzac Corp Cyclists Battalion, which was to consist of 1 and 2 companies provided by the New Zealand Cyclists Corp, who were still in Egypt, and the 3 and 5 companies, made up by the 5th Australian Cyclists, of which Wally was a member.  The 5th were ordered to remain attached to the 5th Australian Division until the New Zealand cyclists arrived from Egypt.  The New Zealand contingent arrived in Marseilles on 17 July 1916.    Whilst the 1st and 2nd companies of the II Anzac Corp Cyclists Battalion were made up by the New Zealanders, the 3rd Company was made up from the 5th Cyclists plus a few from the 4th Cyclists.  However, the New Zealanders bicycles did not arrive until August 1916, this made training very difficult with the shortage of machines.  On the 16th of September the Cyclists moved to the frontline.


The unit patch was a 1 x 1 inch red diamond centred inside a 2 x 2 in white diamond worn on both sleeves.  This patch was retained until 1918 when the unit was redesignated the XXII Corp Cyclists Battalion.


During the war the Cyclist Battalion undertook many tasks including, forming guards to escort the Corp Commander, traffic direction, frontline  fighting, delivery of dispatches and cable burying.  The Cyclists became so proficient at cable burying, they could lay large distances in a short time and eventually became the supervisors of cabling operations.  They also provided work parties for various other battalions, including the Royal Engineers and were often attached to other units and battalions.  


In October 1916 the II Anzac cyclists, less their bikes were sent to the trenches to fight.  They worked with two companies on the line and the third in the support line.  They worked on a 4 day rotating roster, 4 days in the trenches, and 4 days on the support line.   After a month in the frontline the Cyclists were relieved by another battalion and they returned to Bac St Maur to collect their bicycles and returned to billets just outside of Doulieu.


Cyclists were often sent to other units and from 17 November 1916 to 29 May 1917, Wally was one of 25 Cyclists who was seconded to the Town Major of Armentieres as a fire brigade detail.  During this time, on the 11th January 1917, Wally was treated for a septic hand.


In March - May 1917 the Cyclists undertook a large amount of telephone cable burying work.  This work was carried out in the open and the Cyclists were vulnerable to enemy shell fire and gas attacks. Cable laying was often carried out at night with only natural light so as not to attract attention from the enemy.   On completion of the cable work in May the Cyclists were given the task of constructing a track from the support and front lines then across no mans land through the enemies trenches to a point named Middle Farm about 500 yards north from Messines.  The aim of the track was to allow horses to easily move up to and through the German trenches.  After reconnaissance of the proposed route it was decided to carry out the necessary work  at night prior to the main attack being launched.  On the morning of the Messines battle, 7 June 1917, several parties were detailed to carry out specific tasks over a distance of  1.7kms.   At 2.15am on 7 June, 291 troops and 13 officers cycled from Steenbecque to Hill 63 but en route were forced to don gas masks due to enemy gas shells landing in the area.  This delayed their arrival, but the cyclists completed the 1.7 kms of track within 3 hours despite being under fire.


From the 14th of June for three weeks the cyclists were engaged in more cable burying tasks and were occasionally subjected to enemy fire.   On the 22nd of June 1917, Wally was hospitalized due to gas.  It appears he may have been sent back to England as the service record seems to read Belgravia for his place of hospitalization.  He returned to the Cyclists Battalion on 11 July 1917.


On 30th July 1917 Wally went on leave, returning on 15 August 1917.  On 17 November 1918 Wally was detached to the 133 AT Coy until 15 January 1918.


On 1 January 1918 the II Anzac Cycles Corps were renamed the XXII Corps Cyclist Battalion and were to be re-structured.  The structure finally changed on 16 January with the departure of No 3 which joined the Australian Corp Cyclists.  With the departure of the Australians, No 3 Company became a New Zealand Company sub unit.


The Australian Cyclists formed an entirely new unit, the Australian Corps Cyclists Battalion.   The new unit was formed mainly from existing I Corps Cyclist Battalion plus a few from the II Corps.  As of 1 January 1918 the strength of the Australian Corps Cyclist Battalion stationed at La Creche was 16 officers and 345 other ranks.  The new unit could not accommodate all of the No 3 Australian Company so many cyclists were posted to either infantry or artillery units in need of reinforcements.


On the 16th of January 1918 Wally transferred from 22 Corps Cycle Battalion to the Australian Corp Cycle Battalion.  He remained with that unit for the remainder of the war. 


At the end of the war, the men of the Cyclist Battalion were gradually demobilized and began returning home.  By the 30th of April 1919, The Australian Corp Cyclists no longer existed, having done its duty.


Wally, like all the members of the Cyclists Corp, had also done his duty and was demobilized and left England on board the Mahai.  He returned to Australia in June 1919.

He was classed as TPE at discharge.


Like so many of the soldiers who have returned home from war over the years, Wally was changed by his experiences and seems to have had little or no contact with his family following his return to Australia.  It is now known that he spent some time in Newry, near Maffra where he continued working as a carpenter, as he had before the war.  He then moved on to Canberra sometime in the late 1920's or early 1930's.  He was living at the Capital Hill Camp in Canberra in 1932.  This camp was a tent camp set up to house labourers and tradesmen who were working in Canberra at that time.  He later moved to a guest house in Canberra where he spent about 20 years. 


Sometime in the late 1950's, Wally's sister Dora (Theadora) set about tracing Wally's whereabouts.  She eventually found he was living in Canberra and sent a letter addressed to Mr Wally Dawes, carpenter, Canberra.  The Post Office tracked Wally down and delivered the letter.  At Christmas time the brother of one of his nieces friends, who was also living in Canberra, was travelling to Gippsland.  Coincidentally Wally and this person lived at the same place so the friend’s brother drove Wally home to Garfield for the first Christmas with his family in many years.  This was probably 1959.    In April 1960 Wally made a Will in Canberra appointing his sister Dora as executrix of his Will and leaving her all his possessions.  He returned to Garfield around this time and lived for some time with his sister Dora, and then lived in a 3 roomed wooden house at the corner of Jefferson Road and Railway Avenue in Garfield.  He purchased this property on the 20th of July 1960 from L L Richardson and W Norrie with a deposit of £50 with the remaining £670  (noted on original receipt) to be paid within 6 months.   Wally paid the outstanding amount of £680 (noted on final payment receipt, perhaps the extra £10 was to cover stamp duty) on the 28th of July 1960.  Sadly the family only had a few short years with Wally back in their family.  He developed dementia and was placed in Larundal  Hospital in Bundoora  sometime around 1963.  He was later admitted to the Cheltenham Home and Hospital for the Aged at Warrigal Road Cheltenham, where he passed away in July 1965.


It was always thought that Wally had a partner at some stage in his life, however no details of her are known to any living family, other than that her name was Bessie.  It is not known if they married and although there is a photograph of her that was probably in Wally's possessions there is no further information on Bessie at this time.


After Wally's death his property was given to one of his great nephews.  The house that was on the Garfield property was moved to a block at Pakenham Upper which was then owned by one of Wally's nieces and her husband.

Coral J Jones (Blackwell)

©   21 April 2013


Bessie unknown - thought to have been the partner of Walter Dawes, but we have no information on Bessie at all..