Prince Alfred College Servicemen – St Peters Heroes Memorial Project 2019

Author: Kate Pulford, College Archivist, PAC.

Each year, at the time of ANZAC Day, we like to remember the sacrifices made by the brave young men who served in World War 1 and we especially reflect on those Great War Servicemen who attended Prince Alfred College (PAC).

This year on ANZAC Eve, Wednesday 24 April, 2019, the City of Norwood, Payneham & St Peters and the St Peters Residents Association, held a re-dedication service to celebrate and honour those men who had lived in the area and who had served in the Great War. Eleven of our Princes men were honoured in this special re-dedication event.

Many young men from PAC enlisted and served in the Great War, which lasted from 28 July, 1914 to 11 November, 1918. It is known as one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the 1918 influenza pandemic, caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide. The Honour Rolls published in our Chronicles list the names of our men. Sadly, many died not long after finishing their studies at PAC.

The event held on ANZAC eve, was the culmination of a special research project arising from the St Peters Residents Association (SPRA), who had previously received a grant from the Veterans SA – Anzac Day Commemoration Fund, to research appropriate content and to produce and install two new bronze tablets listing the names of the fallen who had once resided in St Peters area. The St Peters Heroes Memorial, was originally erected in 1922 by citizens of the Council area. It is located on St Peters Street, St Peters. Until this year, it was one of the few Great War memorials that did not feature the names of the fallen. The new tablets were designed as an addition to the original St Peters Memorial plinth. The intention was to specifically honour by name, those Great War servicemen who had resided in the Town of St Peters. As part of the research project, PAC Archives were used to cross reference enrolment and other records about the men as students of the College.

As part of the research project, one hundred and forty-five men from the suburbs of Hackney, College Park, St Peters, Stepney, Evandale and Maylands were identified, and have now been memorialised on the two new tablets in St Peters.

The Eleven men who attended Prince Alfred College are now honoured on the tablets;

  1. DAVEY, Reginald Argyle PAC 1906-1914
  2. DAVIES, John Newton PAC 1909-1912
  3. DUNN, Cecil PAC 1911-1912
  4. GODFREE, Bruce Lyle PAC 1913-1915
  5. GODLEE, John PAC 1903-1908
  6. HAWKES, Owen Centennius PAC 1901-1902
  7. HEWISH, Thomas Andrew PAC 1904-1905
  8. KELLY, Hugh Craine PAC 1906-1910
  9. OLDHAM, Edward Castle PAC 1891-1891
  10. PEARCE, Laurence Edmonds PAC 1913-1913
  11. ROBERTS, Gerald Earnshaw PAC 1905-1910

The new bronze name tablets were unveiled by His Excellency, Hon Hieu Van Le AC, Governor of South Australia. Other dignitaries present were The Honourable Steven Marshall MP, Premier of South Australia, Mr. Peter Malinauskas, Leader of the Opposition, Lieutenant Colonel Guy Molten, Australian Army, Commander Andy Burnett, Royal Australian Navy, Group Captain Gregory Weller, Royal Air Force, Mr. Bronson Horan State RSL SA, Past Presidents and Members of the St Peters RSL, family members and descendants of the St Peters Heroes, Elected Members of the City of Norwood Payneham and St Peters including Mario Barone CEO and David Cree, Treasurer of SPRA and St Peters Heroes Memorial Project Coordinator. Headmaster, Bradley Fenner, attended representing PAC as well as St Peters College Headmaster Tim Browning, plus others.

Treasurer of SPRA and St Peters Heroes Memorial Project Coordinator, David Cree, gave a rousing speech at the unveiling event including the following highlights about our PAC man, Edward OLDHAM;

“Edward Castle Oldham attended Prince Alfred College for the year of 1891. He was one of many pairs (or more) of brothers to be killed.  An army officer since 1904, he had been the Area Officer for the St Peters District. The Oldham family home was off Hackney Road and fronted what is now the main entrance into St Peters College.  After his marriage he & his wife lived on Bakewell Road, Evandale.

Edward Oldham was one of the first officers appointed to the South Australian-raised 10th Battalion which was in the first wave of troops ashore before dawn on the 25 April, 1915. Major Edward Oldham was one of the Company Commanders and was shot later that day while directing his troops near Lone Pine. His brother, Dudley Castle Oldham, went to South Africa with the first South Australian Contingent in 1899. When the Boer War ended, Dudley remained in South Africa, married and settled in the Transvaal. When war came again, he joined the South African Infantry and died of wounds in April 1917. Both the Oldham brothers were 38 years of age when they died.”

According to the PAC Archives, PAC Series 638/1, we hold the WW1 First Australian Imperial Force service dossier of Edward C. Oldham. Edward Oldham’s grave is at the Beach Cemetery in Gallipoli at the southern point of Anzac Cove, Grave 7 XI, 25 April 1915.

Images: Edward Oldham, including a studio photograph in captain’s uniform, wearing a sword.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In his speech Mayor Robert Bria said:

“…they were drawn together for a common cause: to loyally serve their King and the British Empire against the Central Powers. For some, only a few years had passed since they wore the colours of the First XVIII or the whites of the First XI. Then, the battlefields were the ovals of St Peters College and Prince Alfred College. Soon, the battlefields would be the steep cliffs of Gallipoli and the mud and trenches of the Western Front. One hundred and forty-five would not come home – some as young as 18.”

It is poignant to think of the fallen in this context; just boys, hardly away from the safety of school, with their whole lives ahead of them. This is just one suburb’s story of loss from the Great War.

Recently while discussing how PAC remembers Anzac Day, Headmaster, Bradley Fenner, drew my attention to a wonderful image kindly provided by St Peter’s College Archivist Andrea McKinnon-Matthews, of Dowling and Ekins at Gallipoli 1915, published in ‘The Messages of it’s Walls & Fields; A history of St Peter’s College 1847-2009’, by Katharine Thornton, 2010, p. 162.

The caption reads: “The former schoolboy rivals became brothers-in-arms during wartime. This photo shows Dowling (St Peter’s College) and Ekins (Prince Alfred College), standing in a trench at Quinn’s Post, Gallipoli, in September 1915. They are in the process of lobbing homemade bombs at the Turkish enemy. Ekins, on the left, is holding a periscope. Dowling, on the right, is about to toss another bomb. The photo was donated to the (Saints) School Museum in 1947 when both Dowling and Ekins were still alive.”

Although these men weren’t part of the St Peters Heroes Memorial, this notable image allows us to see a slice of life from the trenches at Gallipoli. The very basic equipment and conditions, the feeling that the men are “all in” with nothing to lose (except their lives) but perhaps more remarkably, we focus and reflect upon the sense of camaraderie between the men, who had been sharply drawn together from all different walks of life and asked to put their lives on the line.

Lest We Forget.

Please feel free to contact me with any queries about the PAC Archive. I would love to hear from you. [email protected]

Kate Pulford
College Archivist PAC

To read more about the St Peters Heroes Memorial please visit: https://www.npsp.sa.gov.au/article/view/1226