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Essendon High School

Page history last edited by Lenore Frost 2 years, 8 months ago

Return to Honour Rolls


See also Essendon Emergency Hospital



This board is located in the school hall of the Essendon-Keilor College senior campus,  Buckley St, Essendon.  Photograph by Lenore Frost, 2009.  An unpublished manuscript history of Essendon by Ken McGregor says that "An Honour Roll was unveiled by Cr W Royle on December 21st  1917 and it contained the names of 13 former scholars and the six teachers who had enlisted.  The Roll was later extended to a total of forty-five names.  Even today it is felt that the list is incomplete and former students who saw active service have not been recorded on the roll".



Christensen C Lt  #
Carse J Sgt  #
Deeble A V Lt Col  #

Fairlie E R Corpl  #

Holmes E C Sgt  #
Langley G Lt Col  #

Patterson A D
Prior L
Pemberton R
Stockdale C
Fremlin A R
Morrison B
Gordon H
Strickland F
Anderson G

Baglin W           
Bridges E
Dickson H
Davenport F
Forster D
Hill L
Morris J
Simmons W
Sansom M
Baglin C
Clissold G
Duncan A
Gatehouse G
Rowe H  #
Brown F

Brodie A               

Blamey A
Evans A
Fulton J Sgt
Gardiner C
Hughes H
Harris J
Harper W
Jobson D
Dart F
Dowie W
Lindsay H
Mitchell A
Boyle V

Bridges R

  #   Teachers:


Lt Christian P Christensen taught at Essendon High School in 1913.  In 1914 and for part of 1915 he was Head Teacher at Kaniva State School, enlisting in that year.   The Education Department's Record War Service says " He recorded as an earnest and effective teacher, strong, skilful, forceful, and lucid. He was a Bachelor of Arts, and also obtained the Trained Teacher's Certificate, the Diploma of Education, and six sciences, and qualified in drawing, drill, .gymnastics, and woodwork".  He enlisted as a private  and was commissioned in June 1917.  He was killed in action in France in July 1917.


Cpl Ernest R Fairlie  The Education Department's Record of War Service says, "After teaching in various elementary schools, he held positions as master in the Melbourne High School, the higher elementary school at Essendon, and the agricultural high school at Shepparton. He is recorded as an able, diligent, and thorough teacher. He enlisted on the 8th of September, 1914, and embarked with the 5th Battalion. After training in Egypt, he proceeded with his unit to Gallipoli, and took part in the Landing. He was killed between the 8th and the 12th of May, 1915". 


Lt Col George Furner Langley was a high school teacher.  He was in the Electoral Roll in 1914, and gave his address upon enlisting in 1914 as Port Melbourne. He may have taught at Essendon High School in 1913.  The Education Department's Record of War Service records that he was teaching at Williamstown High School at the time of his enlistment.


H Rowe may be Cpl H H Rowe of West Brunswick, or Pte H J Rowe of East St Kilda, neither of whom were teaching in Essendon when they enlisted. 



Essendon Gazette 29 July 1915


Of the 430 pupils attending Essendon High School, 60 per cent. are from the surrounding districts of Essendon, Moonee Ponds, Ascot Vale, Flemington and Kensington, while of the pupils enrolled this year 65 per cent. are local. The number from other districts must decrease as time goes on, and for various reasons authorities look forward to the time when all the available places shall be filled by local pupils.  Colour-Sergeant Andrew Duncan, of "C" Co, Senior Cadets, Essendon High School, has been promoted Lieutenant, and Corporal McKinnon has  been appointed Company Sgt Major.


Essendon Gazette 2 Sep 1915


(To the Editor.)
Sir; We would kindly ask you to thank, through your valuable paper, the parents and friends of the  Essendon High School pupils who carried out the sale of gifts in the Albert Hall, Moonee Ponds, on  Saturday, 21st August. Through their generous gifts and valuable assistance, these young people were able to bring the affair to a successful issue, and the sum of £15 12s (total proceeds to date) will be handed over to Mr. Searby, Principal of the Essendon High School, as a donation from the school to the fund for Australian sick and wounded. A small quantity of goods is still on hand, which will be disposed of to the best ....






I think of August, 1914 - we at school from 1914 to 1917 spent maybe the most impresionable years of our life under the shadow of that world catastrophe.  There was the enlistment of our master, Mr G Langley, later Colonel Langley of the Camel Corps.  Several pictures come to my mind of this popular very vital personality is his uphill fight of introducing us to the mysteries of French.  I see his eyes twinkle as a bright young thing offered one of her priceless translation.  Such an effort was "The man went outside and lit his chimney", whereas he had merely sauntered outside to enjoy a quiet cigar.  On another occasion when another victim had attempted something "on a small scale" she accused him of performing on a little ladder (and this before the days of "the man on the flying trapeze!". ) 


Then there was Mr Holmes and a sad day it was when he was reported missing.  Again very vividly I see Mr C R (sic) Christensen fit, active and efficient as man coluld be who gave his life.  But nearer still it came when the recently left senior boys began to enlist, fine types of clean, healthy young manhood.  We were urged to knit socks and other comforts for the troops and it was the custom to put a cheery little note and our names in the woollies.  Now come the blushing memories of some of the first attempts.  Such weird shapes and sizes some of them, although we became expert as the time went on.  Mine was a particularly raw attempt, but they were received by one of the AIF's best "romancers" to use a gentler term.  He wrote a glowing and quite untruthful account of those socks and commenced a correspondence which lasted through Egypt and France.

Essendon High School Magazine, 1921, p 25.



Our War Trophy



The 77 mm Field Gun No, 2235, captured from the Germans on the Western Front by the 1st Australian Division in 1917, was formally handed over to the Trustees on August 22nd by Brigadier General H. E. Elliott, C.B., CMG., D.S.O., D,C.M, in the presence of the assembled school, representatives of the Advisory Council, and parents.



The following verbatim report is by Marjorie Maplestone and Emily Ravenhall of B Form. [Year 11]


MR SEARBY: [Head master of Essendon High School from 1915]  Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls. The ceremony for which we are assembled this afternoon is somewhat unusual. It is the sort of thing that, one would hope, would occur only once in a lifetime. When I came here in December 1914, the great war which is now, happily, behind us, was then well advanced and despite what many prophets had predicted, showed no signs of ceasing. Many of you who are here in front of me now were too young then to know much about it. Some of these "little men," little F's (sic), if they will not mind me saying so, were probably just out of petticoats. None of the boys in the school at that time were old enough to enlist, and seeing that the school had been established only 18 months it had no "old boys," But when it became possible for them to go, a quite creditable proportion of them did so, as our Honor Roll shows. I suppose none of us ever imagined that we should have here in our quadrangle this gun.  I can’t say that I am proud of it for itself, though it represents in some small degree the prowess of our soldiers. I look on it more as an ugly reminder of what we have been through - of many things that it is well we should not forget.


The War Trophy Committee asked that if offered to us, we should observe two or three conditions. One was that three or four responsible people should be selected to form a Committee of Trustees to look after the gun. Well, I asked His Worship the Mayor, Councillor Royle, if he would act together with Mr Lockwood and myself, and he at once said "Yes." We might have expected that. And then another condition was that some simple ceremony should be arranged for taking over the gun which was the property of the Defence Department. I asked General Elliott if he would consent to come here and perform the ceremony.


Now I do not suppose that he has heard of me before, but he may have heard of the school. He at once, and promptly, said "Yes." We have here also representatives of the school, returned soldiers who have done their part to the best of their ability, some of whom you know well. And we have with us today, General Elliott. We have had many distinguished, prominent people here from time to time, but I cannot think of any one man more distinguished than the famous soldier who is here on the platform with me. (Applause). A man whom his king has delighted to honor, more than that, a man whom his fellow Australian citizens have honored by electing him as a representative in the Senate in the Federal Parliament and, if he will let me say so, he is showing that he there will uphold the same high principles, and has the same regard for Australian interests that he had on the other side of the world.  Before the late war, General Elliott had made a reputation for himself and he added to it there. I want to thank him before he performs the ceremony, for his courtesy in coming here to perform the ceremony for us. I will ask him formally to hand over the gun, and I will ask the Mayor to accept it on behalf of the trustees, (Applause).



Mr. Searby, Mr. Mayor, ladies and gentlemen, and boys and girls, scholars of this school.  It is a great privilege, this duty that has been asked of me to-day, to attend here and to formally hand over this gun to His Worship the Mayor and the trustees. The gun, as you see, is a pretty battered old weapon. It was captured fairly early in the war in France, from the Germans, and I had hoped that the War Records would have transmitted it with its history, and I think it would be a great pleasure to you, if the Head Master would write to Major Treloar and ask him for the record and I am sure it would be of great interest to you if you could get it. It belonged to the early part of the war in France, because looking at it, I can see that the guns we captured later in the war on the 8th and 9th of August were very much longer in the barrel and had a much longer range. This is my reason for saying it was captured on the Somme in 1917 or at the end of 1916. Now I am a member of the War Trophy Committee of Victoria whose duty it was to allot the gun. It was a matter that gave us a great deal of thought, and in the end, after granting one gun to all the regiments and battalions of the citizen forces, we divided the remaining trophies amongst a large number of towns. I think the field guns were limited to towns of 3 or 4 thousand population, while a number of towns - I should say the smaller towns - were allotted machine guns and trench mortars. After all these had been distributed, some still remained. If we had tried to go round with the guns again, people who did not receive two or three trophies would be entitled to complain that they had not been treated fairly. It was suggested by me that the remainder of the guns be allotted to the schools of Victoria.


(Applause). My reason for doing so was twofold.  A great many schools had Honor Boards on their walls and had returned soldiers. It was thought that this gun would seem a fitting recognition of the past scholars. But there was this about it, that this gun was a tangible trophy and might be a reminder to the boys who are coming on, that some of you may be called on, as former scholars were, to fight for your country. I think that you will properly appreciate the gun, that it was won for you by the lives and the blood of your fellow-collegians, in common with other volunteers. This is a sacred trust to care for, and look after, if in time to come we should be faced with a revival of our national troubles such as we have just gone through in the last 7 or 8 years. Then you will feel an inspiration to come forward and fight for the country. The Head Master referred to my services, but in regard to that I want to say that it was the men of the old 7th Battalion, of whom a great part were drawn from the city of Essendon, that won any reputation which I may have. (Applause). As it happened, the first men of that battalion called on to go into action were men from Essendon. I have often told the story of how the first boat that pushed off from the side of the ship to make the landing on Gallipoli carried 37 boys from Essendon, most of them not more than 18 or 19 years of age. When they rowed on to the shore they were packed as close in the boats as you boys are there. The enemy machine guns started to fire amongst them, You can imagine what it was like. Bullets came through as if the boat was paper. It could not sink because packed around it there was a great band of cork to keep it afloat. The rowers had their backs to the enemy, because that is the way you row. They could not see what was being done all around them.


Bullets came like a shower of hail, some dropped dead, some fell wounded. There was one particular boy I have often told about, a boy named McArthur, who was down here at the West Essendon school. He had a bullet through his leg which cut an artery. The blood spurted out across the boat. There was a friend of his in the back of the boat and he lifted a dead man from across his knee and went to his assistance. McArthur called out that he was done, but he kept plying his oar - he still kept on plying until the last drop of blood in his body drained out. He fell dead. At last the boat reached the shore. Three only got out. The rest of them were wounded or dead lying in the boat. Now that was a terrible test for those boys to go through the very first day that they were in action. They had never heard a shot before, but they knew their duty well. If they had stopped, turned back, or hesitated, the enemy would have switched his gun on to the next boat and killed some other men. Men sacrificed themselves for others and for the benefit of their country. For the good of your country, you may, at times, have to sacrifice your prospects, whether in your work or whether in social life, but it is hoped that we shall produce citizens, produce men who are capable of doing that. (Applause). It is because I believe that this trophy placed before you will inculcate such a spirit in you, that I recommended the Committee to give their consent to these guns being given to the schools of Victoria, and I have therefore great pleasure in handing over this gun to your Mayor, knowing you will take proper care of it for the honor of this High School of Essendon.


THE MAYOR. (Cr. Royle):—General Elliott, ladies and gentlemen, and boys and girls.

I receive this trophy with some little diffidence and mixed feelings. That is to say I cannot but feel some sorrow this afternoon in looking back on the terrible time through which so many have passed in the last 7 years - a time of which this gun is a very tangible reminder. At the same time I am pleased to be one of the trustees to receive this trophy from the hands of General Elliott. This school is only 7 or 8 years old. It was opened in 1913 and made a High School in 1914 and of the boys who entered the school then not one was over 16 years of age in 1914. Probably the majority were 14 or 15 years, yet we find that 54 old boys of the school enlisted before the struggle was over - and of these very few could have been 21. (Applause). This school then has a good record. Its boys followed the footsteps of the fathers and brothers who went before them from this City of Essendon. Six masters or ex-masters donned the colors also - three of whom, alas, will never return. We are proud of all these, and I am sure that the General is proud of them as we are equally proud of him.


(Applause) I accept this trophy, Sir, on behalf of the trustees, for this school. I can assure you that it is in good hands, that it will be well looked after, that all possible care will be taken of it while it remains here and that it will serve the purpose for which it was intended. (Applause). The Mayor then, on behalf of the school thanked General Elliott for his visit and called for three cheers which were rousingly given. General Elliott in reply said: First of all I will say that if you cheer like that in the face of the enemy, you will put the "Fear of the Lord" into him. I trust that I need no thanks for anything I may do in connection with Essendon, and I should be very ungrateful if I did not in some way repay the very great kindness I have always received at the hands of the Essendon citizens, I thank you very much indeed.  After the usual loyal declaration had been made, and the National Anthem sung, the Head Master entertained the visitors at afternoon tea, and presented the seven "returned men" on the teaching staff to the General.


"B." 22.8.21  Emily M. Ravenhall

                      Marjorie U. Maplestone



Essendon High School Magazine, Nov 1921, pp 13-16


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