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Waldren-W-J-H-Pte-717 (redirected from Waldren W J H Pte 717)

Page history last edited by Lenore Frost 6 years, 6 months ago

Volunteers of Essendon and Flemington, 1914-1918


Waldren W J H     Pte    717    William Joseph Hugh   6 Inf Bn    22    Compositor    Single    C of E       

Address:    Ascot Vale, South St, 82 “Ventnor”   

Next of Kin:    Waldren, M, Mrs, “Ventnor”, 82 South St, Ascot Vale   

Enlisted:    19 Aug 1914       

Embarked:     A20 Hororata 19 Oct 1914     

RTA  21 Mar 1915      Medically unfit


Waldren W J H    Acting Sergeant  2812     46 Inf Bn    23  Medical student and compositor   

Next of Kin:    Waldren, Margaret, Mrs,   “Ventnor”, 82 South St, Ascot Vale  

Embarked:  A17 Port Lincoln 20 Oct 1916


Relatives on Active Service:

Waldren C M Pte 7576 brother


Date of death: 28 September 1917



Roll of Honour:  "WALDREN, Pte. William Joseph Hugh, 2812. 46th Bn. 28th Sept., 1917. Age 24. Son of Charles George and Margaret Waldren, of 82, South St, Ascot Vale, Victoria. Native of Flemington, Victoria".




William Joseph Hugh Waldren


by Jan Colliver


William Joseph Hugh Waldren was born in Flemington on 7 April 1893. He was the first child of Charles George and Margaret Waldren (nee Martin). His middle names seem to come from his maternal grandfather Joseph Martin and great grandfather Hugh Martin. WJH was known as “Hughie” to his family.


Little can be gleaned about his early life. We know that his father Charles George was born in the Austro Hungarian Empire, and spent a lot of time at sea, mainly on Home Trade routes between 1890 and 1909. 


It seems Hughie attended  Flemington and Kensington State Schools. He had three brothers; Charles Martin, Frederick Charlton and John Alfred and one sister Ellen Frances.


A few days before Christmas in 1913 a bicycle trip ended in tragedy when Hughie and his friend Gordon Campbell Murch were riding from Ascot Vale to Tallarook. Murch was hit by a motor car near Donnybrook and died of injuries. Hughie was a witness at the trial of the driver in February 1914, though most newspaper reports misspelt his name as “Waldron” The accident and subsequent trial were reported in newspapers across Australia. I have prepared a list for easy access on TROVEAt the time of the trial Hughie was employed as a clerk in the Railways.


Hughie enlisted at Eastern Hill in the AIF ( No: 717) on 19 August 1914. His attestation papers indicate that at this time he had completed an apprenticeship as a Compositor at Exchange Press Melbourne for 5 years. He had served 2 ½ years with  6 Australian Infantry Regiment, and had been in senior cadets for 3 years.  He stood 5’ 10” and weighed 11 st 2 lbs, with fair hair and complexion and blue eyes. His religion was noted as C of E.  He was appointed to  6 Infantry Battalion, F Company. According to the Australian War Memorial notes The battalion was raised within a fortnight of the declaration of war in August 1914 and embarked just two months later.”


On 19 October he left Australia on the Hororata, arriving in Egypt in December for training in Egypt.  Little is known of this period. The card below was found many years later in a wallet belonging to Hughie.


Army Ambulance Certificate issued to Sergt W J H Waldren at Zeitoun, Egypt on

12 June 1915.  Document photographed and provided by Waldren family.


In February 1915, medical board proceedings were held in Mena Egypt and recommended discharge. In these notes it is suggested that he had suffered from Rheumatic fever earlier in life but had not been troubled again until January 1915 with knee and hip pain.  Hughie returned to Australia on 13 October 1915 with Rheumatism. A Medical board in Melbourne on 27 October 1915 concurred that his left knee was in a state of chronic synovitis, and that both ankles were well and should pose no problem in normal life. On 19 November 1915 he was declared Medically Unfit (Non – Venereal).


Less than 3 months later, on 4 January 1916, records show that Hughie joined the AMC. (Army Medical Corps) This time he gave his occupation as “compositor and Medical student.” In the Army Medical Corps he served as L Sgt from 4 January 1916 to 23 May 1916 and was based at Langwarrin Isolation Hospital.


William Joseph Hugh Waldren 1916  photo courtesy of Waldren family.


After 4 months of AMC Home Service he was declared fit for active service and was attached to the AMC, again based at Langwarrin from May until September 1916, when he spent a few days in No 5 AGH Melbourne for treatment of the eyes.


His records include a series of minutes, arguing whether WJH Waldren (No 2812) had been properly attested at Langwarrin, and asking whether he’d been discharged from his Home Service, and then suggesting firmly that re-attestation should be arranged at “Town Hall”. The dialogue continued after Hughie had sailed from Melbourne with the 6/46Reinforcements on 20 October 1916.


In the 1980s Hughie’s 1917 diary came into my possession on the death of his brother, my grandfather, Charles Martin Waldren. In 2010 his wallet, including his discharge papers, other documents and photos which matched the diary, were found in storage with some of my grandparent’s papers.  These two lots of “primary source documents” serve to personalise the story of the final year of his life. His handwriting is often hard to decipher and he is a man of relatively few words.

Hughie arrived in England in January1917 and was stationed at Codford, on the Salisbury Plains with 12 Training Battalion.


Diary photographed and provided by Waldren family.


For the next nine months Hughie undertook a string of training courses, beginning with a Bayonet Fighting and Physical Training course.



Photos courtesy of Waldren family.  WJH is standing in 2nd row, third from right



Message on reverse of photo. Photo supplied by Waldren family.


An early highlight for Hughie was a visit to “the folks” in Seacombe, Cheshire, across the Mersey from Liverpool. He stayed with “Aunt Annie” a first cousin of his mother and her family, and “Aunty Polly” an aunt of his mother, and describes a pleasant couple of days sightseeing and meeting relatives. I have spent many hours figuring out the relationship of those he visited and plotting them on my family tree. Both of the families he visited lost at least one son on active service in world war one.


Between 1 February and 4 September 1917 Hughie was Temporary Corporal. In February he attended an Officer Training School at Tidworth and described having to do “Field Engineering…map reading, hand grenade throwing, and various other military tactics” , He described hours of “Parade” “Lectures after tea, and then write up Lectures until about 1 am” .  On 14 February 1917 King George inspected the instructional school.


The tone of the diary seems fairly matter of fact about the training courses, but includes descriptions of visits to places such as Bath, Bournemouth, Stonehenge, and Salisbury Cathedral.



On 23 February 1917 he completed the course of training at Kandahar, Tidworth and on arrival back at Codford was informed of another school, which would be his third. A few days later he returned to Tidworth for Physical Training and Bayonet Fighting, staying at the Jellalabad Barracks. On  3 March he broke his arm, and still completed the course on 10 March.



On Tuesday 17 March he described a long march from Codford to Bulford, via Stonehenge (about 9 hours one way) for an Inspection by King George. 50,000 Australian troops were said to be present.


On 23April until 11 May Hughie attended a course at Officer School of Instruction at Chelsea Barracks. He made no comments about the training but brief comments about visiting “Aunt Nellie” (another cousin of his mother), at Wandsworth Common. On the 14 May, back at Codford he wrote ”Am back to the old routine again, and am just about tired of the whole routine.”


Records indicated that towards the end of May he attended P.T. and B.F at Aldershot for 21 days. There is a photo taken during this time, Hughie has numbered the participants and the back of the photo includes signatures of some of the group who came from a variety of backgrounds. Hughie is No. 4.





Days at Aldershot are simply marked off with an X in the diary, as in fact are all of the days during June, July and August.


On 29 August there is a simple entry. “Today we leave for France.”  On 30 August “Draft postponed might proceed at any moment” . 31 August, 1 ,2,and 3 September all say simply “Still in England.”



18 September was his final diary entry. No real personal thoughts or feelings or reflections.


William Joseph Hugh Waldren died on 28 September 1917, aged 24 years and 5 months. It is believed he died at Westhoek Ridge, in the Ypres Sector in Belgium. He has no grave, but is remembered on the Menin Gate.  The following telegram was delivered by a local minister, Rev Shaw to his mother in Ascot Vale a couple of weeks later. One can only imagine how many times Rev Shaw had to visit families with sad news. (Someone later had tucked the telegram into Hughie's wallet which had arrived home with his diary and a few meagre belongings in May 1918).




In my childhood nearly everyone’s Nan or Pop had a brother “who never came home.” There were revered photos of boys in uniforms on many mantel pieces. Both of my grandfathers had strong connections to the Flemington and Kensington RSL sub branch, but no one spoke of war experiences.


I’ve searched some of the names in Hughie’s diary, and read records of some of his mates on the National Archives site. Many lived long lives despite awful injuries. Some in the photos also survived. It is impossible to imagine the impact on the families and communities. There is more to their stories than the formal records we can access through the National Archives.


There is more to William Joseph Hugh Waldren’s story. At the time of the diary he had a “sweetheart” Ethel M Park, her birthday was 29 May, and she’d lived in North Melbourne. They wrote to each other often.  Maybe someone else has some pieces….Lest we forget.


Jan Colliver (nee Waldren)

May 2012



The engagement is announced of Miss Ethyl (sic) M. Park, only daughter of Mr. and the late Mrs. R. Park, of Kensington. Victoria, late of Windemere. England, to Sergeant W. J. H. Waldren, Army Medical Corps. A.I.F. (returned from active service), eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. C. G. Waldron, of "Ventnor," South street, Ascot Vale (late of Cheshire, England), Sergeant Waldren leaves for the front at an early date.


SOCIAL BREVITIES. (1916, October 26). The Essendon Gazette and Keilor, Bulla and Broadmeadows Reporter (Moonee Ponds, Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 3 Edition: Morning.. Retrieved September 15, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74594547 


*Note:  Ethel Park was a sister of Park-E-R-Pte-420 of Wolseley St, Kensington.


Mentioned in this publication:

We were the 46th: the history of the 46th Battalion in the Great War of 1914-1918


War Service Commemorated

Essendon Town Hall R-Y

Newmarket Baptist Church  *

Ascot Vale State School

Flemington State School *  (Waldron H )

Essendon Gazette Roll of Honour With the Colours

Regimental Register 


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