Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Relatives spot Shepparton soldiers

The photo of the group of Shepparton Anzacs in Palestine than ran on the front page of The News' Anzac Day edition has brought back fond memories for the diggers’ descendants.

ESTELLE GRIEPINK May 2, 2014 4:34am

Faces identified: The old photo of the Shepparton soldiers that ran on The News' front page on Anzac Day on Friday last week.



Shepparton’s Dora Blackley brought the postcard into The News last week in the hope other people might spot their relatives in it.

The photo features Mrs Blackley’s brother George ‘‘Didge’’ Maskell and cousin Harold Thorne.

Former Mooroopna man Les Cowan said seeing his late grandfather Mally Newman brought tears to his eyes.

‘‘I’ve never seen the photo, this was the first time ever,’’ Mr Cowan, 55, said.

‘‘Mally was like a dad to me — he used to take me to primary school on the handlebars of his bike.’’

Mr Cowan said his grandfather never spoke about the war, but he knew Mally was injured in Egypt.

‘‘He was only there a few years — a truck got blown up and cargo landed on him, so he had to come home,’’ he said.

Shepparton’s Jenny Goonan said she was touched to see her late father Stan Kerr on the front page.

‘‘It was really nice to see and it created quite a comment with my relatives,’’ Mrs Goonan, 64, said. ‘‘I sent a copy of the Shepp News to all my siblings who don’t live in Shepparton anymore.’’

Mrs Goonan described her father as a good, quiet man who was committed to the community.

Stan served in the Middle East and New Guinea and later in the Pacific campaign.

‘‘The war affected him in some way and he did suffer nightmares for most of his life after it,’’ she said.

‘‘He kept a lot of the war to himself, but he did bring up the funny things that happened.’’

Mrs Goonan said her father always attended the Melbourne Anzac Day march.

She and her four siblings would follow him along the pavement all the way to the Shrine of Remembrance.

‘‘That was a really great memory, it was a tradition,’’ she said.

Sally Parker said her husband was reading the paper when he spotted Mrs Parker’s uncle Harold ‘‘Mick’’ Thorne.

‘‘He said, ‘Oh, there’s Mick’,’’ Mrs Parker, 64, said.

‘‘I’d never seen the photo before and it really brought home to me how young some of these men were when they went off to war.’’

Shepparton man Bob McKellar said he could not believe it when he saw his father Les on the front page.

‘‘It was just amazing, I’ve never seen this photo before,’’ Mr McKellar, 79, said.

‘‘I was only six when he left and I was too young to ask him about the war when he got back in 1945.’’

Mr McKellar said his father was 40 when he joined the army.

‘‘He was a lot older, he didn’t need to join — they made him a cook,’’ he said.

Mr McKellar said he recognised many of the other men in the photo, including Jimmy Cole, who lived with the McKellars on Skene St.

He also remembered going to the ‘‘friendship club’’ with his mother, which the wives of the Shepparton soldiers formed.

‘‘They’d all get together and have cups of tea. I remember them all gathering around the piano and singing,’’ he said.

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