Courtesy of Neila Foggo & Marianne Rocke (NWFHG)
Lance Corporal George Watson Anderson
Born: 18 June 1893 - Chillichil Station, Balranald NSW
Enlisted: 14 July 1916 aged 23
Unit: 57th Battalion 6th Reinforcement (SERN 2611)
Served: Western Front
Died: 16 November 1977 - Shepparton, Victoria
George was the youngest son of Thomas Anderson and Rose Watson. His parents’ families were early pioneers at Burnbank near Avoca. George’s uncle, Andrew Anderson, was a member of the Victorian Parliament while his father became a grazier in the Balranald district of NSW (1). The family used to drive thousands of sheep from their property “Chillichil Station” down to Victoria for sale (2). Letters George wrote as a child provide glimpses of his life growing up there: setting traps to catch foxes; learning how to shoot with an air gun; raising pet lambs; being taught on the station by a cousin; having to ride a bicycle four miles to collect the mail; the sheep shearing (they had to cart water seven miles for the shearers) and the droughts (3). In 1908, George’s family left Chillichil to seek “fresh fields and pastures new” (4). They acquired “Caversham”, a property in the Toomuc Valley owned by the Kitchen Brothers. Unfortunately, George’s father died in 1910, but his widowed mother remained at Caversham. In 1912 the family also acquired part of the highly productive “Warrawee” orchard from Charles Greenfield (5). George was a 23 year old orchardist at “Warrawee” when he enlisted for service in July 1916 (6). Prior to embarking for England, he became engaged to Una Wilson, the daughter of the Reverend James Wilson of Beaconsfield Upper (7).
After arriving in England in November 1916, George underwent further training, and was also hospitalised suffering from the mumps. In January 1917, he was taken on strength with the 57th Battalion in France, and promoted to Lance Corporal in February 1917. In May 1917, George attended the Divisional “Gas School”, but in July requested to revert to the rank of private. He was then transferred to the 29th Australian Army Service Corps (AASC) as a wheeler (wheelwright) and later attached to the 28th AASC. Late in the War, George was transferred to the 5th Division Ammunition Train as a Driver (8). Following the end of the War, he was re-appointed as a Lance Corporal. After a period in England, where he was granted leave for non-military employment, George was repatriated back to Australia. He was discharged from the AIF in Melbourne on 4 October 1919 (9). That same month, George was officially welcomed home to Pakenham with other returned soldiers, and presented with a gold medallion from a grateful community (10). For some reason, his name was never inscribed on the Pakenham & District Soldiers’ Memorial, although it was included on the Beaconsfield Upper Roll of Honour (11). In November 1921, George married his sweetheart Una. By 1923, they were living at Mooroopna, where George was a farmer. He subsequently served his country again in WWII as a sergeant (V374388) with the 16th Battalion, VDC. George died at Shepparton in 1977 aged 84.
The assistance of George’s relative Neila Foggo; and Marianne Rocke of the NWFHG is gratefully acknowledged.
(1) Avoca & District Historical Society Newsletter No 201 April 2002
(2) Sydney Morning Herald 24/10/1890 p. 7
(3) Australian Town & Country Journal 29/10/1902 p. 39; 25/2/1903 p. 39 & 10/6/1903 p. 40.
(4) Riverina Record 3/6/1908 p. 2
(5) Australasian 14/12/1912 p. 18
(6) (8) & (9) NAA B2455 ANDERSON GW
(7) Punch 14/9/1916 p. 29
(8) Pakenham Gazette 17/10/1919 p. 2
(9) Information provided by Marianne Rocke