Courtesy of Pakenham Upper Community Church Hall
Private Wallace Moncrief Black
Pakenham & District War Memorial, Pakenham Upper Roll of Honour & Pakenham Upper State School Honour Book
Born: 1896 - Ascot Vale, Victoria
Enlisted: 18 June 1917, aged 21
Unit: 5th Battalion, 25th Reinforcement (SERN: 7451)
Served: Western Front
Died: 20 January 1975 - Pakenham, Victoria
Also known as “Wally”, Wallace was the seventh child of Thomas and Margaret Black. He moved to Pakenham with his family when he was a young child (1), and attended Pakenham Upper State School. After finishing school, Wally joined his father and brothers as an orchardist (2). Wally was 21 years old when he enlisted and was assigned to the 5th Battalion, 25th Reinforcement. Two older brothers, Robert and Donald, were already serving overseas. With James Thomson, Wally was given a public send off from Pakenham Upper. The hall there was “crowded by those anxious to do honour to the soldiers” and an “excellent programme” of entertainment was performed which was said to be “far above the average”. Wally and James were given wallets and money belts as parting gifts (3). Wally said it was an honour to be able to serve (4). A few weeks before he embarked overseas, Wally was best man at his brother Thomas’s wedding to Miss Ethel Maud Ramage, the sister of Robert Ramage of Upper Pakenham who was already serving overseas. One of the toasts at the reception was to ”our boys at the Front” (5).
Wally embarked for the UK in August 1917 and arrived at Glasgow on 2 October 1917. He was sent to Signal School where he passed wireless telegraphy examinations with credit (6). Wally only proceeded to France in September 1918, joining the 5th Battalion which saw little further action during the War. Wally returned to Australia in August 1919 and was discharged in Melbourne on 2 September 1919 (7). He returned home to Pakenham Upper where he was officially welcomed home in early October. Wally took up orcharding again, operating for many years (with his brother Donald) the “Boneidah” orchard and a fruit packing service (8). In 1922, Wally married Rose Edwards and raised a family of his own. During WWII, Wally served his country again, first with the Civil Construction Corps working as a truck driver with the Country Roads Board (9) and later as a Corporal (V367903) with the local 11th Battalion, Volunteer Defence Corps (10). Wally was particularly active in the Pakenham RSL. This included serving as treasurer of the sub-branch and as chairman of the local Repatriation Committee from the end of WWII until his death (11). Wally was also a very active freemason.
Although his brother Donald retired from orcharding in 1962, Wally continued on a property closer to Pakenham (near Mt Shamrock Rd) for a period of time, before moving into town. Wally’s wife Rose passed away in 1963, while his brother Donald died the following year (12). Wally died suddenly in January 1975, aged 78. He had become ill at a meeting in Pakenham and was hospitalised, but deteriorated quickly. The Pakenham Gazette said that Wally’s death “brought a sense of shock and sadness to many people throughout the Pakenham and Pakenham Upper districts”. The Gazette also described Wally as “an outstanding person - always kindly and helpful and with the highest possible standard of conduct” (13).
Aside from the Pakenham & District War Memorial, Wally’s service is also commemorated on the Pakenham Upper Roll of Honour and the Pakenham Upper State School Honour Book.
The assistance of Wally’s great nephew and niece Trevor Black and Helen Urban & Joy Carberry of the Pakenham Upper Community Church Hall is gratefully acknowledged.
(1) (8) (11) & (13) Pakenham Gazette 22/1/1975, p. 17
(2) & (5) Pakenham Upper State School Honour Book
(3) Dandenong Advertiser 7/6/1917
(4) & (12) Narre Warren Family History Group (2016), pp. 7 & 10
(5) Pakenham Gazette 6/7/1917, p. 2
(6) & (7) NAA B2455, BLACK W M
(9) NAA B4218, CV103209
(10) NAA B884, V367903