Above: The wireless telegraph station at Bitapaka near Rabaul, German New Guinea. Courtesy of
Wireless Operator Michael English Bryan
Pakenham & District War Memorial & Pakenham State School Roll of Honour
Born: 27 December 1888, Greta, Victoria
Unit: Australian Military & Naval Expeditionary Force
Served: At sea (troop transports) and German New Guinea
Died: 6 January 1959 - Brunswick East, Victoria
Known as “Mick”, Michael had, like his brothers, attended the Pakenham State School and became a farmer at Pakenham South. Before the War, he was active in the local Pakenham South community, serving as Chair of the Pakenham South Progress Association (1). “Genial Mick” was also a self-taught wireless operator, and even erected a receiving station on his farm (2). Mick put these skills to good work during the War by joining the “wireless staff” and serving on transport ships (3). Civilian wireless operators served on troop ships, transports and merchant navy ships throughout the War. In October 1917 Mick joined the Australian Military and Naval Expeditionary Force (AMNEF) in German New Guinea, which the Australians had occupied at the beginning of the War. Mick was stationed at Rabaul and served as a Chief Petty Officer in the Wireless Section (4). He was still serving with the AMNEF in September 1920 when he made a War Gratuity Claim. He was eligible for a payment of £44.3.6 for a total of 589 days service with the AMNEF at a rate of one shilling and six pence per day (5). In addition to the Pakenham War Memorial, Mick’s service was honoured on the Pakenham State School Roll of Honour.
Mick had married Annie McLoughlin in 1916. After the War, Mick appears to have been living with Annie on Nauru, another former German territory in the Pacific which was ceded to Australia. Their daughter Mary was born there in 1921 (6). After returning to Australia, the family settled in Brunswick. Mick worked for the Department of Defence and is recorded as being a clerk in the 1930s and a “naval examiner” in the early 1940s (7). Annie passed away in 1954 while Mick died in 1959 aged 70.
(1) South Bourke & Mornington Journal 4/6/1914, p. 2
(2) South Bourke & Mornington Journal 14/5/1914, p. 2 and 4/6/1914, p. 2
(3) Dandenong Advertiser 1/7/1915, p. 2 & PG 16/11/1917, p. 3.
(4) NAA CP979/2, 4900 & PG 16/11/1917, p. 3
(5) NAA CP979/2, 4900
(6) Information sourced from Ancestry.com.au
(7) Ancestry.com.au - Electoral Roll - Bourke - Mitchell - 1942 p. 7