Courtesy of John Waterhouse
Private William Kenworthy Lorimer
Born: 23 August 1894 - Malvern, Victoria
Enlisted: 1 December 1914 aged 20
Unit: 5th Battalion, 3rd Reinforcement (SERN: 1568)
Served: Egypt, Gallipoli & Western Front
Died: 30 September 1980 - Pakenham, Victoria
Known as “Bill”, William Lorimer was a 20 year old farmer when he enlisted in December 1914. Both his parents were deceased, while he had a brother farming at Nyah on the Murray River in northern Victoria (1). Bill was assigned to the 5th Battalion, 3rd Reinforcement and embarked for Egypt in February 1915. He joined his unit at Gallipoli in May 1915 and fought there (including at Lone Pine) until the Anzacs were evacuated in December 1915. In March 1916, Bill’s unit was sent to France to join the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) on the Western Front. He contracted mumps and was hospitalised in May. On 20 August 1916, while the 5th Battalion was in the forward trenches at Pozieres, Bill was wounded in action for the first time, suffering from shell-shock, but rejoined his unit the same day. In March 1917, he was promoted to the rank of Lance Corporal. On 20 September 1917, during the Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele), Bill was wounded for the second time when two Australian Divisions (including the 5th Battalion) attacked German positions at Menin Road. He was wounded in the hand and invalided to the Beaufort War Hospital in Bristol. Bill rejoined his unit in France in late November 1917. From August 1918, the 5th Battalion was part of the great Allied offensive which successfully pushed the Germans back to the Hindenburg Line. On 30 August 1918, Bill was wounded for the third time, being gassed. He was invalided again to the Beaufort War Hospital in England. Bill left England for Australia in January 1919 and was discharged in Melbourne in April (2).
After returning to Victoria, Bill applied under the soldier-settlement scheme to purchase an apple and pear orchard called “Sunnyside” on Leppitt Rd in the Toomuc Valley. However, he had to wait several months for a decision from the Closer Settlement Board (CSB), which then knocked him back. In appealing on Bill’s behalf, an uncle of his wrote: “I wish those who decide these things could see what a fine man he is for the land” (3). Bill eventually got the requested assistance to buy the orchard, and developed it into what one CSB inspector described as “an exceptionally good one” (4), although not without having to overcome various difficulties along the way. These included changing consumer demand for particular apple varieties and periodic loss of crops because of insect infestations. A major setback occurred in 1944 when part of “Sunnyside” was burnt out by a major bushfire. Bill responded to the set-back by expanding into market gardening, then dairying (5). In 1926, Bill had married Katherine Bunt, who was from a Toomuc Valley family. (6). During WWII, he served with the Volunteer Defence Corps, including at an Italian prisoner of war camp at Cribb Point (7). Over the years, Bill was very active in the community life of the Toomuc Valley and the wider district, including serving on the Pakenham Bush Hospital Board, the Cool Stores Board and the local RSL Committee (8). Bill died in 1980 aged 86 years.
The assistance of John Waterhouse is gratefully acknowledged.
(1) & (2) NAA B2455 LORIMER WILLIAM
(3) & (4) PROV VPRS 5714/P0 Unit 836 File 743/12
(5) (6) & (7) Waterhouse (2003) p. 88
(8) Dandenong Journal 25/2/1942 p. 5