Courtesy of the Bastow family
Gunner William Richard Austin Bastow
Born: 1896 - St Kilda, Victoria
Enlisted: 7 March 1917 aged 20
Unit: Field Artillery Brigade 28th Reinforcement (SERN 35883)
Served: Western Front
Died: January 1969 - Eltham, Victoria
Also known as “Dick”, William was one of Austin & Mary Bastow’s eight children (1). Dick’s father was an architect and real estate agent. Shortly after Dick was born, the family moved to Western Australia where Austin became was involved in civic affairs, including served as Mayor of Subiaco (2). After returning to Victoria, the Bastows lived in West Brunswick. Dick attended Melbourne Grammar School (3). He was 20 years old when he enlisted with his parents’ permission in March 1917. Dick was appointed as a gunner with the Field Artillery 28th Reinforcement. He sailed to England via Egypt and Taranto (Italy). After further training at Heytesbury and a period in hospital with measles, Dick was taken on strength with the 13th Field Artillery Brigade (FAB) on 23 May 1918 and posted to the 113th Battery on the Western Front (4). In a letter from France, Dick recounted being camped in a deserted French village: “I found a comfortable bed in a house, and there were several hives of bee, and no one to take the honey. I decided to get that honey, so dressed up in balaclava, gloves, gas mask etc ... I succeeded in getting a supply of honey. There are plenty of strawberries waiting to be picked too. Tres bon” (5). Dick saw action with the 13th FAB at Le Hamel in July 1918 and then during the great Allied offensive which eventually forced Germany to surrender in November 1918 (6). He returned to Australia in April 1919 and was discharged the following month (7).
Dick applied for and received a soldier settler block on what is now Morrison Road in Pakenham Upper, which he named “Granite Range”. There he built up a successful apple orchard, winning awards for his produce (8). In addition to “Granite Ridge”, Dick also operated the Pakenham Upper garage and the store opposite the local Church Hall. He was also an active member of the local community, serving on the board of the Pakenham Cool Stores; the Pakenham Upper Fruit Growers’ Association; Pakenham Bush Hospital Board; and the Masonic Lodge (9). In July 1922, Dick had married Marcella Kent, a relation of the Wilson family of Berwick. He and his son Austin both served with the AIF during WWII, with Austin putting his age up and Dick putting his age down to do so (10). Dick served as a Lance Corporal (VX 9600) with the 41 Heavy Wireless Section (11). Austin, who later served on the Pakenham Shire Council (including a stint as Shire President), took over the garage business from Dick, who later moved to Eltham, where his brother lived. Dick died in 1969 and was buried at Eltham Cemetery. “Granite Ridge” was sold, although a great-grandson has purchased part of the property in recent years (12).
The assistance of Derek & Lisa Bastow and Dianne White is gratefully acknowledged.
(2) Brunswick & Coburg Star 1/10/1915 p. 2
(3) (5) & (6) Kiddle (1923) pp. 217 & 280
(4) & (7) NAA B2455 BASTOW W R A
(8) (10) & (12) Information provided by Bastow family
(9) Dandenong Journal 29/1/1931 p. 4; South Bourke & Mornington Journal 18/8/1927 & The Age 29/8/1936, p. 24