Courtesy of Debbie Ellett Hajduk
Corporal Alfred Ellett
Pakenham & District War Memorial and Pakenham South War Memorial
Born: 2 April 1897 - Springvale, Victoria
Enlisted: 21 January 1916 aged 18
Uni: 39th Battalion, B Company (SERN: 439)
Served: Western Front
Died: 10 February 1958 - Koo Wee Rup, Victoria
Known as “Alf”, Alfred was the third Ellett brother to enlist, doing so in early 1916. As he was only 18 years old, Alf needed his parents‘ consent. The local Pakenham doctor, Dr White also provided a letter stating that he found Alf to be “of sound constitution and in good health and fit to go on active service” (1). Alf was assigned to B Company, 39th Battalion. He spent time training in camp at Ballarat, and was promoted to Corporal in May 1916. When Alf left for Europe in May 1916, “the good wishes of all who know him” went with him as he went to“uphold the honour of Australia and assist in maintaining the integrity of the Empire against the worse than brutal rapaciousness of the unspeakable Hun” (2).
After further training in England, Alf proceeded to the Western Front in March 1917. In August 1917 he was attached to the 10th Training Battalion in England, where he was trained in the use of the Lewis light machine gun. Interestingly, this was being used as an early anti-aircraft gun. Alf returned to France in December 1917, but in June 1918 was invalided back to England with severe appendicitis. Alf remained in England for the rest of the War. He departed for Australia in early 1919 and was discharged in April 1919 (3). He was officially welcomed home to Pakenham South in November 1919 (4). Alf took up farming again, and settled on a property in Island Road, Koo Wee Rup. He married Grace Rose Forscutt in 1922 and the couple eventually raised four sons (5). Alf was one of the pioneers of asparagus growing at Koo Wee Rup. After his farm was flooded in 1937, he found that some asparagus he was growing for private consumption had not only survived, but thrived as a result of the inundation. After this, he set about planting asparagus on much of his 42 acre block. Alf also kept poultry to “help matters along” while his asparagus matured. Similarly he planted potatoes between the rows of asparagus (6). In the late 1930s, Alf was involved in the establishment of a young farmer’s club at Island Road (7). From 1942 to 1945, Alf served as a Sergeant (V355237) with the 11th Battalion of the Volunteer Defence Corps (8). Alfred died in Koo Wee Rup in February 1958 and was buried in Springvale Cemetery (9).
Aside from the Pakenham & District War Memorial, Alf’s service is recognised on the Koo Wee Rup Hall Roll of Honour, which was unveiled in 1917 (10) and the Pakenham South War Memorial which was dedicated in 1997.
The assistance Alf’s relatives Barry Ellett, Peter Ellett and Debbie Ellett Hajduk is gratefully acknowledged.
(1) & (3) NAA B2455 ELLETT A
(2) South Bourke & Mornington Journal 1/6/1916 p.2
(4) Pakenham Gazette 21/11/1919
(5) (8) & (9) Narre Warren & District Family History Group (2016) p. 37
(6) Weekly Times 22/3/1941, p. 16
(7) Argus 25/7/1939, p. 10
(10) Lang Lang Guardian 14/2/1917, p. 2