Private John Edward Hayes (aka Robert Campbell Pattison)
Pakenham & District War Memorial and St Patrick’s Catholic School Roll of Honour
Born: 24 June 1899 - Pakenham, Victoria
Enlisted: 9 May 1916 aged 17
Unit: 59th Battalion, 5th Reinforcement (SERN: 2451)
Served: Western Front
Died: 1 December 1966 - Ringwood, Victoria
John Edward Hayes was the son of Jeremiah and Ellen Hayes of Pakenham. At one stage, the Hayes family lived on Grant’s orchard in the Toomuc Valley (1). John studied at St Patrick’s Primary School. Not quite seventeen years old when he enlisted, John used the assumed name of “Robert Campbell Pattison” and claimed to be over 18 years of age and an orphan! He was accepted on this basis in May 1916, and attached to the 59th Battalion, AIF. It was only in late 1917 that his true identity was established (2).
From his service record, it appears that John was something of a “wild colonial boy”. On the ship to England, he was punished for refusing to obey a non-commissioned officer. He also went absent without leave several times during his military service. In July 1918 though, he was wounded in the neck during an attack on the German lines in the Marlancourt sector of the Western Front. John had to be evacuated to hospital in England. He returned to France in the last few weeks of the War. In late 1919, John was sent back to Australia for demobilisation (3). He was discharged from the Army in January 1920. Like other Pakenham Diggers, John was awarded a gold medallion by the local community, which his brother Francis received on his behalf in May 1920 (4). John died in Ringwood in 1966.
(1) Weekly Times, 2/1/1909 p. 37
(2) & (3) NAA B2455, HAYES, J E
(4) South Bourke & Mornington Journal 20/5/1920 p.4