Sam Keable in later life. Courtesy of Murray Keable.
Driver George Samuel Hugh Keable
Pakenham & District War Memorial & Pakenham Upper Roll of Honour
Born: 13 May 1893 - Camberwell, Victoria
Enlisted: 5 April 1916 aged 23
Unit: 24th Battalion, 15th Reinforcement (SERN: 5614)
Served: Western Front
Died: 21 May 1975 - Mornington, Victoria
Also known as “Sam”, George was the youngest son of George Samuel Keable and his wife Janet Falconer, who had an orchard called “The Angles” off what is now Reynolds Rd in Pakenham Upper. When he enlisted in April 1916, George was 23 years old (1) and working as a secretary for the Austin Automatic Balancing Airship Company in Melbourne for £5 per week. Prior to that, he had worked as a clerk and property salesman in the city (2). Sam responded to a major recruitment campaign to replenish the AIF after the Gallipoli campaign. As part of this, the War Council set a target of 98 recruits from Berwick Shire. Sam was one of 173 who answered the call (3). He was assigned to the 24 Battalion 15th Reinforcement and later transferred to B Company, 24th Battalion. At a special farewell at Pakenham Upper, Robert Ramage, Paul Holdensen and Sam were presented with fountain pen (4), presumably to encourage them to write home regularly! Sam left Australia in late September 1916, embarking as an acting Lance Corporal for the duration of the voyage. After training in England, he proceeded to France in June 1917 and was taken on strength with the 2nd Divisional Supply Column. In December 1917, Sam was transferred to the 4th Divisional Supply Column, while in March 1918 he joined the 4th Australian Divisional Mechanical Transport Company (4 ADMTC) as a driver (5).
In May 1919, Sam departed England for discharge in Australia, which occurred at Melbourne in July 1919. Sam was officially welcomed back to Pakenham Upper in October 1919, together with a number of other local Diggers. At the event, Sam paid tribute to those who would not return, saying “each man had earned more than a V.C. By giving their lives they had earned the honour and respect of the whole British nation”. He also “paid a tribute to the sacrifice made by the parents who have sent their sons to the front” (6). Sam subsequently became a commercial traveller with Coates & Co of Melbourne (7). In December 1926 he married Dorothy Davidson at Bulli in NSW (8). That year, Sam also applied for a housing grant under the War Service Homes Act (9). Sam and Dorothy settled in the Malvern East area and raised two children. Sam started the firm “S. Keable & Co Pty Ltd” which sold industrial fasteners such as nuts, bolts and screws at 27 Niagara Lane in Melbourne. The company still operates today as “Keables” in West Footscray (10). Dorothy died in 1958. Sam later lived at Brighton East and Mornington (11), where he died in May 1975 aged 81.
The assistance of Sam’s grandson, Murray Keable is gratefully acknowledged.
(1) Ancestry.com.au - ER - Flinders - Pakenham 1914 p. 2 & NAA B2455 KEABLE G S H
(2) & (7) NAA B73 M70181
(3) Berwick Shire News 3/5/1916, p. 3
(4) Dandenong Advertiser 20/7/1916, p. 2
(5) & (9) NAA B2455 KEABLE G S H
(6) Pakenham Gazette 10/10/1919
(8) Sydney Morning Herald 13/1/1927, p. 10
(10) Information provided by Murray Keable
(11) Ancestry.com.au - Electoral Roll - Flinders - Mornington 1972 p. 1306