Lance Corporal Francis Leslie Keogh
St Patrick’s Catholic School Roll of Honour
Born: 22 June 1896 - Colac, Victoria Enlisted: 9 July 1915 aged 19
Unit: 31st Battalion, D Company (SERN: 896) Served: Western Front
Died: 21 April 1968 - Melbourne, Victoria
Listed on the St Patrick’s Roll of Honour board as “F.A. Keogh”, Francis Leslie Keogh was born in Colac in January 1896, the son of Patrick Keogh and his wife Margaret. From circa 1905 to 1911, Patrick Keogh was stationed at Pakenham as a mounted police constable. During this time, Francis and his siblings John, Lily and Adelaide attended St Patrick’s School. Later, the family moved to South Melbourne, where Francis worked as a mechanic at the Dunlop Rubber factory, where he was paid 35 shillings ($3.50) a week (1). Francis was 19 years old when he enlisted in the Army in July 1915. Attached to the 31st Battalion Australian Imperial Force, Francis was first sent to Egypt, then France where he served as a driver. In April 1917, Private Artie Paternoster wrote home saying he had bumped into “two Pakenham boys” in France: Billy Lewis and Les Keogh - the latter probably being Francis (1a). In September 1917 Francis was wounded at Polygon Wood, but remained at duty. Later, he was promoted to Lance Corporal (2). On 29 September 1918, the 31st was involved in the Allied assault on the Hindenburg Line at the St Quentin Canal. The main attack was preceded by the largest British artillery bombardment of the War: over one million shells were fired (3). Of these, more than 30,000 were mustard gas shells (3a). The attack was successful, with the German defences being breached. Francis was wounded for the second time that day, being gassed, possibly because some of the Allied mustard gas had lingered on the battlefield in hollows. The effects of the mustard gas were severe, and he had to be repatriated to England (4). Francis was prone to eye and chest infections thereafter (5).
After the War, Francis returned to the Dunlop Rubber Company, where he worked in the vehicle department (6). He later married Doris Hockings and had a daughter. The family lived in North Carlton for many years. From 1933 to 1935, he served in the Militia, the forerunner of the Army Reserve (7). Later, Francis worked as a labourer, and a storeman at the munitions factory in Footscray. He died in Melbourne in April 1968.
(1) (5) & (6) NAA B73, M51890
(1a) Dandenong Advertiser 21/7/1917 p. 3
(2) & (4) NAA B2455, KEOGH, F L
(3) Wikipedia - “Battle of St Quentin Canal”: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_St_Quentin_Canal
(3a) Bean (1942) p 953 & 958
(4) The Record 7 May 1921, p. 2
(7) NAA B4747, KEOGH, FRANCIS LESLIE