From the Education Department's Record of War Service p. 161
Private Thomas Ernest Gregory Mortimer
Pakenham State School Roll of Honour
Born: 27 May 1896 - Longwarry, Victoria
Enlisted: 1 August 1917 aged 21
Unit: 23rd Battalion, 20th Reinforcement (SERN 6900)
Served: Western Front
Died: 04 November 1980 - Geelong, Victoria
Listed on the Pakenham State School Roll of Honour as “G. Mortimer” (presumably because he was also known as “Gregory”?). Thomas was the son of George Mortimer and his wife Sophia Georgiana Snell. Thomas’ family later moved from Longwarry to Nar Nar Goon, where they had a property called “The Oaks” (1). Mortimer Rd is named in their honour. Thomas attended the Nar Nar Goon State School and Warragul Continuation School before being appointed as the Third Class junior teacher at Pakenham State School (No 1359) in February 1916 (2). He remained at Pakenham State School until he enlisted at Melbourne in August 1917 (3). Apparently, Thomas had previously tried to enlist, but was rejected because of his physique. Upon enlistment, he weighed just 124 pounds (56kgs) (4).
Thomas was initially assigned as a private to the 23rd Battalion, 20th Reinforcement at Broadmeadows Army Camp. He sailed for overseas on 21 November 1917, disembarking at Suez in Egypt, where he spent Christmas and New Year 1917/18, before proceeding to England via Taranto Italy. After further training in England, Thomas was taken on strength with the 23rd Battalion on the Western Front in April 1918. Within days however, he was hospitalised suffering from a septic foot. He rejoined his unit on 10 June 1918 (5). Thomas subsequently fought at Hamel, Mont St Quentin and the Hindenburg Line (6) as the German Army was pushed back in the final Allied offensives of the War.
Following the end of the War, Thomas was detached from his unit to attend the Australian Corps Central School for educational courses, before being sent back to England, preliminary to returning to Australia. He was discharged in Melbourne on 10 November 1919 (7). It was hoped that Thomas would be able to “renew his labours” at the Pakenham State School when he returned (8). This was not to be, and during his subsequent career, Thomas taught in country schools across the state, including at Nambrok, Patho (near Echuca), Goorong (near Bendigo), Morwell, Winchelsea and Drysdale (9). In January 1924, he married Janet Murray at Sale Presbyterian Church (10). After retiring from teaching, Gregory remained in the Geelong district, where he died in 1980 (11).
In addition to the Pakenham State School Honour Board, Thomas’s service was remembered in the Education Department’s Record of War Service and on the Nar Nar Goon State School Roll of Honour (11).
The assistance of Marg O’Leary is gratefully acknowledged.
(1) & (10) Gippsland Times 17/1/1924, p. 3
(2) PROV VPRS 640/P1 1462 Item 1359
(3) & (8) Pakenham Gazette 6/12/1918, p. 2
(4) (5) & (7) NAA B2455 MORTIMER THOMAS ERNEST GREGORY
(6) Department of Education (1921) p.161
(9) Information sourced from electoral rolls via ancestry.com.au
(11) Pakenham Gazette 12/3/1920 p. 3