Andrew Webster from the 1914 Pakenham Football Team photograph. Courtesy of Graham Treloar / BPHS

Private Andrew Webster

Pakenham & District War Memorial  & Pakenham State School Roll of Honour

Born: 1895 - Wahgunyah, Victoria

Enlisted: 20 March 1915 aged 20

Unit:  21st Battalion, A Company (SERN: 210)

Served: Egypt, Gallipoli & Western Front. 

Died: 5 September 1963 - Heidelberg, Victoria

 

Known as “Andy”, Andrew was a son of William & Jessie Webster. Andy’s father was a butcher in Pakenham, where Andy attended Pakenham State School and the St James’ Church of England Sunday School (1). Andy followed his father and brothers into the butchery trade. He was also a member of the Pakenham Football Club and played in the 1914 district premiership winning team (2). Andy was 20 years old when he enlisted in April 1915 with his parents’ permission. He was assigned as a private to the 21st Battalion, A Company. Andrew embarked for Egypt in May 1915 (3). In early September 1915, he was onboard the SS Southland en route to Gallipoli when the ship was torpedoed by a German u-boat (submarine) near the Greek island of Lemnos. About 40 people onboard died. The Diggers were said to have been cracking jokes and singing “Australia Will Be There” as they abandoned ship! (4), A letter home from Private Bill Abrehart though, suggested that Andy’s ordeal may have been more harrowing than the press reports indicated: “such a night: they were hanging onto boats and rafts, a lot of them were lost. Andy Webster was in it, but he was saved and is alright as far as I know” (5).  

 

After this misadventure, Andy served at Gallipoli until the Anzacs were evacuated to Egypt in December 1915. He was subsequently hospitalised with pneumonia, no doubt contracted due to the conditions he endured on the peninsula. After recovering, Andy was transferred to England, where he spent quite a few months in camp at Weymouth before being taken on strength in France with the 2nd Field Butchery at Calais in November 1917 (6). After the War, Andy’s imminent return was eagerly awaited back in Pakenham (7). He arrived back in Melbourne in June 1919 and was discharged in August (8). With around 20 other returned soldiers, Andy was officially welcomed home to Pakenham in early October 1919 and presented with a special gold medallion (9). In early 1920, Andy and several other members of the local ANA Lodge were also presented with medals for the “fine work” they did during the War (10). Andy resumed his work as a butcher, and became part of the local football scene again, but by 1928 was living in Sandringham with his brothers Stanley and Gordon (11). In 1931, he married Effie Lilian Horne. Andy died at the Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital on 5 September 1963. 

 

The assistance of Andy’s granddaughter Heather Grayson and Jim Webster is gratefully acknowledged. 

 

Sources:

 

(1) SBMJ,10/7/1907 P.2 & 15/7/1908 P. 2   

(2) Argus 27/5/1913, p.4 &  DA 25/6/1914, p. 2

(3) (6) & (8) NAA B2455 WEBSTER, ANDREW 

(4) Argus 22/11/1915, p.8

(5) SBMJ 4/11/1915, p. 3

(7) PG 23/5/1919 p. 2

(9) PG 17/10/1919 p. 2

(10) PG 30/1/1920 p. 3

(11) Information provided by Jim Webster

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