Courtesy of Debbie Ellett Hajduk

Driver Harry Lipscombe Worship

Pakenham & District War Memorial & Pakenham South War Memorial

Born: 12 September 1867  - Sevenoaks, Kent England        

Enlisted: 16 September 1914 aged 47 years

Unit: 1st Division Ammunition Column (SERN:2743)    

Served: Egypt, Gallipoli & Western Front   

Died: 6 April 1940 - Box Hill, Victoria

 

Harry Worship was born at Sevenoaks, Kent England in 1868. He was the son of John Lucas Worship, a doctor and surgeon at Riverhead, Sevenoaks and his wife Clara Lipscombe. Harry grew up at “Manor House” a large Georgian house at “Worship’s Hill”, Riverhead (1). According to the 1871 Census, the Worships had a household staff including a governess, footman and housemaid (1a). From 1880 to 1883, Harry was a boarder at Marlborough College, a school originally founded to educate the children of Church of England clergymen (2). Indeed, Harry’s paternal grandfather had been a vicar in Norfolk, while his older brother William became an Oxford educated  clergyman (3). Marlborough College was regarded as “a school which provided a reliable stream of able young men to the professions, the armed forces, the Church and all walks of public life, both in the UK and abroad” (4). Marlborough’s alumni over the years have included Lord Hallam Tennyson (Australia’s second Governor General); Field Marshal Sir Henry Wilson; poet Siegfried Sassoon; actor James Mason; adventurer Sir Francis Chichester; Soviet spy Sir Anthony Blunt and (since the college admitted female students) HRH Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge (5). In Harry’s particular year cohort (1880) were General Sir Cameron Shute (one of Britain’s WWI generals) and Sir Percival Horton-Smith-Hartley MC, a distinguished physician and medical researcher who won the Military Cross during WWI (5a). After slow progress, Harry left Marlborough in March 1883 having not completed his education (5b). He subsequently served an apprenticeship at Ripley House and Co Tea Merchants and also served for four years with the English Naval Reserve (6). Harry left England in 1891 for Ceylon (7), where he presumably worked in the tea industry. He also served with the artillery (perhaps in a militia unit?) in Ceylon for four years (8), and was a member of the Masonic Lodge in Colombo (9). Harry arrived in Melbourne on 18 August 1898, being described on the ship’s passenger list as a “gentleman” (10). 

 

Harry subsequently became one of the pioneers of Pakenham South, acquiring land on McDonald’s Drain’s Road following the draining of the Koo Wee Rup Swamp (11). On his property “Good Hope”, Harry went in for mixed farming including livestock and poultry raising, dairying and potato growing. In 1914, Harry reported a yield of 3.5 tons of potatoes per acre (12). At one stage, Harry was in partnership with Gar Stevens growing potatoes: in 1914, their paddocks were described as “beautifully cultivated” with plants that were “healthy and vigorous” (13). Harry was also the local agent for Massey & Harris farm equipment. At one stage, he operated a general agency business in Pakenham with Bob Slessar. Interestingly, Harry is recorded as having a motorcycle (13a). One wonders what it would have been like riding it along the unsealed roads between Pakenham South and Pakenham East! Harry was very active in district affairs, including the Pakenham South State School Committee (14); Pakenham Show Committee (15); Pakenham Fruit and Horticultural Society [life member] (16); Pakenham Mechanics‘ Institute Committee (17); Pakenham Football Club [patron] (18) and three years‘ service with the 5th Squadron, 10th Australian Light Horse militia unit (19). In 1913 Harry was petitioned by leading citizens (including William Close, James Chisholm, Frederick Copeland, William McDonald and John MacGregor) to stand for a vacancy on Berwick Shire Council, although he ultimately decided not to (20). Long-time Pakenham South resident Barry Ellett remembers his father describing Harry as “a friend to everyone” (20a).

On September 16 1914, Harry enlisted for service with the AIF, just six weeks after the outbreak of WWI. This made him one of the first from the Pakenham District to volunteer. To do so, Harry had to put back his age, declaring himself to be 43 years and 11 months old, just one month shy of the maximum enlistment age (21). Given his age, Harry’s enlistment took the district by surprise: “Quite a surprise was sprung on our town when it was made known that Mr Harry Worship had gone into camp with the First Expeditionary Force. He is filling a position in the artillery ammunition division, and is just the one to serve it out quickly and lively. Good luck to old Harry, and may be come back with a V.C” (22). Interestingly, his former school Marlborough has produced no fewer than 13 Victoria Cross winners over the years (23). Harry’s sense patriotism is captured in a letter he wrote during the War thanking some students for a parcel of clothes: “When we get letters and gifts like you sent, it makes us feel more and more united in keeping the Union Jack flying through the Empire’ (24). Harry’s patriotism though, did not always translate into strict obedience to military authority during his service! He was assigned to the 1st Division Ammunition Column, which was largely made up of men from Melbourne and Gippsland (25). Initially, Harry served in Egypt and then at the Dardanelles (26). In early 1916, he was transferred to the Western Front. Despite the confusion and chaos of war, from time to time Harry was able to meet up with other soldiers from Pakenham South. He ran into Bert Ellett in both Egypt and London (27) and Arch and Andy Blackwood in France (28). In February 1917, Harry was hospitalised with rheumatic fever. news of which was reported back in Pakenham: “Very many in the district will be sorry to hear that Mr Harry Worship has been ill and in hospital (29). Towards the end of 1917, Harry was repatriated back to Australia, where he was discharged on the grounds of being “over age” (30). He had served a total of 1,182 days with the AIF (31). 

 

In November 1917, Harry was “warmly welcomed [home] by his many friends” (32). He was later given a hero’s welcome at a “bright and enthusiastic” social held at the Pakenham South State School. At the event, which was described as one of the most successful socials ever staged at Pakenham South, his friend William Close JP said the whole district was proud of those like Harry who had fought for the Empire. Harry was presented with a “gold Albert’ (watch chain) as a token of the district’s esteem. In his words of thanks, Harry spoke of the duty young men had to “reinforce those at the front who had been putting up such a noble fight” (33). He also spoke of the good work being done by the Red Cross, a theme he took up the following year when speaking at the annual meeting of the Pakenham Red Cross. (34). Harry later rode in the procession held in Pakenham to mark the signing of the Armistice in November 1918. The following year, he was elected vice-president of the new Pakenham sub-branch of the RSSILA (35). Unfortunately while Harry had been away, “Good Hope” had run down and was operating at a “dead loss”. Factors included heavy flooding over a couple of winters; a shortage of experienced farm labour due to recruitment; and the limited capacity of Harry’s power of attorney, James Ahern, to dedicate time to the property because of his duties with Berwick Shire Council (36). Nonetheless, Harry, who was described by William Close as a “reliable energetic man ... [who] is a good farmer” and by James Ahern as a “man who will succeed” (37), set to work trying to bring his property back up to scratch. He employed two men at 25 shilling per week each plus keep. Harry also sought £150 in assistance from the Repatriation Department for manure, seed potatoes and dairy cows, but railed against bureaucratic delays in having the required assistance granted (38). Meanwhile, he had married Emily Bunker of Pakenham. Tragically, Emily passed away in August 1924 aged just 42. She contracted influenza, which developed into pneumonia and other complications. Emily died as she was being being driven by car to the Pakenham Railway station to be taken to hospital (39). 

 

By 1931, Australia was in the grip of the Great Depression. Harry was heavily in debt and described as being “right up against it” because of bad seasons and low prices for produce (40). He sought assistance from the Closer Settlement Board (CSB) to “grow” his way out of his predicament, proposing to plant 50 acres of potatoes, 20-30 acres of maize, 20 acres of oats 10 acres of wheat and 20 acres of barley. Although Harry was regarded as a “good farmer”, the CSB declined to provide further assistance as he was in arrears to them as well (41). One of his creditors called in their loan, and in September 1932, Harry’s homestead block (Allotment 47, Section 1 Parish of Koo Wee Rup) was put up for sale by instructions of the mortgagee. The property was described as 101 acres of dairy, potato and maize land, subdivided into ten paddocks. There was a “splendid road” from the railway station to the property, with the Pakenham South State school, post office and store all within a few minutes’ walk. The actual homestead was described as a “well constructed weatherboard villa containing 5 rooms and every convenience”. Outbuildings included a “man’s room”, a dairy, large barn, machinery shed and milking shed. The property was also connected to the telephone exchange (42). Going under the hammer too, were Harry’s farm machinery and implements, his livestock (including four draught horses, one cow and 100 head of poultry), together with his furniture and household effects. Amongst the latter were a blackwood sideboard, an antique oak chest drawers, a “Fowlers’ bottling outfit”, cutlery and a “large number of good books” (43). The Pakenham South community rallied around Harry and gathered to send him off with some dignity. “Practically every family gathered” at the social organised to farewell him. Pioneering “old timers” such as the Wadsleys and Peter Fogarty and more recent soldier-settlers like Jim Leadoux spoke of Harry’s “sterling qualities and the generous help he afforded all”. James Ahern in particular, spoke of Harry’s “splendid sacrifice he made by leaving his farm and a flourishing business in Pakenham to enlist in the early days of the war”. The residents presented Harry with a case of “silver mounted pipes” and a wallet and “extended to Mr Worship best wishes for his future happiness and prosperity” (44). It seems Harry remained in the district for a time: Bill Studd could remember Harry working for the Toomuc Valley Orchard (TVO), for which he used to take a horse and cart into Pakenham daily to collect the groceries and mail (45). Harry later moved to Melbourne. He passed away at Box Hill on 10 April 1940. Tragically, he did so with no family and little in the way of assets: he had just £5.11.10 in the bank. Indeed, a friend had to apply for assistance to bury him in Springvale Cemetery (46), where he lies in an unmarked grave. The Pakenham RSL was represented at the funeral by Jack Ellett and Arch Blackwood, who were fellow Pakenham South diggers. The final tribute to Harry was paid by the Pakenham Gazette which, in its obituary described Harry as “well known over a wide area and held in high esteem” (47). 

The assistance of David Killingray of the Sevenoaks Historical Society; Grainne Lenehan, College Archivist, Marlborough College; Barry Ellett and Michael Houlihan is gratefully acknowledged. 

Sources:

(1) Information provided by the Sevenoaks Historical Society  

(1a) Ancestry.com.au - 1871 English Census (database online)    

(2) Information provided by Marlborough College Archives                     

(3) Information sourced from Ancestry.com.au           

(4) Marlborough College website: www.marlborough.org                        

(5) & (23) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Old_Marlburians                         

(6) (8) (16) (19) (21) (23) & (30) NAA B2455 WORSHIP H 

(7) Ancestry.com.au - UK Outward Passenger lists 1890 - 1960             

(9) Ancestry.com.au - Ireland, Grand Lodge of Freemasons of Ireland Membership Registers, 1733-1923    

(32) PG 2/11/1917 p. 2

(10) Ancestry.com.au - Victoria Unassisted Inward Overseas Passenger Lists (British Ports)  

(11)  PG 12/4/1940 p. 3                                                                              

(12) Weekly Times 11/4/1914, p. 48.

(13) Australasian 14/3/1914, p. 7

(14) SBMJ 30/4/1914 p. 2

(15) DA 4/4/1912 p. 3 & WT 6/4/1912 p. 53     

(17) SBMJ 9/1/1913 p. 5

(18) SBMJ 6/4/1911 p. 2

(20) SBMJ 10/7/1913, p. 2

(20a) Information provided by Barry Ellett

(22) SBMJ 24/9/1914 p. 2

(24) & (25) DA 10/6/1915, p. 2

(26) DA 1/7/1915, p.2  

(27) DA 22/7/1915 p. 15; also see R. Ellett’s war diary 16/5/1915, 22/6/1915 & 7/10/19 

(28) Letter from Arch Blackwood dated 24 Dec [1916]

(29) DA 12/4/1917, p. 2

(31) (36) (37) (38) & (46) NAA B73 R15344    

(33) PG 23/11/1917 p. 3   

(34) PG 6/12/1918

(35) SBMJ 24/4/1919 p. 2

(39) Argus 18/8/1924 p.1; PG 22/8/1924 p. 3

(40) & (41) NAA B741 V/8924 

(43) DJ 18/8/1932 p.4  & 1/9/1932 p. 5

(44) PG 16/9/1932 p. 3

(45) Waterhouse 2014, p.41

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