The 1914-1918 conflict which became known as The great War, or World War One greatly impacted on Australian life. During the course of the war, over 300,000 Australian men and 2,396 Australian nurses volunteered to serve in the Armed Forces with 61,720 destined never to return. The massive casualty rates and dwindling number of volunteers raised the issue of conscription. Referendums held in 1916 and 1917 on the conscription issue were defeated, and created deep schisms in Australian society.
The Penrith district, encompassing the suburbs and towns in the current local government area, felt the impact of war as casualty figures mounted. Initially, the Nepean Times rode the wave of enthusiastic support with stirring words for a naïve audience. When war was declared, its editorial read:
It will no doubt be a bitter and terrific conflict – this Armageddon of the Teuton against the Briton, the Frank and the Slav … Australia’s battle cry will be On! On for true liberty, for democratic progress, for the sacred rights of hearth and home, for the glorious restoration of the arts of Peace, as the ultimates under God’s Divine Will of this great Titanic struggle.
The call for volunteers began in earnest and local dentist, William Henry Algernon
Pye wrote in the Nepean Times on 12 September 1914 calling for ‘our able-bodied young
men’ to come forward. Alfred Colless, editor of the Nepean Times, published letters from soldiers and nurses serving overseas and obituaries for many of the soldiers. In the early years of the war, the Nepean Times regularly included lists of local boys who had enlisted, the wounded and the dead. By July 1917, when the casualties were mounting at an increasing rate, the lists disappeared.
Sixteen nurses from the Penrith district also served overseas in the various theatres of war including Rabaul, Egypt, England the Western Front and Salonika.
These pages are a recognition of the sacrifices undertaken by the men and women of the Penrith district during times of war.
Penrith District Roll of Honor 1914-1919 The Penrith District Honor Rolls lists soldiers born in Penrith or resident in Penrith at the time of enlistment, who were killed during the war. The list includes two soldiers serving with Allied forces: one soldier served with the New Zealand Expeditionary Force and was killed at Gallipoli, the other soldier served with the Royal Welch Fusiliers and was killed on the Western Front.
War Memorials The War Memorials section contains details of the main war memorials and Rolls of Honor located in the Penrith Local Government Area.
- Our Fallen To commemorate 100 years since Australia’s involvement in the First World War, a series of booklets listing the men of the Penrith Local Government Area who fell during the conflict is being compiled.
WW1 Nurses This section is dedicated to the 16 Nurses from the Penrith District who served overseas with the Australian Army during World War 1 including information on the Australian Hospital Ship Grantala.
Poem Written by E M Little Second Lieutenant Edwin Maurice Little enlisted on 21 October 1914 with the 15th Battalion and returned to Australia on 20 October 1916 due to blindness.
War Trophies This sections contains information on the war trophies allocated to the various towns and communities in the Penrith Local Government Area.
Mont St Quentin Contains details of the Battle of Mont St Quentin in 1918.
- The Gilgandra to Sydney Coo-ee March, 10 October to 12 November 1915 – re-enactment in 2015
- The Nepean Times during World War One and how they kept their community informed about the events of the war, friends and relatives.
- Patterson ww1 document found in Penrith City Library’s Special Collections. This document is a pass granted to Maurice Patterson, a Sapper in the 12th Field Company Australian Engineers to travel on 12 February 1919 from Hastiere to Namur, two towns in war-torn Belgium. How on earth did this small piece of paper survive 97 years with maybe 30-odd of these years in obscurity in Local Studies at Penrith City Library? Why did Patterson keep it, considering it had served its purpose at 9pm on 12 February 1919? Who gave us the document and what’s the connection, if any, with Penrith?