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A crisp morning welcomed the huge crowd of over 300, who braved the elements to attend our 2018 ANZAC Day Dawn Service. In the six years since the local War Memorial was built, the crowds have been getting larger and larger. This was the best ever with the early morning mist, the crowing of the local roosters and the cackle of the kookaburras, that performed during the one minutes silence, set the atmosphere for the morning.

Everyone comments about the warm, friendly feeling that emits from these services. A big welcome was made to the 24 descendants of our local hero of World War 1, John Rush Padgett. They came from far afield as Australind in the south to Hocking in the north. The story behind John Padgett's heroric feats were highlighted in the address and speech given by Mr. Bill Gaynor.







The Welcome Introduction was presented by Stephen Lamont who gave a very polished performance throughout the whole service. Well done.

The prayer and reading was given by Father Anthony Suresh, the Kalamunda Catholic Padre. He spoke very sincerely and with a lot of feeling and meaning.

We were entertained by the 20 voices of the Pickering Brook Primary School Choir who did a fantastic job. The result of much practise with their music teacher, Kate Touhey. Their attendance at this service during their school holidays is really appreciated.













Good morning everyone and thank you again for inviting me to share with you your 2018 ANZAC Day Service. This year marks the 103rd Anniversary of the Gallipoli Landing by troops of the Australian and New Zealand Army.

That event has become a special event in our History, and one, which we hope will remind future generations of how we became a unified nation with the key virtues of freedom and democracy as our cornerstones.

In the past we have revisited the Landing of Gallipoli where our troops suffered horrendous loss of life and also the battles of the Western Front in Europe where Australian troops distinguished themselves in mud filled trenches.

This year, 2018 marks the end of that most horrific war of our modern times. At this time, we remember and commemorate the most significant events in Australian Military History - and give special acknowledgement to those who paid the supreme sacrifice and passed on to us, and future generations, that legendry 'Spirit of ANZAC".


As we think about ANZAC Day it must be remembered that we do not celebrate war but rather it is a day for us to remember the sacrifices that over 110,000 Australian men and women have made over the past century.

The focus of ANZAC Day must never be permitted to become anything else but an acknowledgement of the sacrifices of those who served their country and upheld the values of freedom and democracy that are pillars of our modern society.

Our soldiers who risked their lives, and continue to do so, were, and still are, just ordinary people; wars were not their making.

They deserved to be remembered.

We have heard of many stories of our soldiers on the battlefield. Today I want to tell you of a little known local hero who became a highly decorated soldier of the First World War.


John Rush Padgett, was born on the 3rd November 1881, in Bradford, Yorkshire, England. He married Annie Greenwood Siley who was born on 26th February and was also from Bradford, Yorkshire, England. They lived in Bateson Street, Greengate, Bradford where John was a stonemason but they ran a fish shop business. They had three children, Charles born 24th August 1903, and twins, Edwin and Nellie born 10th August 1906.

In 1910 John decided to migrate to Australia, as the low fares and inducements were hard to resist, with a young family to support and not much future, he made the journey on his own.

A year passed before his young wife and their children emigrated to join John in Australia.

John had a job at Boya Quarry and to be in walking distance they rented a small house in Senkin Street, Bellevue and later a house in Hankin Street, also in Bellevue. The children went to the Clayton Farm School and all attended the Bellevue Church. A new addition to the family happened on 21st April, 1914, when Fraser was born.

John enlisted with the AIF at the age of 34, on the 12th January 1916. He was known as 546 Lance Corporal, later Lance Sergeant John R. Padgett "C" Company 44th Battalion 11th Brigade. His unit embarked from Fremantle on 6th June 1916 and disembarked at Plymouth, England on 21st July 1916. Then after training proceeded overseas to France on 25th November 1916.

Unfortunately he was wounded with shrapnel in the right arm on 4th October 1917 and admitted to No. 64 Field Ambulance the same day and later he was transferred to No. 20 General Hospital, on 7th October 1917. He was then again transferred to Suffolk Hospital, before being finally discharged on 14th November 1917.

He was then sent to France again on 17th January 1918 where he re-joined the 44th Battalion .

In September of that year, one of the bloodiest, and most decisive days of World War 1 occurred and included one of John Padgett’s finest hours.

The Australians and the Americans were involved in a joint attack to break the backbone of the very fortified tremendous system of German trenches known as the Hindenburg Line.



Miles of well-established trenches and tunnels protected by massive areas of coiled barb wire barriers that covered acres and acres became the last and strongest of the German defences.

The attack was spearheaded by the battle-hardened Australians from the 3rd and 5th divisions and the less experienced U.S. troops from the 27th and 30th divisions.

Under Australian General Sir John Monash, they laid siege to German defences near the St. Quentin Canal, at times fighting side by side in the chaos. Hundreds of Australians died that day but men of the calibre of John Padgett made sure they won the battle. 

Sergeant John Padgett, was in command of a section, which he led a successful attack on an enemy trench under heavy fire. Showing strategic prowess, leadership and outright heroism, they then bombed and bayoneted their way along the Hindenburg Line, clearing it of its German garrison.

This action took place fighting alongside the American 2nd Division. During the operation when enemy hand grenades fell amongst his section he picked them up and threw them back towards the enemy. This showed courage of a very high order. He later went into the open, exposing himself to heavy enemy fire, to rescue an American soldier. Under machine gun and rifle fire he brought him back into the comparative safety of their trench. By the time the 44th was relieved on October 3rd, only 80 of its original 600 men were left.

He later received a letter from Sir Winston Churchill on behalf of King George V, thanking him for his “gallant and distinguished services”. The war ended with John Padgett as a Lance Sergeant recognised for his courage after fighting in key battles on the Western Front at Messines, Hamel and the Hindenburg Line.

After the Armistice he returned to Perth carrying the scars of war. Having been gassed and carrying shrapnel wounds he was not a well man.





To rehabilitate returned soldiers, land was opened up in the Carilla district and surrounds. John applied and in 1920 was given the first block in Repatriation Road but it was unsuitable for fruit trees so another block onn Patterson Road was selected. The Repatriation Department granted loans and Inspectors were hired to assess the amount of work done on the allotments.

After living in a shed for months a loan of two hundred and fifty pounds ($500) was negotiated from the Agricultural Bank. A soldiers settlers house was erected. The usual four rooms, front and back verandahs, the latter closed in at one end as a bathroom, and a laundry with a cement trough was usually in the back yard - as was the toilet.

There were no bulldozers and clearing the forest was very hard work.
Trees were cut and sawn then burnt or a tree puller could be hired at a price, Farm machinery such as a plough was necessary but a horse and cart a priority being the only form of transport. Mrs. Hewison's Store and the Railway Station at Pickering Brook, were five miles away to the west over gravel roads winding through the bush.

The children took jobs to keep the orchard and family together. Charles as a surveyor in the country and eventually as a Policeman. Nellie as a housemaid at Wagin and Eddie as a warden at Barton's Mill Prison. Fraser helped his father in the clearing of some of the forest.

An orchard takes five years to come to fruition, so to survive John also took work as a linesman with the P.M.G. but this was mostly in the country
and living in a tent wasn't the best for his health.
During their time on this property they built a tennis court. It was very popular with the locals as there were only two in the area.

Returning to John' war service, in October 1920 the following letter was forwarded by D. H. Gillette, Captain of Engineers, assistant Military Attache at the American Embassy, London, to Captain G. S. Stevenson, War Office, London -

“Enclosed herewith are Distinguished Service Crosses for transmission to the following British Officers and men together with citation –

“No.546, Sergeant John Rush Padgett, 44th Battalion, AIF”.
It is requested that you arrange for delivery of these decorations to the proper person, and when all receipts have been accomplished that you return them to this office. These are being sent to you in this manner, as it would probably be quite impossible to get all of these officers and men together for a ceremony of any kind. We would also request that in delivering same your office make mention of the deep appreciation of the American Government of the wonderful services to humanity tendered by these officers and men during the war.”



The award was simply posted to the Piesse Brook hero, Sergeant Padgett. It was the second-highest American bravery award, the American Distinguished Service Cross, awarded to him by the American Government for “extraordinary heroism”. This is the second highest American award presentable. The decoration is the equivalent of the British V.C., and is inscribed with the latter’s inspiring words, “FOR VALOR”. It consists of a bronze cross surmounted by the American Eagle, and suspended from a ribbon of red, white and blue. The incident for which the decoration was awarded occurred in the Hindenburg Line on September 29th, 1918.

Arrangements were made at a meeting of soldiers settlers of Upper Darling Range at Pickering Brook for a public ceremony, at which his Excellency the Governor, Sir Francis Newdegate would make the presentation to Sergeant Padgett. It was decided to hold a picnic and sports day at Kalamunda Showground for this purpose on Saturday 22nd October 1921. All returned soldiers were urged to attend and it was anticipated that the 44th Battalion, of which Sergeant Padgett was a member, will supply the guard of honor and the band for the day.

The Padgett family farmed orchards for many years in Pickering Brook with properties on Patterson Road and Kingsmill Road.

John's health deteriorated and he was admitted to the Edward Millen Sanatorium in Queen's Park.





In 1938 an official visit to the Edward Millen Sanatorium at Queen's Park was paid by the American Consul in Western Australia, Mr. Charles Perry, who had expressed a desire to meet an Australian ex-soldier who held the American Distinguished Service Cross - Lance Sergeant J. R. Padgett of Pickering Brook, who served with the 44th Battalion, A.I.F.

Mr. Derry was taken to the sanatorium where Mr. Padgett, who is a patient at the sanatorium, was presented to Mr. Perry, who asked him about his service in the Great War and congratulated him on having been honoured by the United States Government.
Mr. Padgett said that his battalion and the American troops had become mixed up in the Battle of the Hindenburg Line on September 29, 1918. He had answered a call for volunteers from an American officer who desired to help to rescue some American soldiers in difficulties. As the rescue party approached the dugout, led by the officer, the American was shot, and Mr. Padgett was left in the lead. Mr. Padgett ended his narrative by saying that he remembered no more.

John Rush Padgett died aged 57 on 28th August 1939. He was a prominent member of the Perth sub-branch of the R.S.L. He left a widow and an adult family to mourn their loss.

The funeral took place in the Methodist portion of the Karrakatta Cemetery on Tuesday, August 29th. There was a large and representative attendance of friends from Pickering Brook, and comrades of the A.I.F.

Annie decided to sell her Carilla home and after a short period bought and moved to North Perth. She passed away on the 4th April 1948 aged 67 after a good and meaningful life. She lies beside John in the Karrakatta Cemetery.

This English "Pommie" family have been an asset to Australia and their many descendants are indeed proud of them.

At your service today, remember all the ANZAC's,
Remember their courage, determination and spirit.
Above all, to the young generation of Australians, this world is being passed on to your hands.
Use it well and remember, that without the sacrifices of the ANZAC's of the past, you may not have today a world such as you know it, in which you live.
















Left - Right: SAMANTHA ROBINSON, EMMA ROBINSON ((Samantha's Daughter Head Turned),
 MEGAN THORNTON-SMITH, MIA ROBINSON (Samantha's Daughter), LYNDA THORNTON-SMITH, JODEE GERARD (nee Padgett, Murray's Daughter),



Left - Right: HUGH GERARD (Geraladine's Husband), BRETT ROBINSON (Samantha's Husband) , MEGAN THORNTON-SMITH (Barbara's Youngest Daughter),
 RYAN MARRON (Megan's Husband in Wheelchair), SMANTHA ROBINSON (Lynda's Daughter), MIA ROBINSON (Samantha's Daughter),
 LARRY WILLIAMS (Lynda's Husband),  EMMA ROBINSON  (Samantha's Daughter head turned), 
 LYNDA WILLIAMS (nee Thornton-Smith Barbara's Eldest Daughter), JODEE GERARD (nee Padgett, Murray's Daughter with Framed Medals),
 LORRAINE PADGETT (Edwin's Daughter-in-law), BRYCE RERDEN (Kelli's Son),  KELLI RERDEN (nee Padgett),
  MADELEINE RERDEN (Kelli's Daughter), DAVID RERDEN (Kelli's Husband), TANIA PIERCY (Edwin's Grandaughter),






References:     Article:           Pickering Brook Heritage Group

                      Images:        1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22            Gordon Freegard


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