Wednesday, 21 May 2014

From France to the Channel Islands then Melbourne and France again

7016 Private Joseph Georgelin, 14th Infantry Battalion, 23rd Reinforcements

Joseph Georgelin was a 25 year old gardener working at Montague Dare’s property ‘Moreland Park’ when he enlisted at Broadmeadows on 20 October 1916. By this time, he had already made several journeys in his life.

View of Elizabeth Castle, St Helier, Jersey, before the alterations made during the German military occupation during World War Two.

Joseph Georgelin was born at Ploeux on France’s Côte du Nord on 20 May 1891 but by the time of the 1911 Census when he was 10 he was living on Jersey in the Channel Islands with his father Joseph, a farmer, mother Rosalie and younger siblings Jean, Honoré and Marie. He served his gardening apprenticeship with Philippe Corna on Jersey and arrived in Melbourne on 4 February 1913 aged 22. After three years working for the Weatherley family at the historic 'Billilla' mansion in Halifax Street, Brighton, he moved to Moreland and it was from there the left for the war.

'Billilla' Homestead, 26 Halifax Street, Brighton. 

You might be interested in this 1918 film from the National Film and Sound Archive showing the damage when a wild storm swept through Brighton and St Kilda. It includes footage of 'Billilla', where Joseph Georgelin had worked prior to his enlistment.

On his return from the war, Joseph Georgelin settled in the Moreland area, working firstly as a gardener and then as a florist.  He married Mary Humberstone and they lived in the area for the rest of his life. He enlisted again in World War Two, as did his son Leslie. His son Desmond continued the family trade of florist and also remained in the Moreland area. Joseph Georgelin died in 1970 aged 78. His wife died in 1976 aged 73.

Estate poster for Montague Dare’s Moreland Park Estate.
Image courtesy State Library of Victoria. 

On his return from the war, Georgelin gave his employer as Mrs Macgregor of ‘Moreland Park’. Mrs May Macgregor was the only daughter of Montague Dare, property developer, who died in November 1919. May Dare had travelled to London during the war, an unusual journey, given the wartime circumstances. She had done so to marry Essendon man Captain William Macgregor, a veterinary surgeon who was serving with the Veterinary Corps. When the couple returned to Australia in February 1919, they lived with Montague Dare until his death and remained on the property for some time with Georgelin as their gardener.

Colonel Charles Moreland Dare (left) and Lieutenant Harold Robert Harris (right) aboard the HMAT Ulysses.
Image courtesy AWM. Image A01222.

May McGregor’s only sibling, Captain (later Colonel) Charles Moreland Montague Dare, also lived at Moreland Park in this time period. Charles Dare served with distinction in the 14th Infantry Battalion and is listed on the Town of Coburg Honour Board at Coburg Town Hall as is Joseph Georgelin.

Thousands of miles away, Joseph Georgelin’s family continued to live on Jersey. His father died in 1929 but his mother and siblings lived through the German occupation of Jersey during World War Two when as non-British residents they had to register as aliens. Interestingly, Joseph Georgelin did not become a naturalised Australian until 1921, years after he had served as an Australian in World War One and two years after he had first voted in an Australian election.

(Sources include soldiers’ attestation papers, births, deaths and marriages via Ancestry, electoral rolls, resources of the Australian War Memorial, naturalisation papers, newspaper articles)


  1. I am perfectly baffled by the number of women who sailed off to England during the war, so be near their soldier husbands or sons, or work for the Re Cross. But not only did they get on passenger vessels to take what you would think would be a dangerous trip, the shipping lines advertised the departure times and ports, just to make sure any stray submarine captain could read about it in the Melbourne or Sydney papers. When so many military vessels were torpedoed or mined, did no-one think of the risk in going abroad?

    I've tagged a number of women who travelled to England on my website. One is mentioned here:

  2. It seems pretty strange to me, too. I wonder why there was no official bar to travel.