Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Battle to Farm: WW1 Soldier Settlement records in Victoria

(From The Empire Called blog)

This fantastic online resource has just been released by the Public Record Office of Victoria and you can search it here.

I've already located a number of Coburg men who took up soldier settlement blocks, including Cyril Westhorpe.

1655 Private Walter Cyril Roy (Cyril) Westhorpe, 8th Light Horse Regiment and his brother 18755 Private William Wilson (Wilson) Westhorpe, 5th Field Ambulance, were the sons of Walter and Emma Westhorpe of ‘Myrtleford’, 14 Dean Street, Coburg. They were both old boys of Coburg State School and are featured in Coburg Historical Society’s ANZAC Centenary project, ‘A hundred men, a hundred heroes: the old boys of Coburg State School go to war’. 

Image courtesy AWM. Image ID P04700.003. c 1916. Studio portrait of standing, 1654 Signaller (Sig) George Leslie Newstead, and seated, 1655 Sig Cyril Westhorpe. Sig Newstead and Sig Westhorpe both attended Signal School between October and November 1915, before embarking, as Privates (Pte), with the 8th Light Horse Regiment, 11th Reinforcements, on 13 November 1915 aboard HMAT Clan McCorquodale (A6). Both survived the war, with Pte Westhorpe returning to Australia in 1916 and Pte Newstead in 1919.

Cyril Westhorpe arrived in Egypt in December 1915 but within a few months was admitted to hospital with influenza and by April 1916 had been declared medically unfit and was returned to Australia in June suffering from phthisis, a disease of the lungs. On his return, he was placed on a pension and soon took up life as a farmer on a Soldiers’ Settlement block at Balliang East, just 45 kilometres west of Melbourne in the Shire of Moorabool. You can read the records relating to this here

He married Grace Whiteoak in 1919 and it seems he took up residence at Balliang East in the early 1920s. He called his property ‘Sunnyside’ and farmed there until 1937, when he moved back to Melbourne. He moved around a bit and last appeared on the electoral rolls in Box Hill in 1968. He died in Brisbane the following year aged 75 and is buried at Fawkner Cemetery with his wife Alice, who died in 1958.


  1. Thanks for such an informative post, William Wilson Westhorpe is my partner's G.G. Grandfather, so it's been great finding out more about the past family members, including Cyril Westhorpe. We visited Cyril's grave today but were disappointed to find there were no mentions on him on the headstone or gravesite at all, only of his wife, Alice, so I'll now be trying to amend that to continue his legacy. Thanks!!

  2. Thanks for taking time to respond to this post on the Westhorpe brothers. Not sure if you're aware that I wrote a book called 'The Old Boys of Coburg State School go to War' for Coburg Historical Society which was launched last November and features 100 old boys of the school, including the Westhorpe brothers. If you're interested in getting a copy, details are available on the Coburg Historical Society website.