• The Peake Family go to war

Edwin James PEAKE was born in 1862 at Fenton, Stoke on Trent in Staffordshire – the eldest son of Edwin PEAKE and Martha BARRETT. His father Edwin (snr) was a Master Plumber and Painter, who in 1881 employed 8 men and 9 boys. Edwin James had apprenticed to his father for 7 years as a Plumber and Gasfitter, and also spent a year in the Prince of Wales Own Volunteers before leaving England for Australia in 1884. His younger brother William Ashley followed him to Australia. In 1892 in Paddington, NSW, Edwin married Isabel May GALVIN. Their first son Harry was born in 1894 in Hurstville, followed by Edwin Ashley (known as Ashley) in 1895, and Eric Conroy in Paddington in 1898. When war broke out Ashley (2214) was the first of the family to join up in May 1915. He sailed for Egypt the following month on the Karoola, and arrived at Gallipoli on the 4th August with reinforcements for the 4th Battalion. A few days later he became one of the many casualties of Lone Pine, and with no known grave, is commemorated on the Lone Pine Memorial. Following the loss of his son, the 53 year old Edwin (4207) put back his age by 10 years and enlisted on the 2nd October 1915. He sailed to Egypt with the 10th Reinforcements of the 19th Battalion, embarking at Sydney in March 1916 on the Orsova. Edwin joined his comrades in France in the May, but by the 19th of September was in England, suffering debility due to age. He then saw out the rest of the war there, with stints in the Anzac Provost Corps and the Motor Transport Service. Harry was the next to enter service, as an Honorary Captain in the Y.M.C.A. He sailed from Sydney 7/9/1916 on the Euripides, and served in Egypt and France. When Edwin had made the decision to enlist, he had probably entertained the thought that he may never see his wife again; however it’s more likely he’d have been thinking of his own death rather than hers. Isabel passed away at Kogarah on the 21st February 1917, and a few months later the last of her boys Eric Conroy enlisted. Edwin then changed the details of his NOK to his brother William. Eric (18653), having stated that his mother was deceased and his father on active service, also listed his Uncle William as his NOK, and embarked in November 1917 on the Demosthenes. He proceeded overseas to France on 13/1/18 and joined his unit the 8th Field Ambulance on the 19th February. Surviving the war, Eric returned to Australia on the Anchises 23rd August 1919, on duty as a member of the nursing staff and disembarked in Sydney on the 13th of October. Harry had embarked 2 months beforehand on the 23rd June 1919 and returned on the Orita, which arrived in Sydney on the 9th of August. He had then been discharged on the day Eric set sail. While waiting in England for a ship to return him home, their father, the now 57 year old Edwin married 42 year old spinster, Melinda Ann MAYNE. The marriage took place in the Parish Church at Melcombe Regis in Dorset on the 25th September 1919, and on the 1st of November Edwin set sail for home, arriving on the 15th of December. Two months after his homecoming, on the 3rd anniversary of his first wife’s death, Edwin placed an advert in the newspaper ‘in sad and loving memory of his dear wife, and mother of Harry and Eric’. His new wife may not have followed him to Australia, or if she did, she eventually returned to England where she died in Dorset in 1962. In the August of 1920 Edwin and his sons placed a similar advert in memory of Edwin Ashley. It was also in 1920 that Harry married Gladys Hannah JOHNSON at Kogarah. A son Ashley Graeme was born in the October of that year in Sydney, and two years later they had a daughter Lorna Graeme born in Goulburn, but by 1941 the family was living at Sans Souci. Ashley and Lorna both served during WW2. Harry and Gladys were living at Lindfield in 1968 when Harry died in nearby Hornsby on the 22nd of February. Gladys was still at Lindfield when she died on the 9th January 1979, age 84. Eric married Zelmira Enid GENINAZZI in 1921 at St Leonards, NSW. Zelmira died at Chatswood on the 25th February 1972, and Eric also died at Chatswood on the 24th October 1983, at the age of 85. They also had a son who served in WW2 – Ralph Conroy, born 12th October 1922 at Willoughby, NSW, was with the RAAF 1941-45. Edwin James had died on the 12th June 1950 at the Repatriation General Hospital, Concord, NSW, at the age of 88. He was cremated at Rookwood 2 days later. (There was no mention of his 2nd wife Melinda in his death notice) The Peake family had served their country well. Heather ‘Frev’ Ford, 2011
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