• George Rose

Army / Flying Corps

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  • 1914–1915 Star
  • British War Medal
  • Victory Medal
  • Enlistment - WW1

    Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

  • Birth

    Purnim, VIC, Australia

  • Embarked SS "Carpentaria"

    Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
    Thursday, 7 November 1918

  • Discharged, demobilisation of AIF

    Tuesday, 24 December 1918

Stories and comments
    • George Edward Gorman Rose
    • Posted by VICGOVAboriginalWW1, Tuesday, 17 May 2016

    SUMMARY George Edward Gorman Rose was a Gundjitmara man from the Victorian Western District. He was eager to serve his country in the First World War and, after an initial rejection for being too young, served briefly in the Australian Imperial Force before demobilization. George volunteered again in the Second World War but was rejected as unfit for service. George was a hard worker and a good athlete; his persistent efforts to join in the military reflected his determined approach to whatever he undertook in life. EARLY LIFE George was born on 9 July 1899 to Amelia Rose (nee Egan) and John Henry Gorman Rose. He was born in the Grampians and then grew up on the Framlingham Aboriginal Station in the Western District of Victoria. Later the family moved to the Lake Condah Aboriginal Mission, where his mother had grown up, not far from the Framlingham Station. In this period, many Aboriginal families moved back and forth between Lake Condah and Framlingham. ENLISTMENT AND WAR SERVICE When the First World War was declared the Lake Condah mission community mobilised in support of the war effort, like other communities across Australia. Fund raising events and sporting carnivals were held on the mission and attended by settlers from the district. Despite the ban to Aboriginal men entering the Australian military, recruiting agents visited the Condah area and many of George’s friends and peers were accepted for the AIF. These included William Egan, George and Allen McDonald, Herbert and George Winter. Lake Condah saw many of its men enlist and leave for overseas to fight in the war. Aboriginal men from south western Victoria made up approximately one third of all Aboriginal enlistments in Victoria. George was only 16 when he first attempted to enlist on 8 May 1916. Like many eager young men around the world, he lied about his age to gain entry by stating he was 18 years and 2 months. In 1915, the minimum age for application had been lowered from 19 to 18. Somehow George’s real age was revealed and he was discharged. In 1918, now 19 years old, George made a second attempt to enlist and was successful. He embarked upon the Carpentaria in Sydney 7 November 1918 just days before Germany surrendered and the armistice was signed. Mid-voyage, the troopship was recalled and George and the troops disembarked on approximately 28 November 1918. He was discharged on Christmas eve. AFTER THE WAR After the war George became a father to a large family. He had a son with Adelaide Austin, named Roy Rose. Roy would become the father of the famous boxer Lionel Rose. George then had seven children with his second wife Ella Mary Austin who lived at the Framlingham Aboriginal Station. The children in order of birth were: John, Merle, Amelia, Janice, Graham, Lawrence and David. Ella had four children to her marriage to Pompey Austin, and they became one big family on the Framlingham Station. The twelve children lived with George and Ella, and moved between their house and that of their grandmother. George’s children, except Roy Rose, bore the name Austin – like their brothers and sisters from their mother’s previous marriage. George was a hard-working man who endeavoured to provide for all the children in his care. George worked in forest revegetation in the forest, and shoeing horses. George was also skilled at rabbiting, and provided food and wood to other community members in need In the 1920s, George worked for a period on the farm of his friend and war veteran, Percy Pepper. Percy Pepper was one of two Aboriginal men in Victoria to receive a soldier settlement block. Percy’s block, called ‘the Swamp’, as a drained swamp in Koo-Wee- Rup in Gippsland. The block was very poor farming land – like much of the crown land reclaimed for soldier settlement. George helped Percy and his family put in crops. Percy and George shared a love for sport and Percy saw George’s potential as a runner and cyclist and took on the role of a trainer for his friend. Percy’s son Phillip Pepper is the author of several books on Victorian Aboriginal history. Philip recalled that the Koo-Wee-Rup Sports day in 1922 ended up being ‘Pepper Day’ because so many Pepper family members and friends, including George Rose, won their races. George went on to win the races known as ‘the Gift’ at Bairnsdale and Leongatha. Philip Pepper remarked upon George’s strength of character ‘[he was] a very smart man if he wanted to do anything, he would do it and do it well, and in a race he was always determined to win – he always tried.’ WORLD WAR TWO When War broke out in 1939 it did not take George long to decide to try his luck at soldiering again. In July 1940, he was accepted into the 2nd AIF at the Caulfield military camp. He was nearly 40 years old, and was working as a labourer. George began training but suffered from ill health and, several months later, was discharged as medically unfit for service. Despite his persistence in volunteering for the military, soldiering did not turn out not to be an employment option for George. Because George was rejected on medical grounds, and his condition did not result from his military service, he was not eligible for a military pension. George received a Returned from Active Services Badge and was eligible for, but did not receive, a British War Medal and Victory Medal. In 1966, George died of heart disease in Warrnambool. His family attempted to involve the Warrnambool branch of the RSL in his burial but they were not successful. That year the Warrnambool Legacy made enquires on behalf of the family about George’s medals and the military issued his British War Medal. Subsequent generations of the Rose family went on to serve in the military and to have outstanding athletic careers including George’s son Lawrence ‘Baby Cassius’ Austin, and his grandson, the world champion boxer Lionel Rose. FAMILY ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Janice Austin Cathy Austin Graham Austin David Austin Lawrence Austin SOURCES George Rose Service No. 69102 WWI Military record NAA: B2455, ROSE GEORGE George Rose Service No. VX45151 WWII Military record NAA: B883, VX45151 Broome, Richard Aboriginal Victorians: a history since 1800, Allen and Unwin, Crows Nest, 2005. Pepper, Phillip You Are What You make Yourself to be: the Story of An Aboriginal Family 1842-1980,Melbourne: Hyland House, 1980 Bakker, Peter, ‘Fighting for Country’: Honouring Aborigines from South West Victoria who served Australia during war time, self-published, Hamilton: 2014 Condah during WWI Booklet, Heywood RSL: http://www.ryebuck.com.au/wp/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Condah_Book_16.4.14.pdf FOR FURTHER INFORMATION about Victorian Aboriginal service in WW1 see link to VICTORIAN ABORIGINAL SERVICE IN WW1 HOME PAGE in the side bar of this webpage or copy this link http://discoveringanzacs.naa.gov.au/browse/groupstories/7396. a. This page contains information about and may contain photographs of person/s who are deceased. b. The accuracy of the information provided on this page has been checked as thoroughly as possible Aboriginal Victoria through the Victorian Aboriginal WW1 Research Project. c. There may be additional information which this research project was not able to find or access at the time of publication. d. To the best of our ability we have sought to find living relatives to assist with the research, but we do not claim to have contacted all family members who may have relevant information. e. The information presented on this webpage may be of assistance to you but the State of Victoria and its employees do not guarantee that the publication is without flaw of any kind or is wholly appropriate for your particular purposes and therefore disclaims all liability for any error, loss or other consequence which may arise from you relying on any information published as part of the Victorian Aboriginal WW1 Research Project.