• Frank Gunning

Army / Flying Corps
  • 53rd Australian Infantry Battalion
  • 14th Brigade
  • Corporal

To select multiple units, brigades and ranks, hold the ctrl or shift key on your keyboard and select your options

  • 1914–1915 Star
  • Birth

    Cooma, New South Wales, Australia

  • Enlistment - WW1

    Cooma, New South Wales, Australia

Stories and comments
    • Champion Shooter Brings Home a War Bride
    • Posted by annstewie, Wednesday, 10 December 2014

    Cpl Francis Gunning Service No: 2156 55th Battalion Army Pay Corps Francis Gunning (“Frank”) was born in Cooma in 1885, the eldest of the four surviving sons of Esther Stewart and Henry Gunning. Henry had arrived in Australia, in 1872, as an 18 year old English migrant. Esther was the daughter of Hugh Stewart and his wife, Jane Hain. Hugh had migrated from Northern Ireland as a baby with his parents, William Stewart and Esther Hannah, in 1842. The family eventually settled at Cooma Creek, where mother Esther was killed by lightening in 1857, while William and Hugh were away, probably with their drays. Hugh had begun working with his father while just a boy, later carting supplies to the Kiandra gold fields, where they reaped rich rewards. He went on to develope many business and recreational interests in and around Cooma, including horse racing, grazing, flour milling, mining and storekeeping (e.g. The Little Wonder Criterion Store.) With his wife, Jane Hain, he established and ran The Traveller's Rest Inn and The Cooma Coffee Palace. Jane's family were equally enterprising. Her father, James Hain and his wife, Mary Patch, who had migrated from England in 1852, had built and run the Royal Hotel, The Lord Raglan Hotel and Hain's Country Store. The family was involved in the building of many of the houses in Lambie St. and running stock and station agencies. Jane and Hugh participated in community affairs as well, including supporting or establishing Cooma Hospital, the Anglican Church, the Commons Trust and the Cooma Show. Hugh was also an alderman. Henry and Esther passed on these community minded values to their sons. Henry was Mayor of Cooma for six months in 1893 and a member of the Hospital Committee, for which Esther was a fund raiser. They both exhibited in the Cooma Show – Henry with his drawings and steel engravings and Esther with many fruit varieties. Henry was made a magistrate in 1918. The family raised their boys at “Leigh House” in Lambie St. They ran The Enterprise Store for decades. In 1916, Frank was a 30 year old storekeeper and champion shooter. Secretary of the Rifle Club, he had been selected to compete in the King's Cup in England, when war broke out. When the Snowy River March came to Cooma in January, Frank's cousin, William Hayes, and his wife Clara Evans, who owned a bakery, provided refreshments for the marchers. Frank joined their ranks, along with 40 other Cooma men, and enlisted. His youngest brother, Harry, had enlisted the previous year and was serving with the 19th Battalion in France. Frank embarked from Sydney in September 1916, and joined the Army Pay Corps, based in England, but was soon hospitalised with tonsilitis. He rejoined his unit soon after. In April 1917, his brother Harry became a prisoner of the Germans. One night, after delivering some German prisoners of war to a camp, Frank attended a concert in London, arranged for the troops. He was so impressed by the singer Clare “Min” Stone, that he got a backstage pass and introduced himself. A romance grew from there and they were married in London, on 4th September, 1918. Soon after, Frank was in hospital with appendicitis. He rejoined his unit in October, but asked permission to return to Australia with his new wife, which was granted. They got home in February 1919, Min being the first war bride to arrive in Cooma. Frank was discharged in April and brother Harry, safely returned, in July. Min soon gained notoriety in the district for her beautiful singing voice and she encouraged a love of music and singing in the couple's three children, which they in turn have passed on to their own children and grand children. Sadly, Frank did not live to see his children grow up. He died in 1936, in Cooma, age 51. Min lived to see 10 grandchildren arrive and died in Sydney, in 1969. REFERENCES; “From Kilkeel to Cooma”, William and Esther Stewart Family History Group, Cooma (undated) “Back to Cooma”, Direct Publicity Company, Sydney, 1926 “Lambie St-A Walk Through the Past 150 Years”,Cooma-Monaro Historical Society, Monaro Publishing