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Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Vernon Isaac Mullin had fought in the 1st war and returned blind. The paper work from the Australian War Records said he was trained as a telephonist. After his return he married my Great Aunt. Vernon was 26 when they married. Adelaide Kelley was 30 in 1920 and her occupation was listed as a milliner. They lived together in Finch Street in East Malvern, now called Glen Iris, Victoria.
Born in 1893 at Northcote, Vic – son of Isaac MULLIN and Susanna Helen POWELL, who married in Vic in 1884 Isaac (born Ireland) died the following year at the family home in Tennyson St, East Malvern on the 19/3/1894, aged 63 Never having remarried, Susan died at her residence in Chatsworth Rd, East Prahran on the 13/5/1940, aged 80 Siblings (born Cranbourne): Reginald Isaac b.21/8/1885 – Confectioner – marr Eva Frances – WW1: Pte 55656, 7th Bn – d.1973; Hilda Mary b.1886 – Dressmaker – d.1976; Harold Isaac b.1889 – d.1946 Religion: Methodist Employed as a Dairy Farm Labourer with Mr J.N. Sykes in Clyde, Vic for 6 months prior to enlisting Resident of Malvern at enlistment WW1: Enlisted 24/3/1915, aged 21 years 9 months Embarked for Egypt on the A62 Wandilla, as Pte 2163 with the 6th Reinforcements of the 7th Battalion Joined his battalion on the Gallipoli Peninsula 5/8/1915 and posted to C Company Receiving bomb wounds to his right hand and left elbow in the battle for Lone Pine on the 8-9/8/1915, he was admitted to the 3rd Field Ambulance, Anzac on the 9/8/1915 Transferred to the Itonus, and disembarked Malta 14/8/1915 where he was admitted to St Georges Hospital Embarked on the HS Carisbrook Castle 26/8/1915 for England, and was admitted to the 4th London General Hospital at Denmark Hill on the 3/9/1915 From the Base Depot at Weymouth he was part of the 17th Draft returning to join the MEF on the 7/2/1916, arriving in Cairo, Egypt on the 14/2/1916 – and re-joined his battalion at Serapeum on the 5/3/1916 Embarked at Alexandria 26/3/1916 to join the BEF, and disembarked Marseilles, France 31/3/1916 Admitted to the 2nd Field Ambulance 5/6/1916 with influenza Reported missing in action 18/8/1916 whilst serving as a Bomber during the battle of Pozieres, after being hit in the face when a bomb exploded: “As soon as I was hit, I was blinded straight away. I took off my equipment, turned round and thought that by walking straight back I should come to my own lines. Somewhere I must have turned but, anyway, I fell into a shell hole. There I lay for about a quarter of an hour, then German stretcher bearers came along. They treated me well; although the firing was going on all round they remained to bandage me, then took me to a dressing station. On the way back they searched me, but gave all my things back, but as soon as I got to the hospital they took everything I had got – my clothes, pay-book and money and I never saw any of them again.” “After undergoing operations to his eyes [both removed], Mullin was sent to a hospital at Courtrai manned by Saxon sisters, then later to the Bergkaserne Hospital at Munster,…” [p.268, Our Dear Old Battalion (Ron Austin)] Four months later he was one of seven Australians who were part of a prisoner exchange from Germany, and together with fellow blind soldier Harold Kellogg (Pte 4736 of the 27th Battalion), was admitted to Queen Alexandra’s Military Hospital, Millbank, London on the 9/12/1916 Admitted to the 2nd London General Hospital 19/12/1916 Transferred to St Dunstan’s Hostel for Blinded Soldiers 20/1/1917 – discharged 15/2/1918 Fully trained in Telephony Returned to Australia on the Llanstephan Castle 15/2/1918 Discharged from the AIF 24/5/1918 An application was lodged with the Repatriation Department on the 6/5/1919 for assistance to purchase a home at 139 Finch St, East Malvern – the sale went through later in the year and the house which was then leased (Peppercorn rental) from the Department by Vernon, was named “Dunstani.” Vernon married Adelaide KELLEY on the 7th of February 1920 at the Wesley Church, Malvern [Another blind mate, Thomas Corboy (Pte 2394) was groomsman] In July 1920 their home was broken into by breaking the bathroom window, and a suit, a three-stone diamond ring and about £2 10s in cash were stolen Following a storm in 1921, the roof tiles of the house were replaced by iron sheeting, and in the September that year, Vernon completed his purchase of the property from the Repat Dept with help from the State Savings Bank. In November the house was broken into again by forcing the back door with an axe, and his Swiss made, nickel-silver, Braille watch was stolen, along with 5 pennies. By 1922 they had moved to 13 New street, Brighton Vernon was employed as a telephone exchange operator on the switchboard at the Repatriation Department Building in Melbourne His hobbies included stamp collecting, building wireless sets, and gardening Committee member of the Victorian Blinded Soldiers’ Association In 1942 Vernon’s sister Hilda was living with him at 13 New street, Brighton – while Adelaide was possibly at Mont Park Adelaide died on the 6/7/1948 at Mont Park, aged 59 Vernon remarried to Marion Leigh KILPATRICK (a Nurse) in 1949 [Children: Hilda, Reg and Harold] Vernon died on the 18th of March 1972 at the Alfred Hospital, aged 78 – he was cremated at Springvale Crematorium on the 21/3/1972, and his ashes collected Bendigo Advertiser (Vic), Mon 20 Sept 1915 (p.2): WOUNDED SOLDIERS [photo – very faint] PRIVATE VERNON MULLIN, Of Malvern Bendigonian (Bendigo, Vic), Thur 23 Sept 1915 (p.25): PRIVATE V. MULLIN Private Vernon Mullin, nephew of Mr C.A. Powell, Hallam-street, has been wounded in action at Gallipoli. He is 20 years of age, and is a joiner by trade. He was born at Cranborne, but latterly had been living at Malvern. He left with the 6th reinforcements, and was attached to the 7th battalion. Camberwell and Hawthorn Advertiser (Vic), Sat 25 Nov 1916 (p.4): EX-BOX HILLITE A PRISONER IN GERMANY Mrs Mullin, of Dickson-street, Malvern, and formerly of Box Hill, has received word that her son, Private Vernon Mullin, who was reported missing from August 18, is now a prisoner of war at Munster, Germany. He writes: – “Just a few lines to let you know I am getting on all right. My wounds are improving daily. I am feeling in the best of health otherwise, and am able to get about. I have been very well looked after, and everybody has shown me the greatest of kindness.” Private Vernon Mullin is a brother of Mr R. Mullin, of White Horse road, Box Hill, and left Melbourne in June, 1915. He served at Gallipoli, and was wounded at Lonesome Pine in August 1915. The Bendigo Independent (Vic), Sat 23 Dec 1916 (p.8): EXCHANGED PRISONER OF WAR Included in the last batch of exchanged prisoners who arrived in London from Germany is Private Vernon I. Mullin, of Malvern, who is a nephew of Mr C.A. Powell, of Hallam street, Quarry Hill. Private Mullin took part in the Gallipoli encounters, where he was first wounded. After being in hospital in Malta he was sent to England, and from there he was sent to France. After the battle of Pozieres he was reported missing, and subsequently that he was a prisoner in Germany. Since then nothing has been heard of him by his people until he was reported to have arrived in London. Mullin lost the sight of both eyes while attempting to throw back a bomb grenade which was aimed at an officer. He missed his way and fell into a shell hole in No Man’s Land near Pozieres. The Germans picked him up and removed his eyes at a field hospital. The bandage was not touched for nine days, and the sockets were not washed until he returned to England. When he was made prisoner the Germans cleared his pockets of his money, watch, pay book, photographs, and Testament. Mullin states, that, apart from bread, the food consisted of one meal of water soup, with cabbage, carrots, and Swede turnips thrown in, two bowls of coffee without sugar or milk, and salty beef tea or coarse porridge. Twice a week they received meat which tasted like horseflesh. This lasted for eight weeks before the Red Cross parcels arrived. The prisoners now share their parcels and stave off hunger. Private Mullin also stated that the supply of clothing was inadequate. Camberwell and Hawthorn Advertiser (Vic), Sat 3 Mar 1917 (p.3): PRIVATE V MULLIN IN LONDON Mrs Mullin, of Wattle Tree road, Malvern, has received a letter from her son, Private Vernon Mullin, brother of Mr R. Mullin, of Box Hill, who was released from being a prisoner of war in Germany and reported to be blind. It is dated January 3, and written from the 2nd London General hospital, King’s road, London. The letter reads as follows: – “Just a few lines to let you know that I am getting on alright. I have been transferred to this hospital, but expect to be leaving soon to go to St Dunstan’s. I expect you have received a letter by now, or will be receiving one very shortly. We have spent a very jolly Christmas here, and on Boxing day I went and spent the day with the people whom I stayed with last Christmas while on furlough. As soon as they heard that I had returned from Germany, they came to see me, which was very good of them, and we still have outings like last Christmas, and we have a good time. In the ward that I am in there are 20 of us with either one or two eyes out, so we are all alike, but for all that we have some fun at times. I have received one lot of letters since I came back from Germany, and am waiting to get some more, they being the only ones since last June, except for a cablegram which left on 16th. I am quite well myself and happy, so don’t worry about me, because I am in very good hands. I shall not be coming back for a little time, because I want to learn a trade at St Dunstan’s first. We had some photos taken at Christmas, which I am sending you copies of.” The West Australian (Perth, WA), Sat 30 Jun 1917 (p.8): TRAINING BLIND SOLDIERS Although he has lost the sight of both eyes, Private Vernon Mullin, a nephew of Mr T.W.L. Powell, of this city, who was one of a batch of exchange prisoners who arrived in England from Germany at the end of last year, is now able to manipulate a typewriter, and a neatly typewritten letter, which has been received by his mother, Mrs S. Mullin, of Wattletree-road, Malvern, is sufficient indication of the rapid progress he is making in this direction. ……………………………………………………………. After being an inmate of the Second General Hospital, Chelsea, for six months, Private Mullin was transferred to the Brighton annexe of the Blinded Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Hostel, St Dunstan’s, Regent Park, where he is being taught the Braille system of reading, typing shorthand, and telephoning. In his letter, which was addressed to his mother and sister, he says: – “At last I am able to write to you. I have been trying to do so for a long time, but now I am learning typewriting I will try and write regularly. I will be in this institution for about six months. It is a very fine place, and we are very comfortable and well looked after. They are all blind boys here, and all are learning trades. We get good food here – four meals a day, and milk before going to bed. We go out a lot. I am out two or three nights a week, and every week-end. I have made a lot of friends over here, and I have two places where I can spend the week-end as long as I am here. I have met many Australians, including two young ladies from Toorak and Armadale. They visit me and take me out a good deal. I am the only Australian in this annexe, so you can guess what a fuss they make of me.” ……………………………………………………………………………………. https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/27303704 Camberwell and Hawthorn Advertiser (Vic), Sat 21 Jul 1917 (p.2): DISTRICT BLIND SOLDIER TAUGHT TYPEWRITING Mr R. Mullin, of White Horse road, Box Hill, has recently received several letters in connection with his brother, Private Vernon Mullin, who, it will be remembered, was one of the prisoners of war liberated by the Germans in consequence of him having lost the sight of both eyes. Writing to his mother, the unfortunate soldier stated that he was glad to be out of the starvation place – Germany. He had to live on their food until he met a couple of English chaps who gave him some of theirs which they were receiving from England. A few weeks before he left he was receiving parcels from the Red Cross – the Germans giving them neither food or clothing. The reason he was exchanged was through a bomb bursting and damaging his sight. They were treated well by the Holland people, who were responsible for the exchange of prisoners. There were five Australians among his party, and they were met by the British Red Cross on arrival in London. Private Mullin reached England last December, and after spending a little time in hospital has since been undergoing tuition at the Blinded Soldiers’ and Sailors’ hostel at St Dunstan’s, Regent Park, London, in typewriting and the braille method of reading and writing. A lady member of the Red Cross there, in a letter to Mrs Mullin, states that one of her chief occupations is to teach braille reading and writing, and after lesson time she tried to do all she could for the dear boys who had fought so bravely and are now facing their loss with such splendid courage. The writer adds: – “We do braille together every afternoon now from 2.30 till 3.30, and I do enjoy helping him. He is getting on remarkably well, and can write almost perfectly. Reading is the most difficult part, but your son is fortunate in having a very good touch, and can already read enough to follow a story. He will soon be doing it quite quickly, and then will be able to enjoy newspapers, magazines, and books of all sorts. He had nearly finished typewriting, so that he will take home with him a braille machine and a Remington typewriter. St Dunstan’s is a fine place, and the boys are wonderfully cheerful. Mr Huskinson, who is head of the college where you son is staying, is a delightful man, and one of the kindest living. He is generally called ‘father,’ and is devoted to your boy, so that you can be quite at rest that he is in good hands, and will be well taken care of. We are trying to persuade him to stay a little longer, so as to learn as much as possible to fit him for the future, and I am sure he will not regret it. I will do my very best for him, and try to make the time go as quickly as possible until he is safe home with you.” Private Mullin has also forwarded a letter he had received from the chairman of the institute, Sir Arthur Pearson, congratulating him on passing the typewriter test. The letter continues: – “This entitles you to the possession of a Remington typewriter on leaving here, and I hope that it may long be of use to you. You have learnt to typewrite very quickly, and your teachers and other friends here all feel proud of you.” Private Mullin expects to sail for Australia shortly, and arriving home about September. Camberwell and Hawthorn Advertiser (Vic), Fri 3 May 1918 (p.3): BOX HILL METHODIST CHURCH “CHEER-UP BRIGADE” On Monday evening, April 29, the above “Cheer-up” brigade held its fourth “welcome home” to Privates A Dickeson and Vernon Mullin. The school hall looked almost like fairyland, and was filled with enthusiastic friends. ………………………………………………….. https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/153611539 Daily Post (Hobart, Tas), Tue 7 May 1918 (p.6): THE BLINDED SOLDIER Private Vernon Mullin has returned to Box Hill, Victoria, after having had some thrilling experiences at the front and a prisoner of war in Germany. He served in Gallipoli and France. During an engagement in France a bomb exploded, and he lost his sight. He fell, and hours seemed to pass while he lay there. He was grabbed by the shoulder, and was told by a brutal voice to “Up stand.” He knew he was in the grip of the Hun. Private Mullin had his eyes removed by a German doctor, and says he was subjected to cruel treatment while he was a prisoner of war. Eventually he was sent to England as an exchange prisoner, and at St Dunstan’s he was taught typewriting, shorthand, telephony, Braille, etc. The Australasian (Melb, Vic), Sat 17 May 1919 (p.35): HELPING THE BLIND The first occasion of importance at the Braille Library, Prahran, since its recent opening was on Saturday afternoon and evening, when a numerous gathering attended to “help the blind help themselves,” and to witness a demonstration of work. …………………………………….. Praise can also be accorded the Peggy bags made in all shades of twine by a blind soldier, Vernon Mullin. ………………………………………. https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/140223551 The Prahran Telegraph (Vic), Sat 6 Sept 1919 (p.3): BRAILLE WRITERS’ DANCE Dancing is a popular recreation among the blind, who enjoy the hospitality of the Victorian Association of Braille writers. At a dance given in the City Hall, Prahran, on Friday evening, 100 sightless people performed all the latest dances, with the exception of the jazz. Their instructor, Mr James Williamstown, found that this intricate dance was a little beyond his handicapped students. The following blind soldiers were among the dancers: Messrs E. Glew, V. Mullin, Corboy, Marshall (South Australia), H. Fordyce, Archer, Firth, and T. White. ………………………………. https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/165119380 Malvern Standard (Vic), Sat 21 Feb 1920 (p.2): Wedding A wedding of a military character took place on Saturday, 7th inst., at the Wesley Church, when Private Vernon Mullin, youngest son of Mrs S. Mullin, of Malvern, was married to Miss Adelaide Kelley, eldest daughter of Mr and Mrs Kelley, of Malvern, late of Dandenong. The ceremony was performed by the Rev. G. Godbehear. The bridegroom served three years with the 7th Batt., A.I.F., and is blind. He was a prisoner of war for four months, and was amongst the first seven Australians to be exchanged. The bride was charmingly attired in a cream costume. Miss Coral Kelley (wearing biscuit voile), and Miss Hilda Mullin (in a dress of grey voile), acted as bridesmaids. From the bridegroom Miss Kelley received a gold bangle as a present, while Miss Mullin was made the recipient of a string of pearls. Sergeant N. Bennett was best man. The groomsman was Private T. Corboy, also a blind soldier. The presents were numerous and costly. A reception was subsequently held at the Francatelli. The honeymoon was spent at Lorne. The Mercury (Hobart, Tas), Wed 30 May 1928 (p.3): BLIND SOLDIER AS TELEPHONE OPERATOR [Photo] Although Vernon Mullin, a young Australian soldier, was robbed of his eyesight as a result of war service, he is a skilled telephone exchange operator, an ardent stamp collector, a successful builder of wireless sets, and a keen gardener. The picture shows Mr Mullin on the switchboard at the Repatriation Department Building in Melbourne. https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/29772799 Advocate (Burne, Tas), Tue 1 Mar 1932 (p.5): BLINDED DIGGERS Men Who Have Reshaped Their Lives NEVER DESPAIRED (By Hugh Buggy in the Melbourne “Herald”) What are your worries? Stand on your feet and face them. Business may have dwindled. Your salary may have shrunk. But the end of the world is not yet. Reflect on the prospect before Diggers who emerged from the storm of steel without their sight. It was bleak and cheerless. Yet they never despaired. How they have reshaped their lives is an epic, a stimulating example to all of us who have our sight. Just now these blind soldiers are meeting in conference. Mingle with them and listen to their story. It is an account of grit and heroic fortitude. If the same spirit were general to-day our troubles would be lightened indeed. ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………. Another classic case of grit and spirit is that of Vernon Mullins [sic], a former clerk, who also had to re-shape his life in perpetual darkness. There were a few misgivings when Mullins thought of operating a telephone switchboard. But he had no qualms. He faced the job with courage. A few adjustments to the switchboard at the Repatriation Department gave him his chance. He, too, confounded the doubters. With an ear keenly attuned to the fall of the little shutters, Mullins showed quickly that he could master the job. Again, lack of distraction in any from helped. He became a fast and accurate switchboard attendant. Complimentary remarks were made from outside about the promptitude with which calls to the department were answered and the required extensions adjusted. Colonel Semmens has highly praised the remarkable efficiency developed on the board by Mullins, the blind Digger. A pre-war hobby of Mullins was the collecting of stamps. Loss of sight did not damp his ardour as a collector. In adding to his collection new stamps he could not see, he had to trust people implicitly. He has never been let down, and at a recent philatelical exhibition in Sydney his collection of air mail stamps from the various air mail sources of the world won the second prize. …………………………………………………………………………………….. https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/67910844 [also mentioned: F. Marriott; Dudley Tregent; H. Flatt; E. Glew; L.E. Vanselow; George Watson; Williams; Driscoll, Morrison; Lockett; Corboy] The Age (Melb, Vic), Sat 7 Jul 1934 (p.21): BLIND STAMP COLLECTOR EX-SOLDIER’S UNIQUE HOBBY Completely blinded by a bursting bomb in France in 1916, Mr V. Mullin has been for fourteen years switchboard operator at the head office of the Repatriation Commission in Melbourne, and in recent years has successfully undertaken the hobby – surely unique for a person in his disability – of stamp collecting. He has been assisted by his wife, but it was solely by his direction that he established after only about two years’ work a collection of air mail stamps and covers which secured second prize in the Melbourne Philatelic Exhibition in 1927, and a similar high award in the special show held in Sydney during the opening of the harbor bridge in 1932. The collection occupied six volumes, and included letters which had been sent by air in Australia as early as 1912. Mr Mullin subsequently sold his collection, and has since collected more easily available issues of Empire stamps, particularly those of Australia, Canada and Newfoundland. Before enlisting in 1915, Mr Mullin was engaged in farming in Victoria, and he was wounded at Lone Pine on Gallipoli in August 1915. After being blinded a year later he was captured by the Germans, but reached England a few months later. After training at St Dunstan’s he returned to Australia in 1918. The Argus (Melb, Vic), Wed 7 Jul 1948 (p.2): DEATHS MULLIN – On July 6, Adelaide, dearly loved wife of Vernon, 13 New street, Hampton, and eldest daughter of the late Mr and Mrs Robert Kelley. – At rest. MULLIN – Adelaide, dearly beloved daughter of the late Robert and Annie Kelley, and dear sister of Coral, Alex (deceased), Rosalie (deceased), Stella (Mrs Wilson, Mona (Mrs MacPherson), and Joyce. The Age (Vic), 20 Mar 1972 (p.14): DEATHS MULLIN – On March 18th, at Alfred Hospital, Vernon Isaac, beloved husband of Marion, loving father of Hilda, Reg and Harold (Dec.), son-in-law of MR W. Kilpatrick, brother-in-law of Lonna and Roly, Nance and George, Bob and Shirley, George and Alice, Barry and Melva. “Now he beholds the beauty of the Lord.” MULLIN, V.I. – On March 18. A tribute from the members of the Victorian Blinded Soldiers Association. Lest we forget. FUNERAL NOTICES MULLIN – The Funeral of Mr VERNON ISAAC MULLIN will leave St Leonard’s Presbyterian Church, New Street, Brighton Beach, TOMORROW (TUESDAY), after a service commencing at 2.30 p.m., for cremation at the Necropolis, Springvale, arriving at approximately 3.40 p.m. Notes: Daily Standard (Brisbane, Qld), Fri 22 Dec 1916 (p.5): BACK FROM GERMANY – SEVEN WOUNDED AUSTRALIANS LONDON, Thursday In the latest batch of exchanged prisoners from Germany there were seven Australians. They were: – Privates Canavan, 32nd Battalion; Morton, 53rd Battalion; Fernett, 54th Battalion; Harold Kellogg, 27th Battalion; Vernon Mullin, 7th Battalion; Victor Shields, 22nd Battalion; John O’Sullivan, 28th Battalion. They are suffering from severe wounds, and are glad to be out of Germany, where the food was bad and scarce. They say that Australian Red Cross parcels were responsible for saving them from starvation. More on their treatment as POWs: https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/81355344 1950: Mrs Mullin – photos taken on her trip through NSW & Qld with Vern https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/23017235
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