Dudley was born in 1897 at Jeparit, Vic – the son of Frederick George TREGENT and Alice HALL, who married in Jeparit on the 4/7/1896
Frederick, a School Master, was also the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Jeparit, until his resignation in July 1899 – he died in Malvern, Vic on the 9/5/1938
[Percy’s Attestation in 1917 states ‘Father’s whereabouts unknown’]
[Dudley’s marriage certificate in 1920 lists his father’s occupation as a (deceased) Schoolmaster]
Alice, a School Sewing Mistress, living and teaching in Carrum from at least 1905, died on the 18/12/1961 in NSW, aged 96
Siblings: Percy George b.1899 Jeparit – Clerk – WW1: Pte 3481, 59th Bn, RTA 28/8/1919 Kanowna – (Bookkeeper) – d.15/11/1989; Alice Victoria b.1901 Kaniva – (Govt Typist / Artificial eye Maker) – marr Wm M MIDDLETON 1929 Sydney (AIF, WW1 & 2) – d.17/7/2000;
Religion: Church of England
Clerk in the Lands Department
2 years Senior Cadets
Enlisted 13/12/1915, aged 18 years and 3 months
Embarked as Gunner 16068 on the A11 Ascanius 27/5/1916 with the 17th Reinforcements of the 2nd Field Artillery Brigade (FAB), and disembarked Devonport, England 18/7/1916
Proceeded overseas to France on the 29/12/1916 with the 7th FAB, (107th Howitzer Battery)
Admitted to hospital 19/7/1917 with Conjunctivitis and rejoined his Unit 3/8/1917
To be Temporary Bombardier 17/11/1917 – Bombardier 17/2/1918
UK Leave 16/3/1918 to 4/4/1918
To be Sergeant 11/10/1918
Wounded in action 17/10/1918 – the day the final allied push began – receiving head wounds which rendered him totally blind
Transferred through the hospital system and via the HS Guildford Castle to England, where he was admitted to the 2nd London General Hospital 25/10/1918
Transferred to St Dunstan’s Hostel for Blinded Soldiers, The College, Regents Park 11/12/1918 where he received training in Shorthand
Married Eileen Isobel SHARP on the 12th of July 1920 St Columbas Church, Chelsea, England
Born in Scotland, and aged 28 at the time of marriage – the daughter of Peter (a Flax Merchant) and Isobel Robert (nee Shanks) – Eileen was a Nurse from America, who had served in France with the Harvard University Medical Unit
They returned to Australia together on the Ormonde 21/8/1920 – arriving 1/10/1920 – Dudley being admitted to the 11th AGH, Caulfield on arrival – and discharged from the AIF 30/11/1920
Due to his injuries Dudley “suffered such pain and discomfort that his kindly-hearted little sister [Alice] set about trying to do something to relieve him. She discovered that there were two artificial-eye makers in Melbourne – both soldiers – one an Australian who had learnt the art in London while invalided, the other an Englishman. Miss Tregent apprenticed herself to one of these, and her first completed job was a pair of eyes for her brother, which fitted him so perfectly that she determined to go on making eyes.”
Children: Keith Dudley b.7/5/1921 Armadale – Agent – marr Betty Mary – d.1981, age 60; Noel Geoffrey b.18/12/1925 Melb – WW2: RAAF – d.15/11/2001, age 75; Brian Hall b.16/12/1926 Armadale – WW2: RAAF – d.15/4/1995, age 68
Residents of Henley Mansions, Walsh St, Sth Yarra in 1922 / Braemar, Walsh St, Sth Yarra 1925, 1943 / 291 Walsh St, Sth Yarra 1949, 1968
On his return from the war Dudley studied for his Law degree at the Melbourne University
Solicitor, Collins St, Melb
Honorary Solicitor to the Legacy Club
Member of the Blinded Soldiers’ Association
Received the MBE in 1951 for services to ex-servicemen
Dudley died on the 10th of August 1971 at Sth Yarra, Vic, and was cremated at Springvale – his ashes interred in the Banksia Wall ZE, Niche 35
Eileen died in July 1976 and was also cremated at Springvale – her ashes scattered
North Melbourne Courier and …………..(Vic), Fri 21 Oct 1910 (p.3):
The North Melbourne Club XI opened the season at Carrum last Saturday, where a very pleasant afternoon was spent. Carrum was short-handed, but filled in their half of time available ……………
D. Tregent (one of the Carrum lads) batted nicely for the club eleven in making 8 runs, and his fielding was tip-top, and with further coaching the boy should be heard of in the future. ………….
Moorabbin News (Vic), Sat 27 Feb 1915 (p.3):
A youth named Dudley Tregent was thrown from a horse on Sunday last and had both bones of his leg broken. These were set by Dr Fogarty, under an anaesthetic administered by Dr Grindrod, and he is now progressing as favourably as can be expected.
Weekly Times (Melb, Vic), Sat 15 Apr 1916 (p.21):
WITH BALD CARTRIDGE
Included in the enlistments from rifle clubs lately have been D.A. Tregent and J.T. Child (Austral Club) and ……………………………………………
The Argus (Melb, Vic), Sat 23 Nov 1918 (p.22):
AUSTRALIANS ON SERVICE
TREGENT – Mrs A Tregent, of Carrum, has been notified that her eldest son, Bombardier D.A. Tregent, is suffering from gunshot wounds in head, and blindness. Her youngest son, Private P.G. Tregent, is now convalescent.
The Ballarat Star (Vic), Tue 12 Oct 1920 (p.1):
Sergeant Dudley Tregent, an ex-officer of the Lands department, who returned to Australia from England last week, after four and a half years’ service with the 107th Howitzer Battery in France, paid a visit to his former office comrades on Saturday. Sergeant Tregent was blinded by a stray machine gun bullet four hours before the announcement of the armistice, and at the moment when he was preparing to depart from the front on extended leave. It is his intention to study law. He commenced his course at St Dunstan’s College for the Blind before leaving England. Sergt Tregent, who was a member of an old Waubra family, was educated in Ballarat and was for some time assistant secretary of the local Benevolent Asylum. He was subsequently a member of the staff of the State Savings Bank, Sturt Street. His mother was for many years prominently associated with Christ Church Cathedral.
[Wounded 17/10/1918 – the day the final allied push began]
The Age (Melb, Vic), Thur 21 Apr 1921 (p.9):
NEWS IN BRIEF
Sergeant Dudley Tregent, who returned totally blind from the war, has been presented by the residents of Carrum with a cheque for £305, the proceeds of a carnival at Easter, to enable him to continue his law studies.
The Argus (Melb, Vic), Wed 11 May 1921 (p.1):
TREGENT – On the 7th May, at Sister Annear’s private hospital, Armadale, to Mr and Mrs Dudley Tregent, of Royal parade – a son.
Examiner (Launceston, Tas), Sat 17 Feb 1923 (p.7):
A Triumph of Grit
BLIND STUDENT SUCCEEDS AT LAW
As an epic of plucky endeavour it would be hard to surpass the story of Dudley Ackerley Tregent, a returned soldier, who, although afflicted with total blindness, has just succeeded in passing his second year in law in Victoria.
The significance of this student’s remarkable achievement is not fully realised until one considers the innumerable difficulties that had to be overcome, the intense concentration of mind, and the dogged determination that were necessary for the consummation of such a task. The Repatriation authorities believe that Tregent’s case is the first of its kind in Australia. England boasts a blind lawyer in Sir Washington Ranger, who married a Bendigo girl, and who gained his degrees at Oxford in spite of his disability. It is on this Englishman’s example that Tregent has modelled his career.
Enlisting in 1915 at the age of 18, Tregent served as a sergeant of the 107th Howitzer battery in France. Just a few days before armistice was declared, the young artilleryman received a shell wound in the head at Le Cato, and his eyes were destroyed. He returned to Melbourne in October, 1920, and was discharged two months later. He then decided to take a law course at the University, and was admitted to matriculation by the Professorial Board by reason of the qualifications he had at the time of enlistment.
This, however, by no means ended Tregents difficulties. He submitted his plans to the repatriation authorities and asked for the assistance provided under the regulation in respect of University training. Although impressed with Tregent’s sincerity Major Ryan, Deputy Commissioner for Victoria, was not impressed by Tregent’s scheme. He had not heard of any similar case, and honestly thought that the fulfilment of such a difficult course was beyond a blind man’s powers.
But Tregent was determined, and at length under further persuasion the repatriation people sought the opinion of Professor Harrison Moore as to his chance of success. Professor Moore replied that, although there would be many difficulties, it could be done, provided the student had the assistance of the amanuensis and a reader. The professor also suggested that Tregent should associate with a student who would be doing the same subjects, and work with him.
In view of this the department decided to pay Tregent’s fees and purchase the necessary books. Accordingly the blind soldier entered upon his laborious task. Under the advice of the Registrar he became a member of Queen’s College, and he thereby gained the advantage of tutorial assistance. At the December examinations in 1921 Tregent sat for three subjects and passed. Last December he took four subjects, and was successful in all. This year he is confident of securing his first degree.
To his mother, sisters, relatives, and fellow students this embryo lawyer is deeply indebted for his success. Each and every one of them, their sympathy and enthusiasm aroused, took great interest in his progress, and gave him every assistance. Tregent’s goal became their goal too.
Whether the name of Tregent will become prominent in the legal world is a matter for the Fates to decide. But if determination and ability count for anything, the blind Digger will go far. His is a well developed mind; his conversation betokens the thinker and student.
The Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld), Wed 21 Apr 1926 (p.14):
Victory Over Blindness
Student’s Honours in Law
The story of Dudley Tregent, the soldier student of Melbourne University, ……………………………………
[first part of article similar to below article of the 23 Apr]
RELIED ON MEMORY
Asked as to the methods he employed to master the formidable amount of detail that is required of law students, Mr Tregent said he relied solely on his memory. He had tried Braille, but found it too cumbersome for his purpose. He attended his lectures, committing as much to memory as he could while the lecturer spoke. Afterwards he borrowed students’ notes, and these, along with his innumerable text books, were read to him by his friends and fellow students who volunteered to help him. Mr Tregent said: “I wish particularly to thank my friends who voluntary gave all their spare time to helping me. They made my success possible, though I must say I do not regard this success as in any way an exceptional feat. If you have to rely entirely on your memory, as I have had to do, there’s little you can’t do with it.”
In sitting for his examinations Mr Tregent was permitted to use a typewriter, but he preferred to dictate his answers to a manual writer.
Mr Tregent’s success was not the result of brilliant scholarship alone; to win through against the handicap of blindness he needed great courage.
Mr Tregent will take out his LL.M. degree at the conferring of degrees in Wilson Hall, on Saturday, April 17. On May 1 he is to be called to the Bar.
The South Eastern Times (Millicent, SA), Fri 23 Apr 1926 (p.3):
STUDENT’S VICTORY OVER BLINDNESS
Supreme courage and the will to succeed and overcome blindness, the result of war injuries, have been exemplified by Dudley Tregent, a soldier student of Melbourne University, who, though totally blind, has obtained a second-class honors in law. At the age of 17 he enlisted in the A.I.F., and went to France with the original 107th Battery Field Artillery. He was blinded by shrapnel during the heavy fighting along the Hindenburg line. He spent some time in St Dunstan’s hospital for blinded soldiers, and there met his wife, who had served as a nurse from 1914-1918, in France, with the Harvard University Medical Unit. Mrs Tregent had the honor of being the first American sister to be mentioned in despatches. When Mr Tregent returned to Australia he determined to take up law at the Melbourne University, and in spite of his blindness, his career as a student has been amazingly successful. Graduating with honors in arts in 1923, he obtained his LL.B. in 1924, and now has completed his record by taking his Master of Law degree with honors in the minimum time permitted by the regulations. The final examinations in law are generally admitted to be extremely difficult examinations, yet this blind student has succeeded in tying with several others for second place on the class lists. Mr Tregent on May 1 will be called to the bar.
Smith’s Weekly (Sydney, NSW), Sat 4 Sept 1926 (p.13):
AN EYE FOR AN EYE
Not to take, but to make, an eye for an eye, is the unusual occupation of Miss Alice Tregent, artificial eye expert, of Sydney. Her choice of profession was the result of the sad chances of war. Her brother, Dudley Tregent (lately admitted to the Bar in Melbourne) lost his eyesight on active service. After his return to Australia Miss Tregent accompanied him on his visits to the optician. She became deeply interested in the manufacture of artificial eyes, and studied for three years under F.E. Field, then of Collins Street, Melbourne. – “Natalie.”
The Argus (Melb, Vic), Wed 6 Oct 1926 (p.27):
WAR WIDOWS’ PENSIONS
Legacy Club Seeks Increase
“The miserable pittance paid to war widows should cause deep shame and humiliation to every Australian ‘digger,’” said Mr D.A. Tregent, at the weekly luncheon of the Legacy Club yesterday.
At present, Mr Tregent continued, war widows received a pension of £1/3/6 a week. That amount was fixed in 1914-15, and although the cost of living had increased and salaries had been raised, no alteration had been made in the amount of the pension. If nothing was done to improve widows’ conditions returned soldiers would have failed in their duty to their fallen comrades.
If the war widow could not work, Mr Tregent continued, she received £2/2/ a week. Thus the industrious were penalised, which was morally and economically wrong. He moved that the public affairs committee of the club take up the question of war widows’ pensions to devise measures of obtaining an increase in the pension.
The motion, which was seconded by Mr W.A.M. Blackett, was agreed to unanimously.
News (Adelaide, SA), Mon 11 Apr 1927 (p.9):
APPEAL FOR WAR WIDOWS
“Square Deal” Asked
Deputed by the Legacy Club to get a square deal for war widows, Mr Dudley Tregent will lead a deputation to the Ministry this week (says a Melbourne writer). I am told that he has a formidable array of statistics to prove that Australia is far behind Canada and other countries in the treatment of dependents of fallen soldiers, and he will hammer home the fact that pensions have not increased with the basic wage.
Mr Tregent took out his Master of Laws degree last year. He was just 17 when he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Forces, and was totally blinded during the fighting on the Hindenburg line. His subsequent law course at the Melbourne University – he secured second-class honors – was a triumph of dogged determination and courage over disability.
Port Adelaide News (SA), Fri 4 Jul 1930 (p.4):
VICTORIAN BLINDED SOLDIERS RUN OWN ASSOCIATION
Another remarkable feat is that of Mr D.A. Tregent, honorary solicitor of the association, who returned blinded from the war. His ambition of entering the legal profession seemed doomed, but, attempting the impossible, he won through, and is now practising in the city.
Reveille, Vol 5, No. 1, 30 Sept 1931 (p.10):
Gunners’ Re-union: 120 Guests
The 107th Howitzer Battery of the 7th F.A.B. A.I.F., held their annual reunion dinner at 117 Bathurst Street, Sydney, on August 31, ……………………………………..
The Melbourne party, in addition to the O.C., included Dudley Tregent, who was blinded in the last days of the War, just prior to receiving a Blighty leave pass; ………………………….. After returning to Australia Dudley qualified as a barrister, and is now practising in Melbourne.
Supplement the London Gazette 7 Jun 1951, p.3097:
To be Ordinary Members of the Civil Division of the said Most Excellent Order:
Dudley Ackerley TREGENT, Esq. For services to ex-service men.
The Herald (Melb, Vic), Thur 7 Jun 1951 (p.2):
The King’s Birthday Honors ………………………..
A blind solicitor, Mr Dudley Ackerley Tregent, 53, received the MBE for services to ex-servicemen.
Mr Tregent was blinded in France before he was 21, and returned home to do his law course at Melbourne University. He has been honorary solicitor to Legacy since its inception, and is honorary solicitor to other ex-service associations.