Francis ‘Frank’ John Doolan

June 23, 2015

DOOLAN, Francis -‘Frank’ John- – – – SPC 1908

DoB:– – 1 June, 1896, Armadale, VIC

Father:– – John Francis Doolan

Mother:- – Sara Ann, nee Morey

Frank was a boarder at St Patrick’s from the Melbourne suburb of Malvern. His brother, Edward Denis (SPC 1908) also signed up for service in WWI (Service No 951). Frank was in the Fifth Class in 1908.

Service No:- 22231

Rank:– – Sapper

Unit:- – Field Company Engineers (FCE)

Francis John Doolan enlisted on 20 November 1917 in Melbourne. Like his brother Denis, his address was -‘care of the Coffee Palace, Albert Park’. Frank was 21 years and five months old when he signed up. He was a surveyor by profession, and was five feet eight and a half inches tall with a sallow complexion, blue eyes and brown hair.

Frank embarked on 21 March 1918 from Sydney aboard the Persic, disembarking in London on 24 May. He remained in England and in mid-1918 he was enrolled in a course of instruction at the Signal Depot at Biggleswade, 46 miles north of London. Frank was discovered to be AWL (Absent Without Leave) from 3pm on 10 August to 10pm on 10 August 1918. For this misdemeanour he had to forfeit one days’ pay. Later that year, in December, he was penalised for the crime of -‘leaving room in billet in dirty condition’, for which he was forfeited two days’ pay.

In January 1919, Frank proceeded overseas to Abancourt, France. He underwent further training in engineering field works, explosives and demolition, bridging, infantry, and equitation (working with horses). This training finished on 9 July, and on 11 July 1919, he embarked on the Norman for his return to Australia.

In his civilian career, Frank Doolan was a notable surveyor and valuer of real estate. In 1925 his firm of Doolan and Goodchild was formed, and one of the most notable of Doolan’s surveys was made. This was the location of the site for the Melbourne Shrine of Remembrance. Its construction was controlled to exact measurements, including determining the precise placing of an aperture for the famous -‘ray of light’ ceremony. A ray of natural sunlight passes through this aperture in the ceiling of the Sanctuary and falls onto the Stone of Remembrance over the word -‘love’ at precisely 11am on 11 November each year, commemorating the moment when the Armistice was signed in 1918 marking the end of hostilities in WWI. Frank Doolan and astronomer Dr Joseph Baldwin completed the arduous calculations to position the aperture.

Also in 1925, Doolan recommended that the Legacy movement widen its field of service to include caring for, guiding and encouraging families of those comrades who, through death while serving, were themselves no longer there to give these benefits to their families. This proposal was accepted and the real work of Legacy began.

Francis John Doolan died on 1 August 1988, aged 92 years.