Leonard ‘Len’ George Baker

September 6, 2015

BAKER, Leonard -‘Len’ George- – – – – SPC 1907

DoB:- – 1894, Colac, VIC

Father:- – Thomas Baker

Mother:- – Rosanna, nee Despard

The Baker family was well known and highly respected in the Colac district. Thomas Baker, the father of Len, was born near Ennis, County Clare in Ireland in 1840. As a child, Thomas migrated with his family from Ireland to Australia due to the potato famine, and they settled in Camperdown. Thomas married Rosanna Despard, daughter of the Mortlake Shire president, in 1882 and began a successful and prosperous farming enterprise, growing potatoes and onions on land he bought at Cororooke. Thomas Baker was elected to the Colac Shire Council in 1891, and held the seat for 28 consecutive years. He purchased the original Coragulac House, built in 1873 by the pioneering Robertson family, and it was from this property that four of Thomas’ five sons left to become boarders at St Patrick’s College: Frederick (SPC 1906-1907), Leonard (SPC 1907), Thomas (SPC 1906-1907) and John (SPC 1907). The family also included an older son, Francis, and two daughters. Fred and Len enlisted for service in WWI.

Service No:- 3016

Rank:- – Driver Mechanic

Unit:- – 7th Battalion, later 1st Divisional Supply Corps

Len Baker enlisted in the AIF on 21 April 1915, at the age of 21 years and two months. He was five feet, seven and three-quarter inches tall, with fair hair, grey eyes and a fair complexion. He put his occupation as motor driver.

On 18 November 1915, Len Baker embarked from Melbourne aboard the Wiltshire, arriving at Serapeum, Egypt in early February 1916, where he was attached to the 7th Battalion. After undergoing training in Egypt, he proceeded to France where he was transferred to the 1st Divisional Supply Corps in the Field in July. Like so many other soldiers, Len spent some time in hospital being treated for Diarrhoea, from which he suffered for several months in the latter half of 1916. He rejoined his unit by January 1917.

Baker was promoted to the position of Driver Mechanic in March 1917, remaining in France until a septic foot caused him to be invalided to the UK in late September 1918. He was admitted to the 1st London General Hospital in Camberwell with inflammation in the popliteal space (the shallow depression located at the back of the knee joint). The infection in his left leg spread and became focussed in an abscess on his left thigh, in the area of an old gunshot wound.

Leonard Baker was returned to Australia aboard the Durham Castle on 10 March 1918, for a Change due to the septic nature of his leg infection.

After his discharge from the AIF, Len married Irene Jean Walton, and the couple lived in the Melbourne suburb of Caulfield with Len working as a Clerk. Sometime between 1924 and 1928, Len and Irene separated. Len remained living in the area, moving to South Yarra by 1928 where he stayed for many years. Electoral rolls reveal that by 1968 he was living in Frankston at the War Veterans Home on Overport Road.

Leonard George Baker died on 8 January, 1970, succumbing to cancer. It seems that at his death, Len did not have any family members around him, as it was the Coroner of Melbourne who released his body for burial. The death certificate, which usually reveals a lot of information about ones’ parents, place and date of birth, and details of marriage and offspring, had many gaps. Len died at the age of 75 years, and was buried at the Boroondara Cemetery in Kew, Victoria. He had no children.