Robert Joseph Murphy

July 21, 2015

MURPHY, Robert Joseph- – – – SPC 1905

DoB:- – 1889, Murtoa, VIC

Father:- – Arthur Robert Murphy, a butcher

Mother:- – Agnes, nee McDonald

Robert Murphy was a boarder at St Pat’s from Ararat.

Service No:- 5738

Rank:- – Private

Unit:- – 5th Battalion, 1st Pioneer Battalion

Robert Murphy enlisted on 6 March 1916 at the age of 26 years and 11 months. He was five feet, seven inches tall, with a dark complexion, grey eyes and black hair. He was a single man, whose occupation was motor driver.

Private Murphy’s service record is very thin on details. He embarked for active service on 4 April 1916 aboard the Euripides, disembarking at Tel-el-Kebir in Egypt. He proceeded to Marseilles on 3 June 1916 where he was presumably in the field until his return to Australia some three years later.

Private Murphy embarked on the Port Darwin on 27 July 1919 to return to Australia, and was discharged from the AIF at Melbourne on 10 September.

Even after his return to Australia, there is not a lot to be found about the life of Robert Murphy. He married Mary Evelyn Callaghan in 1926 in Ararat, and worked for a few years as a farmer. Robert died on 23 June 1940, at the young age of 50. His death certificate reveals that he was riddled with cancer throughout his liver, stomach and large intestine. He also had secondary growths in his neck and spine. The doctor also noted that he had suffered from asthenia (weakness) and cachexia. Cachexia is a wasting syndrome, leading to a loss of weight, muscle atrophy and fatigue. It is often apparent as a complication responsible for about 20% of cancer deaths.

These debilitating illnesses probably account for Robert not working since around 1931. The electoral rolls from 1924 until his death in 1940 record Robert’s profession as -‘nil’. At the time of his death, Robert and Mary had four children aged 12, eight, three, and two years. Life must have been tough for the family.

In 1949, Robert’s widow Mary wrote to Base Records in Canberra requesting a copy of her husband’s discharge record which was -‘urgently required’. Again she wrote in March 1956 requesting -‘a copy of Discharge of No 5378 -¦ I do need Discharge certificate very badly as lack of it is holding up my application for a War Service home -¦’

The electoral roll of 1954 shows that Mary was living at 15 Banksia Street, Ararat with one of her sons, Peter who was 22 at the time and working as a carpenter. The College could not find any trace of Mary after this time. Hopefully the war office replied to her request for housing assistance.

Robert Joseph Murphy was buried on 25 June 1940 at Ararat Cemetery.