Wilfred Hendry Dowling

June 23, 2015

DOWLING, Wilfred Hendry- – – – SPC 1910-1911

DoB:- – 6 October 1895, Inglewood, VIC

Father:– – Thomas Dowling

Mother:- – Catherine Mary, nee Charlesworth

William Dowling was a boarder at St Patrick’s. He played in the 2nd XVIII football team, which were champions in 1911. He passed his Matriculation exams very creditably; English Language and Literature (Honours), Latin Language and Literature (Honours), French Language and Literature (Honours), Trigonometry, and Geometry.

After leaving St Patrick’s William worked at the London Bank of Australasia, in Maryborough, as mentioned in the College Annual of 1912-13.

Service No:– 83

Rank:– – Private

Unit:- – 24th Battalion

Wilfred Dowling enlisted on 10 March 1915 at the age of 19 years and five months. Because he was under 21 years of age, he had to have his parents’ signed consent to join up. Family members have revealed that Wilfred and his friend -‘Stacker’ Thompson signed each other’s papers, as neither of their families wanted their sons to enlist.

Wilfred was a single man, whose occupation was bank clerk. He was five feet, nine and one quarter inches tall, with a fair complexion, brown eyes and -‘brownish’ hair. He embarked from Melbourne on 8 May 1915 aboard the Euripides, bound for Suez. After some weeks training in Egypt, Private Dowling proceeded with the Mediterranean Expeditionary Forces from Alexandria to Gallipoli, on 30 August 1915.

He was wounded in action at Lone Pine on 26 November, sustaining a shrapnel wound in his right thigh. He was evacuated out to Egypt, being admitted to the 1st Australian General Hospital at Heliopolis on 5 December 1915 for further treatment.

Private Dowling’s wound was severe enough for him to be returned to Australia on the Kanowna in January 1916, with the recommendation that he needed a six month -‘change’. However, after his arrival in Melbourne on 10 March, he was ultimately discharged from the AIF on 18 May 1916, as being medically unfit for active service. The medical report noted the severe shrapnel wound to his leg, and also that he had flat feet.

Settling back into civilian life, Wilfred resumed his career as a bank clerk, working his way up to the position of manager. He married Gwendolyn Beverley Stewart, the daughter of Arthur Richards Stewart, Mayor of Ballarat 1930-1931. They married on 8 May 1930 at the Scots Church, Ballarat. The couple moved to Echuca where they lived above the bank that Wilfred managed. Wilfred’s daughter Helen Hutchinson tells the story of an incident when her father was returning to the bank after collecting the door money from the local cinema, to store it in the bank’s safe. He did this on a weekly basis, and usually at the same time of day each week. On the occasion in question on Saturday 4 November 1939, Wilfred noticed -“

– -‘-¦ a shortish man dressed in a grey suit [who] crossed the street in front of him, whilst the assailant, a tall thin man in a dark suit, overcoat, hat and mask leaped out of a drive way in Heygarth St, between Dr Brown’s surgery and the bank premises menacing Mr Dowling with a gun. The latter commanded him to -stick -’em up-. Mr Dowling struck the assailant twice in the face with his left fist, but a shot rang out and the manager fell to the ground, his assailant fleeing in the direction of High St -¦ Although bleeding profusely Mr Dowling resolutely hurried to the bank and deposited the money -¦ Mr Dowling sustained an injury when the bullet struck a bone in the back of his head and ricocheted through a window above the door of the bank premises, ploughed along the ceiling of the passage where it was later discovered. It remained [embedded in the ceiling] until at least 1943 -¦’

After 13 years in Echuca, Wilfred was transferred to Melbourne in 1943. So well thought of in Echuca, the locals took up a petition and pleaded with the bank to reverse their order, however the transfer stood.

Wilfred Hendry Dowling died on 16 January 1953, aged 58 years old. He was survived by his wife and two children. He was interred at Springvale Cemetery.