I recall my mother Eileen Gertrude
Daly nee Green, (1914 – 1991) telling me years ago about a
cousin of her’s being killed in France in World War 1. He
was John Evangelist Dee whose mother, Catherine Anastasia Green,
was my mother’s aunt. As John Evangelist Dee and Mum shared
the same grandparents they were first cousins. He was the eldest
child of Catherine Anastasia Green (01 November 1872 - 17 April
1951) and her second husband Michael Dee (13 October 1866 - 27 March
1929). They married at Redhill on 24 April 1895. Catherine’s
first husband was Edward Lawrence Cummins (1858-1892). The Dees
owned the Freeling Hotel which is about 60 kilometres north of Adelaide.
Previously they had the Royal Mail Hotel in Stone Hut. There is
a report in the Chronicle Newspaper on 21 December 1912 about their
license renewal for the Royal Mail Hotel in Stone Hut. Source: Trove.
Source: RSL Virtual War Memorial
After seeing an ANZAC
program on ABC television reminded me of this so I decided to
do a search.
was born on 29 March 1896 at Stone Hut, South Australia. He enlisted
in the AIF on 22 January 1916 and gave his occupation as a barman.
Michael Dee, his father, was granted the licence to the Mundoora
hotel in 1914.
His parents also
owned the Freeling Hotel, perhaps later, and he could well have
worked there, serving customers, changing the barrels, opening
and closing the bar. Following his training he embarked with the
43 Infantry Battalion at Adelaide on 9 June 1916 on HMAT "Afric"
bound for France via South Hampton. In January 1917 he was hospitalised
for a month for an unspecified illness (it may have been dysentery
as many soldiers suffered from it) and then rejoined his company,
which was still in France. He was in London in January 1918 for
training and at the end of the month he went back to France. He
was wounded in battle with a gunshot wound to the head on 4 July
1918 which is dispassionately decribed in his servicer record
as a "GSW". He was admitted to the 4th Australian Field
Ambulance and thereafter transferred to the 5th Casualty Clearing
Station. On the 20 of July he was transferred to the 11th Stationary
Hospital. The conditions in the field would have been devastating
- a gun shot head wound and it took over a week to get him to
hospital. John did not recover and died on 16 July 191 8 at Rouen,
Seine-Maritime, Haute-Normandie, France. He was buried at St Sever
Cemetery. These details are according to his war record held online
by the National Archives of Australia. On 6 August 1918 the Daily
Herald newspaper reported his death. Thank you to a fellow
SA genealogist researching war deaths for this information.
The record shows
that he died in action after being wounded in the final phase
of great German Spring push at the Second Battle of the Marne.
This was to be the last major German offensive on the Western
Front. The archive records provide interesting reading and an
insight to the war and its effect on families.
Following the war
the family had to deal with the armed services bureaucracy receiving
John’s personal possessions, getting probate on his will
and dealing with his life insurance company.
John's three brothers also served
in the armed forces:
Dee (1906-1941) died in action when HMAS Sydney was sunk.
Dee (1911-1960) served in the RAAF
Dee (1909-1960) served in the AIF
As mentioned above, his
family had the Freeling Hotel which is still there.
By 1922 his mum (and probably his dad too) had moved
to Torrensville which is a suburb of Adelaide. There
is a war memorial cenotaph outside the hotel according
to Google Maps street view. His name is inscribed on
the memorial, third from the top.
South Australia The hotel as it is today
and the cenotaph. (source
Google Maps ©)