The Last Battle

John Austin Mahony, a Catholic public servant from the Lands Department and John Harry Fletcher, an Anglican primary school teacher from Princes Hill Primary in Carlton, were the best of mates. WE have this on the authority of Australia’s official war historian, Charles Bean, who knew them both and mentions them in his account of the battle of Montbrehain. Beanvstates that they were friends from "Tech. teaching days", which, if true, means that Fletcher had been a teacher before he became a public servant.more...



Engineers and Water Bailiffs

At least 70 employees of the Victorian State Rivers and Water Supply Commission served during the Great War. Of these, 10 were killed and another 20 wounded. By the standards of the AIF this was not a particularly striking toll - the overall casualty rate of 42% is somewhat below the AIF average. more...



Saving Driver Herd

On 12th October 1917, the following letter was penned, probably from an artillery depot just behind the muddy front line near Ypres. The letter was written by Leonard Herd, a former clerk from the Country Roads Board in Melbourne, now serving as a driver with the 21st Field Artillery of the AIF. more...

Degrees of Insanity

In September 1915, the Public Service Journal of Victoria proudly recorded a testimonial dinner in honour of three recruits, all employees of the "Hospitals for the Insane" managed by the Chief Secretary's Department. more...



When and How did They Die

The records of those Victorian public sector workers who died reveal a grim snapshot of life on the Western Front (and it is overwhelmingly on the Western Front that they died - a number also died at Gallipoli but only one in Palestine). Around half of those for whom the cause of death is recorded died of shellfire and most of the rest of gunshot wounds. This is actually a larger proportion of gunshot wounds than is normal for the war (it is generally understood that more than 80% of deaths in World War One were caused by artillery). The greater prevalence of gunshot wounds, however, is not so unusual amongst Australian troops as they were used so often as assault troops - they tended to die while attacking rather than defending. more..