About the Author and his Life

Sasturday 23 April (where does the time go?)
The fingers mended perfectly and I was still whole but ready for further mischief. Some of this was my own making but a great deal was due to the big brother Roy. Some of my chronology may be wonky as I was still at an age where my memory of life was not y
Miniature chest of drawers
                                                              Mini chest of drawers similar to above was the Treasure Trove of Mysteries
Greece and Crete April – May 1941 from Wikipedia
Prime Minister of Australia,  Robert Menzies with the  British Prime Minister,  Sir Winston Churchill in  England, March 1941.

In March 1941, Robert Menzies, Prime Minister of Australia, with the concurrence of his Cabinet, agreed to the sending of Australian troops to Greece. Both Menzies and the Australian commander in the Middle East, Lieutenant-General Sir Thomas Blamey, felt that the operation was risky and might end in disaster. But Menzies, like the British Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill, felt that Greece should be supported against German aggression and that the defence of Greece was a ‘great risk in a good cause’.

In Greece, the Australians joined with a New Zealand and British force to defend the country against a threatened German invasion. Hitler was concerned that if Greece became a British ally then oilfields in Romania, on which Germany relied for her fuel, might be open to air attack from Greece. As the Germans were planning an invasion of Russia for June 1941, they could not allow such a threat to their essential oil supplies.

Australian soldiers on the steps  of the Acropolis in Athens,  March 1941.

The 6th Division arrived in Greece in early April 1941 and on 6 April the Germans began their invasion of Greece. Despite their efforts, the Allied force, together with Greek units, was unable to halt the rapid German advance down central Greece towards Athens. After a month of intensive fighting, the Allied force was evacuated from the Greek mainland on British and Australian warships and British transports. Some soldiers were taken back to Egypt but many were put ashore on the island of Crete. Here, with Greek troops, they formed ‘Creforce’ and prepared to meet the Germans, who came on 20 May 1941 in the shape of a major paratroop landing at three different places along the north coast of the island. Despite vigorous opposition to the Germans, the Allied force had eventually to be withdrawn, once again by British and Australian warships.

HMAS Stuart suffered damage from bombing attacks during escort duties to Greece in April 1941.

Greece and Crete were costly operations.

About 39 per cent of the Australia troops in Greece on 6 April 1941 were either killed, wounded or became prisoners of war.

Saturday 23 Jan 2016 Insert

Life went on in the Penny household at Glenlossie. Several of the brothers took up the call to arms and set off for the training camps at Blackboy Hill and Northam. They were hoping their contribution would shorten the war and return the World to peace. They were also heeding the call from the then Prime Minister Curtin for more soldiers as the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbour on Hawaii in December 7th 1941 causing great loss of life for the USA. It also brought the yanks (as they were called) into the Pacific War. They were soon fighting in the European Theatre as well.

Japan became relentless with its push down the Malay peninsula and across the Pacific Ocean taking island after island.

In Australia the situation became grim and the feeling was one of imminent invasion. Special plans were drawn up to a fall back line from Brisbane to Adelaide and the sacrifice of the rest of the land.

At Kojonup all eyes were on the newspapers, postman and the post box. All ears were stuck to the radio and on the ABC frequency.

The newspaper and radio was virtually the only way the population could follow what was happening. When the Japanese took Singapore it was a time of great fear as the fortress that the British had set up and manned was considered impenetrable and yet the Japanese, many riding bicycles, had defeated the British and Australian forces in Singapore in less than 3 days. Many of the soldiers were interned in a notorious prison called Changi.

The other fears at home was the postman as he was the bearer of the telegram that would arrive to announce that a love one was missing or KIA Killed in Action. People would watch out in dread with some refusing to open the door as they did not want to hear such dreadful news.

Tot Kerle (nee Penny) and her daughter Shirley received her bad news in 1942 telling her that her husband Frank had been captured and was in Changi Prison. This was a devastating blow for both. Frank was imprisoned for the rest of the war being released in 1945 as a frail skeleton due to the deprivations he had endured. Although he and Tot had a son Robert soon after, Frank succumbed to his mistreatment and died a relatively young man on 11th august, 1955 and was buried in the Katanning Cemetery.

Watching out for the post box was another dread for all as this is where the scum of society could take out their grievances on other young men of the town. If a young man between 18 and 45 was still staying in town and they were fit an healthy they were considered to be cowards, yellow backed or whatever expletive could be summoned. An envelope with a white feather would be furtively thrust through the post box opening and the message delivered loud and clear. This would have an immediate impact on the target as well as his family. Some rushed off to join, others left town while again some committed suicide in disgrace.

The Penny brothers happily heeded the call to arms and set off to defend their country. They were intent on returning to the farm once hostilities ceased and continuing the good work their father, Walter Hawkins Penny, had begun.

On the farm Maryanne and her girls continued life as best they could, They contributed to the War effort by raising money and foraging for scrap metal on the local dump that bordered the back fence of their property. She and daughter Clem along with Bessie won an award for collecting the most scrap metals in one year and this was in the news.

The girls became very fearful as the Japanese continued their push into New Guinea and Port Morseby was likely to fall. Things got even more terrifying when Japanese zeros began air raids on the Australian mainland. Darwin was strafed and bombed and towns down the western and eastern coast were hit. So worried was the town that air raid shelters and trenches were soon being built. The children at school practiced emergency drills running to the trenches around the school at the first sound of the air raid siren.

Back at Glenlossie Clem and Ruby with help from the other family members set about building a deep air raid sheleter complete with rations, water, steps and surrounded by sandbags. It was a state of the arts shelter and they believed they would be safe from the bombers if and when they came.

One day two aeroplanes were heard overhead causing some angst until it was pointed out that they had the friendly Australian bullseye circles painted on the sides. They were spitfires, the pride of the British and Australian air forces and the two pilots were on a training run. One was a local George Timms and he had decided to take a diversion across the Kojonup area to wag his wings in friendly fashion to his girlfriend (later wife) who was a nurse at the Kojonup Hospital. He had also brought along a message tied to a length of red ribbon. Ashe passed over the hospital he pushed back the spitfire’s canopy enough for him to eject the ribbon into the sky. It danced in the breeze as gravity slowly floated it earthwards. The gesture was an uplifting of spirits for all and especially the excited nurse the message was meant for.

Spitfire over Kojonup
Spitfire over Kojonup


Dreaded Japanese Zero fighter
Dreaded Japanese Zero fighter

Saturday 16 Jan 2016 Insert

Bessie as she was soon affectionately called had the adoration of all the Penny family that still remained at Glenlossie (many had met partners, married and moved on). Clem’s younger siblings in Ruby and Morris (Morry) looked after Bess and as she grew she joined in many of the farm activities.

After her penance on the farm and upon turning 21 Clem made the momentous decision to marry Bonny. This all happened on 13th December, 1939 not very long after war had been declared in Europe. Along with Ruby who was the bridesmaid the couple slipped quietly across to Katanning to the Registry Office. Bess was a baby and toddled along. The happy couple spoke the following words before the Registrar announced that they were man and wife.;

“I, [Bonny/Clem], take you, [Clem/Bonny] for my lawful [wife/husband], to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and therefore I pledge thee my faith.” (for those of you reading on will understand why I have used bold italics on the words in the vow).

The Marriage Certificate was signed by husband and wife and the witnesses. The small group returned to Kojonup and to what reception at Glenlossie is anyone’s guess but it was probably not a happy one.

Where the couple and their daughter lived from that time is uncertain. What transpired in the marriage and between the Penny and Buirchell families is also unknown but one could assume it was frosty.

With the Second World War raging in Europe and North Africa many of the local lads began to sign up and do their military training at Blackboy Hill in the hills above Perth. Some went off to the Northam Army Camp.

On April 25th, 1940 Bonny inexplicably went off and joined the long line of recruits. He was placed in the Signaller Corp of the 2nd 11th battalion. He did the basic training of using the 303, bayonet and tossing grenades as well as the technological requirements of a signaller.

He learnt Morse Code and how to run cables of wire thousands of feet between one command post and another. He was taught to run messages and to mend broken wire while under fire. All very scary but he seemed to enjoy the adventure and the comradeship.

The only real positive that appeared to come from this change of career was the pay. Bonny was on a regular pay and as he had signed for 4 years the income would be coming in to Clem weekly. She would need the money to look after her growing daughter, herself and a place to stay.

After a very short period of training Bonny and his mates were taken around to several towns where they were lined up in formation and did a march of honour. Clem stood proudly by the Albany Highway with Bess and they waved as husband and father marched past. This was both a recruitment drive as well as a farewell.

Within days the 2nd 11th battalion was embarked and it sailed for Egypt. Further training took place in Egypt and Palestine before the men were flung into the war fighting the Italians who were backed by the fierce Nazi troops commanded by General Rommel (The Desert Fox).

We have little information as to how Bonny and his mates fared as most did not talk about their experiences. We do know that they were soon withdrawn from North Africa and rushed to Greece to bolster the Greek army that was under repeated attacks by the German Army. This left the city of Tobruk vulnerable as a small group of Australians tried to defend it. These soldiers endured months of depravations as they fought fiercely to keep the city from falling into the hands of the Germans. They were so well dug in and able to fight at close quarters they became famously referred to as the Rats’ of Tobruk. Uncle Bill Masters (Bonny’s brother-in-law) was one of these heroes. He survived the entrapment and the war and returned to Kojonup to his beloved Emily at the end of the war.

This became a dangerous and deadly war zone as the Australians tried to push the Germans back through the mountains and were constantly bombed by the terrifying stuka bombers.

Eventually the superior Germans won through and there was a mad scramble by the Australians to get back to the port and board ships away from the dangers.

The ships were ordered to Crete to assist the British and to keep the Germans from capturing the mid Mediterranean Sea island. The Australians stayed in Crete for several months before the Nazi mounted an all out attack by air. They towed in gliders full of paratroopers. The Australians did well to keep the attackers out but eventually sheer weight of numbers beat them. The captured were sent off to Greece to be held in a hell hole prison before being transported by train north to Austria and Poland.

What happened to bonny as the paratroopers took over Crete has several versions. He told a story of escaping into the mountains and living with a kindly Cretian family before becoming ill and giving himself up.

One of his mates told my older brother that he and Bonny ere making ready to escape into the mountains but he became lame so Bonny stayed with him and both were captured immediately. Another version comes from Clem who wrote a stern letter to the Army several years after the war demanding that her husband be awarded a Greek medal as he had been part of the war effort for that country and that others had already received theirs. (He did get that medal some moths after the letter was sent). In her letter she writes that while her husband, Bonny, was on Crete he had hidden with peasants up in the mountains.

He eventually was interned in the Greek prison near Athens and then trained north to Poland. The train was that used for cattle movement and was ghastly for the men crammed together. They had no privacy, sparse food and no exercise on the 800 mile journey that took several days. As they ventured further north the temperature plummeted and the once sturdy, sun burnt Australians suffered badly.

Bonny ended up marching into Stalag 8 in Poland and here he was to remain until the war ended in 1945.

The strange process within the army became even stranger still on a personal note when Clem received a telegram in 1941. A telegram in those war torn days usually meant someone had been killed in action. Her telegram bore a slightly different message but she took it to mean the same. The message said “Private William Roy Buirchell is missing in action. presumed dead”.

Whether she mourned her loss or whether the Penny clan were pleased to see that the shackle they believed their darling daughter had tied around her neck was broken no one said. What was evident was Clem quickly forgot about Bonny and was soon courted by a local farmer. So strong did their bond become that they became engaged. A wedding date was set and all was ready for the couple to move out to his farm.

A new telegram turned up that said that Bonny was alive and well but in a German War Camp in Poland. All marriage plans were off and the concern then became how to hide this missive from Bonny should he eventually return to Kojonup. The heart broken farmer went back to his previous lonely life but never forgot the love he had for the dark eyed, dark haired beauty that he yearned so desperately to marry.


Tuesday 12 Jan 2016 Insert

Clemence Jean Penny was b0rn on 10th January, 1917 in Greenhills near York. She grew to be a dark eyed, black haired beauty full of energy. She went to school and did well in her primary schooling. She was athletic and became an accomplished hockey player. She was one of the favoured of the Penny’s probably because she was a ‘Little Miss Helpful’. He father, Walter Hawkins adored her throughout her life and he was living with her in Kojonup when he passed away.

Clem, as she was widely known, matured into a mischievous young woman. A favourite trick in cohort with her best friend was to play the parents off against each other. They would suggest sleepovers at the other’s house and then go off to the local dances to have a night of fun. They would bundle their fine clothes to keep them smooth and clean and then either walk or ride horses to nearby locations such as Jingalup, Muradup, Boscabel and Kojonup to dance the night away. They would then make the trip back towards home, parting along the way and telling their parents they had enjoyed the sleep over at the other’s house.

Clem was not so popular with her older siblings especially Maggie. This was probably to do with the favouritism shown by father Walter Hawkins. There was one rather nasty incident that set the two sisters on to a road of estrangement for life. What actually happened has never been revealed but the aftermath was herendous. Clem was sitting by the kitchen fire when Maggie swept in in a rage and grabbed her younger sister’s hands at the wrist and manhandled her to the stove. Here she held Clem’s hands onto the scorching top plate, palms down causing severe burning all the while spitting a mouthful of expletives.

The sisters never spoke to each other again.

Bonny Buirchell was born on 11th September, 1912 near Williams. One would guess it was a bush birth birth rather than at a hospital. When he was young he lost his best friend and brother from diphtheria. He was a quiet child who loved his own company and spent a lot of his days as a youngster with his kangaroo dog and a 22 rifle. Together they supplied much of the meat for the family.

As he wandered the bush around Kojonup he became an expert bushman and knew a great deal about the flora and fauna. He learnt to seek out rabbits and to set traps. This led him later to take on rabbit trapping as a profession. He spent time at the old Kojonup School on the corner of Spring Street and Pensioner Road, There was only 3 rooms and mixed groupings of children at the school. Bonny did well and was especially adept at sums.

As he grew into his teens he was made to give up his education and to go and find a real job to help out with the family finances. He father was ailing from dementia and his mother was bravely keeping the family together. Bonny started to find work on farms as a farm hand, rouse-a-bout and shearer. As  shearer he soon began to excel and often shore over the one hundred mark daily. He was well sort after by the local farmers for his clean shearing and his speed.

It was in sport that he excelled and made a name for himself throughout the Kojonup District. During his wanderings as a child he honed hid hand-eye co-ordination hitting stones with sticks and throwing stones at animals and inanimate objects. When he got to school and began to learn about cricket and football his natural skills and the hand-eye accuracy set him apart from the other kids. He was the first picked in any team.

As he grew into adulthood he was selected in the grown up teams and played with distinction. If you look through the results in the old news papers that can be found on Trove you will often see B. Buirchell as the top run scorer or the best footballer who scored over half a dozen goals. As a child I recall many trophies that sat gathering dust in our house but at that time no one told me about my father’s sporting prowess.

During 1936 the lives of William Roy (Bonny) Buirchell and Clemence Jean Penny collided. How it all began and how quickly things moved is open to conjecture. Two popular community sporting people the man being 24 and the female  was 19. The result was a pregnant Clem and an outcast Bonny. When the Penny parents discovered their daughter was in child they were aghast. Worse was to come when Clem had to admit that the father was Bonny Buirchell. As we have noted elsewhere the Buirchell family was the arch-enemy of Mary Anne Penny.

Clem was banned from all social contact with the Kojonup community and was kept under tight rein at Glenlossie. She was not allowed to see or speak with the Buirchell clan and especially Bonny.

The child, Elizabeth Kaye (Bess) was born 0n 10th July, 1936 in the Kojonup Hospital.



My paternal side of the family has been a mystery for much of my life. The Buirchell family came into Western Australia through George Birchall (note the spelling)  who was a convict. He had been a plasterer and had got himself in trouble with the law by stealing a leg of lamb as he left a manor he had been rendering. He was sentenced to 7 years transportation arriving at Fremantle Goal during the 1850s. Even though he was considered a villain he soon was released as a Ticket of Leave man and became a labourer through the Broomehill to Albany areas.

He met and married Mary Ann Sale in Albany and they had 5 children. Nathaniel was the eldest and he died a tragic death when the gun he was carrying on a hunting trip fired and blew part of one leg to shreds. All efforts to save him and he bled to death and was buried on a property near Broomehill. Then followed Mary Ann, George (lived to the age of 6), Thomas and Ellen Gertrude. It was through Thomas that my paternal line survived.

Thomas was born near Williams in 1870 and married Alice Agnes Rogers. They had 9 children all of whom did not survive past childhood. In order of birth there was James George who died in Etticup (near Broomehill at 2 years old), Margaret Francis, Agnes Alice, Emily, Thomas George (Died of diphtheria at age of 5), Mary Ann, William Roy (known as Bonny and my father), Henry Lloyd (known as Mick) and Laura May.

Each in turn married and started their own families. Most stayed in Kojonup for their entire lives.

You may ponder why I have said that and it is because my own family was Kojonup bound for well over 85 years and yet I hardly knew my paternal relations.

If you wander back in memory as to the maternal side you will recall that they were well to do farming folk. On the other hand the Buirchell family was poor and often struggled to make ends meet. They moved constantly and were farming labourers. There were attempts to own and farm land but this all came to naught as the work ethic was lacking. It got so bad that Thomas volunteered to fight in the Australian Army at the age of 44 well above that which they recruited at.  He was constantly unwell and even though he did get to England he never fired a shot in anger. He returned home a man with developing dementia and slowly became an invalid and an alcoholic. He did manage to produce one final daughter when Laura was born in 1920.

Alice Agnes was a strong, determined woman who had a sense of humanitarianism stored away. She was always ready to help those in need or those who were worse off than she was. She was quite popular among the citizens of Kojonup, the “townies”. As Thomas deteriorated Alice found herself facing life alone looking after a man whom she loved but who could do little. She managed to buy two small properties out past the cemetery and on one of these she built a house.

She designed the building, made the mud bricks, cut the wattle and the shingles. Slowly she constructed the wattle and daub cottage which was able to keep out the rain and the sun as the couple slowly entered their twilight years.

Unfortunately the house also caused the accident that resulted in Alice dying and Thomas being put in a Perth Home until he also died.

There had been a leak in the roof and so Alice determined she had to climb up and change the shingle. So in the early part of the morning while it was cool she wheeled Thomas outside in his wheelchair and made sure he was comfortable and could see her working. She used a self made ladder to climb to the roof and take with her a hammer, nails and some shingles. She was, as always wearing a long, white dress that reached to her ankles. As she neared the top of the ladder her foot became entangled in the dress and the obstacles she was carrying slipped. She moved her weight to catch the hammer and shingles while at the same time tried to extricate her foot from the dress. The entire ladder overbalanced and she rode it backwards to the ground.

Alice hit the ground with a tremendous crash knocking her unconscious and damaging her spine. She lay within feet of Thomas who could see her and know that she was in trouble but he was unable to assist. His mind was too far gone for him to deal with getting help. Alice lay all day in the rising heat of the day and was only found by chance towards evening. She died in the Kojonup Hospital a day or two later. The family couldn’t hope to cope with Thomas and his mental problems so he was sent away to Sunset Hospital in Dalkeith where he died in 1955.

The Penny family and the Buirchell family were so far apart socially that it was hardly believable that a daughter from one would meet and marry the son from another. What transpired for these two young people to meet and why they were so attracted to each other that they were prepared to wait 3 years to marry is a mystery.


We move on to the 6th child born to Walter Hawkins and Maryanne Penny and she was born in 1912. She married Albert Norman Cavanagh in 1933 at Katanning before settling on a farm out the Collie Road. They had a son Brian and two daughters.

In 1914 Jessie Evelyn May “Tot” Penny came into the World in Greenhills. She married Francis Herbert “Frank” Keirle in Katanning in 1934 and they had a daughter Shirley and a son Robert. Frank was incarceratedin Changi Prison on the island of Singapore when the Japanese invaded the ‘impenetrable fortress”. He spent 5 years in atrocious conditions and returned a very weakened man. He died within a decade in 1955.

Clemence Jean Penny (my mother) was born in Greenhills on the 10th January, 1917 and as you can calculate is fast closing on her centennial. She married William Roy “Bonny” Buirchell in Katanning on December 13th, 1939. They settled into the little cottage in Kojonup with their daughter Elizabeth Kaye who had been born in 1937. They had not been allowed to marry by her parents as she was not 21 and therefore would not give their consent.

Bonny signed up for the army in April 1940 and trained as a signaller. He was involved in North Africa where he rode a motorcycle between command posts and to keep the wire lines open. Dangerous but vital jobs.

He was moved to Greece with his battalion, the 2/11th as the German army threatened toover run the country from the north. The Geeks and Aussies were soon overwhelmed by the stormtroopers from the ground and stukas from the air. The Aussies were ordered to retreat to Athens and from here were moved to the island of Crete. After a massive air drop of gliders and paratroopers the Germans overran the Australian and New Zealand troops.

Bonney escaped into the mountains, living off the land and generosity of the local Cretans. Unfortunately he and others were being constantly hunted by the Germans so he eventually was captured. He was shipped back to Greece to a notorious prison where after several weeks of deprivation, loaded into a cattle truck and sent by rail in atrocious conditions north to Stalag 8 inside Poland. Here he suffered for 5 years terrible conditions and deprivations.

We know very little of how he coped although he did write to his mother and wife on several occasions.

On the 17th January 1945 as the Russian army began to win on the eastern front all prisoners were ordered out of their prisons and made to take part in what became to be known as the Long March. It was the worst winter that Europe had experienced yet these men were forced to march towards Berlin a distance of over 600 km. They were made to march virtually non-stop and without food and water until they finally met and were liberated by the British.

Many perished on the way. Bonny was released and sent to Scotland for R&R where he had a liberating time before being repatriated back to Kojonup.

When Bonny was first discovered missing while serving on Crete Clem received a telegram stating he was “Missing Believed Dead”. As no word was forthcoming for many weeks she gave up in grief and was sort out by a local farmer who offered her comfort. They were engaged and readied to marry. When news arrived that her husband was well although a POW Clem had to break off the engagement.

Bonny was in such a carefree mood in Scotland that he gave the young ladies who were entertaining him and his mates his address in Kojonup. The letters beat him home and Clem was not so forgiving as Bonny proved to be when he discovered the story of the engagement. What ever transpired between the two over the next few months did not stop the family from growing.

Ian Roy was born in 1946, then Anthony William (me) in 1949, Bevan John in 1951, Lois Roxanne in 1954. Finally in 1960 Clem gave birth to twins one being stillborn and the other, Noelle died within a few hours.

Buirchell Family 2006
Buirchell Family 2006

Ruby Penny was born in Greenhills in 1919 and married Frank Buswell in Bunbury. They had two daughters with the first dying young and Carol. Ruby  died from cancer in 1951 at the young age 0f 32.

The 10th and final child in the Penny clan was Morris Federick  born in 1921 and he married Irene from Denmark West Australia. They had three daughter Cheryl, Glenis and Marlene.


Home was in a small cottage in Kojonup a town or hamlet two hours drive from the major city of Perth. The cottage was small but comfortable for a family of five and was nestled on an acre of land.

My maternal grandfather, Walter Hawkins Penny, had moved to Kojonup from Greenhills (York) in the 1920s after being hounded by my maternal grandmother Maryanne Elizabeth (nee White)to leave. Granddad had been a clever man having come out from Wales and settling in the York area he had slaved away for others, squirrelling his money and then buying small holdings. Each purchase added to his acreage until he had a substantial property in one of the most reliable wheat and sheep areas in Western Australia.

He was doing particularly well and had even began passing a roving eye over a young lady by the name of Maryanne Elizabeth White whose parents farmed in the area.

Unfortunately for Maryanne one fateful day in 1892 her 12 year old younger brother William was sent by his father to check on some trees that were being burnt out. This method was used to clear the land and was less arduous than axe and cross-cut saw. William was to check that each tree had a roaring fire around its base and then return home on the horse he was riding.

After some hours the horse returned to the farm house but there was no sign of William. Fearing the worst William’s father also a William mounted his horse and in company of a couple of farm hands raced off to the paddock where William Junior had been working in.

One of the trees had unexpectedly crashed while the boy was tending to another and he was crushed to death. His family, but especially his sister Maryanne was devastated. Maryanne would never forgive the Greenhills area and she believed William’s ghost roamed unhappily throughout the district.

Walter Hawkins and Maryanne finally wed in 1898 and set about having a large family of 10. As Walter Hawkins became more prosperous, Maryanne became more incensed with the land that had taken her favourite brother. She feared for her growing brood and pestered Walter to move somewhere safer.

Eventually the move happened as Glenlossie, a prosperous and large farm in the Kojonup area, came on sale. The Penny’s were soon ensconced in their new abode with its rambling verandahs and numerous bedrooms. The  kitchen was spacious and there was plentiful space in the lounge for entertaining.

The farm itself was over 3000 acres and along with running sheep oats were grown to many bags to the acre. Maryanne was a happy lady and worked tirelessly with her daughters and sons to build a delightful garden that stretched well over 50 metres from the house to the Albany Highway. Out the back she established a thriving orchard and vegetable garden. The 1920s were indeed prosperous for the Penny family and they were at the top of the invitation list within the district.

Sinister things had happened in the Glenlossie house as far back to the turn of the century and many a visitor attested to seeing a ghost roaming the hallways at night. This could only have been McHenry Clarke who shot himself rather than continue to face economic ruin that he perceived faced him. Maryanne poo pooed all such thoughts and continued to be the mother and hostess personified.

The children had all been born in Greenhills and were now growing healthily and happily in the new environment. The older ones were helping on Glenlossie as well as taking whatever jobs cropped up throughout the district. Some soon found partners and married and drifted away to other major towns.

The oldest was Walter, born in 1899 in York, went off to live with his new wife Edwina Mary Pyke in Brookton. Walter had a very bad accident when quite young. His father, Walter Hawkins was drilling a hole through the barn wall and had sent the youngster to the other side to yell out when the bit came through. Be exceptionally keen to please his father he had pushed his face to the timber wall and kept a “close” eye out. The bit slipped through and punctured his eye. He lost the sight even though he lived a long and fulfilling life.  Walter and Edwina had two boys but tragedy struck when one of the boys was tragically drowned on the Swan River while sailing. A freak gust upturned the yacht and nothing could be done to revive the lad.

The second child was Ivy Lillian born in York 1900. She found her love in George Bernard Grigson and they went off to live in Beverley. They had two sons in Arthur and Frederick.

The tird child was a boy born in 1902 in York and named Herbert and he married Annie Freda (always called Freda) and they stayed in Kojonup owning a house on Newstead Road. Here they raised five children Annie, June, Malva, Victor and Stanley. Herbert worked for the Kojonup Road Board and was a front end loader driver. He was considered highly for his skills and knowledge of road works. In 1954 while working out near Boscabel he was crushed to death between the loader and a tree he was working near.

The fourth child was a boy named Ernest Claude and called Claude was born in 1904 in York. He met and married Mary Ann Meehan and they lived in Meckering. They raised five sons some of whom took up farming and one joined the navy. Unfortunately both Claude and Mary met their demise shortly after the 1968 Meckering Earthquake. The wall behind their bed had developed a long crack in it from the shaking of the earthquake and they sort assurances that it was safe. A few days later the couple were found crushed under the rubble of the wall which had toppled in the night.

The fifth of the Penny brood was Clarence George born in 1909 and he married Margaret Dicker-Lee and they went to live in York. It was here that he took up his favourite sport in training trotters. The Penny family grew swiftly to two boys Ramon and Graham. The older child was involved in a trauma when he went running around a corner near the stables. He movements spooked a horse that lashed out and the horse shoe smashed into the boy’s cheek. It gouged a large flap from the area and although the medical staff cleaned the wound and administered anti-biotics septicaemia set in and death eventuated. After that tragedy the family moved to Perth living in the suburb of Doubleview. Clarence continued to train trotters. Margaret became circumspect about life in general. One day the three set off for the city and Clarence took Graham to the movies while Margaret went off to a business appointment. Margaret was never seen again.

Despite a wide ranging police investigation Margaret had simply vanished. To this day no trace has ever been found of her.

Clarence and Graham continued to live in Doubleview and spent much time searching but to no avail. Eventually Clarence met and married Edna Field and they had a stormy marriage. This got to a point where the son, Graham, decided that he could no longer tolerate the situation so at barely 16 he ran away. Like his mother little was heard of him although there was a report of relations finding him many years later on the east coast south of Sydney. Edna continued to have mental concerns and electric shock treatment was tried with little success. Clarence became nomadic wandering the state and returning to Doubleview infrequently. The two separated and Edna passed away in 1983. Clarence found solace with another young lady and he died in 1974in Medina West Australia.⇒more to come


A Star is Born ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥


Image result for baby clipart

When we are born into this life we have no recollection of the event or the people who were involved. What we do eventually are able to tell others is from the stories passed on by the main characters in the drama that took place.

Our memories do not develop into tangible thoughts until some event occurs that makes us realise that we actually do exist and that there is a real World surrounding us. And so it was with me except my event that brought me into seeing the World was rather innocuous particularly considering the traumas that I had put my little body through in the first three years of life.

My birth should have been insignificant with my slimy body slipping quietly and quickly into the doctor’s hand. A swift wack on the back, a snort of fresh air and a bellow of indignity and the announcement, after full verification of course, “Congratulations Mrs Buirchell you have a son”.

With me it was apparently a marathon to beat all marathons and my mother had a battle that last many hours. Instead of being in the right position all ready to slip into the World I had decided a more upright view was to my liking. Of course this add to all sorts of complications that did not allow all the limbs and head to move through and slide out easily.

The poor doctor, Dr Abernethy, who proved time and again to the community of Kojonup that he was a man who could perform miracle cures, could only wait and pray that all would eventually go well.

The little bugger inside his mother’s womb must have got wind of the cruel World that awaited him on the outside. I say cruel as the war had only just ended leaving many grieving souls, many missing men, bitterness that would last a lifetime, economies that were ruined and for many no real hope for the future. It was a troubled and lonely place to be arriving in.

After many hours the little body succumbed to nature and came kicking and protesting out onto the surgery table. Dr Abernethy took a look of verification before slapping the back, waited for a snort of air and then announced, “Congratulations Mrs Buirchell you have a son”.

I was whisked away into a humi-crib and ministered by nurses day and night. My poor mother needed plenty of rest after her ordeal but was still expected to offer the nipples for a good feed. It was the baby that was the important patient at this hospital.

As the days went along the hospital staff became more and more worried and then alarmed. I had turned a rather bright yellow all over.

At about this time in the cruel World that I had entered the White Australia Policy was at its most vehement and the Chinese immigrants who had blessed our shores were being rounded up and deported. This was causing great alarm throughout the communities.

Dr Abernethy on his rounds one morning had looked in on my progress and having heard the nurses discussing my bright yellow colouring and knowing about the Chinese was heard to suggest, “I think this one may need to be deported with his Chinese relations.”

Luckily for me Dr Abernethy was joking as he was clever enough to know that I was afflicted with a severe case of Yellow Jaundice. Mother was sent packing as she had recovered well due to her health and fitness but I was required to linger and was put on a bottle with milk formula.

The jaundice slowly subsided and eventually I was released into the waiting arms of my mother, big sister, Bess, and big brother, Roy. Unknown to all including myself, my brush with the dreaded Yellow Jaundice left a telling legacy that would be forever present but not surface for decades to come.  ⇒more coming


4 thoughts on “About the Author and his Life

  1. Really enjoyed reading the history of your family. It gives a real insight into what it was like during the war. How do you remember all these things. Your writings makes me feel that I am there. Great Work! Thanks for sharing. 🙂


  2. You have jogged many memories for me Tony. I have also learned tings I was unaware of so a huge thank you. Hopefully we can get some more input from other offspring of the Buirchell family. You write as if you are just having a chat with the reader and that is both refreshing makes the content both interesting and far more real. Please don’t stop.


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