Their bodies are buried in peace; but their names liveth for evermore.
Their Duty Done
A tribute to the men and women of the East Gippsland Region who Died as a result of their participation in World War One : 1914 -1919
2649 Private Henry Reuben Farmer - Bendoc / Combienbar Killed in Action 26 September 1917
Walter and Mary Farmer were both from Sussex and after meeting and marrying in Australia they moved to Bendoc where many of their thirteen children were born, including Henry, known as Harry to all. The children went to school at Bendoc Lower and then the family moved from Bendoc to Combienbar where they successfully farmed. Harry is variously listed as a labourer and miner from 1905-1912.  At 33, Henry was the only one of the boys to enlist doing so just seven months after the death of his father and it may have been thought the rest of the family could run the farm while he “did his bit” as the family representative. He enlisted on 20 April 1916 and after training made a surprise visit home in August before sailing on the Nestor on 2 October 1916. At 5’3¼” he would probably best be described as stocky but evidently he was not suited to sea voyages as he was admitted to hospital in England for a short stay before being marched out with his unit, the 58 th  Battalion, to Etaples on 20 January 1917. In April he suffered with pneumonia and was returned to England to recover on a fortnights furlough before attending training school. He re-joined his unit back in France on 1 August.    In June 1917, the Bruthen and Tambo Times reported that several letters had been received from local boys at the front, including Pte H. Farmer of Combienbar, who had been distinguishing himself in hand to hand encounters with the enemy and that they thought they should have the Germans shoved out of Belgium before the summer ended. The fighting was so chaotic in September 1917 that Harry was not missed by the authorities. On 21 May 1918, the following year, his mother wrote to the authorities saying she has had no word of her son since April last year and that lately his comrades of the same Batt, writing from France report him killed and that he fell at Ypres, but, so far, I have received no official word to that effect. They responded saying that he had re-joined his unit on 1 August 1917 and that if she was in possession of letters of other members of the force definitely intimating that Private Farmer has been killed in action, that she should forward them to the Department for investigation. On 23 July 1918 his file was amended to read that he was killed in action and buried somewhere in the vicinity of Polygon Wood on 26 September 1917 and his mother was informed of his death. In January 1919 Mary Farmer wrote to the officials requesting a photograph of his grave to no avail and then wrote just a few lines to let you know that I have not received any thing about my son Henry Farmer bags yet. I would like to receive it soon as you can send it along. It is going on two years since he got kill re no 2649 Pte Henry Farmer 58 th  Btn if you will oblige. No personal effects were returned and when his mother enquired it was suggested that she should apply for a nearest female relative pin. When Mary eventually received the memorial scroll and death plaque for her son she wrote expressing her gratitude saying, We mothers loved our sons and it is only a mother who knows the consolation and sweet remembrance that such artefact bring to us.  Henry Farmer is remembered on the Bendoc Lower State School Honour roll and the Orbost Shire roll. His name also appears at the Menin Gates memorial in Ypres where many other “lost” are recorded. We have been unable to locate a photograph of Private Henry Farmer, if you know of one, please make contact. Our group would appreciate your assistance.
….. in the chaos of September 1917 Harry was not missed