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
5706 Private Francis Robert Wren - Bairnsdale  Died of illness 6 January 1917
It was a great wrench for Frank Wren to leave his young wife, Mary and two sons, Stewart and Norman and go to war but he felt he must go for having informed the department that he would enlist on a certain date, he would have to honour his promise and keep faith with the young fellows who had left before him and whom he had told he would follow. Frank  had circumstances that could well have excused him but the sight of so many others whom he thought should go forward in the interests of their country holding back was galling to him and he determined that no reproach would attach to himself. Frank was born in Geelong and after completing his three-year hairdresser apprenticeship he purchased a hairdressing and billard saloon in Bairnsdale from James Morrison in May 1909. The saloon boosted three first-class Alcock billiard tables and Frank at once was popular and gained the esteem of the community through his genial manner and straightforward business methods. He made his rooms in Main Street available to many of the sporting groups including the football, rowing and shooting clubs for their meetings and also donated perpetual trophies to each of the clubs. He also joined the fire brigade and the Bairnsdale Club. In 1912, when he was 35 years old, Frank married local lass Mary Morrison from Emu Vale and their son Francis Stewart was born the following year and Norman Robert in 1915. At this stage of the war few married men enlisted, and even fewer with young families, but Frank, who was almost 39 years old, and who had been rejected twice medically unfit, would not renege on his promise to the department and so on 29 February 1916, Frank enlisted with the 23rd Infantry. When Frank returned for his last home visit before leaving, his friends attended a farewell where Bill Pearson, Captain of the Fire Brigade, presented him with a wristlet watch and wished him good luck and expressed the earnest hope that he would return to Bairnsdale in the same health and strength as he was leaving. But the good health didn’t stay with Frank and within twelve months, Mary, would be informed of his death. Frank sailed on the Shropshire and arrived in New Plymouth on 11 November 1916. He was undergoing training in England when on New Year’s Day he was admitted to Fargo Miliary Hospital, Salisbury with acute bronchitis and died five days later on 6 January 1917. Antony Brabet, also from Bairnsdale, was also training at Salisbury and planned to visit him but instead ended up acting as pallbearer at his military funeral service on 9 January at Durrington Cemery, Wiltshire. When news of his death reached Bairnsdale it cast quite a gloom over the town. When he volunteered his friends and the public were very surprised as the sacrificie in his case was so much greater as he was well known as a loving and devoted husband and father and to leave his wife and two young children, people could hardly believe it. He regarded his country’s calling as a most important and urgent matter. In March, Mrs F. Wren advertised in the Bairnsdale Advertiser that she has taken over her husband’s business and promises to do her best, to merit a continuance of support given to her late husband, but she is struck another blow when her mother, Jane Morrison of Delvine, whom she had been nursing, also dies suddenly the same month. One can only imagine the determination of Mary Wren who, whith two young boys and two family deaths almost at the one time, kept going. It must have been an emotive time for her when the parcel arrived from Fargo hospital some months later containing the wristlet watch that Bill Pearson and given to her husband when he left for the front. Mary never remarried and died in Bairnsdale in 1967, aged 93 years after seeing her family grow and flourish. Frank Wren displayed an exceptionally noble instance of patriotism and his loss to the community was no small one and he is remembered on several local honour rolls.
….. when he volunteered friends and family were very surprised