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
4976 Lance Corporal George Lake Austin - Jarrahmond / Orbost Killed in Action 9 October 1917
Named after his father, it was a tough upbringing for George Austin who was born in 1885. His father had been married twice, with both wives dying, before he married George’s mother Jane Thompson in 1883. It was an instant family as George snr had three children from his first marriage. George and Jane’s first child, Sydney, died as an infant before George jnr was born in Melbourne. His brother Henry was born in 1887 and by the time Olive completed the family in 1889 they had moved to Orbost where they farmed and in 1891 George operated his “architect, builder, contractor and timber merchant business” from Macleod Street, Orbost next to Pardews. Early the following year, when George was seven years old, his father left Orbost. This left Jane with no support for her or the six children. George Lake Jnr and his siblings were possibly educated at the Jarrahmond school for it was in this area the family was best known and when he was old enough, George started farming. It was a big year for George in 1916. George was 30 years old when he, and seven other Orbost men as a result of an enlistment drive, signed up in February at Sale with the 22 nd  Battalion to serve King and Country and three months later he wed. On 1 May George married Lelia Mackieson at St James Church of England, Orbost. Lelia, at 17 years old was somewhat younger than George, and her family, the Mackiesons, were well known and established at Buchan. On 3 July George left Melbourne on the Ayrshire bound for Plymouth. Meanwhile, back at Jarrahmond, Lelia Austin was desperate for any news of her husband. Lelia was no different to the thousands of other wives waiting at home but perhaps her youth is evident when on 29 August she wrote a letter to Base Records requesting information about her husband as I am getting anxious about him as I have had no word from him since he sailed and requested his current address. George would not land in Plymouth for another five days on 2 September. The following month, he forfeited twelve days pay when he was absent without leave between 2 – 6 October and another four days pay for neglecting to obey standing orders. Perhaps he needed to find some space after being confined to the ship for two months. After two months training at Folkestone, he was back on board S.S. Victoria  crossing the English Channel and landing in Etaples, France the next day. On 19 May 1917 he was appointed to Lance Corporal and when news of this arrived home, Lelia again wrote to the authorities asking what he was promoted for?  Being late for parade on 25 July saw him being deprived of his Lance stripes three weeks until they were reinstated on 19 August. On the evening of 9 October, Corporal Jinks had just taken him off a post when he was sitting down with me eating some bread and jam, when a 9.2 shell landed near by a piece entering his head killing him instantly. He was buried the same night. A cross was later placed close to the place but they could not get right to the grave as it was under heavy shell fire at the time. When news of his death reached Lelia her immediate response, not unexpectedly, was one of disbelief as she had received a letter from him dated 28 September saying that he had been wounded in the left arm by a piece of shell. As she had not been notified of that injury she asked do you think that there is a chance of the report from head quarters, France being a mistake that it would be wounded not killed. They responded stating that it was customary for the Overseas Authorities to report all such cases by cable, but that [the injuries] sustained by Pte. Austin may have been only of a superficial nature, and thus overlooked. With hope dashed Lelia was forced to accept the notification when her husband’s letters stopped. In the action that followed George’s actual grave was lost and as a consequence he is remembered, with thousands of others, at Menin Gate, Ypres. He is also remembered on the Jarrahmond School and Orbost Shire honour rolls. Many of George’s siblings remained in Gippsland and his wife, Lelia remarried in 1920 to Oscar Rozynski who sadly died the following year. Her marriage in 1925 to Albert Butcher was a long one. She had five children - the first, a son, named George Austin.  We have been unable to locate a photograph of Lance-Corporal George Austin, if you know of one, please make contact. Our group would appreciate your assistance.
….. he was sitting down eating some bread and jam