Mrs. Maggie Jane DENNING of Charles Street Bunbury, must have experienced a wide range of mixed emotions, when her three Sons enlisted for active service in the Great War . The enlistments were completed in a four week period in August-September 1916, with the boys disembarking in England in February-March 1917. Australian Newspapers had been regularly reporting our nation’s loss of young lives at the Front, and once hostilities were terminated,Mrs. DENNING could finally rest in peace . The last of her three Sons, Arthur, safely arrived at Fremantle on 16th August 1919. Many Families who also had multiple sons abroard, were not as lucky as the Denning’s, who were blessed by having the three boys return from the horrors of the War.
( 1 )- DENNING, Pte. Frederick – 3145 – 51st Battalion.
Frederick was working as a Labourer, when at 18 years of age, and being the youngest of three brothers, became the first to enlist for active service on 21st August 1916. He was posted to the 51st Battalion at Blackboy Hill Camp W.A and had completed almost six months training ,when he disembarked from the troopship ” Berrima “, at Devonport England, in mid-February 1917. After a further five months training at Hurdcott and Codford Camps in England, Frederick joined the 51st Battalion, on the Western Front in France.
Only five weeks later, he was placed under observation with the Australian Field Ambulance, before being admitted to the 53rd General Hospital in Boulogne. His illness required evacuation to England where he was admitted to the Military Hospital at Bethnal Green. Twelve days after admission, he was discharged and granted two weeks Leave in England.
In early October 1917, Frederick was transferred to the Command Depot at Weymouth, spending four weeks, before embarking on the troopship ” Themistocles ” for Australia. He was discharged from service as Medically Unfit on 25th January 1918.
( 2 )- DENNING, Lance Corporal Arthur James- 6307- 2nd Divisional Train.
Arthur was almost 23 years of age, and working as a Motor Driver, when he enlisted for active service on 25th August 1916 ( four days after younest brother Frederick ). He was posted to the 28th Battalion at Blackboy Hill Camp W.A. for four months training, prior to embarking on the troopship ” Persic “, just following Christmas 1916. On arrival at Devonport Enland on 3rd March 1917, Arthur was posted to a Training Battalion at Rollestone, where he was to spend the next three and a half months.
On 3rd July 1917, Arthur joined the 28th Battalion in the field in France, and saw susequent action in Belgium. Unfortunately on Christmas Eve 1917, he became incapacitated with Pyrexia, later diagnosed with Scabies, and was out of action for more than two weeks. Once deemed recovered, Arthur rejoined the 28th Battalion in the field in France from 11th January 1918. He remained with his unit, at the front ,for seven months, until granted Leave to England in mid-August 1918.
Post two weeks English Leave , Arthur rejoined the 28th Battalion in the field in France. Following five weeks in action, he was struck down with Broncho-Pneumonia , which required ten weeks treatment and convalescence in Hospitals at Havre. In early January 1919, Arthur was transferred to the Australian Army Services Corp, where he was appointed as a Driver with the 2nd Divisional Train.
A promotion to the rank of Lance Corporal quickly followed, then a period of four months service as a Temporary Corporal in the field in France, with his new unit. On 31st May1919, he was posted to the Command Depot at Weymouth England, in preparation for his return to Australia.
On 12th July 1919, Arthur embarked England on the troopship ” City of Exeter ” , arriving at Fremantle on 16th August 1919. He was discharged from service on 24th September 1919.
( 3 )- DENNING , Pte. Ebenezer- 3144- 4th Divisional Train.
Ebenezer was 19 years of age, working as a Motor Mechanic, when he was the last of the three brothers to enlist for active service on 20th September 1916. He was posted to the 51st Battalion at Blackboy Hill Camp W.A , where he completed training for the ensuing three months. Ebenezer had joined his younger brother Ferederick in the 51st Battalion, and they embarked from Fremantle , together on the troopship ” Berrima “, on 23rd December 1916.
The two younger brothers were completing their English Training together at Hurdcott and Codford Camps, until Ebenezer suffered illness in early June 1917. During the following seven months, he had his Training routine at Codford regularly interspersed with admissions to Codford Hospital, requiring treatment for an Abscess, Mastitis and Laryngitis.
In late November 1917, Ebenezer began an uninterrupted two month training regime at Codford Camp, which culminated in his posting to the 51st Battalion in the field in France on 26th January 1918. ( Ironically, brother Frederick was being discharged from service in Australia, at this time ). On 24th February 1918, Ebenezer was admitted to the 2nd Australian General Hospital at Wimereux France with a further occurrence of Mastitis, then further treatment at St. Martins Hospital Boulogne.
Ebenezer rejoined the 51st Battalion in the field in France on 17th March 1918, spending almost three months with his unit, until transferred to the 4th Divisional Train on 12th June 1918. After completing a further three monthe service with this Unit, he was transferred to their Headquarters in France on 9th September 1918.
He was then posted to the Command Depot at Weymouth England on 10th December 1918, in preparation for his return to Australia. Ebenezer embarked from England on the troopship ” Karoa ” on 28th March 1919 ( his file is noted that he was suffering from ” Effort Syndrome “), disembarking in Australia on 8th May 1919. He was discharged from active service on 16th June 1919.