It seems appropriate to start ‘ANZAC’ month with the Anzac closest to me but who sadly I never met.
When researching my Yallourn post for Sepia Saturday, I came across a couple of other articles linked to my grandfather, Keith Leo GRENFELL (1911-1944).
There are photos of my grandfather on that post.
Keith was a boilermaker / fitter / engineer at the Yallourn Power Station.
I found this article from 1937 (when he was there) on the vast undertaking at Yallourn, attributed to Engineers.
I found another where the Yallourn SEC engineers went out on strike and wondered whether he would have gone on strike too.
If he was at all like his wife and son, I can't imagine he would have gone willingly.
After reading through his military file, I searched and found a couple of articles about the amazing march from Trawool (near Seymour) to Bonnegilla (near Albury) his training battalion undertook in 1940.
And another praising the value of the Militia men in training the soldiers of the AIF.
In 1929, Keith enlisted in the 52nd Battalion of the Citizen Militia Forces (CMF) at the age of 18, in Caulfield. He was promoted to Corporal by mid 1930, then to Sergeant in October 1933.
In January 1937, Sergeant KL Grenfell transferred to Yallourn and was promoted to Company Sergeant Major (CSM) a year later.
After less than a year as CSM, he “Reverted to Sergeant at own request” and transferred to the 37th Battalion from the 52nd. I can’t see anything in his record to indicate why he would request a ‘demotion’.
On 26 June 1940, he enlisted in the 2/21st Battalion AIF.
This was just before his 29th birthday, although he claimed to be 30 years old.
At this time he was married to my grandmother and they had a son, my father.
He was promoted to sergeant within days of enlisting, probably because of his previous rank and 10 years service with the CMF.
He joined the assembly of the 2/21st Battalion at Trawool in Central Victoria.
They trained in Trawool until 23 September 1940 when they were moved to the Bonegilla camp near Wodonga.
The battalion made the 235km journey ON FOOT!, arriving on 4 October.
This was the longest military manoeuvre ever undertaken in Australia.
This battalion was sent to Darwin in March 1941 – without my grandfather.
I'll continue his story in a day or so.