Compiled for Darebin Heritage by Brian Membrey

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Preston State School (1494)  : Scholars That Served

AUGUST, 2018 : (Finally) Pen-pictures of around 180 ex-pupils of No. 1484, Preston (or North Preston as it was often referred to) who had their names included on the school Honour Roll in commemoration of their service to King and Country during the Great War of 1914-1918.

There are also a substantial number updates to the South Preston Roll which has been uploaded for a couple of years.

The unveiling of the Tyler Street Honour Board was a relatively low-key affair performed by the President of the Shire. Cr. Edmund Allchin on Saturday, June 7, 1919.

About 200 people were in attendance, including councillors, members of the school committee, returned soldiers, parents and pupils, but there were none of the host of visiting dignitaries that were at South Preston the following Saturday.

The headmaster at the time was noted as Mr. W. R. Dawson who was appointed in May, 1918 following the retirement of Joseph M. Mankey, whose son Vivian was included on the Honour Board.  

It was noted when he retired that he had been 42 years with the Education Department, and with 12 of those at South Preston, although it was not mentioned whether all of these were as headmaster.

Mankey spoke at the ceremony with self-confessed mixed feelings, viewing with regret the many of his "old boys" who would never return, while classing all on the Board as heroes and an example to those then attending the School.

This was just one week before the unveiling of the South Preston State School Roll; there is nothing remaining to reveal whether the two schools worked together (given their years of amalgamation covered the education of young men between the ages of 16 and 24 when war broke out, a percentage would have attended both schools).

With the benefit of hindsight, there was a startling variation in the number of entries on the Boards - around 260 for South Preston and 105 for Tyler Street (based on the lists as published at the time, South Preston had around another 15 added).

This may be a reflection of South Preston's role as the senior body between 1895 and 1903, or alternatively, many of those that attended both simply responded to the Education Department's call for details as "South Preston" without realising that two separate locations were involved.  

Rather surprisingly, the current Tyler Street Board carries no additions after the unveiling, although two consecutive names L. C McPhee and H. V. Mason appear to have been accidental omissions from the Leader list.

Rather more of a shock is that at least two names - Alfred Thomas. Ozanne and the pre-Attestation casualty, Norman Embelton - appeared on the Leader's list, but not on the Board itself, again leading to the suspicion that the names listed by the paper were provided ahead of the unveiling and the two servicemen (both somewhat marginal cases) were for some reason deleted or accidentally omitted before the physical addition of names to the commemoration.


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