Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature

Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
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Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Home : History Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature

 

Brunswick's Men of War

Contrary to the romantic images of films such as Charlotte Grey and The English Patient, for the Brunswick boys war was nothing like these refined upper class romps through bucolic France or the sensuous Middle East.

My grandfather, Edward Patrick Dorian, VX 10397 6th Petrol Coy AASC, enlisted on 22 February 1940, two months after his mate Michael Leonard Parlon, 2/5th Infantry. Parlon, nicknamed 'Peggy' was notorious for violent misdemeanours.

When he was sentenced on 22 October 1937 at the Melbourne General Sessions to three months gaol for loitering with intent, the magistrate noted that his priors included nineteen convictions for assault. By 1956 he had accumulated more than seventy convictions.

Peggy's last police mugshot.

Despite standing a whisker under 5 feet 4 inches, Parlon cut a swathe through Brunswick during the depression. Kicking a bloke when he was down and bashing an enemy senseless was the dark side of his 'anti-copper' rebelliousness.In Stalag 18A he cut his mates' hair, and as the photos revealed had lost none of his defiance.

So how did he come to be run over by a train alongside Brunswick Baths on Sunday 12 May 1957, the day after his mother died? And is it true that the finding of accidental death delivered at the Inquest on 22 July was code for suicide and that he couldn't face the prospect of being at his mother's funeral?

At 7.29pm the driver of the southbound train from Fawker told the gatekeeper at Dawson Street 'someone's lying between the tracks at the next gate. It's a pretty bad one.' In the fading light behind the Brunswick Baths gatekeeper William Avent of Phoenix Street found the mutilated body of Parlon.

Dressed in a blue suit with black shoes and white shirt and white cotton T-shirt, Parlon was worse for wear when Senior Constable Albert Collins came across him in Sydney Road around 6 pm on Sunday night. 'Don't lock me up. My mother died yesterday and I'll miss the funeral,' Parlon had said. When asked whether he was telling the truth he replied 'I wouldn't lie about something like this.'

After the encounter with Constable Collins, Parlon made his way south along Sydney Road where he met another local, Wally Smith. 'I'm a bit depressed about me mum,' he told Smith as he headed off along Dawson Street towards the Brunswick Baths. At the baths he turned right and walked north alongside the railway line in the direction of Phoenix Street. It was about 6.30pm and the light was fading when Parlon reached the pedestrian crossing.

Wally Smith still isn't sure why Parlon chose the Phoenix Street crossing as his route home. To get to home he only needed to walk along Dawson and turn left into Gardiner and right into Collier Crescent, where he lived in a double fronted brick Edwardian house at number 41. For some reason he took the long way home.

The driver of the 6.50pm from Fawkner, Roderick Glencairn Wilson, told the Coroner he didn't see anyone on the rail as he powered towards Melbourne. Given the lack of light, it probably makes sense. But was Parlon lying on the rail in preparation or did he walk, deliberately or by accident, into the train? According to the folklore he pulled his coat over his head and knelt down in preparation.

In the fifteen metres it took for the train to dispose of Parlon he received frightful injuries. And so fierce was the collision there was blood on the front of the train and his flesh was splattered across the rear axle. Yet no one noticed the remnants of the tough POW on the train until William Herbert May examined the carriages on Friday 17 May.

Within a decade Parlon's mate Ted Dorian and the hero Jackie O'Brien would be gone also.

Teddy Dorian

Like Peggy Parlon, Ted Dorian was an alcoholic when he died in 1964 aged 49 years. In my book Cleary Independent I recount the stories and recite the words of merciless Doctors enlisted by the Department of Veteran's Affairs to explain away his descent into hopelessness. Did he ever receive shock treatment, I wondered when I ran an eye over his file and noted that on the 25/3/59 a Doctor recorded: 'Admission to (R.G.H. H) - Clinical Notes (Cont'd):
Past History: seen twice before. Never had E.C.T. or Insulin. Last an I.P. 1957. Present History: Ever since war - Insomnia, nightmares of bombers, alcohol. Phys. Health: Eats one meal/day - rarely eats meat
.

John Peter O'Brien

Jackie O'Brien was born at Violet Town but enlisted at Royal Park on 27 May 1941. His posting was REINF 2/24 BTN. Although he'd been decorated with a Distinguished Service Medal, it wasn't enough to ward of despair and an addiction to the drink. When they found him down the lane in 1967 the local rats had already made a meal of him. Five years earlier, on 18 April 1964, under the heading War Hero Drunk Charge, The Sentinel newspaper told how he'd been sentenced to seven days imprisonment for being drunk and disorderly in a lane off Barkly Street.

O'Brien had enlisted on 27/5/41 at age eighteen, having been born at Violet Town in January 1923, but had altered his age in order to be accepted for service. From the moment he was discharged in 1944 he was before the courts. In fact, his first conviction was for 'Desertion H. M. Service- Escaping.' At Caulfield on 11/2/44 he was sentenced to 18 months gaol, but five months later was sentenced to seven days for offensive behaviour. By the time he died, in March 1967, he was a chronic alcoholic.

O'Brien was found face down in 'some grass off Phoenix Street' on 26 March 1967 by constable John Richard Ballard. Mr Humphries, of Prentice Street Brunswick had alerted the police. It was directly adjacent to the spot where Parlon had been hit by the train. Alongside his body, which had been there for a week, was an empty liquor bottle. He'd been released from gaol 17 March 1967 after a a drunk and disorderly conviction in January.

Roy Dorian and Billy Ottaway

Roy Dorian 2/7 Aust Inf Batt (Melbourne) and Billy Ottaway (Sth Melbourne) enlisted on the same day - 27 November 1939. Roy was killed by a landmine in New Guinea on 19 Aug 1943, probably during the battle for Bobdubi. He was listed as buried at Salamaua.

The last letter from Roy Dorian sent on 2 August 1943, 17 days before he died.

Ottaway survived Stalag 18A and the emotional strife that haunted his mates, and despite a stroke lived a long life, dying in 2007. The decline of this mates , into alcoholism and hopelessness raises many questions about war and the male psyche.

more to come ...................

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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