No.35030 Gunner Henry (Harry) Paget Densley
Henry Paget Densey was born in 1896 to William Charles Densey and Georgina Paget Myers at Newmarket, Victoria. His birth was registered at Newport, his parents having married in Frankston in 1896.
His siblings were:
- Alice Bertha Densley (Bertha), then Mrs N. Taylor born 1893 at Frankston, and
- Campbell Densley (born 1901 at Flemington and died 1928)
In his early years Henry Densley had contact with the military. He spent 1½ years with the Citizen Forces, and 4 years with the school cadets. This service was later recognised, when his name was included on the Werribee State School’s Honor Board.
At a non-commissioned officers examination, held at the Mechanics Hall in Werribee on 25 July 1912, H. Densley was appointed as a Lance Corporal as reported in the Werribee Shire Banner, 1 August 1912, p.3.
Harry Densley was a member of the Senior Cadets Team that participated in a tug-of-war match between Werribee and the Metro Farm in November 1913. Other members of the Werribee Cadets team were; P. Gardiner, H. Gibbons, P. Flaherty, A. Beamish, F. Beamish, W. Osyley, T. Hogan and R. Wills (captain). Most of these later enlisted in the A.I.F.
In the years leading up to the Great War, Henry Densley played cricket and football for the local Werribee clubs, and his achievements are recorded in the local newspaper.
Prior to enlisting, he was a 20 year old Labour/Clerk, living with his parents at 19 Synnot Street, Werribee. [This house and its history are listed separately on the Wyndham History website.] His father Mr William Charles Densley operated an auctioneering business for many years in Werribee and across Victoria.
Henry Paget Densley took his Oath of Enlisted in the A.I.F. at Melbourne on 7 February 1917, and was sent to the Recruits Battalion at Royal Park camp for training. This was completed on 14 May 1917, and he was appointed as a Gunner to the Field Artillery 27th Reinforcements at Maribyrnong. Both of his parents had signed a consent form allowing their son to serve overseas.
He embarked per HMAT Port Sydney A15, on 9 November 1917, from Melbourne with the FAB (Field Artillery Brigade) 27th Reinforcements. The Ship carried the 27th to the 35th Reinforcements to Suez in Egypt, where they disembarked for further training on 12 February 1917.
[Another Werribee boy who sailed with him to Egypt was No.35018 Andrew Condie].
Henry remained in Egypt until 10 December 1917 when he embarked from Alexandria on a troop ship for England. They sailed via the Port of Laurent, and finally disembarked at Southampton on 4 January 1918. He then marched in to the Reserve Brigade Australian Artillery (R.B.A.A.) at Heytesbury in Wiltshire.
Gunner Densley proceeded overseas to France via Southampton on 27 March 1918, where he was taken on strength of the 3rd Army Brigade A.F.A. at Rouelles, from the A.G.B.D.
[During 1917 and 1918, the 3rd Brigade fought at Bullecourt, Ypres, Menin Road, Passchendale, Hazebrouck, Amiens and on the Hindenburg Line].
The 3rd Army Brigade War Diary records that during that month of March, when he arrived, the enemy consistently shelled their Battery positions with Phosgene, Mustard Oil, Sneezing Stuff, and on one occasion Cyanide. There had been many causalities, and on the night of the 28/29 March 1917, a gas shell fell among a group of 8th Battery men (Henry’s Battery) as they were taking cover in a pill-box. It caused 24 casualties, including 12 deaths.
On 5 October 1918, the 3rd Army Brigade withdrew to Wagon Lines, and then proceeded to a rest area near Longpre. Their march started on 7 October 1918 from St Emilie, and continued for several days. On 9 October 1918, the 3rd Brigade Column marched from Le Chaussee Tirancourt to the village of Soues, and it was here that Gunner Densley was admitted to B.R.S. hospital, sick with gastritis.
He was discharged on 18 October 1918, and had re-joined his unit by 26 October 1918. The 8th Battery was then in new billets at Le Plouy. The men were employed in training, playing sports and many were allowed leave at Abbeville.
The 8th Battery were still at Le Plouy when the Armistice was announced on 11 November 1918, and the Commanding Officer granted a holiday to celebrate.
On 22 November 1918, the Brigade commenced a 6 day march to the Australian Corps Area. After arriving, the 8th Battery was billeted at Les Fontaines.
Beginning in February 1919, the guns of the 3rd Army Brigade were demobilised, and on 24 February 1919, the Brigade was absorbed into the 1st Division Artillery. During this process, Gunner Densley was granted leave in England.
On 28 February, he was permanently detached to 1 B.A.B. in France, and waited for his turn to return to Australia. He finally arrived at Southampton on 6 May 1919, and from there he secured a passage home to Australia per Konig Friedrich August on 20 June 1919. He disembarked at Melbourne on 6 August 1919, and was discharged on 29 August 1919.
His name was recorded on the Werribee State School’s Honor Board which was unveiled by Mr G Chirnside in December 1917. It listed the names of 47 past scholars which fought in the Great War. Werribee Shire Banner, 20 December 1917, p.2.
Former Gunner Henry Densley was presented with a Werribee Medal at a function held in the Mechanic’s Hall in December 1919. His service in France and Belgium with the 8th Battery A.F.A. was recognised during the presentation.
Henry Densley continued to play football and cricket for the Werribee Clubs in the post war years. His parents, Mr and Mrs William Charles Densley were living at Alharcam, Werribee in 1920, when their only daughter Alice Bertha married. Her brother Henry gave the couple a case of silver spoons as reported in the Werribee Shire Banner, 29 July 1920, p.3.
The Werribee Shire Banner, 10 June 1926, p.5 contained a story that Miss Hilda Cartwright of Malvern was at present visiting Werribee as the guest of Mrs W.C. Densley at Watton Street. Hilda would later marry Harry Densley.
After his father died in January 1929, Henry Densley took over from him and became the local representative of Macarthur & Macleod Auctioneers. Werribee Shire Banner, 30 May 1929, p.4.
Early in 1928, Henry Paget Densley married Hilda May Cartwright in Victoria in a low key affair, which was not reported in the newspapers.
On 7 April 1929, a daughter was born to Mr & Mrs Harry Densley of Werribee. The mother was nee Hilda Cartwright with a birth notice placed in The Argus, 13 April 1929, p.13.
By the 1930s, the name H. Densley begins to appear in the local newspaper golfing reports. Then in 1933 he was elected President of the Werribee Golf Club. Werribee Shire Banner, 9 February 1933, p.5.
His golfing prowess was even recorded in The Argus Newspaper when he scored a hole-in-one during a handicap event at the Werribee Golf Club. The shot allowed him to win the event. The Argus, 22 August 1938, p.18.
Mrs. H. Densley was the secretary and treasurer of the Werribee branch of the Austin Hospital Auxiliary in 1933. They had a strong membership, and held an annual local ball. Werribee Shire Banner, 23 March 1933, p.3.
Throughout the 1930s, Mr H. Densley held positions on the committee of the Werribee Amateur Swimming Club as reported in the Werribee Shire Banner, 24 October 1935, p.3. In November 1935 he was involved in planning for the new concrete apron to replace the old wooden one at Bungey’s Hole on the Werribee River. A learner’s pool was also to be built. All reported in the Werribee Shire Banner,14 November 1935, p.1.
In November 1936, Mr Harry Densley was appointed to the position of Stock Overseer and Buyer at the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works Farm at Werribee. He beat 116 other applicants for the job, which had a salary of £600 a year, and accommodation. His previous experience was summarised as follows;
- Considerable experience in buying and selling of stock
- He was associated in business with his late father, who was an outstanding figure in the stock world, and a prominent auctioneer
- Five years with L.A. Fairbairn & Co, stock agents
- Eight years with Macarthur & Macleod Pty Ltd, as a stock and land salesman
- He was held in high esteem by the stock owners and graziers of the district
As reported in the Werribee Shire Banner, 12 November 1936, p.2.
At the Ordinary Meeting of the Werribee Shire Council on 12 November 1936, it was moved by Cr Galvin and seconded by Cr Cowie (President) that the M.M.B.W. be congratulated on the addition to its staff of Mr H. Densley, and that a copy of the resolution be passed to him. General business section of Werribee Shire Council article Werribee Shire Banner, 19 November 1936, p.4.
Harry Densley died suddenly in a Werribee Private Hospital on Thursday 29 December 1938, after an illness of a few weeks. He was only 42 years of age. His Obituary was published in the Werribee Shire Banner, 5 January 1939, p.2, and it details the high esteem in which he was held over his lifetime. The funeral cortege was over a mile and a half long, and included over 120 motor cars, as well as jinkers and horsemen.
Then at the Werribee Cemetery, The Rev Vernon M'Gowan conducted the graveside service, and Wor. Bro F.E. Greenwood officiated at the Masonic service. Trooper W.C. Cayley read the Soldier’s Service.
Following the death of her husband, Mrs Densley decided to leave the Werribee district, and moved to 1 Ethel Street, Malvern. Subscriptions were sought to fund a farewell gathering which was held in the Werribee Bowling Club pavilion on 13 March 1939. This was reported in the Werribee Shire Banner, 23 February 1939, p.2. under the heading Approaching departure of active social worker.
Harry's mother, Georgina Paget Densley died on 22 November 1944.
The Argus, 23 November 1944, p.2.
Harry's daughter, Jocelyn Mary became engaged to
Donald Richard Horton of Tyabb.
The Argus, 27 June 1953, p.16.
Medals & Entitlements:
- British War Medal
- Victory Medal
The name Densley, H.P. from Werribee, first appeared in the Roll of Honor, Werribee Shire Banner, 22 August 1918, p.1.
A.F.A. – Australian Field Artillery.
B.R.S. – British Red Cross Soc. Hospital
Gastritis is an inflammation, irritation, or erosion of the lining of the stomach. It can be caused by irritation due to excessive alcohol use, chronic vomiting, stress, or the use of certain medications such as aspirin or other anti-inflammatory drugs.
Heytesbury - Knook Camp, Heytesbury was an Artillery training base on the edge of Salisbury plain, with Heytesbury House used as the officers’ quarters. From 1916 Australians occupied the camp. Heytesbury House was the home of Siegfried Sassoon, the first world war poet, from the 1930s until his death in 1967, aged 80.
CD - Federation Index of Victoria 1889 - 1901
CD - Marriage Index Victoria, 1921 to 1942.
Heritage of the City of Wyndham, 1997, by Context P/L., page 325