No.2639 John William Donohue
John was born in Williamstown, Victoria in 1884.
A native of Williamstown, he came to reside in Werribee in 1900 with his aunt, Mrs. J. Brophy, of Parker Street, with whom he lived till the time of his death. He first obtained employment in the district with Mr. Harry Vinall, and then transferred to E. C. Robinson's chaff mill.
Later on he joined the Victoria Railways, and at the commencement of the war was appointed to guard the Little River bridge.
On 14 July 1915, he enlisted for active service from Little River. He was 31 years and 4 months old. John embarked at Melbourne per HMAT Ulysses on 27 October 1915.
He joined the 7th Battalion at Zeitoun Army Training Base Egypt on 24 February 1916 and embarked to join the British Expeditionary Forces at Alexandria, Egypt on 26 March 1916. He disembarked at Marseilles, France on 31 March 1916.
John was wounded in field at Somme, France on 4 November 1916 - Depressed fracture of skull, Eriphined Dura uninjured.
On 8 November 1916 he was admitted to Rouen Hospital.
He embarked for England per HS Aberdonian at Rouen on 19 November 1916.
On 19 November 1916, John was admitted to 3rd London General Hospital, Wandsworth suffering Gun Shot Wound to head – severe – fractured skull. Operated on again on 26 November 1916 - Abcess opened beneath scalp. A shrapnel bullet was removed on 30 November 1916.
He faced the Medical Board at 3rd London General Hospital on 30 December 1916 and was discharged as permanently unfit.
John returned to Australia per HS Kanowna, left South Hampton 14 January 1917, arriving in Melbourne on 8 March 1917. Admitted 11 Australian Hospital on 8 March 1917.
He marched into the 5th Australian Divisional Base Depot on 13 April 1917 and was discharged as permanently medically unfit.
An article was published in the Werribee Shire Banner, 26 April 1917, p.3 recounting Private Donohue's war experience.
John rejoined the railways, and was first stationed at Werribee as a porter. He was promoted to an electric train driver, but owing to his war injuries affecting him, he had to leave the service after a short time. For the last couple of years of his life he was employed at the Metropolitan Farm, and was highly respected by everyone.
John passed away on 19 May 1928 at the Melbourne Hospital after he complained of acute pains. He was aged 44 and is buried at the Werribee Cemetery.
An obituary published in the Werribee Shire Banner reads “The bullet had some of the force taken out of it by striking his tin helmet; but this did not stop its progress. It was in his head for 22 days, and was eventually removed after five operations. The bullet, which had a piece of bone imbedded in it, was retained by the deceased and proudly displayed to his friends.”
Werribee Shire Banner, 24 May 1928, p.5.
Medals and Entitlements:
- 1914/15 Star
- British War Medal
- Victory Medal