In my post for Remembrance Day yesterday I listed only our closest relatives, up to first cousins. We also had many second cousins who fought in the war. In one family, named Butcher, six sons enlisted. Against the odds, all six returned to Australia.
I do not know if my great grandfather’s family, the Cudmores, knew the Butcher family. Before 1900 they lived at Wentworth, New South Wales, close to their Cudmore cousins, and the families may have been in contact, but around the turn of the century the Butchers moved to Bridgetown, Western Australia. (Recently I discovered that I share DNA with two descendants of Rachel Butcher née Gunn, the cousin of my great great grandmother Margaret Cudmore née Budge.)
Rachel Butcher née Gunn (1853 – 1937) was born in Wick, Caithness. In 1863, when she was ten years old, Rachel Gunn arrived in South Australia with her family on the “Ocean Chief”. Three more children were born to the Gunns in South Australia including a son named William Cudmore, whose second given name seems to indicate that the Gunns had, or wished for, a connection with their wealthy Cudmore relatives.
In 1869 at Wentworth, New South Wales, Rachel’s father William Gunn was kicked by a horse and died. It appears that the Gunn family had moved to Wentworth shortly before.
At Wentworth in 1875 Rachel Gunn married George Butcher (1852 – 1928). Between 1876 and 1898 they had ten children, all born in Wentworth.
The Butcher family moved to Bridgetown, Western Australia, in the early 1900s. In 1905 a son died there.
Frank Gunn Butcher, born 1886, enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) on 19 October 1914. He was 28 years old, unmarried, and his occupation was orchardist. He had been apprenticed to a blacksmith.
Robert Rae Gunn Butcher, born 1891, enlisted in the AIF on 15 June 1915. He was 23 years old, unmarried, and gave his occupation as horse trainer.
Kennewell Gardiner Gunn Butcher, born 1895, enlisted 26 July 1915. He was 19 years old, unmarried, and gave his occupation as farmer.
George Henry Butcher, born 1881, enlisted in the AIF on 30 August 1915. He was 34 years old, a timber worker, married, no children.
Horace Butcher, born 1883, enlisted 20 November 1915. He was 32 years old (he said he was 35) and married. His occupation was labourer.
Ruben Murray Gunn Butcher, born 1888, enlisted 20 January 1916. He was 27 years old, married and living in Melbourne. His occupation was driver.
All six men were sent overseas. All returned to Australia.
Robert Rae Gunn served with the 2nd Field Company Engineers. He was gassed in January 1918 and returned to Australia on 17 June 1918. In January 1918 he was awarded the Military Medal.
George served with the 28th battalion. He returned to Australia 28 July 1918. He was recorded as suffering from a debility, trench fever (a fairly serious infection, transmitted by lice).
Ruben served with the 3rd Tunnelling Company and returned to Australia 19 April 1919. When he was discharged from the AIF in Melbourne he was stated to be unfit but is disability was not stated.
Horace also served with the 3rd Tunnelling Company and returned to Australia 19 April 1919. In the course of his service he was promoted to sergeant. He does not appear to have been wounded or hospitalised during the war.
Frank served with the Australian Army Medical Corps 7th sanitary section. He returned to Australia 3 July 1919.
Kennewell Butcher returned to Australia 10 July 2019. He served with the 10th Light Horse.
While five of the brothers lived to the 1950s and 60s, George died in 1923 at the relatively young age of 42.
George was buried at Karrakatta cemetery. I have recently learned that his headstone was removed from the gravesite in April 2006; the headstone apparently did not survive. Karrakatta have a “renewal” program, described on the cemetery’s website as “the redevelopment of existing cemetery burial areas to accommodate new gravesites and memorial locations.” George’s grave has been redeveloped.
George’s parents are buried in the Wesleyan section, at EA grave 594. The ashes of two of the brothers, Robert and Kennewell were placed at the family grave. The headstone commemorates only George and Rachel. This area is scheduled for redevelopment but I have been advised that this grave has been designated an Official War Grave and will remain.
Frank was cremated and his ashes were scattered at Karrakatta. Horace was cremated. His ashes are at Karrakatta Lawn 5, Wall 10, position 121. Reuben was also cremated. His remains are in the crematorium Rose Gardens, Wall O position 333.
Links to First Australian Imperial Force Personnel Dossiers
- B2455, BUTCHER F G Butcher Frank Gunn : SERN 607 : POB Wentworth NSW : POE Bridgetown WA : NOK F Butcher G
- B2455, BUTCHER R R G Butcher Robert Rae Gunn : SERN 2580 : POB Wentworth NSW : POE Blackboy Hill WA : NOK F Butcher George
- B2455, BUTCHER K G G Butcher Kennewell Gardiner Gunn : SERN 1749 : POB Wentworth NSW : POE Blackboy Hill WA : NOK F Butcher George
- B2455, BUTCHER G H G Butcher George Henry Gunn : SERN 935 : POB Wentworth NSW : POE Blackboy Hill WA : NOK W Butcher Annie
- B2455, BUTCHER H Butcher Horace : SERN 936 : POB Wentworth NSW : POE Perth WA : NOK W Butcher Mary
- B2455, BUTCHER R M G Butcher Ruben Murray Gunn : SERN 2440 : POB Wentworth NSW : POE Melbourne VIC : NOK W Butcher Ellen