Kenneth (Ken) Lewis – Community Interviews 2020

Ken Lewis portrait photograph

A portrait photograph of Ken Lewis, remembering Bacchus Marsh during World War II and the Darley Military Camp.

Courtesy of Ken Lewis’ Personal Collection.

Ken Lewis recalls when the family moved to Bacchus marsh from East Brunswick. This was when his father was appointed the new Minister of the Presbyterian Church in Gisborne Road, during World War II. Mrs Daphne and the Rev. George William Lewis along with their family lived in the manse at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Bacchus Marsh, between 1940 – 1948.

Lewis Family taken at Bacchus Marsh in 1946-1947 by Jack Cox (?) Photography, Bacchus Marsh

Photograph of the Lewis Family taken at Bacchus Marsh in 1946-1947 by Jack Cox (?) Photography, Bacchus Marsh.

Front Row (left to Right): Rev. William G. Lewis, Murray M. Lewis, Mrs. Daphne M. Lewis.

Back row (left to right): John O. Lewis, Margaret Lewis, William D. Lewis, Kenneth L. Lewis

Courtesy of Ken Lewis’ Private Collection.

“I had two older brothers and a younger sister and brother. It was a new and exciting experience for us to come to Bacchus Marsh”.

Ken Lewis

Ken remembers when the Darley Military Camp was built and the hundreds of Australian troops that marched in after its completion. He recalls the impact the numerous soldiers had on the quiet little town. Learn how the church and his family opened their arms to the soldiers far from home. How they forged lasting friendships with service men and women from America through to the Netherland East Indies .

I remember when some of the American troops nicknamed it ‘Backward Marsh’. It used to have a friendly village atmosphere; I hope it still does”. 

Ken Lewis

Local Community prepares for the worst

Like many of the religious leaders within the local community, Rev. William G. Lewis was a notable participant in the War effort on the home front. Local newspapers document not only his strong spiritual leadership for the service men and women far from home.

St Andrew's Church Anniversary Article from the Melton Express from Saturday 27 November 1943 - page 1

St Andrew’s Church Anniversary Article from the Melton Express from Saturday 27 November 1943 on page 1.

The Rev. W. G. Lewis leads the celebrations of the 93rd Anniversary of St. Andrew’s Church at Bacchus Marsh.

Sergeant Lindsay and John Lewis, AC2 (Aircraftman Second Class), RAAF, joined the activities by speaking to the future of the church.

Courtesy of TROVE.

It also captures his participation in important communal activities, such as the local Air Observers, where his name is listed along with many other notable locals.

Air Observers Roster for Bacchus Marsh, published in the Express Melton - Saturday 18 March 1944 - page 6.

The weekly Air Observers’ Roster for Bacchus Marsh, published in the Melton Express on Saturday 18 March 1944 on page 6.

The Rev. W. G. Lewis volunteered as an Air Observer and was regularly rostered on the Friday No. 3 shift (11a.m. to 1.p.m.).

The Rev. Fathers Gavan Duffy and Murphy also performed the same shift on the Thursday.

Courtesy of TROVE.

Off to Fight

Inevitably, once their training was complete, the service man and women would leave for the war zones. Ken recalls the familiar faces marching down Gisborne Road to the railway station. He would ride his bike to Maddingley Park where the troops would be at ease, enjoying refreshments prepared by the CWA ladies, before leaving by the train.

Darley Military Camp Sports Day being held in Maddingley Park, Bacchus Marsh during World War II. Courtesy of the John Hannah Private Collection.
Soldiers from the Darley Military Camp participating in a Sports Day at Maddingley Park, Bacchus Marsh, during World War II. Australian soldiers march past onlookers in the old pavilion. Courtesy of the John Hannah Private Collection.

What a great debt we owe to those men and women who trained at Darley Camp before sailing away overseas to the fronts of battle, some never to return home. We will remember them”.

Ken Lewis

Read about Ken’s experiences, the soldier’s letters, photographs and autograph book that bring back vivid memories of those days. Check out our Facebook page now.