What made news in the Gazette in August 1917.
Headmaster moves on
Popular Berwick State School headmaster Harold McCann, who was responsible for shaping many of the local boys who went off to war, had received a transfer to Malmsbury.
The Gazette reported that he had charge of the Beaconsfield school before Berwick and had been in the district for some 10 years.
Mr MaCann was a prominent member of the Berwick and District Football Association until it disbanded at the outbreak of war.
Gazette proprietor Albert Edward Thomas, whose children Beatrice and Herb attended the school, wrote that Mr McCann had never allowed his love of sport to interfere with school duties and the record of merit certificates obtained by the school during the past three or four years gives evidence of that fact.
“He is methodical, painstaking and conscientious of the children placed in his charge. His removal from the district will be generally regretted,” Mr Thomas wrote.
Many soldiers sent letters to Mr McCann, which were then published in the Gazette.
The headmaster’s two sons, Ashley and Harry, enlisted for service as privates and ended the war as highly decorated lieutenants. Ashley earned a Distinguished Flying Cross and Harry a Military Medal.
Berwick Shire lost two long-serving councillors, who announced they were retiring from municipal life in the lead-up to the council elections.
Cr Harold Barr of Narre Warren North announced that he would retire after 15 years of service.
Cr James proposed a toast to his health and said he retirement was regretted – having proved himself as a man of sound judgment and commonsense and a good councillor.
Cr Barr was the son of Narre Warren North pioneers Francis and Elizabeth Barr.
Shire president William Close also announced he was retiring.
In the same edition of the Gazette he took out an advertisement declaring his intention of establishing an Auction Mart in Pakenham.
Cr James said Cr Close had proved himself to be a most capable councillor and a good president and he was very sorry to learn that he was giving up municipal life.
He suggested that strong efforts should be made to get him to reconsider, sentiments echoed by Crs Pearson, Dore and Martin.
Boys well, but tragedy looms
Officer pioneer James Lecky received word from both his sons – Driver James Lecky and Gunner Mervyn Lecky – that they were well.
When World War I broke out, Mr Lecky’s two sons were among the first to enlist. Sadly, neither would return home.
Mervyn earned a Military Medal for his bravery in a battle at Herleville and within a week was killed in action at nearby Mont St Quentin.
James survived until the last throes of the war, succumbing to a gunshot wound three days after the Armistice was signed.
Their parents – James and Maggie – were so distraught that they sold the family property and left the district.
The boys’ grandparents – James and Elizabeth Lecky – were the first Europeans to settle in Officer, claiming the Gin Gin Bin run.
Famous racer dies
The well-known racing pony Trilby died at Officer at the age of 28 years.
Trilby was a great pony in her day, winning no end of races.
She was owned by the late Mr W. Holt of Berwick – the father of champion trainer Jack Holt – and was ridden in her races by the old time jockeys Frank Richardson and G.W. Payne.
Bank to open
The Gazette reported that the creation of new banking premises in Pakenham for the Commercial Bank would proceed shortly.
Mr Richards of Melbourne had won the contract. Local builders Bloomfield and Stephenson were the lowest on the first tender, but were beaten on a cutting down of the work.
Police go on holidays
The newly formed Berwick Progress Association, with about 60 members, brought a few issues to the attention of shire clerk J.J. Ahern.
It was decided to write to the Chief Commissioner of Police relative to the local police officer’s frequent absence from the district.
It was pointed out that Constable Lombard was called upon to visit Pakenham and Cranbourne when the constables at these two places were on holidays and, as a result, the Berwick area was left without proper police protection.