We remember: Donald Black

Robert Black

A century on from the end of World War I we acknowledge their service …
Lest we forget.

Private Donald Caldwell Black
Born: 29 December 1891 Ascot Vale. Died: 8 June 1964 Dandenong
Enlisted: 23 October 1916 aged 24
Served: Western Front

The second of Thomas and Margaret Black’s sons to enlist, Donald was nearly 25 at the time and working as an orchardist on Boneidah, one of the family properties in Pakenham Upper.

In February 1917, Donald departed Melbourne for England on the HMAT Ballarat with fellow local Charles Johnstone.

On Anzac Day 1917, a torpedo fired by a German U-Boat hit the Ballarat off the Cornwall coast and it sank. Fortunately none of the 1800 troops on board were lost, although Donald lost his belongings. He was shot and wounded in the left arm on 15 May 1918 and hospitalised in France.

News of the injury reached Pakenham Upper at the time his younger brother Bruce was enlisting. His sweetheart back home, Alice Moyle sent Donald a short telegram while he was recovering in hospital. It read: “Cheer up Don. Love from Alice Moyle”. Donald retained that telegram all his life.

They married on July 29 1920 at her family’s property Allowah and had three children: Margaret, Elizabeth and Fergus. Donald returned to orcharding and for many years, he and his brother Wally operated Boneidah together, becoming local leaders in the apple industry. Donald was inaugural president of the Pakenham Upper Fire Brigade in 1940

This is an extract from Patrick Ferry’s book A Century After The Guns Fell Silent – Remembering the Pakenham District’s WWI Diggers 1914-18.
For more details on this and other profiles in the book, head to the website www.pakenhamww1.com

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