Lionel Stephen Whitbread was born in 1885 and lived his early life at Sidebottom (Koorainghat).1 Son of Taree town clerk and school teacher mother, Lionel was known for his integrity and honesty.2 At 19 he became a teacher and was posted to Shannon Brook.3
After the outbreak of WW1, Lionel enlisted and served in the 4th Machine Gun Battalion.4 Education was in Lionel’s blood and while encamped in Egypt he published instructive articles on the pyramids and other interesting subjects.5
Lionel received the Croix de Guerre in March 1917 for “his gallant conduct in France under fire”.6 Two months later though he was reported wounded and missing, leaving family and friends to fear the worst.7 A delayed package of souvenirs arrived soon afterwards including stained glass from the ruined cathedrals of Ypres (Belgium) and Albert (The Somme, France).8
In July 1917, Lionel’s family received news that he was a prisoner of war (P.O.W.) in Germany.9 A year later, Lionel wrote a letter joking that he will be qualified for Director of Agriculture due to the farm work he was doing and that he was well and hearty.10 Another year passed before Lionel was released from the camp.11
A welcome home party was held at Taree’s Belmore Hall where Lionel humbly downplayed his role in the war stating that everyone who had enlisted had served their country and those who stayed home had endured hard work, sorrow and anxiety.12
Lionel returned to teaching and was headmaster when he retired in 1949.13 He died in 1952 aged 66 years.14
Author: Janine Roberts
1 NSW BMD, birth index Lionel Stephen Whitbread #22379/1885; Manning River Times and Advocate for the Northern Coast Districts of NSW, 5 October 1898.
2 Northern Champion, 3 August 1929.
3 Manning River Times and Advocate for the Northern Coast Districts of NSW, 29 October 1904.
4 NAA: B2455, Whitbread Lionel Stephen.
5 Northern Champion, 5 May 1917.
6 Northern Champion, 7 March 1917.
7 Northern Champion,5 May 1917.
8 Northern Star,2 June 1917.
9 Sydney Morning Herald, 3 July 1917.
10 Northern Champion,13 July 1918.
11 Sydney Morning Herald, 14 January 1919.
12 Northern Champion,24 May 1919.
13 Government Gazette of the State of NSW,15 July 1949, Issue 129 (Supplement), p. 2040.
14 Sydney Morning Herald,19 April 1952.
15 Australian War Memorial, EO1116, 8 October 1917, Unknown Australian Official Photographer, Belgium: Ypres. https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C314664