Edward Cannon was one of many British teenagers assisted to migrate to Australia between 1911 and 1939 under the Dreadnought Scheme, the object of which was to provide a supply of trained labour to work on rural properties in NSW.1
When this 15-year-old English boy stepped aboard the Benalla bound for Australia,2 he probably thought it would be the adventure of a lifetime. Little did he know how tragically short that lifetime would be.
Arriving in Sydney on 30 October 1925,3 Edward was placed as a farm labourer with Victor Bird of the Bight near Wingham. On the morning of Sunday 29 November 1925, it being a hot day, Edward determined to cool off in the Manning River near a spot called the Devil’s Elbow. Despite being warned of the dangers of swimming alone, Edward appeared oblivious of the unseen risks posed by deep and potentially weedy water in a seemingly benign river.4
Approaching midday, Walter Kohlbach who, with his family, was bathing nearby, heard cries of distress and spotted Edward struggling in deep water. He was however unable to reach the boy before he disappeared from sight. Despite an exhaustive search, Edward’s body was not located until the following Tuesday.5
He had been in Australia just a few short weeks.
Author: Penny Teerman
2 www.ancestry.com.au – UK and Ireland Outward Bound Passenger Lists 1890-1960
4 Wingham Chronicle Friday 4 December 1925 P6