52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

52 Ancestors #17 Ivon Walter Whimpey

This week I have decided my ancestor of the week will be my father, Ivon Walter Whimpey.

Dad was born 21 January 1923, in Heidelberg, Victoria, Australia. Dad grew up in the family home in Brown Street Heidelberg, and he attended the Heidelberg State School until 7th grade. Two of dad’s father’s brothers were also living in Heidelberg, and one of dad’s cousins was the same age, so they were in the same grade. Dad’s school had a swimming pool, but dad preferred to swim in the Yarra River. The following is from a story of dad’s life he sent to his children:

“I prefered the Yarra River and spent a lot of time swimming in the river that meandered around Sills Bend which consisted of a football oval and an orchard. The orchard seemed to be public domain and certainly not out of bounds for us kids. We learnt very quickly how to climb those fruit trees.”

“I was no scholar.  I prefered sport, Cricket, Football and Soccer.  We had a soccer pitch nearby and I went alright.  As a school boy I was picked for exhibition matches at Yallourn  and Melbourne and for a match with a team from Adelaide.  For the latter I was then a scholar at the Collingwood Technical School”.

Dad attended the Collingwood Technical School for about 2 years.  When dad left school, jobs were hard to find.  His Aunty Dorry (his mum’s sister) was nurse maid to twins, and their father was the boss of the warehouse for prestige lingerie, H. J. Folletta, so she got him a job there.  He was in the lingerie department

Dad had been there for 3 years, and then, as the war was on, he obtained a job as a fitter and turner at Henderson Springs, an engineering firm, hoping to do war work, but it was mostly civilian work.  When Pearl Harbour was bombed, he then enlisted in the army, and went to Royal Park.  A week later he would have been prevented from enlisting, as he would have been deemed to be in a reserved occupation, needed for war production.

At this time, he was living with his parents at Albert Park, where his father was operating a grocery business.  The Army sent him to a camp at Cranbourne, and then to a camp at Heidelberg – at Sills Bend.    The following is also from the story dad wrote about his life:

“Now three girls swam down the Yarra River every morning and they ignored the banter from the soldiers. I called out to the girls and they called back, for they knew my voice and could see me above the bank.  That floored the fellers!  That was the day after I arrived there.”

The story of dad’s life tells more details about dad’s service in the Army:

“From there I was sent to Alice Springs.  Within a few days we were sent up to Nataranka.  The stores from bombed Darwin were dumped there in the bush and we were detailed to co-ordinate the stores until other soldiers arrived from south to take over.  Then it was back to Alice Springs for nearly three years.

Naturally I left a sweetheart back in Melbourne, so the romance blossomed per letters.  It was over two years before I saw her again.  In the end we soldiers told the brass “If we don’t get leave we don’t work!”  We got our leave!  After all we had seen fellers who went up the track and back down the track on leave twice in that time.  I arrived back to Alice Springs on my 21st birthday. Nine months later I got married during a second leave.

When the Japs were retreating it was time for scaling down so I was to leave the territory.  For some reason I had to go up to the top and before I could go down south, after three weeks.  After leave I was sent up to Queensland.  My unit was to go overseas.  I had received half my shots when the Yanks dropped the Atom Bomb so we all went home.”

Dad married Joyce Lillian O’Neill on 4 November 1944 at the East Ivanhoe Methodist, and since his parents were still at Albert Park, they took up abode at the family home in Brown Street, Heidelberg.  In 1948, Joyce went in to hospital to have her teeth out, and died under the anaesthetic.  Dad was left with 2 young children to raise, so his mother returned to help, and his father sold the business at Albert Park, and also returned to Heidelberg.

After the war, dad had gone back to work at Henderson Springs for a while, and then went to work as a driver for Cyclone Scaffolding.  He then learnt welding, and went to work welding gates for Cyclone.   From there he was in maintenance, and then back to Scaffolding for 12 months.  When that department moved to Fishermen’s Bend, dad left, and went to work for Excavations Pty Ltd at North Balwyn for 12 months, and then Jahco Welding Engineers for the rest of his working life. .

Dad married my mum on 20 December 1952, at Brougham Street Methodist Church, in North Melbourne, and they set up their home in Balwyn..  Around the time that Jahco moved to Balwyn, so mum and dad moved to Mitcham.

Dad’s mother had come from Woolamai, and dad as a child had spent many holidays there, so he also took his children there for holidays.  In 1987, dad retired from the workforce, and mum and dad moved to Wonthaggi (which is the nearest big town to Woolamai) in 1988. Two years later, in 1990, mum died. Dad then remarried in 1993, but the marriage didn’t work out, and they separated around 1998. Dad kept himself busy by gardening and working in the local Op Shop – dad had gone full cycle, back to working with lingerie!

Dad died on 16 December 2009 at the Wonthaggi Hospital, at the age of 86, and was buried 21 December 2009 at the Box Hill Cemetery, in the same grave as his wife Jean (my mum), and their daughter Lynda, who had died as an infant in 1957.