Dorward, George Osborne

Last updated on 02-Jun-19

George Osborne Dorward


1083 Gnr. George Osborne Dorward was born in 1888 in Echuca to James Mann Dorward and Sarah Elsie Osborne.  James owned a grazing property at Elimdaleon Tumudgerie Creek near Deniliquin. In 1914 he bought a farm at Rhyll consisting of CA 115, 116 and 118, which he named “Tumudgerie”.  The family moved to Rhyll and George worked with his father on the farm.  George’s grandfather Captain George Dorward was one of the pioneers on the Murray River, having accompanied Captain Cadell on the Lady Darling, being the first vessel to reach Echuca.  Captain Dorward traded with paddle steamers for many years on both the Murray and Murrumbidgee Rivers.


George enlisted with the 15/36thAustralian Heavy Artillery Group at the Royal Australian Garrison Artillery Barracks, Queenscliff on 26th June 1917.  After training in Sydney at the School of Gunnery, South Head, he embarked from Sydney on HMAT Wiltshire on 2nd February 1918 with the rank of VO Sergeant.  He did more training at the Heavy Artillery Training Depot at St Budeaux, Devonport then left for France on 5th June 1918 and served in the Ypres area. 

“The heavy artillery gunners did not see a lot of their countrymen. The two batteries were Army Troops and could be employed anywhere they were required along the front. At different times they could be under British, French, Australian or Canadian command, and sometimes also supported New Zealand, South African or Belgian troops. The batteries and their headquarters were not always together; they were mostly associated with, and developed an affinity with, British units of the Royal Artillery.”

“Only the 1st Australian Division stayed on in Flanders, not rejoining the rest of the Australian Corps on the Somme until August 1918. There were some occasions when the Australian heavy howitzers fired in support of the division’s operations. This work in the Strazeele-Hazebrouck sector, during May and June, was mentioned in the award of the Distinguished Service Order to Lieutenant Colonel Hurst. It was the last occasion that the guns were involved in assisting the Australian infantry. The big howitzers remained a part of the overall British firepower in the Ypres area, supporting operations there until the end of the war.

The Australian Heavy Artillery Brigade was a very small part of the AIF’s contribution to the war on the Western Front. Still, it had done good work, having been heavily committed in action for a total of 860 days, during which it suffered 71 fatal casualties and had almost 300 wounded.”


Australian War Memorial website.


James had a serious breakdown in his health and George got permission to return home four months earlier than his turn and embarked from Southampton for Melbourne on the City of Poonaon the 28th March 1919.

George bought the farm from his father in 1920 under the Closer Settlement Acts as varied by the Discharged Soldiers Settlement Acts.  He returned to farming and in 1928 built a slipway at Rhyll to service the local ferries and ketches.  Unfortunately there was not enough business due to the high slipway charges and the onset of the depression, and it only ran for a short time.


George served a term as Councillor on the newly formed Shire of Phillip Island from 1928. 


His parents moved back to the Elimdale property in the early 1930’s and George returned there around 1936.George married Janet Mary McDonald at Toorak in 1938 and they had a son Iain George.


They moved to Geelong in the 1940’s and later to Ocean Grove.  George died at Geelong in 1969.


George’s adopted sister Lucy married British First War soldier Carl Bussell in 1924 and lived on Phillip Island until their divorce in the late 1930’s.


George Osborne Dorward is commemorated on the Deniliquin War Memorial, the Phillip Island RSL Book of Honour and the Phillip Island RSL Roll of Honour.