Martin Luther Dyer

Martin Luther Dyer’s photos and memoir have been shared with Wollongong City Libraries by his relatives. The memoir was written following his retirement and contains a great deal of information regarding his service at the front as well as details of his life. Below is and excerpt of the memoir.


Life Story of Martin Luther Dyer Born at Cables Siding (Penrose) On the 30th August, 1893.

At the age of four my parents moved to Woonona, after a short stay moved to Bulli and Wollongong, for a period of approx. 28 [?] months. Thence leaving for Blayney, where I commenced school at the age of six. In 1901 we moved to Lithgow for a short period again returning to Woonona, where my father died at the age of 50. I left Woonona Public School at the age of 13 years and 9 months. With my mother, sister and two brothers, again moved to Lithgow where I commenced my first employment in a store at a weekly wage of 2/6.

After twelve months, I transferred to […] Store. Nathan Basser, who shortly after secured the contract for the supply of foodstuff to the 400 navvies, constructing the ten tunnels to replace the Great Western Zig-Zag for the Department of Railways. I was given the job to collect and deliver all goods over a period of 3 years. This entailed riding on horseback & driving through rugged mountain country in all weather. I had two attempts on my life while carrying money from the camps, but came through without injury. One occasion, a stout rope had been tied to two trees across a mountain track. I was riding a powerful horse through driving snow, the horse saw the rope and threw his head down suddenly, pulling me on to his neck, the rope scraped along my back but otherwise it was my lucky break, saved by my horse.

Shortly after the outbreak of World War I, I moved once again to Wollongong where I set up in business. In 1916 I arranged for a brother to take over, and I enlisted in the War in the 7th Australian Light Horse. After a short period of training we embarked on the [HMAT] Boorara en-route for Egypt. Owing to a submarine scared put into Port Melbourne for a few weeks. It was a nightmare voyage. The Captain stated it was the roughest trio he had ever made, mountainous seas and no lights at night and everyone on the alert. Before reaching Egypt an epidemic of mumps broke out, and I was one of the unfortunate ones. In my case it took a serious turn and I was taken off by stretcher and placed in the Egyptian Gov’t hospital at Port Tewfik, with little hope of survival. However, I pulled through and was sent to the Moasca[sic] training camp in the desert.

Shortly after, we moved to the combat area to make our acquaintance with the enemy…

Martin Luther Dyer in uniform.

Martin Luther Dyer in uniform.

Eventually the Authorities decided to form a train of mule and horse transport to speed up supplies. They selected a number of expert horsemen to return to Moasca[sic] where wagons, mules and horses were awaiting. I was one of the Company… A lot of the time had to be done at night for fear of air raids. Pulling through the deep sand taxed the animals but they stood the test well. We first made contact with our Companies near the Sinai Peninsula.

Our Unit was named the Anzac Mounted Divisional Train… Our first encounter with the front line was near Beersheba where some fierce fighting was taking place. We had to drive at night without lights, which was most hazardous, enemy dead were laying everywhere. Next village encountered was Gaza and from there on we entered the fertile country. Orange groves, vineyards and olive grove were plentiful. After existing on very little but tin ‘Bully beef’ and biscuits for months, a change of fruit and some vegetables plus an issue of wine worked wonders with the health of the troops. Village after village fell to our troops in quick succession – Richon Le Zion, Jaffa, Ludd (or Lydda). Here we had a respite for some weeks as the enemy were entrenched in the hills ahead.

Martin Luther Dyer on his horse.

Martin Luther Dyer on his horse.

Finally, we started the ascent towards Bethlehem and Jerusalem. Here we encountered heavy rain and cold weather. It snows in the mountains at Winter. Being unprepared coming off the desert, colds and pneumonia were prevalent. We took every opportunity to see as much as possible of the Ancient Biblical Scenes…

"Souvenir de Jerusalem " Souvenir book: cover made of wood and contains various images and dried, pressed flowers.

“Souvenir de Jerusalem “
Souvenir book: cover made of wood and contains various images and dried, pressed flowers.

Tragedy struck in another form. Dysentery and malaria broke out, and took a heavy toll. I became a victim and was taken by ambulance to a hospital at Jerusalem and the by hospital train back to the 14th Australian General Hospital at Port Said, where I was a patient for 3 months. Leaving hospital I was sent back to Moasca[sic], prior to going back to the front line. Meanwhile, word arrived from Cairo and the principal City of Egypt for someone with clerical and story ability to go and make an inventory of surgical supplies and equipment. I was selected and arrived at Cairo and completed the job. Just prior to finishing, the War ended, so for a few weeks I had the opportunity to visit some of the principal places of historic interest the great Pyramids, Sphinx, Ali Mohommed Mosque, one of the most beautiful in the world, also many others. Leaving Cairo I returned again to Moasca[sic] to await embarkation for home.

"Rachel's Grab."

“Rachel’s Grab.”

In early February 1919, the long awaited word arrived and we proceeded by Lighter to board the City of Exeter. We had a good top home, called at Colombo for a day and inspected some tea plantations in Ceylon and other interesting sites, arrived in Sydney 19th March and realised there is no place like home…

I went back to business after a brief holiday and on the 13th September 1919, was married at Lithgow by Rev. RC Oakley. On the 3rd July 1920, our first child was born, Winifred Lily and soon gave up the business and moved to Nowra as a representative of a Sydney Firm. On the 9th of May 1922, our second child was born, William Morris. After some months we returned to Wollongong where I entered business until 1924 when I took a position with the Wollongong City Council as a Traffic Inspector and Ranger.

…I became absorbed in various additional positions as years went by, Clerical Assistant, Health Inspector, Building Inspector etc. On the 25th October 1929, James Henry was born. I finally retired on 29th August 1959 after 35 years with the Council. I received a beautiful presentation and a testimonial dinner on retiring.

Martin on his retirement from Wollongong Council.

Martin on his retirement from Wollongong Council.

I was a foundation [sic] member of Wiseman Park Bowling Club and have been in Office for 12 years in nearly every position up to President.

According to the Illawarra Mercury, Martin owned a grocery business on Crown St Wollongong. The article also states that he was the sole supporter of his widowed mother and sister and that he had two brothers, one being in Queensland and the other was his business partner.

Martin Luther Dyer died in April 1971.

"Flowers of Mount Olive."

“Flowers of Mount Olive.”

Honour Roll

We need you

To commemorate the centenary of World War 1, Wollongong City Libraries will develop an innovative online resource – Illawarra Remembers 1914-1918 – which will include information and photographs that tell the stories of the Illawarra’s brave men and women who went to war. We need your help.

There are a number of Honour Rolls and Memorials across the Illawarra which commemorate the men and women involved in the war. Below is a photograph of the Roll of Honour at Woonona Presbyterian Church [1] (NB. The rolls and memorials may have changed location since the time the photograph was taken).


Woonona 1914 – 19

L.E Cameron
E.A Perkins
Jas Davidson
C.R Palmer M.D
J. Downie
J. Fowler D
J. Rowan
A. Artis
J. Johnston
A. Cochrane
R. Bray
T. Hill
L. Cracknell
J. Fletcher
A. Downie
W.A Bayne
R. Jackson
T.H Edwards
JNO Davidson
R. Schofield
W.J.R Richardson
R. Frew
G.W.A Hausknecht
W. Rees
F. Westwood
R.B Stewart
D. Nicol
W. Graham
A. Taylor
H. Rees
W. Downie
A. Waters

If anyone has any information about the names on this Honour Roll (or any other), please let us know either through the contact page, in person at Wollongong Reference Library or by calling the Reference Library on (02) 4227 7414.

[1] Compiled by Illawarra Family History Group Inc, Illawarra Remembers: War Memorials of the Illawarra, Printed by University of Wollongong Printery, Wollongong NSW, August 1995.

John Hargrave

John Edward Hargrave was originally born ‘Albert Mattison’ or ‘Green’ on 16 June, 1883 in Woonona. Prior to the war, he was a labourer.

John enlisted in Bulli in March, 1917 in the 25th Reinforcements 4th battalion. He was already married to Louisa at the time and they resided at Rixons Pass, Woonona.

John embarked on 31 October, 1917. He was wounded on 3 August 1918 in action due to a sprained ankle after jumping across a trench. He was put on a special sick parade and evacuated the next morning according to the National Archives of Australia.

He returned to Australia on H.M.A.T Suavic on 6 January 1919 and was discharged on 14 February 1919.

John Edward Hargrave (Albert Mattison or Green).

John Edward Hargrave (Albert Mattison or Green) at a wedding.

John died in 1951, Sydney at the age of 67.

In 1937, John wrote to the Defence Department stating that his certificates and medals were destroyed in a house fire; therefore there are no medals available and assumedly service photos. This letter had been uploaded to the National Archives of Australia.

Letter uploaded by NAA.

Letter uploaded by NAA.




Edward George Chamberlain

Edward George Chamberlain was born on 18 April, 1893 in Richmond, Victoria.  He was living in Woonona with his family during the time of his enlistment.

Edward George Chamberlain, c 1915.

Edward George Chamberlain, c1915.

Chamberlain embarked at Melbourne, Victoria on 7 March 1918 on the ship: R.M.S “Omronde.”

A story was shared by his son on the Thirroul scan and share day (June 16, 2013):

E.G Chamberlain left & the officer referred to in the story. c1918.

E.G Chamberlain left & the officer referred to in the story. c1918.

At some point of the excursion, they had approached a religious building of some sort and the officer accompanying my father had approached the building’s gate in hope of passing through. The Sister who had come to the gate to answer the bell did not speak English and dismissively waved him away. He called out after the Sister and showed her something he was wearing around his neck on a gold chain. The Sister grabbed the item around the officer’s neck and and seemed to be worshipping it. As they rode along, my father enquired:

“What was all that business about what you have around your neck about?”

His companion replied,

“That is a piece of the original Cross. As long as I am wearing it, no harm can befall me.”

Sometime later, the Officer’s camel shied at a wind-caught piece of paper and he took a heavy tumble.

“Little wooden Jesus wasn’t much help that time,” remarked my father.

His companion just laughed,

“It does not protect me for small matters.”

As a member of the 14th Battalion, they landed in France in September 1918.

They slept on the ground in the open on their first night at the front. The next morning, their hair was so stiff with frost that they could snap the hairs off but they were so tough after training in Egypt that nothing worried them.

Shelling started at day-break; the officer from the photograph caught a huge German shell all to himself. They had nothing to bury. He must have been wearing his protective cross when he was vaporised as it was not found among his kit.

There are records of Edward George Chamberlain at the Bulli Black Diamond Heritage Museum as well as the Illawarra Historical Group.

Photoalbum from "Duntroon" - series of photos taken during officer training.

Photoalbum from “Duntroon” – series of photos taken during officer training.

"C & D" Comapny, 14th Battalion AIF.  "Xmas - New Year 1918-1919."

“C & D” Comapny, 14th Battalion AIF.
“Xmas – New Year 1918-1919.”

Red Cross Workers at Woonona, 1917


Red Cross Workers at Woonona, 1917

From “Town and Country Journal” 25th April 1917; Title on photograph: Red Cross Workers at Woonona, New South Wales. The Woonona branch of the Red Cross League was formed on June 30, 1915, with an enrolment of 40 members. The sum of 176 pounds 6 shillings and threepence halfpenny has been received from different sources, including voluntary weekly subscriptions from members. The branch has purchased many yards of flannelette and made it up into pyjamas and shirts, and has also made up sheets, and has bought wool for socks. Altogether about 1200 articles have been made and forwarded to headquarters for the sick and wounded and prisoners of war. The president of the Woonona branch of the Red Cross League is Mrs Abel Jones, who is shown in the centre of the front row, while on her right is Miss Rose Mitchell (secretary) and Miss C.A. Richardson (treasurer) is on the president’s left.