Time Warp Tuesday - 23 April 2024

Published on Tuesday, 23 April 2024 at 10:19:49 AM

This #TimeWarpTuesday we are pleased to bring you the biography of a local Victoria Park man who fought and was Killed in Action on 4 July 1918 at the Battle of Hamel, France.


Lieutenant Reginald Walter DOVEY (1896-1918)


Reginald Walter DOVEY.
Courtesy of Australia’s Fighting Son’s of the Empire, p. 137.

Signature of Reginald Walter DOVEY from his WWI enlistment papers.

Courtesy of the National Archives of Australia

---Plumber, Son, Brother, Uncle, Hero---



Birth and Early Life

Reginald was born on the 4 October 1896 in Rokeby Road Subiaco to Frederick and Eleanor DOVEY (nee MOORE). He was the third child and second son born to the couple. Reginald had four siblings, but one sister, Emily would only live for little over a year, dying in November 1901.

Reginald’s parents had met and married in Brunswick, Victoria in 1886, at which time his mother Eleanor was a dressmaker and his father Frederick was a cabinet maker who had been born in London England. No documentation has yet been found that shows when Frederick Dovey immigrated to Australia.

Reginald spent his early childhood and school days in Subiaco, attending Jolimont Primary School, which only had 26 students when they opened on their current site [1] in 1905 [2].


Life in Victoria Park

The Dovey family moved to Victoria Park sometime during 1910 and moved into the house that the family would call home until 1922. It would also be the home that two brothers would leave from to go to war, saying goodbye to their childhood and stepping out for what they probably believed to be a great adventure in the making – World War I.

The house never had a street number in records available to us, but it was in Albert Street (now Swansea Street), close to the Welshpool Road end of the street. The property was also big enough to hold livestock as the family had at least a “red cow and heifer” that strayed from the property in March [3] of their first year in residence. How different this light industrial and residential area is today from farming land of the time when the Dovey’s lived there.

Reginald turned 15 in 1911 by which time he was most likely undertaking his training as a plumber, his occupation at the time of his enlistment.

Reginald embarked for service at Gallipoli from Melbourne aboard the HMAT Ceramic.
Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial.


World War I

Reginald enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 8 September 1914, first serving in the 16th Battalion as part of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force (Gallipoli Campaign). He was wounded on the 28 April 1915 then suffered further injury and was hospitalised for a gunshot wound to the buttock on 6 May 1915. He returned to his unit at Gallipoli on 7 June 1915. Reginald would again suffer injury, this time to his eyes and was sent to hospital in Alexandria, Egypt on 2 July 1915. He spent most of August in a convalescent camp in Helouan. By late August 1915 Reginald was well enough to rejoin his unit in Mudros.

On 9 March 1916, Reginald was transferred to the 4th Machine Gun Company at Tel-el-Kebir, Egypt. The unit embarked from Alexandria to join the British Expeditionary Force in France on 1 June 1916, disembarking at Marseilles, France on the 9 June 1916.  Reginald was promoted up the ranks several times from 3 June 1916 up to the rank of Sargeant on 7 September 1916. Suffering another sickness in late January 1917, he spent 52 days in hospital, returning to his unit on the second Anzac Day, 25 April 1917. Engaged in the muddy battleground that was France, Reginald fought valiantly on with his mates. His talents were recognised by those in command and on 26 August 1917, Reginald was detached to the Machine Officers Cadet Battalion in England and promoted to 2nd Lieutenant. Whilst in England, Reginald also attended the Machine Gun Course at Grantham, which he successfully completed on 19 December 1917. Unfortunately, he would again spend time in hospital with an illness, but regained his health and returned to duty in England in January of 1918. One imagines that the slight reprieve from the rigours and constant barrage of danger, would have also lifted Reginald’s emotional strength. He embarked from England on the 26 March 1918 to return to his unit the 4th Machine Gun Battalion in France on 1 April 1918, they were serving on the Western Front.

Reginald was promoted to Lieutenant on the 10 May 1918.


A Brother's Story

Reginald’s older brother Frederick George Harold DOVEY, enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on the 25 February 1916. To avoid confusion with his father, he was known as Harold DOVEY, and was single at the time of his enlistment. He had been a greengrocer and fruiterer by trade. By August 1916, Harold was fighting in France on the Western Front, just like Reginald. It is not known however if their paths crossed during their service.

On the 16 April 1917, whilst Reginald was recovering from illness in hospital, his brother Harold was reported as missing in action. Later it was discovered that Harold had been taken as a prisoner of war by the Germans. Harold would be captive in Germany for the remainder of the war. His service file includes a copy of a postcard sent home asking to be sent a parcel with some small comforts such as treacle, cheese and cigarettes. No doubt his family back home were glad to hear that their beloved son was alive if imprisoned, a small comfort when news of the fate, of his brother Reginald would reach the Dovey family at home in Albert Street, Victoria Park later in the war.

Private Harold DOVEY (aka Frederick George Harold DOVEY).

Courtesy Australia's Fighting Sons of the Empire, p. 137

German POW documentation from the service record of Frederick "Harold" Dovey (Reginald's brother).
Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial.

The Battle of Hamel and Our Hero's Last Moments


The 4 July is of paramount importance in the calendar of every American, yet it should arguably be remembered for a different reason in the minds of every Australian also. On this day in 1918 the bravery and brilliance of the Allied forces, predominantly Australian, under the command of General Sir John Monash whose plan to deceive the Germans entrenched near Hamel, would become legendary.

The Battle of Hamel was a “well-planned successful limited Allied action on the Western Front, 4 July 1918. Designed to straighten the Allied line the battle was notable for the careful co-ordination of infantry, artillery, armour and aircraft. Two brigades of Australian infantry assisted by American troops, British Mark V tanks and exceedingly accurate artillery barrages, quickly overran German positions and took in action when Royal Flying Corps units dropped 100,000 rounds of ammunition to Australian machine gunners.”[4]

Parachute ammunition drop, stuck in trees of Vaire Wood near Hamel. Dropped on 4 July 1918, photo taken 5 July 1918.

Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial (4090362).


We hope you have enjoyed Part One of the story of Lieutenant Reginald Walter DOVEY. Be sure to check next week for the second and final instalment. The Town of Victoria Park is hosting a dawn commemorative service this Anzac Day, Thursday 25 April and all are invited to attend. The service will be held at Memorial Gardens on Albany Highway, Victoria Park. We hope to see you there. But wherever you choose to commemorate our past and present serving men and women, be sure to remember that they paid the price for our freedom and we must be ever vigilant to protect it. Lest We Forget.



#LoveVicPark  #AnzacDay2024  #LestWeForget  #VictoriaParkDictionaryofBiography 



[1]       657 Hay Street, Subiaco WA

[2]       Jolimont Primary School 2024, ‘History’, Jolimont Primary School website, accessed 3/4/2024, https://jolimontps.wa.edu.au/our-school/history/

[3]       1910 'Advertising', The West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879 - 1954), 30 March, p. 1. , viewed 03 Apr 2024, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article26252960

[4]       Australian War Memorial 2024, ‘The Battle of Hamel’, Australian War Memorial website, online, accessed 2/4/2024, https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/E84323. 


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