Devenish, Arthur Lancelot 'Lance' (1893-1915)

Devenish, Arthur Lancelot 'Lance' (1893-1915)

Warehouseman, Singer, Hero

 Arthur Lancelot “Lance” Devenish was born on the 3 December 1893 in Northam, WA to Arthur and Edith Alice (nee Sanderson) Devenish. Arthur senior was a wheelwright and carpenter. Lance, as he was affectionately known, was the only living son as one was sadly stillborn in 1887. Lance had two older sisters, Edith Maycock and Muriel. Sadly their mother Edith Alice died a few short weeks after Lance’s birth. The three children were placed in an orphanage until their father Arthur could find a suitable place to live in Perth. By 1903 Arthur, his new wife Caroline Elizabeth[1], and his children are living at 48 Leonard Street, Victoria Park.


Early life

Growing up Lance is known to have studied at James Street School in Perth and attended Trinity Church in Perth. Lance is also mentioned on numerous occasions in newspaper reports of concerts and musical events, as a soloist of some note.



Lance’s singing talent is not surprising when you discover that many other members of the Devenish family were involved in music, either as professional performers, teachers and also church organists. Professionally Lance studied agriculture and was working as a warehouseman upon his enlistment in the 11th Battalion at Blackboy Hill on 22 August 1914. Lance was six-foot tall, had dark eyes and black hair and was just four months shy of his 21st birthday when he enlisted.



Arthur Lancelot Devenish, unknown date, 

(Source: Discovering Anzacs (website)[3])


War service

One of the first to enlist following the declaration of war, Lance had a short two weeks preliminary training at Blackboy Hill, he was part of the first convoy of Western Australian troops to leave from Fremantle on 31 October 1914. Lance arrived in Egypt in early December 1914 and continued his training. “Throughout this period, [Lance] frequently wrote home to his family, telling them of his experiences. In late April [2015] they received a letter from him stating that he was on the island of Lemnos and that he thought great events were about to occur. Days after writing the letter in the early hours of the morning of the 25th of April 1915 [Lance] and the 11th battalion were amongst the first wave of troops to land on Gallipoli. The unit’s field diary records that the men came under heavy Turkish fire as they made the landing at what would become known as Anzac Cove and attempted to occupy the steep surrounding hills. [Lance] was last seen with the men of his company attacking on the left flank of his unit’s line, they had advanced about two kilometres from the landing beach and had reached about as far as many men of his unit would on that day. Many men of that company, including [Lance], were never seen again."


Arthur Lancelot "Lance" Devenish, circa 1914-1915

(Courtesy of Muriel Lane)

 "He was originally reported missing in action and his family faced an agonising wait to hear official news of his fate. In the absence of official notification, his family heard numerous reports about what had happened to him. One soldier wrote to his father, stating that he had heard that [Lance] was in hospital in Malta with a wounded forearm. Soldiers who had fought alongside [Lance] on Gallipoli, reported hearing that he had been taken as a prisoner of war of the Turkish forces and was in a camp near Constantinople. None of these stories could be substantiated, and in early April 1916 nearly a year after the Anzac landing, [Lance] was officially reported to have been killed in action. He was 21 years old. His name is recorded on the Lone Pine Memorial on Gallipoli which commemorates nearly 5,000 Australian and New Zealand servicemen who have no known grave.”[2]



Lance's name on the Lone Pine Memorial to the missing in Turkey.



The Lone Pine Memorial to the Missing, Kocadere, Canakkale, Turkey 

(Source: Adam Jones, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)



Lance’s father Arthur lived at 48 Leonard Street, Victoria Park up to his death in November 1938, with his wife living there after his passing. Lance’s sister Edith Maycock Devenish or May as she was affectionately known, worked at the house as a music teacher prior to her first marriage to Charles Stansfeld TURNER in 1914. In 1919 they had a son they named Charles Lancelot TURNER in honour of Lance who sadly died in 1925. May lost her first husband, Charles Stansfeld TURNER who died in 1926 aged 47. In 1931 May married for the second time, to Richard H. WATTERS. They were to have a son on 9 December 1933 whom they named Richard Lancelot Devenish WATTERS in honour of Lance.




In 1918 Chapman Street in East Victoria Park was changed to Devenish Street in honour of Lance. In 2014 a tree in Kings Park was also dedicated to Lance’s honour by Catherine With one of his great nieces.


Devenish Street (sign), East Victoria Park, 12 January 2021

(Courtesy of Local History Collection, Victoria Park Library Service)


Private Arthur Lancelot “Lance” Devenish of the famed 11th Battalion of the Australian Imperial Force, whom was indeed as official World War I historian C. E. W. Bean would later pen, one “of the flower[s] of Western Australia’s youth” who laid down his life for his friends.


Lest We Forget



Family Tree


Born: 1859 Guildford Western Australia to Henry Thomas Devenish and Amelia TRIGG

Died: 1938 Victoria Park, Western Australia

Married: Edith Alice SANDERSON 1886 Perth, Western Australia

(Edith Alice died December 1893)


  • Stillborn male, born: 1887 Perth
  • Edith Maycock "May" DEVENISH
    • born: 1889 Northam
    • married (though no official registration found) 1914 Charles Stansfeld TURNER (Charles S. d. 1926)
      • Child: Charles L TURNER b. 1919; d. 1925
    • married: 1931 to Richard H. WATTERS in Perth
      • Child: Richard Lancelot Devenish WATTERS b. 1933
  • Muriel DEVENISH
    • born: 1891 Northam
    • married: 1913 to Herbert H. HOARE in the district of Swan
  • Arthur Lancelot “Lance” DEVENISH, born: 1893 Northam
  • WWI Service Number: 423
  • Killed in Action, Gallipoli, Turkey, 25 April 1915 (declared by Court of Inquiry in 1916)   



[1] No official registration can so far be found with the WA Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, but other records indicate that a marriage may have taken place. She is also listed as Mrs C E Devenish and living at 48 Leonard Street, Victoria Park in the 1949 edition of Wise’s Post Office Directory of Western Australia.


[2] Warren-Smith, Debra (Lt Col.) 2019, [transcript of speech given at the Last Post Ceremony of Arthur Lancelot Devenish at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT, on 25 July 2019], Facebook,, accessed 14 October 2021 


[3] Devenish, Arthur Lancelot (photograph), unknown date, Discovering Anzacs (website), National Archives of Australia and Archives New Zealand,, accessed March 2021.


This article was first published in Victoria Park Dictionary of Biography, Town of Victoria Park Library, October 2021.  By Rosemary Ritorto, Local History Coordinator.

Arthur Lancelot "Lance" Devenish was the 'Local Focus' story featured in the Town of Victoria Park's Remembrance Day commemorations at Memorial Gardens, Albany Highway, Victoria Park on 11 November 2021. The Town was honoured that several descendants of Lance were also able to attend commemorations.

You can pick up a copy of his special commemorative booklet from the Library or download a copy to keep here: Devenish, Arthur Lancelot - 2021 ToVP Remembrance Day Local Focus History Commemorative Brochure(PDF, 3MB)