Sydney John Penhaligon

Sydney John Penhailgon, 1894 – 1915 is the subject of research from Kenmore High School students. He was a local ANZAC form Indooroopilly who died less than a year after enlisting in WWl.


Sydney John Penhaligon was a local World War I ANZAC who died fighting for his country. After enlisting in 1914, he participated in the Gallipoli campaign where he lost his life. The death of this soldier affected his family and the story of the ANZACs has resonated with all generations, across the years.

Penhaligon was born in July 1894 in Indooroopilly to parents William Penhaligon and Christina Ruska (Mundia, 2014). He was the sixth child in a family of nine, after two of his older siblings died when they were still very young. The Penhaligon family lived on River Road, now known as Coronation Drive. He attended Indooroopilly State Primary School and then Kelly’s College before moving onto the Medical Army of Queensland (Role of Honour Circular).  At the time of enlistment on 18 August 1914, Penhaligon was not married or in any other relationship, and had been working as a postal assistant who had turned 20 years of age. On 25 September, he left Australia on the A22 Rangatira. This was his last sight of his homeland.

For most of early 1915 Penhaligon spent his time in Egypt, as part of the 3rd Australian Field Ambulance. The squadron often travelled throughout the Mediterranean, visiting Maltaand Greece before arriving at Gallipoli on ANZAC Day, 25 April 1915. For many days he cared for the wounded, as recorded in his diary. On 13 May there was a shell explosion in the camp that killed two other members of the squadron and left Penhaligon seriously injured (Squadron diary, May 1915) – ‘Shrapnel fell in the camp and the following casualties are recorded. Penhaligon ‘right thigh shattered,bullet in leg, serious’. Penhaligon died later the following day, 14 May, on board the hospital ship Gascon. He had been previously awarded the Victory Medal, British War Medal and the 1914-15 Star.

right thigh
bullet in leg,

In 1917, the belongings of Penhaligon were given to his father, still living in Indooroopilly (An ANZAC’s diary). The package included a broken watch, wallet, a dairy and various other items that had been of value to Sydney. (Australian Archives, 2003). This was the same diary he had kept for four months, capturing every day of his life as an ANZAC. It was published months later in The Brisbane Times, for the public to finally get an idea of what being an ANZAC was really about. There was also an extra, simple note addressed to his father. It read, Dear father, just a few lines to let you know I have done my duty. Sydney, good-bye all. Sydney wrote this message in urgency, as he was already wounded at the time. Penhaligon’s memorial is located at The Lone Pine Memorial (Panel 69), Gallipoli, Turkey, along with many other fallen Australian and New Zealand soldiers.

Sydney John Penhaligon was of significance to the local community as he was one of the first to enlist to fight for his country. He went from being an ordinary postal assistant to fight in what seemed like a never ending war. Penhaligon’s death greatly affected his family, as he came from humble beginnings to be caught in a great war. He was a local boy who became an ANZAC. His local memorial is on the Kenmore Cenotaph and he will be remembered for his duty to his country.