1896 – 1916
The series of histories of our local Diggers continues with this vignette on the life and loss of another young soldier. This story has been researched and written by Katherine Viney.
Walter Treble Congram, son of William Treble Congram and Anne Breddin, was born in 1896 in Taringa, Queensland. Records suggest that Walter was the eldest of 13 children (Ancestry, 2012). He lived and worked in the Taringa area for most of his short life. The Congram family were related to the Breddin family, who were highly regarded in the area and well known in the Kenmore-Moggill district and the loss of Walter was felt throughout the community.
Prior to Congram’s enlistment, he worked as a clerk in the Catholic Church. Walter enlisted to fight on 21 September 1915, approximately five months after his cousin, Fred, sacrificed himself in battle at Gallipoli. This may have influenced Walter’s decision to enlist. Another local soldier, Ernest George Gregory, enlisted less than a month after Walter (National Archives of Australia, 2012), and as Ernest was also a clerk who worked in the same area and enlisted at the same location, it is likely that the two men were acquaintances. Walter Congram never married nor had children before he enlisted for service.
On 30 December, 1915, Walter and Ernest boarded the HMAT Itonus (Australian War Memorial, 2012).
Walter was then admitted to training in Egypt, most likely in Tel el Kebir. After he completed the rigorous training, he and Ernest travelled to France on 19 March 1916 to fight in the 25th Battalion (7th Reinforcements). The 25th Battalion was made up of soldiers mainly from the Enoggera/ Brisbane district and had recently retreated from Gallipoli. Walter fought on the Western Front, where he served for almost a year. On 9 March 1916, Walter was transferred out of the 25th Battalion and into the 47th Battalion. It was in this Battalion that he was promoted to the position of Lance Corporal on 6 July. Both the 47th and 25th Battalions went on to fight in the Battle of Pozieres from 25 July until 7 August. Walter Congram died in conflict on 4 August 1916 and Ernest Gregory passed away due to horrific wounds, just four days later (National Archives of Australia, 2012 [online]).
After Walter’s death, the family were informed by telegram, as it was the main form of international communication at that time. A letter written to the Officer in Charge of Base Records, from Anne Breddin, indicates that the family were very slow to receive a Certificate of Death or any other records, which was common. In 1923, seven years after his death,Walter Congram was awarded three military medals which were accepted by his family on his behalf. He was also registered on multiple memorial roles, including the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial and, more recently, the Kenmore War Memorial.
About 24 years after Walter’s death, World War II had started and his younger brother, Roy Congram, enlisted to fight on 14 June 1940. Another two siblings did the same –Frank Lewis Congram on 8 May 1941 and Edward Charles Congram on 2 March 1942. All three men involved in World War II survived, after varying lengths of service. Roy Congram served in many locations, including the Middle East, Lebanon, Syria and Palestine. After receiving serious shrapnel wounds, Roy was discharged in 1945. Frank served in locations including the Middle East and Borneo but was discharged a year later due to wounds. Edward served in New Guinea, but after three severe cases of malaria, he was discharged on 2 January the following year (National Archives of Australia, 2012). The enlistment and service of Walter’s siblings was most likely influenced by Walter’s bravery and strength at war.
Walter Treble Congram’s courage and war service strongly influenced those around him and his community at home. His sacrifice his recognised throughout the Kenmore Moggill district and is greatly respected.
Lest We Forget