Name: Maurice Green Blechynden
Date of Birth: 29 August 1916
Birth Location: Bridgetown, Western Australia
Also Known As: Pope
Age at Burial: 71 years
Date of Death: 29 June 1987
Death Location: St John of God Hospital – Bunbury
Date of Burial: 3 July 1987
Denomination: Anglican C
Row/Grave: Row 1 Grave #4
Australian Imperial Force Grave
2/28 INFANTRY BATTALION
29 JUNE 1987 AGE 71
Dearly loved husband of Kit, devoted.
Father of Terry, Sally and Dixie.
Alfred “Alty” Blechynden, born 13 November 1871, Bridgetown, Western Australia. Died 17 January 1941, Bridgetown, Western Australia. Buried Bridgetown Cemetery
Mary Ellen Bovell, born 1872, Albany, Western Australia. Died 9 April 1946, Northam, Western Australia. Buried Bridgetown Cemetery.
John Blechynden, born 1833, Perth, Western Australia. Died 14 October 1900, Edwards Crossing, Beverley, Western Australia. Buried St Paul’s Cemetery, Beverley, Western Australia. Memorial Stone at Bridgetown Pioneer Cemetery.
Married: 23 February 1860, St George’s Cathedral, Perth, Western Australia
Elizabeth Green, born 8 June 1839, Perth, Western Australia. Died 8 April 1891, Bridgetown, Western Australia. Buried Bridgetown Pioneer Cemetery
John Bovell, born abt 1844, Northern Ireland. Died 25 December 1900, Mullalyup, Western Australia. Buried Bridgetown Cemetery
Married: 21 September 1866, Albany, Western Australia.
Mary Ann Livingston(e), born 1843, Ireland. Died 10 April 1917, Bridgetown, Western Australia. Buried Bridgetown Pioneer Cemetery.
Gertrude Agnes Blechynden, born 28 March 1894, Bridgetown, Western Australia. Died 11 November 1974, Perth, Western Australia. Buried Memorial Park Cemetery, Albany, Western Australia. Married Alan Brierley in 1935.
Minna Elizabeth Blechynden, born 26 September 1896, Bridgetown, Western Australia. Died 7 April 1967, Bunbury, Western Australia. Buried Bridgetown Cemetery. Married William Stanley Boundy in 1923, second marriage to Ralph Rowland Edwards in 1936.
Alfred John Blechynden, born 19 March 1899, Bridgetown, Western Australia. Died 14 June 1952, Moora, Western Australia. Buried Bridgetown Cemetery. Married Maud Minard Barnes in 1935.
Noel Norman Blechynden, born 2 May 1905, Bridgetown, Western Australia. Died 23 September 1970, Mandurah, Western Australia. Buried Mandurah, Western Australia. Married Iris Myrtle Piggott in 1930.
Nicolas Edwin Blechynden, born 1907, Bridgetown, Western Australia. Died 20 April 1985, Bridgetown, Western Australia. Buried Bridgetown Cemetery. Married Mollie Emily Tulip in 1935.
Alice Lilian Blechynden, born 4 October 1910. Died 7 May 1998, Perth, Western Australia. Cremated Karrakatta Cemetery Memorial Rose Garden. Married Frank Charles Horne in 1942.
William Raymond Blechynden, born 17 February 1912, Bridgetown, Western Australia. Died 26 December 1980, Busselton Western Australia. Buried Busselton Cemetery. Married Barbara Joan Scott in 1941.
Colin Bovell Blechynden, born 20 April 1917, Bridgetown, Western Australia. Died 11 May 1999, Perth, Western Australia. Cremated Karrakatta Cemetery, Niche Wall. Married Annie Mary White in 1939.
Foster Sibling: Freda Taylor, born 15 October 1906, Bridgetown Hospital. Died 11 March 1991, Bridgetown, Western Australia. Cremated and ashes interred at Bridgetown Cemetery. Mother: Janet Linskell Taylor, Father: unknown.
Spouse: Catherine Eliza Awcock
Terence Alfred Blechynden, born 1947 – married Kerry Morley, second marriage Maureen Reilly
Sally Maree Blechynden, born 1949 – married George Turner
Dixie Anne Blechynden, born 1951 – married Robert Butler
Military Service: WX9454
Military Medals: 1939/45 Star, Africa Star with 8th Clasp, Pacific Star, Defence Medal, War Medal, Australian Service Medal
Maurice Green Blechynden was born on 29 August 1915 in Bridgetown, Western Australia. His parents were Alfred William Blechynden and Mary Ellen Bovell who married in August 1893 in Greenbushes. Maurice was the eighth child born to the couple and along with a foster child Freda Taylor who came to live with the family shortly after her birth in 1906, and their last child and son Colin born in 1917, this makes it a family of 10 children.
Alfred Blechynden, Maurice’s father, was also born in Bridgetown on 13th November 1871. His parents John Blechynden and Elizabeth Green married on the 23rd of February 1860 at St. George’s Cathedral in Perth. Their marriage was one of the earliest in Western Australia in which both the bride and groom had been born in the Colony. They had ten children together.
John Blechynden and his wife Elizabeth Green along with their family lived at “Bridgedale” which is now considered the oldest building in Bridgetown. John was a pioneer pastoralist in the area and Bridgedale was constructed in sections, with the main part completed in 1863. The home was constructed by John Blechynden, William May and Joseph Green. The town of Bridgetown was officially proclaimed in June 1868, making the Blechynden family along with the Hester family the district’s very first settlers.
A comprehensive story about Elizabeth Green and her father’s arrival on the ship the “Tramby” can be found by viewing the below link. Maurice’s middle name is Green, thus indicating that his grandmother’s heritage was important in the naming of both Maurice and his younger brother Colin Bovell Blechynden, named after his mother’s maiden name.
Maurice’s mother Mary Ellen Bovell was born in Albany, Western Australia on 1st March 1872. Her parents John Bovell and Mary Ann Livingstone were both born in Ireland and married in 1866. They immigrated to Australia in 1868 on the ship “Palestine”, as their second child Elizabeth was born in Albany. This couple would have seven children, six of which were born in Western Australia. John Bovell spent 25 years in the Police Force before he resigned and would then go on to be the licensee at the Blackwood Arms in Mullalyup where he also had an established farm.
Maurice would spend his childhood in the town of Bridgetown, the family lived on Roe Street and his father Alfred or Alty as he was known, before the railway was constructed from Bunbury to Bridgetown Alty used to drive horse drawn teams between those townships carting produce to Bunbury and returning with goods for towns en route. In later years after the railway opened in 1898 Alfred conducted a number of mail services throughout the district, chiefly to the Upper Blackwood and Warren and also kept horses and vehicles for hire. With the advent of motor vehicles, he swung over to the use of cars and trucks for delivery of mail.
Maurice attended the Bridgetown State School, were he also enjoyed playing sports such as tennis and football. Maurice was always known by his childhood nickname “Pope”. He also helped on the family farm at “Hillview”. His father had a passion for horses and horse racing which proved a great attraction, this interest would also play a part in Maurice’s adult life. As a child he even rode a pony to school.
Pope’s older sister Gertrude by 1922 was now a nurse, and an article below shows she is travelling on the ship the S.S Moreton.
The year 1923 when Maurice was eight years old his sister Minna married William Stanley Boundy at St Paul’s Church in Bridgetown on the 12 April 1923. Sadly, William or Stan as he was known, lost his life in a shooting accident the same year in early November. Minna was pregnant at the time and gave birth to a daughter Cynthia on 24 May 1924.
Alfred Blechynden, now 28 years of age, was managing Jubilee Downs in 1927 and Mr and Mrs H. H. Barnes who owned the station came to Bridgetown for a visit.
The year 1930 was the next happy occasion for the Blechynden family as Noel married Iris Piggott in Bunbury.
At the age of eighteen years in 1933, Pope and his friend Bob Graham went on a trip to the North of the State to visit Pope’s brother Alfred or “Johnno”. They had quite the adventure as the newspaper states, they went by boat to Wyndham, where they were shown over the meat works by a friend, Jack Downey. They then returned to Derby and left the boat and went to the hotel where they were welcomed and shown around. The next day they travelled by mail coach to Jubliee Downs Station and were met halfway by Johnno Blechynden who was on his way into Derby droving. They got off the mail coach here and were put on to help drove straight away. Both thought this was a great life, and they also were put on as night watchman for two hours at a time (watching the bullocks) and had to walk round these bullocks singing all the time. They soon returned to Derby and were invited to play a game of tennis against two “cracks” and won 6-0, so these men think there must be some tennis players down in the South-West. The last word was that Maurice is on Mount Anderson Station driving a donkey team and Bob is at Nooken Bar Station, and often cross paths with one another to talk about their experiences. They both say they miss a good old game of football, and wish both the Warriors and Rovers a good season.
Once again tragedy strikes for Minna, and her only daughter Cynthia dies from Influenza in Albany, she is taken to Bridgetown for burial.
A busy period of weddings occurs during 1935/1936 as four Blechynden children marry. Gertrude marries Alan Brierley, Alfred marries Maude Barnes, Nicholas marries Molly Tulip and Minna marries once again to Cpt Ralph Edwards.
Maurice “Pope” was a keen footballer, and many articles show his prowess on the field.
Colin Bovell Blechynden, Pope’s little brother, ties the knot in 1939 and marries Annie White. Pope is best man at the wedding.
Maurice joined the Army on the 3 December 1940, he was sent to Northam for training and sadly during the early part of his enlistment his father died on the 19th of January 1941, Maurice was unable to attend his father’s funeral.
Maurice’s mother came to Perth, presumably to visit Maurice prior to his departure, she became unwell during her visit as the below newspaper account states.
In November 1941 Pope’s brother William would marry Barbara Scott, though Pope would miss this family event as he had embarked to the Middle East.
On the 5th July 1941, Maurice embarked from Fremantle to the Middle East to join the other members of 2/28th Australian Infantry Battalion who had arrived earlier in January 1941. By the time Maurice joined his Battalion they were fighting the Germans alongside the British who had withdrawn from Benghazi and defending the port of Tobruk. There, the 2/28th helped defend the vital port for over six months, alternating between the main defence line and the rear areas, and conducting patrols, before being withdrawn via the sea to Alexandria in late September 1941, and then being moved further back to Palestine for a period of rest.
Throughout early 1942, the 2/28th served in a garrison role in Syria and Lebanon, this was interrupted in mid-1942 as German and Italian forces began advancing towards Egypt, the 2/28th Battalion moved to the Western Desert, where it took part in the First Battle of El Alamein in July 1942. On 27 July the battalion was tasked with capturing “Ruin Ridge” but after taking the position in a night attack they were cut off and surrounded by German infantry and armour. They suffered heavy casualties. After reforming the battalion returned to the front line in September and on 23 October it was committed to the Second Battle of El Alamein, conducting raids behind German lines before being moved into a position dubbed the “Saucer” on 31 October. They remained there until being withdrawn in December.
The battalion concentrated its efforts in Palestine, around Gaza but in early 1943 the decision was made to bring them back to Australia to take part in fighting the Japanese in the Pacific.
Arriving at Fremantle in February 1943, the battalion was re-organised for jungle operations on the Atherton Tablelands in Queensland. In September 1943 they took part in the amphibious landing around Lae in Papua New Guinea, landing east of the objective and leading the advance across the Busu River, under heavy Japanese fire. The capture of Lae was quicker than Allied planners had expected, and the battalion also took part in the Huon Peninsula campaign as the Australians followed up the Japanese forces that were withdrawing north, they also took part in the actions around Finschhafen, Gusika and Wareo before returning to Australia in January 1944.
Home from the Islands – Pope home visit.
They returned once again to Queensland and the Atherton Tablelands to undertake training before taking part in one of the final Australian campaigns of the war when they landed on Labuan Island, a small island off the coast of Borneo. They came up against intense Japanese resistance around an area called the “Pocket” which they eventually cleared on 21 June. They continued fighting in the area and landed to the north of Brunei Bay and advanced towards Beaufort. They played a significant role by patrolling in the area and secured vital rail junctions towards Lumadan. The Battalion was still in the Beaufort area when the war ended in August, and they were slowly returned to Australia for demobilisation by January 1946.
During its involvement in the war, a total of 3,153 men served with the 2/28th Battalion of whom 274 were killed and 511 wounded, while 480 were captured.
Maurice was awarded the Military Medals: 1939/45 Star, Africa Star with 8th Clasp, Pacific Star, Defence Medal, War Medal, Australian Service Medal. Though he did not collect these in his lifetime, his wife requested them after his death and the Australian Service Medal was requested much later by his daughter Sally.
Below are the dates of overseas service:
Middle East 5.7.41 – 18.2.43
New Guinea 6.8.43 – 27.1.44
Borneo 23.4.45 – 16.12.45
Maurice was not the only sibling to enlist in WW2.
Alfred John Blechynden enlisted on 27 August 1943 at Derby, Western Australia. He joined the No 11 North West Battalion, Volunteer Defence Corps, Service Number W88896. Alfred was 44 years of age at the time he enlisted for the Army Citizen Defence Force, most likely due to the attacks on Derby in March 1942, everyone felt that had to help the war effort and keep the state safe.
Noel Norman Blechynden enlisted on 1st June 1942 at Bridgetown, Western Australia. He joined the Army Citizen Defence, Service Number W70642. Noel was 37 years of age at enlistment, and working at “Hill Farm” in Bridgetown, married with four children. Listed on his records is a gun shot wound to his right arm from 15 years previous.
William Raymond Blechynden enlisted on 7 March 1941 at Bushmead, Western Australia. He joined the 52nd Second Australian Imperial Force, Service Number WX32144. Noel was 30 years at age and his occupation was a truck driver. William became a corporal in the Army. He was involved in two places of operational service. Firstly, at Darwin from 10 March 1943 until the 20th of November 1944. He then was shipped to New Britain which is a crescent- shaped island, approximately 610 kilometres long and 80 kilometres wide, lying to the north-east of the mainland of New Guinea. He departed on the 21st of November 1944 until returning on the 3rd May 1945 and then returned once again on the 14 July 1945 until returning home to Australia for the last time on 13 December 1945, he disembarked at Brisbane.
Colin Bovell Blechynden enlisted on 10 February 1941 aged 23 years, at the RAAF recruitment centre in Perth, Western Australia. He joined the Royal Australian Airforce, Service number 29827. His occupation was a mechanical fitter on enlistment, and he would continue this trade with the Airforce. Colin did not serve outside Australia but did serve in the Northern Territory.
Bridgetown welcomes her returned sons and daughters from the War.
With the war ended the Bridgetown community sent invitations to ex-service men and women to attend a Welcome Home Dinner. Pope was amongst the names on the invite list.
Pope had returned home to his town of Bridgetown, and it wasn’t for too long before he would find a partner to spend the rest of his life with. He married Catherine Eliza Awcock on the 7th of January 1947 at St Brigid’s Church in Bridgetown. After the wedding they along with 60 guests were entertained with a sherry party at Scott’s Hotel. It is most likely this couple had known each other most of their lives as their families had both lived in Bridgetown and had close connections.
The couple would go on to live for a few years at the Scott’s Hotel, and in March 1947 Catherine Eliza Blechynden formally Awcock made a formal application to transfer her rights and privileges of her Publican’s General Licence to her husband Maurice.
Pope and his new wife presided over the opening remarks at the Cricket Club Social held at the R.S.L Hall in April of 1947, they both received one of the most popular toasts of the evening from by Mr Bert Close who acknowledged that the present position of the club was due to Mr. Blechynden.
Sadly, Mary Ellen Blechynden passed away in Northam at the Fermay Hospital in Northam on the 9th April 1946 at the age of 76 years. Mary had not enjoyed good health for some time and a heart attack brought about her demise. She was buried at the Bridgetown Cemetery. It is most likely she was living with her daughter and son in law at the time of her death.
November 22nd, 1947, is the day Kit and Pope’s first child and son Terence Alfred Blechynden was born at Bridgetown. Terence was named after his mother’s brother who was killed in WW2.
Mrs “Pope” Blechynden hit the newspaper social headline, when her husband threw a surprise birthday party for her at Scott’s Hotel. It states that her birthday was proceeding quietly enough until a number of friends converged to give her a surprise party.
Pope purchased some property in 1948, when he purchased Mr. J Tucak’s property on the Bridgetown- Boyup Brook Road and was going to devote it to dairying.
It wasn’t long before they welcomed a second child and first daughter Sally in 1949.
On the 23rd August 1950 an afternoon tea was held at the residence of Mrs J. J. McAlinden to farewell Mrs Blechynden. The afternoon was held because the Inn had sold to new owners and so Kitty and Pope were to leave Bridgetown and extended families to start a new chapter farming.
Kitty and Pope left Bridgetown in 1950 with their two children Terry and Sally and bought a farm in the Ferguson Valley. The farm was next to where St’Aidan’s church stands today. This is when their last child and daughter Dixie was born in Bunbury on the 7th March 1951.
After a few years living on the farm at Ferguson Valley, Pope and Kit sold and moved to Perth for about 12 months, where Pope worked at a Pub on St. George’s Terrace to gain some added experience in the trade. Whilst in Perth Pope and Kit looked for opportunities as to where they might go next, and it wasn’t long before an opportunity arose, and this young family was onto its next adventure.
In 1958 they took a hotel lease at Lancelin at a place called the Lancelin Inn. Today it is called the Lancelin Beach Hotel. The town of Lancelin had only been established in 1950, and the Inn built in 1954, so Lancelin was only a small mainly fishing town and holiday location at the time they went to live there. Sally described her time living here as wonderful, they played on the beach and in the dunes behind the Inn, they had a carefree lifestyle. Terry was sent to Aquinas College in Perth to attend school, as there was no school in Lancelin when they arrived. Kit home-schooled the younger children when they first arrived in town and eventually Sally and Dixie became the foundation students at the Lancelin Government School when it opened. The family leased the Inn for three years and were sad to say goodbye to Lancelin. Pope and Kit’s children still have fond memories of their time there.
After leasing the Lancelin Inn, they moved back to suburb of Como in Perth, while they were looking for a Hotel to buy, soon an opportunity became available to lease with an option to purchase the Capel in Inn in the year 1962 from Mr. Percy Payne of Bunbury. The family moved from Como to Capel Inn and Pope and Kit ran the business.
Sally provided some memories of when they lived in Capel: Pope cultivated a large vegie garden when we first arrived. This garden was something to behold! The wood heap was too and the locals were convinced that he could account for every piece of wood. The yard and surrounds were always very neat and tidy. If someone wanted to chat they would always find Pope a the famous wood heap. Every year Pope and Bill Wright (The Capel Shire Clerk) attended the Kalgoorlie Cup Round. Bill boarded at the Hotel all of his time at Capel until he retired. Dad loved a day out at the Bunbury Races and always took a few “cronies” along. How they arrived home safely was a mystery! Anzac Day was always very special and Dad always marched, though he never talked about the war. He and Bill Wright argued every year over which was best – the Navy or the Army. No one ever won this argument, so it would re-start next Anzac Day! Dad became well known for having the best beer. He claimed that the regular cleaning of the lines from the keg to the tap was the best method. Dad always believed in hard work and honesty. He was loved and respected by family and clientele alike.
Pope and Kit retired from running the Capel Inn to Bunbury 1980, and their son Terry took over.
Pope passed away aged 72 years in 1987 and is buried at the Capel Cemetery.
Kit died in 1998 at Busselton aged 84 and is buried with Pope at Capel Cemetery.
Information photos and story compiled by Sally Turner, the daughter of Maurice Green Blechynden.
Researcher PP (CDCP Team Member)
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© Capel District Cemeteries Project 05/08/2023
Capel Tavern early 1960’s