A century passed

Frank Larkins.

 Mount Evelyn RSL has finished tributes for local World War I service men and women held 100 years to the day after their deaths.

Sub-branch vice president Jim Hurley hosted a service for Mount Evelyn sailor Sub-Lieutenant Frank Larkins at the Mount Evelyn War Memorial on Thursday 20 June.

It was the final of 63 services held since 2015, a ritual the Mount Evelyn and Lilydale RSLs started to mark the Centenary of Anzac.

They tracked down and invited family members where possible to honour their ancestor’s sacrifice at war memorials in Montrose, Wandin, Mount Evelyn, Yarra Glen, Silvan and Lilydale.

Mr Hurley explained that 11 November was just a ceasefire and the war didn’t officially end until a peace treaty was signed on 28 June 1919.

“Up until then, any service person who passed away is include in the official casualty list for World War I, including Frank Larkins,” he said.

Sub-Lieutenant Larkins left school in 1912 at age 14 and enlisted in the Royal Australian Navy.

He sailed for the United Kingdom in January 1917 to serve on the battleship HMS Royal Sovereign in the North Sea.

He transferred to HMS Vampire, and finally to submarine J2.

That vessel sailed from Portsmouth on 8 April 1919 and proceeded to Australia via the Mediterranean, Suez Canal and Singapore, and through the Karimala Strait between Sumatra and Borneo.

His crew mates discovered Sub-Lieutenant Larkins’ empty blankets on the morning of 20 June 1919 and feared he’d fallen overboard while sleeping up top.

“Due to the oppressive heat of the tropics man of the crew took to sleeping on the casing,” Mr Hurley said.

A 12-hour search turned up nothing.

“The follow day the J2’s captain held a burial service with all the crew mustered,” he said.

When news reached Mount Evelyn, the local newspaper said the 20-year-old was ‘of splendid physique and would have made a career for himself’.

The RSLs will now turn their attention to the Vietnam War.

The Mount Evelyn War Memorial will host a tribute to Ray Moore, 50 years after he was killed in action in Vietnam on Wednesday 24 July at 11am.