Gorey Family History

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James Gorey: 1917-1990

James Gorey: Ex RAAF

James Gorey was the second son of Michael and Eleanor, born at Waubra on August 11, 1917. He began his schooling at Waubra, and then continued at Ballarat when his parents moved there.

The family moved to Dalmore in West Gippsland where Jim finished school and began work on the farm.

Among the potatoes, pigs and milking cows he learned the habit of hard work. Jim had little leisure time among the chores.

He was intelligent and did well at school, but carried the responsibility of an older brother. He maintained this responsibility throughout life, acting as a father figure to his youngest brother Peter, in particular. He was therefore seen as a serious man lacking emotion, but was astute, understanding and capable of compassion.

By the time the family moved to Fumina he was well past school age, but his labor was an important component of the farm.

The thriving sawmilling settlement just up the road at Tanjil Bren provided plenty of work for willing hands in that time of recovery from the Great Depression, so Jim Gorey headed up there to serve the bush apprenticeship. He was to remain in the timber industry, one way or another, for the whole of his working life, apart from a period serving his country in the Second World War.

Jim was a keen sportsman. He played cricket locally, and football with the Tanjil Tigers. He was regarded as less talented than his brother Michael, but a steady performer.

Jim worked in several mills, and was working for the Saxton family at Tanjil Bren after the Christmas break in 1938. The events of Black Friday 1939 are well documented elsewhere, but Jim Gorey went into the larger of the three Tanjil Bren dugouts when the holocaust struck. With some 20 other men he endured appalling conditions, surviving through good fortune and the heroic actions of Eric Saxton, who held a blanket over the entrance to the dugout while other men threw water over him to keep him cool. Jim Gorey helped revive the men who kept fainting from the heat and lack of oxygen until the spectre of death finally passed.

His younger brother was not as lucky. Michael died in a neighboring dugout.

Jim's wife Molly said Mr Saxton had initially sought out Jim to stay with his wife until the fire had passed. When Jim couldn't be found, Mick was sent for instead.

At weekends it was a long walk home from the mills unless you could catch a ride in one of the log trucks or the few cars that made the trip, and this was a regular feature of his life for the simple reason that he absolutely adored his mother.

Jim Gorey had a lesser regard for his father, who he probably saw as unstable. Eleanor commented on how like her own father Jim was. Honest and upright, Jim could not abide Michael John's gambling and drinking. They often clashed.

Responding to his country's call, Jim joined the RAAF on September 9, 1942. He wanted to be a pilot, but couldn't pass the physical. He served with ground crew.

Jim saw active service in New Guinea, in the Markham Valley, Borneo and on the island of Bougainville. He related a story that when it was all but over he was heading home, and an American serviceman he knew gave him a tommy gun. Jim returned to Australia via Thursday Island and when he eventually arrived in Townsville the authorities did not bother to check what they had so he was never required to hand over any ordinance. He kept the weapon and a large drum of rounds for years as a souvenir, but only ever took it out for a shot once.

One squeeze of the trigger and a dozen quick rounds put the wind up him, so back it went into the cupboard, only to be eventually given to an interested acquaintance. He was never much interested in guns.

Jim never joined the RSL and spoke about the war only if asked. However, he was proud of his service and inspired a respect for the Anzac tradition in his nephew Michael who now proudly retains his medals.

After the war Jim returned to Icy Creek and helped his father in the futile exercise of clearing land. He sold the wood and developed skills as a builder. With Jack Walsh and another man he started a mill at Noojee.

When he left the partnership, Jim's mother was very ill in the Freemasons Hospital. The doctors recommended that she move somewhere more civilised and closer to medical care. Jim bought a house in Drouin at 227 Princes Highway in 1953, which extended his mother's life by many years.

"All members of the family were grateful to Jim for what he had done. It meant we had a base in a nice town with all the amenities that went with it. I am sure it added 20 years to my mother's life as well," Peter said.

Like others in the family, Jim did not marry until late in life. But it seems there were women in his life occasionally, and Eleanor actively encouraged her son to find someone nice and marry.

To Jim it was not that simple. His mother came first.

Jim eventually married his cousin, Mary Sutherland Green, better known as Molly, at Drouin on December 27, 1961. After Eleanor died the couple moved to Castlemaine.

Mary's sons recall that Jim could be quite reserved towards them, but when Noreen's girls arrived on the scene it was a different matter. He doted on his nieces and at the Christmas gatherings when the Warren girls arrived, the Burns boys felt they faded quietly into the background.

He took a keen interest though in his nephew Michael, who was often reminded of his significance as the only male of his generation with the surname Gorey. Jim and his mother used to jokingly tell the youngster that he had to have a son and call him Michael in the family tradition.

Jim was interested in family history and relayed to young Michael many names and anecdotes which only grew in relevance as this book came to fruition.

Jim was very protective of his sisters. When Mary moved to Darnum with her husband the family lived in a tent. Jim would not have his sister living like that so he undertook to build her a house; the Burns brothers providing the timber and labor at weekends. Jim had a deep sense of right and wrong.

Lindsay fell out with his brother and sister-in-law over the milling business, and in the ensuing settlement was severely disadvantaged. The way Jim saw it Mary had been cheated of a lot of money and no-one was going to treat his sister like that. He was well known and respected in the timber industry, and knew people.

When logging leases were open to application by contractors, he unashamedly used his influence to ensure Ivan Burns received inferior prospects.

Jim spent his later working years at McGilton's timber yard in Warragul. Although he managed a sawmill at Longwarry for some years, he never had the ambition to own a business.

"Jim was not a businessman type. He never wanted to own his own mill. He was such an honest man, that the 'nice guys come last' attitude required in the business world would have galled him," Peter said.

Jim enjoyed his retirement years in Castlemaine with Molly. He maintained his keen interest in family affairs. When he died on August 11, 1990 (his 73rd birthday) the family lost its patriarch.

Linked toGorey, James

Castlemaine, Castlemaine, Victoria, Australia

Notes: The cemetery is located in Cemetery Road, Campbells Creek Victoria 3451. The first burial was on 3 March 1853.

The original cemetery in Castlemaine was at Templeton Street and was moved to Campbells Creek in 1853. Most of the burials in this first cemetery were reinterred in the new cemetery.


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