Gwendoline (Gwenda) Grace Watson Davies, only daughter of Mr. William Watson Davies and Mrs. Grace Davies (nee Hayes) of Arthur Street, Eltham was born in Newport, 18 February 1908.
Gwenda grew up in Arthur Street and when she left school she was employed as an officer at the State Bank of Victoria, Chief Accountants Department, Head Office, Elizabeth Street, Melbourne.
During 1933-1934 in her early to mid-twenties, Gwenda wrote a series of poems which were captured in three books: one a leather bound three-ring binder with personalised gold embossing on the cover and two paper booklets held together by pink ribbon. These poems are a reflection of her childhood days, home, her mother, her environment, pioneering days and other miscellaneous subjects including one example titled “EIGHTEEN YEARS TO-DAY”, an homage to the brave men of Gallipoli.
On October 20, 1937 after ten years of service, Gwenda submitted her letter of resignation effective November 26th as she was to be married in the near future to Fred Jones.
Frederick Geoffrey Jones, born 7 January 1911, third son of Mr. and Mrs. W. Jones of Napoleon Street, Eltham, married Gwenda at the Eltham Methodist Church on 27 November 1937. They made their home at ‘Llangollen’, Arthur Street, Eltham, a new house Fred had constructed earlier that year opposite the Shire Offices. Their residence was recorded in the Electoral Rolls from 1963-1980 as 6 Arthur Street, Eltham which was situated on the corner of Arthur Street and present-day Commercial Place. In the 1970s their home was sold and demolished to make way for the new shops. They built a new home at the top of the hill in Bible Street.
In the Electoral Rolls for 1943-1980, Frederick’s occupation was recorded as a Plumber’s Assistant.
Fred was also a long-standing member of the Eltham Cemetery Trust. He was first appointed 26 April 1944 and resigned 17 July 1957 to be appointed to the Warringal and Eltham Joint Trust where he served till February 1980. He then re-joined the Eltham Cemetery Trust and served a further 14 years till his resignation on 24 August 1994. In total, Fred represented the interests of Eltham Cemetery for 50 years (1944-1994).
Gwenda and Fred were blessed with a son, Frederick William Jones in March 1942. Sadly, Frederick only lived two days and was buried at Eltham Cemetery on March 11. It is not known whether his grave is marked.
A second son, Geoffrey Morris Jones arrived 25 November 1944 but he sadly contracted polio as a child. A fall down the front steps of Fred and Gwenda’s new home in Bible Street culminated in Geoff’s death from a heart attack whilst in transit to the Austin Hospital on February 6, 1979, at age 34. He was also interred in the Eltham Cemetery. Geoff was posthumously awarded the British Empire Medal for his services to fire safety at the CFA. A small man, handicapped from his childhood polio, he had figured prominently in the area as an active Apex member and as group officer for the 13 local brigades in the CFA Lower Yarra Group. His work for the CFA, all voluntary, included writing a fire-fighting manual and the innovation of aerial fire spotting and weekly fire reports. Gwendoline and Fred were presented with Geoff’s B.EM. award at Government House.
Four years later on the anniversary of Geoff’s death, Gwenda could not sleep and collapsed in the hallway at home from a heart attack, 6 February 1983 at age 74. She was interred with her son Geoff, at Eltham Cemetery on February 9th. Fred died 31 July 1997 at age 86 and was also interred at Eltham Cemetery. A memorial plaque to Gwenda, Fred and Geoff lies within the lawn cemetery at Eltham Cemetery.
In February 2022 Gwenda’s book of Poems along with a copy of her letter of resignation from the State Bank of Victoria and a news clipping about the Autumn Show held in the Public Hall at Eltham (opposite her home with Fred) in which Gwenda is listed as having entered Cream Puffs and a Swiss Roll into the Cooking section, were donated to the St Vincent’s de Paul Society in Bega, N.S.W.. A dedicated volunteer there, Phil Parker, researched their origins and desirous for these items to return ‘home’, posted them to the Eltham District Historical Society for which we are most appreciative.
EIGHTEEN YEARS TO-DAY
“Tell me why you’re dreaming, Daddy”
Said my little son to me,
So, I told him all about it,
As he sat upon my knee.
I told him of that Sunday morn,
‘Twas eighteen years to-day,
When the men of Australasia,
Joined the mighty fray.
How they landed on that foreign shore,
And fought the gallant fight,
Of how they nobly won the day,
And put the Turks to flight.
We saw the cliffs before us,
To be scaled ‘mid shot and shell,
And our comrades fell around us - - - -
I remember it - - - so well.
There are some who’ll sleep forever,
On a hill that’s called Lone Pine,
And the twenty-fifth of April,
Is famous for all time.
And so to keep their memory green,
We march each Anzac Day,
To pay tribute to those Heroes,
Who gave their lives that day.
- Anzac Day 1933
And in reflections to Gwenda’s childhood home in Arthur Street:
Where do my thoughts ever wander?
Where do my thoughts always roam?
To a little old house, on the top of a hill,
To the place, that I call “Home Sweet Home.”
No matter where-ever I travel,
On land, or away on the foam.
My thoughts will return, and my heart ever yearn,
To the place, that I call “Home Sweet Home”.
Book of Poems, G. Davies
Letter of Resignation, 1937, Oct. 20, G.G.W. Davies
Births Deaths and Marriages Victoria
New House at Eltham (1937, September 10). Advertiser (Hurstbridge, Vic. : 1922 – 1939), p. 6. Retrieved May 12, 2022, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article56845735
Family Notices (1937, December 17). Advertiser (Hurstbridge, Vic. : 1922 – 1939), p. 3. Retrieved May 12, 2022, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article56846386
Geoff Jones, Proud Memory, unknown newspaper clipping, 1979
1979 Birthday Honours, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1979_Birthday_Honours
Australian Electoral Rolls, Ancestry.com
Family Trees, Ancestry.com
Eltham Cemetery, Deceased Search
Personal recollections, Joan Castledine
The poetry by Gwendoline Davies provides an insight into life growing up in Eltham and the early 1930s. A long time resident, Gwendoline, her husband Fred Jones and son Geoff Jones were fully dedicated to the Eltham community for over 50 years.
1. Brown leather bound three-ring binder with personalised gold embossing on the cover 20.5 x 14.5 cm, Walkers Loose Leaf Book, pages typed with some pasted in colour illustrations, alphabeticised dividers (some tabs missing), 21 leafs (some blank)
2. Two paper booklets held together by pink ribbon 15.5 x 12 cm, typed, some with colour illustrations, pages numbered (rh only) 12 pages and 25 pages and paper cover
3. Newspaper clipping
4. Letter sized hand written page in ink folded in three and damaged by foxing and insects
anzac day, arthur street, napoleon street, cfa, eltham cemetery, eltham cemetery trust, frederick geoffrey jones, geoffrey morris jones b.e.m., grace davies (nee hayes), gwendoline grace watson jones (nee davies), llangollen, lower yarra group, poems, william watson davies