People - John Mervyn Render
Born: 12 June 1908 Carlton, Coverdale, Yorkshire, England. Died: 1 July 1942.
Son of John James Render and Linda Render; husband of Doris Helen Mary Render, of Frankston, Victoria. Father of Joan and Jennifer.
Born in the town of Carlton in Coverdale, North Yorkshire, in June 1908, John Mervyn Render emigrated to Australia with his family as a young boy prior to the outbreak of World War I. The family settled in Frankston and Jack followed in the footsteps of his father, John James, as a stonemason.
Jack married Doris Fleming at the Methodist Church in Frankston in 1931. By 1933 there was a daughter, Joan, and the young couple were paying off their mortgage on their small weatherboard house in Gweno Avenue, named The Bough. In April 1939 a second daughter, Jennifer, was born.
After the declaration of war in September 1939, Jack tried to enlist three times. He was successful on 12 March 1941 and 'taken on strength' at Royal Park in Melbourne. By 17 March he was in the Royal Australian Engineers Coastal Command at Queenscliff; by 28 March in Lark Force 'to be Cook Group 2'. By 18 April 1941 he had embarked 'per Z Sydney' and disembarked at Rabaul on 9 May 1941.
Jack wrote 35 letters to his sweetheart Doris while in Rabaul. Of these 35 letters only three survive, numbers 12, 22 and 35. In letter 12 he is a sightseer in a strange new environment, as well as a father concerned for his family, and a Frankston man attached to the town and thinking about his friends and acquaintances. He is also a man coping with the strange new task of delegating business worries to his wife.
In letter 22 he has been ill, the volcano (Tuvurvur/Matupi) has been 'making a bit of a mess down the town' and the reality of the situation is sinking in.
Letter 35 and with attack imminent and the knowledge that there will be 'no withdrawal', Jack says his goodbyes:
On June 22nd 1942, Jack embarked with over 1,000 fellow POWs on the Montevideo Maru. His name appears on panel 10 on The Rabaul Memorial at Bita Paka cemetery.
© Jenny Evans 2002
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