People - John Mervyn Render

Sapper - A.I.F. Fortress Engineers, Royal Australian Engineers

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.

It is beautiful and moonlight at night time up here at present and the weather is very pleasant. At the new site there is always a breeze blowing and we are right on the sea. So we can have a swim any time we get a chance.

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.

I myself rue the day I left the old battalion as I would not condem my worst enemy to this deadly existence.

Letter 35 and with attack imminent and the knowledge that there will be 'no withdrawal', Jack says his goodbyes:

Well sweetheart I will close now with my dearest wishes to you & children and all my to you all & hoping to see you in the near future & if by any chance that God wills I do not make the grade in a tough spot remember I tried to do my duty & I will meet you again but be of good cheer & God go with you all, Yours for ever & ever Love Jack

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.

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See also

  • The Rabaul Memorial 1939-1945, Memorial Register 29, The Imperial War Graves Commission, London, 1959, 65 pp.
  • The Rabaul Memorial 1939-1945, Web publication of the register of those who fell with no known grave, 2003, http://www.jje.info/lostlives/exhib/rabaulmemorial/alpha/r.html#rm2355.
  • Margaret Reeson, A Very Long War, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 2000, 200 pp.

© Jenny Evans 2002

'You know the Rotter'

'You know the Rotter'

Butch Newman, Bill Lovel & Self in Cookhouse

Butch Newman, Bill Lovel & Self in Cookhouse

View Matupi in Eruption

View Matupi in Eruption
6 June 1941

Bita Paka Panel 10, 1 July 2002

Bita Paka Panel 10, 1 July 2002

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Created by Joanne and Jenny Evans, July 2002. Updated 29 May 2011