Friday, 18 April 2014

A WW1 story that ended happily ever after

Family joy: Jim Granger, centre, returns home from war

It's good to remember that sometimes the First World War did have happy endings - and Jim Granger's was one of them. His story was begun in my previous post and is continued here by his granddaughter Sue Davis.

Jim was an Australian farmer who enlisted in 1915, aged 20, and returned home from the fighting in March 1919. His homecoming is captured in the wonderful photo above, with Jim in the middle and his sweetheart, Marie, next to him in white. Sue Davis takes up the story...

After the Great War and his welcome home, James Charles Granger travelled by train to the Young District of New South Wales where several Soldier Settlements were being offered by the state to discharged soldiers. He rode around the district on a bicycle before settling on Kingsvale to be his future home in 1919. He applied for a double sized block of land as he was soon to be married to his beloved Marie Louise Dobson in Sydney, and would be setting up home at Kingsvale. They were married on the 16 April, 1921. 

Jim settled in well to life as an orchardist with his major crop being prunes that he grew as plums and then dried in rakes in the sun. The prunes were sold under the brand name J.C.G. Prunes. The couple's property was, and is still called The Grange

In early 1922 Marie became pregnant with their first child. The baby was born on the 2 October but announced as a stillborn baby girl. The couple managed to move on from the tragedy and D’Arcy James Granger was born on 18 September, 1923 (my father). Two years later came Amy Catherine, and another two years later came Kennyth Ian.

Life was tough but Kingsvale had a great sense of community and the Grangers became a well respected family in the Soldier Settlement. Jim and Marie were very involved in community activities such as the local primary school parent group, Red Cross, and the Kingsvale Memorial Hall. In the Depression years of the 1930s food was very scarce for the animals and the horses were once fed on the thatch from the barn soaked in molasses.

Jim and Marie were dedicated Christian folk and, along with other Anglican members of the community, petitioned for a church to be built at Kingsvale so they did not have to travel to neighbouring Currawong or the larger towns of Harden or Young. The church was built on the highest point in Kingsvale and was dedicated in 1938.
Sadly, in 1947 Jim fell ill while visiting Sydney on business. He was diagnosed with leukaemia, possibly related to continual wet feet while in the trenches during the Great War. He didn't make it back to his beloved Kingsvale. Many letters were written to Marie (who lived until she was 92) at the passing of James. They told of the great person he was, a firm friend, great sense of humour, community man and dedicated family man.

We were always made to feel very proud of our grandfather, James Charles Granger. His legacy to us has never beeen forgotten. In fact my brothers, Jim and Jeff, still grow prunes and make prune products on the property. A stained glass window was erected in his memory in the little church on the hill at Kingsvale. The church has recently been closed but this Easter the family will re-dedicate the window at the neighbouring Currawong church.

Susan RoseMarie Davis (nee Granger)

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