Harold Freeman Jerome
Service number 53291

When Private Harold Jerome arrived in France in October, 1918, he could not have known that the Armistice was only weeks away and that his battalion had already fought its last action of the war.

Harold was a son of Atkin Jerome, one of the early residents of Canungra, and was 24 years old when he enlisted on January 7, 1918.

A timber worker, Harold himself would have been considered tall timber for his time, standing at six foot four and a half inches (194 centimetres) while many of the soldiers who enlisted from the district were some 30 centimetres (one foot) shorter.

With the 3rd ‘Q’ reinforcements from Queensland, Harold boarded a train in Brisbane on April 5, 1918 and travelled to Sydney where he embarked on the HMAT Osterley bound for Liverpool.

Arriving on July 10, he joined the 1st Training Battalion the next day. Less than a week later he was in hospital, sick with influenza.

Harold was allotted to the reinforcements of the 9th Battalion on July 29 and, after further training, left for France via Dover on October 4.

He joined his unit on October 13, while the battalion, which had suffered heavy casualties throughout 1918, was out of the line for rest and reorganisation.

The 9th Battalion was still out of action when the Armistice was signed on November 11.

The next entry in Harold’s service record shows him going on leave to Paris on April 8, 1919.

He left France in late April, returning to Sutton Veny in England ahead of his journey back to Australia.

On October 8, 1919, almost a year after joining his battalion in the field, Harold boarded the HT Devon, bound for Melbourne.

After arriving in Australia on November 27, Harold was discharged from the Army in Brisbane on December 22.

“A foot taller than many of the men who enlisted from the district.”

Among the early members of the forerunner of the RSL formed in Canungra after the war.

Jerome Street is a reminder of the link between Harold’s family and the Canungra district.

The book by Muriel Curtis to mark Canungra’s centenary, Canungra Heritage 1879-1979, tells of the opening of the former Witheren School in 1899, when Harold Jerome was among its first pupils.

Enrolments were so low at one stage that the name of Harold’s older brother, Jasper Jerome, was added to the roll to make up the numbers to prevent the Department of Education from closing the school. At 14, Jasper already drove his own bullock team which he would halt outside the school on Fridays so he could attend classes during the afternoon.

Canungra’s centenary history also records that when the Returned Soldiers and Sailors Imperial League of Australia – the forerunner of the RSL – was formed in Canungra after the war, James Sharp and Harold Jerome were among its early members.

During World War Two, Harold was back in uniform as a member of the district’s 2/14th Light Horse Regiment.

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