Vorherr, Peter Augustus (272)
Place of Birth: Port Melbourne, VIC
Age: 20 years
Enlistment Details: Thursday, 15 October 1914 – Melbourne, VIC
Service Number: 272 view online service record
15 Heath Street
Port Melbourne, VIC
Next of Kin:
Mrs Annie Vorherr (mother)
15 Heath Street
Port Melbourne, VIC
Date: Tuesday, 22 December 1914
Ship: HMAT Borda A30
Port: Melbourne, VIC
Unit: Army Veterinary Corps – 2nd Veterinary Section
RTA: Tuesday, 3 December 1918
Discharged: Friday, 28 March 1919
Information from the Vorherr family indicate that Peter was the stepbrother of Herbert Walter Hickey aka William Vorherr.
Peter Vorherr was a 3rd generation Australian born in Port Melbourne on the 18th of October 1895 to Herman & Ann Vorherr, nee Smith. The Vorherr’s migrated to Port Melbourne from Rutherglen & Corowa around the late 1880’s early 1890’s.
Peter August returned from Europe to Australia in January 1919. He became a Bricklayer working around Port & South Melbourne. Sometime late in 1919 Peter and my Grandmother Florence Edith, nee Nicholson began a de facto relationship. Florence Edith was a widow with 4 daughters, her lawful husband Ernest Kofoed had died from influenza in March of 1919. Peter & Florence’s first child together was my Father, Augustus Peter Vorherr they then had 2 other sons, James born 1922(?) & Raymond born 1923 (?). By 1925 or there about, Peter August deserted Florence and his sons & step daughters which eventually saw all of Florence’s children taken away from her by Community services Victoria, due to extreme poverty. Peter Augustus apparently was never heard of again.
The children were distributed to either foster families or as in my dads case the Salvation Army Boys Home in Box Hill. I remember Dad saying that the Boys home was good to him where he learnt Reading, writing & Arithmetic and a generally healthy life. Although dad was unaware he had brothers or sisters until his early teenage years. He eventually returned to Port Melbourne at around 16 or 17 years of age and lived with his Aunt & 2 younger cousins. His Mother had remarried but unfortunately Dad and Florence’s new husband, John did not get on. Dad had a new step brother, John Bailey whom I think born in 1935.
Florence sadly died in 1937, Dad would have been 19. Dad didn’t remember ever seeing or knowing his own Father and apparently he’d go to the Anzac Day marches to see if he could identify him but that never happened. Dad kept his surname of Vorherr whilst his brothers changed their name to that of Bailey, Florence’s last husband. I dont remember Dad ever having lamented on what life dished up for him nor do I remember him being or feeling sad, Dad was of an era to pick yourself up and get on with it.
Only last year after many years of research I found Peter August Vorherr, my Grandfather, had stowed away on a ship to the USA in 1935. He was caught by authorities and deported back to Sydney Australia in 1936. I now have a photo of him from the NAA he was 42. I have no evidence as yet as to whether or not he returned to Port Melbourne at this time. I’ve learnt there were many similar stories of desertion and/or domestic violence due to the economic situation and poverty after the soldiers returned back home. Of course many returned home and coped with what they had experienced but the abject horror was just too much for others to bear and so misery (PTSD) is the result, not only on those who returned but also for those who took the brunt of the their loved ones horrors. I like to think that my Grandfather was affected by his experiences from the war and for the reason he deserted in not being able to cope, I think Dad must have thought the same because he kept his surname whilst he could have changed but didn’t. I also like to think/hope that perhaps my Grandmother finally found some happiness before she sadly passed away at a young age, she would have only been 43 years old.
It’s right & good that as a country we have a day to remember and honour those that served and those that continue to serve in conflicts but Peter August Vorherr was no hero in the warrior sense of the word, he was a normal person caught up in unimaginable savagery and I guess he did what he could, to survive.