John Melling Speirs

First Name: 
John
Middle Name: 
Melling
Last Name: 
Speirs
Alternate Spelling: 
Jack, Spiers
Date of Birth: 
Wednesday, October 26, 1898
Mother's Name: 
Maternal mother: Mary Ann. Foster mother: Mary Jane (nee Rodham)
Father's Name: 
Foster father: Hugh Frew Speirs
Date Enlisted: 
Saturday, March 4, 1916
Rank at Enlistment: 
Driver
Unit: 
9th Field Company
Company: 
Engineers
Awards: 
British War Medal
Victory Medal
Details: 

John 'Jack' Melling Speirs was born in West Wallsend, Newcastle, NSW on 26 October 1898.  Jack lived with his foster parents Mary Jane (nee Rodham) and Hugh Speirs in the Wollongong area of NSW.

In his early life, the Speirs family moved from Lithgow to Brownsville, near Dapto, NSW, and later to Kennedy's Road Austinmer, NSW. Jack's foster father Hugh was a coal miner who worked around a number of New South Wales coal mines. The family are also listed as residing on Lawrence Hargraves Drive at one stage.

Jack was a member of the Austinmer Surf Lifesaving Club joining around 1915 at the age of 17. He also served for four years in the local 37th Infantry Regiment cadet program.

Prior to 1916, Jack also found emploment as a local coal miner.

On 4 March 1916, Jack enlisted in the 9th Field Company of Engineers. He gave his age as 18 years and 5 months although he was a year younger.  On 5 July 1916, he embarked on board the Ajana.

Following his return, Jack married Margaret Eveline "Biddie" Keevil on 30 April 1922 at Newtown. They later lived in the Newcastle area. He and his wife had four children: Jackie, Lenny, Neville and Nancy.

Apparently Jack, like many other veterans did not speak much about the war and experiences.

Jack and Biddie spent their retirement years at Stockton and travelled around showing their dogs.

Jack's service is commemorated on the Austinmer War Memorial.

Read the full account of John 'Jack' Melling Speirs researched and written by Michael Organ on 15 July 2013.

Sources: 
Organ, Michael, Uncle Jack goes to War, University of Wollongong, NSW, 15 July 2013
NAA: B2455, SPEIRS JOHN

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