Ralph Melville KEEGAN

KEEGAN, Ralph Melville

Service Number: 37706
Enlisted: 16 January 1917, Perth, WA
Last Rank: Gunner
Last Unit: Field Artillery Brigades
Born: Ballarat, Vic., 1895
Home Town: Kalgoorlie, Kalgoorlie/Boulder, Western Australia
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Draper
Died: 1970, cause of death not yet discovered, place of death not yet discovered
Cemetery: Not yet discovered
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World War 1 Service

16 Jan 1917: Enlisted AIF WW1, Gunner, SN 37706, 11th Field Artillery Brigade , Perth, WA
9 Nov 1917: Involvement Gunner, SN 37706, Field Artillery Brigades
9 Nov 1917: Embarked Gunner, SN 37706, Field Artillery Brigades, HMAT Port Sydney, Melbourne

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Biography contributed by Faithe Jones

Ralph Melville Keegan was born in 1895 in Ballarat Victoria to John and Sarah Keegan, and was a Draper before the war. His mother Sarah would not give consent to him enlisting when the war broke out he was 19, so had to wait until he was 21. He was not the sort of person to disobey his parents although he told one of his sons years later that he thought of putting his age up as many men did.

He enlisted in January 1917 in Perth WA, and it was discovered that he had a hernia. The army paid for the operation, and he was in a hospital with returned men missing arms, legs and other injuries so he had a good idea on what was potenetially in store for him.

He arrived in France and went into action. He was gassed and that affected him for the rest of his life. Ralph returned to Australia to Melbourne 02 July 1919 on the Transport 'Port Napier'.
After the war like many returned soldiers, he was given a soldier settlers block of land in Recliffs Victoira, and also like many, it did not work out as he had no farming experience although according to the locals at the time, he made a good go of it.

In 1927/28 the family came to live in Melbourne. In the early 1930's the Government announced that there would be a competition for returned World War 1 men to write of their war experiences. Ralph did this, and his book was titled "An Even Break" (original manuscript in Australian War Memorial Canberra) and he was hoping the the book would be published but it was not at the time. It was eventually published in 2008.

Ralph passed away in 1970. Like many men he never spoke of the War, except to say once - "War is the silliest game under the sun". But he was still proud of his service and had no hesitation in supporting this 3 sons when they enlisted for World War 2.

Courtesy of Nigel Brown