United Services Home


Among the many questions which have been asked in recent weeks about the United Services Home, the most often asked have been…

How did these fellows come to be stranded so far from home?

Why was the Home not continued as a Home for Veterans?

Why was it sold to private people?

The best answer to these questions is probably that time and circumstances bring about constant change in all things, and in the passing of a hundred years, many changes must needs take place.

In the words of Omar Khayyam, “The moving finger writes, and having writ, moves on.”

The first and foremost responsibility of the Trustees of the Home was to care for the veterans, and at that time, the building of the Home was something that was necessary for them to carry out that responsibility.  It was essential but incidental to their aims and objects.

The veterans were all old men, and as they died out, the need for the Home diminished.

In later years, the RSL was formed, and the Commonwealth Government eventually recognised their responsibilities and established the Department of Repatriation.  The aim of both these organisations was to care for veterans.

These organisations assumed responsibility for the veterans from WW-1 and WW-2, and the need for the Home gradually disappeared.

The following report on the United Services Home was printed in the Victorian Historical Magazine circa 1939, and it will be apparent that the buildings had fallen into a considerable state of disrepair by that time.

It was leased to a Cavalry unit during WW-2, after which it remained unoccupied. 

After WW-2, the Trustees of the United Services Home Trust were still carrying out their fundamental aims and objects by supporting needy veterans, but these people were located in other places. The Home was no longer needed, and it became a financial liability as far as the Trust was concerned.

The Trustees then approached the Lands Department who held the titles for the land, and asked that the property be sold. 

In 1949, the property was sold to the Connor family for £800, which was considered to be fair market value for the property in its existing state of repair.

 The Lands Department retained the value of the land (for which they had never been paid), and passed on to the Trustees the value of the improvements (buildings), and the proceeds enabled them to carry on their work of assisting veterans until 1974, when they appointed the Trustees of the RSL as Trustees of the United Services Home Trust, the old Trustees resigned, and the work was taken over by the Welfare sections of the RSL.

The Connor family effected necessary repairs, including re-roofing the entire building.  Mrs Connor was determined that the original character of the building should be retained, and applied to have it listed with the National Trust, so that anyone who owned it after she did would have to maintain it in the tradition in which it was built.

In 1970, Mrs Connor sold the property to Mr Ron Green, who has spent a great deal of time and money in the restoration of the property.

About the re-enactment:

On the 25th of March 1891, Lord Hopetoun, the Governor of Victoria, Major Tulloch, and their official party travelled across Port Phillip Bay in the Lady Loch and landed at Portarlington.

They adjourned to the Grand Hotel for refreshments, and then travelled by horse-drawn vehicles to Drysdale, where Lord Hopetoun laid the Foundation Stone for the new United Services Home.

The programme for 24th March 1991 has been drawn up to be as nearly as possible, a re-enactment of the events which took place on that day. 

Rex G Ruwoldt. Committee Secretary.

Major General Tulloch:

The following information is recorded in the History of the United Services Home printed in the Victorian Historical Magazine circa 1939, and it contains much information about the Home and the people who lived there, and the man who was responsible for its construction – Major General Sir Alexander B Tulloch, KCB, CMG.

The martial spirit which prompted Tulloch in his great adventure was the fact that he learned of some old soldiers in Melbourne and Ballarat who had become stranded and who scanty pensions were inadequate for their support.  There was no old-age pension system in operation in those days.  As an officer he had learned to think of his men before himself.  In this book, “Recollections of Forty Years’ Service”, he recounts that he had found several worthy old soldiers over seventy years of age unable to work and in great destitution.  “One man” (he says) “I specially remember, with a good conduct medal and an exemplary character.  Rheumatism rendered him unable to work, and, having no friends, he had to be committed to prison.  I got all the necessary facts together, and wrote very strongly to the papers on the subject of “the friendless old soldier”. This was the first seed for the creation of the home.

Another incident which reached the heart of Tulloch was the fact that he had learned through the press that a Victoria Cross hero of Crimea fame had been found sleeping in a right-of-way at Fitzroy on 5 January, 1890.  The man was destitute, and, when a passer-by went to his assistance, he found him in a very weak condition.  When he was awakened and asked where he lived, he said he had no home and no friends. 

On his miserable garments, hanging by a piece of dirty ribbon, was a bronze cross.

“What is your name?” he was asked. 

“There,” he said, “look at that;” and on the back of the clasp suspending the cross was engraved “Private Thomas Grady, 4th Regiment.”  “That’s my name,” he said with pardonable pride, “and by regiment was the 4th (Royal Lancaster).”

Grady was cared for, and was a prospective entrant to the home, but died on 18 May, 1891.  He was buried from Bacchus Marsh with full military honours – a sad ending for a man who, on “18th October, 1854, in the face of the enemy volunteered to repair the embrasures of the sailor’s battery on the left attack, and effected the same under very heavy fire from a line of batteries.  Also for gallant conduct on 22nd November, 1854, in the repulse of the Russian attack on the advanced trench of the left attack, when, on being severely wounded, he refused to quit the front.”

So runs the citation of the deeds for which his Cross was conferred – sad indeed are the circumstances to relate.

These episodes gave Tulloch the idea of the establishment of a miniature Chelsea and Greenwich Hospital combined in one.  He realised that funds would be needed to build and maintain such a hospitable institution, and forthwith made a public appeal for funds, for he felt determined to build such a place.

The establishment of a home for decayed and maimed soldiers was considered by the Victorian public as one of the noblest institutions formed, and any gala event or demonstration in its cause was wholeheartedly responded to.

The Appeal:

In the cause of the appeal a public meeting was held in the Melbourne Town Hall in August, 1890, with the Governor in the chair, the result being that some £2,000 was subscribed.  To augment this appeal the members of the Metropolitan Liedertafel generously offered to give an entertainment at the Town Hall in aid of the fun for the erection of the Home.  His Excellency the Governor of Victoria and the Right Worshipful the Mayor of Melbourne granted their patronage, and a further £1,800 was collected.  The vocalists engaged at this entertainment included Misses Lalla Miranda, Bertha Rossow, Marie Elster, and Ada Crossley.  Messrs Max Klein and G.E. Howard contributed instrumental solos. 

With the funds now available the next thing was to arrange for their appropriation.  In this connexion a committee of management, composed of the following personel was formed:-

Major-General A.B. Tulloch, C.B., Military Commandant; Captain W.F.S. Mann, R.N. Commanding Victorian Naval Forces; Colonel D.C. Dean Pitt, R.S., Commanding Artillery; Major F. Rainsford-Hannay, R.E., Commanding Engineers; Colonel Tom Price, Commanding Victorian Mounted Rifles; Colonel A.E. Otter, Commanding Victorian Rangers; Major John Stanley, Adjutant, Militia Artillery, (Secretary); Major Albert Purchas, Retired List; Major C.M. Officer, D.A.A.G., at Headquarters; the Rev. James Kennedy, Chaplain; the Rev. Monseignor O’Hea, Chaplain; the Hon. N. Fitzgerald, M.L.C., and Mr R.H.Reid.

Major Stanley – the first Treasurer:

That Major John Stanley was the first honorary secretary to the committee of management is assured, as it is gathered from the copy of a letter to the commissioner of the Victorian Police on 6th March, 1891.

He signed the document in that capacity.  The letter referred to was a donation of £10 from the No. 1 Division of the Victorian Police force as a contribution for the help of the old warriors.


The committee of management controlled all activities connected with the Home, which cost the Victorian government no concern of contributions.  The Home was wholly maintained by public donations and the efforts of individual members of the Victorian Military Forces.

Funds were obtained from the takings at the Naval and Military Tournaments and Tattoos held at the Victoria Barracks and the Melbourne Exhibition, the first tournament taking place on the 12th February, 1892, and thereafter annually, not in the form of a tournament but a tattoo, which in those days was very largely attended by the general public. 

Another source of income for the maintenance of the inmates was derived chiefly by deductions from the pay of the permanent artillery and engineers by one day’s pay in each year.  Voluntary effort was forthcoming without a demur.  The cost of an inmate averaged one shilling and four pence per head per day.  There was no charge for the management, it being self-contained.  Services were rendered by the members gratuitously, for it was realised that old soldiers never die, they simply face away and must be properly cared for.

A special meeting in connexion with the erection of the home was held at the Melbourne Town Hall on 20th February 1891, the Mayor (Councillor Matthew Lang) presiding.  Major General Tulloch, Colonel Bruce Smith, the Hon. N. Fitzgerald, M.L.C., Colonel Tom Price, Major Rainsford-Hannay, Captain Mann, R.N., and Mr H.R. Reid were also present.

The committee were also instructed to accept the tender of Messrs Waring and Rowden at a cost of £930 for the erection of the home at Drysdale, provided they would guarantee its completion in twelve weeks, failing that the next tenderer would be applied to.

A sub-committee was formed consisting of Major-General Tulloch, the Rev. Father Kennedy, Mr Fitzgibbon, and the architect (Major Purchas).  

The body proceeded to Drysdale for the purpose of inspecting the land and marking off the site. His Excellency the Governor of Victoria had in the meantime been request to lay the foundation stone of the home, an offer which he generously accepted.

A further meeting of the committee of management was held in the Melbourne Town Hall on 5th March, 1891, the Mayor presiding.  At this meeting a deputation from the Bellarine Shire Council waited on the committee.  It was desired by that body and the committee to accord His Excellency a fitting reception on his arrival for the ceremony on 25th March.  The proposal was that the official party should proceed from Melbourne to Portarlington by the Government steamer, Lady Loch.

The deputation was heartily welcomed, and it was agreed that the transport from Port to Drysdale would be left in the hands of the local committee.

Help from the Army:

Major John Stanley also announced at the meeting that he had induced some of the militia regiments to guarantee the amount necessary annually for the maintenance of one nominee each.

The announcement was received with much gratification.  It was also arranged at this meeting that tickets to the official luncheon, which was to be held in the shire hall, would cost one guinea, any surplus funds to go to the home.

Bellarine Shire Council:

Through the generosity of the Bellarine Shire Council a site was obtained for the building.  That selected was in the prettily-situated township of Drysdale, and is situated mid-way between the railway station and the township.  The extent of the land was six acres and was donated by the council.

Major Albert Purchas, Architect:

Major Albert Purchas, a retired officer of the volunteer forces who had arrive in Victoria in 1851, was an architect by profession, and to him the credit must be given for the erection of the building, for it was he who prepared the design and plans, and gave his services as an architect free of charge.

He was vice-president of the Victorian Institute of Architects for several years, and was elected president of that body in 1888.  Many notable buildings in Victoria are his work.

The building was a brick structure with an imposing central tower, and arranged as near as possible to meet the needs of a small hospital.  It had its barrack room, recreation rooms, etc.

The main building contains six rooms and a bathroom.  By its side stands the kitchen, and adjoining that, a little further off, is the hospital of one ward and a rest room.

The whole extent of the premises is surrounded by a garden and paths, well kept in the days when the home flourished.

At first, it was only planned to accommodate eight or ten inmates, this being the number of know applicants at the time.

On 12th April 1891, General Tulloch, Colonel Dean Pitt, and Major Stanley proceeded to Drysdale to inspect the progress of the work, and to arrange for accommodation of eight more applicants, making a total of sixteen.

At a previous meeting Major Stanley brought to notice the desirability of enlarging the place.

Major Purchas had received tenders, and he estimated the cost of building two additional rooms which would accommodate six men at £350.  The tender of Mr D Kerr was accepted.

Lord Hopetoun:

At last, the day came for Tulloch’s enterprise to come into being.  On 25th March, 1891, His Excellency the Governor of Victoria (Lord Hopetoun) and the committee of management, together with invited guests proceeded to Portarlington on the Lady Loch. On their arrival, an address of welcome was presented to His Excellency by the Bellarine Shire Council.

The party was then driven to Drysdale, a distance of seven miles, where a second address was presented.  His Excellence was received with extreme cordiality at both places and along the route. 

On arrival at the home, Major-General Tulloch requested His Excellency to lay the foundation stone.  In doing so His Excellency offered a few word of congratulation to the committee of management.

Speaking subsequently at the luncheon His Excellency stated he was the last man in the world to cram imperialism down the throats of the colonies, but it was well to remember that, if our soldiers and sailors had not won great victories in the beginning of the century, we should not be now enjoying in peace and prosperity the blessing which had fallen to our lot in Victoria.

The inscription on the foundation stone reads:-

This stone was laid March 25th, 1891.


His Excellency the Right Honourable


Earl of Hopetoun,

Governor and Commander-in-Chief

Of the

Colony of Victoria.

The aims and objects of the institution were for the care of and giving better treatment to old veterans of the army and navy who served in campaigns connected with the building up of the British Empire.

The qualifications for admission to the home were good character, preference being given to those who had borne the best characters and rendered the longest service, and who were shown to be incapable of supplementing their pension by their own exertions, owing to a loss of limb, wounds, or other injuries, or other disabilities from war service.

A second qualification was that they were incapable from other causes, provided that they were not under 55 years of age, and were in receipt of a permanent pension.

A third clause was that they were free from responsibility for support of wife or child.  In fact, the home was built for specifically deserving old soldiers and sailors of exemplary character who were unable to make a living for themselves, and who had been good colonists for five years.  Candidates had to be capable of looking after themselves as much as possible.

Many officers made personal donations to the home, and for this act of grace were graded as members.  Donations of 10 guineas became life-members; 2 guineas and upwards, governors; and 1 guinea, members.  Applicants had to be recommended by three members who had some personal knowledge of them and their circumstances.

The Opening:

The day arrived for the memorable event of the opening of the home.  This took place on 1st July 1891, the ceremony being performed by Major-General Tulloch.  As arranged the official party proceeded to Portarlington on board the Vulcan, the Engineers’ steamer from Swan Island.

On arrival at Drysdale they found the township en fete, and some four hundred of the surrounding settlers assembled to witness the ceremony.

The President and councillors of the Bellarine Shire had met the party on the jetty and arranged the transport to Drysdale.

The ceremony was a happy one and passed off with enthusiasm.  The eight old veterans in their uniforms, who were to live in the home, were in high glee at the prospect of spending the remaining nights of their lives on spring mattresses and having wholesome meals in comfortable rooms.

In his opening speech, Major-General Tulloch thanked the Bellarine Shire Council for the handsome donation of the site and the interest they had taken in the deserving objective.  He also eulogized Major John Stanley and Major Albert Purchas for their untiring efforts in connexion with the home.

Of Major Stanley, Adjutant of the militia Garrison Artillery, he spoke in high praise, saying that the energetic manner in which he had devoted himself in the task of carrying the project of the establishment of the home to a successful issue was all that could be desired.

That officer, he remarked, had not only been instrumental in collecting the money required for the building, but had prevailed on various tradespeople to provide the furniture and fittings for the interior.

Of Major Purchas, he said that all his services as an architect in preparing the design and plans for the building, arranging its construction, lay-out of the grounds, and the many things incidental to making it comfortable were given with untiring zeal.

Of the eight inmates, the Victorian Mounted Rifles, Victorian Permanent Artillery, Victorian Ranges, Victorian Garrison Artillery, 1st Regiment Victorian Infantry and the 2nd Regiment had decided to support one, and the officers of the Medical Staff and the Cadets had agreed to defray the cost of maintaining two, so that the whole eight were provided for.  When more funds were forthcoming, more veterans would be comfortably housed and fed.  He then thanked all of those people who had so generously donated many necessary requirements and the various tradesmen and business people who had donated provisions, tobacco, ale, flags, books, &c., for the occupants of the home.

Major-General Tulloch then uncovered the stone bearing the following inscription:-



1st July, 1891,

By Major-General A B TULLOCH CB,

Commanding Military Forces of


And declared the home officially opened.

The veterans standing on the north veranda saluted as the gathering sang “God Save The Queen.” 

It was a pleasant day for a pleasant duty, both to the veterans and the founder, after all his efforts to bring about his ideal.

Of the first eight inmates of the home one was a Royal Navy man, five were soldiers, and two were Marines.  Their ages collectively total 541 years, their names and regiments being –

  • Jeremiah Brown  (regiment doubtful)
  • Luke Read  (Royal Navy)
  • William Colthurst  (101st Regiment)
  • John A. Hicks  (40th Regiment)
  • James Thompson  (Royal Marines)
  • Andrew Desmond  (18th Royal Irish)
  • Thomas Finnman  (Royal Marines)
  • Hugh Patterson  (12th Regiment)

All possessed excellent records and were decorated with medals for bravery in action.

News had reached Her Majesty Queen Victoria of the establishment of the home, and it was learned she was taking a great interest in it all.

She sent through His Excellency the Governor of Victoria to Major-General Tulloch a portrait of herself, signed ‘Victoria R.I.’ and needless to say this found a prominent place in the home.  It now hangs over the fireplace of the room which was once used for recreation purposes.  I might mention that this photograph, together with one of the opening of the home, was displayed in the window of Messrs. Allan and Co., Collins Street, in November, 1891.  It gave a vivid representation of the scene of that memorable occasion. 


The first superintendent of the home was J. Alexander Hicks.  He held the position from the opening until his death on 22nd August, 1901.  He was succeeded by James Pears Russell, who had been a warrant officer in the Royal Engineers; he held the position from 1915 to 1922.  Acting superintendents were appointed to control the affairs of the home from time to time; these were Sergeants-Major Sam Thomason and John Walton Healy. 

The home benefitted in other ways, for it is on record that the Naval Commandant of Victoria granted permission for the band of the Naval Reserve to play at Queenscliff on Sunday, 15th January 1892, when a handsome collection was received from the visitors at that seaside resort.  On the 17th April following, a grand church parade was held at Queenscliff at which the Geelong Artillery band was present.

Chaplain the Rev. H.J. Wilkinson conducted the service, and Major Umphelby of the Victorian Permanent Artillery read the lessons; the inmates of the home attended in their uniforms.  An amount of £12 was collected.

To augment further the funds, a naval and military ball was held in Melbourne Town Hall, the result being that the home benefitted to the extent of £40.

From time to time military units in country districts held their special church parades, arranging that the whole of the collection be devoted for the upkeep of the inmates of the

Drysdale home.  This practice followed in early federation years.

Life in the Home:

A few words might be said about life in the home.  Nearly all the inmates served in the Crimea War or in India.  Barrack-room life and military discipline were carried out as far as possible, the rooms being kept remarkably neat and clean, and the veterans ranked among themselves according to the grade they held in their own corps.

One was a sergeant, and two were corporals.  The veterans were clothed in a uniform of the same pattern as that provided for the Royal Chelsea Hospital pensioners.

It was composed of a scarlet frockcoat, blue collar and cuffs, brass buttons down to the waist; blue trousers with red welt down the side. Blue coats were worn by the navy men.  The head-dress was the usual three-cornered pensioners’ black hat with a rosette.

As a young bandsman in the band of the Victorian Permanent Artillery, I attended the home one Sunday and we marched the veterans to church.  In their quaint old Chelsea and Greenwich uniforms and three-cornered cocked hats, their white beards, and medals they made an imposing show and it was a sight one shall never forget. 

An appeal was made by Sergeant-Major McDonald, of Geelong, for the donation of books and printed matter.  Response was spontaneous, not only of printed matter, but anything in the form of amusement, such as cards, draughts, &c,. that would help to pass away the time for the inmates.

The home became a show place for visitors, who, in those days, went by coach or drag.  I often wonder if such a place existed today, this era of mechanical traction, how popular it would be.  At various times the different units of the forces arranged parties and gave vocal and instrumentals items to the boys of the old brigade.

A well planned garden with fruit trees and shrubs surrounded the home, each inmate taking pride in his own individual flower bed or vegetable plot.

They grew their own potatoes, onions and vegetables.  Needless to say, with plenty of time on their hands, weeds were unknown.  When they could do it, wood-chopping was one of their favourite pastimes, and believe me they had their own cow and a pig or two.  The home was self-contained in every way. 

From the canteen, which was controlled by the cook, they were allowed a liberal amount of beer; but at times, when the troops from Melbourne and Queenscliff visited them the tap was turned on a little bit harder, for, to an old soldier in those days, all beer was good beer, and many of the veterans had an unquestionable love for the beverage.

At a later time I spent some holidays at Drysdale, and went to the home on several occasions to see the youngsters, the oldest of them being mainly Crimean and the youngest Indian men.

Here I found seated on the benches about the garden white-headed men, their breasts adorned with medals, quietly smoking their pipes, and only too glad to have the monotony of their existence relived by a friendly chat with any visitor who approached them.

Every face seemed to brighten up; and though in some cases modesty forbade them to recount their own deeds, still it made them fight for their battles over again.

I was under twenty years of age at the time, and in those days my popular conception of active service was a succession of encounters with the enemy, desperate deeds of valour, brilliant charges of bodies of troops, men saving other men under fire, the storming of positions, and the flush of victory after strenuous action.

These entered largely into my mind as one old veteran recounted his service.  True, some of them could be labelled as confirmed grumblers; but one, a much-bemedalled individual, related to me his recollections of forced marches, sleeping under the stars with no other covering than a coat, and going days without a wash, or undressing.

All of these interested my youthful mind.  Their medals particularly took my fancy and, from those days, I became addicted to finding out all I could about them and kindred matters of anything relating to chivalry and the like.

As regards their decorations few had “barefoot” medals; but the majority of them had “shoes” which, translated for the uninitiated, means “clasps.”  The “barefoot” medal has none. 

On the 18th October 1892, a distinguished party composed of Lady Hopetoun, accompanied by the Earl of Northesk, A.D.C., General and Mrs Tulloch, Major Rainsford-Hannay, Captain White, R.N., the then Naval Commandant of Victoria, Colonel and Mrs Tom Price, Colonel Otter, Major and Mrs Umphelby, Major Purchas, Captain and Mrs Pelham and Lieutenant Taylor visited the home.  Lord Hopetoun was a frequent visitor and was much respected by the inmates.

Another visit of importance took place in November 1893, when Rear Admiral Bowden Smith, commanding the British squadron in Australian waters, General Tulloch, Captain White, Colonel Dean Pitt, Major Umphelby and Captain Parnell journeyed to the home by way of Portarlington.

The whole of the afternoon was spent among the inmates, and those concerned were greatly interested in the conduct of affairs.

The band of the Victorian Permanent Artillery, which had recently been formed, rendered popular tunes.  Many stories were related that day, of honour, reputation, and fame acquired by military achievement, all of which played around the brows of the hardened old warriors.

One old warrior was Jeremiah Brown of Waterloo fame, at least he picture himself as such a hero.  It was, however, found out that “Jerry” erred, for the War Office denounced him; so, instead of his age being 100 years, it was reduced to 80, not, however, before residents of Drysdale had given him a birthday party for the century.  Luke Read was cook for the home, and for a visitor to refuse any of his dainties was, I believe, a grave offence.

As the years rolled on the value of the house became more important, every bed being occupied, and applicants refused admission.  Many British regiments of fame were represented in the home, and, later, the Victorian Permanent Artillery and the Royal Australian Navy.

Drysdale Cemetery:

A visit to Drysdale Cemetery on 10 September 1938 revealed the fact that “their names liveth for evermore.”  On the eastern slope, facing hill and dale, there stands a monument in the midst of a number of tiny crosses.  It is about 10 feet high, octagon in shape, terminating at the top with a pyramidal point resting on a circular slab, round the edge of which are engraven the words UNITED SERVICE HOME.  The monument, which is fashioned of freestone, stands upon a two-decked base of bluestone, and bears the following inscriptions:-

Matthew Benson

40th Regiment

Died 28th November, 1892

72 years.

John Bowley

58th Regiment

Died 20th March, 1895

81 years.

Hugh Patterson

12th Regiment

Died 10th June, 1896

47 years.

Alfred Raglers

Royal Navy

Died 12th June, 1896

60 years.

Joseph Lawrence

3rd King’s Own Hussars

Died 21st June, 1896

76 years.

Robert Cameron

4th Light Dragoons and 10th Hussars

Died 12th February, 1897

88 years.

John Conran

62nd Foot

Died 29th August, 1897

73 years.

Thomas O’Hara

99th and 40th Foot

Died 19th February, 1899

77 years.

George Cornish

Royal Navy

Died 8th February, 1900

66 years.

Luke Read

Royal Navy

Died 1st May, 1901

86 years.

John William Campion

40th Regiment

Died 6th May, 1901

70 years.

John Alexander Hicks

40th and 52nd Regiments

Died 25th August, 1901

77 years.

Thomas Robertson

4th Dragoon Guards

Died 25th April, 1907

85 years.

Andrew Desmond

18th Royal Irish

Died 6th August, 1907

76 years.

Isaac Prior

Royal Marine Artillery and Victorian Permanent Artillery

Died 24th January, 1909

55 years.

William Doherty

40th Regiment

Died 17th February, 1909

77 years.

John Hart

The Rifle Brigade

Died 3rd March, 1909

79 years.

George Crisp

Royal Artillery

Died 24th January, 1910

77 years.

Charles J. Mortimer

40th Regiment

Died 3rd February, 1911

78 years.

George Truss

67th Foot

Died 29th October, 1912

77 years.

Richard McCormick

Royal Navy and Royal Australian Navy

Died 28th February, 1913

75 years.

Thomas Gainsford

14th Light Dragoons

Died 20th July, 1916

80 years.

James Pears Russell

Royal Engineers

Died 23rd December, 1922

68 years.

John McGinnies

Royal Artillery

Died 4th June, 1919

86 years.

George Bowtell

Royal Navy

Died 26th June, 1921

91 years.

Henry Stone

Royal Fusiliers and Royal Navy

Died 18th March, 1927

84 years.

This gives a total of 28, whereas there are only twenty Crosses.

When a veteran died in the home, a firing party was sent from Queenscliff to take part in the funeral arrangements.  It was not actually a military funeral as no gun carriage was provided.

The coffin was covered with a union flag, the firing party marched with arms reversed, three volleys were fired over the grave, and the trumpeter sounded the last post.  It made as martial as possible in the circumstances.

The home is now occupied as a private residence.  Through the courtesy of the present occupant I had the privilege of looking through it.  On the walls hang the picture of Queen Victoria, photographs of prominent military personages of the time, of the veterans themselves, and of the monument in the cemetery, and other odds and ends.  There was no military atmosphere as in the days when those grey-headed old men strutted about in their

quaint uniforms.

At one time Corio Bay could be viewed from the veranda, but through the years the trees have blocked the vista by their growth.  Empty seats and empty beds all tell a tale.

Gone are the men, gone are the once well-kept garden paths, and all the neatness that prevailed in years ago.

The Gun (as in 1939)

The old muzzle-loading gun on its carriage is still in front of the home, but it is a derelict.  On examination of it I found it carried the following markings:-

On the top near the touch hole –





On the face of trunnion –






The wheels are missing from this once formidable piece of old artillery.

(Note: this gun has been repaired and restored by the present owner, Mr Ron Green)

Victoria was the only State (or Colony as it was then termed) in Australia to have a home of this kind.  Most of the other colonies were content to lodge their old sailors and soldiers in the many charitable institutions maintained by their respective governments, and were thus compelled to mingle in an atmosphere that was not their own.

The Drysdale home gave them plenty of military latitude to live, in the midst of an atmosphere of smoke, bee, and good food, their service lives over again, for many of them were sons of former British soldiers, and some were born in the barrack-room.  It may be truly said of them that they were men whose father were men: I say this because they sons of soldiers who fought in earlier Empire campaigns.

True, the home belonged to a former generation, and was erected by thoughtful benefactors of the public of Victoria for the shelter of a number of aged sailors and soldiers upon whom fortune had frowned in the closing years of their lives.

The foundation of the home was placed in the very forefront of the purpose contemplated by the originator, Major-General Tulloch, and his able assistants, Majors Stanley and Purchas, all of whom lived to see the fruits of their energy and foresight.

(Compiled from information and photographs from Historical Society records.)

United Services Home Centenary Celebrations

Crimea St., Drysdale  Victoria

March 24, 1991

Price $2.00

The Centenary Celebrations

Of the

United Services Home

Crimea Street

Drysdale, Victoria

Were organised by the following committee:


Mr John Brumley


Mr Rex Ruwoldt


Mr Bob Crouch

Committee Members

Cr Kevin Bell

Mrs Irene Buckle

Mrs Myrtle Filbay

Mr Ron Green, owner of the Home

Sgt Denis Green

Mr Eric Hourn

Mr Bill Jones

Major Keith Latimer

Cr Adrian Mannix

Cr Lex Mortimer

Mr Keith Pettigrew

Mr Nick Raicevic

Mrs June Thomas

Sgt Garry Weeks

Mrs Margaret Wild

With the assistance and support from

The Councillors and Staff of the Rural City of Bellarine, the Clubs, Organisations and People of the Bellarine Peninsula and Alcoa of Australia Ltd.

To all who have helped to preserve and publicise this important part of Australia’s history,

We thank you!


9.30am   Public Assembly at Portarlington, including:

  • The Victorian Band of the Royal Australian Navy.
  • Sea Cadets Guard of Honour
  • Members of the Historical Re-Enactment Groups in Army, Navy and Nurses uniforms of the period.
  • Members of the RSL.  (Medals will be worn.)
  • School Groups
  • Scouts
  • Guides
  • Members of the public.

Assembly Controllers:  Mr Bill Jones of the RSL, and Sgt Garry Weeks of Portarlington Police Departments.

Marshalls: Lions Club Members, Portarlington and Drysdale/Clifton Springs.

10.10am        HMAS Warrnambool anchors off Portarlington Pier.  Passengers to disembark will include:

  • Commodore Geoffrey Morton RAN, Naval Officer in Command of the Victorian District, and Mrs Morton.
  • ADC Lieutenant T McKerrow RAN and Mrs McKerrow.
  • Colonel John Coulson, RFD, HQ Third Military District, Australian Army
  • Mr Bruce Ruxton, O.B.E., Victorian President, RSL.
  • Mr Robin Tunnicliffe, great grandson of Major General Tulloch.

10.20am        Address of welcome by the City Manager, Mr Ian Couper.

10.25am        Reply, Commodore Morton

  • God Save The Queen
  • The National Anthem

10.30am        The Mounted Police, the RAN Band followed by the Cadets, proceed up Pier St, followed by the official party.

  • Stand-to at the Cenotaph
  • Wreath to be laid by Mr Bruce Ruxton, O.B.E.

10.45am        Official Party moves to the Grand Hotel, escorted by Mounted Police, for refreshment.

11.05am        The Party departs in Official Cars for the Drysdale Cemetery, for the Commencement Service.

The Ceremony will include:

  • Guard of Honour, RAN Cadets
  • Ex-Service men and women
  • Members of the Historical Re-Enactment Groups in Army, Navy and Nurses uniforms of the period.
  • The Corio Shire Ex-Services Band.
  • Inspection of The Naval Guard of Honour by Commodore Morton and Colonel Coulson.
  • Inspection of the Ex-Service Personnel by Mr Bruce Ruxton, O.B.E.
  • March to the Cemetery Plot.
  • Introduction by Mr Bill Jones, President 43rd Dist. Board, RSL.
  • Response by Commodore Morton
  • Prayer.
  • Laying of Wreaths.
  • Stand-to.
  • Advance Australia Fair.
  • God Save The Queen.

10.40am        The Official Party leaves for the Clifton Springs Community Centre.

12.00             The Lieutenant Governor, The Hon. Sir John Young, A.C., K.C.M.G., Lady Young and Mr A Traves arrive at The Springs for the official reception by the Rural City of Bellarine.



1.00pm            The Procession starts to assemble near the Bellarine City Council Chambers in Collins and McKenzie Sts, Drysdale.

1.30pm            Procession of mounted police, marching bands, marching groups, floats, horse-drawn vehicles, etc., leave area adjacent to Council Offices for Crimea House.

1.30pm            The Deakin University Company Guard of Honour assembles at the United Services Home.

1.45pm            Sir John and Lady Young arrive at the United Services Home. 

Sir John inspects the Guard of Honour.

Sir John and Lady Young and the Official Party view the arrival of the Procession.

The Official Party will be invited to inspect the Home.

             The President of the United Services Home Centennial Celebrations Committee Mr John Brumley will give an address relating to the establishment and conduct of the Home over the last 100 years.

Mr Brumley will ask Sir John Young to unveil the Commemorative Plaque.

                        Mr Bruce Ruxton, O.B.E., Victorian President of the RSL, will respond in the memory of those who lived in the Home, and those who cared for them and conducted the affairs of the Home in the past.

  • Historical Presentation by the Peninsula Players.

The Newcomb Secondary College Orchestra will play:

  • Advance Australia Fair.
  • The Duke of York.
  • God Save The Queen.

The Newcombe Secondary College Orchestra will continue to provide musical entertainment, and the public are invited to inspect the Historical Exhibition on display.

Afternoon Tea will be available from the refreshment tent.

At the conclusion of ceremonies, Sir John and Lady Young will depart for Melbourne by car.


At a time when so much of our daily experience is marked by change, when built-in obsolesce is evident in most of our material comforts, it is refreshing to find a spirit or sense of permanence in some aspect of our lives to which we can relate.

The sense of compassion, of caring for those who have contributed much to our destiny and heritage and who, through illness or misfortune have become destitute or distressed, has always been part of our nature.

Such a sense was part of the nature of Alexander Bruce Tulloch when he became Commander of the military forces in the colony of Victoria in 1889.

This United Services Home is the outward expression of those sentiments, and if today’s generation can gain inspiration and a feeling for the history and the heritage that exists within our own community, then today’s centenary celebrations will have been worthwhile.

John Brumley,

Committee President.

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