Charles Dentry and the Hampton Memorial Hall

Charles Dentry and the Hampton Memorial Hall, Castlefield Estate

Charles Dentry and the Hampton Memorial Hall, Castlefield Estate

When the Castlefield Soldier Settlement Estate was established in 1920, land was set aside for the Hampton Memorial Hall. This would serve both as the local RSL and as an important centre of community life until the 1950s. The first RSL Hall was located in Hampton Street on the east side, between Villeroy Street and Ludstone Street and consisted of an old army hut.

1930 Site of Hampton RSL Memorial Hall

Quickly fund raising began to build a more permanent structure. One of the ways the local community and returned soldiers did this was to organise Beach Carnivals with stalls, raffles and competitions. Charles Dentry, a returned soldier, was President of the Hampton RSL 1929-1930. He was one of the 1930 Sandringham and Hampton RSL committee ‘planning next year’s Beach Carnival’.

On his return to Australia, Charles had married Helen ‘Nellie’ nee McRae, 1884-1975, in 1923. In 1924 he applied for a housing grant under the War Services Homes Act, 1919-1920. By 1925 Charles, listed as a manager, and Helen, carrying out home duties, were living at 3 Villeroy St., Sandringham (later Brighton) [ER 1924]. Both their daughters, Joan b 1926 and Ruth b 1928, were later enrolled at Hampton State School.

Charles Clifford Dentry’s Family Background *

Charles Clifford Dentry was born in 1883, the eldest son of Charles St Omer Dentry, 1861-1950 and Florence McPherson 1860-1933 (born in Geelong). Charles St Omer Dentry had

been born in Berkshire, England and in 1869 arrived in Hobsons Bay, Melbourne, aged 8 []. The Dentry family settled in Geelong.

In 1883 Charles St Omer Dentry married Florence McPherson in Geelong. In 1886 Charles’ brother Norman Hugh St Omer was born and in 1891 his sister, Dorothy was born. By 1891 Charles St Omer Dentry was an Assistant Teacher at the Egerton State School (60 miles north west of Melbourne), later moving to be the Head Teacher at Modewarre State School (in what is now called the Surf Coast).

By 1900 the family was living at 87 Victoria Ave., South Melbourne and by 1903 at 128 Dank St., Albert Park. Charles’ father worked as head teacher at the Port Melbourne State School for twenty three years.

By 1909 the Dentry family had moved to 3 Anderson St., Albert Park where, in 1914 Charles Clifford was described as a clerk and his sister Dorothy was listed as a teacher [ER1914]. By 1913 Hugh, Charles’ younger brother, was working as a surveyor and engineer living in the Railway Camp at Swan Hill [ER 1913, 1914].

Charles Clifford Dentry’s War Record

Hugh St Omer Dentry enlisted on 8th September, 1914, in the 1st Pioneer Corps, just one month after War was declared. He served at Gallipoli but was evacuated with malaria. He then went on to serve on the Western Front, again suffered from malaria and was evacuated to England. On the 19th September, 1917, he proceeded overseas to France. On the 31stOctober, 1917, he was Killed in Action in Belgium: ‘killed instantly by a shell wound in the head. He was buried by his unit and a cross was erected above his grave. The location of this grave is approximately 2000 yards SW of Ypres’ [NAA File].

Charles Clifford Dentry enlisted in 22nd July, 1915, as a Private in the 39th Infantry Battalion. He embarked from Melbourne on HMAT A11 Ascantus on 10th November,1915, disembarking in Marseilles on 23rd June, 1916. In August 1917 he was evacuated to England with pneumonia, but, like his brother, returned to France on the 14th February, 1918. He was wounded, gassed in April, 1918. On 22nd September, 1918 he was Recommended for a Meritorious Military Medal.

The citation read:

This NCO rendered invaluable assistance to the Brigade Staff during the recent successful advance at VILLIERS BRETTONEUX to the SOMME, and at all times has displayed extraordinary capacity, zeal and enterprise and attention to detail … During operations he worked at high pressure with little respite and showed loyalty and devotion to duty worthy of the best traditions of the AIF. [AWM]

By the time the War ended, on 11th November, 1918, Charles Dentry had been promoted to Staff Sergeant. He was eventually sent home on the 8th May, 1919 and on 23rd June, 1919, disembarked in Melbourne. He was Discharged MU [Medically Unfit}. Disability. Gassed.

Charles Clifford Dentry and the Hampton Memorial Hall

Charles Clifford Dentry’s Hampton home was built in 1925.

3 Villeroy St., Hampton

Construction of the home of Mr and Mrs C.C. Dentry, 1925

In 1931 Charles Dentry was the Vice Treasurer of the Hampton RSL and was elected a Life Member in that year. He would have been busy preparing for the opening of the new Hampton Memorial Hall in 1932.

The new hall was described as having ‘a frontage of 63ft. to Hampton Street and a depth of 118ft. to a right- of-way … At the rear Is the temporary hall, measuring 50ft. by 20ft which will be incorporated In the main building. The hall will have a clear floor space of 70ft. by 38ft., with the usual cloak-rooms, kitchen and platform. A narrow-strip of wood for a dancing floor will be put down … When completed the hall will be the largest in the district, and will be large enough for functions of many kinds’ [The Herald, Wednesday 14th September, pp12].

Charles Dentry would have attended the opening of the Hall. The newspaper reported that: ‘The Hall was opened in November, 1932 … The building, which is of wood and concrete, and cost approximately £1,000, was erected by the local branch of the Returned Soldiers League which was commended for its enterprise in providing the largest and most commodious building in the municipality… after the ceremony a ball was held’ [The Age, Thursday 3rd November, 1932, pp13].

In 1933 Charles Dentry was Secretary and in 1934 he was again the Treasurer. The 1935 Treasurer’s Report on the Hampton RSL Hall noted that the finances ‘showed a healthy position. The overdraft on the hall was 401 pounds and with the Hall in excellent demand for public events this should be rapidly extinguished’ [Trove]. In 1937 Charles Dentry was the Assistant Secretary of the Hampton RSL and in 1938 again the Treasurer and in 1947 again the Secretary. He was the long serving Treasurer from 1945 to 1950. His service to the original Hampton RSL is remembered on the Honour Boards which are now in the ‘new’ Hampton RSL in Holyrood Street.

The Hampton Memorial Hall in the 1930s and the old ex army hut.

The Hampton Memorial Hall in the 1930s and the old ex army hut

The Hall was used extensively by the community. For example, in the 1930s it was used for a Community Singing Night to raise funds for the Monash Memorial Fund in 1933, a 1933 Anzac Service, a Dance for the Hampton ‘Younger Set’ in 1935, a place to hold a Fete to raise funds for the Auxiliary of the Women’s Hospital in 1938 and also in 1938 for a Reunion of the Hampton Football Club 1914-1928 [Trove].

The Hampton RSL moved sites in 1952 when the trustees, one of whom was Charles Clifford Denrty, purchased a large house called ‘Wearside’ at 25 Holyrood Street Hampton. Unfortunately, the old Hampton Memorial Hall was then damaged in a fire in 1955. As Trustee, Charles Dentry called for tenders for ‘the reinstatement and alteration after damage by fire of the Timber Framed Memorial Hall, Hampton St., Hampton’ [The Argus, Friday 8th July, 1955, pp18].However, the damage must have been too great and Mr C. Dentry then called for tenders for the ‘Purchase, Demolition, and Removal of Fire-damaged Hampton Memorial Hall’ [The Argus, Saturday 29th November, 1955, pp23]. One wonders how Charles Dentry felt in having to demolish a building that he helped to build and that had been so important to the Castlefield community.

The Dentry family continued to live at 3 Villeroy Street. Charles Clifford Dentry died at the Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital in 1956, aged 72 years. Helen Dentry remained in the Villeroy St. home until at least 1972 [ER]. She died at Linacre Hospital in Hampton in 1975 aged 81 years.

Like his brother, Hugh, Charles’ war service is commemorated on the St Saviour’s Church Roll of Honour at Modewarre [see below].

St Saviour’s Church Roll of Honour.

* Detailed biographies of Charles Clifford Dentry and Hugh St Omer Dentry will be made available on the Castlefield section of the Sandringham and District Historical Society website.

St Saviour’s Church Roll of Honour.

* Detailed biographies of Charles Clifford Dentry and Hugh St Omer Dentry will be made available on the Castlefield section of the Sandringham and District Historical Society website.