This remarkable record remained hidden deep in the National Archives of Australia. Its secret was unknown even to the Australian War Memorial since the end of the Second World War. I told a version of this story live on West Bremer Radio.
There have been many large groups of brothers who enlisted for the two world wars. One was the five brothers from the Logan family, from Brisbane’s Brookfield and Forest Hill in the Lockyer Valley, who enlisted for the First World War. However, there are numerous examples in Australia of up to ten brothers enlisting.
As for the Second World War, researchers at the Australian War Memorial know of two instances of six brothers who enlisted. Then there were the seven Hutchins brothers from Woorinen in Victoria. Four of the seven Hutchins died as prisoners of the Japanese or trying to escape. No other Australian family suffered from a greater loss of life in World War Two.
But there’s another family that equals that Australian record of seven siblings who served in the war. Until now, not even the Australian War Memorial nor the Department of Veteran Affairs knew about them.
I was alerted to the possibility by one of the family. Documents held by the National Archives of Australia confirmed their service. The Australian War Memorial advised that they knew of no greater enlistment by a single family in the Second World War, hence the family holding a share of a brave record.
Lieutenant Granville Pritchard served in the First World War. He was awarded the Military Cross following the Battle of Polygon Wood in 1917. The Australian forces commander General Sir William Birdwood himself, in a personal letter of congratulations, referred to Lieutenant Pritchard’s fine work in taking charge of troops whose officers had all been wounded under heavy shell fire. Another officer, who was there, was convinced that Pritchard saved the division, and probably the one next to it as well.
But Granville gave no greater service to Australia than when all seven of his children enlisted for the Second World War.
His first two children were twins, and one was Private Norm Pritchard. Norm was serving with the 31st Infantry Battalion when he was killed by a single bullet early in the Syrian campaign in the Middle East in 1941.
The other twin was Lieutenant Granville Pritchard Junior. Granville served with the 3rd Anti Tank Regiment across many of the Australian theatres of war including North Africa, Palestine, Syria, Ceylon, New Guinea, Tarakan and Borneo.
Then there was Lieutenant Keith Pritchard. Keith was living with the family at Teneriffe in Brisbane when he enlisted and did his training at Redbank near Ipswich. He served with the 2nd Anti Tank Regiment in New Guinea and was Mentioned in Despatches for exceptional service in the field in the South West Pacific Area.
The fourth sibling was Private Geoff Pritchard. Geoff served briefly in Darwin with the 1st Cavalry Division Signals but was discharged after his brother Norm was killed in Syria. That’s because his father Granville had applied for one of his children to work in an essential occupation instead of going to the front. Before the war, Geoff was a window dresser, and after being discharged he served as an aircraft and munitions worker.
Another sibling was Private Ray Pritchard. He served as a signalman with the 28th Line Section in New Guinea.
There was a sister was Dorothy Pritchard. She served as an Assistant Writer in the Womens Royal Australian Navy Service, the WRAN.
There’s one more sibling who makes up the family’s Australian record. He is Lieutenant Dudley Pritchard. He served with the 3rd Light Anti Aircraft Regiment in New Guinea and Borneo.
Dudley had gone to school in Brisbane and did architecture at the University of Sydney where he was awarded the university medal and graduated with first class honours. Dudley joined the Colonial Service and was awarded a Member of the Order of the British Empire or an MBE. That was for his remarkable design of the national monument in Malaysia which you can still visit and admire today.
Last week Dudley celebrated his one hundredth birthday where he’s now living at Hunters Hill on the lower north shore of Sydney.
So happy birthday and a heartfelt thank you to Dudley and his family for the extraordinary service that they gave Australia.
The Australian War Memorial was very grateful to learn about the Pritchards and add them to a growing archive of service and sacrifice.
CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO A VERSION OF THIS STORY TOLD LIVE ON RADIO.
Pritchard family wartime photos – from the family collection shared by Kip Pritchard via Virtual War Memorial Australia.
Dudley Pritchard MBE commemorating Anzac Day – from Andrew Pritchard.