Group portrait of debutantes and their escorts prior to the First World War. The men are ...

Accession Number P05183.001
Collection type Photograph
Object type Black & white - Print silver gelatin
Place made Australia: Victoria
Date made c 1914
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Item copyright: Copyright expired - public domain

Public Domain Mark This item is in the Public Domain


Group portrait of debutantes and their escorts prior to the First World War. The men are identified in the image from left to right, as: E. Lewis, Erle Fethers, J. Barrow, S. Jack, Percy Ernest Virgoe, P?. Griffin, A McKersie and C?. McKersie. The women are unidentified. Percy Ernest Virgoe, from Edenhope, Victoria, was working as a stock and station agent when he enlisted on 22 August 1914, aged 30, having already served for five years with the Victorian Scottish Regiment. He embarked for overseas service from Melbourne with the 4th Light Horse Regiment (4LHR) aboard HMAT Wiltshire on 19 October 1914. He trained at Mena, Egypt, and learned of the landings at Gallipoli a few days after the landing, noting in his diary (see PR01692.001) 'then came the news, swift & sudden ... that a successful landing had been made but hundreds had been killed and thousands wounded of our comrades who had left us but a few short days before.' Virgoe served at Gallipoli from May, until succumbing to exhaustion and being evacuated to England on 23 October 1915 aboard Hospital Ship Glenart Castle. He collapsed as soon as he was on board and slept for forty hours; he ascribed his reaction to 'the exhaustion of modern warfare'. After convalescence at Southmead Hospital, Virgoe served as paymaster at Australian HQ in London for approximately five months until the end of May 1916. His health was then reviewed and he was classed as 'medically unfit for some months to come' and discharged upon his return to Australia in June 1916. Percy Virgoe re-enlisted with 4 LHR on 24 October 1916 with the rank of Sergeant and served in France from 21 March 1918 until the end of the war. He returned to Australia on 13 April 1919. Erle Finlayson Denton Fethers, of East Malvern, Victoria, received his first commission in the Victorian Scottish Regiment in 1906 as a Second Lieutenant. He was appointed Lieutenant in November 1907 and then promoted to Captain in January 1912. He was military adjutant from 1908 to 1910. He served with the 48th Infantry, Citizens' Military Forces (CMF), until his enlistment on 25 August 1914. Captain Fethers embarked from Melbourne aboard HMAT Orvieto on 21 October 1914, with A Company, 5th Battalion. He was promoted to Major on 1 January 1915. He was killed in action on 25 April 1915 on the Gallipoli Peninsula, aged 27 years. His younger brother, 16471 James Keith Fethers enlisted in December 1917, and survived the war. Several other relations also served with the AIF, including: Captain Bernard Denton Fethers, Lieutenant Cyril Denton Fethers MC, Captain Geoffrey Ernest Fethers, 4779 Private George Vernon Fethers, Major Noel Denton Fethers, 2031 Private Raymond Denton Fethers, Lieutenant Colonel Wilfred Kent Fethers DSO and 2nd Lieutenant Percival George Fethers who was killed in action in France on 3 May 1917.