In Memoriam: Cecil Frederick Cochrane, 1907-1923
Every family goes through its bereavements, but none would be sadder than when a child is taken from the fold. All hopes and dreams for a young life in a split second, dashed.
Cecil Frederick Cochrane, was born in Salford, Manchester in England in July 1907, the city of his mother’s birth. He emigrated to Melbourne, Victoria, as a two year old, with his mother Maria, and sister, Sybil. His father, William Frederick Cochrane, had preceded them several months earlier.
At first the family settled near Geelong, with his father clearing land for a living, working at first for a Joseph Mack of Berrybank, then, a John Calvert of Warring and Dr Brown of Colac.
By 1910, the family had moved to inner city, Hawksburn (South Yarra), and later, St Kilda. Cecil’s father had by then, set up a contract cleaning business, domiciled in Queen St, in the Melbourne CBD.
Scouting had been established on Australia only a year before Cecil’s birth and had proven extremely popular in most English speaking countries around the world. It was obviously a welcome addition to the Cochrane boys activities, as both Cecil, and his younger brother Hubert (Bob) were a part of the scouting tradition.
Scouting activities were probably very similar to today, and Cecil had attained the distinction of Patrol-Leader. In April 1923, Cecil took part in a scout camp on the Yarra, near Templestowe, a modern-day suburb 16km North East of Melbourne. The gentle rolling slopes and the picturesque Yarra Valley would have been a most pleasant backdrop to the camp.
Tragically, during the course of a scouting exercise, Cecil was accidently drowned in a canoeing accident. The canoe is believed to have capsized while Cochrane and his companion, John Gage, were trying to avoid a partly submerged animal carcass in the river. While his companion reached the shore to safety, it is believed that Cochrane got caught in a snag, causing him to drown. Both boys were strong swimmers.
Argus, Wednesday 4 April 1923, page 8
BOY SCOUT DROWNED.
Canoe Capsizes in River
Cecil Cochrane, aged 15 years, residing at Westbury Street, St. Kilda, who was, with a number of other Boy Scouts, in camp on the banks of the Yarra near Templestowe, was drowned in the river yesterday morning.
Cochrane had been instructed by Scout-master Arthur Watson, of Hawksburn road, Hawksburn, who was in charge of the camp, to deliver a message in Templestowe, and together with John Gage, aged 12 years, he commenced the journey in a canoe belonging to the scout troop. After going a short distance Cochrane leaned over the side of the canoe, capsizing it, and throwing both lads into the river. Gage succeeded in reaching the bank, but Cochrane, after making frantic efforts to reach the upturned boat, sank in 30ft. of water.
The Heidelberg police were summoned, and dragged the river for several hours, but without success. Dragging operations will be resumed this morning.
Herald, Thursday 19 April 1923, page 8
Boy Scout Drowned
While encamped with his troop on the banks of the Yarra at Templestowe on April 4. A boy scout named Cecil Frederick Cochrane, 15, of 103 Westbury road, East St. Kilda, went on a canoeing expedition together with another, boy, Jack Gage, 12.
The canoe collided with the body of an animal which was floating downstream, and while leaning over the side.to steer the craft clear, Cochrane capsized the canoe: Though Cecil Cochrane was a strong swimmer, he was drowned.
Giving evidence before Dr Cole, the City Coroner, this morning, Jack Gage related how when they were thrown into the water both boys made efforts to clutch the sides of the canoe, but before they could obtain a firm hold the force of the current carried it out of their reach. Deceased then seized him (Gage) round the neck, and as his weight dragged them both under. Gage pushed Cochrane under the chin to break his hold. That was the last Gage saw of him. In reply to the Coroner, Gage said that he himself managed to reach the river bank unaided.
John Daven, a mounted constable stationed at Templestowe, said that at the spot where the boy was drowned there was a strong undercurrent and it was quite possible that Cochrane was caught in a snag under the surface.
A finding of accidental death was recorded.
Argus, Thursday 5 April 1923
COCHRANE.—On the 3rd April, accidentally drowned, Patrol-leader Cecil Cochrane, beloved comrade of the officers, scouts, and cubs of the First Toorak Troop of Boy Scouts.
COCHRANE.—On the 3rd April, at Templestowe, Cecil, dearly loved pal of Frank F. Jones, of Toorak. Sadly missed.
Argus, Saturday 7 April 1923, page 17
COCHRANE.—On the 3rd of April 1923 accidently drowned at Templestowe Cecil F dearly loved second son of Mr and Mrs W F Cochrane of 103 Westbury street East St Kilda and loved brother of Hubert, Sybil, Betty, and Peggy aged 15 years 6 months.