Major General Kenneth William Eather, CB, CBE, DSO ED 1901-1993
The son of William Senior Eather 1870-1961 and
Isabella Theresa Lees 1869-1962
Spouse: Adeline Mabel Lewis 1901-1966 Married 1923
Kenneth William EATHER was born on the 6 June 1901 at Balmain, a suburb of Sydney. The only son and eldest of three children.
Ken's father moved to Papua to manage a plantation and the family lived in Port Moresby.
As a boy Ken was sent to board and be educated at Abbotsholme College in Wahroonga, New South Wales, an elite boarding school which was also attended by future prime ministers Harold Holt and William McMahon.
Ken Eather left school at 14 to become an apprentice dental mechanic. He had been in the army cadets since the age of 12 and when he turned 18 he joined the Conscript Militia, now called the Army Reserve. When war was declared in 1939 Ken sold his dental practice to form and assume command of the 2/1st Battalion in the AIF which he led with distinction in Bardia, Australia's first battle of WWII.
As officer in Command of the 25th Brigade, 7th. division, in the Markham Valley and Lae Campaign in New Guinea during the second world war, Kenneth was dubbed "Phar Lap" because of his speed with which he pushed his men down the Markham Valley.
On the 3 July 1941 Awarded Distinguished Service Order 'For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty during the attack on BARDIA during the period from 2 Jan 41 to 5 Jan 41.
On the 1 November 1943 awarded the United States Distinguished Service Cross 'For extraordinary heroism in action in New Guinea, during the Papuan campaign, July 23, 1942, to January 8, 1943. As Commander 25th Infantry Brigade, Australian Army
On 23 December 1943 at St.James Palace, London made Commander of the Order of the British Empire
August 1945 promoted from Brigadeer to Major General
At the end of the war he was selected to lead the Australian contingent which marched in the Victory Parade in London in June 1946.
Ken Eather retired from the Army on 18 September 1946 and became a poultry farmer in Penrith, New South Wales He became active in the Primary Producer's Association of New South Wales and was elected its president in 1953, a position he held for the next five years.
However, the death of his son Ken in a motorcycle accident at Bathurst led him to reconsider life as a farmer.
In 1958, he became the head of the Water Research Foundation of Australia, an organisation that dispensed funding to researchers investigating water related issues.
Adeline died in Sydney in 1966 and in 1968 Ken married Kathleen Carroll. Kathleen's son, Owen took the name EATHER and Ken treated him as his own son.
When Owen Eather, returned from the Vietnam war as a captain. Ken was very upset at the way the Vietnam veterans were being treated. He made it a point from then on to lead the Sydney Anzac Day marches with Owen by his side.
Major General Eather continued to lead Anzac Day marches through Sydney until 1992.
Ken Eather's grandson Eamon, joined the Australian Army Reserve and served with the International Force in East Timor.
Kenneth William Eather died at a nursing home in Mosman, New South Wales on 9 May 1993.
As the last surviving Australian general of World War II, he was given a military funeral at St. Andrew's Cathedral, Sydney Three companies of the 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment provided an honour guard and an oration was given by General Sir Francis Hassett. Some 1,000 veterans lined George Street, Sydney to pay their last respects to Eather, who was cremated at the Northern Suburbs Crematorium.
There are many stories about Ken Eather. I do recommend the biography. 'Desert Sands, Jungle Lands'. by Steve Eather