Project Description

Laurence Daniel KEARNEY (Laurie) was born in South Australia in the Police Station house in Mintaro on 15 June 1914. He was the second son of Anna and Daniel Kearney and had five sisters and two brothers. His father was born in South Australia and was a labourer and shearer shearing mostly stud rams. His mother was Anna Louise (nee Jungfer), born in the Barossa Valley.

After marrying, they lived in Mintaro where grey slate was quarried. The town has been taken over by the National Trust and Laurie talks about growing up there. He was educated in a State School then went to the Convent.

His first job after leaving school was with his father, wood cutting then helping him with shearing. In February 1936 he moved to Cowaramup with his brother-in-law, Laurie Bell. He worked sleeper cutting and later felling timber for Ted Lilley who was starting up a timber mill in Margaret River in 1940.

Laurie talks about his social life and the sports he played. He recounts his war experiences in Prisoner of War (POW) camps, including Changi in Singapore, and about being wounded and interrogated.

He was sent to prepare the land by hand for the Burma railway. In September 1944 Laurie’s POW group boarded the Rakuyo Maru for Japan. The conditions on the ship were extremely bad. They were hit by a torpedo and the Japanese left the ship on life boats. Laurie was a good swimmer and survived in the water for four days until a submarine, the Sealion, rescued him. He was treated for bronchopneumonia and arrived in Perth on 1 November, 1944.

Laurie married Margaret Catherine (nee Clayton) in 1945 in Cowaramup. The Clayton family were one of the original Group Settlers of the area at Group 62. He bought a block in Cowaramup under the Assisted Rehab Scheme and went dairy farming.

They had four children, Lynette, Terry, Kay and Michael. Laurie enjoyed his life at Cowaramup and was captain of Cricket Club, captain of Tennis Club, a member of the RSL and had other hobbies.