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Honor Board unveiling evokes pride in Parade boy Tom

Year 9 Parade College student Thomas Hallebone, whose great grandfather Aubrey Norris Isaac was an Old Paradian who served his country in the Second World War, has been afforded the rare privilege of unveiling the Association’s recently-commissioned World War II Honor Board.

In the presence of his mother Maree Hallebone and grandmother Pam Gardiner, 15 year-old Thomas completed the unveiling of the board, which carries the names of 1127 soldiers and now hangs on a wall in the Hickey Foyer at Parade’s Bundoora campus.

Thomas was incredibly humbled to perform this duty, having had no real knowledge of the wartime service of his great grandfather, a final year student of Parade in 1933.

“I didn’t think that I had a relation who fought in war, but I’m obviously wrong now,” Thomas said. “To be asked to unveil the Honor Board is something I’m very proud about.”

Thomas’s name was volunteered by his mother Maree, who responded to the Association’s search for a student whose forefather also attended the College and later served in the Second World War.

It was during this time that Maree and her mother Pam also assisted Thomas in researching Aubrey Isaac’s naval service, and as Thomas declared: “Yeah, I found out that he fought in war and that he helped supply food and ammunition during that time”.

“I don’t know how I would go if I was placed in the position of men like my great grandfather,” Thomas said.

“I think I’d be very scared. It’s why I admire the courage of these men and what they did for all of us.”

Aubrey Norris Isaac (also known as Jim Isaac) was born at Ardmona, Victoria on May 10, 1917.

Schooled at Parade until 1933, Aubrey’s first job was as a clerk with the Melbourne City Council for whom he worked from 1935 to 1952 (not withstanding his wartime involvement).

Aubrey was later appointed Shire Secretary of Tungamah, then Cobram. He subsequently assumed duties as Town Clerk of Fitzroy, then St Kilda, before retiring in 1977.

In 1939, Aubrey enlisted with the Royal Australian Navy before being demobilised in 1946. He served as Leading Supply Assistant, then Stores Petty Officer serving in the South West Pacific, the Mediterranean, Atlantic, India and South Africa, as well as aboard the Lonsdale, Cerberus II, Victory, Quiberon, Nizam, Napier, Penguin, Cessnock, Pirie and Moresby.

He was awarded the 1939-1945 star, Atlantic star, Africa star and North Africa bar, Burma star and Pacific bar, Defence medal, War medal 1939-1945, Australian Service medal, Coronation medal and George VI medal.

Aubrey, who was married with six children, died in Prahran on January 2, 1987.

Maree, who has vague memories of Aubrey in his later years, was so appreciative of the College and the Association for affording her son this rare privilege.

“It’s incredible to see all the names revealed,” Maree said. “Australia asked so much of these young men.”

Pam also deemed the occasion a rare family honor.

“When I was very little Dad was away at war, so I didn’t really know him for a few years. But he was very good to me, he made up for it,” Pam said.

At the corresponding Annual Dinner of 1916, the Old Paradians’ Association chaplain Father Walsh unveiled an Honour Board carrying the names of those former students of Parade who had enlisted in the AIF with the outbreak of The Great War.

That Board, featuring the names of Old Paradians in gold leaf on polished Queensland blackwood, was prominently displayed in the lower classroom of CBC East Melbourne for many years.

With the relocation of Parade to Bundoora in 1968, the board somehow disappeared. This prompted College Archivist Rod Prusa to arrange for a replica of the original to be crafted. The faithful replica was unveiled by the late General John Baker and the then College captain Paul Hume in April 2006.

Today, that board hangs on the same wall of the Hickey Foyer.

Towards the end of 1945, the Old Paradians’ Association called on the College community to assist in its quest to source the names of those Old Boys who had served their nation through the Second World War. A list of 380 names – thought to have been the sum total of those who had served - was subsequently published in the 1946 edition of The Paradian. But, for whatever reason, a World War II Honor Board was never commissioned.

Three years ago, the Association, with the support of Dr Denis Moore and Parade College, sought to remedy that situation.

Dr. Moore was one of three people instrumental in bringing reality to this dream. The second was this author’s mother Maureen De Bolfo, and the third was the Old Paradian Peter Scott (1950).

An amateur researcher, Maureen volunteered to assist in the exhaustive hunt for other Old Paradians who may not have been included on that original 1946 list. Convinced that more than 380 Old Paradians would have served, she cross-referenced the names of boys listed in The Parade Story with those on the National Archives database who were recorded as having lived near the Old Bluestone Pile in places like Brunswick, Carlton, Collingwood and Fitzroy at the time they enlisted.

When Peter then double-checked these new-found names in Parade College’s enrolment records, the epic search was made complete.

Incredibly, a further 747 Old Boys were confirmed as having answered the nation’s call between 1939 and ’45, and 1127 in all.

Construction of the Honor Board was partly funded by the Old Paradians’ Association and Parade College, with a grant generously provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs through its ‘Saluting Their Service’ Commemorative Grants program.

The Old Paradians’ Association has recently received a donation from the family of the late Vietnam veteran Peter Hardy (1965) to be put towards the creation of another board honouring those Old Paradians who served in Vietnam and other conflicts.

  • Image courtesy Tuan Nguyen

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