Harry had tried to enlist during the war and even though he tried several times he was always rejected. Once he put his age up by several years and had his mother’s permission but he was still rejected. He made the mistake of showing the Recruiting Sergeant his birth certificate which of course showed his true age. The Recruiting Sergeant must have felt sorry for him and made a note on his records. Harry was disappointed. He felt he had missed out on a great adventure. Even though casualty lists were published the grim details were still covered up by censorship and even in 1916 young men still joined up seeking adventure. No one actually knew the horrific conditions until they arrived at the front line. Harry admitted later that he certainly didn’t. He admitted he may not have been so keen if he did know.
Harry had already had a life of sorts before he left England. He had left school the day he turned 14. His first job was as a barber’s assistant. He didn’t stay in this job long because he was accepted into the staff at one of Britain’s great houses. Because early in the War domestic staff had almost joined up en mass there were plenty of openings in domestic service. He started as a footman and by the end of the war he was a Valet. But when the War ended the Valet came back and Harry Sawyer had to go several rungs down the ladder. He wasn’t happy with this and decided he might emigrate. It was all quite easy. He had been a Valet for a Cabinet Minister when he was at his country residence and therefore had good references. The Australian authorities were impressed. He was quickly accepted as being acceptable for emigration to Australia.
He arrived at Station Pier knowing absolutely no one but he had the name of an acquaintance of someone in Geelong. Thankfully there was a map of Victoria on Station Pier and he noted that Geelong was the nearest town to Melbourne. Just around the corner in fact. He concluded he would be able to walk there. Indeed just after he started walking he came to a sign that pointed towards Geelong.
Harry did indeed walk from Melbourne to Geelong. Carrying his case as well. It took him most of the day. He didn’t quite make Geelong though. At a place called Little River he saw an eight horse rig pulling a plow in the paddock next to the road. He went to have a closer look. The rig pulled up at the fence for afternoon tea and the man invited Harry to join in.
Well, one thing led to another and Harry did not progress any further for two years. He was engaged to work that very day on the farm at the same rate as the man controlling the horses. This was bed, board, work clothes and tobacco and payment of five pounds per year. The five pounds was payable at the end of each calendar year. He shared a room with his new workmate who was also English. Harry thrived. He loved the outdoor life. He loved horses and mechanical equipment. The family who owned the farm treated him as one of them.
Even though he went into Geelong pretty well every week on errands, Harry never met up with his acquaintance.
But Harry went on to many adventures and died in his one hundredth year.