147 CLUETT, Frank Roper

Portrait 147 Frank Cluett

147 Frank Roper CLUETT

 147 Frank Roper CLUETT was aged 21, a marine blacksmith by trade from Abbotsford Sydney. He was the son of Ernest and Ida (nee Geetson) He enlisted early and joined the engineers while his brother, 703 Ernest Randolph Cluett volunteered a few months later and was placed with the 1st Light Horse regiment. His younger brother Cecil would join much later in June 1918.
Frank was a dawn lander on the 25th April and within a few days was very likely sniped and severely wounded, shot in the spine on the 30th April 1915.

The following article published in The Sydney Morning Herald on Monday 10 May 1915, reports Frank’s wounding at Gallipoli and also some additional family background.




“Sapper Frank Roper Cluett, who was reported to have been wounded. Is the son of Mr. Frank E. Cluett, boot Importer, of Parramatta road, Leichhardt, and left Sydney with the First Expeditionary Force. He  was born at Parramatta, 22 years ago, and was educated at All Saint’s School, Petersham. He served his apprenticeship to marine engineering with the Adelaide Steamship Company, and after being in the Engineers for some time he left them to make way for ex- trainees who were adopting that branch of the military service. He then joined the National Reserve, but when the call came for volunteers for the front he enlisted in the Engineers as a sapper.”Source: nla.news-article15578622
Frank Cluett was dangerously ill for a considerable time and as soon as his condition had improved he subsequently returned to Australia….. Frank would spend the rest of his days in a wheel chair.

Frank also had to live with the loss of his older brother Ernest who was killed at Lone Pine, at “Popes Hill” Gallipoli on the 7th August.

The following news article was printed in the Sydney Morning Herald on Friday 24 September 1915……..It describes the fate of both Frank and Ernest.




“Mr. F. E. Cluett, of Parramatta road, Leichhardt, and Abbotsford, has been officially informed that Private Ernest R. Cluett, his second eldest son, who was previously reported missing, was killed in action on August 7. His older brother, Frank, took part in the original landing at Gaba Tepe, and was then shot through the spine. He is still in hospital, where he had two ribs removed. Mr. Cluett’s only other son, Harold, enlisted on Saturday on receipt of the news of his brother Ernest’s death. The deceased was 21 years of old.”

Source: nla.news-article15615677

Ernest Cluett portrait.jpg

Although sure to be physically and emotional scared by his wounds and the loss of his brother, it did not prevent Frank from living a full life on his return to Australia.

Frank had faced the dangers of Gallipoli and was determined to enjoy life even it meant from a wheel chair, his spirit and determination would not  be broken and he would continue to share that passion for life with fellow soldiers suffering from disabilities.

Motor Cycle and Horse
Two Injured in Collision

Published Sydney Evening News ,Wednesday 13 July 1921,

“Two returned soldiers, one a cripple were injured in a collision in Pittwater Rd, Brookvale ………They are John O’Connor, of Bay View, fractured skull and abrasions.  Frank Roper Cluett, 28 of Bay View, fractured bone in right hand and abrasions.”. Source: nla.news-article118917832

Frank and his friend John O’ Connor had loomed up behind a horse and cart and swerved, however hit the horse and their cycle and side car overturned injuring both men. They were both taken by ambulance to Manly Cottage hospital.

Frank and his blind friend Frank Morris  shared a lot of time fishing and boating around Sydney Harbour and must have met with admiration and equally with concern due to their combined disabilities, but found enormous support from the prestigious boating communities of Sydney Harbour and also the Governor of NSW.


Article published The Sydney Morning Herald Thursday 15 September 1927.

“Two disabled returned soldiers, Messrs Frank Cluett and Frank Morris, of Balmoral, will be presented with a modern motor boat at the clubhouse of the Royal Motor Yacht Club of New South Wales, Wunulla-road, Rose Bay, on Saturday afternoon. His Excellency the Governor, Sir Dudley de Chair, has been requested to make the presentation on behalf of the yachtsmen of Sydney.
The two recipients of the boat have been in the habit of taking their recreation fishing in a small, unseaworthy old motor launch, which was all they possessed for the purpose. In it they spent many hours fishing, both inside and outside the harbour, although both men are considerably handicapped by war wounds. One lost his sight while the other is disabled in the legs. When the matter was brought under the notice of the motor yachting and sailing clubs of Sydney an appeal was made which resulted in a very generous amount being subscribed. A new motor boat, with a self-starter engine, and full equipment was purchased, the subscribers being members of tho Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, The Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club, The Royal Motor Yacht Club of New South Wales and others. The presentation will be made at 3 o’clock on Saturday afternoon”
Source: nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/16403896

At some point from his days of repatriation in hospital, it is very likely that Frank crossed paths with Miss Mabel Rosemary Boniface, a distinguished and highly qualified nursing sister. Her own story made headlines in February 1919.

Nurses of the
           Above Nurses of the “Queen Alexandra Imperial Military Nursing Service” – QAIMNS

Imperial Nurse Returns

Evening News (Sydney, NSW), Fri 28 Feb 1919

“The uniform worn by the members of the Queen Alexandra Imperial Military Nursing Service, with its neat cape bordered with scarlet, is so seldom seen in Sydney that it attracts attention when it does appear. The wearer of one of these uniforms in Sydney this week was Sister Boniface, who returned to Sydney by the steamer Berrima. Sister Boniface, who was trained in London, came to Australia in 1912, and joined the staff of St Evins, in Melbourne. Later, she took up bush nursing in Gippsland, and, coming to New South Wales continued the work at Jindabyne, near Mount Kosciusko. When war broke out she left Sydney in March 1915, for London, where she joined the Queen Alexandra Imperial Military Nursing Service. She was attached to the Royal Military Hospital at Devonport and later at No.23 General Hospital at Etaples, France, and was then then transferred to No. 12 Casualty Clearing Station near Ypres, where she had charge of heart cases for the Second Army and her patients included many Australians and Tasmanians. Sister Boniface left England in December by the Berrima, on transport duty. In addition to her Q.A. badge, she has the Star which signifies that the wearer was on active service before June 1915. Sister Boniface’s mother, although over 60 years of age, went to England in 1916, to take up war work. She has been helping to make artificial limbs at the Red Cross Depot at Plymouth. She will be returning to Sydney shortly. ”

In 1920 Frank later married Mabel, a fortunate partnership of two very selfless people. Together they established their own home at 41 The Esplanade, Balmoral Beach, Mosman, and made it available as a Convalescent home known as “Sunnyside” for returned serviceman, who were either still recovering physically and emotionally from the war or recovering from a recent operation.

Mabel particularly had dedicated her life to the care and well being of  service man and with Frank’s personal experiences and kinship to other ex serviceman , they made a formidable partnership.

Frank’s love of the outdoors particularly the sea and  fishing saw Mabel and himself spend holidays at Forster NSW , a destination fast becoming popular among Sydneysiders and noted for it’s particularly good fishing and relaxed coastal lifestyle.

The Australian War Memorial has in its collection what is described as a “Wooden Puzzle” associated with Frank Cluett and gives an account of it’s origin and a short story about Frank… below

00424 AWM

“Hand carved and finished wooden trick puzzle featuring a wooden arrow slotting into a wooden plywood square. The square is marked in black ink ‘Guezirah [sic] Palace Presented to Pte Cluett’. It is also marked in a different hand ‘In Memory of the Great War 1914 – (illegible)’.

Associated with 147 Sapper Frank Roper Cluett, a 21 year old blacksmith from Sydney, who enlisted in the AIF on 20 August 1914 and was assigned to 1 Field Company Engineers. He left Australia aboard the transport HMAT Afric on 8 October and trained in Egypt until his unit was sent to Gallipoli in 1915. Cluett received a gunshot wound to his back on 3 May 1915 while serving on Gallipoli. Evacuated to 2 Australian General Hospital (AGH) at Gezira in Egypt, Cluett was listed as dangerously ill at the end of August. In October he was assessed as ‘still seriously ill’, suffering from myelitis, an inflammation of the spinal cord.

He was returned to Australia on 20 October 1915 for further medical treatment at 4AGH at Randwick in Sydney and discharged from the army on 14 November 1916. He appears to have undergone several more lengthy stays at 4AGH and was one of the long term patients visited regularly by Mrs J A Little, to whom he gave this puzzle. The puzzle was originally supplied to Cluett for occupational therapy, while he was hospitalised in Egypt. Mrs Little was a local Sydney resident who visited ‘her boys’ at the hospital twice a day. Information later supplied by her daughter regarding Cluett suggests that his wound had entailed the loss of two inches of his coccyx (tail bone). The resulting inflamation took a number of years to resolve, although it seems that he was never paralysed. Frank Cluett recovered sufficiently to marry Mabel Boniface at Gosford, NSW in 1920. He died in 1940.”………………….REL/00424 Collection type Heraldry – Title Wooden Puzzle : Sapper F R Cluett, 1 Field Company Engineers, AIF \

The following news article was written by S.W. who’s identity remains a mystery however he was very likely a WW1 veteran convalescing at the home of  147 Spr Frank Cluett and his wife Mabel. It is a wonderful tribute to a fine couple who despite their own difficulties after the war, openly shared their home helping others in need.

1935 Abbotsford Frank Roper and family edited


And His Fox Terrier

(By S.W.)

Article published:- The Dubbo Liberal and Macquarie Advocate (NSW), Thur 28 Jul 1938

“In a cottage facing the Balmoral Beach lives Digger Frank Cluett and his wife. Frank is paying the price of war, being confined to his bed and chair. He is a born gentleman, and is admired by all who know him. His popularity may be judged by the throngs of fine young men who constantly visit him. Any time during the day a group of lads can be seen by his bedside or chair, and his words of advice, his sense of humour and the undoubted love that these lads have for this Digger make one think what a fine example of humanity this man is, and what a wonderful effect he is having on the lives of these youths. (In his early life he devoted most of his time to training of youths in seafaring.) Frank is the owner of a fox terrier which shows his appreciation for his master in the following manner:


During the earlier hours of the morning the foxie leaves Frank’s bedside, and about 8 o’clock returns with a piece of meat (which he has evidently rescued from a garbage tin) and jumps on his master’s bed. If he is asleep the dog drops it on his pillow, but if Frank is awake he places it on his chest. If nothing else wakes Frank, the high odor of his dog’s tribute does. The same thing happens between 12 and 1. Sometimes the dog secures a double supply on his daily search, and in that case he buries the surplus, which is unearthed when the foxie has had a fruitless search. When Frank is enjoying a visit from his friends, the dog runs about the house and barks continuously – but should the Digger be asleep the dog can never be heard. I lived for two weeks in the same house as this soldier and can vouch for the accuracy of this statement.”



Frank died a relatively young man at 46 years of age but friendships and charitable support to other veterans despite his own circumstances are testimony to him as being not only a great ANZAC but as  Mr S.W described as “a fine example of humanity “.

Franks Death Notice inserted in the SMH on Wednesday 31 January 1940.

CLUETT -January 30. 1940. at his residence, 41 The Esplanade, Balmoral Beach, Frank Roper Cluett , late 1st Field Company, Engineers, A.I.F. beloved husband of Mabel Cluett aged 46 years – Source: nla.news-article17656127

Story  – Copyright© Vance Kelly2015



Collection type Heraldry – Title Wooden Puzzle : Sapper F R Cluett, 1 Field Company Engineers, AIF



1. Photos available of Frank Cluett and family, however awaiting contact.

2. Wounding date from AWM  should be 30th April, he was hospitalised Egypt on 3rd May as per war service record.

 Ancestry Notes:

Frank Roper Cluetts – Father’s Death Notice SMH Wednesday 23 June 1954

CLUETT, Frank Ernest -June 20, 1954, at Florence House, Collaroy,   late of Leichhardt and Abbotsford,   loved father of Ivy (Mrs. Ash),   Frank (deceased), Ernest (deceased),   Harold Cecil, Dorothy (Mrs. Wood),  

The Sydney Morning Herald, 4 May 1974
CLUETT, Mabel Rosemary – May 3, 1974 at her residence, Cardinal Street, Mosman, dearly beloved wife of the late Frank Cluett, loved sister of Sidney Boniface and dear aunt of Robert and John Boniface. May she rest in peace.
FUNERALS CLUETT – Requiem Mass for the repose of the soul of the late MABEL ROSEMARY CLUETT, of Cardinal Street, Mosman, will be celebrated at the Sacred Heart Church, Cardinal Street, Mosman, on Monday May 6, at 10 am. The funeral will leave the church after Mass for the Catholic Cemetery Northern Suburbs.

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