The Avery’s were part of an extended family that had lived in The Rocks since the early 1800s. A row of terrace houses in Atherden Street is named after them; they occupied all the houses in the street for many years.
In World War I more than 14 men from this family enlisted, including two brothers, William and Frank, and William’s eldest son John. William and his wife Eva lived at 13 Atherden St with their seven children.
William, 35 and Frank, 20 both enlisted in August 1915. While they were training, young John, who was only 16, enlisted without his parents’ consent, increasing his age by two years.
William went to New Guinea on Garrison duty where he contracted malaria. Discharged as medically unfit in September 1916, he tried to re-enlist in 1917 but was unsuccessful, probably much to the relief of his wife, Eva.
Uncle Frank was sent to the Western Front, arriving in March 1916. He was wounded in May 1917 and evacuated to England where he met and married May Barnes. At the end of the war Frank brought his wife and infant daughter, Minnie, back to Australia to join the Avery clan.
Young John was also sent to the Western Front. John was considered a bit cheeky and at one stage was charged with ‘Insolence to an Officer’. He was wounded three times; once during the Battle of Fromelles in 1916, when he lay injured for days before being evacuated, also during the Battle of Passchendaele in 1917, when he was shot through his shoulder and then a gas attack in 1918 saw him evacuated to England, ending John’s war service. At the start of World War 2 in 1939 John was 41, and this time put his age down in order to enlist.
All three men returned to Atherden Street where members of the family still lived in the 1990s.