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Alan Oakley

Male 1915 - 1994  (78 years)

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  • Name Alan Oakley 
    Born 28 Dec 1915  Camperdown, VIC, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 

    • The following was composed by Allan's sons Stephen and Brendan and spoken by Stephen at the funeral service at Tuncurry Catholic Church on 20 October 1994.

      Dad was born in December 1915 at Camperdown in Victoria - the 5th of six children born to Walter and Nellie Oakley. The family moved to Melbourne and Dad's schooldays were spent at Prahran Primary and Prahran Tech.

      Due to the harsh economic conditions of those times - it was the late '20' - he was, like many, thrust into the workforce at an early age and considered himself fortunate to find employment with a manufacturer of Plaster products in Port Melbourne, named Derite. It's indicative of some of Dad's overriding qualities that - interrupted only by the war years - he remained an employee of that Company until he retired : a measure of his tenacity and constancy, his loyalty and his determination to provide a foundation of the utmost stability for his family.

      It was during these pre-War years (Dad's late teens and twenties) that he became involved in one of the great influences of his life - cycling. It was a high profile sport in those days and he became an enthusiastic and quite successful road racer with the Malvern Amateur Cycling Club, competing in such events as the gruelling Melbourne to Warrnambool Race (a classic still contested today) over a distance of some 180 miles. He was quietly proud of one effort in that event when he had snapped one handlebar completely off midway in the race and yet, completed the distance and made up ground in the field, grasping the one remaining handlebar and the stub of what remained of the other. Tenacity and endurance, again.

      I've spoken to several of his old mates from that era in the last couple of days. As well as recalling many happy times in Dad's company, especially on the weekend training rides, they spoke of the way he revelled in the exposure to the bush country in which they trained and camped out - a love of the bush and the outdoors which was to endure throughout his life and which was also one of the many gifts he passed on to my brother and sister and myself... although as children we didn't embrace his enthusiasm for the outdoors when it meant the compulsory winding down of the car windows whenever we passed through his favourite stretch of the Black Spur Mountains, flooding the car with freezing air while he inhaled extravagantly and exhorted us all to do the same. Perhaps not oddly, I've been doing just that for many years now whenever I drive through that stretch of road - and I wouldn't mind betting my brother does too!

      When War was declared in 1939, Dad enlisted in the Army and volunteered for the Australian Commando Squadron on the promise of some 'jungle' training in his beloved outdoors, which turned out to be at Wilson's Prom. Once again he relished the environment - and I've recently learned his outstanding fitness resulted in his holding the Squadron record for the regular training run from Tidal river to the top of Mt Oberon. His contingent was sent to Timor as part of a small group known in War Histories as "Sparrow Force". They were, before long, overwhelmed by a massive Japanese invasion and retreated to the mountains where they lived off the land with the assistance of Timorese native people and in subsequent months conducted a dangerous but highly effective campaign of guerilla warfare. It was during one of these actions that, as platoon leader, his conduct earned him an individual commendation for bravery. This fact - and other achievements - would not be widely known, then or now, as Dad was not ever the least inclined to self-promotion.

      The Timor Commandos were eventually evacuated from the island in dramatic circumstances having suffered extreme physical deprivation and illness - and Dad having exhibited, along with his comrades, those lifelong qualities of tenaciousness, endurance - and courage. These qualities were never more evident than in the recurrent bouts of severe ill-health he suffered in recent years - he was not a quitter.

      He saw further War service in New Guinea, and was ultimately discharged with the rank of Lieutenant.

      After the War he met a young former WAAF, named Joan, and in what was easily the best "career" move of his life (a fact he would never have disputed), married her in 1947. They lived briefly in South Yarra and then settled in Box Hill in Melbourne and together raised three children, myself, Kerry and Brendan - in an atmosphere of stability, love and support for which there is no recipe, or price.

      He returned to work with Derite and through those qualities I keep referring to, plus ability and plain hard work, rose to the highest position the Company could offer its employees, that of Australian General Manager.

      He continued to love the outdoors and active sports - in the early days via annual Pilgrimages to the bush hut we called The Shack, built with a group of mates just before the War on the slopes of the Cathedral Range near Buxton; later tennis and then squash were favourites and later again in retirement, Bowls. He basically loved all sports, but he had a special passion for the Sport of Kings, and as an avid researcher, his opinions were keenly sought, not the least by my own wife Vicki before her annual Oaks Day venture with "the girls".

      He made friends easily throughout his life and I think that was largely because he made every gathering that little bit brighter because of his unrelenting good cheer and always positive outlook. He wasn't what you'd call musical, but he was given to regular outbursts of rather tuneless whistlings and hummings, Tra-La-Lees and Dum-de-Dums simply as another expression of that constant cheerful nature. And yet... there is at least one Melbourne restaurant whose patrons would remember his public rendition of what became his adopted anthem, "I Was Born Under A Wandering Star"; delivered in a gravelly bass in a key even lower - (if that's possible) - than that made famous by Lee Marvin. It received a generous ovation ... as did his encore.

      Even the morning reveille in rousing us for school was delivered with intolerable good cheer (and often, the wet face washer). When he retired with Mum to Forster he quickly found and made enduring friendships, and also came to love the special qualities of this area.

      He had a rich life, in every important sense, and enriched beyond measure the lives of his immediate and extended family, and of his friends.

      He rang us in Melbourne last Thursday, and after the phone call the note pad by the phone carried on it two recommendations from Dad - as it often did after such calls. For anyone wanting to salute a great mate in a tangible way, you could do worse than to purchase a bottle of Elderton Shiraz and have a couple of dollars on Danarani in the Oaks next week
    Residence Box Hill, VIC, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Residence Bef 1994  Forster, NSW, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Died Oct 1994  Australia Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I275  Mote/McInnes
    Last Modified 3 Oct 2004 

    Father Walter Oakley,   b. 03 Jun 1879, Horsham, VIC, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 20 Jul 1974, Pearcedale, VIC, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 95 years) 
    Mother Nellie Eliza Aspland,   b. 18 Jan 1880, Camperdown, VIC, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 05 May 1974, Thornbury, Melbourne, VIC, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 94 years) 
    Married 26 Apr 1905  Camperdown, VIC, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Family ID F90  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Last Modified 11 May 2019 
    Family ID F193  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - 28 Dec 1915 - Camperdown, VIC, Australia Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - Oct 1994 - Australia Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth 

  • Sources 
    1. [S305] Oakley, Stephen, Stephen Oakley, (1994).