Written by Non Meston following conversations with Niece Diane Edmonds and Nephew Bernard Dorizzi
The family owned a woodyard adjacent to the gaol, and in the 1930s established a cartage and contracting business known as T Dorizzi and Sons in which all five sons worked. They built it up over ten years to include as well as collecting the whitegum which was sawn into blocks for firewood, general cartage, the sanitary contract and the school bus run.
They were popular and lived a very active life, as Wally Chitty says in his book ‘as schoolboys, (we) did the usual things of playing fox and hounds, chasing rabbits, riding hill trolleys and playing football’ as well as hunting gilgies in the local streams. Tom kept a horse in the police stable as a teenager, and joined the 10 th Light Horse. They were gregarious and enjoyed a rich and varied life.
As young adults they were prominent in the football and swimming clubs, the fire brigade and were keen on whippet racing as well as all of the usual social activities of the town. Tom married a local girl, Nellie Smith and had a daughter Geraldine whom they called ‘Tiddles’, Bert had a steady girlfriend but Gordon was still unattached.
When war broke out the business, like many at that time in country areas, was under stress, and the three brothers, Tom, Gordon and Bert were working away from home with their trucks on contracts carting gravel for Main Roads in Nungarin. All three enlisted from there into the 2/4 Machine Gun Regiment, as did Reg Ferguson, another Toodyay man who also died as a POW in Borneo.
All four were in the first march. Herbert and Gordon died on the same day, February 11 th 1945 on the track, and Tom a month later on March 11 th after reaching Ranau. Reg Ferguson also reached Ranau and died on 23 rd March, apparently on rice carrying duty.
Diane Edmonds and Bernard Dorizzi, whose father was Edgar, the eldest of the five brothers have shared the family’s memories of their uncles. Diane remembers that Tom attended the wedding of local man Michael Robinson while on pre-embarkation leave and presented him with ten pounds – a very generous sum in those days. Their grandparents did not stay in Toodyay after the war, which added to the town’s sense of loss.
The Dorizzi Memorial Cell was set up in 1997 in honour of all four men in the Old Newcastle Gaol Museum in Toodyay where they lived as boys. They are not forgotten.
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