Sunday, 3 August 2014

Young Ronald Lee Lowry bushfire victim

Ronald Lee Lowry was born in 1924 to William Lowry and Edna nee Laurence. 

Edna was a first cousin of my grandfather, Archie Fleming. 

I haven't found if William and Edna Lowry had other children but they tragically lost their young son Ronald in a bushfire in North East Victoria in January 1939.

TWO BURNED TO DEATH Buckland Valley Victims. (1939, January 16). The Argus(Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 2. Retrieved August 3, 2014, from

Local news story in the Wangaratta Chronicle Despatch.
Wednesday, January 18, 1939 page 2

Man & Boy Hurt - Former Cheshunt Residents Fire in Buckland Valley

Failing to reach safety by a few seconds, a man and his nephew were burnt to death in a fire which destroyed 6 houses in the Buckland Valley, near Porepunkah, on Friday afternoon.  Their bodies were not recovered until Saturday afternoon.

The men were Messrs. James Charles Lowry, aged 41 years of Buckland Valley and Ronald Lee Lowry, aged 15 years, his nephew.  Frantic attempts to save their home led to the deaths of the two Lowrys.  Only 100 yards separated them from a creek, but when they realized that their fight was hopeless and made a dash for safety, three fires had converged and practically cut off their retreat Ronald Lowry collapsed when only 100 yards from the creek and James Lowry became entangled in blackberry bushes, both were overwhelmed by the flames.  Before attempting to save the house Mr. James Lowry, his wife and their nephew had been crouching in the safety of a tunnel.  The two men went to the house during a lull in the fire.

When the road from Porepunkah to Buckland Valley littered with scores of burning logs, First Constables Miller and Duncan of Myrtleford and a doctor, had to cut away for their motor truck along the bush tracks to recover the bodies on Saturday.  They succeeded in driving to within a few miles of the township.  The 30 mile journey occupied 9 hours.

Left Whitfield 2 years ago - Messrs William and James Lowry had been prospecting in the Buckland Valley for the past 2 years, having previously been engaged for 9 years in tobacco growing at Cheshunt, Mr. William Lowry's wife and son had been staying at Whitfield with Mrs. Lowry's mother, Mrs. Laurence, and only on Monday last week went to reside in their house at Buckland Valley.

Messrs Lowry had struck a good patch but poor supplies of water had forced them to go in for more development work in the way of building a larger race.  They saw the fire coming on Friday afternoon.  Mr. William Lowry placed his wife and son in a tunnel covering the opening with wet bags.   During a lull in the fire his brother said he would rush to the house to see if he could save anything, and the lad, although called back, rushed there also.  Suddenly three fires converged and the man and his nephew were trapped.  Mr. Lowry did not get very far from the house, but the lad got within 12 feet of the river when he was succumbed.  The grief stricken brother and father later found the body of his brother and son.

Situated 6 miles from the Lower Buckland post office, Mr. Lowry had no means of getting help until 2 men came along with a bicycle.  He placed his wife on the bicycle and wheeled her to the post office.  A man came along and left at daybreak to obtain assistance and later Constables Miller and Duncombe with Dr. Beaumont arrived from Myrtleford, to where Mr. and Mrs. Lowry were conveyed.  Mr. Lowry speaks appreciatively of the assistance given his wife and himself.  In addition to his house and mining equipment, 800 feet of piping was lost.

The late Mr. Lowry had 2 other brothers, Alfred and Harold, who reside in Melbourne.  Mr. and Mrs. Lowry left Whitfield 4 years ago for Buckland.  The funeral of the two victims left the home of Mrs. S. Laurence, Whitfield, for the Hyem cemetery on Sunday, a large number of people gathered at the graveside.  The Rev. J. Priestly read the burial service and the arrangements were made by Messrs. Bowden and Diggle.  In each case the coffin bearers were Messrs L. Bennett, J. Burrows, A. Owens, and A. Simmonds and the pall bearers were supported by Messrs. H. Thomas, A. Peipers, W. Fleming, H.H. Smith, W. Peipers and R. Lay.

1 comment:

  1. I was only a child that January but remember spending a night on the beach at Apollo Bay when houses were destroyed at Lorne. Each time a new house caught fire we would see a big explosion of light appear over the headland.. But inland like with your family there was no beach to escape to. A sad story.