Although the memorial has the name of Edward, the commemoration appears to relate to Edwin Walter Austin who was born on the 26th November 1889. His parents, William John Austin who was from Towcester in Northamptonshire and Ada Emery married at St Georges Church on 29th June 1873. William was working as a Stone Mason and they started married life in Market Harborough where they had four children before moving to Stoughton Street in the Highfields in Leicester.
The 1891 Census shows that the family had moved to Knighton and were living at Lorne
Road. The couple now had nine children, the three oldest were working, Annie aged 17 was a Machinist, William aged 16 was in the Wood Trade and George aged 14 was working in Printing. The following year their last child, Edith was born. The family were living in St Peter Street in Syston by 1901, only the five youngest children were still living at home. Some of the older children were still living in the Knighton area and would go on to have families of their own.
Edwin was working as a Joiner Machinist when he joined the British Royal Navy on 7th January 1908, he signed up for 12 years. 4 years later in 1912 he was ‘Lent’ to the Australian Navy, which had been granted the service title of “Royal Australian Navy” by King George V in 1911.
In 1914 he was discharged from the Royal Navy so that he could serve in the Australian Navy. He paid £12 for the discharge and signed up to the RAN (Royal Australian Navy) on 7/10/1914 agreeing to serve for 5 years. Edwin served on HMAS Encounter, which was the first RAN Ship to ‘fire in anger’. During a patrol of the Fiji- Samoa region on 25/4/1915 the Encounter captured the German sailing vessel Elfriede.
He died on 10/4/1918 aged 29. Edwin did not leave a will, however, the probate of his estate was awarded to Ellen Barracluff on 22nd November 1918 as she was able to provide a letter written by Edwin on 8/7/1915 when HMAS Encounter was in Sydney for a refit. The last line of his letter said ‘P.S. Don’t forget if anything should happen to me remember that my money, clothes everything belongs to you’. Edwin is buried at St John Church Cemetery, Camden in Australia.
Edwin’s grave erected by Ellen and her husband William Barracluff