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MACLEOD, John Anning (1916-1991)

MACLEOD, John Anning OBE (1916-1991)

John MacLeod was born at Ballarat on 13 December 1916, the son of Jack Roderick MacLeod and Louisa Beatrice nee Anning. His early years were spent in Ballarat attending Ballarat College for his primary schooling and the first two years of secondary college. Afterwards he went to Geelong College as a boarder where he was enrolled on 10 February 1932. At the time his entry address was 806 Mair St, Ballarat. He left in December 1934.

A determined athlete, he took part in Flat races and rowing at College. The family still hold a trophy engraved ‘Geelong College Regatta Senior Eights 1933’. John became a School Prefect in 1934.

A popular activity for the rowing crews was rowing to Barwon Heads via Lake Connewarre and staying overnight at the MacLeod’s Barwon Heads holiday house ‘Hualpa’. They would row back up the Barwon the following day. The house remains in Riverside Terrace, though no longer owned by the MacLeod Family.

He and his friend Dick (Sir Rupert) Hamer, who attended Geelong Grammar, enlisted in the army in 1939. They both enlisted as privates despite being officers in their school cadets.

John MacLeod (Cadets 1934).

John MacLeod (Cadets 1934).

John enlisted (No VX 13521) in the 2nd AIF on 29 April 1940, serving as a Major in the Middle East (August 1940-March 1942), Greece (March-May 1941), New Guinea (November 1942-June 1943, November 1943-March 1944, September-November 1944), and the Philippines (January-July 1945). His next of kin was listed as Lt Mary Monica Carroll Bateman (No SFX9826), of 2/4th AGH Redbank, Queensland, and Leabrook, South Australia, whom he married on 9 October 1944. She was born in Old Cairo, Egypt, and enlisted from St John's Park, Tasmania. The family were to have four children, three boys, the youngest of whom had a twin sister.

John was Mentioned in Despatches on 26 October 1944 'for exceptional service in New Guinea' , and promoted a Member of the Order of the British Empire (Military Division) on 24 June 1946, the citation for which read:
‘This officer has, for the last four months, acted as AIB Liaison Officer at GHQ and has bv his tact and personality assisted greatly in the smooth working of special operations in which navy and Air were involved. Prior to this period he performed the functions of General Staff Officer (Operations) at HQ AIB. His work in the reorganisation of AIB and in the planning of operations has been outstanding. During the whole course of his service, in Libya, Greece, Syria and during the three long periods which he spent in New Guinea, Major MacLeod's service has been marked by intelligence work of a very high standard.’ He was acting Lieutenant-Colonel by War's end.

He was discharged on 26 September 1945.

After the war, the family settled in Ballarat where John entered the family business, the 3rd generation to do so. The wholesale grocers and manufacturing merchants business known as John MacLeod & Co was started by his grandfather, John McLeod, in Lydiard St North, Ballarat in about 1860. The bluestone warehouse now used as a hotel still remains. They operated a spice mill and roasted and packed tea and coffee under the Sirdor Brand.

Originally a very prosperous business, trade dwindled and it merged with another manufacturing grocer, James McKays, to become McKay MacLeod’s in 1954. Before the merger there was a large warehouse in Fernleigh St, Geelong which continued after the merger as well as a warehouse in St Arnaud. In 1957, McKay McLeod’s became the first business in Victoria to introduce the concept of wholesale self-service grocery and they moved to a large warehouse in Mair St, Ballarat.

John MacLeod sold out to the McKays in about 1961 when he was fifty-five and retired to his beloved Barwon Heads where he built a cottage in Carr St. His wife, Mary died on 14 November 1982 and John died on 27 November 1991.

Sources: Biography of John MacLeod; 'Geelong Collegians at the Second World War' compiled by James Affleck. p 305 (citing The Pegasus; Australian War Memorial; National Archives).
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