Remembering Dennis Jacob

By Nigel Tapp, NWFL Program Editor
One family with strong links to Tasmania’s North-West Football League knows only too well the sacrifices of our servicemen in World War I.

The Wynyard Football Club and the league have been well served by the descendants of just one of those courageous soldiers, Lance-Corporal Denis (Den) Jacob, whose story is told below in light of Anzac Day.

Den’s daughter, Kay Stretton, and her husband Ken, were committee members through the 1960s and 1970s, and Den’s grandson, John, was a 1967 premiership player. Great-grandsons Craig (2012 NTFL premiership player) and league Hall-of-Famer Clint are both still playing with the Cats while a third, Scott, coached the club’s under 19s in 2003.

Born on the April 5 1897, Den enlisted with his only two brothers for active service in World War I. Three weeks of sailing saw Den land in Egypt and join the 10th Battalion, which marched for days to Serapeam before being assigned to dig trenches at Habeita on the Sinai Peninsula.

Den spent some time recovering from jaundice in a hospital in Cairo before rejoining his fellow soldiers en route to France. He arrived at Montrecat on his 19th birthday, 5th April 1916.

He was awarded the Military Medal following intense battle on the Somme. A roll-call soon revealed the terrible losses, with the battalion of nearly 1000 reduced to 125.

Sadly Den had just been promoted to sergeant when he found a two-month-old newspaper depicting a photograph and obituary of his father, Henry. Den had no previous knowledge of his dad’s death.

Under extreme fire from the Germans on the Somme battlefields of No Man’s Land, Den suffered shrapnel wounds on two occasions but returned to the frontline soon after.

On September 30 1917, Den was so seriously wounded with head injuries that he was unrecognisable and had his pay-book stamped “killed in action.’’

As he was about to be buried, a flicker of life was detected by his comrades and he regained consciousness six weeks later in a London hospital.

Den’s family still have his pay-book and repatriation files to confirm these details.

Following a slow recovery he was discharged from active service on April 2 1918, three days before his 21st birthday.

Following a successful civilian career Den, at the age of 90, was invited to make a speech at a 1987 Remembrance Day service attended by the Governor of Tasmania and the State’s political leaders. Such was the reaction to his speech, its contents and subsequent commentary were recorded in Hansard.

Denis Coultauld Jacob died peacefully on 26 November 1990. His life’s exploits are recorded in his book “We Will Remember Them” dedicated to his two brothers, neither of whom returned from war.

Lest We Forget


  1. Lest we forget, it can’t be worded better. April 25 Is day of reflection, learning and mourning those who went.

    Lest we forget,


  2. matt watson says

    Thanks Nigel,
    Great read.

  3. Remarkable story.

  4. Shane Johnson says

    Thanks for that Nigel
    My great uncle Sgt Alfred Robert “Wick” Johnson from Flowerdale (Wynyard) would have been with Dennis as he was in Egypt as well on the way over. He was killed by a grenade at Moquet Farm on 4/9/1916…hope to be there at on the 100th anniversary of his death 4/9/2016 next year. He was 23

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