Dagmar rasmussen Wenham (nee Groves) (1914-1988 )

Dagmar Rasmussen Groves (1914-1988)

Dagmar came from a large working class family that lived at 32 (now 18) East St, East Fremantle from 1910-1949.

Her father Robert Groves and her mother Ethel Maud Rasmussen had 6 children: Robert R (b. 1909), Clifford R (b. 1912), Neil R (b. 1917), Dagmar R ( b. 1914), Raymar R (b. 1926) and Norman R (b. 1934). Robert Snr worked as a Tally Clerk on the Fremantle wharf and this occupation became a family tradition, as all his sons became Tally Clerks and so did their sons.

In 1930 Dagmar lied about her age to start nursing training at the Claremont Asylum. She worked as a nurse there until her mother died, in  Feb 1937. Dagmar then was forced to return home to do ‘home duties’ and care for her nine year old sister Raymar and her two year old brother Norman. In those days it was a woman’s job.

In  February 1939 Norman survived Tetanus:

“Four-year-old Norman Groves, of East-st, East Fremantle, has made a miraculous recovery from lockjaw at Fremantle Hospital. Norman's name was on the danger list for 17 days — 300,000 units of anti-tetanus serum was used to save his life. The serum was an abnormally large quantity for a child and was given in four injections during the first week of the boy's illness”.(reference)

Later that year on 21 October 1939 Dagmar married George Wenham (b. 1913), the elder son of Mr and Mrs A Wenham, of Waddell-street, Palmyra. (reference) The Wenham’s had owned a shop at 88 George St, East Fremantle from 1920-1932. Raymar married the guy next door at no 34 ( now no 20) -Stanley Devlin.

George enlisted in the Australian Air Force in 1939, where he worked thoughout the war as a Barber. (reference). He was not sent overseas and the couple had two daughters: Laureen (b. 1941) and Glenda (b. 1943)

“1941 On July 12, at Woodside Hospital, to Mr. and Mrs. George Wenham, of 18 East street, East Fremantle—a daughter (Laureen Ethel). Both well” (reference)


“1941 On July 29, William John Downie (39), hairdresser, George William Wenham (28), clerk, and Robert Roberts (60), clerk, were each fined £5 in the Fremantle Police Court yesterday for having used premises at Mandurah road, South Fremantle, Market-street, Fremantle, and High-street, Fremantle, respectively, as common betting houses” (reference)

During the war Dagmar and her children were billeted temporarily in Pemberton.

George was demobbed 1948 and from 1949-1954 the family lived at 9 Pier St, East Fremantle. The house was put in Dagmars name.

“1950 LUMPER FINED: When a Customs officer saw a watch bought into a Jeweller's shop in Fremantle on February 20, he questioned the owner as to its purchase. The owner, George William Wenham, waterside worker, of Pier-street, East Fremantle, said that be had bought the watch from a Chinese on the wharf for £5. Mr. P. Connaughton who prosecuted for the Customs Department, said that the watch was similar to many others which had been the subject of recent prosecutions and which appeared to have been smuggled into the country from Singapore. The accused was fined £20 and ordered to pay £2/6/ costs.” (reference)

1954: “Waterside Workers' Federation of Australia, Fremantle Branch: Members are invited to attend the funeral of their late Comrade, Mr. George William Wenham, of 9 Pier-street, East Fremantle which will take place in the Methodist Cemetery, Fremantle. (reference)

After George died in June 1954, Dagmar returned to work in 1956 as nurse-in-charge at Claremont (changed to Graylands c 1960). Glenda was 7 and Laureen was 9. Glenda later trained as a nurse and worked at Claremont Asylum alongside her mother.

Research by Anthony Lazzarich, grandson of Dagmar and George. Anthony was born at Woodside Maternity Hospital in the 1980s.