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Lempriere, Geoffrey Raoul (1904–1977)

by Justin J. Corfield

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 15, (MUP), 2000

This is a shared entry with:

LEMPRIERE BROTHERS: Geoffrey Raoul (1904-1977), William Henry (1905-1979) and Peter Leland (1910-1976), woolbuyers, were born on 3 May 1904, 5 August 1905 and 17 June 1910, the two eldest at Elsternwick and the youngest at Sandringham, Melbourne, sons of Victorian-born parents Audley Raoul Lemprière, woolbroker, and his wife Adelaide Maude, née Greene. T. J. Lemprière was their great-grandfather. Geoffrey and William attended Grange Hill Open Air School, Sandringham, and Peter spent some time at Melbourne Church of England Grammar School before the three brothers were sent to Geelong Church of England Grammar School, Corio.

In 1921 Geoffrey travelled to Europe to study at L'Ecole de Commerce, Neuchâtel, Switzerland; he also gained experience in the wool industry in Italy, Belgium and Britain. Back in Australia, he joined his father's wool-buying firm, A. R. Lemprière Pty Ltd, spending most of his time at the Sydney office. Elected a director when his father died in 1931, he became the European representative, based in Belgium.

Geoffrey returned to Australia on the outbreak of World War II, served in the Australian Imperial Force for twelve months, then transferred to the Royal Australian Air Force in July 1941. He was promoted flying officer and posted to Rabaul as No.24 Squadron's intelligence officer shortly before New Britain fell to the Japanese in January 1942. During the allied evacuation he was separated from his comrades, captured and sent to Japan. Although ill-treated, he worked to maintain the morale of his fellow prisoners and was mentioned in dispatches. His R.A.A.F. appointment terminated in Australia on 22 February 1946.

After the war, an event that traumatized him, he resumed his work as the European representative of the family company. He retired in 1955. Two years later he served on the Australian trade mission to India. Living at Roger River in north-west Tasmania, he was State president of the Liberal Party, a member (1961-65) of its federal executive, president of the Tasmanian Arts Council and a breeder of horses. In 1969 he was appointed O.B.E. He died, unmarried, on 20 March 1977 at Shearwater and was cremated.

Like Geoffrey, William Lemprière had gone to Europe to study the wool industry. He joined the family firm in 1926 and was appointed a director in 1931. On 29 December 1932 he married Kathleen Elizabeth Griffiths with Anglican rites at All Saints Church, East St Kilda. A committee-member (1938-47) of the Victorian and South Australian Woolbuyers' Association, he was supervising wool appraiser for the Central Wool Committee in 1939-46. William was mobilized in the Militia in May 1941, but was released as a temporary sergeant in January 1942 because of his reserved occupation.

Chairman (1949-52 and 1955-57) of the Australian Council of Woolbuyers, William was a representative (1950-51) on the Commonwealth-United States of America Wool Conference. In 1951 he was appointed to deal with the British wool stockpile, a post he held until 1953; he was later a director (1963-70) of Containers Ltd. In 1961 he published Matthew Flinders Square, a plan for the civic development of Melbourne. He was appointed O.B.E. in 1964. Survived by his wife, daughter and son, he died on 20 September 1979 at Parkville and was cremated.

Peter Lemprière, the youngest brother, began his career in the wool industry with Gollin & Co. Pty Ltd. On 20 July 1937 at All Saints Church, East St Kilda, he married Lula Elizabeth Collins. He enlisted in the R.A.A.F. on 2 August 1940 and rose through the ranks as a wireless-telegraphy operator. Commissioned in December 1943, he was promoted flying officer and served at R.A.A.F. Headquarters, Melbourne, before his appointment terminated on 2 October 1945. After the war he joined the family company, Lemprière (Australia) Pty Ltd, and was chairman (1960-63) of the Australian Council of Wool Buyers. The establishment of the Australian Wool Industry Tripartite Council stemmed largely from his initiative, and he subsequently became its chairman. He was also a director of numerous companies, and chairman of John Foster (Australia) Pty Ltd and South Pacific Canneries Pty Ltd.

After his retirement Peter Lemprière worked as a spokesman for the Victorian Society for Crippled Children and Adults, of which he was a benefactor. A keen golfer, he was a committee-member of the Barwon Heads Golf Club. He died of coronary vascular disease on 27 September 1976 at Burnley and was cremated; his wife, son and two daughters survived him.

Select Bibliography

  • J. B. Payne and W. D. Lemprière, A Monograph of the House of Lemprière (Melb, 1979)
  • J. J. and R. S. Corfield and M. Collins Persse (compilers), Geelong Grammarians, vol 2 (Geelong, Vic, 1998)
  • Corian, June 1977
  • Mercury (Hobart), 21 Mar 1977.

Citation details

Justin J. Corfield, 'Lempriere, Geoffrey Raoul (1904–1977)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/lempriere-geoffrey-raoul-10813/text19181, published in hardcopy 2000, accessed online 31 October 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 15, (MUP), 2000

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