Fiona Killman, Real Estate Reporter
First published 8 Oct 2023, 5:00am
A Rockdale home, originally bought by an ANZAC war hero, has sold after being in the same family for more than 90 years.
The story of a family home in Sydney starts on the battlefields of World War I back in 1915.
John “Jack” Miles, a returned war hero who served in the Gallipoli Campaign including the Battle of Lone Pine, bought his first family home in Rockdale in 1930.
He named the house “CAZNA” – ANZAC spent backwards – as a tribute to his comrades and the home has stayed in the family for more than nine decades.
The Miles family have bid farewell to the beloved home after 93 years following its recent auction for $1.695m.
Anzac soldier John “Jack” Miles, who served from 1915-1917.
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John’s granddaughter Carolyn Tweedie said it was an emotional goodbye to the home that was entrenched with so many memories from John’s vegetable garden, “soldier toasts” for breakfast with the grandkids and the epic Christmas feasts with all the family crammed in.
Originally from England, John came to Australia in 1911 and was employed as a labourer in Sydney when he enlisted in the Australian Army at the age of 24 in 1915 and was attached to the 6th Reinforcements of the 1st Battalion.
They landed at Gallipoli and reached Lone Pine on August 6th, with the battalion known for its persistence and tenacity during the four day offensive.
John suffered pyrexia, otherwise known as “trench fever” followed by jaundice, which saw him hospitalised until December, before he rejoined the battalion in January at Tel-El-Kebir.
During the first Battle of Pozieres on July 22 in 1916, John took to the trenches with his battalion and was one of eight runners – and the last standing.
Old image of 7 Ador Ave Rockdale
Current image of the home, which has sold.
He was injured three days into the battle with gunshot wounds to the tongue, thigh and wrist and was later presented his Distinguished Conduct Medal for “acts of gallantry and devotion to duty in the field”.
“For conspicuous gallantry during an attack as Battalion Hunner (sic). The wires were cut, and he carried messages alone for several hours continuously over long spaces of open ground swept by heavy shell fire. He was wounded carrying his last message,” a citation from the London Gazette read.
After his recovery, John returned to the battleground in March 1917 and, during an enemy encounter in Bullecourt, he suffered shot wounds to his eyes and face resulting in the loss of his right eye which saw him medically discharged later that year.
John “Jack” Miles in his vegetable garden where he went for quiet time and relaxation.
Miles family image taken in the early 1930s after the home was purchased.
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John married Alvene Casdorff in 1930 and they bought the Rockdale home during the Great Depression. They had an “immediate family”, with Alvene’s mother and brothers moving in along with two orphaned sons, and also went on to have two sons Bruce and Brian.
Mrs Tweedie described John as a dedicated soldier, employee and family man. He became a member of the local RSL sub-branch, participated in Dawn Services and the Sydney ANZAC March, however never spoke of his wartime experiences.
His son Bruce speaks fondly about his parents, remembering his dad making toys as they had little money. He also recalls his dad trying to re-enlist in 1939 when World War II broke out, however was not eligible due to his eye injury.
Family image – John, Bruce, Alvene and Brian Miles.
Bruce and Margaret Miles recently sold the home their family had owned for 93 years.
John died in 1975 and left the family home to his sons. Bruce eventually bought out his brother and he and his wife Margaret raised three children at the home, continuing on John’s strong family values and traditions.
The couple have moved into nursing care recently, making the difficult decision to sell.
“It will be very sad once it all settles and the move is complete,” Mrs Tweedie said.
“It’s been a home for everyone over the years. All the grandchildren have visited and stayed on a regular basis.”
Members of the Miles family (L-R) Christopher, Carolyn and Margaret with agent Rod Mumford.
Belle Property agent Rod Mumford said the home sold to a young couple.
Mr Mumford said the sale was a “wonderful experience”, inspiring him to research the home and family history.
“It’s been in the family for such a long time, it was a real pleasure to help them sell and I was fascinated with their story,” he said.
“They were a lovely family to work with, having previously helped a member of their family buy a home.”
Auctioneer Andrew Cooley, from Avenue Auctions, said the it was an honour to auction the
Miles family home.
He said the family were thrilled with the result, with the home selling more than $200,000 over reserve, with four out of the seven bidders driving up the price.
“All the family were there, the kids and grandchildren. It was a good, old fashioned brick Australian home,” he said. “It was a special auction.”
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